Posted March 10, 2011 by BookingBuddy
The Amalfi coast is famous for some of the most breathtaking scenery in Europe – higgledy-piggledy houses perched precariously on the sides of cliffs, white sailboats on top of brilliant blue water, and market squares thronged with people. Amalfi takes on a yellow tinge in the warmer months, thanks to the lemons that grow all around here. Quench your thirst with a chilled glass of locally-produced Limoncello as you sit on an outdoor terrace taking in the brilliant sunsets.
Ristorante Caravella – This Michelin-starred restaurant may not have the best views, but who has time to look out to sea when you’re faced with food this good? The menu makes is heavily seafood based. There’s spaghetti served with seafood, ravioli cooked with cuttlefish ink, and fried olive and mozzarella balls.
Hotel Residence – Set in a palatial old mansion, the Hotel Residence sits on the seafront overlooking Amalfi’s magnificent harbour. All 27 rooms here have been furnished with original antiques, in a style that remains sympathetic to the building’s origins. Room rates start from £120.
Amalfi Cathedral – This ancient cathedral is unmissable – its formidable bulk looms above Piazza del Duomo, where a set of steps lead up to the marbled, arched entrance. Spend some time admiring the gilt mosaics on the cathedral’s gable, or enter the Romanesque nave through the magnificent bronze doors, which now sport a patina of green. The bell tower looks over Amalfi’s harbour, and is covered with majolica tiles.
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Posted December 23, 2010 by BookingBuddy
An engineering marvel, Venice has attracted holiday visitors for centuries with its one-of-a-kind topography. Holidays in Venice are not complete without exploring St. Mark's Square or Ponte dei Sespiri (Bridge of Sighs), but you may find the best way to see the city is without any itinerary at all, and a willingness to get pleasantly lost. Wander the meandering streets and bridges over the canals at your leisure: You're never too far from a vaporetto (water taxi) pick-up or drop-off, so pick a stop and see where the day takes you. You'll be sure to find a surprise around every corner.
It's been said that Pizza Al Volo in Campo Santa Margherita may have the best pizza in the world, and at the rock-bottom price of €2 per slice, it's worth checking out for yourself. There's no seating at this casual eatery, so settle down outside at the campo and dine while people-watching: You'll see locals and tourists alike enjoying the world-class scene.
Travel back in time and enjoy views of the Grand Canal from your private balcony at the Hotel Antiche Figure. This 15th-century palazzo now serves as a charming hotel, featuring rooms with chandeliers, silk tapestries, and marble baths. Rates start at €99 and include continental breakfast. Be sure to shop around to ensure you find the perfect Venice hotel for your holiday.
Rediscover the lost art of journal-keeping and create a memoir of your holiday with a visit to one of Paolo Olbi's three stores. Olbi, trained as a bookbinder, creates stunning frames, calendars, journals, and photo albums from Italian leather and other local materials; you'll also find a variety of stationery products for sale. Whether you want a thoughtful gift or a timeless souvenir for yourself, you'll find old-world craftsmanship, durability, and beauty here.
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Posted December 23, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Holidays in Italy are incomplete without a few days in Rome, the Eternal City. From ancient ruins to modern fashion, eye-catching architecture to palette-pleasing cuisine, Rome truly is a feast for the senses. Crane your neck to witness Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel masterpiece ceiling, channel your inner Audrey Hepburn with a run down the Spanish Steps, or pretend you're a gladiator at the Colosseum. Finally, to ensure a return visit (as the legend says), don't forget to toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain before you leave this spectacular city.
Campo dei Fiori, a marketplace in the heart of Old Rome, offers delights for chefs and diners alike. If you prefer to cook for yourself, this market and the piazza's surrounding shops offer no shortage of fresh produce, baked goods, meats, spices, and more. However, if you just want to sample the wares, the square is also packed with trattorias, forni (pizza and bread bakeries), cafes, and gelaterias (ice cream shops). It's a perfect one-stop location to discover all of Rome's gastronomic treats while on holiday.
As a tourist's haven, there is no shortage of option for hotels in Rome. Overlook some of Rome's most famous monuments by staying at The Hotel Navona, an accommodation situated between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Antique furnishings, frescoes, and fresh flowers are featured throughout the hotel; rooms have mini-fridges, air conditioning, and private baths. Rates start at €80 and include daily breakfast.
