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The Sunday Times Travel — 14 January 2018

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January 14, 2018
12
SP -P
EC AG
IA E
L
TRAVEL
SECTION OF
THE YEAR
Bella Italia
Marina O?Loughlin in Florence l Waldemar Januszczak in Cremona
Complete Puglia l Bottoms up on the prosecco trail l Classic breaks
2 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel
THE FUTURE
IS HERE ? AND
IT KICKS BOT
CHRIS
HASLAM
Chief travel writer
T
he future of travel will be
dominated by artificial
intelligence, driverless
vehicles and luggage that
follows you around like a
Labrador ? or at least it will be if all the
innovations on display last week at the
Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas,
are widely adopted.
That faithful suitcase is the 90Fun
Puppy 1, Chinese-designed luggage that
uses a Segway-inspired driving system to
balance on two wheels and remain a
respectful two paces behind you as you
weave through a busy airport. It uses
ultra-wideband radio positioning and
radar to home in on the beacon you
carry in your pocket. It might not be
quite there yet, though: in live trials at
the show, the Puppy proved to be poorly
trained ? falling over and wandering off.
More practical is L?Or閍l?s wearable
UV sensor, a lentil-sized device that you
stick to your fingernail, watch or
sunglasses. It detects how long you?ve
been in the sun and tells you, via your
smartphone, when it?s time to reapply
sunscreen ? L?Or閍l sunscreen,
presumably. (Other brands are available.)
The company says it will be on sale here
in summer 2019, priced at about �
(loreal.com). Also creating a buzz was
Travis the Translator, a crowdfunded
handheld device offering instant
translation of 80 languages. Hold it up
between you and, say, a Chinese waiter,
b
and it will broadcast your order in
Mandarin and his reply in English (from
�6; travistranslator.com).
Far more fun is the PowerDolphin, a
seaborne drone that, its makers claim, can
not only shoot 4K video, create 3D maps
of undersea topography and be deployed
on rescue missions, but use fish-finding
sonar to locate shoals, drop bait, deploy
hooks and film the fish being caught. It?s
an essential for this summer?s beach
holiday ? if you?ve got �0 lying around
(powervision.me).
As for those driverless cars, they?re
powering ahead. Show attendees were
invited to hail a driverless taxi (albeit with
a human co-pilot on board) from Aptiv
and climb aboard the steering wheel-less,
pedal-less autonomous Smart Vision EQ
car from Mercedes. No hire firms have yet
placed an order, but they will.
Then there are the robots. Until now,
droids such as Hilton?s Connie ? a 2ft-high
robot concierge that managed to be both
irritating and slightly sinister ? have
been a novelty. Last week, though, LG
announced three robots designed for
mass production and commercial use,
primarily in hotels and restaurants.
The new models are the Porter, Server
and Shopper, and you might well start to
see them on your travels, carrying bags,
waiting on tables and guiding us around
shopping malls. Regardless of your
opinion on the dangers of the rise of the
robots, they?ll save us a fortune in tips.
JAPAN GOES CHEAP
It used to have a reputation for being
ruinously expensive, but Japan has
emerged as the cheapest country for
long-haul travel, and the second cheapest
overall, in the latest Post Office Travel
Money report.
Top of the list was Bulgaria, where
a ?basket? of eight typical holiday
purchases ? including a cup of coffee, a
tube of suncream and a restaurant meal
for two ? came to �.92. In Tokyo, the
same items totalled �.14, undercutting
Portugal (�.25), Spain (�.20) and
Turkey (�.65).
?Japan is considered an expensive
destination by those who haven?t been
and remember the stories of the 1980s,
but travellers are often pleasantly
surprised to find out it?s not as pricy as
they thought,? said James Mundy, of
Inside Japan Tours. ?Eating out, transport
and sightseeing are generally cheaper
than in the UK.?
The Post Office report highlights
price drops in Dubai ? down 36% since
last year ? and New Zealand, where
prices have fallen by 27% in the past 12
months. Both, though, are still expensive,
with the basket coming in at �1.23 and
�4.80 respectively.
Worst value for tourists was
Singapore, where the eight holiday items
cost �3.72 ? �5.80 more expensive
than the Bulgarian total.
BRIEFING
RYANAIR CUTS HAND LUGGAGE
Ryanair passengers will no longer be
allowed to take two free items of hand
luggage (of wheelie-case and holdall
size, respectively) onto the plane. As
of tomorrow, those who haven?t paid
for a ticket that includes priority
boarding ? such as Plus, Flexi Plus or
Family Plus ? will have the larger bag
tagged at the gate and placed in the
hold. The airline says this is ?in order
to eliminate boarding delays?.
SNOWFALL ?ONCE IN A GENERATION?
More heavy snow is expected in the
Alps next week, with forecasters
describing the conditions as the type
seen ?once every 30 years?. Last week,
thousands of skiers were stranded in
the Swiss resort of Zermatt and in
Cervinia, Italy. The French ski resorts
of Val d?Is鑢e and Tignes received 6ft
and 4ft of snow in a 36-hour period,
leading to piste closures due to the
heightened avalanche risk.
BIG
SHOT
SAND SURFER
Congratulations
to James Muir,
who is this week?s
winner of the Big
Shot competition,
in association with
Audley Travel
(01993 838000,
audleytravel.com).
His photo shows
the most thrilling
way to descend
from the peak
of Dune 45, in
Namibia, after
watching the sun
rise ? and makes
the shortlist for the
main prizes, which
include a 13-day
trip to Mexico.
l The competition
is now closed. The
The overall winners
will be announced
in the coming
weeks. See all 26
images on the
shortlist for the
main prizes at
thesundaytimes.
co.uk/thebigshot
LETTERS
Your top
France tips
Thanks for a great French
edition (?Vive la France!?, last
week). Having widely travelled
the country and even worked
briefly as a shepherd in the Limousin, I
have some great memories. Joining a
French village football team (Azat-le-Ris)
introduced me to the community feel,
the double kisses of the changing room
and the 38C August friendly in which the
refreshing after-match beverage was a
Tupperware bowl of warm red wine
(with bits of bread floating in it). Top tips
elsewhere: 1) Most beautiful area: the
Loup Valley, in the Alpes-Maritime,
including Bar-sur-Loup, Tourrettes-surLoup and Gourdon. 2) Best festivals: F阾es
de Saint-Vincent, in Collioure, and (for a
mad night) F阾es de Bayonne. 3) Best
holiday: cycling the Ile de R�, staying in
buzzing St Martin. 4) Best activity:
parascending from the Puy de D鬽e in
the Auvergne. 5) Best lost island: Houat,
off southern Brittany.
Dan O?Kane, Nottinghamshire
LETTER
OF THE
WEEK
I would like to add to Anthony Peregrine?s
praise of Vannes (?Six secret French
towns?). It is all he says it is, but he didn?t
mention the wonderful public planting.
The flowerbeds and many baskets are
outstanding both for the standard of the
plants and the design. Dozens of varieties
are mingled to great effect. We picnicked
below the ramparts, amazed at the display.
Ruth Fleming, Stranraer
If you want a day trip, I recommend
Montreuil-sur-Mer, a few miles inland,
near Boulogne: fantastic, and held
together with swallow poo and wisteria.
Rory Shepherd, via thetimes.co.uk
Tucked away on the Bay of Biscay, close to
the Spanish border in France?s southwest
corner, is the lovely fishing village of StJean-de-Luz, with a sweeping sandy bay
and picturesque harbourfront houses. It?s
a liveable joy in spring and autumn, with
decent restaurants, safe swimming
beaches and glorious walks.
Roger Chappell, Coventry
In reference to your Languedoc piece
(?My favourite French region?), I live just
south of Carcassonne and know most
of the stuff, but it?s nicely written and
makes me want to take up rugby again.
Or drinking wine. Oh, wait ? wine is what
we do here! There are other things, but if
you don?t drink wine, you are missing out
on some of the best times in the world.
Susie Horwood, Languedoc
I enjoyed your Bordeaux article (?The big
weekend?), but it failed to mention that
the city is highly accessible by Eurostar
trains via Paris or Lille. Post the opening
of LGV SEA on July 2 last year, Bordeaux
GREAT BRITISH BREAKS
EDALE
ED RHODES/GETTY
COVER PHOTOGRAPH: PETER CADE/GETTY
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 3
Duncan Craig has
a ramble round
the Peak District
WHY?
Daniel Defoe called the Peak District
?the most desolate, wild and abandoned?
spot in all of England. Which is harsh.
Sure, if you visit on a dank winter?s day,
when the fog hangs low and the tiny
lanes seem to narrow, it can be
forbidding. But at most other times it?s a
ravishing open-air playground, serving
families, cyclists, cave aficionados,
hikers and cutlery enthusiasts. Blissfully
remote, yet accessible (it has its own
little station), the village of Edale is the
perfect jumping-off point.
WHAT TO DO
is only 2 hours and 4 minutes from Paris
by TGV from Gare Montparnasse on the
fastest trains.
Dr Bernard Rochard, Northamptonshire
In your article (?How to be French?), you
didn?t point out that, at French dinner
parties, no drinks are served until the last
guest has arrived. We learnt this Gallic
quirk through a bitter half-hour at our first
such party. It goes some way to explaining
why the French have never understood
the English habit of arriving on time.
Patrick Gallagher, Worcestershire
Maybe if the French ate a proper breakfast
they would not have to close for two hours
for lunch, to the frustration of visitors.
Magenta, via thetimes.co.uk
WRITE TO
TRAVEL
AND WIN
�0
TOWARDS
A PRIDE OF
BRITAIN
HOTELS
STAY
BRITS ON THE PISTE
Don?t ban alcohol on the slopes
(?Downhill Brits hit the bottle?, last
week), just encourage people to behave
responsibly. We?ve skied in America since
2007. Why? Because it is civilised. We gave
up on the Alps after our eight-year-old son
was wiped out by a drunken skier.
Dick Fox, Devon
While holidaying in M閞ibel, we didn?t
notice the issue (maybe because we were
also culprits ? I remember partying at La
Folie Douce, in Val d?Is鑢e, and skiing
down with renewed confidence after).
Now that we live here with our young son,
I try to ensure we are off the slopes by
3pm to miss the drunken nutters.
Laura Sullivan, M閞ibel
Congratulations to Dan
O?Kane, who wins a �0
voucher towards a stay,
meals, drinks or spa
treatments at any
member of the
Pride of Britain
Hotels collection
in England,
Scotland and
Wales, all of which
specialise in the ?art
of great hospitality?
(prideofbritainhotels.com).
For a chance to win the
same prize in a future issue,
email your stories and
comments to travel@
sunday-times.co.uk ?
or write to Travel,
The Sunday Times,
1 London Bridge
Street, London
SE1 9GF. Please
include your name,
address and
telephone
number. Letters
may be edited.
Prize T&Cs: ages 18+; UK residents
only; the prize is non-transferable and
subject to availability; full T&Cs at
thesundaytimes.co.uk/travelletters
You?re in the spiritual home of rambling,
so don?t forget those boots. Innumerable
manageable trails await. If you do only
one, make it the eight-mile anticlockwise
loop out of Edale that incorporates part
of the Pennine Way (which begins in the
village) and takes you to Derbyshire?s
roof terrace: the windswept plateau of
Kinder Scout. The mass trespass here in
1932 led to the Peak District becoming the
country?s first national park and paved
the way for the Rights of Way act. Warm
up in the Old Nags Head (see below).
Less demanding is the western ascent
of Win Hill, easily reached from your
hotel (see below). A short, sharp ascent
gives way to a magnificent ridge hike to
the summit. Hum The Dam Busters as
you go: that finger of water below is
Ladybower Reservoir, where the film was
shot in 1955. Still have energy to burn? Hire
bikes from the Bike Garage, in Bamford,
and set off round the Ladybower and
Derwent reservoirs and their firmly intact
dams. Haven?t? Settle for e-bikes (half-day
from �/�; bikegarage.co.uk).
Don?t be tempted to swim. That?s less
bracingly done in the throwback village
of Hathersage. It has a 1930s lido, heated
most of the year, with a classic Peak
District gritstone backdrop (�50;
hathersageswimmingpool.co.uk).
Nearby, on a slickly repurposed
gasworks site, you?ll find the David
Mellor Cutlery Factory. Nothing to do
with the ?Toe job to no job? naughty
1990s minister. This David Mellor was the
godfather of functional design; everything
from bus shelters to traffic lights (a set sits
in the middle of the cafe). There?s a rather
pricy shop selling his cutlery, and at
weekends you can take a free guided tour
of the eye-catchingly cylindrical factory
(davidmellordesign.com/visitor-centre).
The village of Castleton, overlooked
by the 11th-century Peveril Castle (�60;
english-heritage.org), is the spot for caves,
many a legacy of centuries of lead mining.
The exception is Treak Cliff Cavern,
mined for ornamental Blue John stone.
You can see seams of the stuff on the
40-minute tour, as well as cavernloads of
stalactites. Children as young as eight
used to help with its extraction, for
which they were paid 2p a week and
eight cigarettes. My kids were appalled.
They only get a couple of rollies (�95;
www.bluejohnstone.com).
ROOM AT
THE TOP
The Peak District
National Park
Kinder
Scout
Peak District
National Park
Pennine YHA Edale
Way
EDALE
Losehill House
Treak Cliff
Cavern
Ladybower
Reservoir
Win Hill
Bamford
Hathersage
Castleton
2 miles
WHERE TO STAY
The whitewashed Losehill House Hotel
& Spa is a beacon of refinement amid the
muddy-booted rural splendour. The Arts
and Crafts building has an outdoor hot tub
with soul-stirring peak views, a buzzing,
if blazered, atmosphere, and a skylit
restaurant serving a seven-course tasting
menu (�) and some of the best lamb I?ve
ever had (doubles from �5, B&B; three
courses from �; losehillhouse.co.uk).
Alternatively, YHA Edale has
indecently good moorland views and
private rooms from � (yha.org.uk).
WHERE TO EAT
This is the
spiritual
home of
rambling, so
don?t forget
your boots
Brace yourself for ramblers? portions,
exemplified by the Old Nags Head, in
Edale, which, brilliantly, offers ?pick &
mix? bangers and mash (from �50;
the-old-nags-head.co.uk). The Yorkshire
Bridge Inn, on the shores of Ladybower,
has a proper ploughman?s and Dam
Busters memorabilia (mains from �
yorkshire-bridge.co.uk).
Duncan Craig was a guest of the Losehill
House Hotel & Spa and the Peak District
(visitpeakdistrict.com)
4 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Skiing
EASTERN
STAR
Jasna, in Slovakia, might just be the best
ski bargain in Europe. Sean Newsom takes
to the high ground in the Low Tatras
F
or years, the ski resorts of
eastern Europe have been
the poor relations of the
winter-sports world. They were
always the plucky outsiders:
more affordable than their rivals in the
Alps, but also more primitive, more
haphazard and a lot less exciting to ski.
Well, now we can ditch the stereotype.
Skiing in the east has come of age, and a
resort has taken shape in the Low Tatras
mountains of Slovakia that is, in many ways,
as good as its western rivals. And it?s still
cheaper. Group ski lessons are 35% less
than in the big French resorts, half a litre
of beer costs �40 (as opposed to �or
more) and a hearty plate of goulash on the
mountain will set you back eight quid.
The resort is called Jasna, and it spreads
over two sides of a round-topped, 6,640ft
peak called Chopok. It?s a natural skier?s
mountain: gentle and forested at the
bottom, steep and sustained at the top,
and scored with gullies on its eastern
and western faces that will test the most
expert off-pister. In fact, they?re tough
enough to host a qualifying round of the
Freeride World Tour, which circles the
globe each winter, pitching its most
fearless skiers down some of its most
challenging slopes.
