Our travels through Italy took us to some charming places that we thought were worth noting…and sharing! So if you should find yourself in any of these regions, read on for things to do, eat or experience.
Where to Stay in Lake Como
The first stop was Lake Como. Originally built in 1568 as the summer residence of Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, Villa d’Este is the quintessential must-experience hotel. The property sits on 25 acres of magnificent gardens overlooking Lake Como. The décor is impeccable; a true icon of old world luxury. It is impossible to be here and not feel like you are on a magical vacation.
Where to Eat in Lake Como
If you are looking for a fabulous place for lunch, make sure to stop at the elegant Ristorante Navedano. This structure is an old windmill converted into a restaurant! It is situated in a lush, tropical setting near Villa d’Este. The authentic local cuisine changes seasonally and is prepared using fresh local produce and ingredients from the region. You must indulge in a glass of wine, even if a liquid lunch is not your norm. The wine list is dynamite and the food is superb.
On The Way to Florence
Next we headed to Asolo where we visited the Palladio Villas in the Veneto. This site provides a unique glimpse into the lifestyle of 15th century Italy.
We then headed to Tuscany for a couple of days. Fifty minutes from Florence we arrived at the Antinori Vineyard. It is a picturesque place to slow down and relax in the countryside after days of driving and running around. Over 26 generations of The Antinori family have dedicated themselves to the art of winemaking. This vineyard is nothing short of majestic and the vino is spectacular.
What to See in Florence: Art & Culture
On to Firenze! Let’s start with a little culture; this town is rich in that department.
The Palazzo Vecchio
Florence’s majestic town hall. Overlooking Piazza della Signoria, it is one of the most significant public places in Italy, boasting an impressive collection of paintings and sculpture. It was originally the home of the Grand Duke de’ Medici prior to his move to the Pitti Palace. (Another great landmark to visit while you’re in town.)
The Vasari Corridor
This almost kilometer long covered passageway, which crosses the Arno river, originally connected The Pitti Palace with The Uffizi Gallery, the Duke’s office. In 1973 the corridor was reopened to the public and can be visited by appointment only. It houses one of the most unique collections of art, dating from the 16th – 20th centuries. This magnificent collection is continually updated with new additions. Over 1000 paintings completed by master artists call The Vasari Corridor home.
Where to Eat in Florence
While in Florence, book a dinner at The Alle Murate. This is a unique Tuscan restaurant located in The Palazzo Dell’Arte dei Giudici e Notai (the 14th-century seat of the city’s magistrates’ and notaries’ guild) where a series of frescos from the 1300s have been uncovered. The restaurant also boasts a vaulted basement with plexiglas floors suspended over a Roman archeological site. Audio cassettes explaining the archeological site are available to listen to while you dine.
Where to Stay in Florence
The Portrait Hotel: This ultra luxe, 34-suite hotel is owned by The Ferragamo family. While views overlooking The Arno River and The Ponte Vecchio lend an old world feel, the luxurious interiors are modern and sleek.
Hope that this mini-tour of the region gave you some ideas of where you might want to spend time, should you find yourself in Italia. Keep a look out for part II or our Italian travel diary.