This hostel has a great location - Pisa is pretty small but at this new hostel you are only 10 minutes from the tower, and in a studenty area - so it's easy to find cool places to go out.
You're right on a main shopping street and above an amazing gelataria - nothing better than late night ice cream! There's also a bar next door if you don't have such a sweet tooth.
One of the best hostels I stayed in in Italy - the staff are super friendly and there's loads going on - a cheap bar, free pizza parties and a great breakfast!
Housed in an apartment building close to Termini station, the rooms are huge and the hostel has discount deals with restaurants and the laundrette nearby!
Only 20 minutes away from the Duomo, this hostel is by Idroscalo, with its swimming beach and lake.
It's a really social hostel with a cool Italian bar and is opposite the 'rolling stone' nightclub if you want to go out.
Lots of good freebies - breakfast, linen, wi-fi and a city map.
A B&B with three tastefully decorated rooms in a good location for visiting the sites. It is spotlessly clean and Vanessa and Fillipo are delightful and very helpful hosts.
This hostel isn't in the center of Florence - it's on the outskirts, but there's a free bus shuttle service into the center, and during the hot summer months, the pool and quieter location is a welcome respite from the summer crowds.
The location means you get cheaper room rates and heaps of extras - we loved the swimming pool, restaurant, bar and pretty surrounding olive groves.
We hired bikes and explored other parts of Tuscany - and the hostel organize tours to Pisa, Lucca and San Gimingnano.
Beautiful location, views of Tuscany countryside, great free breakfast, totally relaxing, and it was easy to pop into Florence, despite being in another town!
It's not easy to find budget accommodation in Venice, as we found on a recent tour of Italy. If you do manage to find somewhere cheap, there's usually a lock out or curfew so we were happy to find the more chilled out 'Venice Fish' by the canal.
This beautiful old 16th century palace is on one of the main streets in Venice, but inside the hostel is fun, modern and laid back, with big and homely rooms, and friendly, helpful staff.
It might not be as fancy as some hostels but breakfast and dinner are included, and the staff will take you out in search of local nightlife.
You're only a few minutes from the Casino, Rialto Bridge, and the train station.
Halfway through our trip round the lower Cilento region, two hours south of Naples, we were invited to lunch at the Nido della Luna guesthouse and working farm, home of farmer Rafaello, at the foot of towering, rugged Mount Bulgheria and over-looked by the ghostly medieval hill village of San Severino.
We pulled up in the driveway of a large farmhouse complete with vegetable patch, stables, and billy goats bleating in a field. In the open porch under a brilliant sun, a smiling old lady in apron and slippers stood, in front of an open brassier with a cooking pot hanging over a roaring wood fire. This was Rafaello's mother, and as a means of sharing some traditional recipes of the region with us she'd lit the fire in the outdoor kitchen and laid a large oak table with traditional cooking utensils for us to play with. This is how I'd really like to cook everyday!
On a large wooden platter were heaps of sliced local aubergines and a pot filled with stuffing mix. We were to make Melanzane M'buttanate, a simple peasant dish packed with the rich flavours of creamy home made ricotta cheese, fresh eggs and fresh parsley.
She guided us through the cooking process, all the while bringing bits and bobs to the table for us to sample as we fried the aubergines: local bitter strawberries jam, honey from their backyard, still warm mozzarellas from the neighbour and a basket of mushrooms and wild greens picked in the surrounding hills with which to make a soup.
We ate with the family, two silent, but softly smiling old goat farmer in flat caps and checked shirts - Grandpa and Great Uncle, Rafaello and his wife, and the parents, who refilled my wine glass with their own-grown thick, nectary red so often I barely remember arriving at pudding! Had we stayed longer, we would have been taught to make ricotta, helped with fruit picking and no doubt cooked up some more delicious Cilento peasant dishes.
In payment for this feast, we were asked only to recommend their beautiful farmhouse b&b to others, so here's the mention. I can't recommend their hospitality and the delightful setting in Italy's most prized secret region enough!
Il Nido della Luna
Via Stazione, 24
Cilento - Salerno (CA)
Tel: (+ 39) 0974/934093-(+39) 347/6540872
You can get a train to Centola from Salerno, or Naples. Driving, take the A3 motorway Salerno - Reggio Calabria, taking the Battipaglia exit, SS. 18 in the direction "Costiera CIlentana".
THe nearest beach is the exquisite Palinuro.
A beautiful place to stay about 20 minutes away from Florence. The rooms are brightly coloured grungy chic, and the views over Tuscan countryside are truly lovely.
The owners were unobtrusively helpful, and laid on scrumptious breakfasts. Full board was beyond our budget, but on the couple of nights we had dinner there it was stunning - and veggie-friendly. We went away laden with soap made locally from produce grown in the gardens, and a decent bottle of the house wine.
