My Italian Job …A 3am start at London gatwick is not taken lightly but 3 luxury travel agents and myself were brave enough to do it! After all this is my job. And so our Italian adventure fam would begin… And boy was it worth it!Our first stop on this Italian whirlwind of food, drink, views to die for and most importantly the magical hotels that we stayed in and visited – was The Amalfi Coast. As we arrived from freezing cold London, we stripped layer by layer as we realised the weather was going to be beautifully hot all weekend. We were greeted by Alfonso our driver who drove us the one and a half hours through Naples around the winding roads of the Amalfi. The views were just breathtaking and once we could see Capri in the distance we knew we had arrived in Praiano at The Casa Angelina. From the second you walk in to this white oasis you are greeted by a pure calmness, an aroma that you can bring back with you (In a bottle) and a glass of almond milk! We were shown to our bedrooms passing by the beautiful murano glass artwork which is part of the owners personal collection and gives the hotel some real character. There are 39 bedrooms at Casa Angelina, mine was a RELAXIN room – what a perfect name. This white haven provided a huge amount of space and led out to a gorgeous balcony where the view is incredible – this is where you just sit and let the world go by. The next thing in store was a short trip down the road to positano. the cobbled streets are filled with little bursts of Italy from delicious gelatos to authentic clay stalls and italian leather goods. On return to the hotel we walked down the 180 steps to see the fisherman houses which can be rented out. Here you will find enchanting rooms with part of the cliff exposed giving a real natural feel to the room. There is a chef who will cook exclusively for these rooms and a kitchen where you can help yourself, giving this a true home from home experience- just with your own chef! The private beach which was not open at the time, is supposed to be in the height of season full of cocktails, buzz and ambiance! So after our trip back up the 180 steps we were able to experience the most stunning sunset which was really special. The night came to an end with a gourmet feast of delicious food in the rooftop restaurant – Piano de ciel. This followed by far too much limincillo, was the perfect end to the perfect day!After the most wonderful sleep and the BIGGEST breakfast that most definitely wins the award for variety – from cheeses to salmon to eggs – any way you wanted them – to sweet pleasures like sugar coated donuts filled with lemon cream and chocolate covered pastries – with not a Kelloggs in sight – this is the way one should start their morning every day …We set off on part 2 of our trip to Rome. The train journey first class was just under an hour and we went straight to the incredible Villa Spalletti Trivelli. This is a little gem set in the centre of Rome opposite the Quinille gardens by the Trevi fountain. Walking through the front door feels like you are entering a family house – much grander than any I have ever seen! The villa has 12 enormous bedrooms filled with so much character. The public spaces are full of family photos and seeped in history, yet you feel relaxed and at home in any of them. Downstairs the Villa, is a real surprise where you can find a vast space filled with Spa treatment rooms, haman baths and a fitness centre. Unfortunately we did not have time to use any if it! But we did have time to eat again and enjoy a peaceful lunch in the private gardens of Villa Spalletti Trivelli. Yet again we were treated to a traditional taste of Italy with home made gnocchi followed by the most enormous piece of Tiramasu – that was completely finished – every bite. We rolled out of the Villa feeling suitably full and jumped in a taxi to The Spanish Steps. Tucked away in the bustling street of Via dei Condotti is the Inn at The Spanish Steps – this is no ordinary Inn! Filled with heaps of character and a rooftop terrace that looks over The Spanish Steps and Valentinos apartment, this is the place to sit and people watch in your own time. The hotel also offers another option for accommodation in THE VIEW which is a gorgeous private penthouse in a separate building to the main hotel. This is a great option for families offering 3 bedrooms with your own living space and terrace. The black and white photos of Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn and many other old school celebrities adorn the walls creating an elegant charm to this private space. This is somewhere you can enjoy Rome in the comfort of what feels like your own apartment.Our time in Rome came to an end and back in our hire car we were. Although it took us 5 attempts to find the right exit on the roundabout – we finally began our drive down to Tuscany. Two and half hours later we arrived in the dark at The incredible Castello Banfi situated in the wine region of Montalcino. As we could not appreciate the beauty of our surroundings at 9pm, we instead enjoyed a 6 course tasting menu in the stunning Restaurant La Taverna. each course was accompanied by a different glass of wine, many of which had been home brewed in the winery. Finally after a long day it was time to retire to our bedrooms. Mine was just divine with a traditional medievil feel with a lounge, an enormous bathroom and bedroom with a bed big enough for 2 families! When I woke in the morning and opened the shutters it was just the most incredible view looking over the Tuscan countryside and miles and miles of lush green fields – quite overwhelming actually. We had breakfast outside on the hill looking down over the endless fields and vineyards. This is a such a peaceful place…After breakfast the Hotel manager Juan took us on a site of the grand castello. The swimming pool, the wine shop, the lounges all ooze luxury and calmness – what a perfect combination. We were then treated to a tour of the winery where other guests both from the hotel and outside joined. The tour guide filled us with information and history of the Castello and winery and we ended with some wine tasting in L`Enoteca – Banfis own wine shop.And so our Italian journey was over and time to return to the UK filled with Italian wine, food and fantastic memories. This was a unique experience, very busy at times but mostly just a pleasure to stay and see all of these hotels – each one offering its own little slice of “italian” heaven!
December 4, 2013