Simple Minds in Sicily: I visited Jim Kerr's Sicilian boutique hotel Villa Angela in the hills of Taormina

I went to visit Jim Kerr’s boutique hotel in Sicily - here’s what (and who) I found

During a recent week long holiday to Sicily, myself and my partner decided to take a trip through to the stunning hilltop town of Taormina to visit Jim Kerr’s Villa Angela.

The hotel was built from scratch by the Simple Minds frontman two decades ago and remains one of the most exclusive hotels in the area as the small boutique residence only has 27 rooms. The views are stunning from the hotel as you look across the crystalline waters of the Ionian Sea.

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Kerr’s nephew Sam runs the hotel, and has been working there for 11 years after setting up on the Italian island with his family. In a recent interview when Simple Minds were back in Glasgow to promote their gigs at the OVO Hydro, they described life in Sicily like something out of Craiglang with Jim and Charlie Burchill acting like characters Jack and Victor.

Declan McConville

When the pair aren’t touring around the world, they spend their time on the sunny Mediterranean island and regularly visit the hotel as they both live pretty near to it.

I have been a lifelong Simple Minds fan since my dad introduced me to one of his favourite bands when I was growing up, and I have been fortunate enough to see them live on four occasions in Glasgow. It was great to experience Jim Kerr’s hotel first-hand but I couldn’t have envisaged the afternoon which I was about to have.

Although Glasgow is Scotland’s most populated city, it can often feel like a small place sometimes but whenever you are abroad you never tend to be too far away from a Glaswegian. The chances of meeting a world famous Glaswegian aren’t always as high but on this occasion, fate was on our side.

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After taking a stroll through the narrow streets of Taormina, we took a taxi to Villa Angela which is nestled in the Sicilian hills. A couple of drinks were enjoyed on the terrace of the hotel as the sun was beating down on us as we also enjoyed the company of a couple from Knightswood who had booked themselves into the hotel before seeing the band perform at the Hydro in March.

Declan McConville

We were collectively in awe when a familiar figure appeared, walking down the steps on to the terrace. Jim Kerr himself arrived for lunch with his brother. Kerr has never forgotten his Glasgow roots and went over to everyone sitting on the terrace to say hello. He obliged everyone with a photograph and it was just fantastic to get the chance to meet him.

If you decide to holiday in Sicily, I couldn’t recommend the east coast of the island enough with Mount Etna constantly visible in the distance. Taormina is very picturesque and has stunning views with the town being one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island. We stayed at the Sant Alphio Garden Hotel & Spa in Giardini Naxos which was really easy to get around from.

On the occasions which we did venture out of the hotel, we used the buses to get around as we also visited the ancient port city of Catania. Being a huge Godfather fan, I also simply had to visit some of the filming locations on the east coast of Sicily which we booked a tour to see.

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Declan McConville

I’d thoroughly recommend booking a tour as the locations are difficult to get to with our guide describing them as “nests” in the hills. We first visited the commune of Savoca which was made famous during the filming of the first Godfather film. Bar Vitelli is still a functioning establishment that welcomes tourists, and is best known as the bar where Michael Corleone asks Apollonia's father to meet his daughter. The church were the pair get married called Chiesa di San Nicolò is also found here. We were then whisked away to another small place called Forza d'Agrò where other scenes in The Godfather trilogy were filmed.

Going back to Villa Angela, the style of the hotel is typically Mediterranean but has plenty of features which are connected to Simple Minds as you’ll find plenty of heart, hands and crown logos around the hotel. You can also find some memorabilia. My favourite was a fantastic guitar on the wall which featured on the cover of the band’s 2016 ‘Acoustic’ album.

Declan McConville

The hotel has a great bar which does an outstanding limoncello spritz and you can also pop in for lunch here as they offer both regional and national cuisines meaning you won’t be stuck for choice. The rooms are also impressive with guests having the choice of booking deluxe rooms, deluxe superior rooms and junior suites. We got a peak into the Etna Suite which looked exceptional and also had amazing views.

There is no doubt that if you are a Simple Minds fan, you need to visit this hotel. It is a terrific example of Sicilian hospitality, with a wee bit of a Glasgow accent, and you will be sure to have the type of stay that creates special memories.

Hotel Villa Angela Taormina, Via Leonardo Da Vinci 71E - 98039 

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