A dream holiday in the Belpaese
When choosing a holiday destination, few locations can compete with the alluring appeal of Italy. Turquoise sea waters and impressive mountain chains, enchanting lakes and picture-postcard rolling hills, high-octane vibrant cities and historical gems, plus some of the most appetizing food and wine in the world. A trip to Italy is always a good idea. Even more so if you choose to stay in a private villa, where rewards seem to come your way in droves.
Ancient “upper class country houses” of wealthy Romans, now villas epitomise the savoir-faire that is typical of the peninsula: incredibly warm hospitality, impeccable attention to details and a skilful knowledge of stonemasonry, hardly found elsewhere. Deciding to rent a villa means enjoying the exclusivity of having the entire place to yourself; you could bring your entire party of friends or family, thus staying all in one place, maybe as a brilliant excuse to reunite with them all for a special event.
Living like a local comes easy here: unpack only once and then use your villa to relax, take in the splendid views or zip off to nearby historical locations, feeling the lord – or lady – of the house. Go even further and visit a local farmer’s market, enjoy an exquisite wine tasting, launch into an exciting truffle hunt, enjoy a cookery course – with your in-house chef – sit in the garden and paint the stunning view or relax by the pool or overlooking the sea. Last but not least, this option means you will save money, but earn on fulfilment and joy, unveiling what it really means to live la dolce vita.
Tuscany is the quintessential Italian dream: the birthplace of Dante and Michelangelo, a matchless cultural powerhouse and a treasure trove of idyllic medieval villages perched on hilltop jewels, plus delicious, hearty food and –perhaps – the best wine in the land. This region decidedly appeals on all fronts, mighty and challenging Apuan Alps to the north, juxtaposed by the seafront along its western shore and its series of exciting surprises, Forte dei Marmi, vibrant Versilia and the sand dunes of Baratti - alone worth a trip.
When you thought you had seen all the big-hitters, however – think Florence, Siena and Chiantishire - an ace always seems to be hidden up the sleeves of this potently enticing region: in the south-east corner of Tuscany, Maremma and the surrounding area are your next dream destinations.
Wild and astonishing, Maremma hides stupendous forests, exciting hiking trails, pristine beaches and a series of enticing medieval villages. The Parco Regionale della Maremma, to the south of the region, suits all tastes, from sporty types – go horse-riding, walking or swim in Marina di Albarese – to art lovers – visit lovely Pitigliano, perched on a hill, or the Tarot Garden close to Capalbio, replete with sculptures by contemporary artist Niki de Saint Phalle.
Marvel at the 13th century Cathedral of San Cerbone in Massa Marittima, lazy out at Saturnia open air spa or spot a rare bird – this is bird watching paradise! Further south, Monte Argentario, once an island, is a pretty promontory with picturesque Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano – ideal for a stroll enjoying the lovely viewpoint. Fancy a trip with us?
Enter the Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano: comprising seven major islands and other smaller islets, with the biggest one, Elba, a natural paradise and a special reserve, this relatively unknown island paradise off the coast of Tuscany is the backdrop to Villa Talamo, an exclusive villa north of Monte Argentario that overlooks the azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Dating back to the end of the 18th c., this historic villa will bestow the perfect Tuscan getaway in what feels like a secretly appealing location.
A Milanese family fell in love with the magic charm of Tuscan living and decided to have a villa built there, immersed within nature and overlooking the sea: refined, pastel-coloured interiors for bright suites that ooze relaxation, here you can enjoy alfresco dining from spring to autumn, relishing magical sunsets while savouring delicious local food.
Nearby Fonteblanda and Talamone port, the proximity to fabulous Val d’Orcia, Siena, Pienza, Montalcino, San Quirico d’Orcia and other riveting medieval towns mean the discovery journey will be extraordinary. Add a splendid boat tour, an exclusive wine tasting experience, horse and bike riding, kite surfing, paddling and windsurf activities and it will all feel like a magic holiday.
There seems little doubt that each Italian region brings its own realm of exciting heritage, lovely traditions and peculiar landscapes, and Umbria seems to answer everyone’s prayer. The only Italian region not bordering the sea or another country, the green heart of Italy brings fanciful gifts for the discerning traveller. In a frenetic world of fast communication and ever changing stances, soothing silence acquires a potent meaning: enjoy views onto the relaxing countryside, strolling through medieval villages perched on a hill and ooze in lovely relaxation, knowing that the frenzy is well away. Discover an exciting heritage with artworks that would fill your lifetime: Raphael stems from Urbino and Perugino from Città della Pieve – 2023 marks the 500th anniversary of his death. Giotto left some of his most extraordinary frescoes in the Basilica Superiore in Assisi, depicting the life of Saint Francis, while every city hides a fresco, a painted gem or the typical unique medieval architecture that makes Italy a living masterpiece.
