ROME

The first of our 5 weekend breaks in Italy, Located in Lazio in central Italy and facing the Tyrrhenian Sea, the province of Rome enjoys a Mediterranean climate on the coast and a continental one further inland. The coast stretches from north to south, from the area including Fiumicino and the towns overlooking Lake Bracciano, the largest in the province, to the border with the province of Latina.

A region with a great deal to offer: sea, nature, good food and villages rich in history and art. The sea, the hills, lakes, rivers and vineyards: the surroundings of Rome offer a kaleidoscope of diversity and attractions for nature lovers.

The volcanic lakes of Nemi and Albano characterize the Castelli Romani area, a holiday resort since ancient times, thanks to the mild climate and the gentle landscape.

Even before becoming the capital of the Italian Republic, Rome had always played a key role, in Italy as well as in Europe. Caput Mundi in Roman times and later home of the papacy and the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, at international level Rome has always been a major political, cultural and spiritual influence.

Rome’s mild Mediterranean climate is a persuasive draw for visitors from the cool north, but the main draw will always be the pulsating energy of a place which lives life as a form of theatre. There are great neighbourhood trattorias, quirky shops and a buzzing aperitivo scene. The challenge is deciding what not to do: there are so many churches, archaeological sites, piazzas and paintings to see that a lifetime is hardly enough.

If one word could sum up the essence of this historic city, it would be…drama. There’s drama in the ancient ruins of the Colosseum, the giant amphitheatre where ancient gladiators once fought for their lives and honour. There’s drama in the incredible details of the Trevi Fountain, where the God Oceanus charges forward in his glorious chariot. There’s even drama in Rome’s people, whose forte is living “la dolce vita.” Start your day at the incredible Pantheon in Piazza della Rotonda, followed by a gelato at Trevi Fountain. Spend an afternoon at Villa Borghese admiring Bernini’s sculptures, followed by designer shopping on Via del Corso. At night, enjoy a pizza and dance the night away in bustling Trastevere.

WHERE TO STAY

Our recommendations

Augusta Lucilla Palace

Very good location. Easy to walk around. Friendly staff and they’ve got you a phone that you can use outside with the internet free of charge. Terrace is also good for relaxing.

Hotel Impero

Just 350 yards from Roma Termini Train Station, Hotel Impero features a furnished terrace overlooking Rome’s rooftops and the nearby Opera Theatre.

Welcome Piram Hotel

The Welcome Piram Hotel is located 200 yards from Termini Train Station. It offers a restaurant, spa and air-conditioned rooms and suites with an LCD satellite TV. Free WiFi is also available.

 

VENICE

In the Veneto Region, in the waters of the Adriatic, is one of the most romantic and evocative places in the world, a priceless treasure: The Venetian Lagoon.

At the heart of this legendary Province is the Serenissima or Most Serene Republic, with its characteristic bridges spanning the canals navigated by gondolas, its monuments, piazzas, narrow lanes and silent waters.

Venice is actually a group of fascinating small islands, where art and history combine with old trades and the beauty of the sea.

Floating between the sea and the lagoon is the beautiful island of the Lido of Venice. Thanks to the continual coming and going of ferries it is easy to get to – even by car. And there is nowhere like it in the world. A few minutes away from Venice, kilometres of golden sands offer something for everyone, and, following careful environmental works, a sea that has grown cleaner year after year: the beaches of the Lido Island have been awarded the important eco-label Blue Flag, four years in a row. Venice is not only culture and beaches, let its parks and naturalistic oasis enchant you with their beauty and calm.

Venice is elegant, precious, inimitable, entertaining, and romantic. It is a jewel in the Italian touristic landscape, where churches, buildings, old bridges, monuments and piazzas are the evidence of the artistic and cultural vivacity that marks the history of this city.

The heart of Venice is the wonderful Piazza San Marco – the most elegant in Europe – surrounded by outstanding buildings: the impressive bell tower and the Cathedral – with its five portals of marble and mosaic decorations (foreshadowing the luxury of the interiors); the Ducal Palace, a symbol of the golden age of the Serenissima; Torre dei Mori (the clock tower), the engineering masterpiece that has been telling Venice the time for centuries; and the Napoleonic Wing, site of the Correr Museum.

Not far away is Campo Santo Stefano, with the church of the same name (i.e. St. Stephen’s), one of Venice’s biggest.

Venice never loses its capacity to enchant. Summer brings some of the most daunting crowds, but there’s a reason why they come: the sheer loveliness of an exquisite city that seems miraculously built on water. Venice’s churches and museums offer antique glories aplenty, but there is also a vibrant contemporary art scene, even away from the Art Biennale.

Those up for some shopping can look at the typical crafts workshops and the elegant boutiques. The famous Murano glass, the beautiful necklaces made with colourful pearls, the terra-cotta masks, and typical Venetian desserts are everywhere for browsing and purchasing as gifts and souvenirs.

This area also offers many opportunities for fun.

After a journey through the local history, relax in a bar or in a pub with friends, enjoying an aperitivo with tasty snacks. Those in Venice you should not miss the bacari, typical Venetian wine bars, where they can taste the exquisite cicchetti (appetizers) with an ombra (glass) of wine.