Newly opened by an extremely friendly mother and son team, is one of the finest gelaterie in Sardinia, if not all Italy. A large range of flavours are available and reasonable prices, and unlike many ice cream parlours, you really can taste the ingredients in every flavour, from fresh fruit to rich dark chocolate and Italian coffee.
Its location on a pretty little square in the heart of Cagliari only adds to its appeal, with various spots to perch and enjoy your gelato right outside.
Piazzetta Savoia, Marina, Cagliari - just 2 minutes walk from the main Largo Carlo Felice and Piazza Yenne
Less than an hour by bus or car from Cagliari and Sardinia's celebrated coastline, the Monti dei Setti Fratelli show a completely different side to this beautiful Mediterranean island.
Lush, forested slopes laced with a network of footpaths afford stunning views over scenes straight out of rainforest documentaries. There are walks and hikes for all abilities, and ample shade prevents the threat of heat exhaustion. A refreshing break from sunbathing.
Monti dei Setti Fratelli National Park, between Cagliari and Muravera in south-eastern Sardinia.
On the very first night of our honeymoon last October, the owners of the agriturismo we stayed at lit our room with candlelight and left a bottle of wine from the estate down the road in our room. We happily drank it, and it was so good we headed off to find the source.
Turns out that wine buffs amongst you may recognise the name - Castello di Nipozzano is owned by the Frescobaldi family. But whether you know the label or not, it's a lovely place to visit - tucked away on the hillsides above Florence with joyous views of rolling Tuscan countryside. They run frequent tours and tastings, or you can just wander round the shop and pick a few choice bottles before emerging again into the sunlight and the good life.
Nipozzano is about 25km east of Florence. The website isn't hugely helpful on visiting but try it: www.frescobaldi.it/en/home.htm
The Barolo Winery is a great, yet little known, place. You get to tour the vineyards and go round the cellars with plenty of wine and snacks along the way. Don't overdo it though because the highlight of our trip was the meal in the restaurant. There was course after course of amazing delicacies each paired with a matched wine. Staggering round the shop afterwards was hugely tempting but the wine was cheaper in Aldi!
Barolo, Cunoe, Piedmonte, Italy
A bold venture by an excentric - maniacal, even - proponent of 'natural wine. That's to say, wine made entirely naturally without ANYTHING added, and which tastes like no wine you've ever drunk. Sounds crazy, but it really works!
As you wind your way up into Italy's Sibillini Mountains, between Le Marche and Umbria, you will come across this dazzling tourquoise lake with its dramatic Mountain views.
If you arrive early in the morning you are likely to see boar and deer sipping from the shallow waters but as the heat of the day arrives you will be unable to resist the urge to dive in and sample a swim in the crystal clear pools.
In fact, if you take a snorkel and mask you can even view the medieval village and its church that was submerged during the last century.
There are also a number of beach areas one with a bar, a gelateria selling home made ice creams and a lakeside village with an osteria and pizzeria.
There are many marked walks nearby that take you around the lake, or high up onto the peaks and ridges of this dramatic part of the Italian Appenines. Great for building up a sweat before that wild swim!
San Lorenzo al lago, Macerata, Le Marche, Italy
Fantastic restaurant and bar, very popular and full of locals so get there early. Lovely atmosphere, good food, reasonable prices, limited but satisfying menu including vegitarian option. Proper Venetian feel with uncomplicated service - not fleecing tourists.
Calle del Pistor 3912, Near Ca' d'Oro, Cannaregio
Absolutely lovely B&B and not expensive for Venice. It's near to the centre, comfortable, friendly, clean, beautiful and has its own kitchen in the room. We felt really at home and comfortable there.
Calle Zotti 3904a, Cannaregio, Near Ca' d'Oro. www.alsaor.com
It's not just a B&B, providing studios with kitchen and private bathroom, ideal for two people.
I spent a nice weekend in this B&B (that is located close to San Marco), with just 100 Euros per studio per night.
Holiday Farm and B&B
Because it gives you a glimpse at the perfect life!
Paolo and Paola are the best hosts, the olive trees are magnificent and the wine from the vineyard is superb. We went for the Easter weekend and were astonished by the hospitality; we had the most amazing Easter breakfast and traditional Pranzo meal before we left. I went to visit an olive tree that had been adopted for me and arrived to find a bottle of the farm's wine waiting for us to enjoy at the base of it's trunk - by far the best setting to enjoy a bottle!
Agriturismos are the trend of the moment in Italy, popping up everywhere, which makes it more difficult to find the good ones like the Oasi Verde Mengara. Lovely rooms (some even have wooden four poster beds) in an old Italian casa colonica, with a private pool.
What makes it very special though is the food: if you opt for the half board you'll taste the best Italian food ever. And if you want to try more, you can even eat à la carte. Pick the amazing entry dish 'antipasto Oasi Verde' for two, which is a whole meal of traditional recipes. Delicious is the word for this agriturismo.
Between Gubbio and Perugia. Nearest station Fossato di Vico. Ryanair flies to Perugia.
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