Postcard From

An Italian Summer

Words by Fabrizia Caracciolo
Image from Mark Luscombe-Whyte
Image from oltrepò pavese

Portofino on the Italian Riviera, photographed by Mark Luscombe-Whyte for Cabana Issue 17.

Fabrizia Caracciolo shares unique insights from a lifetime of summers exploring the Italian Peninsula.
 
In todays fast-moving world, year-long Grand Tours are mostly a thing of the past. So, in this postcard from my perfect Italian summer, I suggest a month-long trip down the Italian Peninsula, taking in Venice, Tuscany and Florence, and the Vesuvius and Ligurian coasts, before traveling south to experience the unique beauty of Sicily.
 
Arriving in Venice is always a treat; I'll forever be impressed by this palatial city within a lagoon. Venice requires, and indeed deserves, long walks, visits to unique sights and long indulgent meals, before retreating to a restful hotel. The opportunity to recharge and relax in a haven with its own greenery and lush gardens makes the long days even more enjoyable. From the beautiful Cipriani Hotel, Venice is simply more lovely and even grander.

 

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Left: Venice at sunset. Right: An entrance hall in Genoa, Liguria; Mark Luscombe-Whyte for Cabana Issue 17. 

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Left: Palazzo Viti in Volterra, Pisa. Right: Villa San Michele; Mark Luscombe-Whyte for Cabana Issue 17. 

The same can be said for Florence, where the summer heat can feel overbearing in the narrow medieval streets that separate glorious churches from museums and shops. I retreat to Fiesole, which hangs over the city landscape, and always choose to stay at Villa San Michele (pictured above). It offers the most spectacular views, rivalled only by the beauty of the hotel itself, and its elegant terraced gardens.
 
But summer in Italy is also about the coasts, the cafes and the waterfront taverns, and the elegance of summer dresses flowing in the piazzas at sunset. Portofino is undoubtedly where you'll find some of the best examples of these seasonal Italian delights. Walking down from the glorious Hotel Splendido (below, left), in the shade of the woods, you’ll find a tiny fishing village that’s become a sort of seaside sitting room where everyone seems to know each other. Returning from their boats, one and all mingle around cocktails and slices of local focaccia.  

 

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Left: Hotel Splendido. Right: Waterside dining near Portofino; Mark Luscombe-Whyte for Cabana Issue 17. 

Leaving northern Italy and descending below Rome, one enters a different world altogether; a mix of grandeur and genteel decay coupled with the visible stratification of over 20 centuries of art and architecture presents grace and glory of its own. The scenery of the Amalfi coast, just a stone’s throw from the Vesuvio and extraordinary Roman ruins of Pompei and Ercolano, is as dramatic as it is delightful. The highlight of the coast is, of course, Ravello, which stands high above the coastline looking down to the seemingly endless Mediterranean Sea.
 
But my single favorite stop, Sicily, deserves a tour of its own. In Taormina, on the eastern coast backed by the Greek theater and hanging above a cascade of colorful lush gardens rolling down to the sea, stands the beautiful Timeo Hotel. Be sure to ask for the Kaiser’s room, the view is so breathtaking you will carry it with you forever.

 

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Rolling Tuscan hills at sunset; Mark Luscombe-Whyte for Cabana Issue 17.

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Left: Castello di Casole, Tuscany. Right: Tuscan vistas; Mark Luscombe-Whyte for Cabana Issue 17. 

 

Fabrizia's Travel Tips

 

Liguria
 
Where to Eat
 
Da Puny - a Portofino classic passed from father to son; a place to see, and be seen at, serving the very best of local cuisine.
I Gemelli - the up-and-coming spot in town, owned by sought-after twin brothers.
Ristorante Capo Nord - a great spot to eat, quite 'literally’ on the sea.

 

Where to Shop
 
L’Ancora - for stylish yachting wear in Portofino.
Loreley Studio - for the best selection of eclectic fashion.
Seghezzo, Santa Margherita - to visit the world’s trendiest mini supermarket.

 

 

Tuscany
 
Where to Eat
 
Le Logge Siena and Trattoria al Vecchio Forno, San Quirico d’Orcia - for fine dining and a Tuscan Michelin-starred experience.
Locanda Paradiso, Chiusure - for a traditional Tuscan ‘trattoria’ experience.
Caffè Poliziano, Montepulciano - for cappuccino and brioche or an ‘aperitivo’ on the panoramic terrace of this historical Italian Bar.
Townhouse Caffè, Pienza - a gem hidden in the garden of a historical palazzo.
 
Where to Shop
 
The best Italian red wines, Brunello and Nobile, can be found in local wineries, while the finest Pecorino cheese is widely available throughout Pienza.
To buy wine in a stunning setting visit Castello Romitorio and Argiano in Montalcino.

 

Sicily
 
Where to Eat
 
Tischi Toschi, Taormina - the best slow food trattoria in town.
Ristorante da Nino, Letojanni - the best fish and seafood pasta on the beach.
Bam Bar - for the best Granita on earth and brioche with gelato.

 

Where to Shop
 
Agorà, Taormina - for the most beautiful antique books and prints.

 

 

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