Lido Villeggiatura, From Sunrise to Sunset

Fedora Abu
Action shot as a boy leaps into the sea from a rock where his friends sit in sunshine, seen through layers of blue parasols.

Fedora Abu, style writer for GQ, MR PORTER and beyond, pens a guide to the perfect day at Lido Villeggiatura, the new beach club on Sicily's best shoreline that offers beachside elegance from sunrise to sunset.

Italian beach clubs have cultivated their own lifestyles for centuries. Since those very first bagni opened up in the early 1800s, through to the mid-century café society who came to the coastlines in their droves soon to be immortalised by Slim Aarons’ lens, sun-seekers still yearn for the allure of Italian beaches and a taste of villeggiatura. Whether it’s tourists jetting in from abroad to ride out the season or countrymen and women who spend their month-long agosto break by the sea, summer in Italy comes with its own vernacular and the beach is where revered traditions of pleasure-seeking all converge.

It’s this heritage that sets the stage for Lido Villeggiatura, a new private beach club in the town of Taormina. Set across a secluded stretch of the Sicilian coast for guests of Villa Sant’Andrea, A Belmond Hotel, this idyllic bay is dotted with private cabanas, striped umbrellas and a new beach bar. Though leisure is very much the order of the day here, there’s no shortage of things to do. From sunrise to sunset, here’s how to make the most of your hours in the sunshine.

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Tempting as it may be to while away the morning beneath the crisp white sheets at Villa Sant’Andrea, some views are worth getting out of bed for. Wake early enough and you’ll be greeted with a sunrise over the sea; there’s no better way to start a day than with a swim as the daylight breaks over the bay.

High angle view of a cluster of blue and white parasols along the pebbled edge of the sapphire sea, divided by a tall pine.

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Reward yourself with a cappuccino (to be drunk before noon, or risk the judgement of Italians) before heading down for breakfast. Ordering a traditional granita is essential when starting your day in Sicily. Try one made with pistachios from Bronte or almonds from Noto, to be eaten alongside a brioche – just as the locals do. Spend the rest of your morning on the beach listening to the lull of the waves as you wait for the lido’s team to bring around a frozen sweet treat to keep you cool.

Close-up of a lady's hands clasping three glasses filled with gelato and topped with chopped nuts

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Long, lazy lunches over lively conversation are essential to any time spent in Italy. Head to a sea view table at Brace and try some Sicilian classics such as grilled swordfish with capers from Salina or ragu-filled arancini. Sweets are sacred in Sicily, and should be treated as such, so it’s only right to finish your lunch with a freshly filled sheep’s milk ricotta cannoli.

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After indulging, it’s time to slow down and switch off once more. Partake in la pennichella – a well-deserved post-lunch nap – under the shade of the signature striped umbrellas, or keep yourself occupied with a crossword, or cruciverba, in the papers. Then, as late afternoon approaches, channel your renewed energy into a spirited game of racchettoni on the beach.

A guest stirs a lemon-garnished drink in soft-focus foreground as swimmers gather on a rock out to sea, beyond the parasols.

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Golden hour descends on Taormina as the day draws to a close, so make the most of being bathed in this beautiful light by chartering a tour on our new Apreamare Gozzo 35 to explore the breathtaking views of Mazzarò Bay.

Before you know it, it’ll be aperitivo hour back on the shore. Sip Villa Sant’Andrea’s signature Tao Spritz – made with limoncello, Murgo brut sparkling wine and mandarin juice – and snack on a selection of green Sicilian olives and salted almonds.

A couple sunbathes on the lounge deck of an Apreamare Gozzo boat as sails in full sun towards the headland, seen from behind.

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After a long day of doing very little, retreat to your suite and hit refresh with a hot shower. Then, as the sun starts to set, make your way to the beach once more for a candlelit meal at Brizza, our 16-seat fine-dining destination perched on the water’s edge. Order a bottle of Etna DOC wine to pair with a feast of Sicilian seafood. The only thing to contemplate? How to spend the next day at Lido Villeggiatura.

Diners are served on a private beach, their tables illuminated under private pools of light from tulip-shaped lamp stands

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