Amanda & Alan’s Italian Job - BBC

Amanda Holden and Alan Carr embark on the project of a lifetime as they set themselves the challenge of renovating two rundown apartments in Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island, just off the coast of southern Italy. This island ticks every holiday must-have: hot climate, crystal clear waters and idyllic white sand beaches.  

The aim is to finish the build in three months and then sell the properties to raise money for a UK charity. But it’s not all work, along the way they discover the beauty and tranquillity of this Italian Isle. There are a magnificent seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in Sicily, so there are wonders to discover across the whole island.  

Like the look of Amanda and Alan’s Sicilian summer? Well, we’ve designed the perfect guide based on their adventures – swapping the renovation for some of our trusted hotels of course! 

If you missed it, you can watch the full series now on BBC iPlayer.

Alan Carr standing in front of a brick building 

 

“I love Italy, it’s the friendliness, it’s the pizza, the pasta, the olive oil, the wine”

– Amanda Holden, Amanda & Alan’s Italian Job on BBC

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Salemi

In the first episode Amanda and Alan head into the heart of western Sicily to visit their new homes situated in the Medieval town of Salemi, just over an hour from the island’s capital, Palermo. Upon arrival, Amanda and Alan talk fondly of Salemi, aweing at its charm and grandeur, saying “everywhere you look there’s just stunning architecture.” 

After some hard work clearing out the properties Amanda and Alan take a well-earned break with an Aperol Spritz in the quaint town square. Salemi is also home to the marvellous Sicilian marble used for their kitchen’s counter tops and is a desired material all over the world.  

If you want to experience Sicily like the locals and enjoy a slice of Amanda’s Dolce Niente, the art of doing nothing, Salemi is well worth a visit. After some tilemaking for the bathroom, Amanda also enjoyed some local Italian lessons from her new neighbour who runs her own microbrewery in Salemi. Why not grab a drink there on your visit?

Where to stay?

To visit Salemi during your Italian getaway we recommend a stay at Palco Rooms & Suites which is a 1.20-hour drive from this hidden gem.  
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Palermo

For a bustling atmosphere, the island’s capital is definitely worth a visit. This ancient port city and UNESCO World Heritage site is home to Italy’s largest opera house as well as some of the country's best beaches. Due to its southerly location Palermo is one of one of Europe’s warmest cities and guarantees long hot summers.  

While Alan is hard at work, Amanda embraces the local culture and heads to sample some of Palermo’s culinary delights. After some more work to the house, Alan, and Amanda revisit Palermo to do some shopping at local flea market, Piazza Marina, situated by the capital’s harbour.  

Where to stay?

To experience the capital of Sicily in all its glory we recommend a stay at the unique Palco Rooms & Suites that offers grand views of Italy’s largest opera house, Teatro Massimo. 

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Marsala

The first episode shows the pair travel to Marsala to try some water sports and Amanda and Alan return later to finish their day perfectly at Marsala Salt Pans, famous for the best sunsets in Sicily.  

Amanda goes for an aromatic Sicilian dish, couscous alla trapensese with the locals, before wine hunting here later in the series. Marsala has an interesting old baroque quarter and is famous for its fortified cooking wine, but Sicilians believe Marsala wine is delicious in its own right. Amanda and Alan attend a local wine tasting at a traditional vineyard to find an authentic drink for their kitchen party.  

In their quest to embrace local traditions, Alan arranges another excursion to the Salt Pans of Masala in episode three but this time for a Spa trip. The Phoenicians created the Salt Pans 2,700 years ago and the high concentration of minerals is said to have healing properties. 

Episode five, sees another trip to Marsala as Amanda and Alan visit the gardens of the biggest wine producers in Sicily, 800-acre Donnafugata, to explore and join in with the harvest.   

Where to stay?

To explore Marsala, we recommend a stay at Scala dei Turchi, Agrigento which is an hour and 40-minute drive away. This hotel offers chic modern accommodation just 350 yards from the famous white Scala dei Turchi cliffs.
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Erice, Castellammare del Golfo and Alcamo

As the sun sets on another Sicilian day, Alan whisks Amanda to the mountain top town of Erice, allegedly home to the most breath-taking views of the whole west coast of Sicily. This medieval town has 60 churches, 2 castles and is the perfect place to get lost among the ancient, cobbled streets as you explore the area.  

For Alan’s birthday, the pair head to the post-card perfect port of Castellammare del Golfo, renowned for its seafront castle. They enjoyed a private boat trip, with a picnic and dip in the opulent waters. The voyage took them along the Zingaro coastline, a protected nature reserve stretching 7km. 

The series also shows Alan go shopping in the nearby town of Alcamo. This large town has an impressive castle with a wine museum and interesting churches to marvel at.

Where to stay?

To visit Erice, Castellammare del Golfo or Alcamo during your Italian getaway we recommend a stay at Palco Rooms & Suites in the heart of Palermo. Enjoy the buzz of the capital and the views from the magnificent mountain top and picturesque port.
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Termini

In a bid for inspiration, Alan heads north of the island to Termini, a town famous for its ancient thermal springs and it is just half an hour from the seaside town of Cefalu.’  Embrace the local culture with a walk through streets lined with craft shops or spend long sun-drenched days on luxurious beaches.

Where to stay?

Enjoy a Sicilian holiday in Cefalu’ with a day trip to Termini with a stay at Hotel Alberi del Paradiso. Located on the hills overlooking Cefalù, this welcoming hotel has an elegant yet traditional style with tranquil pool and garden areas.  
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Selinunte, Sciacca and Menfi

For some creativity and horse riding, the pair head 15 miles south to Selinunte. Famous for its ancient Greek city and rich legacy, Selinunte is worth spending some time wandering around and uncovering its history. Amanda and Alan ride past the Temple of Hera, the goddess of women. This is the biggest archaeological site in Europe.

Alan heads south to Sciacca, the Sicily’s ceramic capital, where stoneware making traditions date back to 200BC. Sciacca is off the beaten track and offers untouched authenticity to visitors. This town is steeped in history and has some interesting sights such as a medieval castle and walled old town with baroque style buildings and a quaint fishing port. 

In episode two, the renovation is well underway and the team head to artistic Menfi for a Sicilian sundowner as they marvel at Sicily’s greenery. 

 

Where to stay?

To add a day trip to Selinunte, Sciacca or Menfi to your Italian island itinerary we recommend a stay at Scala dei Turchi, Agrigento.
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Set on Sicily?

Explore some of the island's other breath-taking regions.

Palermo, Cefalù and Taormina

11 day suggested trip


At a glance
  • Enjoy authentic Sicilian street food in Palermo
  • See Cefalù from the famous La Rocca
  • Visit the ancient Greek amphitheatre with views of Mount Etna
From £1599 per person
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Treasures of Sicily Small Group Escorted Tour

8 day suggested trip


At a glance
  • Exclusive to Citalia
  • Explore temples, ruins and buildings dating back to ancient Greece
  • Immerse yourself in the Greek mythology of ancient times
  • Maximum group size 18
  • Take in the beautiful Baroque architecture of the area
  • Try fine local wines and appetisers in a traditional winery
  • Visit Sicily's largest market and try local delicacies and street food
  • Visit the majestic Mount Etna and maybe see smoke from the top
  • Wander through cobbled streets which overlook the sparkling Mediterranean
From £2089 per person
ATOL Protected

Regions in Sicily

 

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