There have been lifts here since the
1940s, but the transformation began
in 2010, after the area was bought by the
Slovakian company Tatry Mountain
Resorts. They?ve showered it with money
ever since. Nearly �0m has been spent
so far, much of it on high-speed lifts, and
in 2014 Jasna was named Best Up and
Coming Resort at the World Snow Awards.
This season, a smart new base lodge has
been added.
The difference in prices is particularly
striking over the peak school-holiday
weeks. Take the family to a catered chalet
in La Plagne, France, over the main
half-term holiday, February 10-17, and
you?ll spend about �650pp, half-board,
including flights, transfers and lift passes.
In Slovakia, the same week in a three-star
hotel costs �0pp. In an upmarket
chalet, it?ll be about �000pp.
I skied the resort with my family a
couple of weeks ago, just after New Year,
and ? beyond the whizzy six-seater
chairlifts and the top-notch V鰈kl skis in
the rental centre ? two things really stood
out. First, the quality of the pistes. Okay,
there are only 30 miles of waymarked
runs ? a sixth of the offering in Val
d?Is鑢e/Tignes ? but there?s barely 500
yards of dud terrain among them.
Star attraction is the red-rated descent
that forms the spine of the ski area and
rolls straight down the north face of the
Chopok, from its peak to the forested
YOUR TURN
TO CARVE
Off-piste in Jasna
valley below. On and on it goes, beckoning
you down the mountain, and by the time
you?ve reached the bottom, you?ve
dropped through 3,200 vertical feet.
That?s like skiing from the top of Scafell
Pike, in the Lake District, straight into the
Irish Sea.
Even better is the experience Jasna
offers your kids ? courtesy of the Tatry
Motion Ski School and the Tatralandia
Aquapark. We have two boys, Ben and
Sam, and they both flourished in their ski
lessons. Ben has only just turned three,
and normally I?d say that?s too young to
start, unless you live in the mountains, but
the kind and conscientious team working
on the Maxiland nursery slopes turned
him into an enthusiast in the space of four
mornings. On the last day, he was asking
for his skis long before the class started.
MAREK HAJKOVSKY; GETTY
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 5
Krakow
POLAND
Family-friendly
fun, top, and
after-hours action
JASNA
Low
Tatras
SLOVAKIA
Poprad
Kosice
Bratislava
HUNGARY
Budapest
50 miles
His brother?s progress was just as
heartening. Sam has been skiing once a
winter since he was four, and loves it, but
even last year he was still slipping into a
snowplough on steeper pistes. Not any
more. We have Peter Datel to thank for
that: a young, English-speaking instructor
with, it turns out, a natural rapport with
nine-year-olds. After three morning
lessons, Sam?s snowploughing instinct
had vanished and he was making neat
parallel turns through moguls, over ice
and down some of Jasna?s steepest pistes.
But it isn?t the skiing he?s still talking
about now we?re back home. It?s one
of the waterslides at the Tatralandia
Aquapark ? a giant swimming-pool
complex eight miles away, near the town
of Liptovsky Mikulas. As far as family ski
holidays go, it?s Jasna?s trump card.
By the time
you reach
the bottom,
you?ve
dropped
through
3,200
vertical feet
THREE MORE UNHERALDED SKI SPOTS
Pamporovo, Bulgaria
Gentle, tree-lined pistes
and enticing all-inclusive
packages make this
resort in the Rhodope
Mountains ? little more
than 10 miles from the
Greek border ? a canny
choice for a family of
first-time skiers. A week
from February 17 at the
newly refurbished Hotel
Perelik costs �7pp for a
family of four, including
all meals and drinks,
lift passes, ski lessons
and ski hire, with Crystal
(crystalski.co.uk).
Baqueira-Beret, Spain
The Pyrenees have more
to offer than Andorra.
At Baqueira-Beret,
there are 95 miles of
intermediate-friendly
trails and plenty of
plunging off-piste areas,
creating a buzzing,
tapas-flavoured
playground for a mixed
group of adults. A week
from March 18 at the
Chalet Salana costs
�4pp, chalet-board,
including flights and
transfers, with Ski Miquel
(skimiquelholidays.co.uk).
Everything you could ever want from a
pool complex is on offer here, and a lot
more besides. Fresh pancakes cooked by
the side of the pool? They?ve got those.
So, too, a crackling log fire, a cocktail bar
in the water (really) and a foot bath full
of fish to nibble at your toes, as well as
enough surf simulators, slides, jets and
bubbles to fill an entire holiday with
wrinkly-skinned antics.
Not surprisingly, Jasna?s reputation has
spread throughout central and eastern
Europe. The week we were there, it was
buzzing with Slovaks, Czechs, Poles,
Ukrainians and Russians. There was a
smattering of canny Brits, too ? including
Christian Aird and family, who I met in the
queue for the Maxiland nursery slopes.
He was taking refuge from high-season
holiday prices in the Alps. ?It?s great
value,? he said. ?We?re here with friends,
and we can get lunch for eight people on
the mountain for �-�, all in.? He was
pretty sure he?d be back again next winter.
Justin Garrett, an Australian, was
similarly impressed when he first skied
Jasna six years ago. ?You could see the
potential back then,? he recalled as we sat
in the lounge of the Dragon?s Lair, the
smart new chalet he?s built on the road
up to the resort. Originally, it was aimed
squarely at British families, with duplex
family rooms and the kind of ?let the kids
run free? attitude that leaves both parents
and children relaxed and chatty.
But it?s not just the Brits who are
coming. So far, he and Adriana, his
Narvik, Norway
Summit-to-sea skiing
and (weather permitting)
the aurora borealis are
among the attractions on
a week?s ski-touring trip
with Ski Freshtracks in the
mountains around Narvik
(skiclub.co.uk). Aimed
at advanced and expert
off-pisters, it departs on
February 25 and costs
�999pp, full-board,
excluding flights. Fly to
Harstad-Narvik airport
via Oslo with Norwegian
(returns from �3;
norwegian.com/uk).
Slovakian wife, have hosted expats from
Singapore, an American restaurateur
from Budapest and family groups from
Bratislava ? as well as (heaven help them)
the Newsoms. They?re helped by a young
Czech couple who speak flawless English
and work as hosts. Mixing with them over
breakfast offers an exciting, cosmopolitan
view of what Jasna might one day become.
The resort is only a 40-minute drive
from Poprad-Tatry airport, served by
direct flights from Luton with Wizz Air.
(Other airports within reasonable striking
distance are Kosice, Bratislava and
Krakow, in Poland.) On the drive back at
the end of the trip, Justin pointed out
several strips of light twinkling in the dark
above us. They were the other ski areas of
the Low Tatras: smaller, not as modern
and no doubt casting envious glances in
Jasna?s direction. With their neighbour?s
star now shining so brightly, you can?t
help but think at least one of them will
shortly be following its path.
Sean Newsom and family were guests of
the Liptov Region (visitliptov.sk), Tatry
Mountain Resorts (tmr.sk/home) and
Jasna Adventures, which has a week at the
Dragon?s Lair from �9pp, B&B. The price
includes afternoon tea, a six-day lift pass
and transfers (jasnaadventures.co.uk).
Or try Propaganda (chaletjasna.co.uk)
or Mountain Paradise (mountainparadise.
co.uk). Fly to Poprad-Tatry with Wizz Air;
from �4 return (wizzair.com). For more
information, visit jasna.sk/en
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 7
ROOS & HELEN/GETTY
Travel Italy special
VENICE BY PRIVATE BOAT
Never mind the Bridge of Sighs: the
best way to see La Serenissima is from
the deck of a boat. We?re not talking about
a quick gondola trip here: Citalia and
Le Boat are offering seven nights on a
private motor launch, a 36ft Horizon.
You?ll get a, ahem, crash course for
beginners before you head into the
Venetian lagoon. Park up for dinner as you
please: Le Boat can organise an on-board
chef or give you top-notch restaurant
recommendations. You can even picnic
on your own sundeck. Three nights on
terra firma, at the Hotel Do Pozzi, are
also included.
Ten nights for a family of four from
�199pp, including flights; citalia.com
PERFECT POMPEII
The best piece of advice you?ll ever get
to help you make the most of this
astonishing city, frozen in time since the
eruption of Vesuvius in AD79? Hire a great
guide. The archaeologist Dr Karina Mitens
leads Kirker?s 2018 Bay of Naples tour,
which includes a full day in Pompeii and
another in the mysterious city of
Herculaneum. There?s also a trip to the
National Archaeological Museum of
Naples, where the pristine frescoes and
statues recovered from both sites reside.
Mitens has a PhD from the University of
Copenhagen and is a specialist in
Neapolitan history; she will get you into
parts of Pompeii often closed to the
crowds. Your base is the deluxe seafront
Grand Hotel Santa Lucia, in Naples.
Six nights from �798pp, B&B,
including four dinners and flights;
kirkerholidays.com
ITALY
2018
Every year, it tops the polls in our readers? awards ?
for its food, its glamour, its history, its culture and
its passion. Here?s how to make the most of it this
summer. Our 12-page special begins with a
collection of classic holidays that couldn?t be
more Italian if they tried. By Mia Aimaro Ogden
COOKING IN THE DOLOMITES
Still striving for the perfect ossobuco
Milanese with pumpkin and porcini
risotto? Or even just a passable homemade
pasta? The Stirred cookery school offers
a top-end array of Italian cookery courses
at Villa Casagrande, an aristocratic
15th-century estate in Cison di Valmarino,
in the foothills of the Dolomites. You?re
paying for the best food talent out there:
teachers include Jake Simpson, of Bocca di
Lupo, in London, and the Roux prot間閑
Sophie Braimbridge. When you?re not
cooking up a storm, you?ll dine out in
Venice, shop for ingredients at the Rialto
market, taste prosecco from the top-end
producer Bisol ? and probably put on 10lb.
Six nights cost �750pp, full-board,
including classes, ingredients and wine;
stirredtravel.com. Ryanair flies to Treviso
OPERA IN VERONA
Every summer, Verona?s spectacular
2,000-year-old amphitheatre hosts the
biggest party in the city. This year?s
festival opens on June 22 with Bizet?s
Carmen. Book seats on the stone steps of
the arena (from � at arena.it). You?ll see
Italian families turning out en masse to
catch Aida, Turandot and Nabucco by
candlelight on the world?s largest outdoor
stage: 15,000 voices singing along to the
Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, Italy?s
unofficial wartime anthem, can?t fail to
give you goosebumps. Or blow the budget
and book an exclusive backstage tour to
get up close and personal with the chorus,
sets and costumes (from �775pp for
groups of up to 25; 00 39 045 929 8400,
www.vertours.com). Stay at the romantic
Continued on page 8 ?
8 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Italy special
? Continued from page 7
Il Sogno di Giulietta, five minutes from
the arena (doubles from �5, B&B;
ilsognodigiulietta-guesthouse.com).
Fly to Verona with British Airways or easyJet
TUSCAN VILLA 1: THE INTIMATE ONE
The British love affair with Tuscany is still
going strong (though you won?t have it
to yourself this summer ? sorry). Who
could fail to feel the romance of the Val
di Cecina, south of Volterra, with its
patchwork of vineyards and acres of olive
groves, dotted with medieval hilltop
villages? It can be hard to find smaller
houses at a sensible price here, so Torre
del Merlo is a bit of a find. A 14th-century
watchtower on a hill, surrounded by
private gardens, with a pool, it will make
your heart beat just that little bit faster.
Sleeps up to 4; from �420 a week;
invitationto.com. Fly to Pisa with BA,
easyJet or Ryanair
TUSCAN VILLA 2: THE PARTY ONE
Fancy sharing the love with 16 friends at
the best house party ever? Villa Monte
Chianti, in the Arentini hills between
Siena and Arezzo, is a grand old
farmhouse in the middle of a working
vineyard. It has nine bedrooms, a pool
and a tennis court.
Sleeps up to 17; from �440 a week;
scottwilliams.co.uk. Fly to Florence with
BA or CityJet
DRIVE THE AMALFI COAST FOR LESS
This cobalt coastline has a stellar
reputation for old-school glam with
dazzling views, but there?s no need to
pay crazy prices for a trip packed with
Sorrentine style. Opt for May or
September, when it?s not crowded and
you can pick up a Fiat 500 for � a day;
try Auto Europe at Naples airport. Take
the SS163 and your first stop will be
clifftop Sorrento, staying at the Villa
Oriana Relais, where you?ll find a
cornucopia of frilly pastries for breakfast,
as well as startling seascapes (doubles
from �, B&B; villaoriana.it). In the hills
behind Positano, reserve a table for an
organic five-course dinner at La Tagliata,
then stay in one of its two simple rooms
(doubles from �, B&B; latagliatarooms.it).
And in retro beachside Castiglione di
Ravello, try the romantic Villa San Michele,
which is built into the rocks (doubles
from �, B&B; hotel-villasanmichele.it).
Fly to Naples with BA or easyJet
WOLVES IN THE ABRUZZO
POSITANO GLOW
Sunset on the
Amalfi Coast
If the idea of a stakeout for the Apennine
wolf has you coming over all David
Attenborough, Ecotur has a sleeping
bag with your name on it. In the central
region of Abruzzo, which has three
national parks and 38 nature reserves,
75% of Europe?s living species survive ?
and you can go nose to nose with the
scariest of them. A team of wildlife
experts will guide you from the village of
Pescasseroli deep into the mountains,
where you?ll hoof it along ancient tracks
to the Cicerana Ecorifugio, 5,000ft up,
your hut base for one night. From here
you?ll track golden eagles, Apennine
wolves, Marsican brown bears ? and
come back uneaten.
A three-night trek with accommodation
starts at �4pp, half-board; ecotur.org.
Fly to Rome with BA, easyJet or Ryanair,
or to Pescara with Ryanair
SARDINIA FOR FAMILIES
For the ultimate sandy beach with
all-day entertainment for your little
ones, head for the glamorous Costa
Smeralda. Sardinian Places is offering
seven nights on the sands of cheery
Cannigione, looking across to the glitzy
islands of La Maddalena, where Italy?s
high rollers spend the summer. The
Cala di Falco resort has a kids? club
and a supervised pool for younger
children, while older ones can dive,
sail and go riding nearby. Grown-ups
should head over to the starry bars of
Porto Cervo ? where you might even
bump into Silvio Berlusconi and his
bunga-bunga babes.
From �696 for a week, half-board, for
a family of four, including flights and car
hire; sardinianplaces.co.uk
DRINKING IN BAROLO
The natives know it as the king of wines:
Barolo, the top-quality red that made
the Langhe region rich. Now it can be
your tipple of choice in a tasting tour
around the 11 medieval hilltop villages
and 5,000 acres of vineyards south of
Turin. Stay at the friendly, family-run
Agriturismo La Torricella, outside
Monforte, where the top-notch restaurant
specialises in Piedmontese classics
such as veal-stuffed pasta, agnolotti dal
plin, and visit the best local growers:
Paolo Manzone (barolomeriame.com);
Adriana Marzi and Roberto Bruni
(cantinadelglicine.it); and Maria-Teresa
Mascarello (00 39 0173 56125). Tastings
start at �pp. Dine out in Bra, where
Boccondivino ? aka Slow Food HQ ? does
a monumental braised veal in Barolo
(mains from �; boccondivinoslow.it).
