Everyone who visits Italy will praise it, but despite everything you hear about this magnificent country you’ll be amazed, surprised and delighted from you moment you arrive. Travelling through beautiful Italy (called the bel paese) will be an experience you’ll never forget.
Italy is the home of great artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Boticelli, but it is also home to some of the biggest fashion icons in history such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Giorgio Armani and Gualtiero Marchesi. In few places food, fashion, art and architecture interact so effortlessly. It seems like the Italians live life effortlessly – they do nothing in fast forward mode, but instead live life slowly while enjoying each and every one of life’s pleasures.
Then there’s the food
Your tastebuds will be on an adventure of a lifetime and no matter how much you feast on the amazing treats offered by this country, you’ll always feel like you haven’t had quite enough. Even a quick snack will be an experience – everything Italian tastes good – if it’s a slice of Margarita pizza, a cone of fried seafood, or delectable gelato. Their secret: ask any Italian where the best food in Italy is and they will likely exclaim that it belongs to the region where they’re from. It’s because Italy’s cuisine is so regional – each part of the country cooks its own food that you won’t find in any other region and they use only the freshest ingredients.
A few of the top places in Italy to visit:
Rome is a city you can’t do in a day. You can put aside a whole day to visit the Vatican City. Walking in the streets of this historical city feels like visiting an outdoor museum – around every corner there’s a new surprise: piazzas, fresh food markets, and the seemingly endless historical sites.
You can take a walk up the Spanish Steps, go back in history at the Colosseum, or make a wish as you cast a coin into the Trevi Fountain.
When in Rome there’s one thing you wouldn’t have to worry about and that’s to find a nice restaurant. There’s a huge variety of family-run trattorias or pizzerias, and then there are the fancier restaurants. Roman food is simple, but rich in flavour and character. The king of vegetables is definitely artichoke – so try them deep fried or simmered in olive oil with garlic and mint or alla giudia.
This is probably one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see. It stretches along the southern side of the country and you’ll have a feast for your eyes with a landscape of towering bluffs, pastel-hued villages terraced into hillsides, and expansive vistas over turquoise waters. The coast was awarded a coveted spot on the World Heritage list in 1997.
You can take a bus or attempt to drive the route from Positano to Amalfi. Ravello – situated at the top of a mountain – is like a secluded spot away from the crowds with the most stunning view over the ocean.
Florence is a dream destination for art lovers. It offers frescoes, sculptures, churches, and palaces. A visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia will leave you amazed by the works of Michelangelo.
It’s also home to the best ice-cream parlour and houses the most-visited gardens in Italy. This city will capture your heart with the seductive and romantic pleasures that only the Tuscans know how to provide.
Tuscan food plays homage to the region’s bounty. If you’re looking for steaks then you have to eat Bistecca alla fiorentina – grilled, large T-bone steaks from local Maremma cows.
Where to stay
As soon as you step inside you will experience one of Florence’s most magnificent secrets: the Grand Hotel Villa Medici. It’s a treasure that’s tucked away in the heart of Florence and which extends the warmest of Tuscan welcomes.
This luxurious palace dates back to the 1700s and boasts an original and contemporary style. You’ll be delighted with the warm atmosphere and the attention the staff give to each visitor to ensure all their needs are met. For business guests the stay will be an impeccable professional experience.
The restaurant Lorenzo de’ Medici and the ‘conservatory’ serve Tuscan specialities in a refined frame that overlooks the garden and swimming pool: a quiet corner in the heart of the city.
The hotel also offers a complimentary courtesy car service which is at the disposal of guests every day, to ensure you can discover the splendours of this amazing city.
This city of water and stone resembles a painting rising from the waters of the lagoon. The city’s appeal lies all around you with narrow, mysterious streets and captivating canals that you can cross over arched marble bridges or traverse on a gondola (some even has a singer serenading you while you drift along).
Visit the Opera and take time to walk through the museums and art galleries and when it’s time to tantalise your tastebuds – you’ll never have a shortage of choice of restaurants. Fashion lovers will marvel at the high-end shopping in Piazza San Marco.
Where to stay
At the Centurion Palace Hotel, nothing is at it seems. On the one side are the placid waters of the lagoon and on the other the mysterious alleyways of Venice leading to the city’s most stunning modern museums, the Peggy Guggenheim and the new Punta della Dogana. The hotel is housed in the former convent of Palazzo Genovese and located on the Grand Canal. It’s a palace with an elaborate Gothic façade, but when you step inside you find yourself projected into a future in which each item of the décor has been designed exclusively for your pleasure. Staff are 24 hours available for whatever questions or requests you might have. The hotel also offers a free water taxi service for guest at specific times.
Antinoo’s Lounge and Restaurant offers an elegant and comfortable ambience where the first-class Venetian chef suggests excellent seasonal high-cuisine menus, both regional and international.
One of the many reasons to visit Italy is its picturesque landscapes and a visit to Perugia (in the Umbria region) will deliver on more than just that. The Umbria region is less known that Tuscany, but equally attractive. The hilltop town of Perugia is full of museums and churches and has a history that spans many eras. There are two universities in the city, so students give the city plenty of nightlife. Visit the sixth-century Sant’Angelo Church which was built on the remains of a Roman temple. For those who have a sweet tooth – take a drive to the famous chocolate factory, Casa del Cioccolato – it’s on the outskirts of Perugia and attracts visitors from far and wide.
Where to stay
The Hotel Brufani Palace is steeped in history. It is situated in the heart of medieval Perugia in a panoramic position and has an ancient tradition of hospitality.
The hotel boasts having received illustrious guests such as the Queen Mother and Prince Albert of Monaco.
Sumptuous halls and rooms dressed with antique furniture and precious materials offer an ambience in elegance and refined taste.
Restaurant Collins offers traditional cuisine interpreted with creativity and innovation. In summer, meals are served on the panoramic terrace.
The fitness club is also worth visiting – it is located underneath medieval vaults and you can see Etruscan ruins through the glass bottom of the swimming pool.
Restless Milan. Hip Milan. Chic Milan, a city of classy elegance where the cocktail hour is a tradition that is honoured day in and day out by impeccably dressed women and trend-setting stockbrokers. Widely renowned as one of the world’s fashion capitals, it offers endless opportunities for shopaholics. If you’re not a shopper – take a walk in the art-loving district, Brera, for the best leather items in Italy. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is full of shops and restaurants, but walking through there will make you feel like you’re inside a picture. From there, step outside and be amazed by the iconic Duomo.
Where to stay
The Hotel De La Ville is set, like a precious stone, close to Milan’s most exclusive designer shopping streets and almost all the major attractions. Located between the Duomo, La Scala Opera House and Via Montenapoleone, it gives the feeling of being in a private residence, its rooms reminiscent of old English palaces combining efficiency and professionalism.
Viareggio is a vibrant and spirited city on the sea. It began as a medieval fishing village, but became renowned for shipbuilding. A famous carnival brings to life the traditions and joviality of this ancient city every year. Viareggio is situated just 20 km from Pisa and is also close to Lucca, the splendid Cinque Terre and, for the joy of opera lovers, the Giacomo Puccini Theatre at Torre del Lag.
Where to stay
Located on the elegant promenade, the Hotel Astor has a special view over Viareggio’s seafront. Recently restored, the hotel now has a striking young and modern architectural appearance.
The hotel has breathtaking views over Tuscany’s most famous promenade and can become a luxurious hideaway. The rooms reflect a contemporary and attractive style. One of the most renowned restaurants in the city, La Conchiglia, owes its reputation to the freshness of its products and their skilful preparation.
For more information on the hotels visit www.sinahotels.com.