Round the corner from the Trevi fountain, a little bit away from the tourist hordes, is the San Crispino gelateria. There's usually a long queue, so you'll know where it is before you get there. The flavours are really inventive - last time I had honey, ginger and cinnamon - and the quality of the gelati is fantastic. Definitely the best gelati in Rome.
My friend and I had a great birthday weekend at a LOVELY hotel in the historic centre of Napoli. The art, history, food, everything, it was just so spectacular and too much to soak up in only three short days, but our stay at this luxury hotel was worth it. Very pretty, very posh, and the pool terrace was absolutely amazing. Such views of the sea really enrapture me, and the decor was just so elegant throughout. Plus the company we booked through was very prompt and got us a great last minute rate. An excellent base in Napoli, especially if you want everything near you.
Here's where we booked and some photos: www.italiancollection.com/en/hotel-san-francesco-al-monte.html
A four star luxury hotel that perfectly blends old and new. My parents and I had a fantastic stay here a few months ago. Elegant, yet understated where it needs to be, this hotel offers all the common amenities plus a choice between modern rooms and traditional ones that we found really accommodating. The location right on the grand canal and the views from the restaurant are absolutely spectacular and a reason to stay there in itself. The restaurant is definitely elegant, and actually surprisingly good since it is a tourist attraction within one big tourist attraction. We were blown away by the service as well. And being only minutes from St. Mark's square was definitely spectacular in terms of location as well. There are places in Venice where one can certainly spend a lot more, and though this is very expensive in high season, you can actually swing deals depending on when you go. Still though, in terms of beauty, comfort, and service, this more than fit the bill.
I used to be a straight three-star hotel/B&B fanatic as I'm always on a budget, but a friend turned me onto vacation rental apartments, and I must say for what lodgings in Rome cost these days, this was a REAL find. For around €120/night, which is a full €40 less than a B&B in the same location quoted during high season, and apartments give one so much more freedom and space.
This one in particular was absolutely gorgeous and had a really cool mod vibe, that was a nice switch from all the history outside. With 2 bdr, 2 bth, a kitchenette, net access, and a nice little courtyard out front, it was perfect for us, and only a minute from Campo de'Fiori!
The best part aside from the decor and freedom was the fact we could go out and party all night, but not have to deal with the noise of the general piazza. Plus the booking people and keyholder spoke perfect English and that definitely helped.
Everywhere in Rome is walkable from this location, and there are a lot of buses too, plus the tram to the Trastevere station. I really hope to stay there again.
Via Dei Cappellari
A lovely hotel/spa/resort in Lecce, this is an awesome place to really soak up the city.
Baroque beauty all around, with a delightful array of cuisine (including wonderful wines and olive oils), Lecce is architecturally stunning, and a fascinating place to visit. And of course, after a hard day's sightseeing, one deserves a bit of pampering and nature.
Sangiorgio is absolutely amazing, being made of a restored monastic asylum and set amongst groves of citrus and olive trees, as well as vineyards. Soaking in the scents on the breeze alone is enough to inspire a visit here, but the level of service provided as well as spa services themselves are exquisite.
Comfortable rooms, lovely grounds, a selection of pools, and a friendly staff make this a great find and the hotel restaurant with it's wine cellars is a DEFINITE can't miss as they house a large selection of fine wines. They pampered me very very well and I fully intend to return as soon as I can... and enjoy more wine!
It probably has a listing somewhere, but I booked through this site and it was very easy (the staff speaks English too): www.italiancollection.com/en/SanGiorgioResort-Lecce.html
Driving onto the ferry at the port of Palermo in northern Sicily, we headed straight to the top deck and settled down into the deckchairs to take in the late afternoon sun. The sun sank slowly and magnificently into the Mediterranean Sea, its last rays silhouetting the North African coastline as we pulled into port ten hours later at Tunis.
The scene that greeted us in Tunis could not be further from the quiet life of Sicily: the hustle and bustle of street markets lining the pavements, lively malouf music and the smell of burning incense and fragrant spices drifting in through the car windows... this ferry ride to the other side of the Mediterranean might just as well be to the other side of the world!