WHERE TO STAY

Our Recommendations :

Splendid Venice – Starhotels Collezione

Located 5 minutes’ walk from St. Mark’s Square, Splendid Venice – Starhotels Collezione is set on a canal in the Mercerie area of Venice. It features a private pier, a gourmet restaurant, and a rooftop terrace overlooking Venice.

Hotel Casanova

Just 100 yards from Piazza San Marco and 100 yards from Harry’s Bar, Hotel Casanova is set in an 18th-century building in the centre of Venice. It offers free WiFi throughout.

Eurostars Residenza Cannaregio

With a quiet location in Venice’s Jewish Quarter, Eurostars Residenza Cannaregio is a former monastery. You can walk to Rialto Bridge in 15 minutes, and to St. Mark’s square in 25 minutes.



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FLORENCE

Florence was the birthplace of Renaissance and home for the most important artists of those times, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Brunelleschi, Masaccio, Donatello.

The city lies on the banks of the river Arno, in a valley surrounded by gentle hills. Given its central position in the Italian peninsula, it is on the main national railway lines and is connected to many major Italian and European cities.

The main attractions of Florence are its art galleries as well as the various artefacts, craft objects you can find in the several workshops in Florence. Florence is one of the best-preserved Renaissance centres of art and architecture in the world and has a high concentration of art galleries, impressive palaces, art filled churches; Florence and its area boasts nearly 170 museums including the large collections of Uffizi and Accademia Gallery and many small fine private collections.

Florence is a compact city best negotiated on foot. No two sights are more than 20 minutes’ walk apart. The centre is loosely bounded by Santa Maria Novella Station to the northwest, Piazza Croce to the east and the Arno river to the south. Beyond the river is Oltrarno, the left bank district home to the Pitti Palace, the Boboli gardens and the Piazzale Michelangelo lookout.

We start our journey into art and history from Santa Maria Novella station; after a short walk we admire the religious heart of the city, the magnificent tricolour-marble cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto’s bell tower, the Baptistery and the imposing red tiled dome by Brunelleschi that dominates the skyline of Florence. Not too far from here is the splendid piazza della Signoria, the civic centre, dominated by the stunning Palazzo Vecchio and its crenellated tower. Beside the palace is the Loggia de Lanzi, the arcade hosting some world-famous statues such as Cellini’s Perseus. The Loggia, the nearby Uffizi Gallery with its huge collection of paintings and the other outstanding monuments corroborate the statement of Florence as an open-air museum.

The recently introduced Florence card is a useful instrument to enjoy the city attractions and allows tourists to enter around 72 sites and use public transport with the same card valid for 72 hours. You can buy it at one of four tourist offices in the city

Florence is one of Europe’s great art cities. Giotto’s frescoes, Michelangelo’s David, canvases by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and a host of other greats in the Uffizi Gallery… there’s so much exquisite art and architecture, it’s difficult to know where to start.

Florence is also a living city with a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene, and a lively cultural movida that goes beyond old masters to embrace opera, classical music and contemporary art. Handsome, historic, full of quirky shops and quality crafts, and close to the vine-covered hills of Chianti.

WHERE TO STAY

Our Recommendations

Plus Florence

Located a 10-minute walk from Santa Maria Train Station, Plus Florence is a hostel offering rooms and dormitories with free WiFi throughout. It is 0.6 miles from Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral.

Grand Hotel Adriatico

Offering refined accommodation with free WiFi just 450 yards from Santa Maria Novella Station, the Grand Hotel Adriatico is in Florence’s centre, a 10-minute walk from Florence’s Duomo.

Starhotels Tuscany

Starhotels Tuscany provides free Wi-Fi throughout the property and is just 2 miles from Firenze Peretola Airport. Its rooms all feature soft feather beds and parquet floors. Public buses with service to the centre of Florence stop 300 yards away, and pass every 15 minutes.



 

VERONA

The city of lovers awaits you. Forget about the crowded Venice. Verona was Romeo and Juliet’s birthplace. Come declare your love under the famous balcony, discover the historical monuments of this city and the gastronomy of the region.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, Verona is a wonderful exemplar of urban, artistic and architectonic integration of the historical epochs from the last 2000 years.

Piazza Erbe is the best example: architecture from the Roman, Medieval and Renaissance periods harmoniously conjoined with the period of the Della Scala Family and 19th-Century palazzi.

The Province of Verona is situated in southwestern Veneto, close to the eastern bank of Lake Garda; renowned for the beauty of its landscape, Lake Garda is green, pretty hills, and beaches large and small. This wonderful setting is complemented by tiny borgoes with typical, coloured houses and magnificent villas, emblem of an old and gracious prosperity.

The Verona area boasts numerous buildings of artistic and historic value: castles, towers, hermitages, monasteries, sanctuaries, and old Romanesque parishes.

