Il Cannito Cilento Coast

Every once in a while, I get amped about a place.

Right now, it’s a guesthouse on the southern coast of Italy, called Il Cannito.

I can imagine myself poolside sporting my straw hat and cotton dress, with one leg dropped into the water, reading my book. Then later, just because, I’d sit under the bright orange umbrella and ponder something important, like if I’m gonna have that third cappuccino.

For dinner, I would start on the homemade cavatelli pasta, then tuck into the fried calamari. As usual, I would linger to coax the spicy sauce onto my last morsel of crusty bread. (This Italian eating ritual is called, la scarpetta).

As the dessert would pass my way, I would politely decline, “No, I couldn’t possibly eat anything else”. Then, feeling the hedonism that Italy inspires, I’d change my tack and sink my choppers into a tartlet filled with garden strawberries. And then I’d probably have another one.

Il Cannito feels like a place I would bring my friends. Although just escaping with my husband and daughter for a quiet vacation of three sounds incredibly energizing too!

Il Cannito is hidden: the small rustic buildings that contain the guest rooms are completely tucked into the treed slopes of the Mediterranean landscape. Not too tucked away mind you, you still have a bangin’ view of the island of Capri. The paths that wind through the property are filled with orchids and olive trees. Take one and meander down to the private beach.

The Cilento coast barely gets a mention in most travel books. It just doesn’t have the same fame as the Amalfi coast, although it’s so close you could whip over for dinner. But maybe you wouldn’t even bother, as you relish in an under the radar slice of Italy.

To get to Il Cannito, you’ll need to rent a car in Naples, and then drive south, past Amalfi. The guesthouse is barely visible from the roads. It’s not a flashy resort, or a chain hotel; it’s the antithesis. It only has four rooms. It’s a labor of love, and a lifestyle curated by a tight knit family. And they’re on a mission to extend warmth and hospitality to whoever travels down their driveway.

It’s a place to return to year after year. Because you’re treated like family. You know you’ve found your people, when, each time they see you, they sit you down, ask how your trip was, and then immediately…feed you. The best hosts always do.

Il Cannito

Il Cannito

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If Il Cannito speaks your language, then here’s the scoop:

  • They have 4 adorable rooms decorated with local art and groovy furniture. They rock you heated floors, jacuzzi tubs, lovely showers, and thankfully for the summer months, aria condizionata
  • It’s located on 37 treed acres of oak, elm trees, myrtle, and juniper
  • It’s five minutes from the village of Paestum, where you’ll see some of the world’s best preserved ancient Greek temples. (It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wikipedia it up. The temples are incredible!)
  • You can book a boat cruise along the coast in their private speed boat
  • They run food tours to boutique production farms, where you’ll see how they make fresh mozzarella cheese and olive oil
  • They arrange excursions to the Amalfi coast or the city of Salerno

Bed + Breakfast rates are 250 euros per night, for any room. They’re open seasonally, from March 1st to October 31st. You can email the lovely owner, Antonella Gorga at antonella@ilcannito.com.

Getting there:
Il Cannito,  is in the southern Italian province of Campania. It’s one hour from Naples. You can rent a car from the airport to drive there. Or take the three hour train from Florence to Salerno, and they’ll swing over to the train station to pick you up.

What do you think? Could you hack a few days here? If you have any questions, just ask!

With love + strawberry tartlets,

Bianca

{This post in partnership with Il Cannito.}

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where to stay in florence

This is an awesome question from  a reader:

My bride and I are going to Italy to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We will be in Florence for 2 nights before going to Rome. What do you recommend for hotels in Florence? We love small hotels, and it would be great to be near the Duomo.

Thanks!     {Roy S.}

So – you’re headed to Florence?

Congratulations! I’d love to give you my top choices for cozy and romantic hotels.

I’ve personally visited or stayed in all the hotels that I’m recommending to you.

I’m a real picky bitch about these things. I don’t recommend luxury hotels that feel over the top and frivolous. I don’t think that spending a large amount of money equals to having a large amount of fun. The two things aren’t linked in my experience.

But of course the lower end of the price spectrum often delivers generic hotels filled with el cheapo everything. And don’t get me started on wall to wall Berber carpeting or I might have to be sedated.

I can get you closer to your perfect Florence hotel right now.

You say you want to be central:

Just to be clear: Florence is a very compact city!

