The Sibillini mountains in Umbria lack the scale and severity of the Italian Alps and the Dolomites, but that only means walkers are less numerous, and all the tops are accessible to the merely fit and well shod. The scenery is unique and spectacular, particularly the vast utterly flat lentil fields of the Piano Grande, ringed by mountains. Our hotel in Norcia arranged a reasonably priced post-breakfast transfer to the largely deserted village of Castellucio, on the edge of the Piano Grande, from where it is a long-ish but straightforward walk to the summit of Monte Patino (1883m). This is the highest point for some distance and there are huge views over the rest of the Sibillini mountains, the rolling hills of Umbria and down to Norcia immediately below. By the time you get back to town you will be ready for a beer, and if you pick your spot carefully you will be able to look up at the big cross on the summit of Monte Patino and feel, well, smug. Norcia is famous for its salami and truffles and Umbrian wine is a match for its more expensive Tuscan neighbours. Add pasta, lentils and risotto and you get perfect hearty walkers fare.
Norcia - just Google it! It's an adventure!! (OK we booked it all through Inntravel. But still an adventure to get there.)
Strada Statale Picena, ., 62026 San Ginesio Macerata, Italy
+39 0737 97271
Google map: bit.ly/16U78kY
Wake up early and ride the Mount Baldo cableway up 1.6km to hike among breathtaking scenery of the snow-capped pre-Alpine region, the Po Plains and the Dolomite Mountains. After exhausting ourselves on the mountain trails we head to a hilltop restaurants for late lunch with panoramic views of the lake. We loved Mount Baldo so much we went back twice more during our week-long summer holiday to Malcesine, Lake Garda.
The castle hamlet of Acera is home to about 100 Italians in the summer months and just a few goats in the winter. Its location nestled in the Perugian mountains 10 miles northeast of Spoleto and at an altitude of over 1000m above sea level, lends itself to any difficulty of hikes and on/off road cycling.
Acera has no shops so pay a visit to the pizzeria at the bottom of the winding access road before heading up. Leave the car in the village and you are spoiled with any amount of public tracks, from a 15 minute walk around one hill, with views back towards Spoleto, to choosing one of any number of peaks to conquer, to treks of over 15 miles to the valley of the River Nera, clear enough to drink from and take a refreshing swim in.
If you come this way it's best to organise to be collected by car at the end of your walk/ride. Make sure to stop at a local sausage maker, Salumificio Del Nera in Sant'Anatolia Di Narco, for the most amazing local meats.
If you ask around back in Acera, you should be able to get hold of some local truffle, its big business around here and absolutely delicious.
Accommodation can be found at a number of agritourismos in the area, though, at the moment, not in Acera itself.
Acera, Provence of Perugia
Nearest train station, Spoleto (15miles)
Google map: bit.ly/10atxnC
Salumificio Del Nera S.R.L.
Localita' Renare, Sant'Anatolia Di Narco, PG 06040
The Sibillini Mountains lie north-east of Rome, in a National Park established in 1993. The whole area is a little-known gem in the heart of Italy.
The walk encompasses high mountain passes, (with the option of summits), dramatic gorges, beech woods, vistas of rolling hillsides, meadows and pastureland, interspersed with medieval hill-towns, abbeys, towers and castles. The wild flowers are amazingly prolific and varied - but we weren't lucky enough to see a wolf!
Overnight stays included rifugios in converted castles, agriturismos, and B&Bs. A good starting point is the little town of Visso, but there are many options for starting and finishing on this circular walk.
Corvara in the Alta Badia region of the German speaking, northern Dolomites is the perfect summer mountain playground. The ski lifts remain open all summer giving access to the high alpine pastures and rocky limestone peaks. The Boè and Vallon lifts from the edge of town take you to the start of the amazing Via Ferrata (a rocky scramble secured by iron cables and ladders) up to the rocky summit of Piz da Lêche (2915m); there are plenty of mountain guides and rental shops in town for the less experienced. Alternatively you can hire mountain bikes and use the lifts on the other side of the valley. Then all you have to do is point the bike down hill and enjoy the ride!
There are many amazing walks in the Dolomites of Veneto (region in the north of Italy), but for somebody who is going for the first time there is nothing better than hiking from Passo Falzarego (near Cortina d'Ampezzo - BELLUNO) to Rifugio Nuvolau.