In its northernmost parts is Lessinia, with its Regional Park and Monte Baldo to indicate the passage from the plains of the Po Valley to the Alpines: a charming scenery fit for hiking and excursions through the beechwoods, grasslands, olive groves, vineyards and orchards. It is the reason that Monte Baldo is also known as Hortus Europae, Garden of Italy and Europe.

In the Province’s heart is Valpolicella, land of history and flavours where, in addition to its numerous historic villas, the wine tradition is the distinguishing factor. This area produces exquisite, world-famous wines using special and unique Italian techniques.

As Victor Hugo wrote, “God made only water, but man-made wine.” One might add that Verona created Vinitaly – the most important event dedicated to wine production, and a must for those who want to taste and learn about excellent wines like Soave, Valpolicella, Amarone and Recioto.

A trip along the Wine Routes, sampling the ancient flavours of the area’s produce while immersed in the marvelous natural setting, is truly an unforgettable experience.

Further to the south, the Basso Veronese area is a world of its own, with its slow rhythms, silent places, and changing colours; it offers a distinct way of life that welcomes the visitor with open arms.

WHERE TO STAY

Our Recommendation

Hotel Milano & Spa

Just 50 yards from Verona Arena, the Hotel Milano is in Verona’s historic centre. It offers free WiFi, a spa and wellness centre, and a rich breakfast buffet including Italian cappuccino and fresh pastries. The hotel features both rooms and apartments.

Relais Empire

Relais Empire is located in Verona, 550 yards from Piazza Bra. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar.

Each room at this guest house is air conditioned and comes with a TV with satellite channels. Every room is fitted with a private bathroom equipped with a bidet and shower. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. This accommodation features free WiFi.

Hotel Gardenia

In San Michele, just a 10-minute drive from the center of Verona, the Hotel Gardenia consists of 2 linked buildings and provides free parking and air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi.

 



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MILAN

Large, lively and industrious, the Province of Milan is the second most populous in Italy. Its territory extends over a stretch of the Po Valley and includes the River Ticino to the west, and the River Adda to the east. It is shaped by its waterways: river and canals that traverse it and sometimes border it, from the Lambro and Olana Rivers to the numerous canals, the Navigli Milanesi, ancient links between the area’s major water runs. These runs link farmsteads and villages like that of Corneliano Bertario with the Castello Borromeo Castle; and ancient noble villas, such as the Inzago Villa near the Naviglio Martesana, to the Canale Villoresi, thought to be the longest man-made canal in Italy. The Villoresi marks the natural southern border of Brianza, an area in Lombardy noted for its mountains, lakes and plains.

The territory of Milan contains six regional natural parks: Parco Adda Nord, Parco Agricolo Sud Milano, Parco delle Groane, Parco Nord Milano, Parco della Valle del Lambro and the Parco Lombardo della Valle del Ticino.

Half the Province of Milan is agricultural and flood plain, and most of it is protected by reserves. Each of these habitats features a variety of natural, country and architectural landscapes of great interest. In Trezzo sull’Adda, visit the Adda di Leonardo Eco-Museum, an open-air museum passing through ten towns, with 14 stations and 47 stops along the River Adda.

In Canegrate, Roccolo Park is the biggest park in Milan Province, incorporating wooded fields, hedges and canals; one would do well to cycle along the Villoresi Canal.

Or, for a dip in the invigorating local hot springs, the Terme di San Colombano al Lambro offers diverse categories of thermal waters. This large thermal park is also equipped with entertainment facilities and plans excursions to neighbouring areas.

Wondering what else to do? Trace the Navigli on bicycle, and you will eventually find yourself in spectacular, pristine nature. Rest in one of the many agritourism’s, known for their accommodations and excellent cuisine based on the produce from their land. Not only, but horseback riding and golf are some of the other activities available within the beautiful countryside.

In Milan, between the Naviglio (Canal) Grande and the Naviglio Pavese is the antiques market of the Navigli. This is the most important market in Milan, with more than 400 stalls displaying furniture, porcelain, silver and all sorts of objects d’art and collectible items.

Italy’s fashion and design capital, Milan has an international cosmopolitan outlook, a vibrant food and drink scene and scores of hotels to suit all budgets. Historical edifices sit cheek-by-jowl modern skyscrapers, while a number of the city’s buildings have spectacular interior courtyards that remain largely undiscovered.

But what largely draws visitors is the city’s excellent shopping – designer stores line the Quadrilatero D’Oro district, while outlets, high street shops and boutiques are found in all corners of the city.

WHERE TO STAY

Our Recommendations

Milan Manzoni CLC Apartments

Offering accommodations with air conditioning, Milano Manzoni CLC Apartments is located in Milan, just half a mile from La Scala. Milan Cathedral is 0.6 miles away.

 


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NYX Milan

Featuring a rooftop terrace with views on Milan skyline, NYX Milan is located in Milan, a 3-minute walk from Stazione Centrale Train Station and 0.9 miles from Milan Fashion District.

Ostello Bello Grande

Ostello Bello Grande is located next to Milan Centrale Train and Metro Station. Decorated in a contemporary style, it offers free WiFi and a rooftop terrace with hammocks, vegetable garden and BBQ facilities.

 


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