We turned up at the port at Palermo and bought our tickets on the same day as the boat's departure, though there are only two sailings weekly so it could be safer to book at www.directferries.co.uk
It was the most exciting ferry journey I've ever had. Water was crashing atop the very highest deck of the boat and we were holding on with both hands to the guard rails. But in the distance, we could see mainland Italy, and the small island of Ischia where we came from, with its accommodating B&Bs and wonderful hot springs.
We went in the off-season and it was still a fantastic journey. We walked down from our B&B to a tiny cover and watched the water crash on the shore. Arriving back at the B&B to a home-cooked meal every evening was fantastic and so very much appreciated. But the journey back on the ferry is what I'll really remember.
Ferry from Naples to Ischia. Easy to get to from Naples Central Station.
For a fantastically unique and cheap (from €9 one way) ferry hop around Sicily’s beautiful, charming and untouched Aegadian islands you can’t beat the Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo trio, leaving from the port of Trapani, northwest Sicily.
The round trip is a couple of hours and there are enough ferries to allow you to sample all the islands in a single day, but equally there is accommodation on all the islands if you wish to extend your visit.
The tiny island of Levanzo hosts the cave of the Genoese with its pre-historic paintings. Favignana is known for its butterflies, grottoes, beaches, bays and tuna fishing – and don’t miss the local restaurant speciality of spaghetti and tuna botargo at the La Bettola restaurant in the port. The final island on the route is Marettimo, with its whitewashed, colourfully shuttered homes, ports filled with fishing boats and unbelievably blue water.
"Bellini", the night train from Rome (Termini) to Siracusa, leaves around 9pm, and is loaded onto the ferry across the Straits of Messina very early the next morning (6-ish). You just lie in bed while it's loading, and can then go up and have a coffee on deck and watch the light over the coast of Sicily, although you could just stay in bed and wait for the attendant to bring you the cappuccino or espresso you ordered the night before (at the carriage door, when you get on).
There are four-person couchettes, but there's something really romantic about proper sleepers, and a two person compartment (single bunks with proper sheets, plus complementary toiletries, mineral water, coffee...) - costs just €75 pp. If you want something more luxurious you can have a double bed compartment with ensuite shower etc for €140 pp.
The air conditioned train then follows the coast, through Taormina, and arrives in Siracusa at about 10 am. We love going to bed and waking up 500 miles away, right where we want to be - it's a great way to unwind at the start of a holiday.
Italian night trains are all good value, but the crossing - and the destination - makes this one the best.
A great hotel, newly modernised with an amazing pool out the back.
The hotel has been wonderfully appointed, staff are great and very good value for money.
On that side of the island there are some really expensive hotels closer to a beach but this is the perfect place to situate yourself for driving around to sample all the best beaches.
We stayed in three different hotels round Sardinia and this is the only one I'd recommend.
There are quicker and more comfortable ways to Sicily than spending the whole day on the train from Rome on Italy's hot and often late trains but this is Europe's last ferry where the train goes too. That's right, they actually put the train, carriage by carriage and with you still on it, on the ferry. You can then head up to the outside deck to watch the sun set over the Straits of Messina before heading back to your carriage to rejoin the train tracks in Sicily and head on to Palermo, Taormina, Catania or Syracuse. This is far and away the best ferry ride I've done and the kids (and adults) were transfixed by the dismantling and reassembling of the train.
Forget Giolitti's (only really famous because of the number of flavours) - the Gelateria del Teatro on Via di Simone near the Piazza Navona is The best. Many flavours and made on the premises by the family who own and run it, and made with fresh local produce. Reasonable prices too (unlike San Crispino's). The only gelateria to which I gave repeat custom.
Via de San Simone 70, Rome 00100, Italy
Tel: 39 06 45474880
On our way back from Sicily we caught this ferry to connect with the train at Naples.
We arrived on foot at Palermo dock gates, enquiring where to go, and were whisked away by minibus to the ticket office. The minibus waited to take us to the ship - it was a really friendly, personal service.