The best path to follow is: Passo Falzarego - towards Forcella Gallina, passing in front of Averau montain - up to Rifugio Nuvolau (where you can spend the night, possibly) and go down to Passo Giau (final stop of the walk).
The total length is more or less four hours and there are some difficulties but is definitely doable even by non professionals and amateurs walkers (like me!).
Why I suggest it:
1) You can enjoy a 360° view of the Dolomites (in particular on the Tofane, Pomagagnon, Cristallo, Sorapiss, Antelao and Cinque Torri mountains);
2) If you spend the night at Rifugio Nuvolau you can witness the amazing 'Enrosadira' at sunset. It is called 'Enrosadira' the moment in which the Dolomites rocks get the pink colour (due to the sunlight reflection on their rocks at sunset or sunrise) they are so famous worldwide for. In addition, if there is full moon the view on the mountains at night is breathtaking.
Where to go: Flight to Treviso or Venice and then rent a car (if not there are trains but the connections are not so great) and sleep the first night either at Selva di Cadore (www.infodolomiti.it/dolomiti.run?620000492-0) or Colle Santa Lucia)
If you are looking for total quiet; while sleep in Cortina d'Ampezzo (cortina.dolomiti.org/) if you want to enjoy the Dolomites posh life but still in a breathtaking place.
The starting point of the walk is closer to Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Rifugio Nuvolau: www.nuvolau.com/
Recommended to eat SALSICCIA!
Google map: bit.ly/YOUc8s
A seven mile circuit with amazing views over the rolling hills of Le Marche out to the Adriatic, northwards to the Gran Sasso and also of the surrounding Sibillini Mountains.
Drive up the zigzag track up to the Refugio Sibilla and then it is a short walk up to access the fine ridge up to the summit.
The area is full of legends. The eponymous sibyl, or prophetess, reputedly lived in a cave near the summit with a group of beautiful enchantresses who could turn into snakes if the need arose and nearby the Lago di Pilato marks the spot that Pontius Pilate's body supposedly found its final resting place. We had the mountain to ourselves in April, when fresh snow added to the beauty.
Ancient pomegranate trees shade a rocky trail leading up to the Greek amphitheatre of Erythrae. Unlike the human maelstrom at sites like Ephesus, visitors here are few, even in summer. We felt free to test the acoustics. Nearby a sun-wizened old man was minding a hobbit-hole. In the dark interior, on a dusty floor, lay dusty fragments of mouldings and ceramics. Explaining (eventually) we were from England he smiled broadly then proudly spoke his two words of English: "Manchester United".
It's well worth stopping on the way there or back at one of the small roadside cafes on the coast road between Çeşme and Illdir. They have shaded terraces with spectacular views over the Aegean Sea and islands. Try an Akitma, thin Turkish crêpes, cooked to order and filled with Feta-type, crumbly fresh cheese. Wash it down with Ayran, a suprisingly delicious cold drink of yogurt mixed with water and salt.
Illdir, on the coast road about 1 hour north of Çeşme.
Tourist information office: Çeşme (fax 232-712 6653) - it's by the harbour at iskele Meydanı 6.
Google map: bit.ly/13aWLKm
What can I say? Love 'The Harry's. The location is perfect - it feels like heaven sat watching the sunset from the top. Views are just gorgeous. Great place for morning coffee or an evening drink and also definitely the best restaurant to go to. Food is great. This is certainly the only place that we book year on year. You need to pre book for the restaurant though as it does get very busy.
The Monti Sibillini National Park in Umbria, naturally conceals some of the most exhilarating and glorious walks you could ever wish to experience. Take the trail above Infernaccio through exquisite valleys and higher and half way up meet the hermit who, for forty years, has been building a church single handed and has yet to finish.
Or, walk to the Lago Di Pilatos. This dream like lake has its own population of crayfish not to be found anywhere else in the world. Witness the stunning views of the surrounding snow capped mountains.
Myself and my partner ate here on a number of occassions and were never disappointed. The service was excellent, really friendly staff and always happy to help. The restaurant looks out over the beach which is a stunning view. We often watched the paragliders landing just in front of the restaurant or the the sun setting from here.
