INTERVIEWS

best spots in italy

The best spots in Italy — you wanna go there right?

But there isn’t a guidebook that exists that can cut the fat and give you the real deal.

Why?

Cause guidebooks suck at delivering you personal recommendations.

If you’re tired of the same-old advice you’ve already heard (fly to Rome then go to Venice) then you’re in the right place.

If you’ve visited Italian Fix before then you know I think formulaic advice sucks hard (and if you’re new here…then welcome and thanks for stopping by).

I’m all about delivering personal travel advice just like a friend — so check this out.

Hear where local Italians spend their time…and their money.

Wanna  know where the Italians escape to?

Wanna know where the locals spend their hard earned vacation cash?

Well, then consider yourself smarter than most.

Travel advice from Italians is hard to come by — cause it’s usually written in Italian. Actually, all this advice was written in Italian — but it was translated for you. Prego.

Drop-kick overwhelm while planning your trip to Italy.

The question that I get asked the most is: “Where should I go in Italy?”

My advice is this: try not to SEE everything — cause you know it’s impossible

Try SEEING less, and FEELING more.

What I mean is this: choose to see less sights but engage in more experiences.

What do you want to see, feel, eat, be, breathe and discover?

One thing is a fact: Italians on vacation capture the essence of  what we as foreigners try to get a piece of on our trip to Italy: relaxation, inspiration, passion, sense of place, history, stunning scenery and exceptional wine and food.

Read on to solve your “where should I go” question.

We asked the locals:

Where is your favourite place in Italy to spend your holiday and why?

This is what they shared (translated from Italian):

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B1Valeria Gentile

Owner of L’Essenza – Oasi Sensoriale.

My favourite place to spend a holiday in Italy is Sardinia.

“This land is unlike any other place,” wrote David Herbert Lawrence and after travelling the world, I realized he was right. It’s a magical land, almost a continent, where you may find yourself in front of a lovely beach, an archaeological site from thousands of years ago, a natural spring in the forest, a snowy mountaintop, an ancient village or even a modern town – all within a few kilometres.

Sardinia is like a small universe surrounded by the Mediterranean. Above all, the atmosphere of this ancient place allows you to journey in a particular direction, whether it’s an outward one or an inward one.

Connect with Valeria on Twitter or Facebook

 

 

Chiara Maci

Co-owner of the food blog Sorelle in Pentola and host of the national TV show Cuochi e Fiamme.

The dearest place of my heart is Cilento near the Amalfi Coast, because, besides the fact that I’m originally from Campania [a province in the south], it represents to me the moment of detachment with the chaos of the city and the rediscovery of the smells and flavours that the coastal area always gives you.

The south of Italy has this characteristic of welcoming you, embracing you and making you heady from the genuine colours and feelings like no other place in the world can do.

Connect with Chiara via Twitter or Facebook.

 

Paola Noé

Owner of the kids design site unduetrestella.

My favourite place is Bonassola in the province of La Spezia [Italian Riviera], a tiny village on the sea.

I went there as a child with my parents and I went back after twenty years with a man who has since become my husband. We both loved it and we now take our daughters there.

It’s a strange place; there is nothing to do there really. But the sea is dreamlike and the sunset is unlike anything else. In the morning all you desire is for the ocean to be even bluer than the day before and each evening to see a sunset that is essential and unique to that place!

That just makes me feel so good.

Connect with Paola via Twitter or Facebook

 

 

B4Valentina Orsini and Paola Mazza

Owners of Deliglam

Where we would most recommend a holiday is in Bologna, where me and Valentina met! Bologna is known in Italy as “The Red One”, “the Educated One”, the “Fat One” and it’s where we recommend a foodie tour in Italy.

Bologna is a city of covered walkways where you can walk for hours in the rain without ever getting wet. It’s a city of the seven churches of Santo Stefano and the oldest university in the world – which fills the city with students and young people. You can enjoy twenty four seven nightlife, cocktails in the the sunset in Piazza Verdi and the festivals all summer in Margherita park.

