Mondello, super-close to Palermo, is where the city dwellers have escaped to for generations. This attractive, contemporary, single-storey holiday villa is on a narrow residential street away from the main centre – a real oasis off the maze of busy streets. Behind the high wall are lush gardens of citrus trees, olive trees and exotic pines, a summer kitchen too. And outside is where you’ll be, on the big wide terrace and shady lawns. Inside all is light, spacious and spotless – the feel is of a relaxed family home, with painted wooden beams and comfortable sofas. The kitchen is white, blue and charming, and all you need for your first breakfast awaits in the fridge; if you arrive late, you can arrange for dinner to be left for you too. The cottage is on the far side of the garden and is equally delightful; the master bedroom is in a new perfect little separate building. Laze in the beautiful pool or head for popular Mondello – its beach is a broad sweep of soft sand dotted with deckchairs, parasols, ice cream stalls and laid-back bars. In winter art and culture emerge – Palermo, the Italian Capital of Culture 2018, is historic and fascinating.