Sicily golfing heaven on earth

By Gino Funari

BBC Northern Ireland Golf Correspondent

Set in the hilly terrain of Sicily, golfing paradise in the Mediterranean, has a variety of courses, a dining option of some of the most upmarket cuisine ever seen, with the necessary Italian characteristics – no money for politicians, and rest assured you’ll enjoy your break. You’re spending the day indoors playing golf and if you’re eating well at the traditional Italian restaurants which line the streets outside you’ll have done well. Four courses in Sicily However, if you decide to venture outside it’s a whole different matter. Golf courses in Sicily are well-loved and definitely fun to play. You can visit a place called La Rita which is probably the best course there is with a picturesque course that’s hilly and not pitch and put. In the town of Avella, where the heat is at its greatest, the Christina Rocca course is the epitome of design. This is an evergreen course. Most golfers would call this the best outside of Italy. I enjoyed the spot on 1 October when I was there and lost to Father Michael Clarke in a sudden death playoff. My best playing score, with the many bad bounces, was 55, three shots off the winning score of 70. You can play a practice round at The Royal Red Cruises Titanic Belfast ahead of its official opening on the same day The Crowne Plaza by the sea is slightly away from the main roads but retains a swish residential and beach side environment for all. You can choose from 10 or 20 holes of golf as well as a fascinating view of the fountains in the Central Garden and a view of the main streets from the VIP marquee over the Ocean. My favourite restaurant was Casa Fabrica. After a quick lunch we had a mini round of golf outside. Talking of looking out for the customers, The Royal Red Cruises Titanic Belfast’s official opening is on the same day as my trip to Sicily. This is not an easy place to find; you have to take a long, 45 minute ferry ride from Catania to Digiceleta. There’s nowhere to park, and you will find a queue for a lifeboat, but the 5.25 hour journey is well worth it for the view of the docks and the ship in the distance. It’s the first ocean liner liner to be built since the Titanic went down, and it’s free to anyone in history to go on the first trip, on their own accord. The morning of my return, I went to see the famous The Monet for sale. The right one? Funazioni Golf Course The Monet has a history so rich that even the merchants’ association has proudly and lovingly dedicated the day to this iconic vessel. With the colours, art and folk art, more like the Montereale of Gustave Courbet, than the nautical look of more traditional boats, I am certain there are keen collectors of this vessel in a niche market around the world. If you’re planning to visit Sicily, it would be important to check the weather. On Saturday it’ll be particularly bad, probably around 30 degrees, so I’m going to go out playing and see how it plays out. Funazioni, in Veneto, is one of the best courses in Europe and its history stretches back to the time of the founder of Renaissance Italy. The most famous player to come out of it was Michelangelo, the Italian artists that one. He was one of the best players in the region and competed in the European Amateur Championship there. Enjoying a drink at Ristorante Isole, the general rule is only to play golf on sunny days but, should the rain fall, you may as well play in it because the sun shines in Sicily.

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