The Fat City is a place to eat with pleasure and happiness (try Osteria 15 for the fried dumplings, cheese with balsamic vinegar and crispy potatoes – you’ll love them). And if you feel like shopping, Bologna is a great city for vintage shops. The Montagnola Market (every Friday and Saturday) is a thriving and unpredictable cascade of second hand. Think coloured coats from the fifties and sixties, kimonos, American clothes, jeans and handbags. All topped off with a good-natured and jovial atmosphere. Bologna is like that; it’s unsual.

She’s an eccentric, lusty and very entertaining lady. Bologna is red like her brick buildings, her roofs and the Asinelli towers that hover above the city like two old friends.

Connect with Valentina and Paola on Twitter or Facebook

 

 

Flavia La Rocca

Fashion designer and owner of Flavia La Rocca

I always enjoy discovering new places; Italy is full of different realities that are all beautiful, from the art cities to the business centers to the places where nature predominates.

I find it amazing to discover the diversity of the customs, the history and the “know how” of each place, city and state, especially when you realize how ancient they are. It’s hard for me to choose one place but if I think of vacations then I think of the summer — therefore the seaside.

Polignano a Mare [Apulia/Bari Puglia] is my first choice. It’s the birthplace of my grandmother and where I spent holidays as a child. I went there last summer after many years had passed and I felt such intense emotions with crystal clear sea and fantastic food.

The second place in my heart is Sicily: Catania and Taormina. I was captivated by the beauty of these incredible towns and the almost surreal atmosphere that surrounds them. Here, too, you find crystal clear sea and great food. I ate the best breakfast of my life here: granita in a brioche, a local specialty.

Connect with Flavia on Twitter or Facebook

 

 

Chiara Formenti

Co-owners of the kids design blog Le Funky Mamas

The place where I love to spend my Italian holidays is certainly not as famous as the award winning Tuscany. But it’s a place of my heart, deeply connected to the history of my family: Friuli Venezia Giulia. It’s a strip of land between Italy, Slovenia and Austria protected by the imposing beauty of the Dolomite Mountains and bathed by the waters of the Adriatic.

Friuli is a constant discovery and is a region with diverse influences full of history; a history that is noticeable in the traditions of architecture and the different local dialects. From the beaches of Lignano you can drive for a sampling of “prosciutto di San Daniele”, or if you prefer the mountains visit Tarvisio to relax in a farmhouse in the beautiful countryside that extends all the way to the Veneto border. Friuli has many ways to spend a relaxing holiday whether you want to get lost in the countryside, the sea or the mountains. It’s a place to roam between good food and most of all — good wine!

Connect with Chiara on Twitter or Facebook

 

 

Francesca Gonzales

Owner of the food blog Spadelliamo Insieme

For me, the ideal holiday destination is Sicily because of its wonderful sea, unadulterated natural landscape and the scents; of earth, licorice and the ocean. These elements together enter your veins and make it impossible for you to forget.

Also, if you’re passionate about food like me Sicily offers an immense amount of excitement for your taste buds.

And if you want to do something different than the traditional beach holiday, it’s a land full of culture and places to explore with both historical and gastronomic highlights.

I’ll be honest – I’m already planning to go there this summer!

Connect with Francesca on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

Alessandra Caprini

Owner of the design blog Design Your Life

The places where I love to spend a few days of vacation are near my house — I don’t say this from boring patriotism, but because they’re the places where I feel the need to escape to.

I’m talking about Norcia, Castelluccio di Norcia and the Sibillini Mountains that surround them.

There is no particular reason why I love these places but I love the feeling of being close to everything and at the same time far away from everything. The thing I adore is to drive through the Sibillini mountains, go to a rifugio [a country shelter], arm myself with a camera and walk to the green fields above and then just sit and watch the breathtaking landscape and the wonderful sky.

Up there the wild horses roam free, you can stumble on a flock of sheep, or watch the hang gliders catch the wind; it’s where you can actually touch peace with your own hand.

Alessandra is on Facebook.

