This is a peninsula far from for the mainland just 2 kilometers trough a handmade pathway in the middle of estuary. The almost-island is an inhabited mountain named Monte Argentario. Porto Santo Stefano is one of the two small tipical fishing village in the area. You can enjoy looking at the sea from the central square place at Porto Santo Stefano, placed in the middle of the bay and also is the center of town. The streets here are steep. All the houses'windows on the hill look at the sea.
You can enjoy a great pizza and specially all the most-freshly seafood just some minutes after the fishing people carriage it from the boats.
You can have a bath in the sea, sunbathing, having a mineral water bath in the nearest(near to Orbetello), hiking on the mountain, walk round the town, go on a leisure boat trip...or just plan a trip to Siena or Firenze, only and hour and a half far from here.
It is like the paradise, you'll enjoy the historic places like the Spanish fortaleza (castles), the seaside walk, the mountain views, the excellent wines and food, the calm and tranquility, and the sea bathing and of course, the nearest to Firenze and Rome.
You should take some of the numerous, almost every 2 hours, trains from Rome, in direction to Milan or Lucca. You should stop down at Orbetello Station and there rent a car or a taxi. In some minutes, just about 10 kilometers far you will be in an almost unknown italian paradise.
This is a peninsula far from for the mainland just two kilometers through a handmade pathway in the middle of an estuary. The almost-island is an inhabited mountain named Monte Argentario. Porto Santo Stefano is one of the two small typical fishing villages in the area. You can enjoy looking at the sea from the central square at Porto Santo Stefano, placed in the middle of the bay and also the center of town. The streets here are steep. All the houses windows on the hill look at the sea.
You can enjoy a great pizza and especially all the fresh seafood just some minutes after the fishing people carry it from the boats.
You can have a bathe in the sea, sunbathing, having a mineral water bath - the nearest is Orbetello, hiking on the mountain, walk round the town, go on a leisure boat trip ... or just plan a trip to Siena or Firenze, only an hour and a half from here.
It is like paradise, you'll enjoy the historic places like the Spanish fortaleza (castles), the seaside walk, the mountain views, the excellent wines and food, the calm and tranquility, and the sea bathing and of course, the proximity to Firenze and Rome.
You should take some of the numerous, almost every two hours, trains from Rome, in direction to Milan or Lucca. You should stop down at Orbetello Station and there rent a car or a taxi. In some minutes, just about 10 kilometers far you will be in an almost unknown italian paradise.
Google map: tinyurl.com/yczbbqt
This gem of a restaurant is located in a 16th century fortification overlooking the charming lakeside town of Riva Del Garda, and it can be reached via a well lit footpath which gently climbs the Rocchetta mountain.
The Table d'hôte menu is well worth the walk.
I dined there in October 2009 and had an autumn-themed selection which started with a turnip soup with a drizzle of local olive oil, followed by a melt in your mouth morsel of polenta wrapped in a creamy sauce with cheeses and mushrooms.
The starters were followed by homemade egg and rosemary tagliatelle with a rabbit sauce, and by a mushroom risotto.
Then followed an array of main courses accompanied by polenta.
Among the various dishes, I particularly enjoyed the rabbit stew, a local sausage casserole and some tasty snails.
A local red Teroldego wine was served with the meal.
Dessert was a panna cotta with a red gooseberry coulis.
An excellent coffee and a selection of local grappas rounded off an unforgettable meal.
Next time you find yourself in the Lake Garda region, do not miss this!
Via Bastione, Riva Del Garda (TN).
Google map: tinyurl.com/yj9vs5f
I discovered this company back in 2006 and have since been back three times on their Italian cooking weekends, which are held in their beautiful restored 15th Century palazzo in the wonderful medieval hilltop village of Casperia. Three days of pleasure. From the moment we met on the Friday until we left, it was fun and hands on! I am a single traveller as were most of my fellow guests on my weekend and we all got on famously well. The lessons with Genni, Paula and Franco were just brilliant. The wine and olive oil tasting on the last night with Johnny and Carlo was the icing on the cake - magical. The palazzo and rooms are just wonderful, a perfect comfortable place to relax. Best of all the whole thing is a bit of secret.
