In the early 19th century, this monumental estate was purchased by the Dara family; to this day, it is still a grand stately residence and the centre of a thriving agricultural farm, thanks to the diligent care bestowed upon it of two centuries of dedication. Antonio and Mariella Dara have continued in the same tradition, transforming Masseria Rossella into a charming agritourism holiday farmhouse and organic farm back in the early 2000s. Over subsequent years, two of their children have also become involved in further upgrading its services and facilities on an ongoing basis.
Masseria Rossella is a lovely farmhouse offering accommodation, located in the Piana degli Albanesi countryside in the province of Palermo in Sicily. The hotel rooms, swimming pool, restaurant catering to coeliacs and vegetarians, organic garden and central courtyard all make this the ideal destination for an exclusive holiday of total relaxation and discovery, whilst fully immersed in nature. It caters to those travelling alone, as a couple, with family, or in small groups.
The Masseria overlooks the Scanzano Valley, facing the Ficuzza Forest and the majestic Rocca Busambra, a must-visit for nature lovers and hikers. It presents itself as a place of peace and relaxation, nestled in a landscape where the forest, hills, valley, lakes, lush olive groves, wheat fields and fine vineyards all coexist harmoniously. Its name derives from Monte Rossella, which has always protected the entire area with its imposing presence. The organic farm estate produces delicious extra virgin olive oil, fruit, vegetables, pulses and medicinal herbs. These aromatic tastes and flavours form the basis of the restaurant's cuisine and inspire its offerings all year round.
THE HISTORY OF MASSERIA ROSSELLA
At the end of the 18th century, King Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, having moved away from Naples, chose to settle in Palermo and sought a location where he could indulge in his favourite passion and build his own hunting lodge. He became enchanted with the monumental and evocative Rocca Busambra, the highest peak in the region. He was so enraptured with this area that he commanded that an imposing royal Real Casina hunting lodge be erected at the foot of the Rocca, 30 km south of Palermo and surrounded by 12,000 hectares of woodland. Ficuzza Forest is still the largest wooded reserve in western Sicily today.
It is no secret that rulers coming to Sicily were always considered outsiders and were not often made welcome, especially by the princes who acted as their deputies, and who sometimes expressed their displeasure in an eccentric manner. This was the case of the Prince of Belmonte, for example, who, upon learning of the King's intentions, acquired 7,000 hectares of neighbouring land and had the splendid Masseria Rossella constructed just across the valley from the royal residence. The stately agricultural estate of Masseria Rossella was thus born as an expression of his ‘royal defiance’!
The architect of the Palazzo was Giuseppe Marvuglia, the same man who had been commissioned by the prince to build the majestic Belmonte dell'Acquasanta and Olivuzza villas in Palermo, but also the same architect who designed the hunting lodge of Ficuzza. Rossella Palazzo remains a unique hidden gem in this area (and not only) in terms of its status, grand layout and noble origins. Until the last century, it was on the extreme western boundary of the Marineo territory, whilst today it is administratively attached to Piana degli Albanesi.
The circular plaque on the fountain in the courtyard of the Masseria bears the following inscription in Latin: “Giuseppe Ventimiglia, lord of this beautiful mountain and this ancestral land. Since his arrival, he has built the paved road, brought water to the house, sowed abundant seed, and immediately rendered the estate hospitable, fertile and flourishing: All these deeds were initiated and completed in the year of MDCCCX” (1810).
The interiors of the historical Palazzo are furnished with 19th- and 20th-century furnishings and are preserved in excellent condition. Access to the upper floor is via a graceful, original staircase with steps made of polished white stone slabs (a similar staircase can be found in the Bivio Lupo farmhouse built by King Ferdinand for cattle breeding). The upper floor features two living rooms with fireplaces, bedrooms and two bathrooms. One of the bathrooms houses a precious ceramic sink decorated with bright blue floral motifs. The gilded bronze chandeliers at the sides of the fireplace are particularly eye-catching, their wall sconces adorned with Art Nouveau Liberty-style floral decorations. The entire estate was recognised as a historical-monumental asset in 1990 and protected according to Law 1089/39 by the Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity.
THE RESTAURANT: GENUINE SICILIAN TRADITIONAL PRODUCE
The restaurant of Masseria Rossella provides traditional Sicilian dishes. It takes local recipes and revisits them with originality and taste, and local and seasonal ingredients, many of which have come directly from the organic garden: tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, peppers, cauliflowers, artichokes, home-made preserves and sauces. The ricotta, caciotta and cacio cavallo cheeses, as well as the salami cold meats and desserts, are all sourced locally from the Piana degli Albanesi area. Our Sicilian cannoli filled with fresh ricotta is absolutely to die for, while our wine list offers the best of the surrounding wineries.
The restaurant consists of a large dining room and another smaller room, which can serve up to 120 covers in total. An ancient stone archway and the surrounding lounges create an intimate and refined atmosphere, perfectly integrated with the well-maintained outdoor spaces and the greenery of the estate with its vegetable gardens, olive groves and vineyards.
The breakfast offered to guests each morning is tailored to meet all their waking needs, with homemade pastries and cakes, biscuits, artisanal jams, hot tasty espressos and hot and cold beverages (coffee, cappuccino, juices, milk, tea). On fine days, breakfast can also be served outdoors or on the terrace outside. We cater to all dietary needs and are happy to cook special menus or gluten-free options for vegetarians and coeliacs. Our aim is to introduce you to Sicily’s farm-to-table concept, enabling you to savour all the intense flavours this marvellous land produces.
FACILITIES AND SERVICES AT MASSERIA ROSSELLA
Our services include: Restaurant (indoor and outdoor) • Free Wi-Fi (available throughout the property) • Swimming pool overlooking the Scanzano Valley and Ficuzza • Bocce court for bowling • Free external parking • Library • Lounge with fireplace • Reading and TV room • Private chapel • Garden and courtyard with a majestic mulberry tree at its centre • Terrace with a view of the Scanzano Valley and Ficuzza • Farm estate and organic garden.
Outdoor Activities: • Bike rental • Horseback riding at the Lake of Piana degli Albanesi (service subject to availability, booking 2 days in advance) • Canoe and rowboat rental at the Lake of Piana degli Albanesi (service subject to availability, booking 2 days in advance) • Paragliding (service subject to availability, booking 5 days in advance) • Planned excursions with the "Cooperativa Silene" • Trekking on the CAI (Italian Alpine Club) trails.
It is possible to organise tours of the nearby wineries (service subject to availability, with advance booking of 2 days).
PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE VICINITY
UNESCO World Heritage Sites Nearby: Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale, Valley of the Temples in Agrigento.