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Luxury Travel

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Lizzi’s Luxury Edit: Highlights of Italy

This week I would like to share with you my love of Italy and some luxury hotels I have been introduced to recently. Italy is a large and diverse country, with mountains, beautiful coastlines, lakes, and historic cities. One mustn’t also forget the islands of Sardinia, Sicily, Capri and Ischia. All regions have so much to offer and are best explored by car or train, but if you are short on time, you cannot beat a city break in Italy either.

Let’s start with the main cities:

Rome: here you’ll find so much to see, from the Colosseum to the Vatican, and both require time to do them justice. Then there are the Spanish Steps, the piazzas, the food, the ice cream, the fashion and the pizzas! Right in the city centre is The Hoxton, a quirky hotel with 192 rooms which come in all shapes and sizes, with bold furnishings, a farm-to-table restaurant and a great cocktail bar.

Venice: there’s nothing like Venice! No matter how many times you visit, surely you can never tire of walking around, visiting the churches full of priceless art, sitting in a square sipping a coffee or a cold beer, and riding along the canals. I particularly like the new The Palazzo Hotel, off the beaten track and near the Guggenheim Collection and the Galleria dell’Accademia. It has a delightful secret back garden that lets out onto a quiet canal served by the hotel’s own pontoon.

Florence: sort of like Venice without the canals, it is a very walkable city. Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region, and home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture, such as the iconic Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi. The Galleria dell’Accademia displays Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture. The Uffizi Gallery exhibits Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”. The Brunelleschi Hotel stands out for so many reasons including its fantastic location. Many of the rooms overlook the Duomo and the plush furnishings and the 2 star Michelin restaurant, make it a great choice.

Don’t forget that there are many other cities worth visiting including Verona, Bologna, Pisa, and Naples.

The Amalfi Coast: I’d say take a drive in an open-top car along the coastline, with the wind blowing in your hair, but the reality is that the roads are very congested in high season and the hairpin bends are a bit scary. I would opt for a private transfer by a local driver! This also gives you the chance to appreciate the breathtaking views as you pass through Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano and Ravello. Such a romantic place! The Excelsior Vittoria is amazing if you can get a room, but I should also mention the Bellevue Serene and the Monastero Santa Rosa, a converted monastery.

The Islands

Ischia: the closest island to Sorrento and reached by a lovely ferry ride with views towards the volcano of Mount Vesuvius, this small island can be visited in a day, but if you’d like to stay a few nights, the Botania Relais and Spa is a great choice. This beautiful Ischian resort comprises 50 rooms and suites spread across 9 villas of typical Mediterranean architecture, with three acres of flower-filled relaxing gardens.

Sardinia: Sardinia is a really large Italian island.  It has nearly 2,000km of coastline, sandy beaches, and a mountainous interior, great for hiking. Its rugged landscape is dotted with thousands of nuraghi – mysterious Bronze Age stone ruins shaped like beehives.

The Grand Relais Dei Nuraghi hotel is situated on a natural rock formation just a few meters from the sea with magnificent views of the Maddalena Archipelago. The suites have been designed as small villas immersed in greenery, for absolute relaxation.

Capri: the best way to reach Capri is by ferry from Sorrento or Naples. It is a beautiful island, kept immaculate year-round and is the place to be seen! Celebrities flock there and keep their yachts there. Capri is famous for its rugged coastline, it’s trendy hotels, piazzas, and shopping! One of the most famous places to visit is the Blue Grotto. The grotto’s extraordinary optical effect is created by the sunlight bouncing on the cave walls, producing electric-blue water that seems to glow.

The Capri Palace is one of the finest hotels and spas in Italy, with its cool stone floors and luxurious white décor. It is perched high up in Anacapri with fabulous sea and mountain views. It has a large outdoor pool and a Michelin-star restaurant. It is simply glorious!

Sicily: well known for its scenery, as captured in The Godfather film, Sicily is steeped in mystery and history. Here you’ll find temples galore, amphitheatres, and churches that reflect Greek, Roman, Arab, and even Norman influences. Along with delicious local food and wine which adds an extra dimension.

Formerly a private residence, the Villa Athena Hotel on the island is an 18th-century palace and a very unique property. The hotel is in a stunning location overlooking the Temple of Concordia and some of the 27 individually furnished, modern bedrooms boast a stunning temple view. The summer swimming pool is set in the garden amongst olive trees.

The Lakes: a wonderful playground to explore from late spring till the end of Autumn.

Top tip: Lake Maggiore is cheaper than Lake Garda, so you can afford to upgrade your hotel. It’s easy to reach by train from Milan, too.

Castello dal Pozzo resort is a five-star luxury independent family-led property on the hills of Lake Maggiore, set between the Italian Alps and the warm-welcoming waters of the lake, just behind the charming medieval town of Arona. Elegant furnishings yet an inviting, modern outdoor pool.

The Mountains: not just for skiing, the Italian mountains are fantastic in the summer, too. And oh, the scenery!! Plenty of hiking and other sports to keep you active. However, you might be surprised how warm it is in this region in the summer, so bring your swimsuit!

I’ve come across the most amazing hotel here: the My Arbor, a tree hotel set on stilts in South Tyrol. The décor in this new hotel, set in the forest, is stunning! Perfect for the winter ski season but also for a summer holiday immersed in Nature. Indoor and outdoor pools. It really has to be seen to be believed.

I just can’t wait for my next holiday in Italy, and I hope you have been inspired by my whirlwind tour of this amazing country.

Feeling inspired? Book your next escape now. Get in touch with Lizzi by emailing [email protected] to book your dream trip!

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