We have been coming to Sorrento for many years and it a wonderful place for a holiday with lots to see and do. Only 20 minutes by train from Sorrento is Pompei, which is really worth a visit, and also Herculaneum a lesser known town a little further than Pompei. Capri is only about 30 minutes on the ferry from the Port in Sorrento and much cheaper buying the boat ticket directly at the Port.
Capri is expensive but worth going to see for the day, with the blue grotto and beautiful views. We did the chair lift a few years ago which is good fun. This year we rented a house about 20 minutes from Sorrento in Massa Lubrense and it was a great experience. The house had a little garden and we sat outside in the evening, which we loved. The owner Lucia went out of her way to make us feel welcome and even took us to visit Puglia which is about three hours from Sorrento. The Amalfi drive is about 30 minutes from the house we rented and we went there three times, once going to Positano and the other times to Amalfi. We managed to go to Ravello getting a local bus from Amalfi and spent the afternoon there.
Individual shops on every corner from shoes, clothes, unique stationary etc.
With the added advantage of picturesque outdoor street market, with quality leather in all shades of the rainbow and styles from briefcase to handbags.
Mercato nuovo smaller market next to statute of il porcellino - the saying goes if you touch it you will return again, which would be wonderful mixing sightseeing, great food and shopping.
Ponte Vecchio for the special present of jewellery and watches.
Plaza di San Lorenzo, 50122 Florence, Italy
+39 055 23320
Google map: bit.ly/trDkS7
La Grotta del Vento in the Apuane Alps is named for the draught that blows through it owing to one entrance being 1000m higher than the other and thus at a very different temperature. Now the only time you feel the wind is when the steel doors at the lower entrance to the cave are opened to allow access. There are a choice of one, two or three hour guided tours. We went on the two hour tour which takes you through galleries full of stalactites, stalagmites and other glittering structures before a long descent down a vertical abyss to an underground river. It's a fascinating trip and the accompanying audio tour in English provides lots of interesting information about the discovery of the cave and its use for psychological experiments and health therapies as well as the various natural formations. Those looking for something more challenging can go on an adventure tour which uses ladders and ropes to visit parts of the cave not accessible by walkways and staircases.
There’s something primal about sleeping in a cave – being inside the earth cuts off the man-made world. Due to its volcanic past southern Italy is a veritable Swiss cheese of caves, and Cave Central is Matera in Basilicata. Up until the 1980s it was a disease-ridden town of troglodytes, now an astonishing Unesco site where we visited ancient churches in caves, ate in restaurants in caves, and stayed in a cave - albeit nowadays with marble floors, room service and a Jacuzzi bath.
Fantastic restaurant in a restored hamlet that serves a superb 12 course tasting menu which takes you through the historic flavours of Le Marche region, Silvano the chef delivers each course with an explanation of the dishes origins, history, ingredients and methods. A fantastic 3.5 hr sitting including wine and coffee cost €30.
This wonderful luxury B&B is located in one the most beautiful villages in Italy, which boasts a Terme health resort, skiing and hiking in The Sibillini Mountains and a local area that is littered with stunning medieval villages. We were among the first guests at this hotel which is based in a 16C palazzo and finished to the highest level. Our bedroom was big, very stylish and comfortable and the ensuite was something out of grand designs. Rhona the owner was very helpful with tips and advice.
After our coffee in Caffe Belli in a lovely little town of Amandola in Le Marche, we decided to walk up to the top of the town for a wonderful view of the Sibillini mountains. We came across this small but perfectly formed theatre, still very much in use (there had been a children's performance of The Wizard of Oz the previous day). Le Marche has many beautiful theatres, but none as small as this.
The MAD stands for moda, architettura and design, and it's great for all of these. The clothes - women's only - are a delight: they're fun and modern as well as being elegant, and amazingly, they're not hugely expensive. It makes it hard not to fill up your shopping bag. Everything's made in Italy, and the designers, Francesca and Paola, are always at the shop to welcome clients. There's also a space for artists, photographers, jewellers, and there's usually an exhibition of some sort going on. It's well worth a visit. I love it.