The ferry was modern and well-equipped, with decent food. One of the highlights was the evening entertainment in the bar - the pianist played requests and a succession of Italians (mainly lorry drivers I reckon) played at being Pavarotti. It was fab and you did get the feeling it was a regular thing.
In the morning we had the pleasure of arriving in the Bay of Naples with Vesuvius looming in the background. The only slight problem came when we got off the boat and the only shop selling bus tickets to the station didn't open for a couple of hours, so we had to invest in a taxi; a small price to pay.
Book SNAV ferries online, it's a very efficient service
My new husband and I have recently returned from our honeymoon which we spent initially in Venice for the Biennale and then we travelled by train to Puglia (Apulia) region where we spent a few days exploring this wonderful part of Italy. From Puglia we journeyed on to Greece by ferry intending to finish our journey in Athens.
For many years I had wanted to visit Greece and to travel there by boat and my husband is in love with all things and places Italian. We arranged our passage approximately sixty days prior to our travel date (bookings cannot be made too soon in advance of travel). Our intention was to take the overnight ferry from Brindisi to Patra and then travel by train to Athens. This proved remarkably easy to arrange with the help of the very comprehensive Greek ferries website at www.greekferries.gr/. I highly recommend travelling this way to Greece - at least once. We had booked an on deck cabin with ensuite bathroom for 196 Euros. This price included travel and overnight accommodation which was amazingly comfortable. We travelled with Endeavour line ferries which leave Brindisi daily at 6.30pm local time and arrive in Patra at approximately 10.30 am local time (as it happened our ferry arrived early at 9.30am local time).
The ferry had many amenities including several cafes, bars and a restaurant. Since we were on honeymoon we decided to treat ourselves to the silver service restaurant which proved remarkably inexpensive and of a very high standard. As a result we had the restaurant to ourselves since other travellers obviously mistakenly presumed like we had that it would be very expensive to dine in this particular restaurant.
The entire journey for us was a magical experience allowing us to view a wonderful sunset and a clear night sky alive with shimmering stars. The dawn brought with it stunning vistas from our cabin window of the many Greek Islands we sailed past. As a result we arrived in Patra refreshed and happy and looking forward to the next leg of our journey.
Crossing the Adriatic Sea on the overnight ferry from Ancona, Italy, to Zadar, Croatia, is a magical experience.
The ferry leaves Italy just after dusk and gets into the Croatian port shortly after sunrise, making the arrival a breathtaking experience.
The journey itself, however, is the real star of the show.
For a very reasonable price you can book an individual cabin, which is extremely comfortable and provides excellent value for money.
Looking at the moon through a porthole, you can fall asleep lulled by the gentle movement of the water, which never becomes too agitated due to the enclosed nature of the sea.
Then, after a pleasant night, you can have a decent breakfast on the ferry, just before the boat gracefully makes its way towards the final destination, and you are ready to start the day in a new country.
tel: +385/51/666 111
This is a 'heavenly' boutique hostel for women in 18th century convent in the old Trastevere district of Rome, close to the river Tiber. The old cells are very large, airy, calm, clean, simple and beautifully furnished, and look out onto a peaceful courtyard where you can eat and drink. A restful place, professionally run, and only 25 euros a night for bed and breakfast. A great place for women to stay.
On the Via della Lungara,a bus ride from the Roma Trastevere railway station, and easy walking across the river to the great sites.
Antico Fiore is a charming hotel in Venice, an old palace totally renewed and furnished in old Venetian style.
Very comfortable rooms and service, special breakfast overlooking a canal reaching the Canal Grande.
Very close to St. Mark's square and Accademia.
'Trendy' bar on Bastione San Remy in the elevated Castello area of Cagliari.
Outdoor drinking/eating (which becomes a nightclub later in the night) with fantastic views over all of Cagliari.
We had cocktails which cost about £7 a head.
Bastione San Remy. You have to walk up 100 or so steps to get to this area.
However there are three free outdoor lifts up to the Castello area from Santa Croce and two lifts from Viale Regina Elena.
Absolutely superb ice cream from this place - it is Italy after all!
So many different flavours to choose from you'll find yourself going back again and again and again.
No. 35 Piazza Yenne at the right hand side as you come up the hill from Via Roma.
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