Casa Migliaca, Sicily, Italy

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Casa Migliaca is located 7 km from the north coast of Sicily, midway between Messina and Palermo, not far from Cefal├╣. The place has always belonged to the Allegra family, Signora Teresa’s family who lived in the nearby town of Mistretta.

Thanks to the mild climate and the light breezes, the owners have always regarded it more as a pleasant resort than as a resource, even though it was a productive farm.
It has a beautiful location on a hilltop 205 m above sea level, 300 m from the village of Pettineo. To the west there is a view of the Tusa river valley below, dominated by the old town of Tusa, located on the opposite side of the valley. To the north, far out to sea, you can occasionally see the Aeolian Islands. To the south is Pettineo and to the east is the higher-lying town of Motta d’Affermo.

There are no documents from which one can determine how old Casa Migliaca is, but it was probably built in the 17th century. The location of the house on one side of the old path to the Tusa river is strategically good and from here there is a fantastic view of the Tusa valley. Therefore, it is believed that the site originally belonged to part of Pettineo’s line of defense, and similarities have been found with the ruins of the Ventimiglia Castle in Pettineo, built by the Ventimiglia family, who ruled northern Sicily from the 14th to the 17th centuries. It is the uneven stone pavement around the house, of a very old type called “a giacatu”, that forms the oldest part of the building.

There are traces of the original settlement under the stone layer that is today the foundation of the building. It is assumed that the original part roughly corresponds to the foundation today, when one disregards the east wing.

In the early 1800s, the top floor was added. The old fortress, which had since become an oil mill, thus became a dwelling house for the owner. It is believed that it was also at this time that the east wing was added as a stable for the animals and an outhouse for the tools.

Teresa grew up near Messina and at that time it was her grandparents in Mistretta who used Casa Migliaca. They lived here only during the period of the year when they harvested and made oil. The lower floor of the house was used for oil processing while the dwelling was upstairs. During World War II, however, the whole family moved here, as here it was safer than in the city.
Sebastiano is from Catania and here he and Teresa settled, and here their two sons, Luca and Antonio, grew up. The sons are now adults and still live in Catania, but often come and help at Casa Migliaca.

In 1993, Teresa and Sebastiano began the renovation of Casa Migliaca.

The tooth of time has not spoiled the original beauty of Casa Migliaca, but added to it a charm that Teresa and Sebastiano have been able to preserve. The rooms still have their original size and they have been given names and memorabilia about their previous function. The main part of the olive press and the underlying reservoir are still preserved in its original place. The old millstone is used for a dining table. The old oil pots are scattered around the garden, now converted into flower pots. Beautiful pergolas, whose surface is even older than the old millstone, surround the house. The house has an exact north-south facing location, resulting in at least two sides being in the shade at any time of the day. The south side is used for summer evening meals. To the west and north side is the shade under the green pergolas, helped by a cool breeze from the mountains around Casa Migliaca, perfect for softening the hot summer sun of summer. The cool shade found here is an oasis for relaxing reading or a nap in one of the sun loungers scattered around. On the ground floor is the heart The Oil Mill Salon, with the unique, 20-person, round table made of the old oil mill stone with the engraved year MDCLI (1651). This may be the date of the change from fortress to oil mill. It is i.a. here, one meets the unique hospitality, for here owners and guests eat together. The language may vary depending on which guests are sitting at the table. Italian, English and French are among the most commonly heard. The atmosphere around the table is lifted by the aroma and taste of Teresa’s Sicilian cuisine. for here owners and guests eat together. The language may vary depending on which guests are sitting at the table. Italian, English and French are among the most commonly heard. The atmosphere around the table is lifted by the aroma and taste of Teresa’s Sicilian cuisine. for here owners and guests eat together. The language may vary depending on which guests are sitting at the table. Italian, English and French are among the most commonly heard. The atmosphere around the table is lifted by the aroma and taste of Teresa’s Sicilian cuisine.

An outdoor staircase leads up to the first floor, where there is a living room, as well as the old kitchen, where you prepare your own breakfast. In addition, there are three rooms named after the predominant color of the room tiles from Santo Stefano di Camastra.

Casa Migliaca is surrounded by 12 hectares of farmland, two thirds of which are operated according to Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic methods. The main products for sale are lemons and olive oil. Every year, about 2,000 liters of olive oil are produced. With the trees you have, you could in reality produce twice as much, but you have chosen to use only hand-picked berries and leave them that fall down by themselves. This gives a better quality, but also a significantly smaller quantity.

In addition, there are a number of different fruit trees around the house. The many fruits, such as sweet and bitter oranges, tangerines, pears, figs, apricots, almonds and plums, are available to guests of the agriturismo and are additionally processed into various jams served for breakfast. Several kitchen herbs are also used in the agriturismo, e.g. tomatoes, peppers, squash and aubergines. A rich variety of edible, wild plants, such as cruciferous plants, asparagus, wild fennel, capers, oregano, thyme that grow in the area, are also collected to add flavor to the kitchen.
The coast is located 7 km north of Casa Migliaca. The northern coast of Sicily is mostly rocky with pebble beaches. The nearest beach is in Castel di Tusa. As is the tradition in most of Sicily, the beaches are free and most have outdoor showering. The sea water is warm and crystal clear and on a warm spring day there are more who lie down on the hot rocks and enjoy the sun.

Today, Luca runs Casa Migliaca and it is a place we have come since the late 1990s – and still visit ourselves.

Casa Migliaca, Sicily, Italy