La Torricella has doubles from �2, B&B;
latorricella.eu. Ryanair flies to Turin
TREK THE ALPS
?Adventure trekking? high in the Alps
might sound like a tall order, but a good
level of fitness is all that?s required to join
a summer Italian High Level Route with
KE Adventure Travel. You get an afternoon
of glacier-skills training before tackling the
?easy? Breithorn (13,600ft), on the Swiss
border. Then it?s six days with just you,
four like-minded adventurers and your
pro guide in some truly spectacular
landscapes. You?ll spend five nights in
northwest Italy?s prettiest mountain huts,
where the food is hearty and the grappa
is rough. Treks include the lovely Valle
di Gressoney and the soaring south side
of Monte Rosa.
Seven nights from �495pp, half-board;
keadventure.com. Fly to Geneva with BA
or easyJet
THE GRAND TOUR BY RAIL
Those 18th-century thrill-seekers had the
right idea ? it?s just that, these days, the
slickest way to do the grand tour is in a
first-class railway carriage. The highlight
of Planet Rail?s luxury 12-day tailor-made
trip from London is a night on the Venice
Simplon-Orient-Express to the Most
Serene Republic, with lunch, afternoon
tea, a four-course dinner and brunch the
next day on board. In Venice, you?ll travel
in a traditional water taxi and take a
gondola trip down the Grand Canal. From
there, it?s first class to Rome for three
days, riding on the papal train ? the first
time the Vatican has opened the service to
mere mortals ? to Castel Gandolfo, the
Pope?s summer residence; followed by
two days in Florence, improving your
Renaissance art history at the Uffizi.
From �850pp; planetrail.co.uk
EAT IN EMILIA-ROMAGNA
Bologna is fat ? they call it ?la grassa? ?
for a reason: it?s home to some of the
SURIYA SILSAKSOM, GORFER, KEVIN MOORE, GLAKITA/GETTY
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 9
THE HIGH LIFE
Cycling in the
Dolomites. Below,
the Valle dei
Templi, Sicily
ROME FOR FAMILIES
YOUR ITALY
FAVOURITES
Win a stay with
Pride of Britain
Hotels by sharing
your tales and
tips from holidays
in Italy. Email
travel@sundaytimes.co.uk.
Details on page 3
When in
Rome...
best restaurants,
res
food shops, markets
and arti
artisan makers in the country.
Now you
yo can eat your way from the city
centre all
a the way to Rimini along Via
Emilia, an ancient Roman route, sampling
top-q
top-quality produce on the way, and
pau
pausing in the gourmet hotspots of
M
Modena (book well in advance for
d
dinner at Osteria Francescana, the
w
world?s second best restaurant;
os
osteriafrancescana.it) and Ravenna.
Yo
You?ll be staying in agriturismi and
fou
four-star hotels, visiting big-name
pro
producers of parmigiano reggiano,
bals
balsamic vinegar, prosciutto di Parma
and Colli di Rimini olive oil.
Five nights
n
from �0pp, including
break
breakfast, three lunches, one dinner
and all
a tastings, but not car hire;
foodin
foodintour.com. Fly to Bologna with BA
or Rya
Ryanair
CYCLE IN THE DOLOMITES
Relax: you
y don?t have to be Mr or Mrs
K
Jason Kenny
to enjoy a week of road
cycling in the Dolomites. Marmot has
a Classic Cols summer tour that includes
the hair
hair-raising Giro d?Italia passes of
Ca
Giau, Campolongo
and Stelvio ? all at
ow pace. A flexible itinerary
your own
suits mi
mixed-ability groups, with assistance
from two
tw support vans on every ride and
the option
opti to hire one of the company?s
�800 titanium-framed bikes for � a
day. If you
y want to push yourself, there?s
the chal
challenge route, which increases
the daily ascent to up to 14,000ft. You?ll
stay in threeand four-star family-run
t
hotels, with breakfast and dinner tailored
to your nutritional needs.
Six nights from �420pp, half-board;
marmot-tours.co.uk. Fly to Venice with
BA or easyJet
RIDE THE MAREMMA
Star in your own spaghetti western with
seven days on horseback in the Tuscan
Maremma. This pretty, pine-fringed
coastline is worlds away from crowded
Chiantishire, with vast empty beaches,
thermal springs and the magical nature
reserve of Selva del Lamone to explore.
Unicorn Trails? Equestrian Traditions of
Maremma tour even lets you camp out
with the butteri, the Tuscan cowboys
who?ve been riding these high plains for
centuries. Yee-haw!
Seven nights from �299pp, full-board,
excluding flights; unicorntrails.com. Fly
to Rome with BA, easyJet or Ryanair
ALL GREEK IN SICILY
Athens isn?t the only place to appreciate
the finest Greek temples of the ancient
world ? Sicily has a host of fabulous
contenders. Real Holidays has a classical
tour that starts with two days in Palermo,
staying at the funky BB22 B&B, with visits
to the Doric temple of Segesta and its
windswept hilltop amphitheatre. It gets
even better at Agrigento and the Valle
dei Templi, where the remains of seven
vast temples from the 5th century BC
necessitate a couple of nights at the
stylish Mandranova olive-oil farm, with
its first-class home cooking. Stay at the
elegant Masseria Mandrascate for the
outstanding Roman mosaics of the Villa
Romana del Casale, in Piazza Armerina,
ending with two nights at the Algila, in
gorgeous Ortygia, to check out the huge
Greek theatre and the prison cave of
Dionysius?s Ear.
Nine nights from �5pp, B&B, including
flights and car hire; realholidays.co.uk
The Eternal City offers kids the perfect
combination of enthralling history (the
mighty Colosseum will thrill budding
gladiators), vast green spaces (local
children spend Sunday cycling, karting
and generally running riot in the Villa
Borghese park), tiptop pizza (try the pizza
rossa from the Forno Campo de? Fiori;
from �a slice; fornocampodefiori.com)
and endless ice cream ? we love the
white chocolate at Gelateria del Teatro
(from � gelateriadelteatro.it). Why not
try an apartment for a touch of home
from home? Rome Sweet Home has lots
of family-friendly options: a bright
two-bedroom flat with a terrace in
Campo de? Fiori would suit a family of
four, and prices start at �0 a night
(romesweethome.com).
Fly to Rome with BA, easyJet or Ryanair
10 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Italy special
T
he Roman poet Virgil, who
went to school in Cremona, in
Lombardy, wrote many things
that are plangent and true.
?Wherever the fates lead us,
let us follow,? he advised. ?I fear the
Greeks, even when they bring gifts,? he
warned. ?There?s a snake lurking in the
grass,? he warned some more. It?s good
stuff. And, if you want to live a fruitful life,
you can do a lot worse than follow his
pronouncements. But had I listened too
carefully to Virgil when he said ?Hug the
shore, let others try the deep?, I would
not have turned off the motorway
between Milan and Venice, or headed
down into the unfamiliar stretches of the
Po Valley, or decided to stop in Cremona.
And that would have been tragic.
Music lovers will know Cremona best as
the home town of Antonio Stradivari, and
it?s fair to say that wherever you turn in the
city, some part of his shadow falls across
the vista. To the left and the right, there
are traditional luthiers making violins and
cellos: more luthiers than you can shake
a bow at. And the violin museum, filled
with priceless instruments, is a dizzying
musical destination. I was half expecting
Cremona to be full of Strad stuff. It was the
other things on offer that surprised me.
In particular, there was Cremona?s
unusually beautiful historic centre, and
the fine architectural goodies clustered
around its central square. I have visited a
lot of Italian squares. In my line of work ?
art critic of The Sunday Times ? it?s an
occupational must. Many are pleasing.
But none is quite as perfectly pleasurable
as the Piazza del Comune, in Cremona.
STRINGS
ATTACHED
The Renaissance city of Cremona is the home of the
Stradivarius and ? in Waldemar Januszczak?s expert
opinion ? has Italy?s most beautiful town square
Cathedral on one side. Tower next
to cathedral. Perfect cobbles. Kids
playing football. Tasty Cremonese food
establishments ringing the perimeter.
All in perfect harmony with each other.
Damn it, Virgil said that ?fortune favours
the bold?, so I am going to be superbold
and announce that, in my opinion, the
medieval square of Cremona is the
prettiest square in Italy.
The tallest building on the square is
the bell tower ? the torrazzo ? completed
in 1309. At 370ft, it is the tallest brick
structure in Italy. A third of the way up is
a huge astronomical clock ? the largest
Bergamo
Milan
LOMBARDY
E35
CREMONA
E70
20 miles
River Po
Parma
in the world ? covered in zodiac signs.
It was started in 1583, at the height of the
Renaissance, and brought a smile to my
face. The Renaissance is supposed to be
a great period of enlightenment, yet here
they all are demanding a daily horoscope.
The cathedral, started in 1107, then
fiddled with for the next five centuries,
is one of those hotchpotches of styles and
materials that ought to be a mess, but
which through a magic glue peculiar to
Italy hangs together perfectly. Covered in
pink Verona marble, the facade dances
through the ages as it passes through a
band of superb medieval sculpture,
TAKE A BOW
Cremona?s
bellissima
town square
BLUE JAY PHOTO, VCG WILSON/GETTY
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 11
then a gothic rose window, then a row
of wonky Renaissance saints, before
culminating in a cheeky classical
pediment. A gift from Greece!
Inside, the huge spaces are covered
with an unusual number of frescoes.
The guidebook boasts, a tad optimistically,
of this being ?the Sistine Chapel of
northern Italy?, and there is certainly a
lot to look at. Above the altar, Boccaccio
Boccaccino?s Christ in Judgment looks
down at us from his golden throne and
decides whether we have been good
or bad. Ouch. At the other end of the
church, above the exit door, a giant
Golgotha by the underrated Pordenone
hammers nails of guilt into us with a
ferociously crucified Christ. Ouch,
ouch, ouch.
It?s powerful stuff, and the fact that it
sits behind such a beguiling pink facade
makes it feel like a clever trap. On the
other hand, Cremona clearly loves beauty
for the sake of it, as the city?s intense
relationship with music keeps making
evident. It wasn?t only Stradivari
who came from here. So too did
Monteverdi, the first giant of opera.
And, although Strad is the most
famous of all violin makers, his fellow
Cremonese magicians, the Amati,
the Guarneri, were cut from the
same exquisite maple.
Most streets near the cathedral still
seem to have a luthier at work in them,
busily fashioning new instruments in
the old ways. None of them seemed
to mind me popping in to pester
them and watch how it is done.
As for why Strad was the best,
that would be the wood he used,
they tell me. Get a luthier talking
about wood and they will
continue at greater length than
a Monteverdi vesper.
So that?s fun. But the most
intense musical joy to be had in
Cremona is a visit to the city?s unique
Violin Museum. Here, you can stroll
among surviving Strads whose fiscal value
starts in the low millions, but whose
musical worth is priceless. And it?s not
just violins. Strad also made guitars and
cellos. They are all here. And a specially
constructed echo space allows you to sit
inside and experience the full detail of the
Strad sound.
This year, by the way, Cremona is
hosting the world championships of
musical-instrument-making ? the 15th
International Stradivarius Triennale ?
in which instrument makers from around
the world compete to find the best.
It?s on from September 7 to October 14,
and will feature lots of playing as well
as lots of making.
For hotels, you could risk doing
what I did and drive as near to the
centre as you can, where I found
the excellent and traditional Hotel
Impero, halfway between the
cathedral and the Violin Museum.
?Fate will find a way,? Virgil said
encouragingly.
For food, wander round the back
of the cathedral. The smell of mustard
drew me into the Taverna la Botte,
where the pumpkin tortelli was
excellent and where they serve
the much-trumpeted local
speciality ? cheese in a fruity
mustard sauce. Delicious. It?s
enough to make you hum a
Monteverdi madrigal.
A Stradivarius,
made c1685
Fly to Bergamo with Ryanair or
to Milan Linate with Alitalia,
British Airways or easyJet. Doubles
at the Hotel Impero start at �,
B&B (hotelimpero.cr.it). Mains at
the Taverna la Botte start at �
(www.tavernalabotte.org)
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 13
Travel Italy special
P
PETER ADAMS/GETTY; STEFAN HUWILER/ALAMY
uglia is a state of mind. Its
ruins may not be up to the
standard of Rome?s, and its
beaches can?t compete with
those in other parts of the
country, but the slowed-down pace of
life on the heel of Italy is irresistible.
Lettuces sprout in olive groves, the
Adriatic and Ionian seas fuse leisurely at
the southern tip, and in the cartoon-cute
Valle d?Itria, whitewashed hilltop towns
lord it over hobbit-like trulli.
This is a huge region. Yet, aside from the
beaches of the rugged Gargano Peninsula
(the spur of the boot), most of what you?re
coming for is in the navigable area south
of Bari. The stretch down to Brindisi is a
sequence of medieval fishing villages, and
beyond is the Salento Peninsula, a wild
land of prehistoric dolmens squatting in
flower-filled fields, and villages where time
seemingly stopped in the 1950s. Puglia is
the spot for sea, sun and seriously good
food. Down at heel? Not a chance.
WHAT TO DO
History is everywhere, from coastal
towers built to repel Saracen invaders to
frescoed medieval churches, hewn from
canyon cliffs. Best of all is Egnazia, an
ancient beachside settlement south of
Monopoli. Amid olive groves and
vegetable fields, there?s a Messapian
necropolis, a Roman town (with an
amphitheatre, baths and a portion of
the cobbled Appian Way) and Byzantine
ramparts on the shoreline beside the
Roman harbour (�50; egnazia.eu).
Puglia produces more wine than
Australia ? at least, so the locals say ?
and Vetrere winery, near Taranto, is a
good place to try some. The sisters who
own it produce 15 wines, including the
bestselling Cr�, made from minutolo
grapes ? a medieval variety recently saved
from extinction. Tastings are available on
request, and include a tour and a flight of
three wines (�; vetrere.it).
Children will love the Castellana
Caves, in Castellana Grotte, a two-mile
subterranean network of cathedral-like
spaces and canyons filled with stalactites
and stalagmites. Just beware the lacklustre
commentary: ?This formation looks like a
prosciutto? is less than illuminating (from
�; grottedicastellana.it).
Not all coastlines are created equal;
while the Ionian side is better for beaches,
the Adriatic coastline is Amalfi-grade,
only with fewer midlife-crisis cars. Hit the
road at Otranto, after popping into the
cathedral to marvel at its 12th-century
mosaic carpet, with cameos from King
Arthur, an elephant and a particularly
sexy siren. Then drive round the coast to
Leuca, the cliff-cut road rollercoastering
up and down through a landscape of wild
prickly pears and carob trees, past tiny
fishing villages and the belle 閜oque spa
town of Santa Cesarea Terme.
PERFECT
PUGLIA
It?s our region of the year. Here?s how to get straight to
the best bits of Italy?s laid-back heel. By Julia Buckley
Vieste
Adriatic
Sea
Gargano
Peninsula
Bari Monopoli
PUGLIA
Egnazia
Ostuni
Alberobello
Taranto
Brindisi
BASILICATA
Lecce
Porto Cesareo
THE BEACHES
It has the longest coastline in Italy, but
Puglia can disappoint in the beach stakes
? most of it is rocky, with the few sandy
coves crowded during the season. So
venture north to Gargano, where pretty
fishing towns such as Vieste are bordered
by thick sandy strips. At Spiaggia del
Castello, sunloungers share the sand
with a Colgate-white 80ft pillar of rock.
