Lovely villa B&B, use of veranda later for wine and reviewing the day. the area is charming but only 10 minutes by train to Sorrento for dinner. Get the seven euro ticket at the station which gives you 24 hours travel, train and bus, around the Amalfi coast so is well worth it. And do stop in Positano, Amalfi and Ravello.
We were looking for a vegetarian lunch and this deli has a great selection of freshly made items in their chill cabinet. You can have a mixed plate selection for about 10 euros. Either choosing exactly what you want or leaving the selection to them. Seating inside or take-away. Make sure you ask for a vegetarian platter but also make it clear you don't want meat or fish items. They also serve a big selection of non-veggie items, so might not immediately appreciate the vegetarian thing.
Via B. Colleoni, 26. On the main shopping street in the old town - opposite a restaurant owned by the same people.
Google map: bit.ly/b3AgP8
This place sells great pizza. All simple kinds of pizza, nothing fancy, but very well executed. Popular with locals and tourists alike, it's very busy. You can eat in or takeaway to a nice square near by - piazza santo spiritu.
Via Maggio, 46
50125 Florence Firenze, Italy
Google map: bit.ly/cIhHje
This is an amazing little B&B in the Santa Croce district: it's a quiet part of town but in easy walking distance of pretty much anywhere you'll want to go. The beautiful rooms are very reasonably priced for Venice, breakfasts are great and the owners are absolutely lovely.
Tucked away, a short walk away from the main tourist area this bar offers an impressive and varied collection of Italian wines along with a fabulous and relaxed atmosphere. They also shake up a mean cocktail (with generous measures too!). Free wi-fi also available.
Borgo Ognissanti, 42/r
50123 Firenze, Italia
+39 (0)55 217791
Google map: tinyurl.com/3xnokg4
Wonderful hotel inside the walls, very close to the main shopping streets and sights. Beautiful, first floor rooms and suites (only six in all). Really friendly, helpful staff and the best breakfast anywhere (the coffee is superb.) Really should be better known.
My wife, four-year-old daughter and I have just returned from a glorious week at Podere Costantino.
Mara, Franco and family gave us a wonderfully warm welcome and where extremely helpful throughout, including a traditional Tuscan meal on arrival and - throughout the week - an endless supply of the most gorgeous peaches, apricots and tomatoes, all grown on the estate.
The apartment was - I imagine - typically Tuscan. Clean, cool and practical with a nice shady terrace. It's located on a quiet road, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, and set quite high with beautiful views across to distant villages. There's wildlife aplenty - the morning chorus is incredible!
We were worried about taking our daughter somewhere so seemingly remote, as she's used to play parks on-tap, but we needn't have. The grounds of the property and the walks around it were more than enough to keep her occupied... and then there's the pool!
The surrounding villages are a treasure-trove. So much so that we abandoned our plans to make trips to Florence, Sienna and San Gimignano this time round, and settled for the short 30-minute trip to Volterra (incredibly beautiful) and a trip over the mountains to the coast. The rest of the time we just explored the nearby villages (and they all had play parks, so our daughter was happy!).
Then there's the restaurants, the wine... but everyone knows this about Tuscany.
Bikes can be hired from a friendly cycle hire shop just inside the city walls of Siena and from here you spend the next five or six days travelling through the vineyards, olive groves, villages, towns and country lanes of Tuscany.
The route we were given takes you through Chianti, Florence, San Gimignano and Colle di Val d'Elsa before completing the circuit back in Siena. The route presents you all manner of undulating hills as well as busy town centres and the culture and beauty of Florence. All the hotels we stayed at accomodated bikes and all luggage was taken by car and so was in your room ready at the hotel for when you arrived.
This is a great way to experience Tuscany and the bikes were also excellent for tackling some of the more challenging hills surrounding the vineyards.
Start at the Porta Santa Maria in the late afternoon. Bikes and tandems are available from local rental agents. Ride round the city on the ancient walls; join the locals of all ages cycling, talking, phoning, promenading round their wonderful city. Cut down into the town and cycle through the plazas, past the cathedrals and stop for some local sangiovese. It's the best way to combine culture and exercise for all the family.
Google map: bit.ly/apBU5g
In the Oltrepo Pavese area, Lombardy, life is still authentically Italian, as is the food. Not spoiled by tourists, the mammas still cook as they did generations ago. Simple but delicious food with ingredients of their own "orti", of the season. Come to experience this at one of the best restaurants of the region, Bagarellum, or order a cookery class at B&B Villa I Due Padroni.
I was born in Puglia, lived most of my life near Florence, but my preferred city in Italy is Rome, mainly because it is more enjoyable as tourist than Florence or Venice. An espresso in Florence can cost up to €5 served at the table. In Piazza Navona in Rome I have been charged €1.
In summer Rome’s most beautiful piazzas provide the backdrop for a programme of concerts for vocal quartets. Songs from the Roman repertoire and opera arias, with intermezzos on the piano will take tourists on a magical journey through the history of music drama and the best-loved classics of the Italian repertoire.
