Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer
Europe, Food + Wine, Friend Of A Friend Consulting, Italy
Check instagram for a look into just how popular this Italian city and its distinct glamour are with the world. Of course, a visit will quickly show you its popularity with American college-age students, eager to gobble up first-person experiences of studying abroad and all that entails. However, despite all its popularity, the city and its Medici-enthused antiquities and art objects remain a sight to behold, somehow eschewing total Disney-esque status and allowing the city to continue its far-reaching appeal to almost any traveler. Of course, when something is as beautiful as Florence truly is, not even mass tourism can make her ugly. That said, here are a few tips from my most recent visit to ensure the beauty is the majority of what you see:
1. Do make the trek up the hills into Fiesole, just 20 minutes outside the city. The views are spectacular and offer a rare look into what it might have looked centuries ago (albeit with less structures, but still red roofs and cypress trees) I recommend indulging at the Belmond Villa San Michele (pictured below) whether it be for meal or a stay, as it does set quite an exclamation point behind the look and feel of a regal villa in the hills.
2. Do consider hiring a touring company to get you a bit more behind the scenes. As mentioned above, the crowds are no joke and thus paying a bit more to go behind the vaulted palace doors and up to a private terrace (pictured below) can take your visit from wonderful to magical.
3. Walk, walk and walk some more – until your feet beg for a cafe chair and a spritz. The city is extremely walkable and some of its best-kept gems are just beyond the center. Not to mention bolthole views like the one below, which are only spied by crossing the Arno and heading upward.
4. Stop and marvel as often as possible. You’ll be surprised to find that some of the most precious and historic elements of the city’s history are not behind museum walls. Of course below is a replica of the famous statue, but the Palazzo behind it allows visitors and inside are treasure to behold and open to all.
Europe, Food + Wine, Italy
April 23-30, 2016
I just returned from a week in Tuscany, traversing the gorgeous green and yellow patchwork of the Val d’Orcia, Tuscany’s UNESCO World Heritage area renowned for its Brunello and Vino Nobile, as well as it’s fabulous properties. I was lucky enough to stay in a few and tour some others, while fitting in wine tasting to practice for my upcoming WSET Level III course. Not bad for a week’s work. Below are some of my more wistful scenic shots, though sadly none of them quite do it justice. Tuscany, and really, all of Italy, is impossible to capture in an image. It’s not just one single sensorial experience – it’s all five of them, at maximum tilt. And that is why I will return as often as I can, forever.
Beach, Hideaways, Hotel Reviews, Italy
This June my mother, young son and I all traveled to Italy. It was an adventure, to say the least, during which we indulged in some robust Hideaway Hunting. Our hunt took us up and down the boot, from Sorrento to Umbria and even over to Capri, each of which yielded some memorable Italian gems that I was happy to add to my list. One of my new favorites is La Minervetta in Sorrento. A remarkably charming boutique property nestled into the cliffside of Sorrento, La Minervetta is a spot you don’t easily forget. It’s simply that good. My young son was particularly taken with this spot as well. It didn’t hurt that our room was filled with model boats ideal for him to tinker with and line up along the sparkling picture windows.
As you can see, the hotel’s cheerful decor hardly lacks for color and the result is a wonderful lightness felt amongst the guests. We chatted with almost every other guest, likely due to the sunny weather and small pool area, but also because the spots welcoming design simply encourages friendliness. Furthermore, the to buy semenax breakfast buffet, pictured at top, was truly one of the best, particularly as this is a small hotel. The two women chefs in the kitchen were not only supremely talented, but so warm and friendly. I chatted with them easily and happily, of course this also gave me ample time to graze so as not to stockpile my plate like a typical American. Everything though, and truly everything, was delicious and homemade and oh so fresh. It was one of those times where everything just came together so beautifully and the essence of European travel, particularly Italian, reached its pinnacle: gorgeous scenery, excellent fresh food and a warm and inviting setting. I can assure you, I will go back.
Sure, it helps that the sparkling view of the Sea and the Italian coastline is mesmerizing in its own right, but with a colorscape so fun and flirty inside too, it makes the whole stay feel just as it should – like a giddy holiday. And do let me know if you’re interested in going yourself, I’ve got a few room favorites that are absolutely stunning.
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