Italy’s Top 10 plus five: A very personal list
So, you are going to Italy. Time to take some advice from someone who goes there every year, asks Christine Hogan. This is a very personal list, one developed during more than 35 years of regular visits… you might have more. Feel free to weigh in.
Where to stay
Venice. When I can, I love to stay at the Belmond Cipriani. I stayed there on my first trip to Europe, and it never ceases to calm my soul. Catch the Cipriani boat from St Mark’s Square, cross the Bacino to Giudecca, step into the welcoming embrace of Roberto on the dock and you are in another world. It is expensive but worth it for the ambience, the location, the hospitality, the pool, the food at Oro, the view across to Venice from Cips restaurant… and the pool! It’s a dream on the lagoon. (Below.)
Lake Como. Villa d’Este in Cernobbio. Another stop on that first visit and a regular stop over in Italy. This is what Heaven feels like: The luxury of timelessness, effortlessness, and perfection. If you are ever on the Italian lakes, visit. You might just see George Clooney out with the twins. Eat there. Incredible. (Images at the top of the post.)
Rome. If you have loads of cash, go to the Portrait Roma, a very glamorous joint in the Via Condotti. If you don’t, stay down the road at Hotel Fontanella Borghese. It’s three star, but in walking distance of absolutely everything you might need. There is even a shop across the street for bread, mineral water, cheese, prosciutto etc.
Florence. Villa La Massa, below, in the countryside six kms from the centre of the city. It sits on a bend of the Arno, and like its sister hotel, the Villa d’Este, has the most wonderful food. And a dear little spa downstairs.
In Tuscany. The most beautiful valley in the world is the Val d’Orcia, about an hour and a half south of Florence. Stay there at the Osteria dell’Orcia (below) at Bagno Vignoni. The Osteria is a beautiful jewel of a staging post, on the ancient Francigena pilgrims’ route – imagine the hundreds of faithful trudging along the path which passes right in front of the Osteria. Silvano and Eliana are the hosts, and they have created a warm, hospitable, home away from home with a wonderful dining room.
Where to eat
In Venice, Oro at the Belmond Cipriani. Dalla Madonna.
Where to shop
At the outlet malls, of course.
- Space in Montevarchi. That’s the Prada outlet. Incredible value possible.
- The Mall at Incisa, just outside Florence. Luxury outlets include Dolce e Gabbana, Pucci, Ferragamo, Sergio Rossi, Zegna, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, and Gucci. Bring your money.
- Near Milan… Foxtown. It’s actually in Switzerland – Via Angelo Maspoli 18, 6850 Mendrisio. Bally, Bric’s, Escada, and Hogan among the brands here in the 150 plus stores.