A few miles down the road from the super-refined Taormina is the much more gritty (though no less charming) fishing village of Letojanni (it's a short bus run from the bottom of the cable car at Taormina). Join the evening passegiata along the front, then take your pick from the run of beachfront fish restaurants.
We plumped for Da Nina, where a meal of fresh-catch giant prawns, squid, tuna and swordfish costs around €30 with wine. Sun set over the Straits of Messina was the pearl in the oysters.
Via Luigi Rizzo, 29
Tel: 0942 36147
A restaurant perched high above Taormina (take a taxi there and back). Breathtaking views over the Gulf of Naxos and Etna. Excellent local food and wine. Romance on a plate.
Salita Castello, 98030 Castelmola
Tel: 0942 28180
Stunning mountainside location about 40 minutes drive inland from Taormina, where Francis Ford Coppola shot the wedding scenes for Godfather Part II. Take your home-made granita di limone from the bar inside and sit in the shade of the matted ivy pergola.
This is a hotel almost in the centre of Palermo. It is in a traditional old Sicilian building and has large rooms, some with balconies overlooking the street. The staff are friendly and efficient, and the breakfast buffet is pretty reasonable.
Via Roma 72, Palermo 90133
We spent more than two weeks in Sicily in April/May 2006 - not enough time for this amazing island. One of the highlights was staying in this small town - despite being so close to Palermo it had an island feel. Perfect place from which to visit Erice, Segesta & Scopello. The Cala Marina 3* hotel was excellent, in a perfect waterfront spot and one's wish was their command!
It is a large apartment in a beautiful part of Monticiano, a village south of Siena in Val di Merse, 15 minutes from petriolo hot springs, 5 minutes from breathtaking Abbey of San Galgano.
We were 7 people and managed to spend a week in a great part of Tuscany with 650 euros for the week! All included!
Monticiano, Siena. www.casagigliola.it
Opposite modern Ragusa, Ragusa Ibla is a baroque jewel and the best centre to explore south-east Sicily, the least spoiled corner of the island.
This B&B has beautiful rooms, a splendid terrace and a very kind hostess. Go off season, there is no stinting on central heating!
Chiasso Guerra 13, Ragusa Ibla.
Tel: +39 0932621809 (Italian only).
Difficult to find without asking. Parking may be available, but do not risk narrow streets with a car larger than a Ford Focus, for ex..
A low-key, seafront hotel with high ceilings and a lovely terrace. Food is served by students at a local catering college and can be al fresco, weather permitting.
The village of Leni is pretty tiny, but if you're here to hike or stroll, it's a great family-run base. Rinella, where the ferries dock is not too far either. Try to bag a more spacious room on the ground floor. Doubles from 80 euros a night.
An agriturismo and working vineyard on the slopes of Mount Etna with comfortable, stylish rooms. Run by the noble family of the Baron Scammacca del Murgo - the hosts are full of character!
The estate produces very drinkable red and sparkling wines - tastings and tours available - and you can really taste the volcanic minerals in the red wine.
I love Morbegno! I have been there twice - mainly for walking holidays. Stayed at the family-run Hotel Trieste in the old town.
It's a comfortable, reasonably priced hotel with a lovely private garden at the back. Also had some very good meals at the Hotel Margna, which is in the centre of town. The food is amazing - nothing like what you get in other areas of Italy and there are some great local wines.
What I like about Morbegno is that it's big enough to meander around looking at the shops and old buildings but is also small enough that you feel you get to know people. And there is such amazing countryside all around it - in a few minutes you are climbing high up amongst first vineyards and then mountain pastures - it is breathtakingly beautiful.
If you want to venture further afield there are good train and bus links and Milan is an easy trip on the train. So, if you want a taste of real Italy, visit the Valtellina and especially Morbegno.
Morbegno is a great place: peaceful, relaxed and yet with some excellent restaurants, bars and shops.
The food in the Valtellina is first class – some good strong red wines (not easily obtained outside Italy), excellent cheese and great fresh produce – loved the local salamis, handmade pizzoccheri (buckwheat noodles) – and especially the polenta and rabbit!
