Four Points Catania: the perfect hotel in Sicily for Italian food lovers
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If you’re looking for your hotel in Sicily during your trip to Catania, don’t look further: the Four Points Catania is the perfect hotel in Sicily for Italian food lovers. Recently I’ve had the pleasure of working on a project with the Four Points Hotel in Catania and for this reason, if you are looking for an idea for your holiday, I leave you my review of this very interesting structure. The reason why I consider it “very interesting” will be clear to you at the first reading.
Sicily is very well known everywhere for its food: there is never just one choice when it comes to Sicilian food and it’s easy to get spoiled for choice. Catania, then, is known everywhere for its street food, which makes it one of the most fascinating Sicilian cities under different points of view. But it would be too simple to stop at the goodness of street food and that’s why I tell you my experience at Four Points Hotel in Catania, definitely suitable for those in search of good and original Italian food and relaxation.
Located a few kilometers from Catania, near Aci Castello, the Four Points Hotel is part of the Starwood chain but in reality, its peculiarity is to be completely away from the logic of chain hotels: the structure is in fact owned by a family Sicilian that is still present daily in the hotel.
The Horto at the Four Points Catania
Let me immediately start with what I think is the strength of the hotel: food.
For us Italians, food is more than just a mere need: it’s an essential part of life, something we grow up with, a moment of conviviality, a celebration of who we are. And for tourists visiting Italy, food is an essential part of the experience (I mean, why wouldn’t it be?). Both for Italians and for tourists, going home with a bad experience in terms of food means to associate the value of a holiday only with this aspect.
The peculiarity of this structure is the food and wine offer: hidden but accessible directly from some rooms and the kitchen, there is the Horto, an experimental project that has also been recognized as one of the most innovative in the industry. It is a real vegetable garden where vegetables are strictly seasonal, as much as possible local and, once ready to be harvested, used by Timo Ristorante: the pesto is prepared only and exclusively with the basil of the Horto (and when there is not basil, with other herbs!), the tomato puree with tomatoes grown on site. In short, from the ground to the table, literally, in a nonexistent journey since all the products do not move from one side to the other, they are not touched by foreign hands but travel directly from the Horto to the kitchen.
Chef Saverio Piazza wants to promote not only traditional food but also an ethical approach to food consumption: if we want to eat summer vegetables in winter, how can we really think we’re not harming the planet on which we live? That’s why on its menu you will always find caponata (“it’s an insult not having it”, he says) but it changes depending on the seasonality of the vegetables: it can be made with fennel, for example, if it’s in season.
Fish is seasoned in the traditional way, flavored with herbs from the Horto and served with local wines, to reinforce the relationship with the local region.
A salad is not just a salad when it’s made with perfect vegetables that taste like cardboard: a real salad is prepared with green lettuce that tastes like lettuce and tomatoes that don’t need to be seasoned. Just grab some fresh basil and you’re all set.
And the food offered really makes everything easier: guests know they can trust what they’re served because in reality if they want they can pick their own vegetables in the garden and ask the chef to cook them in the best possible way. What’s the expression? If you have nothing to hide, you don’t need to cheat, and this is even more valid when it comes to food.
The location of the vegetable garden is available to all, you do not need special permissions but clearly, as it is located in the hotel should be used in full respect not only of nature but also of other guests of the hotel.
In addition, the Horto is present everywhere within the hotel offers: if you order a cocktail, you will always find the herbs of the garden present as decoration or even to flavor the drink, if you want to eat something fast, the salad that you order will be prepared only and exclusively with the vegetables grown on site and so on.
Special mention for breakfast: you can choose the classic croissants but also homemade cakes, the savory buffet or brioche, and granita or Sicilian cannoli, all freshly prepared.
The cuisine of the Timo Restaurant is traditional Sicilian with “concessions” to foreign cuisine but revisited to Sicilian: for example, the menu also includes a “fish and chips” but revisited using Sicilian fish and ingredients from the area. So as to please foreigners but, at the same time, keep the mission of proposing only the best available. In terms of drinks, local wines from Etna but also local beers such as Timilia, prepared using a rare grain of the same name, and the national Baladin beer, Best Brew of the hotel.
The idea of sustainability is present all around the hotel: local artists are featured all over the building, artworks made with objects recycled mostly from nature are naturally integrated and artificial light is compensated by natural light.
In a world that is relentlessly chasing progress and very often forgets about local people, regions, and traditions, I found the Four Points Catania, its Horto and restaurant Il Timo a breath of fresh air (and the idea of preserving Sicilian food, for me, it’s truly admirable).
Not just food… (but mostly)
Given its stunning location, it’s no mystery why people choose the Four Points Catania for the sea views and to visit the surrounding areas. Obviously, if you choose to go on holiday to Sicily, at least in spring and summer you expect to have a pool and also the sea literally at your feet: here you have them both. The swimming pool, fed by sea water, is located on the first floor, in front of the restaurant. You can access the sea through a private access, from which you arrive on a sun deck equipped with umbrellas, sunbeds, downhill and even a diving center for sports lovers. Beach towels can be requested daily in the pool and then returned, while if you need other equipment, for example snorkeling masks, you can rent everything. Both at the beach and at the pool you can eat and you can order drinks.
If like me you love life on the beach but after 1 hour you can not stand it anymore and you prefer to discover and explore, the possibilities are endless if you stay at the Four Points Hotel. You are in Sicily, babe!
On foot, you can easily reach Aci Castello, a delightful village with a fortress (which you can climb) and a “piazza” where you can stop for an aperitif or a (yet another) brioche with granita. A few kilometers away is Acitrezza, another jewel of the coast, before Acireale, the city of 100 churches.
If you love wine, an excursion to Mount Etna is essential, even in summer: the Etna side of Catania and also the Etna side overlooking Messina is dotted with wineries that produce an excellent wine (I went to Cottanera). In some you can stop to eat, in others, you can taste, in all you can eventually buy. It is not only the wine-growing experience that is interesting, but also the possibility to spend a different day, in the middle of nature, a few kilometers from the sea.
Needless to say that Taormina, the Alcantara Gorges, and many other Sicilian jewels are easily reachable from the Four Points: the ideal would be to have a rental car, if you do not go with yours, but if you do not want to drive then you can ask at reception and you they will be able to address the best.
The infinite beauty (and goodness) of Catania
Catania is a gem that deserves a separate article and that you need to include if you decide to stay at the Four Points. The hotel offers a shuttle that leaves every day, morning and afternoon, and brings guests directly to the center of Catania. I leave you with some pictures to make you craving while waiting for the complete post about Catania:
[All the photos in this article have been taken by Giuseppe. The experience was part of a project with Four Points Catania and the Starwood Hotels Group. All opinions are personal and not influenced by the working relationship with the brand(s)].