The Centro d’Arte Verrocchio occupies a site on the medieval wall of Casole d’Elsa, a high hill village in Tuscany, a short distance from the cities of Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra and Florence. The views over the valley from the terrace, where all meals are taken, are breathtaking. The Centro is the creation of English sculptor Nigel Konstam, who converted it from a traditional but derelict building to the wonderful place it now is. It offers two-week courses from May to October in painting, taught by visiting artists, and sculpture, taught by Nigel. Accommodation on site is comfortable but not luxurious, and the food is excellent. Painters can work in the studio, in the village or in the surrounding olive groves. Sculptors in an indoor studio or, if carving stone, on a terrace shaded by vines. Tuition is in English, but there are visitors from all over the world. The village of Casole, with its ancient buildings and narrow streets, is thriving, unlike many Italian hill villages. There are bars and restaurants, shops and an ice-cream parlour, street fairs, barbecues, free concerts, free film shows al fresco, and dances. Many people return year after year.
Tel: +44(0)20 8869 1035
Nearest station Poggibonsi
Nearest airport Pisa (the Centre runs a shuttle bus)
This is a beautiful 'rifugio' located high up in the Italian Alps which has changed little since it was first opened in 1878. It is accessed by a short ski path running just off the piste itself. But this characterful restaurant is a little known gem in the area, favoured by experienced Italian skiers and climbers (situated just beneath Mt.Rosa). The cooking is simple, hearty and traditional and the owners are always friendly, plus their wine cellar is excellent. The Rifugio provides rooms which are traditional and unpretentious with wooden cladding, candles and quilts. A really beautiful little secret.
Rifugio Guglielmina, 2880mts up, between Alagna and Gressoney valleys,
Taken from their website:
The refuge is located at the foot of the Monte Rosa south wall. We suggest you to use the Monte Rosa sky lifts starting from Alagna Valsesia up to Passo dei Salati at 2900m. From there you reach the refuge following an easy path (or by skiing during the winter season) in about 15 minutes.
Google map: tinyurl.com/yzby4ej
We had a great time in San Gimignano at L'Antico Pozzo, a truly beautiful place with wonderful Italian hospitality which exceeded our expectations. We found a serene atmosphere with relaxing and welcoming people, just the peaceful break we were looking for in our trip. We also had really pleasant conversation with Ema which gave us an authentic point of view of Tuscan culture and way of life, including special tips on how to find non touristy places and restaurants.
The buffet in the morning was delicious and it was always very hard to leave the cozy terrace while listening to someone practising harp somewhere nearby. We could have stayed there forever.
Our room was perfect - air conditioning and wi-fi worked like a charm.
A lovely hotel that really captures the charm and magic of this timeless village.
We love it!
It's a really nice place in Trastevere, and that's one of the best places to crash anyway. I've always liked it because it's where the locals chill and it's cool to get away from the usual tourist traps. The food in this area is really good and I know lots of Italians eat here too. Plus it's pretty and super easy to walk all over from here and not hassle with buses. Since the neighbourhood is so nice the roofdeck was super sweet to hang out on and bust out the local wine on. We can't get that quality back home and it was a great atmosphere to sample and enjoy that in without paying for a restaurant or bar. Plus the staff were made up of some of the most fantastic people and they were helpful explaining the general area and letting us know where to eat This was definitely a find, and a perfect compliment to a perfect trip.
Via Iacopa de' Settesoli 7 in Trastevere.
Continuing on my recent trip, after Forte Dei Marmi I went to grand old Florence itself and enjoyed a stellar stay at Palazzo Vecchieti. Old time deluxe service with a butler no less was perfectly coupled with modern comforts and attention to style and design. Decor may not be the selling point in many accommodations, but here it really pops out and grabs you. The cool chic modern vibe is in perfect contrast to the area itself and really enticing to those with an eye for design. Enough about aesthetics, the idea of having butler service is just so unique that it's almost worth experiencing for its own sake. Aside from that the location in the Signoria Square is absolutely ideal and is perfect for anyone making their way about on foot... or anyone who wants to save time on buses and money on taxis. Definitely a great find.
A link with pics and the address, booked through the same trustworthy company that got me great digs at Forte dei Marmi.