Rinascente, the first department store to open in Rome, offers a little something for everyone. A grand dame among the shops along Via del Corso, Rinascente sells fashion, jewelry, housewares, cosmetics, gifts, and more, all under one roof. If you have a favorite designer, you'll be sure to find his or her collections here. Giorgio Armani got his start here (designing store windows), so even if you're just browsing, you'll still find plenty to catch your eye.
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Posted December 8, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Step back into the past with a visit to Agrigento. This Sicilian city is famous for its Valle dei Templi – the Valley of Temples, where the ruins of several Greek temples can be seen. Beautiful medieval buildings are also scattered throughout Agrigento, and the delightful old centre bustles with activity to this day. Stroll down Via Atenea and take in the sights, or enjoy a relaxing meal at an outdoor cafe here. The local cuisine is unmissable – many dishes share both Greek and Sicilian influences, resulting in very tasty meals indeed!
The Valley of Temples – The Valley of Temples sits on a sunbaked ridge, not far from the centre of town. The Temple of Concordia is one of the best preserved examples here, possibly due to later Christians who turned the temple into a church. Other structures here include the Temple of Juno and the Temple of Heracles, both of which have retained most of their columns. Tombs and catacombs can also be seen in the complex, and a visit to the Archaeological Museum may help put these ruins into context.
Colleverde Park Hotel – Stay at the Colleverde Park Hotel for a stress-free visit to Agrigento. The hotel is sits on a hill overlooking the Valley of Temples, and is not far from Agrigento’s historic centre. Enjoy a delicious Sicilian meal in the hotel’s restaurant, with views that look out over the ancient Greek temples. Room rates start from £75.
Kalos – Head to this casual restaurant near Agrigento’s centre for a tasty Sicilian meal. Seafood plays a large part in Kalos’ menu. Start with a fresh seafood salad, then move on to pastas filled with plenty of clams, mussels or prawns. Other delights here include fresh fish, served piping hot straight of the grill, or fried in a light batter.
Check here for Agrigento travel information.
Posted September 22, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Have you thought about heading to Alghero the next time you’re considering an Italian holiday? This little town is on the northern tip of Sardinia, and isn’t crowded as hotspots like Rome and Venice, so you’ll be able enjoy a relaxing holiday. Alghero has a balmy climate, and the Marine Reserve here offers some wonderful diving scenery. The impressive Alghero Cathedral shows off a mixture of Catalan-Gothic styles, and has a Neo-Classical portico on its west side. Other buildings worth seeing include the imposing Torre del Portal, the old city walls, and the Palazzo d’Albis. A wealth of seafood is available in the restaurants and cafes here. There is a Catalan influence to a lot of the food here, but you’ll also be able to find the odd pizza or two if you desire.
Neptune’s Grotto – This stunning cavern lies at the foot of the Cappo Caccia cliffs, and is accessible by boat, or on foot. Try to keep your vertigo in check if you decide to go on foot though – the path to the grotto takes you through a series of perilously narrow steps cut into the cliffside. It’s all worth it once you enter the grotto though. Warm orange lighting helps highlight the spectacular stalactite formations, and gives the lake a glassy smooth appearance, so you may get the impression that you’ve arrived at a magnificent ballroom.
Alghero Resort Country Hotel – Escape to the Alghero Resort Country Hotel to relax and revitalise your senses. The hotel is set in a lush oasis, within a charming 18th century building. It is 3 kilometres from Alghero’s town centre, but that distance is easily handled by renting one of the hotel’s bicycles. The rooms have an airy, bright feel, and with plenty of original fittings such as wooden ceiling beams. Guests can relax with a lesson at the horse-riding centre, or a trip to the spa for a session of pampering. Room rates start from £80.
Mabrouk – It’s easy to miss this unassuming restaurant tucked away in the old streets near the harbour. Seafood lovers will be delighted to discover Mabrouk serves only fish and shellfish – and as much wine or water as you require. The dishes on the set menu depend on what is available that day. You may be able to enjoy some clam linguine, a lobster salad with onions and tomatoes, or even sea urchin if they happen to be in season.
Check here for Alghero travel information.