You can walk to most places you need to be in 20 minutes. It’s also dead flat and is built for an awesome pedestrian experience. I wouldn’t get too hung up on having to be in the centre of Florence; it is a bit of a newbie mistake to think you gotta be parked in a hotel a stone’s throw from the Duomo.

My rant about staying near the Duomo:

The Duomo is beautiful and fascinating but you don’t need to find a hotel near to it. Why? Because then you’ll have no sense of staying in a real neighbourhood. Also, it’s hardly close to any real restaurants I would recommend (the Hardrock Cafe is not my idea of good eats).

Right now I’m going to give you 3 ideas for hotels in central Florence that would suit a special weekend with your love. Then I’m gonna amp up your choices by suggesting two villas outside of Florence – to  impress your partner with your knowledge of all things romantic and Italian.

Like I said, I’ve personally been to all these hotels.

5 Romantic Florence Hotels

1) My top pick is Palazzo Guadagni

Why I love it here:

  • it is located in my favorite neighbourhood in Oltrarno (called Santo Spirito/San Frediano)
  • divine covered patio with comfy outdoor sofas
  • borders awesome Piazza Santo Spirito
  • excellent restaurants and bars within stumbling distance to your bed
  • you’re in a real neighbourhood
  • great value: which is sweet considering it’s the old home of a 16th century wealthy merchant family

Booking Tip: Ask for a room with a view of the Duomo from your bed.

2) Hotel Continentale

Why I love it here:

  • incredible rooftop bar overlooking the river
  • cozy modern vibe
  • super stylish (it’s a Salvatore Ferragamo property)
  • at the foot of the ponte vechio with great access to central Florence and Oltrarno

Booking Tip: yoga classes on the rooftop bar during peak season.

3) Casa Howard

Why I love it here:

  • most unique hotel you’ll ever stay in
  • stunning decor and unique objects collected from around the world
  • has a Turkish Hammam (bath) – perfect for chilly winter stays
  • If you’re traveling by train you’ll love the easy access to the train station

Booking Tip: the “Drawing Room” is massive and drop dead gorgeous. The “Studio” has a private terrace and a cool spiral staircase and the “Hidden Room” has a copper tub sunk into the floor. Oh, and erotic art.

Villas Near Florence:

4) Villa Le Piazzole is located in the Florentine hills: a 10 minute taxi ride into Florence.
Why I love it here:

  • swimming pool
  • incredible gardens
  • olive oils and wines produced on the estate
  • cozy and friendly feeling

Booking tip: get on a 500 Touring Club tour that leaves from the property or join in on a pizza making class.

5) And last, if you are looking for a massive splurge then stay at Villa San Michele with sweeping views of Florence. Note: it’s closed in winter.

  • located in the small village of Fiesole
  • the crème de la crème of Florence hotels
  • cooking classes
  • crazy ass views

Tip: you don’t have to stay here, just go up for lunch and enjoy the views.

I hope I’ve answered your awesome question about where to stay in Florence. So many people have this question, and I know how hard it is to decide on a great hotel in a good area when you’ve never been to a place. I hope I’ve shed some light on the situation, but I’d love other people to add to this conversation.

If you’ve stayed at a great hotel in Florence then leave your recommendation in the comments below. Together we can make a great resource for people who are Florence bound!

Grazie mille,

Bianca

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best hostels in europe italy

Hostels in Europe have a bad rap.

They bring back college day hallucinations of bunk beds, polyester sheets and cheap beer.

But like you, hostels have grown up; they’ve bought a suit and got a job.

Hostels today don’t just cater to broke ass students and vagabonds: they are an awesome alternative to expensive European hotels.

If Europe is on your radar in the next few years then pocket these Italian addresses. Cause I want you to save money for more important things…like prosecco.

Luxury hostels: 5 beds under 100 bucks.

1) Venice: Generator Hostel

A brand new hostel is born in Venice. She’s part of the ultra-groovy Generator Hostel family (with digs in London, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin, Hamburg). A gorgeous room, lounge and a bar await you. And you can have a piece of this pie for around 20 euros a night. P.S. See my Venice kayak post here.

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2) Sorrento: Seven Hostel

This hostel is located just outside of Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast and has an amazing rooftop terrace and bar with a view of the Gulf of Naples and the Sorrento Peninsula. Here’s another Amalfi coast accommodation idea.

