the countryside around Lucca features some beautiful antique villas & castles. perfect for weekly rental, incentives, events or weddings. if you stay in this area you are very close to many interesting sides in Italy (Tuscany) like Florence, Pisa, the Versilia coast with the Mediterranean. we booked a holiday home with www.cometosee.it
they also offer tours etc.
There’s a secret that I’m hesitant to share as the rest of the year Venice is always overflowing with tourists, but at Christmas it’s a real joy. Not crowded, but enough people around to give it a magical Venetian atmosphere. You’ll stumble upon little Christmas markets in the squares, admire the crafted Murano glass tree baubles glistening from shop windows, and relish the beautiful fresh foods near the Rialto. This time of year there are no queues for the Acadamia Gallery or the Saint Mark's Basilica and we’ve even been in the vast council chambers of the Doge’s Palace with just us and the security guard. It’s cold there this time of year – but often with bright blue skies during the day, so a good coat is an essential. Then, by a tick of the Torre dell'Orologio clock, it’s time to ring in the New Year with the annual huge celebration and party in St. Marks Square. A great way to see Venice full of people again.
Google map: bit.ly/umO3Wi
TuttiFrutti, in the heart of what used to be Rome's Smithfields, is an inexpensive family run restaurant. It's Italian, so you'll always find variations of the what makes Italian cuisine so famous (gnocchi, pasta dishes, pizza) on the constantly changing menu. TuttiFrutti does for food what Paul Smith does to traditional English fashion: old style with a twist. The wine list is extensive and the staff are sophisticated and incredibly genial. This restaurant has become my regular spot to take people when they visit Rome.
Via Luca Della Robbia, 3/A, 00153 Roma
Nearest Metro: Piramide
Google map: bit.ly/sRAJ7r
This is a great restaurant right in the centre of Amalfi. Great cooking and wines. Quite pricey but worth it.
Luxurious holiday apartments right in the city center of Florence
available also transfers, private tour guides & italy tours
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apartments in Florence:
It is a lovely bed and breakfast in Nicolosi, the closest town to Etna.
Despite its central position the bed and breakfast is surrounded by a peaceful and quiet environment.
The Sabatini Restaurant is in the heart of Trastevere opposite the Basilica of Santa Maria. This area is a must when visiting Rome, as it is one of the oldest parts of the city. There are great shops and restaurants and it is in walking distance of the Vatican and Piazza Navone. There are frequent shuttle buses outside of Ciampino airport which take only about 20 minutes to arrive in the center of Rome, whereas from the larger airport Fiumicino, the train takes about 30 minutes.
Google map: bit.ly/shp4Op
We have stayed at the Hotel Mediterraneo twice and found it to be a really good hotel. It is about 15 minutes from Sorrento and has frequent buses into the town. There is a train station in S'Agnello to take you to Pompei. The Marinella beach is infront of the hotel and we went there almost every day, it has fabulous views of the Bay of Naples. An ideal hotel for relaxing, as it is near enough to visit Sorrento whenever you want, but a little quieter. We went often to the foreigners club which has great views and good food.
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.
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