A small but enchanting great B&B right in the heart of the Barolo vineyards so ideal for lovers of wine - and food. Reasonable €55-75 with breakfast. And what a great breakfast with home-made bread and cakes - Daniella is a superb cook. The B&B is housed in a 19th-century buidling, about 13 kilometres from the city of Alba. If you take a room you have access to a sitting room with a library of books. Daniella and her husband are passionate about their region and will advise on walks etc.
Barolo - Centro Storico V. Cesare Battisti 13
Taxi from Alba
The Lago di Bràies mirrors the awe-inspiring Dolomites that rise up into the firmament. It was here that we began our weeklong trek along the Alta Via 1 that snakes its way south, but here you could just sit, watch and enjoy all day. There is also a hotel there, but I would recommend staying in one of the nearby towns such as Dobbiaco, where there is also the most wonderful hostel. If you wanted to amble around the lake it would take an hour or so. Then if you were prepared you can try some of the sharp climbs up into the heart of what I consider some of the most spectacular mountain formations in the world, with wonderful views back down. Apparently the Beatles’ Guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, came here once. I suspect the Yogi found some good karma.
Near Dobbiaco, Italy
A typical Piedmontese restaurant, situated in a small country village, Priocca D'Alba, near the small city of Alba, surrounded by hills and vineyards.
This is a well-kept secret. It isn't well lit outside and you have to ring for admittance. There is no menu and no ordering. The menu changes and meals are prepared with only the finest seasonal local ingredients. For a great experience try it during the truffle season. Reserve well in advance. (We understand Bono didn't and was refused admission!)
Via Umberto 1, 5
Priocca d'Alba (CN)
During a family weekend by Lake Como, we loved our Sunday morning spent exploring 17th-century Villa Carlotta. Inside, we were impressed by antiquities and preserved rooms. But the biggest treat was outside: exquisite terraced gardens with magnificent views of the lake, room to picnic and play, a hidden valley of ferns and even some enchanting tiny turtles in one of the fountains.
To say that the Italian lakes are picturesque is a mighty understatement, but if you can imagine that the essence of the beauty and romance of all of the lakes could all be condensed into one small town by the side of one of the smallest lakes, then you can begin to conjure up a picture of Orta San Giulio.
Whilst many of the popular resorts on larger lakes suffer traffic problems, cars are banned from the streets of Orta San Giulio, indeed many of the streets are too narrow for anything other than scooters. Day visitors and residents alike have walk down medieval streets and alleyways, which all lead to the main square and the stunning view across to Isola San Giulio.
www.ortasangiulio.com (in Italian)
Cortina in Northern Italy provides an excellent base for via ferrata - a challenging climb/walk along the "iron roads" of the Alpine hills created during the second world war. A harness for beginners is a must, but these can be easily hired along with helmets from locals shops in the town centre. There are levels for all difficulties, from a 1A to a 5C. One route can be easily reached by a combination of bus and cable car, and you will be in the clouds with fantastic views. Cortina also boasts the longest via ferrata bridge in the Dolomites of Italy!
Cortina has a selection of campsites, bars, restaurants and a supermarket for those touring or having a short break.
A bus from Venice airport takes around 3 hours. Though it only goes twice a day. Try Cortina tourist office (dolomiti.org/dengl/cortina/index.html) for information about the via ferrata.
Varenna is a little fishing village on the east coast of Lake Como, which is very pretty. We are getting married in Villa Cipressi in the autumn, on the garden terrace overlooking the lake, at sunset. Romantic!
The new Malcesine - Mount Baldo cableway stands out from the very first glance, thanks to the futuristic forms of its stations. These are buildings with clean architectural lines, where steel, aluminium, glass and stone have been combined to enhance the light, transparent interiors and to blend harmoniously with their outdoor surroundings.
The cableway is divided into two sections: the first, Malcesine - San Michele is 1,512 m in length and covers a difference in height of 463m; the second, San Michele - Mount Baldo is 2,813 m in length and covers a difference in height of 1,187 m.
The most important new feature of this cableway, and one that makes it totally unique throughout the world, is the cabin on the second section, which rotates on itself to give passengers a 360° view, as well as the sensation that they are flying. The capacity is 600 persons per hour, with cabins for 45 and 80 people. The cableway system is able to operate in harsh weather conditions as well as at night.
Get away from the package tourist hordes of Como and Garda to beautiful and little-known Lake Orta with its stunning villas, mysterious island and mythical serpent. If you can, rent an apartment or a villa directly onto the lake – open the back gate and you can head straight in to the cool, clear water for a swim.
