by: José Berrocoso //
Infinite are the itineraries and tours that allow visitors to explore Italy, a unique and singular country known around the world for the variety of its landscapes and terrains – a country in perfect equilibrium between the sea, mountains, hills and plains. There are a thousand ways to move around the Bel Paese and live an experience in close contact with these places and their inhabitants, discovering their warmth, friendliness and hospitality. Not to mention artisan traditions, typical tastes and tranquil environments. Thanks to the Peninsula’s temperate climate, Italy is one of the most fascinating and most welcoming places in the world, and travellers can enjoy it any time of the year.
Whether you are heading to the beach or to the mountains, to the countryside or to the cities, there are endless possibilities for exciting Italian travel. There are few rivals to the antiquities of Rome, the Renaissance heritage of Florence, and the fairy-tale setting of Venice, the three cities comprising Italy’s most popular tourism triangle. But the European country offers much more.
LOVE IS THE SOUNDTRACK OF PUGLIA
Where: Masseria Torre Maiza, Puglia.
Set in the charming area of Savelleteri di Fasano, along the Adriatic coast and surrounded by ancient olive groves, Rocco Forte´s Masseria Torre Maiza is an original farmhouse dating back to the 16th century.
The intimate 40 rooms and suites resort has been entirely renovated by Director of Design, Olga Polizzi, blending her colourful prints with local white linens and terracotta for a light and elegant feel with rustic tones. Heavy carpets and wicker furniture have been used throughout the suites, many of which have their own private patios and original fireplaces for an added touch of romance on chillier evenings.
At the heart of the resort is the local cuisine, artfully interpreted by Rocco Forte’s Creative Director of Food, Maestro Fulvio Pierangelini, as if it were a grand local home using a feast of natural products from the Masseria’s own gardens and orchard. Pierangelini’s artful menus are served by candlelight in the vaulted dining room or open air, whether in the gardens or under the stone colonnade surrounding the 20 metre pool.
Alongside the pretty pool (which has underwater music), there’s also a small Aveda spa with hot tub and steam room. Treatments range from olive oil-based full-body treatments to Thai massage. Other activities include cycling to a nearby burrata farm and olive oil producer, golfing, yoga and Puglian cookery classes at sister hotel Masseria Torre Coccaro.
SOUTHERN ITALY’S MOST SPECTACULAR COASTAL HOTEL
Where: Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa, Amalfi Coast.
Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa is a former monastery that opened in May 2012, following a huge restoration undertaken by the owner, Bianca Sharma, who brought the property in 1999. Bianca caught sight of the property by chance when travelling in the area and immediately fell in love with the property, which offers one of the most dramatic locations and views in the world. After acquiring the building, she worked closely with a local team of architects, engineers and historical authorities to transform the former monastery into a luxury hotel and spa whilst maintaining the integrity of the building.
Sleep in one of the hotel’s 20 suites, all of which face the sea and are named after herbs grown in the hotel’s herb garden. The vaulted ceilings and arched windows of the nun’s rooms and refectory have been carefully preserved and are cleverly linked together with en-suite bathrooms to create truly contemporary spaces. Some of the suites offer private terraces overlooking the sea, ideal for romantic breakfasts and pre-dinner drinks.
Monastero’s extraordinary spa was designed to fit within the original 17th century vaulted ceilings and rustic stonewalls.
Feast on Michelin star cuisine at Ristorante Il Refettorio, the hotel’s exceptional restaurant led by Executive Chef, Christoph Bob. It has original vaulted ceilings and offers cuisine from the Campania region. Menus change with the season and dishes feature fresh seafood delivered that same day by the local fishermen, locally produced olive oil, and organically grown vegetables and herbs straight from the hotel’s garden.
DISCOVER THE ITALIAN RIVIERA
Where: The Belmond Hotel Splendido, Portofino.
Housed in a beautifully restored 16th-century monastery in the rugged hills of Portofino, Belmond Hotel Splendido offers a wonderful starting point for explorations of the Italian Riviera. It’s no wonder the exquisite hillside getaway was favoured by the likes of Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor.
A short distance away, the sister hotel Belmond Splendido Mare offers harbour views in the iconic Piazzetta. A complimentary shuttle service connects the two properties allowing guests to easily enjoy all of the hotel facilities.
Carefully designed and beautifully decorated bedrooms are bright and airy, decorated in fresh pastel colours. Rooms provide a comfortable oasis to relax in during you stay. If you’re heading to Italy for the exquisite cuisine, the Splendidos Restaurants will not disappoint. There are several excellent dining experiences including the Chuflay restaurant in central Portofino, where you can dine on the terrace beside the bustling piazzetta. For authentic Italian dining head to La Terrazza, serving local produce and regional specialties, which can all be enjoyed before the spectacular view across the bay.
The sapphire blue, saltwater pool is surrounded by verdant Mediterranean foliage. Take a moment to relax at the poolside to soak up the incredible scenery. Belmond Hotel Splendido’s pool is the only one in Portofino.
A TIMELESS REFUGE DEEP IN THE TUSCAN COUNTRYSIDE
Where: Belmond Castello di Casole, Tuscany
Belmond Castello di Casole is one of those magical places where time stands still. Spread across 4,200 acres, this 10th-century estate is the perfect place to experience the wonders of rural Italy. While away the hours visiting local farms, spotting wildlife or hunting for rare truffles. Then retreat to a world of comfort, elegance and world-class dining.
The experience begins with the arrival. Along the beautifully manicured tree-lined avenue, the archetypal Tuscan house appears on the horizon. The centuries-old great oak forest that borders the estate, is home to a variety of wild animals, native flora and fauna and is the inspiration for a number of new experiences
Rooms and suites are spread throughout the storied buildings of what was once a bustling Tuscan village dating back to the year 998 – a limonaia, wine cellar and priest’s house have been transformed into 39 sumptuous bedrooms, each bursting with rustic charm. Warm woods, Carrara marble floors and antique mirrors define the overall aesthetic and many rooms have spacious bathrooms with roll top baths from which to admire the picture frame views of the surrounding landscapes.
La Tosca, serving Tuscan cuisine with a contemporary twist, offers homemade pasta, locally-sourced meat, garden-fresh produce and is where the estate’s own brand extra virgin olive oil is best sampled.
A NATURAL EXPERIENCE ON A VOLCANIC ISLAND
Where: Capofaro Malvasia & Resort, Eoli Island
Salina, an Aeolian island with an extinct volcano, encircled by endless clear blue sea, is the fabulous setting for the Capofaro Malvasia & Resort. Perched on a cliff top near the lighthouse, the ‘faro’ from which it takes its name, the hotel has amazing views over the water to the island of Panareaand the Stromboli Volcano.
The architecture of the property is typically Aeolian, blending into the environment, with flat roofs, white walls and colonnaded terraces, shaded with traditional matting. Architecture, landscape and unfailingly discreet service combine to create a place where guests truly can take time out from the world.
With its reassuring presence and charm of its warm glow, the Capofaro lighthouse has been standing on the promontory of Capofaro and watching over the sea since the mid nineteenth century.
Beakfast at Capofaro is a chance for guests to discover Sicilian cuisine and its deep rooted traditions. The day begins with the ritual preparation of fresh ricotta cheese and yogurt while Capofaro’s celebrated bread is baking. Typical Sicilian pastries such as bombe, graffe and sfinci are baked every morning.