Design and Culinary Experiences in Italy

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The Second Floor Library at Milu Hotel in Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Morgan Donovan)
The Second Floor Library at Milu Hotel in Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Morgan Donovan)

Italy is buzzing with new hotel openings and tours to offer your Italophile clients.

Florence’s Fashion-Forward Milu Hotel
Opening in the heart of Florence’s fashion and design district in October 2016 is the new Milu Hotel. Situated within a historic building that was once a private row of residences dating back to the year 1400, the 5-story boutique property features 22 rooms that have been individually designed with distinct color palettes and design features by local artisanal brands.

The structure of the current building was altered in 1835 by architect and painter Giovan Battista Silvestri, and the ground floor of the property once housed the Cafe Doney, a local fixture among socialites from when it opened in 1870 through to 1989. The original staircase from the early 19th century building has been preserved and functions as an ever-changing gallery space that connects the five floors of the building. The gallery space features commissioned artwork for sale by international artists, and the opening exhibition includes work such as RISE! by Maya Gelfer, an installation depicting a flock of yarn birds suspended in mid-air; Hourglass, a video installation by Ronen Sharabani; and Pool by Galia Gur Ziv. A hyper-local concierge is also available to provide guests with expert insight into the art, culinary, fashion and music scenes of Florence. Rates start at $180.04 per night. For more information, visit hotelmilu.com.

The pool at Il Sereno, Lago di Como in Lake Como, Italy.
The pool at Il Sereno, Lago di Como in Lake Como, Italy.

Lakefront Luxury in Lake Como
Also recently opened this summer in the exclusive Italian destination of Lake Como is the luxury lakefront Il Sereno, Lago di Como property by Sereno Hotels. The all-suite hotel features 30 oversized suites and is the first new hotel to open on Lake Como in decades.

One of the focal points of the property’s design is an original stairwell made with natural materials including walnut wood. The large bronze-encased steps appear to “float” in the lobby, and compliment the ceppo di gre stone found throughout the hotel. The property also features three unique botanical works of art by botanist Patrick Blanc, including two vertical gardens and one green sculpture, each made from thousands of plant species.

Hidden passageways can be found amid the grounds and a 60-ft. lakefront freshwater infinity pool is located at the center of the hotel’s main garden, near to a small beach that offers direct access to the lake. Modern Italian cuisine is on offer at the Ristorante Al Lago, by Milan-based Michelin star chef Andrea Berton, whose menu is inspired by local regional delicacies such as risottos from nearby Pianura Padana, plus wines, cheeses and meats from the mountains of Valtellina. Room rates start at $825 per night. For more information, visit ilsereno.com.

Guests on Eating Italy's new Testaccio Supper Stroll evening tour have the opportunity to to sample authentic Roman food such as oxtail, cheeses, cured meats and gelato.
Guests on Eating Italy’s new Testaccio Supper Stroll evening tour have the opportunity to to sample authentic Roman food such as oxtail, cheeses, cured meats and gelato.

A Supper Stroll in Rome
Food lovers looking to further sample the authentic taste of regional Italy can satisfy their cravings on the new Testaccio Supper Stroll evening tour by Eating Italy, beginning Sept. 19. The tour sets out to explore Cucina Romana, or Roman Cuisine, and takes guests away from the tourist crowds to sample authentic Roman food such as oxtail, cheeses, cured meats and gelato. Testaccio is the culinary center of Rome and the home of quinto quarto, or offal, which the city is famous for. The tour puts an emphasis on real people and real neighborhoods, and along the way guests get to hear personal stories and local history that provide a genuine glimpse into Roman life.

Included in the price are 10 food tastings and 6 drink tastings, an English-speaking guide and a printed Food Lovers’ Guide to Rome. As well as sampling real Roman street food, guests will discover Italy’s craft beer scene, sample the popular stuffed pizza-dough snack, taste real-deal gelato (and learn how to tell it apart from imitators), and dine at a restaurant set into Monte Testaccio itself. This adults-only tours runs Monday to Saturday, from 5:30p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and are priced at $89 pp. For more information visit eatingitalyfoodtours.com/rome/tours/testaccio-supper-stroll.

BellaVista Tours' The Best of Sorrento itnerary features visits to Praiano, the fjord of Furore, Conca dei Marini, the Emerald Grotto, Amalfi and Ravello.
BellaVista Tours’ The Best of Sorrento itnerary features visits to Praiano, the fjord of Furore, Conca dei Marini, the Emerald Grotto, Amalfi and Ravello.

Experience the Best of Sorrento with BellaVista Tours
Also launching this fall from BellaVista Tours is The Best of Sorrento escorted tour. The 6-night tour of Sorrento explores the coastline crossing Praiano, the fjord of Furore, Conca dei Marini, the Emerald Grotto, Amalfi and Ravello. Highlights include a farm tour followed by a pizza-making lesson, and then a visit to where the famous buffalo mozzarella is made, with a chance to assist in its production and enjoy a tasting session afterwards. The tour also visits the top of Pompeii to see the ruins of the old city destroyed which was destroyed by an eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in AD79. An optional excursion to Capri is available, including a jet boat transfer and visits to the Gardens of Augustus and Blue Grotto.

The tour is available from Oct. 13 and prices start at $1,599 pp dbl including an airlift out of Boston or JFK, roundtrip Economy Class airfare, a 6-night stay in Sorrento, daily breakfast, one lunch and five dinners, as well as a welcome drink and dinner at the hotel, entrance fees as indicated on the itinerary, and an English-speaking tour leader and local guides. Commission of up to 15 percent is available to travel agents on these packages. For more information visit http://bellavistatours.com/escorted-tours/Sorrento-Amalfi-Coast-Pompeii-Capri/The-Best-of-Sorrento-21.aspx