Il Bacaro is an awesome restaurant about five minutes from the Pantheon. Like a lot of places in the area it's not exactly cheap, but it's also not astronomically expensive, and for sure less pretentious than many places in the center. One thing really separates it from the competition; the quality of the food. Prepared fresh daily by skilled, caring personnel, as much love as time and effort go into cooking these fabulous dishes and makes all the difference in taste. Seasonal menus are also a bonus, meaning you only get food REALLY in season at the time. The pumpkin sauce is to die for, the meat delectable, and leaving without dessert may just be a cardinal sin.
They even have a menu on their site. I also have to give props to those who recommended it to me, my apartment rental booking agency, Leisure in Rome. Their English was so good, and they were so helpful and informative, right down to tipping me off about this little gem and others. I'll paste a link to the apartment I stayed in too, a surprisingly quiet place in the heart of Trastevere (lovely) that I absolutely felt at home in: www.leisureinrome.com/_apartments_in_rome-in-trastevere/Trastevere_apartment,S,399.html
Il Negresco is a lovely hotel boasting sea views and much more, as well as cuisine samples. It proved to be true and we ate very well. The view is just magic, and Forte Dei Marmi is sort of the new destination. Where more locals go, learn it, live it, love it!
Lungomare Italico, 82 - 55042 Forte dei Marmi (LU)
If you have seen “Life Is Beautiful” and enjoyed watching the central character, Guido, attempting to woo his “principessa” then you have been transported to the Tuscan town of Arezzo.
Much of the backdrop for the first half of the film is the Piazza Grande, a large sloping square dominated by the Romanesque facade of the church of Santa Maria, the Palazzo della Fraternita and an arcade designed by Vasari, now occupied by antique shops and restaurants where you can watch fresh pasta being made.
However, if you look a little more closely you will notice a number of display boards dotted around the square, showing stills and dialogue from the film. Roberto Benigni, who scripted, directed and starred in the film, obviously picked his locations with care, and he won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1999.
If you do decide to visit this classic film location you will also have the opportunity to visit one of Italy’s great fresco cycles, Piero della Francesca’s Legend of the True Cross, which adorns the walls of the church of San Francesco.
Eastern Tuscany; Tourist Information in Piazza della Repubblica (www.apt.arezzo.it)
Friuli is not well known, but is unmissable for the wine lovers. It doesn't have an extensive production, but its white wines in particular always score very high in wine reviews.
Try in particular the Collio and the Colli Orientali del Friuli areas: Friulano (formerly known as Tocai Friulano) and Pinot Grigio are excellent whites, and Refosco is a tangy red that goes very well with meats. The very local Verduzzo and (even more local) Ramandolo are a perfect match for almond and nut cakes, or even for the extra mature local Montasio cheese.
You can stay at one of the many "agriturismo" - a good part of them are also wine producers, and you are unlikely to be disappointed with the quality of food.
If you grow tired of wine tasting, there is quite a range of other activities to keep you busy: you can visit historic towns (Udine, Cividale); the Alps are about one hour's drive for skiing in the winter or walking in the summer; you can also try rafting in the Isonzo valley, starting from neighbouring Slovenia, cycling itineraries of different levels, or one of the golf courses in Fagagna (in the countryside), Tarvisio (by the Alps) or Grado (by the sea). Some of the Agriturismo offer horse riding.
The nearest airport is Trieste (served by Ryanair from London Stansted)
Also reachable by train from Venice Marco Polo and Venice Treviso.
Taormina, like the rest of Sicily, is unreal whether you're looking at it from a five-star perspective or sleeping in a makeshift tent on the beach... or relaxing on your hotel's own private beach, which I must say was definitely the feature that won me over about the Mazzaro Sea Palace.
Of course that isn't its only outstanding feature, just one of many in a structure that compliments the natural beauty and tranquility of the surrounding area so completely that de-stressing is actually possible here (but contrary to popular belief I DO manage to get quite a bit done on these business trips).
Not to mention that the staff is again kind and happy to arrange massages and such for guests, which is a perfect end to a hard day's work or even just walking around taking in all the breathtaking scenery. The staff is also really great about organizing outdoor activities, which made me incredibly happy since lovely as my room was, Taormina is not a place to enjoy indoors by any means. It's a sparklingly hypnotic gem and as always, I can't wait to go back.
Thanks Mazzaro Sea Palace for being the icing on top of my last stay!
