Established in 1989, the 18-hole layout at Il Piccioli is one of only half a dozen golf courses that are currently available for play in Sicily, though there are several more courses either planned or under construction.
Measuring a healthy 5,881 metres from the championship tees, the course plays to a par of 72. Highlight holes include short par fours at the 3rd, where out of bounds runs the length of fairway on the left, and the 13th, which doglegs left and downhill to the green.
Back-to-back par fives at the left doglegged 6th and double doglegged 7th offer birdie opportunities but don’t expect any favours at the 430-metre 11th , rated stroke index 1, where there’s water to the left off the tee and more water to the right on the approach.
The signature hole can probably be regarded as the very short 15th (measuring less than 100 metres from the back tees) where Mount Etna forms a backdrop to a three-tiered green that rarely yields anything less than a “3” on the scorecard.
The course hosted the Ladies Italian Open for three years between 1995 and 1997, then again in 2011. The European Senior Open was also held here in 2010.
"I am designing a new course near Taormina right now" said Costantino Rocca, "but progress has been held up by a combination of bad weather and Sicilian attitude. Until that is finished, my favourite Sicilian course is the original one, on a country estate near Linguaglossa on the shoulder of Etna, with the smoking volcano always in view. There is a new resort hotel beside the course, but I prefer the “dormy house” or foresteria solution, staying in the clubhouse – good food and a friendly atmosphere."