The Wine Buff loves visiting Italy. The combination of climate, history, art, great food and possibly the greatest variety of fine wines found anywhere in the world, keeps luring me back time after time. During these visits to historical towns, lake and mountain destinations, I have discovered some fine hotels to stay in which of course makes the holiday in Italy all the more enjoyable.
Personally, half the fun for me is searching out nice hotels to stay in. Package holidays have their advantages, less hassle, transfers from airports and so on but your choice of accommodation is obviously limited to those in the company’s brochure. I rely on my large collection of travel books, (reading Eyewitness,
Rough Guide, or Lonely Planet books is an unusual hobby of mine). Careful analysis of Tripadvisor reviews can help prevent disappointment on arrival.
If you choose carefully, you will find the standard of hospitality in Italian hotels to be excellent. Here are a few of my favourites over the years:
Part I Hotels in Italy’s premier destinations.
Rome – Hotel Ponte Sisto.
This is a comfortable hotel whose greatest asset is its location in the Campo di Fiore district of the Eternal City. If you walk across the bridge, which the hotel is named after, you come immediately to the Trastevere, Rome’s medieval heart. A short walk away is Rome’s Ghetto, with restaurants specialising in Roman Jewish cuisine. Directly outside the hotel is the wonderful Via Giulia, one of the most peaceful pedestrianised walks in all of Rome. It was built early in the 16th century primarily to transport Pope Julius II down from the Vatican into the centre of Rome. Where else would you pass under a small archway only to discover it was designed by Michelangelo?
Wine – Rome is known for its white wine, particularly Frescati.
Milan – Spadari al Duomo.
A very classy boutique hotel located as its name suggests right outside the Piazza del Duomo, the heart of Milan. Classy individually designed rooms with lots of evidence of contemporary art, attentive service. Pricey, but Milanese hotels tend to be just that.
Wine – Lombardy is not a major wine producing region. Look for the excellent wines of nearby Piedmont or Tuscany.
Venice – La Calcina
A peaceful corner of Venice? They do exist. La Calcina is located in the fascinating Dorsoduro district along a wooden walkway called the Zattare. The views over Giudecca Island are memorable and you can reach the hotel directly by boat from Venice Airport. Dining out in touristy Venice can be tricky, but the hotel restaurant is excellent and you can eat and drink on their canal terrace in good weather. Famous English art historian John Ruskin, author of ‘The Stones of Venice’ resided in the premise in 1877.
Wine – The Veneto is the most prolific wine producing area of Italy. Think Valpolicella, Bardolino, or Soave, (white). Of course the Veneto is also home to prosecco, served in the bacari of Venice, and enjoying soaring popularity elsewhere.
Florence – Hotel David
Hotel David is located in the Oltrarno district of Florence. A short, pleasant walk along the Arno brings you to all the major attractions of this glorious city, cradle of the Renaissance. The hotel itself is an oasis for weary sightseers. Each evening they set out an appetising and complimentary array of snacks and drinks for customers in their attractive garden. Deservedly number one on Tripadvisor.
Wine – Tuscany! Chianti! Look out for Chianti Colli Fiorentini, which translates, as from the hills of Florence.
Verona – Hotel Giulietta e Romeo
Don’t be put off by the corny name. This is an excellent three star hotel in a great location. Just don’t bother going to see ‘Giulietta’s balcony’, it’s crowded and it’s fake news!
Wine – The area between Verona and Lago di Garda is the heartland of Veneto wines. Think Valpolicella or Bardolino for a light, refreshing wine, or the much more powerful Amarone if you are pairing with a rich meal.
From Verona you are only an hour and a half by train from Bolzano in the spectacular Italian Dolomites. A few minutes from Bolzano is the Austrian-influenced pretty town of Brixen-Bressanone. Stay at the Goldener Adler Hotel and sample the fresh white mountain wines of the Sudtirol, which are Austrian influenced.