In Salento, Gallipoli?s finely sanded bay
becomes party central in summer, with
wall-to-wall beach clubs. Rather quieter is
the deliciously named Punta Prosciutto,
10 miles north of Porto Cesareo, where
shrub-covered dunes lead to a wedge of
beach. At Torre Pali, a fishing village
west of Leuca, a ruined 16th-century
watchtower squats off the sandy beach.
Nearby is Pescoluse, which locals claim
is Salento?s version of the Maldives, with
dunes tapering to shallow waters.
Ionian Sea
Gallipoli
Otranto
Leuca
20 miles
WHERE TO EAT
SUN SHADE
Spiaggia del
Castello?s pillar.
Top, Alberobello
Hilltop
towns lord it
over hobbitlike trulli
For a superb fish dinner, visit Monopoli
and La Torretta del Pescatore, which
offers a modern take on the hyper-local
seafood tradition: slow-cooked octopus,
marinated red mullet and carpaccioed
bream, teamed with things like wild
onions and cream of mozzarella (mains
from �.50; latorrettadelpescatore.com).
Puglia?s speciality is antipasto: not
a meat-laden platter, as in other parts of
Italy, but a tasting menu of small(ish)
dishes. La Nicchia, 12 miles inland
from Monopoli, isn?t the trullo tourist
trap it looks like, and serves a 12-course
antipasto that doubles as a weekly
ration of your five-a-day: dishes include
stuffed mushrooms, artichoke gratin,
fried broad beans, baked aubergine and
vegetable tempura (antipasto �.50;
ristorantelanicchia.it).
The area around Brindisi is known for
ricci, or sea urchins. At Forcatella beach,
you?ll find a clutch of shack-restaurants
serving them straight from the water;
Ricciolandia is a third-generation
outfit that?s open daily for lunch from
February to November, plus dinner from
June to September (though the ricci are
meatiest off-season). For the real Pugliese
experience, go on a packed Sunday
lunchtime (mains � 00 39 338 357 3010).
To make a dent in the overwhelming
array of local specialities, try a freshly
baked puccia (a rounder, fluffier focaccia)
at the Baguetteria De Pace, in Gallipoli
(open March-October; from �50;
facebook.com/baguetteriadepace). Fill it
with any of their 24 cured meats, 16 types
of cheese, pur閑s, p鈚閟 and vegetables ?
you pay by the ingredient.
WHERE TO STAY
Puglia has largely avoided standard-issue
hotels, instead repurposing vacant
buildings as accommodation. The blocky,
whitewashed masseria ? a fortified
farmhouse converted into lodgings ?
is the region?s signature hotel. Masseria
Le Carrube, near Ostuni, is a boho little
pad with 15 rooms, a vegetarian Sunday
buffet beloved by locals (�pp) and
yoga classes in the centuries-old olive
groves (doubles from �3, B&B;
masserialecarrubeostuni.it).
Alberghi diffusi ? ?scattered hotels?,
with rooms occupying former housing in
towns depleted by postwar emigration ?
are also big. Albergo Diffuso Monopoli
has 23 rooms within walking distance
of the lobby/bar Caffe nel Chiasso. Most
are former flats sculpted from local tufa
stone and surrounded by full-time
neighbours (doubles from �, B&B;
albergodiffusomonopoli.it).
In baroque Lecce, La Fiermontina is a
modern respite from the frilly surrounds
? 16 rooms with contemporary art on walls
of creamy local stone, and an olive-filled
garden. The in-house chef Simone Solido?s
star is on the rise for the veg-heavy menu
inspired by his nonna (doubles from �9,
B&B; www.lafiermontina.com).
Self-catering? It has to be a trullo.
Most are rented by the week ? Quality
Villas has a good selection (from �5;
qualityvillas.com), as does Discovery
Puglia (from �3; discoverypuglia.com).
Charming Trulli has 10 properties in
trullo-tastic Alberobello, available by the
night (from �3; charmingtrulli.com).
GETTING THERE
Ryanair flies from Stansted to Bari and
Brindisi all year, and seasonally from
Liverpool to Bari and Manchester to
Brindisi. EasyJet and British Airways have
summer services to both airports.
14 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Italy special
Prosecco is now Britain?s favourite
te
bubbly. On a road trip through
the Veneto, Mia Aimaro Ogden
toasts its most sparkling makers
F
ifty million litres ? that?s how
much prosecco we drank in
the UK last year. It amounts to
one heck of a hangover, and
makes us the largest consumers
outside Italy. But how much do we really
know about the country?s finest fizz,
and about the Veneto, the intoxicating
landscape where it?s produced?
The Strada del Prosecco (Prosecco
Route) follows a 30-mile loop through the
hills behind Venice. Italy?s tiddliest road, it
weaves from Conegliano to Valdobbiadene
and back again, through patchwork
vineyards, past medieval villages and
snowy Alpine crests. And while the Brits
don?t think twice about popping over to
northeastern France for a few days on the
champers, this route promises a rather
different adventure.
?We?re making a high-end product in
a beautiful landscape, and we want to
show off those qualities,? says the
producer Pietro De Conti, of Pdc. ?Think
of it this way ? if ordinary prosecco is a
Fiat, then the DOCG we make locally is
an Alfa Romeo, and our top-end Cartizze
is a Ferrari.?
These peaks are little more than an
hour?s drive from Venice, but their appeal
is worlds away. On a spring morning, the
vineyards are perfectly still. The hilltop
villages, ancient castles and bell towers
on the terraced slopes bask in the early
sunshine. It?s the ideal time for a tasting.
My first stop is Marchiori, in pretty
Farra di Soligo. Producing 40,000 bottles
a year, this family business is small in
prosecco terms. Sara is its third
generation, and at 10am she has me
drinking eight-week-old wine (it will go
on sale in spring) from gigantic steel vats
and identifying scents in a blind nose
test. It?s not as easy as you might think: I
fail on honey, sage and apple, almost get
mandarin and ID the lemon first time.
One tasting and I?m already ? well, let?s
call it cheery. Not a problem: I have a
driver-guide, provided by a company
that has handily packaged up the circuit.
As we dip in and out of fairy-tale forests,
and stop to admire the frescoes in the
11th-century church of San Pietro di
Feletto, my guide outlines the science
part. How, to qualify as prosecco, the wine
must be made up of at least 85% glera
FIZZICAL EDUCA
DRINK IT IN
Prosecco
vineyards in
Valdobbiadene
Good
prosecco
doesn?t
give you a
hangover
grapes; how the superior DOCG
(Denominazione di Origine Controllata
e Garantita) only comes from the Strada
del Prosecco; and how the gold standard,
Cartizze, which sells for � a bottle, is
grown on a single hill, where a hectare of
land will cost you �75m. It?s the most
expensive wine real estate in Europe.
Lunch isn?t in a restaurant, but in the
hilltop home of Giancarlo Adorno, a
Venetian lawyer who produces 10,000
bottles of DOCG on the side.
?Passion doesn?t pay,? he says.
?Prosecco isn?t the way to get
rich.? The increased yield and, as
he sees it, falling standards are
making him angry ? so angry that
he keeps on topping up my glass,
to better appreciate the quality of
his product. His partner brings
out a hearty pumpkin risotto.
?You could drink a bottle of my
wine on an empty stomach, with
no headache,? Adorno says. But I
eat two helpings, just in case.
The sun is setting on the big-bucks
Cartizze hill as I climb up to Osteria
Senz?Oste. This is a hostelry without a
host ? the owner, Cesare De Stefani, is
rarely seen ? a tiny hut where you help
yourself to bread, salami and, of course,
prosecco, putting your money in the tin.
This I do, then sit out at one of three
ramshackle tables and watch the mist
come down over the vineyards. Aperitivi
don?t come much lovelier than this.
My base for the night is the Relais
Monaco hotel, south of the route. After
dinner at its La Vigna restaurant ?
a langoustine gratin with, yes,
5 miles
Villa Abbazia
Cartizze
Conegliano
Marchiori
Bisol
PROSECCO
Valdobbiadene
ROUTE
Relais
Monaco
A 27
SLOW IMAGES/GETTY
ATION
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 15
Venice
15 miles
Treviso
another bottle of wine ? I stumble to bed
in the full expectation of a pounding head.
But in the morning, something marvellous
occurs: I feel fine. So I have to believe
what they?ve been telling me: quality
prosecco doesn?t give you a hangover.
The next day begins with a stiff
espresso regardless, at buzzy Bar Fontana,
in medieval Conegliano, followed by a
swerve through Follina, where the
12th-century Cistercian abbey of Santa
Maria is as gorgeous as anything I have
seen. But my priority is the Bisol estate, in
Valdobbiadene, run by a family known as
prosecco royalty who produce 5m bottles
a year. The oenologist here, Desiderio
Bisol, has a theory about the popularity of
prosecco that?s refreshingly unscientific:
?It?s not a formal wine, it?s a drink for
friends. And there?s never the fear that a
bottle has gone bad, like there is with
champagne. You can be sure of prosecco ?
and you can?t say that about many things.?
A tour of the winery reveals a hi-tech
production plant built over vaulted cellars
that hold bottles from as far back as 1875.
Ancient wine presses retain the scent of
100-year-old grapes. As we taste, Bisol
explains the way we perceive flavours on
the tongue, pick apart the elements of
sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami. After
two days of sniffing, swirling and slurping,
identifying the Cartizze is child?s play.
With the remains of a bottle bagged up,
I head to Salis, on the side of the Cartizze
hill, for a last dinner of mozzarella and
radicchio tortelli. My final night is at Villa
Abbazia, back in Follina, a deliciously
eccentric hotel in an 18th-century villa
whose excellent restaurant is a popular
hangout for local prosecco producers.
Here, they tell me the story of when
Cesare De Stefani, of Osteria Senz?Oste,
was landed with a huge tax bill a couple
of years back. He couldn?t afford to pay,
so instead he took Onesta, one of his
cows, to the tax office in town. ?I don?t
have the cash, so I?m leaving her here,?
he told the bemused official.
That?s the kind of guy I want making
my prosecco.
Mia Aimaro Ogden was a guest of Grape
Escapes, which has Essential Prosecco
tours from �9pp, including two nights at
Relais Monaco (relaismonaco.it) and/or
Villa Abbazia (hotelabbazia.com), tastings,
breakfast, one lunch and one dinner
(01920 468666, grapeescapes.net). Fly to
Venice with BA or to Treviso with Ryanair.
Marchiori (marchioriwines.com) and
Bisol (bisol.it) have tastings from �pp.
Mains at Salis start at � (salisristorante.it)
16 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Italy special
FULL-FLAVOU
U
For the best lunch in Tuscany, keep it
old school, says the Sunday Times
restaurant critic Marina O?Loughlin
O
n the surface, Florence is
open about its vast trove
of treasures, but in reality
the city doesn?t give up
all of its secrets without a
fight. Like the austere, blank-fronted
side streets where you occasionally
glimpse the most riotous interior
courtyard gardens, it has a tendency
to hug many of its beauties close
to itself.
The city?s myriad trattorie and
osterie, ristoranti and fiaschetterie
are forever dressed in their glitziest
drag, issuing a powerful siren call
to a particular breed of greedy
traveller. (Me, basically.) But it?s not
immediately apparent from the
seductive exteriors which is a terrible
tourist-fleecing joint and which is
the real deal. Most of the usual
signifiers are rendered redundant.
Menus translated into three
languages, for instance, are usually
a screeching no-no, but even some
of the good ones do this, so finding
where to eat is always an adventure.
Ask 20 experts and you?ll get 20
answers. And probably a bit of a fight,
with one favourite being dismissed as
solo per turisti, another scornfully
rejected since the chef moved on. Add
to that the fact that every
restaurant in the city
appears to have
a score of 4.5
on the dreaded
TripAdvisor,
and it?s very
much every man
for himself.
I?m not going to
pretend to be an expert,
but I do more wandering
about and talking to locals
about restaurants ? including
my foodie sister, who lives here ?
than most normal people do.
COM0
GOES
ELECTRIC
Tesla has sponsored a new
scheme on the A-list lake.
Mia Aimaro Ogden plugs in
L
ake Como, in northwest Italy,
is the ultimate in glam: flash
supercars are parked up next
to the water; megayachts float
on it. Yet one intrepid resident
is turning this gas-guzzling notion of la
dolce vita on its head. She wants to flip
the switch and make Como the first
electric holiday destination in Europe.
Judith Wade moved to Italy from the
UK in 1972 and founded Grandi Giardini
Italiani, a network that gets visitors into
the country?s most splendid private
gardens. Her latest project, Como: The
Electric Lake, is all about preserving this
lush landscape for future generations ?
and the best way to do that, she says, is
to cut pollution by upping the number of
electric vehicles on and around the lake.
Como was, after all, the home town of
Alessandro Volta, inventor of the battery.
Funded by Tesla, and with the backing
of local government, hotels and tourist
This time, I?m consciously avoiding the
new wave of young guns, the Michelin
pretenders, the overdesigned and
overhyped, and have set out to indulge my
fetish for the traditional, the cooking of
nonne and casalinghe, the old warhorses
unchanged by decades or fashions. I won?t
attempt to convince that any of these is
the best in the city ? in one instance, it?s
not even the best on its street ? but they
are essentially, exquisitely Florentine.
And that in itself is delicious.
The last time I went to Sostanza, doing
its thing on a gritty side street near Santa
Maria Novella since 1869, it was very much
under the radar. Its Fiorentina steaks ?
vast T-bone cuts of rare-breed Chianina
beef blasted over hot coals to a blackened
exterior and a juicy, rosy inside, simply
seasoned with oil and salt ? were a local
secret. (Don?t even think about ordering
steak well done anywhere in Florence.)
Sostanza has now been very much
discovered, especially by Americans.
In Italy, Florence isn?t really regarded
as a place of culinary pilgrimage.
Florentines are caustically dismissed as
bean-eaters, and the hardcore gourmand
heads for Bologna, the Langhe or Puglia.
But Americans love it, partly thanks to the
recently disgraced celebrity chef Mario
Batali?s evangelism for all things Tuscan.
And the US?s love of enormous steaks.
Even so, I do love Tuscan cooking. The
simplicity means nowhere to hide and
therefore unimpeachable raw ingredients:
Sostanza?s forte. Quantities of artichoke
nestling in a complicated folded omelette
tortina; tiny meat-filled tortellini al burro
(topped with a thick slab of cold butter!);
a hearty ?peasant? soup. Every tourist
comes for the butter chicken, seared to
a crust outside and spitting seductive
dairy fat as lemons are squeezed on top.
Locals do still come here, and the veteran
waiters have a nice line in silencing tables
of screechy foreign youth (mains from �
Via Porcellana 25).
attractions, 19 charging posts have been
installed around the perimeter of the
Electric Lake. Usage is free for local
residents and guests of the hotels signed
up to the scheme. Boats, and even
bicycles, are going electric, too
With electric cars an increasingly
common sight on British roads, you might
already be considering trading in your
old unleaded for an e-version. Would a
weekend at Lake Como sell me on the
electric lifestyle? And would an e-fuelled
holiday be fun ? or a bit underpowered?
My electric odyssey begins in a parking
space in front of Milan Linate airport,
where the door of a Renault Zoe opens
via a code texted to me by E-Vai (www.
e-vai.com). It?s a car-sharing scheme, a
bit like Zipcar in the UK, but all the
vehicles are electric. So far, so hi-tech.