The food was so good, everything we ordered was wonderful. From a simple chicken kebab wrap to Harry's fish special we really enjoyed it all. It was great value for money. Yes, some of the drinks were a bit expensive but no more than anywhere else. After a lovely meal we really enjoyed going up to Harry's cocktail bar and trying out all the different cocktails. Again the staff there were brilliant and the cocktails were yummy.
Overall this was one of our favourite restaurants and deserves the excellent rating we have given it. As my title said great food, great surroundings and great staff. What more could you want?!
We visited Tlos in spring when the snow on the mountains provided a magnificent backdrop to this ancient, ruined Lycian citadel which was subsequently inhabited by Romans, Byzantines and eventually Ottoman Turks. Entrance fee was 3 TL and this allowed us to wander up to the citadel passing wonderful examples of Lycian carved rock tombs, sarcophagi and the remains of Turkish baths and a Roman stadium. Despite being surrounded by history it was the all-round view which provided the most lasting spectacle.
You reach the Tlos from Fethiye by following the 400 highway towards Kalkan and following the signs for Tlos.
This bar is located on the 17th floor of a seventies apartment complex in Berlin. To get there you need to take a glass elevator which is on the outside of the building! At the top is a classy bar with panoramic views across this city. They take their music seriously and regularly host top international DJs. They also make the best martinis ever, a few of those should give you the courage to take the elevator back down again.
The Palacio de Valle is a fabulous Moorish-Gothic-Baroque confection at the southern end of the Punto Gorda peninsula, Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Take in the intricate ceilings, stained glass and chandeliers, as you head up the sweeping marble stairs to the top floor. Then climb the rickety spiral staircase to the rooftop bar, which has to be one of the best places in the world to watch the sunset. Order a mojito and gaze out across the water at the stunning view.
Reparto Punta Gorda, Cienfuegos, Cuba
+53 43 451003
Google map: bit.ly/YmSRqe
Don't visit the Glenmore's rooftop bar if there's a cruise liner parked in Circular Quay. But on other days this is the only rooftop bar with a view of the Sydney Opera House. There's also the glass and steel offices of the central business district, the hump of the harbour bridge, and the busy green and cream harbour ferries (one for each of the eleven ships of the first fleet). The location is as Australian as a Vegemite sandwich.
The evening clientele is young - office workers enjoying the late sun and having fun over a schooner or two.
On the 63rd floor of the Lebua Hotel in Bangkok, Sky Bar offers up breathtaking views over the city. There is no entrance fee so you can get away with just going to appreciate the scenery, while some may recognise it from the opening scenes of Hangover 2.
Drinks are around 500 baht, and after the heat and hustle below, sipping a cocktail among the skyscrapers is a great way to end the day.
Head there early evening to catch the sun setting over the Chao Praya River.
The boat trip on Upper Waterton Lake to US territory at Goat Haunt at the southern end is well worth it. Superb views of the Rockies right alongside the lake with the chance to see eagles and bears make for great photographs. Waterton Town Site is a pleasant place and much quieter than other better known parts of the Rockies. Try the Prince of Wales Hotel for a memorable, if expensive, afternoon tea.
Set back from the main road, at night if you look hard enough you will spot a orange glowing thing mysteriously sliding to the sky - Solar - a bar/restaurant with fantastic views with floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. Relaxed atmosphere, but a bit pricey (don't buy spirits/mixers, stick to beer if you're on a budget, though cocktails are good). Choice of comfy leather seating in various layouts so good for large or small groups, and there's a swing large enough for multiple people!
Close to Badi Palace, Kosy Bar offers a rarity in dry Marrakech - alcohol. Emerge from a steamy hamman, rehydrate with water, before skipping over the menu's expensive beers and opting for the more reasonbly priced chilled white wine, the perfect respite from the hot, bustling city. Head for the highest of the two roof terraces, and look down on Marakech in action, and watch and listen to the nesting storks patiently stood on the old city walls. Or marvel as the waiter tries to negotiate the narrow, spiral staircase to the terrace while carrying trays of drinks.
47 Place des Ferblantiers, Mellah, Marrakech
East meets west with spectacular views over Helsinki. Russian and Finnish are the most widely heard languages in this exotic venue which served as the Russian headquarters during the latter part of the Second World War. As the tallest building in Helsinki from 1931-1976 it has been the scene of intrigue that shaped the recent history and politics of northeastern Europe. An unforgettable and atmospheric location.
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