Carloforte is a former Genoese enclave on the tiny, remote island of San Pietro, off the main island of Sardinia, surrounded by untouched nature and blue sea. Spend the day on a beach of fine sand at 'La Bobba', swimming in crystalline water. Join one of the small boat-tours of the island, or even better hire your own and go diving. In the evening, smarten up for dinner at 'Al Tonno di Corsa', where the speciality is tuna caught with traditional methods. As an appetizer or late-night snack, eat a simple and delicious 'farinata' a Genoese chickpea flat bread sold by the slice from the pizzeria on Corso Tagliafico, the main, palm-lined avenue (by the tourist office/'Pro Loco') and eaten while promenading. The old town is beautiful, constructed on few hills and made up of small lanes winding up steps in between pastel-coloured houses. And the best is getting there! With few tourists around you'll discover a hidden treasure not even many Sardinians go to.
Fly to Cagliari with BA or easyjet, then hire a car or catch a bus to Calasetta, on the neighbouring island of Sant'Antioco (connected to the mainland by a bridge and also worth exploring) then a ferry to Carloforte.
www.sardegnaturismo.it/en/ (select Carbonia-Iglesias province, then Carloforte for a variety of information)
Via Marconi, 47
09014 Carloforte, Cagliari, Sardegna
Google map: bit.ly/p2Ixao
A pleasure to read with no lists of "the best 10" places to see but lovingly based on a lifetime of walking around Venice. It will take you to where Canaletto stood to paint famous scenes, obscure alleys with Byzantine remains and will provide knowledge of things you will not otherwise know, e.g. the rio used by Casanova to asignations at Palazzo Bragadin, as well as giving a more thorough guide to both Venice's usual and to its beautiful but less visited trasures than any other book.
Its a typlical Roman trattoria with its own specialist dish. No pretension, no frills, no waiters at the door asking you to come in and the speciality of cacio e pepe tagliolini at 11 euros is worth the trip alone - pecorino cheese, pepper and butter served in a cheese basket. You can have two courses, a mezzo (half) a litre of wine and a coffee for 25 euros each.
Piazza di Santa Cecilia, 24, 00153 Roma, Italy
+39(0) 6 5800757
Number 8 tram from Rome centre. Get off after you cross the river. From Trastevere railway station get off before the river, with the river behind you walk left off Vialle Trastevere and you will find it.
Google map: bit.ly/pofQdT
Sorrento is a great place to go for a late summer or autumn break. The evenings are cooler, but the days are still sunny and warm, and the colours of the autumn foliage blaze along the Amalfi coast. The crowds have gone, and the temperature is much more agreeable for visiting the sights such as Pompeii and Herculaneum. Foodies are in for a treat too, as this is the time of year for freshly picked local mushrooms, chestnuts and walnuts. For a splurge try L'Antica Trattoria - fabulous food, a beautiful terrace and a cosy traditional interior for the cooler evenings. For a restaurant with a local neighbourhood feel, try Il Leone Rosso - spot on for an authentic Pizza Marinara.
Set in an impossibly perfect medieval hilltop village, the stripey food tent is crammed with extended family groups dining on chestnut dishes made with beef or chickpeas before strolling the twisting alleys still decked with the last of summer's fading window boxes to choose their desserts from the selection of cakes all made with, yes you've guessed it, chestnuts. A steady stream of full sacks are delivered to a giant hotplate for roasting then transported at a run to the back of the kitchens to be transformed into more chestnut delicacies. Enjoying the tapestry of brilliant autumn colours in the crisp air certainly enhances the appetite. Not easy to find but definitely worth the trip.
This is the best English language bookshop in Rome. The owner Dermot O'Connell is a great source of information about the fantastic selection of books he stocks and will also be able to tell you where and where not to go. If you need a guide book, a good summer read, an Italian themed read or want to choose from his wide selection of non-fiction titles you must visit via del Moro 45. He also stocks some set books if you need something if you are studying in Rome. I love it!!!!
