Italy is Stirring... Are You?
When Italy snuggles up for the winter we ponder the spring awakening with eager anticipation. Now crocuses are old news, and poppies are already springing up in olive groves where nightingales are singing and the Scops Owl's are preparing their nests in the olive trunks. The 'early bird catches the worm' has special significance this year as spring offers are on the table. Blink, and you'll miss them.
"A man that has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what is expected a man should see."- Samuel Johnson
2010 promises to be an exceptional year, full of outstanding hotels in which to celebrate the Italian way of life where 'a meal without wine is like a day without sunshine' and 'all the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of yesterday'. From la dolca vita on the Via Veneto to walking with the gods on the Amalfi coast, Luxury Explorer previews six of Italy's favourites destinations.
Casa Angelina in Priaino
The Amalfi coastline has to be one of the most dramatic and spectacular coastlines in the world. Casa Angelina is, like all the houses and towns and villages along this coastline, perched on the side of a cliff with breathtaking views. All the rooms have phenomenal views and from the chic Junior Suite you can spot Capri from your bath, once you have pushed the frangipani and rose petals aside. Positano - only 10 minutes away - is in view of most rooms and is a mere speed boat ride away. The citrus inspired Spa promises sensational pampering, although some may wish to spend time at the new infinity lap pool, gazing out to sea.
Hotel Caruso in Ravello
A stay at Hotel Caruso, the sparkling jewel in Ravello's crown, is a deluxe-luxe-trotter imperative. Situated 350 meters above sea level on the stunning Sorrento Peninsula, this is the inspirational location for so many famous names from royalty to writers, composers to the top crust of high society worldwide. The Gardens of Ravello a few metres from Caruso have been immortalised by Wagner and Caruso itself, a hotel since 1893, has been the favourite hideaway for literary greats from the Bloomsbury set to Graham Green. There is a flavour of neo classical, a hint of Moorish exotica, medieval touches and an Italian renaissance that was born, yet again, only the year before last when Caruso opened its doors once again. The infinity pool here really does exceed expectation.
Villa San Michele in Florence
This is a staggering place: on arrival, you are struck by the authenticity of a building (the fašade was apparently designed by Michelangelo) that should be preserved for privileged aesthetes who can look but can't touch, let alone stay. The other feature that sparkles when you arrive is the glorious sweeping vista spreading right across Florence and into the Chianti countryside. Eating on the famous loggia, to this remarkable view, is unforgettable.
A real advantage to staying at 'he Villa' when visiting Florence, is that Villa San Michele is above the city, 10 minutes or so away, which means you can leave the bustle and sometimes oppressive weight of a much loved exalted 'panjandrum' and relax in the peace of the soothing hotel.
The Regina Baglioni in Rome
Staying at the Regina is not overwhelming, nor is it formal and exclusive. It is more inclusive in its relaxed charm and unprecedented warm welcome even though the surroundings bear all the marks of its illustrious heritage. The luxury is soft, the lighting is low and the feeling is remarkably intimate.
Many passers by are drawn to the flickering of flames from a grand fireplace, many marble paces away down the lobby, in one of the most sensational oval snug boudoirs in Rome. It is here that you will discover the source of the pulse of the Via Veneto.
The Cipriani in Venice
The Cipriani is the only hotel in Venice with a garden setting, swimming pool and tennis court. It is also wonderfully secluded within its walled compound on the tip of Guidecca, a short row from St Mark's square, and overlooking the island church of San Giorgio Maggiore and the picturesque Venetian Lagoon. This is where incomparable luxury meets small city island; a panacea for uber luxe-trotters.
The Splendido in Portofino
Described by Harpers and Queen as a "peaches-and-cream villa", the Hotel Splendido is situated on a hillside overlooking the quaint scene that is Portofino: dotted with luxury yachts in a turquoise sea and an essential pit stop for the followers of luxury circuit hotels worldwide. There really is immense pleasure to be had at this coastal landmark, where the terrace for dining is totally divine. By booking a table closest to the view you can dine on Ligurian delights while sipping some of the finest wines in Italy; with a view that makes you feel a million dollars.