The noiseless 45-minute drive to Como
(maximum speed 60mph) is mostly me in
the slow lane, frustrated by the lack of
In all honesty, I can?t rhapsodise to the
same extent about the food at La Mescita,
the very definition of hole-in-the-wall,
seconds away from where hundreds of
people queue daily to see Michelangelo?s
David. It?s just a handful of seats and a
CLEAR THE AIR
Varenna, on
Lake Como
SWITZERLAND
Colico
Lake Como
Como
ITALY
Milan
20 miles
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 17
LEONORI, JACZHOU/GETTY; STEFANO AMANTINI/4CORNERS
URED
U
FLORENCE
From far left, a
hearty ribollita;
Sostanza,
formerly a local
secret; the
Duomo; and
peposo, beef
slow-cooked in
oodles of wine
BLANCA SANCHEZ/GETTY
counter, rows of wine bottles disguising
the fact that there are only two wines on
offer, house red and house white, ?1.50
a glass. But it?s a joy. I love its poignant
little exterior: it was an oil and wine shop
back in 1927, and the ancient foxed sign
Don?t even
think about
ordering
your steak
well done
anywhere
in Florence
still reads only Vini. The food is basic:
the locals? favourite, chicken liver crostini,
a couple of pastas ? wild boar, maybe,
or saffron and zucchini ? some form
of soup or stew, frequently the city?s
beloved trippa (tripe). It will never garner
any culinary awards, but lunch for two
of us cost � and left us feeling a touch
misty-eyed (Via degli Alfani 70).
Tableclothed Ristorante Cafaggi is
far more upscale, a 1922-vintage former
vinaio that has remained in the same
family over the decades; although,
post renovations as a result of the Arno
flood in 1966, the look is now a slice of
perfectly preserved 1960s. It?s rammed
with extended parties of locals, business
associates and family groups, the
Florentine middle classes at play.
Over dinner here, my sister tells me
about Stendhal syndrome (aka Florence
syndrome): faintness and palpitations
brought the author to a dizzy swoon
after a surfeit of the local Renaissance
beauty. I think he would have survived
much of Florence?s culinary output, with
its disdain for fancy-pants presentation.
The food at Cafaggi is gloriously,
unabashedly brown: gnocchi laden with
a rich meat ragu; a deeply flavoured
soup of farro (spelt); slabs of fried
artichokes; peposo, a local favourite, beef
slow-cooked in oodles of wine, studded
with whole black peppercorns and
spooned over toasted Tuscan bread. It
may not be photogenic, but it tastes
divine. This excellent period piece is
about as Tuscan as it gets (mains from �
www.ristorantecafaggi.it).
It would be easy to miss L?Antico Noe,
in a sketchy arcaded alleyway near Santa
Croce, but this unassuming joint has been
serving its celebrated panini ? Florentines
have quite the passion for sandwiches ?
to queues of students and workers for
more than 70 years. So successful are
these, it has spawned a sibling in New
York. But its less well-known restaurant
next door, the apex of grungy chic, mustn?t
be overlooked. It?s the place to come for
vast fried blossoms of artichoke on top of
cured Tuscan ham (far saltier than its
Parma cousin, possibly to counteract the
weird Florentine habit of not salting their
bread); trippa alla Fiorentina; ribollita,
the beloved bread, bean and vegetable
soup; pastas with porcini.
Later in the year, it goes big on the
truffles that grow locally, around Mugello
and San Miniato: over steak, shaved
through fat ribbons of tagliatelle ? and
how can you not love somewhere that
offers two fried eggs scattered with the
perfumed tuber (Volta di San Piero 6;
sandwiches from �50; mains from �?
There are loads of old-school
restaurants in Florence I love for different
reasons: Cammillo for its courtly service,
Al Tranvai for the ribollita, Alla Vecchia
Bettola for its good times, and so many
more. But the ones that sing to me are
those, like the ones above, that make me
poke when I hit the accelerator. But can I
take off my petrolhead and start thinking
eco? The service costs � a day. I could
get a petrol Fiat 500 for about � a day,
so initially it seems a pricy option.
In Como, I hop on an e-bike from
Stunning Bike Co-Tours. This is cycling
with minimum effort, perfect for a hot
summer day ? all that?s required is a half
turn of the pedals every 30 seconds or so.
I?m trialling a programme, guided by
iPad, that explores the historic centre.
It?s an entertaining way to spend an
afternoon ? though obviously not as eco
as a regular pushbike (�pp for three
hours; www.stunningbikecotours.com).
My car has been charging by the railway
station since I arrived. The post belongs to
E-Vai, so it?s free, and easy to use ? you
really do just stick in a plug ? but it?s a slow
affair, and after three hours I?m still only
at 60%. Is there enough juice to get me
to dinner at Villa d?Este, Como?s fanciest
old-school hotel? Thankfully, yes ? it?s only
10 minutes away, but I?m down to 55% when
I arrive. The hotel has a charging station,
and there are a couple of big-bucks Teslas
already in the car park. Dinner is an
extravagant suit-and-tie affair on the
terrace ? no hippie eco-types in sight.
The following day, it?s a drive to Villa
Carlotta?s lush gardens. I plug in next
door, at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo,
where my little e-Renault looks lost amid
the supercar crowd. Over lunch at the
glam T Bar, which juts out into the lake,
a driver from Milan starts to chat about
the scheme. ?It?s the first, vital step,? he
tells me. ?The lake is for all of us. If we
don?t stop polluting it, its beauty will be
lost.? I don?t ask how he squares his
philosophy with the Ferrari he?s parked
next to my Zoe.
Finally, on to Colico, a battery-sapping
90 minutes away. This is the last stop on
my e-adventure: testing one of a small
MARINA?S ITALIAN TOP 3
Il Consiglio di Sicilia,
Donnalucata, Sicily
In a tiny seaside town, Antonio Cicero
and Roberta Corradin were at the
forefront of the new Sicilian culinary
heritage movement: ancient varieties
of wheat and beans ? even chocolate.
In their pretty restaurant, try spaghetti
taratata, with bottarga, orange zest
and breadcrumbs.
Mains from �.50;
facebook.com/ilconsigliodisicilia
Antica Osteria da Caran,
La Spezia, Liguria
As a teenager, I knew this just as
Caran, and adored it ? despite my
relatives dismissing its trademark dish,
mes-ciua, an olive-oily soup of wheat,
chickpeas and beans, as ?food for
turkeys?. In the sprawling courtyard,
they do a magnificent farinata
(chickpea pancake) and sgabei,
fried dough sticks eaten with soft
stracchino cheese or cured meats.
Mains from �.50;
www.osteriadacaran.com
Cibus, Ceglie Messapica, Puglia
I still fantasise about the cheese room
in this whitewashed former convent.
And the wheat grains dressed in a
fondue of caciocavallo cheese and
Murgia truffle are the perfect marriage
of prole and posh. Meats are a
speciality: slow-roasted lamb, a mixed
plate of kid, and donkey. (Well, it is
Puglia.) The kitchen is mostly staffed
by women, and the owner, Lillino
Silibello, is a fanatic ? in the best way.
Mains from � ristorantecibus.it
feel like I?m starring in a black-and-white
film. It may not be Italy?s most
sophisticated cuisine, but the Florentine
kitchen dishes up food to soothe the most
jaded soul. Just don?t ask me to eat
another street-food bun stuffed with
lampredotto ? the cow?s fourth stomach,
and even tripier than tripe. Grazie, no.
Fly to Florence with BA CityFlyer, CityJet
or Vueling
fleet of electric boats (� for an hour;
www.econoleggiocomolake.it). I glide
out towards the glorious Pian di Spagna
nature reserve in a Micro Watt 5.0 at
a leisurely six knots. With no engine
noise, I can creep up on the wildlife
unannounced. A roe deer only runs off
when I?m 10ft away.
I?m sold on Como?s glamorous electric
dream ? even though it costs a little
more then your average petrolhead hols.
And, as Ferrari Guy says: ?My car is
certainly cool. What?s not cool is what
it?s doing to the lake.?
Mia Aimaro Ogden was a guest of Grandi
Giardini Italiani, E-Vai, Hotel Terminus
and British Airways. BA flies to Milan
Linate from Stansted, London City and
Heathrow; from � return (ba.com). Hotel
Terminus has doubles from �1, B&B
(albergoterminus.it). For more on Como:
The Electric Lake, visit grandigiardini.it
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 19
Travel Italy special
HOW TO BE ITALIAN
Francesca Angelini?s tips on driving, selfies and flirting
BREAKFAST
Italians don?t do it. Eggs are for pasta,
not scrambling. Toast is such a novelty,
there isn?t even a translation for it.
They call it ?toast? ? pronounced ?tost?.
Instead, stride into a local bar, lean
louchely against the counter and order
?un espresso?. If you?re really hungry,
you can have a cornetto. That?s the pastry
that looks deceptively like a lovely buttery
French croissant. But really isn?t.
COFFEE
A cappuccino is only to be ordered before
11am. A corretto is largely made up of
grappa, so save it for the alcoholic aunt.
Ask for a latte only if you want a glass of
milk. An americano is not a thing.
PASSION
don?t kick off. Always
flirt with the attractive
lifeguard.
Raise your standard decibel levels by
at least 25% during the day, 40% at
mealtimes. You?re not arguing, you?re
simply passionate. Same goes for PDAs.
If you haven?t touched your partner for 25
years, the promenade benches of Italy are
the place to rediscover snogging. Ramp it
up if you?re a septuagenarian. You should
also flirt surreptitiously with others?
wives/husbands/partners/daughters.
STYLE
Men: swim shorts
should be tight and
skimpy. Body hair is
out (on legs, too).
Women: the
dress code is
funeral chic.
Sunglasses
must be
worn all year
round.
OFFSPRING
Encourage them to be as brattish,
obnoxious and dictatorial as possible.
Misbehaviour should be greeted with a pat
on the head. Children should not be put to
bed until at least 1am. They may also
smoke as much as they like.
BEACHES
Most Italian families have been booking
out the same umbrella and sunlounger
spot for all of July and August for the best
part of 45 years. Just because there?s no
one sitting there the day you pitch up, it
doesn?t mean they?re not reserved. So,
when the (always attractive) lifeguard
seats you at the umbrella at the back,
FRANK CHMURA/ALAMY
U
ntil I was 15, I only ever
holidayed in Italy. My Italian
father?s extended family
wanted to spend as much
time as possible with their
blond, pale relatives, and I soon learnt
that the only way to avoid inane questions
about marmalade and the Queen was to
feign being Italian. Blending in is now a
well-honed skill. Here?s how. Take heed.
The highway code,
Italian-style
SUNDAYS
Accompany the elderly to church,
preferably to a Mass conducted in Latin
and lasting at least five hours. Follow this
by going to a football match, where you
should take as many selfies as possible.
DRIVING
Fairly obvious: ignore most pedestrian
crossings and, if you?re in the south,
anything that feels like an instruction.
GAMBLING
Pick up a deck of Italian cards (the
suits are swords, cups, coins and
clubs ? don?t ask) and teach yourself
briscola. Engage the locals in a
game over an aperitivo. That?s the
snack selection with drinks most
bars offer from 6pm. And the
food may be free, but that
doesn?t mean you need three
plates of it. The signora next to
you will be nibbling hers elegantly.
Watch and learn. Then flirt with her.
DINNER
Taken only after 10pm. Unless you
want the adjacent table to refer
to you as a maiale (that?s a pig),
don?t ask for a spoon to eat your
spaghetti. Twirling with a fork isn?t
that hard. Please don?t put cheese
on your shellfish risotto. In most
parts of Italy, a ciabatta is an old
slipper. Stick to focaccia. Do drink
wine, but not to slurring point.
Italians may always be loud and
frantically gesticulating, but they?re
never drunk.
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 21
Travel Italy special
AWAKENING/GETTY
BEST OF THE
YEAR AHEAD
AUGUST
Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro
It?s 150 years since Rossini?s death, and
his home town is pulling out all the stops,
with star-studded performances of The
Barber of Seville and The Voyage to Reims.
August 11-23; from �
rossinioperafestival.it
Get ready for fish, fireworks and fisticuffs
JANUARY
Carnival, Venice
The most glamorous pre-Lenten bash in
Europe goes all out, with two weeks of
riotous water parades and masked balls.
It?s still magical ? even after 900 years.
January 27-February 13; free;
carnevale.venezia.it
FEBRUARY
Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea
Oranges are your projectiles in this
gigantic, team-based food fight,
commemorating the Piedmont town?s
liberation from a 12th-century tyrant.
February 10-13; free;
storicocarnevaleivrea.it
APRIL
Happy birthday, Rome
The Eternal City celebrates its 2,771st
anniversary with a torchlit parade on the
Aventine Hill, gladiatorial displays at the
Circus Maximus, fireworks on the Tiber
and free entry to museums.
April 21-23; free; natalidiroma.it
MAY
Feast of San Domenico Abate, Cocullo
After Mass in the piazza of this Abruzzo
hill village, snake-charmers will drape
San Domenico?s statue with wriggling
serpents ? all apparently harmless ? and
parade it through the streets.
May 1; free; comune.cocullo.aq.it
Fish festival, Camogli
At a mega cook-in to celebrate their
patron saint, San Fortunato, fishermen
in the Ligurian village fry 3,000kg of
anchovies and hand them out to revellers.
May 13; free; liguriaguide.com
JUNE
Flower festival, Spello
The Infiorate sees this
Umbrian hill town carpeted
in flowers ? but they?re not
chucking down blooms any
old how. Participants paint
pictures with petals; mostly
religious, always extraordinary.
June 2 and 3; free; infioratespello.it
Umbria Jazz, Perugia
This 10-day jazz fest, celebrating its 45th
anniversary, is one of the most popular
events of its kind in Italy. Jamie Cullum
headlined last year; in 2018, it?s Massive
Attack, Pat Metheny and David Byrne.
July 13-22; gigs from �; umbriajazz.com
Venice Carnival.
Below, yellow
cards are hard to
come by at the
Calcio Storico
Calcio Storico, Florence
This crazy football-rugby-wrestling
hybrid, which originated in the 16th
century, is played in historical costume.
Four teams compete on Piazza Santa
Croce to win a Chianina veal calf.
Various, final on June 24; tickets from
�; calciostoricofiorentino.it
JULY
La Notte Rosa, Rimini
From Comacchio to Senigallia,
80 miles of the Italian Riviera
turn pink for this huge summer
party, with gigs, light shows,
outdoor clubs and general
high jinks. The hardcore
head for Rimini ? it?s the
centre of the action.
July 6; free; lanotterosa.it
La Notte Della Taranta, Puglia
Celebrating the traditional music of the
south, this series of small village concerts
culminates in a big gig at Melpignano,
headlined last year by Gregory Porter.
August 25; free; www.lanottedellataranta.it
SEPTEMBER
Terra Madre: Salone del Gusto, Turin
The artisan food fest takes over the
northern city, with pop-up restaurants,
food stalls and workshops.
September 20-24; prices vary;
salonedelgusto.com
OCTOBER
Truffle Fair, Alba
This kicks off with a concert and ends with
an auction ? a 1.3kg specimen sold for
more than �0,000 in 2010. In between
are tastings, workshops and food stalls.
October 6-November 25; from �
fieradeltartufo.org
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30 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel
KELLY CHENG, PETER BREGG/GETTY
MY HOLS
JULIEN TEMPLE
The film-maker hung out with a naked
Brigitte Bardot in St Tropez and got into
hot water with the Sex Pistols in Rio
My early childhood holidays
were spent in the south of
France. We?d drive our old
Peugeot 403 down there and
stay in a hacienda-style chateau just outside
St Tropez. Sometimes we were invited to
tea by a near neighbour, a woman who
would happily stroll around naked. We
were only eight or nine, but she liked us
because we were English. Some years
later, I realised it was Brigitte Bardot.
