Italy: The Perfect Romantic Gift

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and everyone over the age of 8 who is in a relationship is feeling the pressure of choosing the perfect gift to celebrate their love. From a classic understated box of chocolates to an over-the-top showstopper classic car, nothing gives more pleasure than knowing you have found that one thing that will make your sweetheart smile.

Florence twilight.<(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Unfortunately, research has shown that the thrill of a new possession fades quickly. Instead, the pleasure of an experience, especially one shared as a couple, lasts much longer. Rather than a gift that can be wrapped in a bow, this year think “outside the box” and opt for something that will make memories to last a lifetime. In short, diamonds are neither a girl's best friend nor forever, but a vacation in Italy and the memories made during your trip can be both of those things!

For an extra romantic touch to your trip, here are a few suggestions perfect for a vacationing couple:


Sicily's Traditional Baglio Farmstays

In the decades since the early 1990's, Italy's countryside has seen a revolution with the explosion of the agriturismo, or farmstay. An agriturismo is a working farm which offers accommodations and/or meals to tourists in rural areas across Italy, and can include hospitality in anything from rustic self-catering farmhouses to full service luxury relais. Conceived as a way to counteract the large scale abandonment of historic farms in post-war Italy by giving rural populations an alternative source of revenue, the agriturismo has been one of the most important evolutions in tourism in Italy in the past half century.

farmstay-sicily-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Though farmstays dot Italy's landscape, like all things Italian, they differ widely by region. From the wooden alpine baita in the north to Puglia's stately stone masseria, most agriturismi reflect the surrounding rural architecture and local agricultural traditions, so a stay in one can be a unique window into the authentic and rapidly disappearing culture of the countryside.


So, You Want to Visit a Spa in Italy...

Italy, with its healthy work/life balance and cultural propensity for careful grooming, is an excellent place to indulge in a bit of luxurious pampering. You'll find a variety of spas and spa-like facilities from north to south - with high standards of professionalism and hygiene, and relatively accessible rates - offering anything from the purely relaxing soak in a hot spring to a more pragmatic mani/pedi to counter the wear and tear of an overseas trip.

Grand Hotel Tremezzo(Photo by GHT via Flickr)

Here are a few basics to help you navigate Italy's spas:

Our Favorite Hotels: Grand Hotel Tremezzo

Grand Hotel Tremezzo is one of our favorite hotels in northern Italy, and we love it so much that we submitted it to Town & Country Travel's 100 List, out now in the Fall/Winter issue of the magazine. We were among the select group of travel professionals from Wendy Perrin's Wow List that participated in the T & C roundtable which selected “100 Hotels That Will Change Your Life: The Ultimate Check-in Check List”.

Grand Hotel Tremezzo(Photo by GHT via Flickr)

Our Favorite Hotels: Monastero Santa Rosa

With the onset of summer weather, we were off to the Amalfi Coast to visit a relative newcomer. The Monastero Santa Rosa excels with an excellent location, spectacular views, and luxury accommodations that combine a storied history with every modern convenience.

monastero-santa-rosa-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Our Favorite Hotels: Londra Palace (Venice)

Our First Friday Favorite is a week late this month due to last weekend's holidays. This month we're in Venice for an overachieving four star with an awesome Bellini - The Londra Palace.

londra-palace-venice-italy-cr-londra-palace(Photo by Londra Palace)


First Friday Favorite: Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni (Florence)

Our First Friday Favorite for March is the Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni in Florence. Its exceptional combination of spacious rooms, attentive staff, central location and best bang-for-your-buck rates make it one of our absolute favorites.

antica-torre-florence-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

We wish we could clone this hotel in every Italian city.

First Friday Favorite: Hotel Cristallo (Cortina d'Ampezzo)

Welcome to the premiere edition of our First Friday Favorite Hotel series. On the first Friday of each month we'll highlight one of the properties that we love in Italy. First up - the historic Cristallo Hotel Spa & Golf in Cortina d'Ampezzo.

Cristallo(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Why we love it

The main calling card of the hotel is the staff - ever-present and ready to assist with the most basic or complex requests. Perhaps that is why the celebrity clientele, many of whom are younger and might prefer a more contemporary setting, return again and again.

Auguri! - CIU Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Exactly ten years ago this week--March 26, 2004—we became “official” by incorporating our new travel business, Concierge in Umbria.

Rome, Spanish Steps 2005