Posted September 7, 2010 by BookingBuddy
If you’re inclined to follow the road less travelled, then head to Bologna the next time you’re considering an Italian break. Unlike other Italian cities such as Rome and Venice, Bologna hardly ever features on the tourist itinerary. This northern city has some of the best-preserved medieval architecture in Europe, with the red hues of the buildings earning it the nickname La Rossa (The Red). Some of the most striking examples of medieval buildings are the Towers of Bologna. Several towers can be seen throughout the city, but the most famous ones are the Two Towers – Asinelli and Garisenda. The gridded layout of the streets – first laid out in the Roman era – make the city a dream to navigate. Piazza Maggiore is surrounded by some magnificent buildings, including the Palazzo dei Banchi, Palazzo dei Notai, and San Petronio Basilica. Spaghetti Bolognese appears in a slightly different guise here – you’ll find it in many restaurants under the heading ‘ragu’, served with tagliatelle instead of spaghetti.
Il Convento dei Fiori di Seta Hotel – Revisit Bologna’s past with a stay in this former convent, built in the 14th century. The hotel’s rather long and unusual name alludes to its past as a convent where the nuns produced silk for artificial flowers. These days, the 10 rooms have been modernised to a high standard, and feature plump pillows, colourful paintings and headboards, as well as TVs and internet access. Guests can start their day off with a hearty buffet breakfast in the dining area. The hotel also has a well-stocked shop selling biscuits, sweets, cured meats and other regional delicacies. Room rates start from about £120, with breakfast included in the price.
Drogheria della Rosa – Housed in a former pharmacy, this cramped, homely looking trattoria seems to be a favourite with both locals and visitors. Its chef, Emanuele Addone, is known for both his friendly, over-the-top personality, as well as his skills in the kitchen. The menu consists of traditional Italian comfort food, made with quality ingredients. Start with some antipasti – creamy soft buffalo mozzarella, Parma ham and mortadella. Then go for some tagliatelle, heaped with thick ragu sauce, or tortellini stuffed with cheese.
Sanctuario della Beata Vergine di San Luca – The pastel pink bulk of the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca stands on a hill overlooking the centre of Bologna. The traditional way of getting to the Sanctuary was to walk through the Portico di San Luca, a monumental covered walkway shaded by 666 arches. This 3.5 kilometre walk is still done by many pilgrims and visitors. However, a road leads up to the summit these days, so you can also make it easier on your legs by taking a bus to the top. The journey up here is worth is for the views over Bologna, and the inside of the basilica. The interior is filled with a fabulous collection of religious paintings and relics, the most famous of which is a gilt-covered representation of the Virgin Mary.
Check here for Bologna travel information.
Posted June 17, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Naples is famous for its gobsmacking
cuisine, but there’s more to this coastal town than the food. A search for the
perfect pizza will take you through Naples’ piazzas, and you’re likely to
chance upon towering cathedrals and fairytale castles. History plans can take a
day trip out to the legendary town of Pompeii, buried in ash and lava after
Mount Vesuvius erupted centuries ago. The Capodimonte Royal Woods are a great
spot for a picnic, and you can pop in to the Palace of Capodimonte for some
gorgeous artworks and porcelain pieces.
Pizzeria Di Matteo – Hidden among all
the other pizzerias on the Via di Tribunali is this gem of a pizza place. There
are only four or five ovens in this tiny restaurant, with the rest of the space
filled by roaring ovens and a counter filled with fresh rounds of pizzas. The
line snaking out the door and down the street attests to the popularity of this
place. Join the line, and get your Margherita as a takeaway.
Decumani Hotel de Charme – Located in
the centre of Naples, the Decumani Hotel feels like a home away from home – if your
home happens to look like a grand 18th century mansion. The hotel’s
friendly staff provide a memorably warm welcome. The rooms are elegant and
spacious, maintaining a touch of old-fashioned luxury while managing to feel up
to date. Room rates start from £100.
Pompeii – A trip to the ancient city
of Pompeii is both a fascinating and eerie experience. The town is completely deserted,
while many of the original buildings and paved streets are still preserved in
near-perfect condition. The cone of Mount Vesuvius towers over the ruined town
as a reminder of what happened to the once thriving city. Pompeii can be
reached by the Circumvesuviana train, which stops at the site, or by bus or
taxi from the present day town of Pompei.
Check here for cheap flights to Naples.
