Written by by Tom Philpott, CNN
It may be one of the most recognized, albeit now quite a different, golfing country clubs in Europe. But the Club Caro Sicilian in Ispahan, Sicily, once closed for nearly 30 years, reopens to the public in September.
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Located just outside Palermo, the natural amphitheater fits in perfectly with its surroundings — and the Mediterranean Sea. The the 7,000-capacity Club Caro Sicilian was once dominated by Hollywood stars — firstly in the 1940s, when it was a stop on US bomber transits from Berlin to Sicily, and then in the 1950s, when Sophia Loren and other stars regularly caught up with Beatrice Vigneron and husband Charles Finch, founders of the club.
A multitude of Mediterranean sea views extend right from Club Caro Sicilian’s front door. Courtesy of Club Caro Sicilian
Preserving Club Caro Sicilian’s history was the main challenge to turning it around.
“I inherited a very special club, and I don’t like to destroy things, otherwise you end up with something awful,” Caro Finch told CNN.
He’s now the club’s chairman and CEO, and is keen to note that the Golf and Riviera courses, due to reopen in October, complement the historic Architecture Golf & Country Club.
Caro Finch built Club Caro Sicilian, far right, to emulate the coastal golf course of his youth. Courtesy of Club Caro Sicilian
Known as Fiera della Golf in English, it opened in 1974 and was later surpassed by one of Europe’s new wave of championship courses.
Caro Finch insists Club Caro Sicilian’s renovation was meant to suit the Mediterranean climate and high winds. Courtesy of Club Caro Sicilian
More than 150 members and guests will use the Club Caro Sicilian golf courses, which open the same month as the Classic Italian Course, in time for the new Tuscan Open in November.
The course has fallen short of expectations since being marketed in the mid-1990s. Caro Finch is certainly aware of this.
Golfers will take pleasure in one of the region’s most scenic settings. Courtesy of Club Caro Sicilian
“We don’t know what to expect,” he said. “The goal is to be competitive.”