 

 

Maurizia Triggiani

Owner of the food blog Il Rifugio di Zia Topolinda

My holidays in Italy are spent in Viareggio [northern Tuscany].

I’m Milanese through and through so I love the sea — but I need to be in a town with shops, restaurants, movie theatres and gelato shops close by. In Viareggio I enjoy the civilized comforts of the beaches with showers, loungers and umbrellas as well as swimming pools right on the beach and the chance to watch the sun set over the sea.

Then there’s the joy of walking in the pine woods and the access to the beautiful Tuscan towns and their specialty foods just a day trip away. Viareggio is rich but never snobby; even in winter it’s never sad because it has the magic of “Il Carnevale” [a parade in February] to excite even the non-party goers with its explosion of satire, colours and an amazing display of craftsmanship.

Connect with Maurizia on Twitter.

 

 

Arianna Vivenzio

Industrial designer; founder of Ochobags.

My ideal holiday can only be in my beloved Puglia, specifically in the area of Brindisi between Ostuni and Cisternino where you’ll find splendid white villages perched on the promontory that divides the Itria Valley.

These villages are scattered with the legendary trulli [ancient homes] and occupies the beautiful coastline dotted with white dunes, centuries old olive groves and old style farms retrofitted with modern interiors.

I love to listen to good music in a beach bar during the day or eat orecchiette [pasta] at a sagra [local food fair] in the evening. I’m very tied to these places and I hope to one day find myself living there in a farmhouse far away from the hustle and bustle of the city so I can finally dedicate myself to my car production.

Connect with Arianna on Twitter

 

 

Valentina Rizzo

Co-owner of Manena Hostel

My favourite place to spend a vacation is called Montaretto.

It’s a tiny hamlet overlooking the sea where you can really enjoy all the wonders of the earth, the sun, the mountain air, the breathtaking view and exceptional wine and food – especially at the “Critical Wine” Festival. This important event takes place every spring in the heart of the village at La Casa del Popolo [The House of the People], an important community center.

If you’re a hiker or you just want to walk the footpaths then you’ll discover you can easily get to Montaretto strolling through the hills from the neighbouring villages of Framura or Bonassola [just north of the Cinque Terre].

Connect with Valentina on Twitter or Facebook

 

 

Alessandra Sorrentino

Owner of the fashion blog Rosaspina Vintage

My ideal Italian vacation would undoubtedly be in Sicily.

In particular I love the coastal area that goes from the Zingaro Nature Reserve near San Vito lo Capo all the way to Cefalù, including the Egadi and Aeolian islands. I would go back to those places in the blink of an eye, not just for the incredible beauty of the area but also for my roots and the memories of my summers spent there as a child.

The feeling of finding the same scent every time — of the sea, the taste of mulberry granita, the quiet at four in the afternoon, the prickly pears that line the streets and the feeling of time passing more slowly; it makes me feel immediately at home and makes me forget all the reasons why we stress out in the city!

Connect with Alessandra on Twitter or Facebook

 

 

Elisa Bersani

Owner of the fashion blog The Gummy Sweet

My ideal place to spend a holiday in Italy is Ogliastra [Eastern Sardinia].

In particular, the area of Baunei, with its coves which are only accessible by boat (Mariolu, Biriola Cala, Cala dei Gabbiani) and are pure paradise. The surrounding area is full of colours, flavours and fragrances where you can day trip to beautiful places like the gola di Gorropu [a canyon] and the spectacular nuragic [ancient Sardinian civilization] in the village of Tiscali.

Ogliastra is an area where sea and mountains converge to reward you with a relaxing holiday and countless interesting places to discover and admire.

Connect with Elisa on Twitter or Facebook

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Hey, do you know someone who loves to travel?  Could you forward this list to them or share it on Facebook. That would be groovy.

Please comment.

Have the women above inspired you to go anywhere new?

Can you add your personal recommendation to this list of the best spot in Italy?

 Thanks!

xx Bianca


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Post image for Behind the Scenes of Your Italian Fix: Day 6

>> This is day 6 of a 7 day party delivering a sneak-peek at how getting your Italian Fix is the best thing you can do with your precious vacation time. <<

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I want to share with you how brilliant my friend Filippo is.