It wasn?t long before I was off
travelling round Europe with friends.
One year, we bought a 2CV and drove
it to Greece. When we reached
Athens, we celebrated by
driving it into the sea, so that
was that. I was broke, but
bumped into some guys
who said you could sell your
blood for cash. It seemed
like a good idea, so I sold
mine enough times to get
the money to head east.
I took a train through
Turkey and crossed
Afghanistan by horse,
trotting through pistachio
forests and surviving on
nuts and wild strawberries
en route to Kabul. In the
capital, I headed for the
British embassy, where I?d
been told you might get tea.
When I arrived, they were projecting the
movie The Go-Between on a sheet in the
garden, just as the sun was setting over
the Hindu Kush. It?s my most vivid image
of that long, rambling journey.
I first went to Rio with the Sex Pistols to
film The Great Rock ?n? Roll Swindle. We
shot the now Rotten-less band performing
on a raft in the bay, with Ronnie Biggs
fronting them. It was cloudy, so we
all took off our tops and ended up
horribly sunburnt. It ended with
them throwing all the gear in the
water. Unfortunately, it had been
rented from this dodgy guy, who
was not pleased. He wanted
his money, but Malcolm
McLaren didn?t have it, so
he flew back to the UK
and left me as collateral.
I ended up waiting six
weeks. I was broke, so
I survived on fruit and
explored the music
scene by blagging my
way into clubs.
A while ago, I began
making films about cities
with a powerful musical
soul, and Rio called me back.
I headed into the pacified
favelas to film, with a guide
toting an Uzi to protect me. At
night, the rival sound systems
Our experts
answer your
travel queries
HOLIDAY IN THE SUN
Machu Picchu, Peru
The film-maker Julien Temple,
65, got his break documenting
the rise of the Sex Pistols and
has directed music videos for
Duran Duran and Tom Petty,
as well as movies such as
Absolute Beginners. His latest
project, My Life Story, is a
film musical based on the
autobiographical stage show
of Suggs, the lead singer of
Madness, and will be screened
across the UK on Wednesday.
He lives in Somerset with his
wife, Amanda
all started to crank up the volume. I had no
ear protectors and my hearing still suffers.
The best family holiday I took was to
Peru. We stayed at the bottom of Machu
Picchu, got up early and climbed up to
the ancient city before the crowds arrived.
Finally, at midday, they started coming
up the mountain like locusts, ruining the
scene with their baseball caps and
anoraks. It transpired that there?d been an
election, and all the bus drivers had been
waiting for the polling stations to open.
I?m currently making a movie about
Ibiza. The best part of the island is the
north, away from the clubs and the
fleshpots. There are some oligarchs
building villas, but you still get a vision of
the Balearic utopia that attracted people
to it in the first place. There are locals up
in the hills who have never been to the
coast. I?m really attracted to
the arcadian rhythms of a
place like that. It?s paradise
lost, in a way.
Interview by Mike Pattenden
COMPETITION WIN A LUXURIOUS BREAK FOR TWO IN THE COTSWOLDS
WITH THE
LYGON ARMS,
IN BROADWAY
WHERE WAS I?
A mile across the water is a
town whose name features in
a famous list of 31 locations.
It was the birthplace, in 1802,
of a geologist: works include
The Old Red Sandstone.
During the summer, I could
catch a ferry there, reputedly
the only one of its kind on this
side of the country. For now,
though, I must be content
with a distant view from this
hamlet, the ferry?s northern
terminus. It was to this district
that Beatrice, now ?retired?,
first delivered in the 1980s.
A mile to my east are the
earthwork remains of a
12th-century castle. I, though,
motor northeast towards a
peninsula. In so doing, I pass
an airfield built in 1941, which
subsequently took an owlish
name. Twelve northeasterly
miles later, I reach the
peninsula?s tip, where I warily
leave the car. Warily because
earthquakes are not unheard
of here. They have been
known to rattle the glass in
this lighthouse, established
1830. At 135ft, it is one of the
country?s tallest.
Fortunately, there are no
earthquakes to rattle my
dentures today, so I retrace
my steps, thus passing within
a mile of a partly restored
16th-century Z-plan castle. A
little beyond, I turn west and
drive for nine miles until I
reach a second, coastal town.
Here, a saint (his day: March 8)
was buried in 1065.
I motor through the town
centre, where the road turns
northwest to lead, three miles
later, to an estuary bridge. It
was opened in 1991 and, when
built, was Europe?s longest
of its kind. I?m rather glad it
replaced the ferry, because,
judging by the traffic, I would
be in for a long wait. That or
a 30-mile diversion.
Chris Fautley
One dinner for two, excluding
wine, at the Lygon Bar & Grill
is included in the prize.
The hotel?s setting is hard
to beat: Chipping Campden
and Hidcote are nearby, and
there are dazzling views
across the Vale of Evesham
from Broadway Tower. For
more information, or to book,
call 01386 852255 or visit
lygonarmshotel.co.uk.
The prize must be taken
before June 30, 2018, subject
to availability and excluding
bank holidays, Valentine?s Day
and March 13-16.
THE QUESTIONS
1 What is the name of the
first town?
2 What is the name of the
lighthouse?
THE PRIZE
ASK
THE
TEAM
The winner and a guest will
stay for three nights, B&B, at
The Lygon Arms, in Broadway,
Worcestershire. This historic
Cotswold coaching inn,
which played host to Charles I
and Cromwell during the Civil
War, is a new member of the
Iconic Luxury Hotels group
and has just undergone a
multimillion-pound
refurbishment, enhancing the
hotel?s 15th-century fabric
and adding several rooms
and suites.
There are also two new
restaurants. The Lygon Bar &
Grill offers seasonal British
food; the Lygon Wine Bar has
a Mediterranean flavour.
HOW TO ENTER
Only one entry per person,
at thesundaytimes.co.uk/
wherewasi by Wednesday.
Normal Times Newspapers
rules apply. No correspondence
will be entered into.
LAST WEEK?S PRIZE
The answers are Glenn
Miller and Kirby Hall. Alma
Sinclair of Suffolk wins a
week at Masseria le Torri, in
Puglia, Italy, as a guest of
Simpson Travel.
My daughter and I are going
to Morocco in April, spending
one week touring and eight
nights in Marrakesh. What
are the bits of the city that
we should be sure to see?
Rosanne Richardson, London
Laura Goulden
replies
Eight nights is
enough to see
everything in
Marrakesh and have a day or
two by the pool. The most
exciting new opening in the
city is the Yves Saint Laurent
Museum, which has couture
displays, photographs and
illustrations charting the
fashion designer?s career (�
museeyslmarrakech.com). It?s
next door to the exotic blue
walls and cacti of the Jardin
Majorelle, which Saint Laurent
saved from being turned into
a hotel (pictured; �50).
You will, of course, want to
get stuck into the 12th-century
medina. The souks are chaotic
but fun. Navigating is tricky,
so get your bearings on a
half-day guided tour (�;
book through your hotel).
After that, the offline maps on
the free Hip Marrakech app
will help. In between haggling,
make sure you tick off the
spectacular 14th-century
Ben Youssef madrasah (Rue
Assouel; �30), the tiled
courtyards of the Bahia Palace
(90p; palais-bahia.com) and
the new Secret Garden (�
lejardinsecretmarrakech.com).
Aim to be in the main
square, Djemaa el Fna, at
sunset, when the carnival of
snail-soup stalls and snake
charmers begins. There are
plenty of places to eat here,
but the food is better on the
rooftop terrace at Nomad,
500yd away (mains from �
nomadmarrakech.com). Make
time, too, for a traditional
steam and scrub: try Hammam
de la Rose (from �;
hammamdelarose.com).
Email your questions to:
asktheteam@sunday-times.
co.uk
talian if they tried. By Mia Aimaro Ogden
COOKING IN THE DOLOMITES
Still striving for the perfect ossobuco
Milanese with pumpkin and porcini
risotto? Or even just a passable homemade
pasta? The Stirred cookery school offers
a top-end array of Italian cookery courses
at Villa Casagrande, an aristocratic
15th-century estate in Cison di Valmarino,
in the foothills of the Dolomites. You?re
paying for the best food talent out there:
teachers include Jake Simpson, of Bocca di
Lupo, in London, and the Roux prot間閑
Sophie Braimbridge. When you?re not
cooking up a storm, you?ll dine out in
Venice, shop for ingredients at the Rialto
market, taste prosecco from the top-end
producer Bisol ? and probably put on 10lb.
Six nights cost �750pp, full-board,
including classes, ingredients and wine;
stirredtravel.com. Ryanair flies to Treviso
OPERA IN VERONA
Every summer, Verona?s spectacular
2,000-year-old amphitheatre hosts the
biggest party in the city. This year?s
festival opens on June 22 with Bizet?s
Carmen. Book seats on the stone steps of
the arena (from � at arena.it). You?ll see
Italian families turning out en masse to
catch Aida, Turandot and Nabucco by
candlelight on the world?s largest outdoor
stage: 15,000 voices singing along to the
Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, Italy?s
unofficial wartime anthem, can?t fail to
give you goosebumps. Or blow the budget
and book an exclusive backstage tour to
get up close and personal with the chorus,
sets and costumes (from �775pp for
groups of up to 25; 00 39 045 929 8400,
www.vertours.com). Stay at the romantic
Continued on page 8 ?
8 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Italy special
? Continued from page 7
Il Sogno di Giulietta, five minutes from
the arena (doubles from �5, B&B;
ilsognodigiulietta-guesthouse.com).
Fly to Verona with British Airways or easyJet
TUSCAN VILLA 1: THE INTIMATE ONE
The British love affair with Tuscany is still
going strong (though you won?t have it
to yourself this summer ? sorry). Who
could fail to feel the romance of the Val
di Cecina, south of Volterra, with its
patchwork of vineyards and acres of olive
groves, dotted with medieval hilltop
villages? It can be hard to find smaller
houses at a sensible price here, so Torre
del Merlo is a bit of a find. A 14th-century
watchtower on a hill, surrounded by
private gardens, with a pool, it will make
your heart beat just that little bit faster.
Sleeps up to 4; from �420 a week;
invitationto.com. Fly to Pisa with BA,
easyJet or Ryanair
TUSCAN VILLA 2: THE PARTY ONE
Fancy sharing the love with 16 friends at
the best house party ever? Villa Monte
Chianti, in the Arentini hills between
Siena and Arezzo, is a grand old
farmhouse in the middle of a working
vineyard. It has nine bedrooms, a pool
and a tennis court.
Sleeps up to 17; from �440 a week;
scottwilliams.co.uk. Fly to Florence with
BA or CityJet
DRIVE THE AMALFI COAST FOR LESS
This cobalt coastline has a stellar
reputation for old-school glam with
dazzling views, but there?s no need to
pay crazy prices for a trip packed with
Sorrentine style. Opt for May or
September, when it?s not crowded and
you can pick up a Fiat 500 for � a day;
try Auto Europe at Naples airport. Take
the SS163 and your first stop will be
clifftop Sorrento, staying at the Villa
Oriana Relais, where you?ll find a
cornucopia of frilly pastries for breakfast,
as well as startling seascapes (doubles
from �, B&B; villaoriana.it). In the hills
behind Positano, reserve a table for an
organic five-course dinner at La Tagliata,
then stay in one of its two simple rooms
(doubles from �, B&B; latagliatarooms.it).
And in retro beachside Castiglione di
Ravello, try the romantic Villa San Michele,
which is built into the rocks (doubles
from �, B&B; hotel-villasanmichele.it).
Fly to Naples with BA or easyJet
WOLVES IN THE ABRUZZO
POSITANO GLOW
Sunset on the
Amalfi Coast
If the idea of a stakeout for the Apennine
wolf has you coming over all David
Attenborough, Ecotur has a sleeping
bag with your name on it. In the central
region of Abruzzo, which has three
national parks and 38 nature reserves,
75% of Europe?s living species survive ?
and you can go nose to nose with the
scariest of them. A team of wildlife
experts will guide you from the village of
Pescasseroli deep into the mountains,
where you?ll hoof it along ancient tracks
to the Cicerana Ecorifugio, 5,000ft up,
your hut base for one night. From here
you?ll track golden eagles, Apennine
wolves, Marsican brown bears ? and
come back uneaten.
A three-night trek with accommodation
starts at �4pp, half-board; ecotur.org.
Fly to Rome with BA, easyJet or Ryanair,
or to Pescara with Ryanair
SARDINIA FOR FAMILIES
For the ultimate sandy beach with
all-day entertainment for your little
ones, head for the glamorous Costa
Smeralda. Sardinian Places is offering
seven nights on the sands of cheery
Cannigione, looking across to the glitzy
islands of La Maddalena, where Italy?s
high rollers spend the summer. The
Cala di Falco resort has a kids? club
and a supervised pool for younger
children, while older ones can dive,
sail and go riding nearby. Grown-ups
should head over to the starry bars of
Porto Cervo ? where you might even
bump into Silvio Berlusconi and his
bunga-bunga babes.
From �696 for a week, half-board, for
a family of four, including flights and car
hire; sardinianplaces.co.uk
DRINKING IN BAROLO
The natives know it as the king of wines:
Barolo, the top-quality red that made
the Langhe region rich. Now it can be
your tipple of choice in a tasting tour
around the 11 medieval hilltop villages
and 5,000 acres of vineyards south of
Turin. Stay at the friendly, family-run
Agriturismo La Torricella, outside
Monforte, where the top-notch restaurant
specialises in Piedmontese classics
such as veal-stuffed pasta, agnolotti dal
plin, and visit the best local growers:
Paolo Manzone (barolomeriame.com);
Adriana Marzi and Roberto Bruni
(cantinadelglicine.it); and Maria-Teresa
Mascarello (00 39 0173 56125). Tastings
start at �pp. Dine out in Bra, where
Boccondivino ? aka Slow Food HQ ? does
a monumental braised veal in Barolo
(mains from �; boccondivinoslow.it).
La Torricella has doubles from �2, B&B;
latorricella.eu. Ryanair flies to Turin
TREK THE ALPS
?Adventure trekking? high in the Alps
might sound like a tall order, but a good
level of fitness is all that?s required to join
a summer Italian High Level Route with
KE Adventure Travel. You get an afternoon
of glacier-skills training before tackling the
?easy? Breithorn (13,600ft), on the Swiss
border. Then it?s six days with just you,
four like-minded adventurers and your
pro guide in some truly spectacular
landscapes. You?ll spend five nights in
northwest Italy?s prettiest mountain huts,
where the food is hearty and the grappa
is rough. Treks include the lovely Valle
di Gressoney and the soaring south side
of Monte Rosa.
Seven nights from �495pp, half-board;
keadventure.com. Fly to Geneva with BA
or easyJet
THE GRAND TOUR BY RAIL
Those 18th-century thrill-seekers had the
right idea ? it?s just that, these days, the
slickest way to do the grand tour is in a
first-class railway carriage. The highlight
of Planet Rail?s luxury 12-day tailor-made
trip from London is a night on the Venice
Simplon-Orient-Express to the Most
Serene Republic, with lunch, afternoon
tea, a four-course dinner and brunch the
next day on board. In Venice, you?ll travel
in a traditional water taxi and take a
gondola trip down the Grand Canal. From
there, it?s first class to Rome for three
days, riding on the papal train ? the first
time the Vatican has opened the service to
mere mortals ? to Castel Gandolfo, the
Pope?s summer residence; followed by
two days in Florence, improving your
Renaissance art history at the Uffizi.