Find details, plus restaurant and hotel ideas, at en.turismoroma.it
It's on the edge of Verona city centre, 10 minutes walk from Piazza San Zeno and 20 from Via Roma (and the bus into town stops right outside) - but the San Marco's Unique Selling Point is its pool. Squeezed onto the north side of the hotel, it only gets the sun until the afternoon, but if you want to cool off in an outdoor pool in Verona, there's no competition - and by the pool is as good a place as any to eat an evening meal from the restaurant alongside. (There's an indoor pool and spa too for a price.)
Last summer I went on holiday with my familiy in San Remo, a lovely little city in the North of Italy. We choose to stay at “Le Terrazze”, a holiday complex with comfortable studios or two-roomed apartments in the peace of a garden full of lemon trees and lots of other plants. The apartments are new and very well furnished with air conditioning, TV and Internet connection. They all have a little terrace with seeview and private parking. My family and I especially enjoyed the barbecue zone which is among the lemon trees. Also we appreciated that the complex isn't too big and not so close to the crowd of the city centre. It is very quite and relaxing. “Le Terrazze” is also very near to the most popular beach of Sanremo named “Tre Ponti” where you find rocks and sand and limpid water. My family and I have loved as well the new bike lane that goes from San Remo to Santo Stefano al Mare and where you can walk or run with the beautiful coast on your side.
We have just returned to Le Marche and this wonderfully preserved old farmhouse. The owners have restored it to its former glory and its sits on a hill overlooking dramatic countryside and medieval villages. The apartment was stylishly furnished with lots of interesting old features. The wifi, DVDs and many books and maps were a plus.
If you go you must visit the incredible Hells gorge and the crumbly little hermit who has lived there for over 30 years single handedly building the church of San Leonardo
Sarnano in Le Marche is one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. It has natural springs - you can take the waters at the Terme or visit for a spot of pampering, we indulged in their fantastic lunchtime menu- full of local produce.
In the wonderfully restored town there is an art and antique market during the last week of May and the first of june, where many of the medieval properties are opened up as shops. The town is also home to some great restaurants, delis and food shops- the local wine we found fantastic- especially in five litre flagons from a local cantine Il Pollenza www.ilpollenza.it/. There's so much to see in this particular part of Le Marche, particularly in Spring while the poppies and other wild flowers are out and the snows in the Sibillini National Park have melted.
We stayed here for a week,the owner was very helpful, met us from the bus, made sure we knew how everything worked in the apartment and where the most convenient shops, restaurants, etc, were located (very close).He also allowed us to leave our cases in the apartment on our final day, when we left Venice in the evening. We liked the view of the canal bridge from the windows, with all its comings and goings. Cheap,in quiet zone and three minutes' walk from Piazzale Roma or train station, all the main tourist attractions were near and could be reached by foot or waterbus stop (very close).
Torreprima is a comfortable farmhouse, only 3km away from San Gimignano, which has medieval origins. It sits on top of a hill overlooking the surrounding Val d'Elsa, Tuscan countryside with olive groves and vineyards.
It's ideal for a relaxing fun holiday and contact with nature. It also has garden, pool and ping-pong, and there's a riding school nearby.
Colourful villages perched on rocks but easy to travel between by train or on foot.
But beware: parking will cost nearly €3 per hour and the path between the villages may be reduced to a 20-minute stroll for which you will be charged the same as for walking the whole 12km path.
Train from La Spezia or park at entrance to villages.
Just stayed here for a couple of nights. A really convenient location, just a few minutes walk from Piazzale Romana where the airport buses arrive and opposite the train station, but down a quiet back street in a residential area. OK, it's not central but the location made it so easy to get in and out of Venice. It's no problem to wander into the centre from there in 30 minutes, or the Nr 2 vaporetto takes you to San Marco in 20 minutes as you're at the head of the Grand Canal. The other side of the Canal, the Station side was full of hotels and restaurants and packed with tourists, this side was quiet and pleasant.The staff were extremely helpful and recommended good restaurants and bars, breakfast was great and the hotel itself is very attractive.
One day we found ourselves near the Adriatic coast of Le Marche. We were tired and hungry and went in search of a restaurant but it was getting late and we could find nowhere open. We ended up in Pedaso. It’s not, frankly, the most attractive town on the coast but we really were starving and the only place we could find was Tilt 2. It didn’t look promising: we went inside and, at first, thought it was just a bar but we were shown into a smallish back room that was full of people and were brought some of the most unpretentious (seafood pasta brought to the table in an aluminium pan) yet delicious food we have had. There’s a warm welcome (try getting out without sharing a digestivo with the patrone), super food and great prices. Sometimes there’s also a lady who speaks English but if she isn’t there don’t worry – just let them bring the food and you won’t be disappointed. Tilt 2 is definitely our hidden gem of the Adriatic Coast. We were staying at Villa il Melo (villa-ilmelo.com) a light and airy country house with pool in the Tenna Valley.
Tilt 2, Via Dante Alighieri 13
63016 - Pedaso (+39 0734 931916
No website but there's a map here: comunedipedaso.it/ristorante.php
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