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3) Milan: Ostello Bello

OMG people love to hate Milan, but I love to love Milan. I go for the amazing vintage clothing stores, the ridiculously cool design stores and the awesome vibe of a working Italian city not dripping with “tourist menu” signs. Milan might be the most underrated place to fly into, so don’t miss Ostello Bello if you need a cheap and cheerful Milanese friend.

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4) Florence: Plus Hostel

So — this hostel has two pools, Turkish bath, steam room and a sauna. In a town like Florence, you could spend 500 euros a night and not see a single one of those things in your fancy hotel. See my post about what to do in Florence here.

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5) Sicily: Lol Hostel

You can score a beautiful private room in the heart of Syracuse, Sicily for 25 euro. Within minutes of dropping your bags, you could be checking out the ancient Greek temple or tucking into a delicious hot slice at the local pizzeria.

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I love you and comments too! Can you add to this list of awesome hostels? Which one would YOU stay at in a heartbeat?

With love + clean sheets,

Bianca

top image: Leela Cyd

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italian christmas gifts

Ok, I admit it.

I’m not a big Christmas shopper.

I prefer gifting consumables: cookies, wine, bubbly and homemade sweets.

It’s simple, practical and always appreciated.

Below, I’ve made a list of simple but wonderful Italian inspired gifts to give to friends, family or co-workers who love Italy or love to travel.

You can easily buy, make or send them — even last minute!

Christmas shop like babbo natale . 6 Italian inspired gift ideas.

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1. Salute! Break out the bubbly with Organic Villa Teresa prosecco. Or soak your Christmas cantuccini in this beautiful Tuscan vin santo.

2. Gifting cookbooks provides years of inspiration. Here are my favorite Italian cookbooks.

3. An adorable app that sends a real 4×6 real postcard to anywhere in the world. A lovely and inexpensive way to say, “I’m thinking of you” to your friends in faraway places.

4. Homemade presents are the best! I make these Tuscan almond biscuits with a hint of orange every year. Here’s the best cantuccini recipe.

5. A box of panettone is a perfect hostess gift.

6. Bring back memories of your trip to Tuscany with panforte. Sure, you can buy it pre-made but check out this handmade panforte recipe from my friend Giulia.

Can you add to this list of simple gifts? I’d love to hear your “go-to” Christmas present.

With love + panettone,

Bianca

 

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Got winter? Want more? Then you’ll love these Italian mountain hotels. Ski legs optional.

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Get snuggly at Chalet Gerard. Get swanky at Lagació Hotel Mountain Residence. Get spa’d at Ganischgerhof Mountain Resort & Spa.

Baci + snowflakes,

Bianca

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anthology Cinque Terre

Anthology Magazine published a story about the Cinque Terre featuring images taken on our tour of the Cinque Terre.

Our trip photographer, Leela Cyd, wrote the story for Anthology, and I’m excited to have our trip shared in such an awesome publication like Anthology.

Anthology is printed in San Francisco, and it features home decor, travel, design, entertaining, and culture.

P.S. For our new tour dates of the Cinque Terre see this.  Who knows, you might end up in the next magazine feature.

Love, Bianca

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How to Travel Even When You’re So Broke Your Mom Won’t Lend You Money.

November 22, 2013
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What if, one day, your job goes to hell in a handbasket? You get laid off, or canned, or your company sinks. Or you do something you’ve been dreaming of for ages; you flip off your boss cause you can’t bear it another second. (I did this once and it feels as good as it […]

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Would You Like to Take Better Travel Photos?

November 15, 2013
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The first time I picked up an SLR camera I was shocked that I wasn’t taking amazing photos right from the get go.  I thought surely, since I’m a creative type with an arts degree — I’d be a fabulous photographer. Instantly. What a let down! I had a hard time getting the shots I […]

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The Beginner’s Guide to the Cinque Terre + Free Itinerary

November 11, 2013
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I love showing people the Cinque Terre for the first time. I’m lucky enough to do that on my group trips to the Cinque Terre , and I dig seeing their faces when they arrive. I’ve spent a ton of time in the area as a resident, a tour guide and a traveler. Whenever someone […]

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Should You Go to the Cinque Terre?

November 2, 2013
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If you’re thinking about a trip to Italy this is a question you’ve gotta ask yourself. Because if you use something called books and the internet then you’ve likely seen photos that have ignited your spark for an Italian vacation. We humans travel to a place for a specific reason, to do something or to […]

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