Avoid the heaving crowds and pretentions of much of the Italian Riviera and head to the beautiful, and far quieter, little beach town of Camogli. In terms of sheer physical beauty it gives the Cinque Terre a run for their money, and unlike neighbouring Portofino its picturesque setting isn't ruined up-close by crowds of tourists, huge yachts and designer boutiques. It would be untrue to say tourism had completely passed Camogli by but the town still feels like a genuine fishing port and its handful of tourist-orientated shops and eateries don't detract from its considerable charm. Rows of pastel coloured baroque houses line streets cut into the steep hillside above a picturesque little bay, complete with (shingle) beach, azure waters, fishing port and fort. A postcard-designer couldn't dream up anything prettier, and it is a pleasure to simply wander round the town with its sense of history and beauty unspoilt by mass-tourism. If you want more of an escape than swimming in the Mediterranean, then there are plenty of opportunities to walk into the Appenine hinterland of hills cloaked in olive and orange groves - particularly breathtaking is the walk from Camogli along the cliffs of the Portofino peninsula, with stunning views along the whole length of the Ligurian coast from the too-picturesque-to-be-true hamlet of San Rocco. Camogli's further added bonus is that its relative lack of popularity with tourists means restaurant prices are considerably lower than in nearby Santa Margherita and Rappalo.
Camogli is a brief train journey from Santa Margherita Ligure, Genoa, Rappalo or any of the other major settlements along the riviera. It also lies just off the main coastal highway.
We've just returned from an amazing break at Villa San Raffaello in the stunning Le Marche region of Italy. Skiing locally at the newly upgraded ski resort just above Sarnano (new lifts, bars and swish ristorante) and then returning to a beautifully restored apartment and toasting our toes in front of the fire.
This place has it all, a superb villa set in acres of farmland with jaw-dropping views and a great medieval town within walking distance (vibrant, many restaurants and named one of the most beautiful in Italy), the National Park on your doorstep and it's eco friendly too. The owners have a tree planting scheme to offset carbon from your flights and provide free organic veg during the summer months.
We have travelled to this area in the summer as well and the place is alive with festas, places to visit and things to do. Sarnano is a focal point for this part of Le Marche and this villa is ideally positioned to take advantage of the best of the region. The pool seems very big too (covered during our visit) and has those same views of medieval towns and the Mountains beyond.
I found the place on Trip advisor where they have many glowing reviews
0039 0733 657945
Via Case Rosse 278, Sarnano, MC 62028, Le Marche
Try "villa San Raffaello" on google maps
Fantastic little restaurant running since 1860 (the whole time with the same family). We had a delicious meal there (pastas around seven euros, salads four, desserts four) and thoroughly enjoyed both the delicious food and the great service and ambience. Highly reccommended.
43-45 Via Sant'Antonio
Il Ghiro is a wonderful little guesthouse situated very centrally, near the main train station in Florence. It is absolutely fantastic. Reasonably priced, clean, great staff, free web access (and that is a real gift here in Italy) and lots of help available finding anything you want to see, great places to eat etc. Run by Francesco and Paula; we have only met Francesco but he is fantastic (and so is Paula, if the recommendations on the wall are anything to go by). Best place yet. Stay here!
Via Faenza 63, 5013 FIRENZE
In spite of Ryan Air and talk of Marche being the ‘New Tuscany’ the area has remained remarkably tourist free. It is a region of spectacularly varied scenery, sloping Eastwards from the high Apennines through green hills to the sea, it is a countryside of small farms, vineyards, olive groves and forests. A legacy of the Medieval past is an abundance of hill-top cities, encircled by defensive walls, with commanding views and monumental historic centres : in Byron’s words, “here all the cities are capitals and have not that provincial tone of secondary cities of other kingdoms.”
The Sibillini National Park has an interest for everyone, mountain sports enthusiasts, botanists, photographers, hikers, birdwatchers, mountain bikers, it has lakes, castles monasteries, caves, and medieval villages to explore.
We stayed at Villa Gelso in the National Park, I would recommend it for secluded romance or family holidays.
One of the greatest Italian painters. The exhibition is unmissable. Bellini is a master and innovative artist, though not as popular as Michelangelo or Raphael.
Scuderie Quirinale (the presidential palace)
near Via Nazionale
The flood in Rome was scary and exciting at the same time. (I can say that now the worst is over). We spent it in a rented apartment from Palazzo Olivia for our family Italian break ... they are so nice. I was worried about going out, but received necessary directions and reassurance during our stay. Comfortable accommodation, great service, great location as usual. On this particular occasion, close enough to the river to "monitor" and far enough to feel safe. Worth a visit.