Artisan workshops still thrive here: this is not the land of mass-production, but of wise skills, handed down from one generation to the next: whether it’s wine-making, handmade jewellery, leather and lace, special brewery – Umbria beer anyone? – surprises unfold incessantly. Gourmet delights are also a joyful revelation: from pungent black truffles to peppery olive oil, then exquisite wine – Sagrantino di Montefalco a prime example – rejoice in hearty food that speaks the language of tradition and unbelievable taste. Umbria is also a funky region for music lovers with superb Umbria Jazz in the summer – attracting stars from far and wide, open-air opera and concerts in Urbino, Spoleto, Orvieto with medieval jousts and re-enactments in Gubbio, Cascia and many other towns, or the splendid Infiorata in Spello, where images are composed with flower petals in a painstakingly meticulous work, carried out into the night. Eurochocolate in Perugia is a dream come true for chocoholics and it’s the one and only place where chocolatiers gather to offer their best production. Nature excels with the tranquil waters of Lake Trasimeno and landscapes stretching for miles in the tranquil hills around gems like Spello, Montefalco, Orvieto and Todi seem like a lifelike painting. Need we say more? Make Umbria is your next dream destination.
In the heart of lovely Umbria, Le Torri di Bagnara luxury estate is run by a direct descendant of Giuseppe Bonaparte, brother of the famous Napoleon, the Corsican condottiero, and it’s Countess Zenaide Giunta Tremi. A bright and dynamic mind, a “meet and greet” with this dazzling landlady elevates your experience to a profoundly unique one. Picture a stay in two luxury medieval castles and a watchtower, chatting with a proper noble lady: could an Italian fairy tale be more delightful?
Your aristocratic vacation in this eco-sustainable property that has been skilfully renovated, will offer the latest in comfort and style, and comes complete with lazy days by the infinity saltwater pool, yoga lessons, playing tennis or going horse-riding in the countryside, spotting exciting wildlife. Gourmet lovers will enjoy a cooking course or a truffle hunt around the estate, or a visit to the in-house production of delicious extra virgin olive oil. The castles also have a licensed church, so weddings and celebrations can take place at this riveting venue. Nearby Assisi and Perugia are splendid towns where time has painted a marvellous canvas of authenticity and world-renowned masterpieces; Spello, Narni, Orvieto, Gubbio and Castiglione del Lago, located further afield, make this the ideal base for your Umbrian journey of stunning discovery.
Islands always exude a special aura that makes people want to visit them, again and again. Perhaps their borders shadowed by water, their being subject to the force of the elements and each one treasuring a riveting history. Italy boasts a stunning collection of stupendous sights, but when you visit the Aeolian Islands, off the coast of Palermo, Sicily, you will sense something extraordinary.
Counting seven islands, each with its own interesting past and present, the archipelago recalls images of Lawrence Alma Tadema paintings and the serenity of whitewashed terraces overlooking azure waters, distant boats colouring the horizons. All this beauty comes with its fair share of – sometimes unwanted – fame, resulting in some islands being sworn in with tourists: Lipari and Panarea are fabulous indeed, but it’s less known Salina you’ll want to head to, for a truly spectacular vacation.
Made famous by the cult Italian film Il Postino with Massimo Troisi, the second biggest island in the archipelago, Salina is the greenest, most fertile of them all, juicy grapes growing in vineyards that yield fruity Malvasia wine. Many water springs dot this paradise and a nature reserve occupies half of its territory: this gives way to interesting nature hikes leading to spectacular viewpoints. Culture lovers will enjoy the Wine Museum – dedicated to Malvasia wine – and the Salt and Sea Museum in Lingua, where a saltwater lake was once used to extract salt, hence the name of the island, plus the Civic Museum and the Archaeological Museum. Malfa, in the centre of the island, hosts the Aeolian Emigration Museum: financed by American and Australian citizens, whose origins stem from Salina, it is rich in artefacts, some of which coming from Ellis Island, NY. Perciato is where you’ll want to be to enjoy an unforgettable sunset over a dreamy rocky arch, the sun setting next to Alicudi and Filicudi islands. Hike up to Monte Fossa delle Felci for the highest mountain on the island and then walk the many paths that make this a relaxing paradise.
Delicious food is one of the main reasons why visitors enjoy Sicily, so come with a heavy appetite as you will find resisting to the many delicacies a tough affair: try Salina capers – a Slow Food delicary – enjoy a delicious granita and then fall for the joys of Italian cuisine.
Located in charming Malfa, Frangimare is a special paradise made up by two villas, La Segreta and La Malandrina. Two locations for two diverse souls that entice you into a magical Sicilian dream: eclectic and refined, modern yet traditional, the villas are your gateway to your very own love story with the Italian dream. Rent them as a buy-out for a special occasion, or as individual suites and the magic will commence.
The villa itself is an artwork: hosting pieces from the Milanese art gallery Fabbrica Eos, diverse epochs and styles give rise to unexpected juxtapositions. Modernity meets traditions in a will to impress, but also cocoon guests into relaxing atmospheres. And so Sicilian majolica sits next to ancient chandeliers, exotic draperies complement hand painted tiles in the name of harmony and balance. And then come the views: step onto the terrace and cherish the unforgettable sight onto other islands, sipping local Malvasia and drinking the night away, gazing at the stars high up in the heavens. Your Sicilian love story is about to begin