I'm deferring this weeks blog post to a team member again. If you've read some of our recent blogs or worked with Kendall, you'll know she is our Hawaii expert and constantly surprises the team and more especially our clients, with her depth of knowledge on the islands. Well she also possesses the same deep proficiency for Italy and since this country has recently risen to the top of our current inquiries (pretty much tied with Greece), it's time to see just what some of Kendall's Italian favorites are.
Over to Kendall.
I have a special list of favorite, more local places I experienced when I lived in Italy for a few months. It is quite typical that "first-timers" to Italy want to see the "big three" as I call them - Rome, Florence, and Venice. It's by no means a mistake to build a trip around these cities since they do house some of the most famous sites Italy is known for. However, and this really applies if heading to Italy for a second or third trip, it is important to remember the country has a huge variety of regions and small towns that are absolutely worth visiting. Hence this week’s focus is the top five places in Italy that are not Rome, Florence, or Venice.
Top 5 - Italy the Second Time Around
1. Arezzo (above)
It is no secret that Italy is home to some of the best food and wine in the world, and a lot of that is found in the Tuscany region. Arezzo is a large town in Tuscany, just around an hour train ride from Florence. When I lived in Italy, Arezzo was the "city" I was closest to. It's actually a large town with a lot of activities and easy access to public transportation, while still maintaining that Tuscan charm you will mostly find in the smaller villages. You’ll find Il Borro Estate (below) here, a luxury property offering 58 luxury rooms and suites, and two exclusive vacation villas – all nestled among vineyards, olive groves, and even a medieval village with artisan boutiques and a church. It also has a working vineyard on property, so you can see firsthand how the amazing Italian wine is made.
2. Cinque Terre (above)
Literally translating to "The Five Lands," Cinque Terre National Park is made up of five different towns along the coast. This is an important destination for travelers who are interested in hiking as all of the towns are connected by trails. You can also purchase a train day pass and explore the towns in a "hop on, hop off" style, or take a boat ride to see all of them from the water. While there are many properties situated just outside the park, staying at a local bed and breakfast inside one of the towns is my personal favorite way to experience the Cinque Terre.
3. Amalfi Coast (above)
Sticking with the coastal theme, the Amalfi Coast is an absolute must see at some point in your travels to Italy. There are many towns along the coastline including the actual town of Amalfi, Sorrento, Ravello, Positano, and more. This stretch of cliffs features the quintessential Italian coastal vibe and is full of colorful streets, limoncello, and incredibly blue water. Situated not far from the city of Naples, a day trip to Pompeii is an option along with a boat ride and tour of the island of Capri. My personal favorite town on the coast is Sorrento, where you can stay at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria (below), set in five-acres of beautiful gardens. The property is a Mediterranean gem built on the site of a splendid villa belonging to Roman Emperor Augustus.
4. Lake Region
The lake region of Italy is located in the northern part of the country not far from Milan. Some familiar names are Lake Como, Lake Garda, and Lake Maggiore, but there are also many smaller lakes that are worth visiting. Something special about this region is that this is where Italy joins the Alps, making it a great location for a day trip into Switzerland. A great town to base your stay out of is Stresa (above) along Lake Maggiore. Consider a stay at the family-owned and operated Villa e Palazzo Aminta (below) which offers breathtaking views of the Borromean Islands and has been restored to its historic splendor.
If Venice is on your list of places to visit but you are would like to add a nearby relaxing break for a couple of days, then Verona is a perfect option. Verona is said to have the most Roman ruins in Italy aside from Rome and is also the setting for many Shakespeare plays. It is home to "Juliet’s House" and is a very popular location if reenacting the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet is high on your list. To get an even better break from city life, stay a little bit outside of Verona at Villa Cordevigo Wine Relais (below) in the Veneto countryside. It has all the charm of the Veneto villas and is the perfect blend of the architecture of palaces and landscape, all enclosed in this estate lying in a little place called Cordevigo, once an ancient Roman settlement.
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