Filippo is a fashion photographer who lives in Milan.

We connected last winter. It was friend of a friend sort of thing.

When I peeked at his portfolio I understood why he works for all the top names — cause he makes women shine.

Filippo’s schedule is jam packed. Whenever we chat – he’s always working. He travels around the world shooting photos for Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Campari, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Vogue Italia, Cosmopolitan, The Guardian, Newsweek – you get the picture.

Anyways, I wanna tell you how we started working together.

I believe I posses a strong sense of intuition.

It’s guided me my whole life – and it’s given me the confidence to live an unconventional life that is very “me”. It has let me follow my passions and allowed me to make choices that have made me wildly happy (sure — sometimes it’s not all unicorns and rainbows). But my whole life I’ve done stuff I love. I’ve travelled tons. Went to art school. Lived abroad. Lived in Italy. Married a man who didn’t speak my language. Became a mom.

Now that intuition has led me into building an Italian travel business born from the desire to help others.  And so I lean into it.

So when I met Filippo, I had an intuitive flash: give my guests a once in a lifetime opportunity with an Italian fashion photographer.

And that happened last June.

My vision was for each guest to own a photograph of herself that would symbolize something greater than just another travel shot. It would be a talisman of her strength, her beauty, her resilience and more poignantly, her desire to live a life she loves by embracing new experiences.

I wanted that photograph to also serve as a tool: a head shot for her business. An heirloom for her kid. A print in her home. A memory. Or just some dangerous Facebook fodder.

And so Filippo travelled from Milan to the Cinque Terre for a photo session with each guest; the overgrown flowery stone paths was our backdrop. We had a blast.

Filippo is a sweety.

You might think people who work in fashion all day are hysterical stress bags who might be hard to handle. But it’s not like that at all.

Filippo grew up in a family of all girls and spent a lot of time backstage at his older sister’s dance recitals. He watched them in child-like fascination as they practised, put on costumes, and did their make-up.

Over coffee, Filippo told me that he reveres women; he has a deep love and respect for females. And it makes me understand why I love his photos so much. They are taken in a protected sort of intimate way. His fashion photographs don’t scream sex and glamour. They just speak about life. About the many seconds that make up life. His style is raw and postmodern. And unpretentious. And just freakin’ lovely.

This season Filippo will be photographing you if you join us in Florence + Milan for our dreamy trip. We’re using the Milanese landmark, the gothic cathedral for the backdrop of this shoot, just steps from the hotel. Can you picture yourself there – in your best outfit – being photographed by a Milanese fashion photographer? Pretty crazy, no?

I can’t wait for you to meet him and own a photo of yourself that will serve you in your life; whatever that looks like for you.

See that full itinerary now.

For now, enjoy his beautiful world.

Celebrations!

To celebrate the release of our upcoming trips to Italy we are giving away free stuff.

Win it: this map of Italy.

Would this print look pretty at your house? This map was drawn by UK artist Laura Bird for Italian Fix.

Enter the draw by leaving a comment before November 30, 2013.

Chat about anything! What do you think of these photos? Is the idea of a photo shoot in Milan exciting? Freaky? Which elements of the Florence + Milan trip do you like the most?

{Luck + Love, Bianca}

{giveaway update: Marina is the owner of this pretty map of Italy. Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments.}

{All images by Filippo Mutani except the first one by Leela Cyd}

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Post image for Behind the Scenes of your Italian Fix: Day 1

>> This is day 1 of a 7 day party delivering a sneak-peek at how getting your Italian Fix is the best thing you can do with your precious vacation time. <<

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I absolutely love behind the scenes stories.

This is why the next seven days are dedicated to giving you a blast of behind-the-scenes views of what goes into an Italian Fix trip.

I’ll also introduce you to the fascinating people who collaborate with me. I don’t deliver you the most amazing travel experiences in Italy on my own; I find these people for you. I gather a ridiculous amount of talent and then stitch it into every single day of the trips.

