14 April, 2022
A stunning region of Italy steeped in bucolic beauty: our Tuscany travel guide
Previously based in London, Jessica became a regular traveller to Italy. Armed with her passport, a phrasebook and daydreams of ‘la dolce vita’, Jess has visited the country over 10 times. She has spent time all across this beautiful, diverse landscape including Rome, Florence, Venice, Sicily, Amalfi Coast, Sardinia, Lake Como & the Dolomites. Most recently she traversed Italy for 3 weeks with her family taking in Puglia, Tuscany, Cinque Terre and Lake Garda.
The joy of winding down the window, hot summer breeze through your hair, while watching the Tuscan Hills roll by or sipping espresso to the soundtrack of nattering nonnas, these are the experiences that stay with you for life. Though its roots are firmly in the past, there’s something about visiting Italy that makes you feel truly present. Sure, it can be touristy in spots, but with so much natural beauty, rich history and family hospitality it’s obvious why the crowds come back year after year. That said, I firmly believe that even in the busiest spots, like Venice, you’re only one step off the main path and around the corner from a piazza filled with charming stories or a church that will take your breath away.
From the seafood in the south to the hearty mountain influence in the north, it’s a destination that fills your belly as much as your soul. With every region, comes a speciality. Trust me that eating a peppery cacio e pepe in Rome or a wafer-thin slice of parma ham in Parma has never tasted better. Good wine flows alongside every meal and with each region there somehow is a wine to perfectly match the cuisine.
Shopping small, eating fresh and taking the locals’ advice is a tried and tested travel theory and one that works wonders in Italy but to get you started let me pass along some gems I’ve found along my travels.
Visit this stunning local winery with the family that owns it. Take a walk among the vineyards, then through the barrels in the cellar, and finish this tour with the most generous “light lunch” you’ll ever experience, alongside a wine tasting of course.
Come and gaze at one of the world’s most famous pieces of art and witness firsthand the marvel that is Michelangelo’s David. The gallery also features other stunning sculptures, as well as paintings, and a large collection of musical instruments.
Only an hour away from Palermo, the town of Cefalù radiates Italian seaside charm. Mediaeval streets flanked with stunning restaurants wind along to the inviting sandy bay where you can’t help but sit back, relax and enjoy an aperol. The beautifully decorated cathedral is also worth a visit.
Located in the heart of Rome, this privately owned palazzo is a true masterpiece. The gallery houses works by the likes of Caravaggio and Velázquez, and you'll also get to see some of the private rooms of the Pamphilj family with their original decor and furniture.
This little restaurant sits under the branches of lemon trees, could it get more charming than this? Drink the wine from a nearby vineyard and try the fish caught by local fishermen. Everything here is fresh and delicious.
Roscioli is one of my favourite places in Rome as it encompasses the best of Italian cuisine. Try the fantastic maritozzo at the Pasticceria, the traditional Roman pizza at L'Antico Forno, or enjoy a wine tasting at Rimessa, whatever you please.
Saying that this delicatessen has the best panini in Sicily would be an understatement. Choose from the menu or let the sandwich maker surprise you. Think marinated cherry tomatoes, fior di latte, prosciutto, olive oil. An explosion of Sicilian flavours is guaranteed.
Positano, Amalfi Coast
Sleeps up to 12 guests
Perched on a steep hillside, Merope boasts breathtaking views across the colourful buildings of Positano and out over the glittering sea. Wake up to delicious breakfasts provided daily by the dedicated staff, then slide into the shimmering pool.
Spanish Steps, Rome
Sleeps up to 4 guests
The Spanish Steps Penthouse, located in an 18th-century palazzo, is a blend of classic opulence and modern comfort. It boasts a private terrace with views across the iconic city skyline, perfect to enjoy an al fresco lunch.
Sleeps up to 6 guests
With slick contemporary furnishings and a terrace overlooking the Duomo, Borgo S. Lorenzo is the perfect base for a getaway to Florence. Outside, the streets are lined with shops, bars and restaurants, and you’ll find a fair few museums and monuments close by.
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