The Vecchio Ristorante Fiume (1 Contrada di Cima alle Case, Morbegno; 39-0342/610-248) was excellent. The Osteria San Giovanni (8 Via Nani, Morbegno; 39-0342/601-120) is also a very good wine bar. Fratelli Ciapponi (23 Piazza III Novembre, Morbegno; 39-0342/610-223) is a great cheese and wine shop, opened in 1883, and the vaulted wine cellars are worth a visit to the town alone.
The surrounding countryside is quite stunning. Beautiful in the winter, but I really enjoyed it in the summer with great walks climbing up steep paths out of the valley bottom, leading to spectacular views from the upper pastures. It is also an easy day's trip on the train down into Milan, so you can stay in this lovely little town and still get to spend a full day in Milan. Going up the valley on the train takes you into even more spectacular mountain scenery - another good day out. And of course, a trip down to the lakes around Colico is easy and relaxing.
Just south of Todi and near Orvieto, Spoleto, Arezzo, Perugia and Norcia as well as less known jewels such as Amelia and Bevagna you will discover La Masale, an ideal haven for discerning people who will appreciate the fine hospitality offered by Max and Christine. The house is beautifully appointed and set in open country with views of the Sibillini mountains and the town of Todi on the horizon. We were absolutely enchanted and have promised to go back soon.
A fabulous, warm and relaxing hotel/bed and breakfast/farmhouse. It's happy, beautiful and inspiring. Complete with a swimming pool, restaurant (serving amazing food) and stunning scenery. I recommend it for its relaxing atmosphere. The swimming pool helps too! GO THERE, seriously!
72010 Pezze di Greco, near Fasano
I recommend this restaurant if you fancy a Fawlty Towers experience. I went there with my family which included my two young nephews. The place itself is quite posh, however the mature waiter lost the plot.
We tried to order two Margherita pizzas with ham on. This sent the waiter into a rage with him srcatching frantically into his writing pad. He pronouced loudly he had a table of 20 booked which were coming any minute. We all felt intimidated by his behaviour.
After being told another pizza was off the menu we quickly left. Service with a smile it wasn't!
Calle Priuli, 106 Venice. Tel 041.8947958
Excellent accommodation, really well-equipped kitchen, clean and well furnished, friendly on-site English owners.
Fantastics views of Lucca from house. Couple of minutes to Lucca centre and from shops. Good Tuscan restaurant in village. Convenient too for visiting Pisa, Florence, the beach, golf, etc.
Offers B&B in out-of-season too.
A few years ago me and my family went to Italy. The first place we went was Verona. Because we came on the sleeper train we had not had any breakfast, so we found a cafe that was right outside the Colisseum. It had hot chocolate that was like melted chocolate, I think it might have been. The colossal Colisseum was alright to walk around and sit on the stone seats. It gave you a really good image of what the one in Rome would have been like.
Our hotel was magnificent. We had rented a hallway, so there were 2 rooms. My parents had the one with the balcony, me and my brother’s one did not have a balcony. For breakfast they had cakes and fruit and the most wonderful things that you could imagine. Everyday that we were there we had an ice cream. Italy does the best ice cream in the whole world. Once we even saw broccoli flavoured ice cream! Luckily I did not try it, I was far too tempted by the orange and lemon ice cream.
From Sarah Fletcher (age 10).
I am so so glad that we decided to stick to La Casa di Asa instead of somewhere closer to the centre of Rome.
It takes about 30 minutes to travel from the doorstep of La Casa to the closest metro station, but it's very very easy to do so.
The people there are lovely, the rooms are cleaned daily, there is air conditioning, the breakfasts are filling but very simple.
It's just a really nice place to stay and not too expensive. I would thoroughly recommend this place for anyone who is staying in Rome for more than three days, just because it's nice to be able to leave the city behind and be around true Romans instead of just tourists.
Basically, the rooms are fine, not fantastically great or anything, but very clean and serviecable.
It's the neighborhood that really makes La Casa di Asa worth the stay.
La Casa di Asa Via Achille Mauri 13
Choose a baking hot day to step through the thirteenth century gateway of Monteriggioni (there's no way I'm going to attempt spelling that a third time) and you'll find yourself in the world of Sergio Leone. Sit on a bench opposite the church and you can quickly recreate entire scenes to while away the time whilst your travelling partner finds joy in the few shops this walled town has to offer. Time passes quickly here and you may find it worthwhile to return at night for a new take on the town and some delicious restaurants.
Between Siena and Firenze.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com