NOTE: THESE ARE LOUSY SCANS OF LOUSY PICTURES FROM A LONG TIME AGO, CLICK THE LINKS TO SEE PRETTY PICTURES FROM THEIR SITE: [MONTAIONE, TUSCANY] — Let the hoards of English, Germans and Americans crowd the overly popular Under The Tuscan Sun areas south of Florence and the tourist-choked villages of Montepulciano. To me, I loved staying on the western edges of Tuscany centered around the cool and undiscovered town of Montaione. The geography of this area is more farmland than grapes and a prime hunting ground. And Villa Cerretello is the perfect villa. Part of a larger private farm that includes other agriturismo villas, hunting grounds, the massive Villa Cerretello is the perfect base for entertaining lots of your friends. While it’s big, when you
(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
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.
[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.
[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
(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