In the times when the concept of traveling has evolved, going to a place just to see it because it was on our bucket list is not enough anymore. Today travelers want to be fully immersed into various aspects of a culture, and rightly so. In order to do this, living unforgettable experiences becomes vital.
With its highly diverse territory, Sicily can offer a vast array of opportunities for every taste. When we think about Sicily, the first image that pops up in our mind is probably a place strongly connected to agriculture and farming, where the typical Sicilian type is a man with large and worn-out hands working the fields, breeding cattle and producing ricotta cheese. As funny as this stereotype might be, the countryside in this charming island can actually hide precious little gems that provide very interesting stories.
Nested among the white dry stone walls characterizing the agricultural wealthy province of Ragusa, just a short drive from the beautiful Baroque town of Scicli, you can find ‘Gli Aromi’. The name (meaning ‘the scents’) already gives a hint of what you can expect, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
It all began in 1998 when Scicli-born Enrico Russino started his nursery business, mostly producing aromatic and officinal herbs. Being a real communicator, someone who genuinely loves sharing his passion and staying in contact with the people ‘to make them have great time and be happy’, as he says, Enrico thought that there was so much more to tell about territory where he was raised. ‘I needed to open the doors of this wonderful place to the people because there is so much joy in the nature’ he told us during a sunny and slightly windy October day when we met him.
The ideas of Enrico, combined with the crucial meeting with his wife Rita Russotto, have contributed in transforming ‘Gli Aromi’ into a ‘polyfunctional farm’, to call it with Enrico’s own words. Born in Brooklyn into a Sicilian family, after several years coming and going between the two countries Rita eventually decided to stay in Sicily. Cooking has always been Rita’s great passion thanks to the traditional recipes that were passed onto her by her family, so much so that she opened and managed the restaurant ‘Satra’ in Scicli until last year. Upon her meeting with Enrico, Rita has fully embraced his vision to welcome visitors and tourists at ‘Gli Aromi’ and together they are a nonstopping creative duo.
‘We have an “aromantic” project. A kind o mission’ told us Enrico. And it seems to be working, as over the years ‘Gli Aromi’ has become an extremely popular destination to visit in the area.
When you come over to this peaceful place immersed in the nature there is much more to do other than buying a beautiful ornamental plant.
In fact, get ready to dive into a fully sensorial experience. Enrico will entertain you for a walk around the property during which you will smell, taste and touch thyme, rosemary, sage, savory and lavender just to name a few among over 200 varieties of herbs you will find. The walk is also followed by a short demonstration on how stem or root cutting is properly made to grow plants on your own.
‘People learn, discover curiosities about plants they might not have heard of and meantime they have fun but, most of all, rediscover a sense of well-being through the senses involved in this experience’ told us the enthusiastic and knowledgeable Enrico.
At the end of the tour there is the possibility to taste a few plates of the Sicilian tradition prepared by the talented chef Rita Russotto or even join her in a tailored cooking class that will make you discover how tradition and innovation can combine in the kitchen.
If this is already tickling your fantasy then you are lucky! You can plan your visit here while you stay at Sarayi Lodge, a classy holiday home in Eloro, less than an hour drive away from the area of Scicli. A large villa with outdoor pool in an Arabic courtyard surrounded by lush vegetation, elegant interiors eclectically adorned with paintings, statues and elements of the Sicilian culture, a big indoor open-space and a gym. The perfect combination for a relaxing holiday living the Sicilian dream as well as a fantastic spot to reach many other interesting locations in Eastern Sicily, such as Syracuse, Noto and Catania.
Sarayi Lodge – Eloro Lidi di Noto, Noto, Italy
An eclectic villa boasting a lot of outdoor space and a big open indoor open-space and a gym
There still is something else you can do at ‘Gli Aromi’, like having a classic aperitivo at sunset during a live gig set in a beautiful open-air theater or taking part in a yoga class to forget about the hectic city life.
You can even organize your civil union and celebrate a charming wedding reception in such a romantic scenery. This project is ‘Affetto serra’ (greenhouse affection), a wordplay from ‘effetto serra’ (greenhouse effect) since the location is one of the greenhouses within the property.
The latest idea coming out from Enrico’s volcanic mind is ‘Amandula hub’, a co-working space obtained in a reconverted greenhouse with a view. In the times when remote working has become extremely popular out of necessity, being in a place surrounded by the nature and with wide spaces can help massively in keeping motivations high. Once again, the name is a wordplay from the late-Latin ‘amandula’ (=almond), one of the most iconic products of Sicily.
Forget the classic and probably hackneyed wine-tasting experience that you can do almost everywhere. It’s time for a really unique experience that you can do only if you come over to this part of Sicily! Shall we go for it?