From �850pp; planetrail.co.uk
EAT IN EMILIA-ROMAGNA
Bologna is fat ? they call it ?la grassa? ?
for a reason: it?s home to some of the
SURIYA SILSAKSOM, GORFER, KEVIN MOORE, GLAKITA/GETTY
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 9
THE HIGH LIFE
Cycling in the
Dolomites. Below,
the Valle dei
Templi, Sicily
ROME FOR FAMILIES
YOUR ITALY
FAVOURITES
Win a stay with
Pride of Britain
Hotels by sharing
your tales and
tips from holidays
in Italy. Email
travel@sundaytimes.co.uk.
Details on page 3
When in
Rome...
best restaurants,
res
food shops, markets
and arti
artisan makers in the country.
Now you
yo can eat your way from the city
centre all
a the way to Rimini along Via
Emilia, an ancient Roman route, sampling
top-q
top-quality produce on the way, and
pau
pausing in the gourmet hotspots of
M
Modena (book well in advance for
d
dinner at Osteria Francescana, the
w
world?s second best restaurant;
os
osteriafrancescana.it) and Ravenna.
Yo
You?ll be staying in agriturismi and
fou
four-star hotels, visiting big-name
pro
producers of parmigiano reggiano,
bals
balsamic vinegar, prosciutto di Parma
and Colli di Rimini olive oil.
Five nights
n
from �0pp, including
break
breakfast, three lunches, one dinner
and all
a tastings, but not car hire;
foodin
foodintour.com. Fly to Bologna with BA
or Rya
Ryanair
CYCLE IN THE DOLOMITES
Relax: you
y don?t have to be Mr or Mrs
K
Jason Kenny
to enjoy a week of road
cycling in the Dolomites. Marmot has
a Classic Cols summer tour that includes
the hair
hair-raising Giro d?Italia passes of
Ca
Giau, Campolongo
and Stelvio ? all at
ow pace. A flexible itinerary
your own
suits mi
mixed-ability groups, with assistance
from two
tw support vans on every ride and
the option
opti to hire one of the company?s
�800 titanium-framed bikes for � a
day. If you
y want to push yourself, there?s
the chal
challenge route, which increases
the daily ascent to up to 14,000ft. You?ll
stay in threeand four-star family-run
t
hotels, with breakfast and dinner tailored
to your nutritional needs.
Six nights from �420pp, half-board;
marmot-tours.co.uk. Fly to Venice with
BA or easyJet
RIDE THE MAREMMA
Star in your own spaghetti western with
seven days on horseback in the Tuscan
Maremma. This pretty, pine-fringed
coastline is worlds away from crowded
Chiantishire, with vast empty beaches,
thermal springs and the magical nature
reserve of Selva del Lamone to explore.
Unicorn Trails? Equestrian Traditions of
Maremma tour even lets you camp out
with the butteri, the Tuscan cowboys
who?ve been riding these high plains for
centuries. Yee-haw!
Seven nights from �299pp, full-board,
excluding flights; unicorntrails.com. Fly
to Rome with BA, easyJet or Ryanair
ALL GREEK IN SICILY
Athens isn?t the only place to appreciate
the finest Greek temples of the ancient
world ? Sicily has a host of fabulous
contenders. Real Holidays has a classical
tour that starts with two days in Palermo,
staying at the funky BB22 B&B, with visits
to the Doric temple of Segesta and its
windswept hilltop amphitheatre. It gets
even better at Agrigento and the Valle
dei Templi, where the remains of seven
vast temples from the 5th century BC
necessitate a couple of nights at the
stylish Mandranova olive-oil farm, with
its first-class home cooking. Stay at the
elegant Masseria Mandrascate for the
outstanding Roman mosaics of the Villa
Romana del Casale, in Piazza Armerina,
ending with two nights at the Algila, in
gorgeous Ortygia, to check out the huge
Greek theatre and the prison cave of
Dionysius?s Ear.
Nine nights from �5pp, B&B, including
flights and car hire; realholidays.co.uk
The Eternal City offers kids the perfect
combination of enthralling history (the
mighty Colosseum will thrill budding
gladiators), vast green spaces (local
children spend Sunday cycling, karting
and generally running riot in the Villa
Borghese park), tiptop pizza (try the pizza
rossa from the Forno Campo de? Fiori;
from �a slice; fornocampodefiori.com)
and endless ice cream ? we love the
white chocolate at Gelateria del Teatro
(from � gelateriadelteatro.it). Why not
try an apartment for a touch of home
from home? Rome Sweet Home has lots
of family-friendly options: a bright
two-bedroom flat with a terrace in
Campo de? Fiori would suit a family of
four, and prices start at �0 a night
(romesweethome.com).
Fly to Rome with BA, easyJet or Ryanair
10 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Italy special
T
he Roman poet Virgil, who
went to school in Cremona, in
Lombardy, wrote many things
that are plangent and true.
?Wherever the fates lead us,
let us follow,? he advised. ?I fear the
Greeks, even when they bring gifts,? he
warned. ?There?s a snake lurking in the
grass,? he warned some more. It?s good
stuff. And, if you want to live a fruitful life,
you can do a lot worse than follow his
pronouncements. But had I listened too
carefully to Virgil when he said ?Hug the
shore, let others try the deep?, I would
not have turned off the motorway
between Milan and Venice, or headed
down into the unfamiliar stretches of the
Po Valley, or decided to stop in Cremona.
And that would have been tragic.
Music lovers will know Cremona best as
the home town of Antonio Stradivari, and
it?s fair to say that wherever you turn in the
city, some part of his shadow falls across
the vista. To the left and the right, there
are traditional luthiers making violins and
cellos: more luthiers than you can shake
a bow at. And the violin museum, filled
with priceless instruments, is a dizzying
musical destination. I was half expecting
Cremona to be full of Strad stuff. It was the
other things on offer that surprised me.
In particular, there was Cremona?s
unusually beautiful historic centre, and
the fine architectural goodies clustered
around its central square. I have visited a
lot of Italian squares. In my line of work ?
art critic of The Sunday Times ? it?s an
occupational must. Many are pleasing.
But none is quite as perfectly pleasurable
as the Piazza del Comune, in Cremona.
STRINGS
ATTACHED
The Renaissance city of Cremona is the home of the
Stradivarius and ? in Waldemar Januszczak?s expert
opinion ? has Italy?s most beautiful town square
Cathedral on one side. Tower next
to cathedral. Perfect cobbles. Kids
playing football. Tasty Cremonese food
establishments ringing the perimeter.
All in perfect harmony with each other.
Damn it, Virgil said that ?fortune favours
the bold?, so I am going to be superbold
and announce that, in my opinion, the
medieval square of Cremona is the
prettiest square in Italy.
The tallest building on the square is
the bell tower ? the torrazzo ? completed
in 1309. At 370ft, it is the tallest brick
structure in Italy. A third of the way up is
a huge astronomical clock ? the largest
Bergamo
Milan
LOMBARDY
E35
CREMONA
E70
20 miles
River Po
Parma
in the world ? covered in zodiac signs.
It was started in 1583, at the height of the
Renaissance, and brought a smile to my
face. The Renaissance is supposed to be
a great period of enlightenment, yet here
they all are demanding a daily horoscope.
The cathedral, started in 1107, then
fiddled with for the next five centuries,
is one of those hotchpotches of styles and
materials that ought to be a mess, but
which through a magic glue peculiar to
Italy hangs together perfectly. Covered in
pink Verona marble, the facade dances
through the ages as it passes through a
band of superb medieval sculpture,
TAKE A BOW
Cremona?s
bellissima
town square
BLUE JAY PHOTO, VCG WILSON/GETTY
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 11
then a gothic rose window, then a row
of wonky Renaissance saints, before
culminating in a cheeky classical
pediment. A gift from Greece!
Inside, the huge spaces are covered
with an unusual number of frescoes.
The guidebook boasts, a tad optimistically,
of this being ?the Sistine Chapel of
northern Italy?, and there is certainly a
lot to look at. Above the altar, Boccaccio
Boccaccino?s Christ in Judgment looks
down at us from his golden throne and
decides whether we have been good
or bad. Ouch. At the other end of the
church, above the exit door, a giant
Golgotha by the underrated Pordenone
hammers nails of guilt into us with a
ferociously crucified Christ. Ouch,
ouch, ouch.
It?s powerful stuff, and the fact that it
sits behind such a beguiling pink facade
makes it feel like a clever trap. On the
other hand, Cremona clearly loves beauty
for the sake of it, as the city?s intense
relationship with music keeps making
evident. It wasn?t only Stradivari
who came from here. So too did
Monteverdi, the first giant of opera.
And, although Strad is the most
famous of all violin makers, his fellow
Cremonese magicians, the Amati,
the Guarneri, were cut from the
same exquisite maple.
Most streets near the cathedral still
seem to have a luthier at work in them,
busily fashioning new instruments in
the old ways. None of them seemed
to mind me popping in to pester
them and watch how it is done.
As for why Strad was the best,
that would be the wood he used,
they tell me. Get a luthier talking
about wood and they will
continue at greater length than
a Monteverdi vesper.
So that?s fun. But the most
intense musical joy to be had in
Cremona is a visit to the city?s unique
Violin Museum. Here, you can stroll
among surviving Strads whose fiscal value
starts in the low millions, but whose
musical worth is priceless. And it?s not
just violins. Strad also made guitars and
cellos. They are all here. And a specially
constructed echo space allows you to sit
inside and experience the full detail of the
Strad sound.
This year, by the way, Cremona is
hosting the world championships of
musical-instrument-making ? the 15th
International Stradivarius Triennale ?
in which instrument makers from around
the world compete to find the best.
It?s on from September 7 to October 14,
and will feature lots of playing as well
as lots of making.
For hotels, you could risk doing
what I did and drive as near to the
centre as you can, where I found
the excellent and traditional Hotel
Impero, halfway between the
cathedral and the Violin Museum.
?Fate will find a way,? Virgil said
encouragingly.
For food, wander round the back
of the cathedral. The smell of mustard
drew me into the Taverna la Botte,
where the pumpkin tortelli was
excellent and where they serve
the much-trumpeted local
speciality ? cheese in a fruity
mustard sauce. Delicious. It?s
enough to make you hum a
Monteverdi madrigal.
A Stradivarius,
made c1685
Fly to Bergamo with Ryanair or
to Milan Linate with Alitalia,
British Airways or easyJet. Doubles
at the Hotel Impero start at �,
B&B (hotelimpero.cr.it). Mains at
the Taverna la Botte start at �
(www.tavernalabotte.org)
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 13
Travel Italy special
P
PETER ADAMS/GETTY; STEFAN HUWILER/ALAMY
uglia is a state of mind. Its
ruins may not be up to the
standard of Rome?s, and its
beaches can?t compete with
those in other parts of the
country, but the slowed-down pace of
life on the heel of Italy is irresistible.
Lettuces sprout in olive groves, the
Adriatic and Ionian seas fuse leisurely at
the southern tip, and in the cartoon-cute
Valle d?Itria, whitewashed hilltop towns
lord it over hobbit-like trulli.
This is a huge region. Yet, aside from the
beaches of the rugged Gargano Peninsula
(the spur of the boot), most of what you?re
coming for is in the navigable area south
of Bari. The stretch down to Brindisi is a
sequence of medieval fishing villages, and
beyond is the Salento Peninsula, a wild
land of prehistoric dolmens squatting in
flower-filled fields, and villages where time
seemingly stopped in the 1950s. Puglia is
the spot for sea, sun and seriously good
food. Down at heel? Not a chance.
WHAT TO DO
History is everywhere, from coastal
towers built to repel Saracen invaders to
frescoed medieval churches, hewn from
canyon cliffs. Best of all is Egnazia, an
ancient beachside settlement south of
Monopoli. Amid olive groves and
vegetable fields, there?s a Messapian
necropolis, a Roman town (with an
amphitheatre, baths and a portion of
the cobbled Appian Way) and Byzantine
ramparts on the shoreline beside the
Roman harbour (�50; egnazia.eu).
Puglia produces more wine than
Australia ? at least, so the locals say ?
and Vetrere winery, near Taranto, is a
good place to try some. The sisters who
own it produce 15 wines, including the
bestselling Cr�, made from minutolo
grapes ? a medieval variety recently saved
from extinction. Tastings are available on
request, and include a tour and a flight of
three wines (�; vetrere.it).
Children will love the Castellana
Caves, in Castellana Grotte, a two-mile
subterranean network of cathedral-like
spaces and canyons filled with stalactites
and stalagmites. Just beware the lacklustre
commentary: ?This formation looks like a
prosciutto? is less than illuminating (from
�; grottedicastellana.it).
Not all coastlines are created equal;
while the Ionian side is better for beaches,
the Adriatic coastline is Amalfi-grade,
only with fewer midlife-crisis cars. Hit the
road at Otranto, after popping into the
cathedral to marvel at its 12th-century
mosaic carpet, with cameos from King
Arthur, an elephant and a particularly
sexy siren. Then drive round the coast to
Leuca, the cliff-cut road rollercoastering
up and down through a landscape of wild
prickly pears and carob trees, past tiny
fishing villages and the belle 閜oque spa
town of Santa Cesarea Terme.
PERFECT
PUGLIA
It?s our region of the year. Here?s how to get straight to
the best bits of Italy?s laid-back heel. By Julia Buckley
Vieste
Adriatic
Sea
Gargano
Peninsula
Bari Monopoli
PUGLIA
Egnazia
Ostuni
Alberobello
Taranto
Brindisi
BASILICATA
Lecce
Porto Cesareo
THE BEACHES
It has the longest coastline in Italy, but
Puglia can disappoint in the beach stakes
? most of it is rocky, with the few sandy
coves crowded during the season. So
venture north to Gargano, where pretty
fishing towns such as Vieste are bordered
by thick sandy strips. At Spiaggia del
Castello, sunloungers share the sand
with a Colgate-white 80ft pillar of rock.
In Salento, Gallipoli?s finely sanded bay
becomes party central in summer, with
wall-to-wall beach clubs. Rather quieter is
the deliciously named Punta Prosciutto,
10 miles north of Porto Cesareo, where
shrub-covered dunes lead to a wedge of
beach. At Torre Pali, a fishing village
west of Leuca, a ruined 16th-century
watchtower squats off the sandy beach.
Nearby is Pescoluse, which locals claim
is Salento?s version of the Maldives, with
dunes tapering to shallow waters.
Ionian Sea
Gallipoli
Otranto
Leuca
20 miles
WHERE TO EAT
SUN SHADE
Spiaggia del
Castello?s pillar.
Top, Alberobello
Hilltop
towns lord it
over hobbitlike trulli
For a superb fish dinner, visit Monopoli
and La Torretta del Pescatore, which
offers a modern take on the hyper-local
seafood tradition: slow-cooked octopus,
marinated red mullet and carpaccioed
bream, teamed with things like wild
onions and cream of mozzarella (mains
from �.50; latorrettadelpescatore.com).
Puglia?s speciality is antipasto: not
a meat-laden platter, as in other parts of
Italy, but a tasting menu of small(ish)
dishes. La Nicchia, 12 miles inland
from Monopoli, isn?t the trullo tourist
trap it looks like, and serves a 12-course
antipasto that doubles as a weekly
ration of your five-a-day: dishes include
stuffed mushrooms, artichoke gratin,
fried broad beans, baked aubergine and
vegetable tempura (antipasto �.50;
ristorantelanicchia.it).
The area around Brindisi is known for
ricci, or sea urchins. At Forcatella beach,
you?ll find a clutch of shack-restaurants
serving them straight from the water;
Ricciolandia is a third-generation
outfit that?s open daily for lunch from
February to November, plus dinner from
June to September (though the ricci are
meatiest off-season). For the real Pugliese
experience, go on a packed Sunday
lunchtime (mains � 00 39 338 357 3010).