Posted February 17, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Pisa is famous for its Leaning Tower, but there’s a whole lot more to this ancient city then dysfunctional architecture. You’ll be able to spend several pleasant days simply strolling through this little city and looking at all the beautifully preserved medieval buildings. However, despite the old buildings, Pisa feels like a vibrant young city, due to the presence of thousands of students who attend the University of Pisa.Play
Segway Pisa Tour – Exploring a new city on foot can be really tiring, and you’ll miss out on plenty of sights if you’re zipping around in a car. But Italy Segway Tours offers a fun compromise – visitors get to explore the city on a Segway! You’ll be accompanied by a professional guide, who will take you on a three-hour tour around the city’s attractions while balanced on this electric, scooter-like device. See
Orto Botanico di Pisa – Visit this lush green garden if you feel like to escape from the crush of other tourists. The oldest university botanical garden in Europe, this surprisingly tranquil garden is right in the middle of the city, only a few minutes from the famous Leaning Tower. You’ll find a large collection of herb gardens, greenhouses, ponds and university buildings on its grounds. The old botany institute is also worth a look, if only for its quirky seashell-covered façade. StayHotel Relais dell’Orologio
– This luxurious little hotel is conveniently located a stone’s throw from the Leaning Tower and other sights – perfect for those of you who are eager to start exploring the city. Housed in a 14th-century building, many of the rooms still retain bits of their original features, such as little niches in the walls and exposed wooden beams set into the ceiling. The hotel’s garden restaurant is a romantic spot for a candle-lit dinner in the summer; it moves into the attic over the winter months to take advantage of the roaring fireplace. Room rates start from about £60.
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Posted February 3, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and your significant other may be dropping not-so-subtle hints to make sure you don’t forget it (again). But what if you can’t stand the idea of shelling out for roses that will die in a couple of days, and can’t stand the sight of another saccharine card? Well, if you hurry, you may just be able to whisk your other half away to one of these romantic places in time for a Valentine’s break. Galesnjak, Croatia
– This little islet may not immediately spring to mind as an ideal spot for romance, but a bird’s eye view of it will clue you in on why it’s one of the most romantic spots on Earth. This drop of land is perfectly heart-shaped, and no one lives on it, so it may just be the perfect desert island getaway you and your lover are looking for.New York, USA
– The harried pace of life in The Big Apple may not seem conducive to romance, but look closely enough, and you’ll find it in every corner. Whether you’re splashing out for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage or sharing a hotdog in the rain, you’ll be sure to have many moments to remember. Prague, Czech Republic
– The City of a Hundred Spires is an unashamedly romantic city, its endless cobbled streets and many bridges providing lovers with a beautiful backdrop to an unforgettable affair. Steal a kiss under an ancient spire, or wander through its centuries-old streets hand in hand just like countless other couples have done throughout the ages. Venice, Italy
– Venice and romance go together like, well, like a couple just meant for each other. A gondola ride while the sun sets may be too cheesy for words, but you can always hire a boat and explore the canals yourself. This way, you won’t have a noisy gondolier intruding on your romantic moments. Have dinner at a cosy little family-run restaurant by the water to cap off a wonderful day.
Posted July 27, 2009 by BookingBuddy
They say all roads lead to Rome, so why not take a trip to the Eternal City this summer? The Mediterranean climate allows you to enjoy the outdoors without worrying too much about the weather. With so much to see and so, you’ll want to spend as much time outside as possible. And if the humidity gets to you, then cool off by indulging in a gelato or three!Stay Hotel des Artistes
– Just a quick walk from Termini Station, this hotel has a variety of rooms to suit most budgets. Plush 3-star rooms are available on the upper levels, and backpackers will be pleased to learn that they’ve not been left out – the hotel has dorm rooms available on the lower floors.
On a sunny morning, enjoy your breakfast on the leafy rooftop terrace while looking out at splendid views of the city. Room rates start from around £25 per person.See
Catacomb di San Sebastiano - Should the summer heat get too much, then retreat underground for a tour of this catacomb dedicated to Saint Sebastian. The saint was buried here in the 3rd century after being martyred. The tunnels feature mosaics and frescoes, some dating from as early as the 2nd century. Tickets cost about £6 for adults, with concessions available. Eat
San Crispino Gelateria – When you need something cold and sweet to beat the heat, then head straight to San Crispino’s, where they take gelato very seriously. Critics have constantly heaped accolades upon this gelateria, so why not find out for yourself if it lives up to the hype? All their gelato is lovingly made from scratch, with an emphasis on using fresh, seasonal ingredients. This commitment is evident when you taste the rich, creamy gelato – much thicker than what you’re probably used to. The crema di limone is a highly recommended classic.
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