Sometimes, the location of a show shines just as bright as the stars in it. And when a locale gives some of the most talented stars in Hollywood a run for their money, it’s worth our attention for sure. The second season of White Lotus was filmed in Sicily, and these are the White Lotus locations to put on your list.
The Show to Watch
The White Lotus is not just a show, but the White Lotus locations in Sicily are #vacationgoals. From the first episode of season 2, this is what water cooler conversations are made of. Fans discussed with fervor who didn’t make it off the isle week after week. They took to Twitter to analyze every detail from the paintings shown on the walls (most are part of the collections from the villas where the show was shot). Even the book Daphne was reading in the opening scene was fodder for Twitter.
Sicily as a Character on the Show
It’s safe to say that the White Lotus is captivating, led in part by the immersive nature of the show and the cinematography of the stunning White Lotus locations. While the first season showcased a rosy and romantic Hawaii, the second season is like a love letter to Sicily. From distant views of Mt. Etna to the Sicilian accents worn by the show’s beautiful women, Sicily does more than set the scene for a high-stakes vacation drama. The crowded beaches, island oases, and decadent yachts enchant the characters. The setting became integral to the story.
Sicilian authorities report that Google searches for Sicily from America have surged since the show aired, and property owners have seen a huge uptick in bookings. That said, we’ve found the show’s highlights that you need to put on your list.
The Main Hotel: San Domenico Palace, Taormina, a Four Seasons Hotel
We probably don’t have to convince you to travel for a Four Seasons. The Four Seasons is known for luxury, which made it the perfect White Lotus location to set the stage for the show for season 2 in Taormina. But the San Domenico Palace is famous in its own right. Well before there was HBO, the hotel was a destination for famous people like Oscar Wilde and Audrey Hepburn. And before that, the building was a convent, with suites located in old nuns’ quarters (probably some deliberate irony, given the content of the show). Though intangible, the history casts an aura around the resort. But with the recent top-to-bottom renovation of the hotel, the San Domenico is ready to make more history.
Most of the White Lotus locations are at or around the San Domenico. In the show, we see the most of the infinity pool which overlooks the Ionian sea. We also see Anciovi, the Mediterranean seafood restaurant located near the pool terrace. You don’t have to see much more to understand how special the hotel is. The San Domenico Palace has a Michelin-starred restaurant, Principe Cerami, which is helmed by Etna-born chef Massimo Mantarro. You know his cuisine is true to Sicily.
Of course, most of the draw comes from the history, and the fact that Taormina boasts views of Italian villas, an ancient Greek theater, and Mount Etna. The courtyard is an oasis of lush botanics (the perfect place for Valentina to make a snarky comparison between Tanya and Peppa Pig). The vibe is relaxed, but important. After all, it’s the place where Greta Garbo vacationed for 30 years.
Our Recommendation: the Grand Hotel Timeo
Given the level of interest, the Four Seasons is already fully booked for 2023, and likely will book out early into 2024 as well. But the Grand Hotel Timeo is equally impressive, with an elegance that rivals what you see on the show.
In the White Lotus, Noto serves as the destination where Daphne and Harper take a little excursion to escape their husbands. The scene where Harper finds herself encircled by Italian stallions, a reference to L’Avventura, a 1960 Michelangelo Antonioni film, was filmed outside Noto Cathedral. Incidentally, the villa where they stay is really in Palermo, on the other side of the island.
Noto should be on your travel list regardless of its appearance on the show. The town is one of the most beautiful places you will visit in Sicily. It was completely destroyed in an earthquake in the 17th century, but rebuilt under supervision of Giuseppe Lanza, the Duke of Camastra. He devised a baroque urban center designed in perfect proportion, with unique linear streets that provide panoramic views. Additionally, the baroque architecture is ornate and ties together the city’s plethora of churches, gardens, and piazzas.
The villa in Noto that’s seen in the show actually is Quentin’s. Villa Elena is a location that has its own claim to fame. It has a a long and rich history: after it was a Greek villa predating the first century, it was a monastery, a Roman villa, and a Moorish manse. This is the place to go to feel like royalty. Interior designer Jacques Garcia helped shape the look of this property, which has been featured in Architectural Digest. It goes for about $25,000 a week. If you’ve seen the show, you know the place is impressive. So exceptional is Villa Elena that Garcia wrote a whole book dedicated to its interior architecture. It’s rare to find a home that has so much Italian history. Ceiling frescoes are among the (mostly baroque) features, as are golden living-room statues and footed tubs.
The pair stay at Villa Tasca, a historic villa that Daphne books after Harper finds it online. In the White Lotus, each place is just as important to the story as each character. No location demonstrates this more than this 16th-century neoclassical villa. Built for nobility, the villa sits on 20 acres of gardens (some of which have been intact since the 1800s). There are manmade bodies of water, and a temple dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture. Inside, the villa houses muted frescoes which became part of the opening credits. Sicily is quaint and beautiful, but there’s a wild energy that the creator Mike White plays off in the series. The images are a little racy, which was perfect for the show.
The accommodations set the scene for much indulgence by the women (although their husbands were perhaps indulging more back home). There’s the large pool, and the piano that Harper has a moment with while under the influence of an edible. The rooms surround people with frescoes and other art everywhere — even on the ceiling.
Once upon a time, Jackie Kennedy made the villa one of her homes away from home. So you can imagine that the vibe isn’t just luxurious, it’s old-world royalty. Plus, it’s Sicily through and through.
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