Via Nazionale, 147 - Taormina Mare (ME)
And they did prove themselves to be 3 times lucky:
In stark contrast to the grandeur of old I experienced at the St. Regis in Rome, is the Premier & Suites, which I liked just as much for being as opposite as possible of the heavily antique style I'm usually drawn to. Minimalistic, yes, but this hotel truly does not skimp on the details, and puts comfort first. In fact, I'd describe it as a perfect fusion between design and comfort. I've always preferred the Adriatic coast anyway, and this really reminded me why (the city itself too).
The restaurant serves some superb dishes and is a nice break from strictly Italian cuisine (we all need variety, right?), and you can even get breakfast served on your own private terrace.
The rooms are absolutely lovely, and I adore the outdoor jacuzzi tubs that some of the suites have. I know it sounds strange to describe a hotel bathroom as beautiful and get transfixed by one you've rented... but I have to admit, I was transfixed... by everything else in the room as well! So now it looks like I'll have to find more excuses to do business here. Although I don't think you ever need an excuse just to enjoy a view of the sea :)
Traversa Settima 15 - 48015 Milano Marittima (RA)
Booked through the same headache free company:
For the first five-star hotel in Rome, the St. Regis sure has stood up nicely! Absolutely gorgeous, elegant, and everything one could want. I loved the butler service, it really made me feel pampered. I travel quite often for work and when breezing through amazing cities sometimes I just want to take a load off and let someone do the thinking for me. The exceptional service provided by the staff here, as well as the company I booked through, and the care, concern, and personal attention with which it was delivered definitely made me feel at home.
Travelling so much I hate leaving my dog at home, and they even accommodated him too, which I think was a very special treat :)
What really struck me upon entering is the sheer elegance, and the whole feeling of being transported to another century, with all the modern comforts I've gotten used to of course. And of course the central location was fabulous since I try to avoid public transport when I have to and this let me do so, while still being well connected enough that I wasn't obliged to walk everywhere (yes, you wonder if I can afford a five-star luxury hotel why not a taxi? I hate traffic and genuinely like to walk... so my dog is a good travel companion!).
People often knock the area around Termini, but it can be fabulous if you know where to go, and hopefully now some of you know :)
Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando 3
And my lovely booking agents with their site and photos: www.italiancollection.com/en/st-regis-grand-hotel-rome.html
Offering of short term apartment rentals in Rome is enormous. Many apartments can be booked directly other by rental agencies. I recommend like Mid-range apartments "BHR" distrct "Tiburtina": near underground B "Monti Tiburtini" street "Via dei Durantini"; good choice, not far from the city centre and "Tiburtina Station and Termini station", the price of accommodations varies from month to month and amount of tourists.
Via Dei durantini,www.bestholidayinrome.com,nearest Tiburtina station and underground B
I wanted to make sure the apartment I was booking had a private parking as I went to Italy by car and I know what a mess Rome is with parking!
I've visited a number of websites, but I really like feelhomeinrome's facilities section which is so comprehensive: this way you can compare much better and make sure you don't miss any of the requirements that are important to you.
First off, it feels good to be able to rant about something I did on my trip aside from laze about Tuscany.... not that I would ever give up lazing about Tuscany for the world. But it's not the only region in Italy with breathtaking views, and Ravello did a great job of reminding me of that fact. It's also a good spot for daytripping up and down without the actual bombardment of tourists you'd get in say Sorrento (not that Ravello is tourist free, but Sorrento can be as bad as Venice with that).
Anyway, Palumbo is DeLuxe to the nines and the views are absolutely majestic. My room even had a lovely view and waking up to the sea and my own little balcony was absolutely divine. So I splurged again.... it was worth it for the service I got, the relaxation I enjoyed, not to mention the fabulous restaurant suggestions from the staff (including the hotel's own) and of course SEAFOOD which I love :).
Another thing that caught my eye aside from the general elegance is that a lot of the little knick knacks and antiques really are personal touches, and have been passed down through, I guess the proprietor's family, over the years. I like little touches like that and it definitely separates it in my mind from "just another luxury hotel."
Via Giovanni del Toro, 16 - 84010 Ravello (SA)
And so you know, I stayed in the "Persiana" room:
After the harvest of the grapes, mid-September, the vine leaves turn yellow, red, and the landscape becomes an impressionist picture. You can walk through it and enjoy the mild climate of autumn in Italy.
The Oltrepo Pavese region of Lombardy, www.duepadroni.it in the hills 70 km south of Milan.
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