Boca Raton, Florida Travel Agent
Living La Dolce Vita in Italy
Even before watching the moving “Eat, Pray, Love” starring Julia Roberts, I understood the importance of “Dolce Far Niente,” the sweetness of doing nothing. That is my mantra in Italy, where you can sip a caffè macchiato or a glass of red wine, such as Brunello di Montalcino, for hours as you watch life unfold around you.
I visit Italy often, and each time, I try to discover something new. On my last visit, I went to the Franciacorta region, a wine-growing area in Lombardy. The region and its product are similar to Champagne in France, and it is a new favorite of mine.
One of my favorite activities is allowing myself to wander and get lost in Venice or Rome or drive through Tuscany and stop at a village I’ve never seen before. Each place I go feels like a culinary, artistic and personal adventure.
Everyone’s Italy is different. For the glamour of James Bond, you might want to visit the Ferrari Factory and Museum, where you can take one for a spin. You do not have to be an art lover to be intrigued by the Carrara Marble Quarries, where sculptors, Michelangelo included, have sourced their raw material for centuries. Seeing the rough marble is amazing because it gives you no idea what it could become.
I try to encourage clients to get off-the-beaten-track a bit. If you are traveling with a driver-guide, be open to their suggestions because they know places that you would never find on your own. One of my favorite eateries is on a side street in a tiny village owned by the cousin of one of my guides. I’ll never forget it because I ordered linguine with clam sauce and the clams were served in the shell.
I have developed a personal set of favorite hotels in almost every area of Italy in various styles and price points so that I can arrange the type of stay you want. In Rome, the new Roma Dolce hotels offer boutique style at a nice price point.
If you want to see Florence but stay in the Tuscan countryside, Castello del Nero is a great choice. The historic home of Florentine nobles, it sits in the heart of Chianti wine country. Today’s hotel is fully modern, while capturing the spirit of Tuscany. They run a daily shuttle into Florence, and it makes a great base for exploring Tuscany.
Another favorite spot is Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, a 5,000-acre Tuscan estate that includes ancient castle ruins, a medieval church, and a historic village. You can stay in a private villa or suite, enjoy spa treatments, cooking school, and a Michelin-starred restaurant and tour the estate’s winery.
It’s also nice to get beyond the Rome-Florence-Venice-Amalfi Coast circuit. The beautiful Lake Como region is just an hour by train from Milan’s Malpensa Airport, which has great service to the U.S. In summer, water taxis and ferries connect quaint mountain-backed villages with lakeside restaurants, making it a wonderful place to relax at the end of a trip and indulge in La Dolce Vita.