We are a full week into the J5Travel Italy trip on which myself (John), Kendall (Director of Luxury Travel and our true Italy expert) and Shanna (Director of Travel Planning) are traveling.
During an almost 3 week itinerary, we are covering a lot of ground. This is all in the name of research for our clients as we visit many properties, enjoy several tours and eat rather well. We are continuing to work as we go, so please don't be afraid to send in a new inquiry at any point during this trip.
Italy has been our best selling destination for the last 2 years and it looks from early trends that this will be repeated for 2024, so this trip is especially important to keep up to date, learn about anything new, and deepen our relationships with our on-site suppliers and with top luxury brands and hotels.
Here's the Top 5 from our first week!
Top 5 - J5 Italy Team Trip
1. Villa d'Este, Cernobbio - Lake Como (above and below)
This was mentioned last week but is so good I wanted to re-emphasize...
Only 2 hours after landing in Milan we were touring and enjoying lunch at the iconic Villa d'Este. The hotel occupies an enviable spot on Lake Como, amid 25 acres of a luxuriously landscaped park. Accommodations are divided between two historic mansions, one dating from the 16th century, the other built for a queen of England, and each room is uniquely decorated. But what keeps the loyal clientele returning time and again is the unmatched service. Savor gourmet Italian cuisine at Veranda, or go informal at Grill. Guests also love the "floating" pool that affords the most breathtaking views of Lake Como. Four exclusive private villas, located inside the property, can be rented for ultimate privacy.
2. Lake Como Private Boat (above)
A must-do at Lake Como is to see the surrounding scenery, beautiful towns and villages by water. To elevate that, then a private boat is required and thanks to one of our favorite Italy suppliers, we had a wonderful half day exploring the middle section of the lake.
The consensus highlight was Villa Balbianello (below). This elegant, romantic 18th century mansion and its magnificent garden have hosted writers, scholars and travelers, including Count Guido Monzino, the last owner of the Villa. Now a tourist site and glorious wedding venue, the small estate also provides special views of Lake Como.
3. Grand Hotel Victoria, Menaggio - Lake Como (above and below)
Life on the water really is better – especially when that water is Lake Como, and the resort is the Grand Hotel Victoria Concept & Spa. With its neoclassical architecture, local artisan-made decor, and exclusive perks (guests have access to a 29-foot water limo for exploring Lake Como), you’ll be immersed in all things Italy. Think seasonal cuisine paired with wine from the hotel’s 400-bottle cellar, nature-infused treatments designed to relax the body and mind, and rooms and suites furnished by Italian designer, Talenti.
I can personally attest to the Spa being sensational. Ask me about my chocolate massage if you dare!
PS. We all loved the small town setting of Menaggio - perfect as a quieter location but still with a waterfront town square that bustles in the evening with several charming restaurants, all with outside seating for the balmy Fall nights as we enjoyed.
4. Varenna, Lake Como (above and below)
Nestled on the picturesque eastern shores of Lake Como, Varenna is a timeless jewel of Italian charm and tranquility. With its enchanting blend of cobblestone streets, colorful lakeside villas, and breathtaking alpine vistas, this quaint village effortlessly captures the essence of a romantic getaway. But it's the undeniable allure of Varenna's waterfront that steals the show. The iconic Riva Grande, a charming stone promenade, invites you to savor ice cream or espresso while gazing across the lake at the majestic Grigne mountains. In the evening, when the sun sets behind the distant peaks, Varenna's cozy restaurants come alive with candlelight, offering delectable local cuisine and a chance to savor la dolce vita.
5. Villa Cordevigo Wine Relais, Verona (above and below)
We headed southeast from Lake Como with a 2 1/2 hour drive to a spot between Lake Garda and Verona. For the grand arrival we followed a cypress-lined lane back in time to Villa Cordevigo. This beautiful 18th-century villa, the former residence of Veneto counts, nestles within immense vineyards and olive groves. The crimson and ocher buildings, centered around a court fountain, house just 34 rooms, elegantly adorned with original frescoes, period furnishings, and rich fabrics. Stroll the surrounding Italian gardens dotted with statues, or get an ayurvedic spa treatment. Indulge at Michelin-starred Marco Marras’s Oseleta restaurant and join cooking classes with his brigade in the autumn months. Our wine tasting from the local Valpolicella area including a couple of standout Amarone's was exemplary.
Looking for an Italian adventure of your own? We'd love to have you experience the level of service and breathtaking views that we were able to see on our trip. Click the button below to get started planning.
I love travel and I love travel planning just as much and I am proud to have built a team as passionate about exploring the world as myself. It took me a very long time to align my career with my undeniable passion for exploring, but now I and the team are here for you. Your personal travel tailors - award reservation and luxury custom itinerary experts. We provide a bespoke service, imagining and creating itineraries for independent minded families and groups.