A trek into a secret hidden civilization in the Sardinian mountains

(Tiscali, Sardinia)  — If you’ve ever seen the old movie Lost Horizon, you’d think hidden ancient civilizations are a thing of fiction. But the long-abandoned Tiscali nuraghi settlement is just such a magical place.  Invisible from the rest of the world for hundreds of years until it was rediscovered in the 1900s, this ancient civilization was a whole village tucked into a deep caldera that sinks into the ground on top of a mouton ridge, accessible only by a hidden crevasse that cuts through the rock, then descends hundreds of feet into the caldera.  Protected there, a whole community thrived, with animals, orchards, olive trees and a totally isolated prehistoric society. It is just indescribable. And once you cut down through the trails, see the

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A DISCREET HIDEAWAY, TUCKED AMIDST THE ROCKS

(Costa Smeralda, Sardinia) — You won’t hear much about the Hotel Pitrizza, but a few people have. As part of a trio of Luxury Collection hotels scattered around the tip of Costa Smeralda development, it might be the most exclusive.  With just a handful of rooms, extremely understated architecture and extremely private bungalows, it’s long been a secret hideaway from celebrities and titans, far from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. But its “rustic simplicity” design was intended from the start to blend in to the natural beauty of the Costa Smeralda, small bungalows built of rock, with low-slung landscaped roofs that make the view from every room unobstructed. Its a really cool visual trick and add even more to the privacy and seclusion.  It

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LIVE LIKE JAMES BOND IN SARDINIA

Porto Cervo, Sardinia) — The Hotel Cala di Volpe is consistently voted one of the world’s top-rated (and most expensive) hotels.  Incredible architecture, great restaurants and incomparable people watching.  When you see pics of stars on vacation in Sardinia, they are usually staying here. It’s a Starwood Luxury Collection hotel, so you know it’s good. Great beach that a launch takes you to around the bay. The waters and beaches of Sardinia are the best Italy….none of those pebble-strewn beaches, pure, pure sand, ice blue water…you can see clear to the bottom. The architecture is really something unusual: James Bond meets Planet of the Apes. Kindofa Arcosanti in the sand. They actually filmed a James Bond movie here.              

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THE GRAND DAME OF HOTELS ON CORSICA’S SOUTHERN COAST

(Porto Vecchio, Corsica) — Just above the lower tip of Corsica is an excellent, in the big broad bay around Porto Vecchio is the romantic hotel Grand Hotel Cala Rossa, one of the most famous and fanciest hotels on Corsica. Quiet beaches, swanky atmosphere, nice staff.  And because it’s a Relais & Chateaux, you know they have an incredible restaurant, which is Michelin starred.  Cala Rossa has been around for decade, ruling the roost of southern Corsica.  I don’t have a ton of pictures because the last time I was there, digital cameras hadn’t been invented, so these are scans of my old print film. But, you can get an idea of how beautiful this place is. When you first pull up, the outsides of

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A BEAUTIFUL CHURCH ON A HILL ON THE WAY TO TUSCANY

[ORVIETO, ITALY] — About an hour’s drive north of Roma is the mountain top village of Orvieto. It’s a great mid-day stop if you’re on your way form Rome to Florence or Tuscany. Really cool church, with really modern-looking stripey theme going on, everywhere. Excellent stop for lunch in the quiet town, or for the perfect overnight, sleep in the former convent-turned-hotel La Badia, an excellent property to sit, relax, a sip on a nice Orvieto crisp white wine. In winter, they have a great fireplace.

A CLIFFSIDE AMALFI COAST HOTEL, OVERLOOKING A FISHING VILLAGE

[PRAIANO, ITALY] — Two villages down from Positano is a small little hillside village called Praiano. Clinging between the cliff and the roadway, it is like a suburb of Positano — once removed, quiet and friendly. And zero tourists. What few hotels there are cheaper. It’s a great place to stay away from the touristy Positano. You can shoot in a cab, your car or take a water taxi that comes by fairly regularly. Not that many people know the secret that is Praiano. Just 20 minutes around the corner from Positano, past the ritzy San Pietro hotel, is this little village, also perched on a hill. (Aren’t they all in Amalfi?) If you want to be close to the action in Positano but away from the crowds, this is your

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WHY STAY IN NOISY NICE WHEN YOU CAN STAY HERE?

(Menton, France) — Nice is nice, but it has grown to be loud, clanging city choked with tourists and pickpockets. Why not relax and go a couple of stops on the local train to the quaint little town of Menton?  My Swedish friends Bror-Erik and Irene turned me onto this place after they bought their retirement flat to escape the cold and dark Stockholm winters. Hard on the water, it is literally the last stop on the train before hitting Italy and the town of Ventimiglia.  In fact, if you want a contrast, check out the difference in countries and cultures as you ride the train across the border.  France: clean, cheery colors, pristine houses and flowing bougainvillea hanging over the rails. Instantly as you

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