Make your way from Milan to Orta Miasino train station, 3k from the centre.
Google map: tinyurl.com/33ky4mb
Monte Amiata offers something beyond stereotypical Tuscany for the discerning visitor. The spectacular summit (1732m) is accessible to most, but it is the slopes of the mountain that hold a special magic. Visit in October and join the locals as they fill their baskets with sweet chestnuts, then take a hike into the forest and, if you’re lucky, you might spot a family of wild boar in search of the same delicacy. At the end of the day you can stop to soak aching muscles in the thermal springs at Bagno san Filippo.
30km SW of Montepulciano
Campeggio Priori is a small camp site and has none of the bells and whistles of the larger sites around Lake Garda. It is a peaceful oasis right in the heart of this lovely town, only five minutes walk from the lake or the cable car, with shops right outside the site's gate. The on-site facilities are excellent, and there is also self-catering accommodation. You can stroll from your tent or campervan through the cobbled, narrow streets and be sitting in a bar by the lake in minutes.
Chez les Roset is a beautiful self catering house (sleeps 4) in the stunning and peaceful valley, Valgrisanche. The house is full of charm and character and from the balcony you have a view of mountains and a glacier, as well as Planaval, a picturesque village. Excellent walking in the area and a highlight at the end of the valley is hearing the marmots whistle and spotting the bundles of fur among the rocks on the hillside.
A friend and I stayed with Mara and Franco for a week at their farmhouse accommodation - I wish it had been longer! The apartment was clean, typically Tuscan in style, and had all we required for a self-catering holiday. The location was beautiful and perfectly placed for visiting the surrounding area. Mara and Franco were perfect hosts, supplying us with their home grown produce and cooking us a Tuscan delight upon our arrival. The pool was fantastic especially as we had glorious weather. Volterra is a must as is Sienna.
Every summer we set off from my family home on Lake Como, for excursions on the pre-Alps surrounding the lake, particularly the branch of Lecco up to Bellagio. Our favourite is the walk to Monte S.Primo, a gentle walk through the woodlands and pastures; eager to race to the top and stop to look at the breathtaking view of the whole lake and Alps. The prize is a family Trattoria where we eat local salame and cheeses, brasato stew, deer and polenta, and drink wines from Valtellina. Beautiful!
Leave the car and use the excellent public transport to the Seiseralm - a fairyland plateau of mountains, water and meadows. Great food, hospitalty and suites at the Lamm. At night listen to the witches lob thunderbolts from mountain to mountain!
Stay in Santa Margherita Ligure (which has cheaper accommodation than Portofino itself) and take a scenic boat trip to Portofino. Climb to the top of Castello Brown for the most amazing views of the Marina and bay. Lunch at one of the many open air restaurants on the quay.
The success of Podere Constantino is down to the owners Franco and Mara and their family who made us feel most welcome at their farmhouse. Nothing was too much trouble, from finding a map of the area, supplying more peaches and nectarines than we could eat (which were the best we had ever tasted), bringing us a bottle of local orange liqour and providing us with a three-course meal on the second night. Never had such attention at a holiday rental.
The position of the farmhouse is lovely over looking the Pisan hills with some great sunrises and sunsets down by the pool, where we spent a lot of our time!!
We hope to return next year because the farmhouse gave a good base to see places of interest as well as being pretty secluded. We loved all the local villages and visited San Gimignano and Volterra.
We stayed at this delightul apartment with stunning sea views for two weeks last year and have just booked to go back again in August. This is the 'hidden' part of Italy which is virtually undiscovered by tourists other than Italians. In two weeks we didn't hear another English voice and found all the locals to be more than helpful with our limited attempts at Italian. This coastline is totally unspoilt and it's possible to find little coves without hordes of other people kicking sand in your face. There is an abundance of fish restaurants which serve the fresh catch of the day washed down with lashings of the local Trebbiano white wine and all for less than €20 a head. San Vito Chietino is only 25 minutes from the nearest airport at Pescara and has good bus and rail links if you decide not to hire a car. The apartment is newly restored and perfect for our small family of three to use as a base and the garden with views over the clear blue sea is the perfect setting to relax after a hard day at the beach.
This is a truly amazing experience in a private villa with swimming pool with the typical Neapolitan touch.
The view is outstanding and the food excellent and we've been treated like part of the family.
Abruzzo is a really beautiful part of Italy. I was there in September on a painting holiday quite amusingly called 'Painting for the Petrified', with a company called Frui. I'd recommend it if you're wanting holiday with a difference, but I also recommend Abruzzo for those looking to experience authentic Italy.
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