When I decided to move to New York, I discovered the incredible love Americans have for my country, and in over 11 years, I can’t count the times I had a conversation about that museum, this wine, those delicious homemade pastas some signora made at a wonderful boutique hotel somewhere in Rome.
I believe that the secret of Italy’s charm is the diversity you can find, even in a country that smaller than California; this is the reason I am often surprised about the destinations people decide to visit, easy to summarize in what I call the “Remarkable four sisters”: Rome, Florence, Venice, Amalfi Coast; "too little time to visit, too much to see” is what makes many tourists visit these wonderful locations, but I suggest, next time you plan a visit to the Sun Country, to consider these three alternatives and equally charming destinations (all not far from other larger cities):
ISOLA DI PONZA
The largest of the Pontine Island archipelago, Ponza is one of a kind gem in the Tirreno sea and easily accessible in less than 2 hours from the coast.
Charming as few others, with a history that can be traced back to the Romans, Ponza is an island with a vibrant life during the warmer months, where mostly locals from the Lazio and Campania regions come to take a break from the frenetic life of big cities like Rome or Naples.
The island featured beautiful villas that you can rent, and a vast selections of restaurants, bars, beaches and excursions for a vacation completely stress-free. No time to book, or stay too long while visiting Rome? Hotel Rome Cavalieri offers an extra-luxurious visit to the three Pontine Islands with a Rolls Royce picking you up at the hotel, and private boat charter and a helicopter. I wonder how much Caesar would have appreciated such a first-class service!
- Bergamo Alta has one of the few still intact walls surrounding the older part of town: the Venetians Walls (a Unesco world heritage site) is a romantic circuit a little over 4 miles long that anyone can walk and feel transported back in time to the 17th century.
- With two valleys, two rivers, and two main lakes, you can visit Bergamo during any season and find an activity outdoor for a day or more
- Bergamo airport (the third busiest international airport in Italy) gives you access to many of the European capital, from Paris to Prague, with most low coast airline departing from there; a great reason to spend an extra night and be ready and fresh for your next trip around Europe
- Cheese: I honestly don’t know how many varieties are produced in Bergamo, but believe me, it’s a large number; from well know kinds as Taleggio and Gongorzola (the excellence of blue cheese), you can find a Bottega selling local delicacies and try them all by themselves, with some polenta, or during happy hour, maybe at the wonderful roof garden at Hotel Excelsiors San Marco, with stunning view of the old part of town.