Fontes Episcopi is surrounded by uncontaminated nature, just outside the attractive town of Aragona. Close at hand is one of the most fascinating nature reserves of Sicily, the Natural Reserve Macalube, characterised by mud volcanoes, while 15 km away imposing Doric temples, dating back to 5th century BC, rise from the valley that has become one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, together with the ancient Akragas, or Agrigento, which Pindaro described as “the most beautiful city of mortals.”
Fontes Episcopi embodies the old world of Sicily, luxuriant and aristocratic, of which the Grand Tour travellers were so enamoured. The handsome farmhouse is integrally connected with its surroundings, and this connection is as perfect today as it was in the late 19th century, when Fontes Episcopi was owned by Gerlando Genuardi, the descendant of a local influential family, who retreated here, amongst nature, to study and meditate, till he finally decided to serve in the Catholic Church and was later appointed bishop. It is said that, thanks to the bishop’s springs (Fontes Episcopi), the countryside which was naturally parched, could finally benefit from the presence of water. Fontes Episcopi is set deep amid palm trees and orchards; it has an internal court into which some of the rooms look out. The foyer and the communal areas are on the first floor, where the farm hands and manager’s accommodation and the hall used to be located. This space has been carefully restored, keeping some of the original features, such as the exposed stone; the old kitchen has also been renovated, and it continues to be at the heart of the house, where bread is made with leaven and delicious dishes are prepared with vegetables from the kitchen garden, together with many other delicacies of the food tradition of Sicily. The original flour mill and the stables have been converted into an excellent wellness centre where a range of natural treatments are on offer, some using fruit or the mud from the Macalube volcanoes; guests can also swim in the beautiful outdoor pool or relax in the solarium. Those who wish to build a physical contact with nature will be attracted by the horticultural therapy which allows visitors to work in the garden, help harvesting almonds and olives, and tend to the vegetables and the plants of pulses.
There are seven rooms at Fontes Episcopi. They are located on the so-called noble floor, except for one, which is situated on the ground floor for those who prefer not to negotiate the stairs; they all enjoy views of the garden or of the pool, and one has its own terrace. They are simply, elegantly furnished, with great attention and care, and have been decorated with natural materials and various soft colours inspired by the countryside, after which the rooms are named: olive and rosemary, honey and carob, cornflower, orange and laurel.