In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret: my work and my life is massively fuelled by watching individuals who innovate, who are taste-makers, who are ahead of the curve and who possess an uncompromising drive to excel at what they do. I like to find these people, I like to hang out with them — and then I like to share them with you. Because I feel that when someone shares their talent with you – it has a profound effect on how you perceive your own potential. Shining lights help us all radiate.

I’m proud to call the people you’ll meet this week on the blog my friends and collaborators. I hope you’ll take advantage of their gifts that I’ve bottled up to share with you this spring in Italy.

 

Vintage cars in Florence

 

I’m so amped to tell you that we’re gonna take a fleet of vintage Italian cars for an evening spin – you’ll get to do that when you join the shopping trip to Florence and Milan. You can see the full details here.

I can’t think of a better way to tour the surrounding hills of Florence than from the windows of an Italian icon: the Fiat 500.

Our evening in these colourful candy-like miniature cars will tour the back roads of Florence. We’ll travel in a convoy and it’ll include ample opportunities for picture taking. I can’t wait for those pics!

Then we’ll head up to a massive private villa sitting on a hill overlooking Florence. The sun will be setting — the perfect time for a dip in the pool. You’ll also learn how to make a real Italian pizza and we’ll also taste local wines from the villa’s private cellars.

If you think it sounds like the perfect evening then you’re right. It is.

 

Meet Andrea

 

Today we’ll meet Andrea.

She’s the owner of the 500 Touring Club, a company that offers people a unique opportunity to escape the city and drive one of her vintage Fiat 500’s.

Andrea is originally from Sydney, Australia but moved to Italy when she met her husband while on holiday (I see a recurring pattern here…)

Giuseppe and Andrea live in Florence and run the touring company together and share a love of food, wine, Italian culture and vintage cars.

I interviewed Andrea to tell us more about how she, Italy, and tiny cars come together.

So, you race around Florence in vintage cars. What got you into that?

Andrea: I’ve always loved anything old, and my first car in Italy was a 1969 500 Giardiniera, the station wagon version. That’s when I really started to feel at home in Italy, and it’s a feeling I wanted to be able to share. The car’s name is Lulu, and she’s still with us on the tours.

What is the best thing about driving your cars around Florence and the countryside?

Andrea: They get so much attention from everybody — everywhere we go it’s like being in a parade! But what I really love is having the roof back and the wind in my hair and the little 499cc engine roaring away in the back.

Why do people rave about these trips?

Andrea: We get loads and loads of referrals. We get rave reviews because it’s an exciting and refreshing way to see Italy, and really gives you a local’s point of view. Also, there’s no crowds, just great food and wine and always fabulous company.

What are the best things about a vacation in Florence and Italy?

Andrea: The history and the art are mind blowing, but stepping off the tourist trail and heading out to a country food festival, getting into the grape or olive harvest, or dancing in a sunflower field are the experiences that stuck with me from my first trip to Italy, and are still some of my favourite things to do.

What else do you do for fun in Tuscany?

Andrea: I’m the car maniac and Giuseppe is the food and wine expert. We also design custom excursions in Florence or the country for families or groups. I believe that Tuscany literally has something for any particular interest group — motorsports, science, fashion, hiking or music.  I love to design tours around that.

Giuseppe and I have a baby daughter Nina, who is 9 months. Oh – and I’m also a beekeeper

 

Lets’ get this party started!

For the next seven days we’re having a party to celebrate the release of our 2013 itineraries. Check out what we’ve created for you:

Photographing Florence

Shopping in Florence and Milan

Loving the Cinque Terre

 

Today I’m giving away my favourite Italian cookbook: Light of Lucia. Leave a comment below to be entered in the draw and then check back to see the winner.

A big announcement.

I’ve got the biggest, bestest, most beautiful thing going: I am giving away one spot on one of the trips.

Get your butt in gear and come to Italy — on the house. Full details here.

It’s your turn.

Comment >> you could win a cookbook today.

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I can’t wait to hear from you!

xx Bianca

{Update: Give-away winner is Fira Pierce. Congrats!}

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