Even with the gradual opening up of borders, the increasing opportunities for air travel, and the reassurance of vaccination, negotiating the tourist landscape of the “new normal” is still a tricky business. There is an ever-shifting raft of additional requirements to be overcome, from PCR tests to quarantine, additional insurance, and even the chance that your destination of choice might suddenly move from the green to the amber, or even red list before you head off.
But if you can navigate your way through these additional complexities, there is a wealth of new destinations to head for, and for those dreaming of a southern European idyll, Italy is boasting plenty of new destinations that you will want to be the first to explore.
There are few places better than this 3700-acre region of protected countryside that capture the tranquility and beauty of rural Umbria. Reschio comprises of nine reappointed and reimagined farmhouses around the main hotel. Although the word hotel could be easily substituted for the phrase “meticulously restored and opulently decored, one thousand-year-old castle.”
And there is plenty to occupy you during your stay, from horseback rides through the surrounding forests and foraging treks to cooking classes to truffle hunting excursions and from clay pigeon shooting to relaxing swims in the nearby lakes. There is even a spa and Roman-style bathhouse with treatments using local produce and, as Reschio also makes its own wines, honey, olive oil as well as having a well-stocked, organic kitchen garden, much of the menu and bar options are about as locally sourced as you can get.
Villa Igiea, Palermo
This recently opened coastal retreat is set in an Art Nouveau palazzo that dates back 120 years and boasts authentic features such as a restored mirrored ballroom and a gorgeously frescoed bar. There are 100 accommodations, all beautifully appointed and offering the best balance of historical decor and modern features.
Here the focus is relaxation, whether you wish to savor a drink on the terrace, dine in the sumptuous main restaurant or just laze by the pool. The garden features a lushly decorated spa offering Mediterranean-inspired treatments and in-house, Forte branded products. And being just a ten-minute drive from Palermo means that if you are looking for something more active to do there is a wealth of Baroque churches and bustling street markets to explore.
Il Tornabuoni, Florence
Part of the AG Hotels portfolio, Il Tornabuoni is an upscale hideaway tucked away in Florence’s 12th century Palazzo Minerbetti right across from the Ponte Vecchio. This 62 room hotel is nothing less than a love letter to the city’s renaissance past, with all of the opulence and extravagance which that entails.
There are three dining options between its elegant ground floor and its majestic rooftop viewpoints each menu highlighting Tuscan traditions and specialties, such as black kale, wild boar, and native cannellini beans. And you mustn’t miss the opportunity to sip an aperitif or two on the Butterfly Terrace taking in unparalleled views of the city’s landmarks and architecture.
San Domenico Palace, Taormina
One of Sicily’s most storied hotels is reopening this season under the Four Season’s banner. Built on the site of a 14th-century convent and offering fantastic views of the Ionian Sea, the building has a 125-year history as a hotel.
Now refurbished and upgraded, it is once again a place where guests can wander through sumptuous spaces bedecked with antiques and contemporary art and take advantage of lush gardens, a glorious infinity pool, and even a gym and spa facilities. There are three restaurants and many of the one hundred and eleven rooms offer magnificent sea views, private terraces, and even their own plunge pools.