Simpson Travel, the specialist, independent, luxury villa and boutique hotel operator, has introduced a brand new collection of villas in Sicily for 2017.

Adding to its existing Italian portfolio, the operator is now offering a choice of beautiful villas in and around the small town of Cefalù, on Sicily's northern coast. With properties ranging from a spectacular hillside villa overlooking the incredible coastline, to a stylish waterside loft apartment in the heart of Cefalù itself and from a beautiful farmhouse in easy reach of the Madonie National Park to a fabulous converted monastery, the collection offers guests the chance to enjoy the best of this lovely region, with its perfect combination of coast, culture and countryside.

The programme currently centres around the former fishing village of Cefalù. With its medieval streets and pretty squares set against the dramatic backdrop of a giant rock – La Rocca – it was a location in Giuseppe Tornatore's iconic film Cinema Paradiso. The commune has a fascinating history, with a cathedral dating back to 1131, built by one of Sicily's Norman rulers, Roger II, its interior featuring gleaming Byzantine mosaics, considered one of Sicily's greatest attractions. There are also various Norman ruins and a romantic monolithic shrine: The Temple of Diana. 

In its narrow streets visitors can enjoy lovely pavement cafés and restaurants, with a choice of cuisine reflecting the many cultures that have influenced life along this stretch of coastline. There is also an array of beaches to choose from. One of the most popular, thanks to its fabulous setting, is that of Cefalù town itself. Overlooked by the Cathedral-dominated skyline and towering La Rocca beyond, you can step off the beach and be right in the heart of the Old Town. For those who prefer to be a little more off the beaten track, a string of idyllic beaches can be found within a short drive, offering  long stretches of sandy and pebbles along with sparklingly clean water.

Those in search of a more rural adventure have the sweeping pine plains of the Madonie National Park to explore, with something for every season. Spring sees wildflowers in bloom, whilst in summer it offers a welcome break from the coast and autumn brings colourful foliage. There are also a number of hilltop towns and villages to explore, with cobbled streets, attractive squares and restaurants offering delicious home-cooked Sicilian food.

Highlights of the properties include:

Villa Splendida

Sleeping up to eight guests, this beautiful property offers stunning views across the terracotta rooftops, sandy beach and handsome Duomo of Cefalù to the blue sea and Aeolian islands beyond.  The decked terrace, with a pool and surrounding lawn, is framed by mature olive and pine trees, making it a wonderfully private setting to stretch out in the sun after a cooling swim. Warm sunny days last from April to November so the summer kitchen is the place to cook like a true Sicilian, with aromatic herbs from the garden and fresh fish from the market. Inside, the cosy, open-plan living areas are white and luminous, a welcome and practical space for family gatherings with an additional self-contained annex, ideal for visiting grandparents or a couple.

Villa Le Sorbe

With a path down to a private beach, a large pool and sea views, Villa Le Sorbe, made up of two separate three-bedroom houses, is ideal for two families holidaying together. It's perfectly located, with fabulous views and walks from the door either up into a forested hillside to a lake, or via a path down to the pebbly beach for a dip in the sea. Sleeping up to 12, the house is fresh and airy and also has wonderful outside space, with a beautiful pool, terrace and a summer kitchen – perfect for enjoying a fresh seafood platter or pizza together under the pergola. For a real taste of rural Sicily, the gardener's mother is also on hand to prepare some authentic home-cooked meals so you can truly relax and simply enjoy the experience (pre-booked in advance, payable locally).

Terrazza Gabbiano

This unique loft-style apartment is located in the heart of the picturesque coastal town of Cefalù, with its historic honey-coloured houses and medieval cobbled streets. Sleeping up to eight people in four bedrooms, it has breathtaking, panoramic sea views, and you can hear the sound of waves lapping on the rocks below. Once home to an artist, the interiors reflect the whites and blues of the coastline, with colourful tiles, whitewashed beams and wooden floors.  

Staying in the vibrant historic centre offers a real slice of Sicilian life, with plenty of authentic bars, pizzerias and seafood restaurants to sample the local cuisine. Buy fresh fish, fruit and vegetables from street stalls for a long lazy lunch at home, explore the local sights or just sunbathe and swim on the sandy beach. Evenings can be spent enjoying the local restaurants, or soaking up the views from your private balconies.

For bookings call 020 8003 6557 or visit www.simpsontravel.com