Spending Christmas in such a metropolitan area like Rome is really wonderful. Italy has a very romantic feel to it with its cobbled pavements, cozy cafes and historic landmarks. The Colosseum looks even better during the festive period, with a beautifully adorned tree that sits on its doorstep. There are also plenty of other things to see during this time of year besides the landmarks, including choirs, Christmas markets (like in the Piazza Navona) and Catholic mass on Christmas Eve. Just a wonderful time of the year to be in Italy.
Various; Rome City Centre
The Italian capital has always been particularly famous for being an expensive city, but if you like Italian culture then you can enjoy the best that Rome has to offer for next to nothing. The city houses countless churches (the Piazza Santa Maria), monuments and galleries (Piazza dell'Accademia di San Luca) that are available to visit for free, and if you feel you have exhausted those, then step just outside the city center and take a relaxing walk through the luscious greens of the Villa Ada.
Various; Rome City Centre
This tour will take you down paths less trodden and provide you with a different outlook on Rome and its superb landmarks. The tour is taken at night and, as mystery and your imagination take over, the guide will provide an entertaining side to the capital that you are not likely to get during the day. Particular landmarks explored include the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the beautiful Campo de Fiori. This is a really cool way to explore this magnificent city, especially if you have children.
Sant'Andrea Della Valle Church - Corso Vittorio Emanuele II
If a few days in the capital city start to take their toll, then escape to the beach and rest your tired feet. Ostia beach is situated around 30-40 minutes outside of Rome and gives you the opportunity to wind down with a cold drink or ice cream while you laze on the beach and soak up the sun.
A great benefit of this beach is that you have the chance to buy your souvenirs and gifts while you relax, as the majority of vendors will approach you and offer their goods without you having to move an inch. If this doesn’t sound like your idea of relaxation then there are also quieter sections of the beach.
Lido di Ostia, Rome, Italy
Google map: bit.ly/nUl0Vi
If you want to visit Rome and indulge in superb accommodation for the price of a hostel, then you should certainly stay at the Auditorium Di Mecenate. A modern hotel that has fantastic styling in both its bedrooms and bathrooms, you almost feel like the owners have misunderstood the exchange rate and will come bounding into your room asking for more money.
The private bedrooms have elegant high ceilings and long glass windows and drapes and the bathrooms are decked out in very modern black tiles and white units. The staff are always very helpful and the location is convenient, being close enough to the city center and just around the corner from the main train station. It’s a brilliant place to stay when trying to save money on your trip.
Auditorium Di Mecenate, Via dello Statuto 44, Rome, 00185, Italy.
A good value, solid two star hotel in a good location with the nearest metro station only 10 mins walk away. Cheap and easy.
Address: Via Tiburtina 30
Area: city centre
Nearest station: Termini station
Rome was our final stop on a three-week trip to Italy. Here we received all the information we wanted and a map of the city. Paola explained where to go, what to buy, how to avoid crowds... all the useful tips. They showed us the best restaurants we've ever eaten in – and they weren’t even expensive. The location is great, around the corner from Navona Square. Bring your walking shoes and you can reach everything by foot.
In the Heart of Rome - Navona Square
Le Pietre is a small, but perfectly formed, B&B and apartment set deep in the countryside of Northern Lazio just a few minutes drive from Lake Bolsena.
We stayed in the apartment and when not out and about visiting the local towns and villages, we happily whiled away the hours by the pool - very relaxing. The hosts were great; welcoming and informal, there when you needed them but otherwise allowing us the privacy to enjoy the place as if it were our own.
We found ourselves here more by accident than design, just passing through and decided to stop here for a few days. I'm not sure whether this is true or not, but we did wonder if the area maybe relatively unknown to UK travellers - at least when compared to its neighbour, Tuscany. But there were many interesting places from attractive fishing towns, Etruscan archaeological sites, natural hot-springs (also very relaxing) and some great vineyards. Getting to places slightly further a field was also easy - the religiously-significant, and beautiful, town of Orvieto and the Maremma area of southern Tuscany both within an hour's drive.
Getting there was easy too - from Rome less than two hours by car.
Le Pietre, Strada Campo Delle Rose 2
(Near Marta) Viterbo 01100, Italy
If you join Friends of the Uffizi you get access to all state run museums in Florence and can go to the top of any queue. Museums include the Uffizi, Accademia, Bargello and San Marco but there is a longer list.
You can join in advance but it is easy to do when you arrive. Membership is for the calendar year and not for 12 months from payment but it is still value for money and encourages you to go to museums 'little and often'. Varied costs but it is 100 Euros for a family.
The office is opposite the main Uffizi entrance in the old post office building.
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