To make a dent in the overwhelming
array of local specialities, try a freshly
baked puccia (a rounder, fluffier focaccia)
at the Baguetteria De Pace, in Gallipoli
(open March-October; from �50;
facebook.com/baguetteriadepace). Fill it
with any of their 24 cured meats, 16 types
of cheese, pur閑s, p鈚閟 and vegetables ?
you pay by the ingredient.
WHERE TO STAY
Puglia has largely avoided standard-issue
hotels, instead repurposing vacant
buildings as accommodation. The blocky,
whitewashed masseria ? a fortified
farmhouse converted into lodgings ?
is the region?s signature hotel. Masseria
Le Carrube, near Ostuni, is a boho little
pad with 15 rooms, a vegetarian Sunday
buffet beloved by locals (�pp) and
yoga classes in the centuries-old olive
groves (doubles from �3, B&B;
masserialecarrubeostuni.it).
Alberghi diffusi ? ?scattered hotels?,
with rooms occupying former housing in
towns depleted by postwar emigration ?
are also big. Albergo Diffuso Monopoli
has 23 rooms within walking distance
of the lobby/bar Caffe nel Chiasso. Most
are former flats sculpted from local tufa
stone and surrounded by full-time
neighbours (doubles from �, B&B;
albergodiffusomonopoli.it).
In baroque Lecce, La Fiermontina is a
modern respite from the frilly surrounds
? 16 rooms with contemporary art on walls
of creamy local stone, and an olive-filled
garden. The in-house chef Simone Solido?s
star is on the rise for the veg-heavy menu
inspired by his nonna (doubles from �9,
B&B; www.lafiermontina.com).
Self-catering? It has to be a trullo.
Most are rented by the week ? Quality
Villas has a good selection (from �5;
qualityvillas.com), as does Discovery
Puglia (from �3; discoverypuglia.com).
Charming Trulli has 10 properties in
trullo-tastic Alberobello, available by the
night (from �3; charmingtrulli.com).
GETTING THERE
Ryanair flies from Stansted to Bari and
Brindisi all year, and seasonally from
Liverpool to Bari and Manchester to
Brindisi. EasyJet and British Airways have
summer services to both airports.
14 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Italy special
Prosecco is now Britain?s favourite
te
bubbly. On a road trip through
the Veneto, Mia Aimaro Ogden
toasts its most sparkling makers
F
ifty million litres ? that?s how
much prosecco we drank in
the UK last year. It amounts to
one heck of a hangover, and
makes us the largest consumers
outside Italy. But how much do we really
know about the country?s finest fizz,
and about the Veneto, the intoxicating
landscape where it?s produced?
The Strada del Prosecco (Prosecco
Route) follows a 30-mile loop through the
hills behind Venice. Italy?s tiddliest road, it
weaves from Conegliano to Valdobbiadene
and back again, through patchwork
vineyards, past medieval villages and
snowy Alpine crests. And while the Brits
don?t think twice about popping over to
northeastern France for a few days on the
champers, this route promises a rather
different adventure.
?We?re making a high-end product in
a beautiful landscape, and we want to
show off those qualities,? says the
producer Pietro De Conti, of Pdc. ?Think
of it this way ? if ordinary prosecco is a
Fiat, then the DOCG we make locally is
an Alfa Romeo, and our top-end Cartizze
is a Ferrari.?
These peaks are little more than an
hour?s drive from Venice, but their appeal
is worlds away. On a spring morning, the
vineyards are perfectly still. The hilltop
villages, ancient castles and bell towers
on the terraced slopes bask in the early
sunshine. It?s the ideal time for a tasting.
My first stop is Marchiori, in pretty
Farra di Soligo. Producing 40,000 bottles
a year, this family business is small in
prosecco terms. Sara is its third
generation, and at 10am she has me
drinking eight-week-old wine (it will go
on sale in spring) from gigantic steel vats
and identifying scents in a blind nose
test. It?s not as easy as you might think: I
fail on honey, sage and apple, almost get
mandarin and ID the lemon first time.
One tasting and I?m already ? well, let?s
call it cheery. Not a problem: I have a
driver-guide, provided by a company
that has handily packaged up the circuit.
As we dip in and out of fairy-tale forests,
and stop to admire the frescoes in the
11th-century church of San Pietro di
Feletto, my guide outlines the science
part. How, to qualify as prosecco, the wine
must be made up of at least 85% glera
FIZZICAL EDUCA
DRINK IT IN
Prosecco
vineyards in
Valdobbiadene
Good
prosecco
doesn?t
give you a
hangover
grapes; how the superior DOCG
(Denominazione di Origine Controllata
e Garantita) only comes from the Strada
del Prosecco; and how the gold standard,
Cartizze, which sells for � a bottle, is
grown on a single hill, where a hectare of
land will cost you �75m. It?s the most
expensive wine real estate in Europe.
Lunch isn?t in a restaurant, but in the
hilltop home of Giancarlo Adorno, a
Venetian lawyer who produces 10,000
bottles of DOCG on the side.
?Passion doesn?t pay,? he says.
?Prosecco isn?t the way to get
rich.? The increased yield and, as
he sees it, falling standards are
making him angry ? so angry that
he keeps on topping up my glass,
to better appreciate the quality of
his product. His partner brings
out a hearty pumpkin risotto.
?You could drink a bottle of my
wine on an empty stomach, with
no headache,? Adorno says. But I
eat two helpings, just in case.
The sun is setting on the big-bucks
Cartizze hill as I climb up to Osteria
Senz?Oste. This is a hostelry without a
host ? the owner, Cesare De Stefani, is
rarely seen ? a tiny hut where you help
yourself to bread, salami and, of course,
prosecco, putting your money in the tin.
This I do, then sit out at one of three
ramshackle tables and watch the mist
come down over the vineyards. Aperitivi
don?t come much lovelier than this.
My base for the night is the Relais
Monaco hotel, south of the route. After
dinner at its La Vigna restaurant ?
a langoustine gratin with, yes,
5 miles
Villa Abbazia
Cartizze
Conegliano
Marchiori
Bisol
PROSECCO
Valdobbiadene
ROUTE
Relais
Monaco
A 27
SLOW IMAGES/GETTY
ATION
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 15
Venice
15 miles
Treviso
another bottle of wine ? I stumble to bed
in the full expectation of a pounding head.
But in the morning, something marvellous
occurs: I feel fine. So I have to believe
what they?ve been telling me: quality
prosecco doesn?t give you a hangover.
The next day begins with a stiff
espresso regardless, at buzzy Bar Fontana,
in medieval Conegliano, followed by a
swerve through Follina, where the
12th-century Cistercian abbey of Santa
Maria is as gorgeous as anything I have
seen. But my priority is the Bisol estate, in
Valdobbiadene, run by a family known as
prosecco royalty who produce 5m bottles
a year. The oenologist here, Desiderio
Bisol, has a theory about the popularity of
prosecco that?s refreshingly unscientific:
?It?s not a formal wine, it?s a drink for
friends. And there?s never the fear that a
bottle has gone bad, like there is with
champagne. You can be sure of prosecco ?
and you can?t say that about many things.?
A tour of the winery reveals a hi-tech
production plant built over vaulted cellars
that hold bottles from as far back as 1875.
Ancient wine presses retain the scent of
100-year-old grapes. As we taste, Bisol
explains the way we perceive flavours on
the tongue, pick apart the elements of
sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami. After
two days of sniffing, swirling and slurping,
identifying the Cartizze is child?s play.
With the remains of a bottle bagged up,
I head to Salis, on the side of the Cartizze
hill, for a last dinner of mozzarella and
radicchio tortelli. My final night is at Villa
Abbazia, back in Follina, a deliciously
eccentric hotel in an 18th-century villa
whose excellent restaurant is a popular
hangout for local prosecco producers.
Here, they tell me the story of when
Cesare De Stefani, of Osteria Senz?Oste,
was landed with a huge tax bill a couple
of years back. He couldn?t afford to pay,
so instead he took Onesta, one of his
cows, to the tax office in town. ?I don?t
have the cash, so I?m leaving her here,?
he told the bemused official.
That?s the kind of guy I want making
my prosecco.
Mia Aimaro Ogden was a guest of Grape
Escapes, which has Essential Prosecco
tours from �9pp, including two nights at
Relais Monaco (relaismonaco.it) and/or
Villa Abbazia (hotelabbazia.com), tastings,
breakfast, one lunch and one dinner
(01920 468666, grapeescapes.net). Fly to
Venice with BA or to Treviso with Ryanair.
Marchiori (marchioriwines.com) and
Bisol (bisol.it) have tastings from �pp.
Mains at Salis start at � (salisristorante.it)
16 January 14, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Italy special
FULL-FLAVOU
U
For the best lunch in Tuscany, keep it
old school, says the Sunday Times
restaurant critic Marina O?Loughlin
O
n the surface, Florence is
open about its vast trove
of treasures, but in reality
the city doesn?t give up
all of its secrets without a
fight. Like the austere, blank-fronted
side streets where you occasionally
glimpse the most riotous interior
courtyard gardens, it has a tendency
to hug many of its beauties close
to itself.
The city?s myriad trattorie and
osterie, ristoranti and fiaschetterie
are forever dressed in their glitziest
drag, issuing a powerful siren call
to a particular breed of greedy
traveller. (Me, basically.) But it?s not
immediately apparent from the
seductive exteriors which is a terrible
tourist-fleecing joint and which is
the real deal. Most of the usual
signifiers are rendered redundant.
Menus translated into three
languages, for instance, are usually
a screeching no-no, but even some
of the good ones do this, so finding
where to eat is always an adventure.
Ask 20 experts and you?ll get 20
answers. And probably a bit of a fight,
with one favourite being dismissed as
solo per turisti, another scornfully
rejected since the chef moved on. Add
to that the fact that every
restaurant in the city
appears to have
a score of 4.5
on the dreaded
TripAdvisor,
and it?s very
much every man
for himself.
I?m not going to
pretend to be an expert,
but I do more wandering
about and talking to locals
about restaurants ? including
my foodie sister, who lives here ?
than most normal people do.
COM0
GOES
ELECTRIC
Tesla has sponsored a new
scheme on the A-list lake.
Mia Aimaro Ogden plugs in
L
ake Como, in northwest Italy,
is the ultimate in glam: flash
supercars are parked up next
to the water; megayachts float
on it. Yet one intrepid resident
is turning this gas-guzzling notion of la
dolce vita on its head. She wants to flip
the switch and make Como the first
electric holiday destination in Europe.
Judith Wade moved to Italy from the
UK in 1972 and founded Grandi Giardini
Italiani, a network that gets visitors into
the country?s most splendid private
gardens. Her latest project, Como: The
Electric Lake, is all about preserving this
lush landscape for future generations ?
and the best way to do that, she says, is
to cut pollution by upping the number of
electric vehicles on and around the lake.
Como was, after all, the home town of
Alessandro Volta, inventor of the battery.
Funded by Tesla, and with the backing
of local government, hotels and tourist
This time, I?m consciously avoiding the
new wave of young guns, the Michelin
pretenders, the overdesigned and
overhyped, and have set out to indulge my
fetish for the traditional, the cooking of
nonne and casalinghe, the old warhorses
unchanged by decades or fashions. I won?t
attempt to convince that any of these is
the best in the city ? in one instance, it?s
not even the best on its street ? but they
are essentially, exquisitely Florentine.
And that in itself is delicious.
The last time I went to Sostanza, doing
its thing on a gritty side street near Santa
Maria Novella since 1869, it was very much
under the radar. Its Fiorentina steaks ?
vast T-bone cuts of rare-breed Chianina
beef blasted over hot coals to a blackened
exterior and a juicy, rosy inside, simply
seasoned with oil and salt ? were a local
secret. (Don?t even think about ordering
steak well done anywhere in Florence.)
Sostanza has now been very much
discovered, especially by Americans.
In Italy, Florence isn?t really regarded
as a place of culinary pilgrimage.
Florentines are caustically dismissed as
bean-eaters, and the hardcore gourmand
heads for Bologna, the Langhe or Puglia.
But Americans love it, partly thanks to the
recently disgraced celebrity chef Mario
Batali?s evangelism for all things Tuscan.
And the US?s love of enormous steaks.
Even so, I do love Tuscan cooking. The
simplicity means nowhere to hide and
therefore unimpeachable raw ingredients:
Sostanza?s forte. Quantities of artichoke
nestling in a complicated folded omelette
tortina; tiny meat-filled tortellini al burro
(topped with a thick slab of cold butter!);
a hearty ?peasant? soup. Every tourist
comes for the butter chicken, seared to
a crust outside and spitting seductive
dairy fat as lemons are squeezed on top.
Locals do still come here, and the veteran
waiters have a nice line in silencing tables
of screechy foreign youth (mains from �
Via Porcellana 25).
attractions, 19 charging posts have been
installed around the perimeter of the
Electric Lake. Usage is free for local
residents and guests of the hotels signed
up to the scheme. Boats, and even
bicycles, are going electric, too
With electric cars an increasingly
common sight on British roads, you might
already be considering trading in your
old unleaded for an e-version. Would a
weekend at Lake Como sell me on the
electric lifestyle? And would an e-fuelled
holiday be fun ? or a bit underpowered?
My electric odyssey begins in a parking
space in front of Milan Linate airport,
where the door of a Renault Zoe opens
via a code texted to me by E-Vai (www.
e-vai.com). It?s a car-sharing scheme, a
bit like Zipcar in the UK, but all the
vehicles are electric. So far, so hi-tech.
The noiseless 45-minute drive to Como
(maximum speed 60mph) is mostly me in
the slow lane, frustrated by the lack of
In all honesty, I can?t rhapsodise to the
same extent about the food at La Mescita,
the very definition of hole-in-the-wall,
seconds away from where hundreds of
people queue daily to see Michelangelo?s
David. It?s just a handful of seats and a
CLEAR THE AIR
Varenna, on
Lake Como
SWITZERLAND
Colico
Lake Como
Como
ITALY
Milan
20 miles
The Sunday Times January 14, 2018 17
LEONORI, JACZHOU/GETTY; STEFANO AMANTINI/4CORNERS
URED
U
FLORENCE
From far left, a
hearty ribollita;
Sostanza,
formerly a local
secret; the
Duomo; and
peposo, beef
slow-cooked in
oodles of wine
BLANCA SANCHEZ/GETTY
counter, rows of wine bottles disguising
the fact that there are only two wines on
offer, house red and house white, ?1.50
a glass. But it?s a joy. I love its poignant
little exterior: it was an oil and wine shop
back in 1927, and the ancient foxed sign
Don?t even
think about
ordering
your steak
well done
anywhere
in Florence
still reads only Vini. The food is basic:
the locals? favourite, chicken liver crostini,
a couple of pastas ? wild boar, maybe,
or saffron and zucchini ? some form
of soup or stew, frequently the city?s
beloved trippa (tripe). It will never garner
any culinary awards, but lunch for two
of us cost � and left us feeling a touch
misty-eyed (Via degli Alfani 70).
Tableclothed Ristorante Cafaggi is
far more upscale, a 1922-vintage former
vinaio that has remained in the same
family over the decades; although,
post renovations as a result of the Arno
flood in 1966, the look is now a slice of
perfectly preserved 1960s. It?s rammed
with extended parties of locals, business
associates and family groups, the
Florentine middle classes at play.
Over dinner here, my sister tells me
about 
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