Via del Moro, 45, 00153 Rome, Italy
Google map: bit.ly/pqIbbX
Shun the condom-and-glass-laden shores of Ostia if you want to visit the beach for a day on your summer hols to Rome.
The beach and sea at Sperlonga are cleaner, prettier and quieter, and only take an hour(ish) to get to by train from Termini, Rome's main train station. The beach is also shallow for quite a long way out to sea so it's a nice paddling spot for children or people with short legs.
Take the Naples slow train, which is at 49 minutes past the hour every hour from 8am and costs 6.20 Euros. Get off at Fondi Sperlonga and then get the beach bus (1 Euro) to the seafront itself.
It's worth leaving the beach for a couple of hours and wandering up to the hilltop town for a drink or a spot of lunch and a gawk at the view.
This festival of food, drink, music and shopping is open on the banks of the Tiber most evenings until August 29th. There are at least a couple of hundred stalls selling everything from pizza and jewellery to art, fried fish, water filters, mojitos, shisha, Mexican food, tarot readings and soap. My personal Fatty McPuddingface award goes to the Bar Pompi ('The King of Tiramisu') kiosk which is doing Pina Colada tiramisu especially for the event, along with strawberry flavour, banana/nutella and the regular coffee variety. So nice not to have to get the Metro all the way out to Re di Roma to stuff myself full of dessert.
It's a lovely excuse to take an evening walk long the river starting at Castello S. Angelo and heading to Isola Tiberina. You can book tables at some of the restaurants in advance or just turn up but you may have a wait if you do so between 8-11pm at the weekend.
My wife and I stayed two weeks in Rome staying at Grand Bed & Breakfast. Was a great choice, lovely accommodation in very central location and the staff were really helpful and pleasant. The room was clean and well appointed, and the bed comfortable and we had daily breakfast served in-room at an agreed time. The room was cleaned every two days, we had fresh towels every two days and bedding every three days. We were able to walk from the hotel to many sights. The area around is packed with restaurants, which some are quite cheap, and Rome's buzzing night life is next door. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay, all in all not a luxury hotel but is perfect if you are looking for somewhere nice to sleep at an affordable price.
The agritourismo Il Piastrino is a family run B&B on a Tuscan farm with apartments and rooms. I recommend it because it is a family run agriturismo, where all food and produce come from the family's farm and the surrounding area. Nothing was too much trouble as they prepared a wonderful Tuscan meal including hams, cheeses with honey, melon and other traditional Italian foods for nine people on very short notice. Furthermore they arranged taxi transport to our next destination in Florence - roughly an hour away. Everything was hassle free. The setting was beautiful among the vineyards and olive groves and the outdoor pool was great to cool off in. It is also a short bicycle ride into the town of Vinci the birthplace of Leonardo Da Vinci.
Visit the hilltop Etruscan town of Cortona. As you wander around its narrow streets, taking in breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, you may notice that some of it looks familiar. It has infact been used as a backdrop for various films, notably Under the Tuscan Sun, based on the book of the same name by Frances Mayes, and Roberto Benigni's Life is Beautiful. You can continue the film tour in most of Tuscany - towns south of Siena (Stealing Beauty), the Val d'Orcia valley (Gladiator) and obviously Florence (A Room with a View, Tea with Mussolini).
Google map: bit.ly/lovdaV
For a more authentic Tuscan experience, go to Siena in winter. With far fewer tourists, you can see the sights without the crowds and although it's quite cold, the days are usually clear and crisp. Typical Tuscan food is more suitable for winter too - ribollita (vegetable and bread soup, far more delicious than it sounds), pici (local pasta, rather like fat spaghetti) and bistecca alla fiorentina will keep you full and warm for hours. The atmosphere before Christmas is magical - the streets are festooned with garlands made from fir trees and oranges while on New Year's Eve, the Piazza del Campo, filled with revellers of all ages, plays host to a free concert with stars from the Italian music scene.
Piazza del Campo, Siena
Google map: bit.ly/iP31vP
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com