My husband and I had always wanted to spend a month immersing ourselves in Italy’s culture, food, and natural beauty. On DEPARTURES’ recommendation, we contacted Bespoke Italy, a unit of Bellini Travel, which also handles events and under-the-radar property rentals. During our four-week tour we explored places we couldn’t have found on our own and met people who showed us what la dolce vita is all about! In Rome, we sat outside at the Hotel de Russie’s courtyard garden restaurant, and the Dal Bolognese was a great traditional eatery. For atmosphere, nothing beats Vecchia Roma, set in a lovely square in the old Jewish ghetto.
In Capri, J.K. Place Capri overlooking the harbor remains the place to stay. We started the day with the hotel’s tonic of lemon, ginger, and water, and celebrated the evening with its grand finale dessert: a “smoking” Vesuvio baba au rhum. Shopping in Italy is the ultimate experience, and we found the best buys on this island in the Bay of Naples: Colori di Capri offers belts, T-shirts, and button-downs in delightful colors. For exclusively Italian ready-to-wear, we discovered Ermanno Scervino and Farella. And for the finest Caprese jewelry and accessories, it’s Grazia & Marica Vozza.
In Tuscany, the Hotel Il Pellicano’s Michelin-starred chef, Sebastiano Lombardi, serves best-in-class cuisine. For special fun, we toured the sculptures of Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden. We spent a glorious night at Monteverdi Tuscany, an eco-chic boutique hotel in a 900-year-old hilltop village in the Val d’Orcia region. Its Oreade Ristorante is a special pleasure. Nearby: The Cecil Pinsent–designed Gardens of La Foce were not to be missed. In Rapallo, we devoured spaghetti alle vongole at the Lord Byron Restaurant in the Excelsior Palace Hotel. A true treasure trove was Gioielleria Ventura, a third-generation purveyor of rare Moro coral and other natural gems.
No trip to Italy is complete without a visit to Milan. At the Bulgari Hotel Milano, we dined at the stunning, high-gloss bar, then repaired to the restaurant to sample chef Roberto Di Pinto’s reinterpretations of Italian traditions. We couldn’t resist Luisa Beccaria, the Milanese concept go-to store for Milan’s best-dressed women. It was all so incredible!