Secret Sicily: Insider Tips From A Celebrity Golf Coach

Rocco Forte Hotels
MAY 11th

Meet Federico Alba

Recently nominated “World Ambassador of Sicily” by the Sicilian Minister of Sports and Tourism, celebrity golf coach Federico Alba began his career at Verdura Resort. He currently lives in the United Arab Emirates, returning home to Sicily every summer. Here, he shares his passion for the island's enogastronomic culture and his favourite golf courses, restaurants and vineyards in the region.

What Ignited Your Passion for Golf?

"I joined Rocco Forte Hotels as Golf Operations Attendant in 2009, when the resort first opened. Inspired by the beautiful greenery around me, in less than a year, I became a scratch golfer – with a handicap of zero or below – having never had a golf lesson. My directors, Niall Cameron and David Waters, suggested I play professionally so I started playing in international events. I also became a coach at Verdura Resort and had the honour of playing rounds with Sir Rocco Forte when he was visiting. We still play together every August."

What Keeps You Coming Back to Sicily?

"Its history, beauty and enogastronomic culture. I’m proud to be the island’s ambassador. We should all be ambassadors in the countries that welcome us and make our families feel at home. I do the same for the UAE in Europe! Last month the United Arab Emirates Government Entities granted me a 10-year Abu Dhabi golden visa, which is only given to select people."

Can You Share Your Favourite Places on the Isle?

"My favourite places include Palermo because of its history, Sciacca’s amazing food, Verdura Resort, Noto’s Baroque architecture and Mount Etna’s incredible vineyards. Sicily’s small number of golf courses and the short distance between them allows golfers to enjoy them all.

Stay at Villa Igiea and start from Villa Airoldi Golf Club in Palermo, then drive south to Sciacca and play the fairways at Verdura Resort. On the way visit Valley of the Temples in Agrigento and Stair of the Turks, a white cliff with beautiful views in Realmonte.

The restaurant at Tenuta Regaleali, an estate in the middle of Sicily, is one of my favourites. I always say its cuisine is the most authentic I’ve ever tried, and its wine is outstanding. I always make time to walk around Capo Bianco beach in Eraclea Minoa, cycling inland up to Caltabellotta and walking up to its landmark, Pizzo di Caltabellotta for breathtaking views.

I also recommend visiting Sambuca di Sicilia, about an hour’s drive from the resort; in 2016, it was crowned Italy's Borgo dei Borghi – ‘the village of all villages’. The Enchanted Castle in Sciacca isn’t far from Verdura Resort, then it’s a half-hour drive to Burgio to learn about its bronze bells."

What makes Verdura Resort Special?

"It has amazing facilities and services, it never feels full even when it is 100% occupied, and you feel safe as soon as you enter the security gate. Kids can cycle on bicycles or stay at the Kids’ Club, while parents can walk to the golf club, spa and beach in just a few minutes. You can also enjoy outstanding meals served by genuinely friendly staff. I always look forward to dinners at Zagara and talking about wines with Nando Papa, the Head Sommelier."

What do you like most about Sicilian architecture?

"The island has an incredible variety of architectural styles due to its multiple dominations. Ranging from the Phoenician and vibrant Arabic centre of Palermo, which reaches its apex in Trapani province, through the archaic Temples of Agrigento in a Doric style. Further east, admire the wonder of Noto Valley, rebuilt in Baroque style after the 1693 earthquake. Catania is also worth visiting for its volcanic slate palaces, from which you can enjoy the best views of Mount Etna"

Where is the best place for wine tasting?

"I love wine and believe that Sicilian wine has improved in the last 10 years. Today you can sample full body flavours of Nero D’Avola and elegant volcanic wines. Visit Planeta in Contrada Ulmo and Di Giovanna wineries near the resort, too.

Tenuta Regaleali from Tasca D’Álmerita in central Sicily is one of my favourite places, but if you want to go to another level of tasting, spend time around Mount Etna. Fantastic wineries include Tenute di Fessina, Pietradolce, Guido Coffa, Terrazze dell’Etna and Tenuta delle Terre Nere"

Explore Sicily on your doorstep at Verdura Resort, and discover our Rocco Forte Private Villas to book your next escape, email our Concierge team on reservations.verdura@roccofortehotels.com or call +39 092 502 0150