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The Donnafugata golf resort is Sicily's premier golf resort, aimed squarely at the established golfer who is looking to play two very different courses and stay on-site in comfort.
The resort is a modern construction completed in 2009; built on and around an old manor farm (sections of the original farmstead now house the restaurants and bar). It lies a mile or two inland from the coast, a little isolated in the Southeast corner of Sicily amongst the verdant farmlands of Ragusa, the breadbasket of Sicily.
With two courses that you would be happy to play more than once, very comfortable rooms and a nice spa: most golfers choose to stay at Donnafugata for four or five nights never straying too far from the grounds and making the most of all the on-site facilities.
There are two golf courses at Donnafugata: the Parkland wraps itself around the hotel, the Links starts just over the road; both use the same Clubhouse which is part of the main hotel building.Donnafugata - Parkland Architect: G. Player (2010) 18 holes: 6,175m: par 72: SSS 74
The Parkland course is true to its name and plays around the hotel through the old olives, pines and palms on fairly hilly ground without anything too strenuous. The course is entertaining and fun with plenty of twists and turns along with some elevated Tees and Greens. Around the Clubhouse there is some water in play that features towards the end of both nines as the course comes back to the Clubhouse at the turn.Donnafugata - Links Architect: F. Piras (2010) 18 holes: 6,342m: par 72: SSS: 75
Called the Links but we're not sure why: nary a sand dune, pot bunker, beach, cliff or whin bush in sight! Heathland would have been a more suitable moniker as the course is relatively treeless but has areas of dense heatheresque local flora separating the Fairways. The course occupies a wide bowl with some large water features in the central area. The front nine plays around the bottom of the bowl, whereas the back nine climbs the sides offering some splendid looking Tee shots. The tougher of the two courses due in part to its length but also to the trickier nature of the Fairways and Greens - especially on the back nine. A very good test of golfing skill.
Sun-drenched Donnafugata is one of the finest places in Europe for a resort-based golf holiday. It has two very different golf courses and strikes a sensible balance between luxury and price.
Bedrooms are arranged in ochre and umber washed two-storey blocks around a grassy square. The rooms are modern, well-sized and have good bathrooms too. On the ground floor you will have a patio, or a balcony if you are upstairs.
Although an "open-air" style of resort the rectangle of bedrooms is not so vast that you can't walk easily to Reception, Spa or the Clubhouse.
In the central building you will find a spacious and stylish Reception hall and plenty of friendly staff to assist with checking-in.
The Donnafugata resort has a variety of restaurants that rotate their service throughout the day. Breakfast is served in the voluminous 'Fichi d'India' (Italian for the ubiquitous Sicilian prickly pears) in the form of a fgrandissimo buffet. From midday to mid afternoon the Clubhouse takes over with a delicious selection of salads and fresh pasta dishes. In the evening the 'Fichi d'India' re-opens with a trattoria/pizzeria style menu and oftentimes an outdoor barbecue too. For pushing the boat out, try Donnafugata's gastronomic restaurant 'Il Carrubo', outstanding cuisine and close to it's first Michelin star. Around and about there are some other fine restaurants (though none within walking distance) and, as always, we will recommend our favourites to you.
Donnafugata is very much car free; so on arrival you will be taken to your room by chauffeured buggy, meanwhile your golf clubs will be stashed away in the Clubhouse. Car parking is right in front of Reception: easy access when you realise what you've forgotten...
Between Reception and the Parkland course Donnafugata has a large swimming pool, ringed by sun-loungers and a small pool bar too. The funky breakfast room is here too with its vaulted ceiling and extensive buffet.
Dining at Donnafugata
The Donnafugata spa is not overly large and has been neatly tucked away beside the outdoor pool. There are enough facilities for most golfers looking to enjoy a small amount of post-golf spa-ing: indoor pool with hydro massage areas; sauna, steam room plus the usual array of treatments and massages.
Unusually, there is a daily entry-fee, however we shall endeavour to have this included in your stay.
Evening entertainments at Donnafugata
Should you wish to venture beyond the walls of the resort there are numerous sleepy seaside towns to visit and two that are quite a bit livelier: Marina di Ragusa and Scoglitti.
Marina di Ragusa is the largest beach resort in the area - it should really be MarinaS di Ragusa as the town has two pleasure ports at either end of the town. Between the two there is a long paved esplanade and large central piazza brimming with locals and holidaymakers enjoying the many cafés, bars, restaurants and gelaterias.
Scoglitti is a small, fully functional, fishing port where the fish on your plate will have been caught by one of the small white smacks bobbing alongside the quay in front of you. A quieter and less developed seaside town but popular with tourists in the summer due to its enormous sandy beach.
Sightseeing around Donnafugata
The main sights to see around Donnafugata are the UNESCO World Heritage towns of Modica, Noto, Scicli, Ispicca and Ragusa. Famous for their ornate baroque architecture and pleasant cobbled streets for strolling.
Not far away is the compact Donnafugata Castle with its gardens that make an nice afternoon out. Inside (there is a small entry fee) the stately rooms have some wonderful antique furniture. There are also two good restaurants in front of the castle.
Fans of Inspector Montalbano might like to take a trip to Punta Secca, where he lives (in the series that is!).