Italy is my favourite place on the planet!  And who wouldn’t be dreaming about an Italian summer holiday and everything that implies.

And this little article is the opposite of those “how to do Italy on $10 a day” type things.  It’s more…

How to blow the budget and have the best trip to Italy of your life!

Long lunches, beautiful country side, gorgeous gals and guys and even more beautiful cars!

If you want an Italian authentic experience you don’t need to spend a lot of money, in fact the more you spend the less authentic the experience is going to be.

But because you’re on a trip of a lifetime you’ll want it to go smoothly and easily, which cannot be expected when you are looking for something “authentic”.

Also, you really need to be able to speak a little of the language if you want to get by in the smaller boutique hotels.  It’s not as stuffy as France where they can speak English but don’t bother and the younger staff always are able to speak English, more that they respect people who can converse in Italian more and therefore you get more out of them if you can.

Having said that the Italians are very sensitive about “pushy” people (they think all Americans are pushy) so a lot of politeness goes a long way if you are going to be booking direct with the hotel.

Be careful of category creep!

If you are booking through a consolidator be very careful with the “room category”.

There is also no such thing as a “room category” in boutique European hotels so don’t get trapped there.  You need to select the exact room and be VERY specific about your requirements and get them to confirm in writing.

One of the things to keep in mind when booking, particularly where a hotel stipulates “full board” or “half board” – very common in Italy, especially at busy times of year, is the better the room the better the table in the restaurant, and generally the better service you will receive as a guest.

So here are my tips for a most fabulous northern Italian holiday!


Rome is not a large city.

Just about all the sites can be reached by taxi in more than 20 minutes from a central hotel.

But it is also important to be walking distance from important things as well as it is very much a city that you perambulate around in the evening.

Personally, I believe it is best to be located around The Spanish Steps.  It is in the heart of the old district of Rome, near the best shops and restaurants and within walking distance of most of the key sites in the central city.

This is my favourite hotel in Rome is the Hotel Hassler.

It’s at the top of The Spanish Steps, most of the rooms have great views (very rare in Rome).  The best shopping is at the bottom of the steps and it has a really good restaurant.

I have stayed in the Presidential Suite Trinita Dei Monte which is lovely and the San Pietro (Peter’s room :)) which has a really nice terrace. I have also stayed in the Hassler Suites but be careful to ensure you get the good view!

I used to stay at The Inn at the Spanish Steps before I moved “up” to the Hassler

It’s a little more boutique and whilst it has amazing views of the steps themselves does not see out over Rome.

I would recommend the “Suite with a View” as a minimum in this hotel.

The Residenza Napoleone, a little boutique is really quirky but totally amazing:

A little bit of Italian helps here and you have to walk up steps (there’s no elevator) and the bathroom is tiny (compared to the rest of the place) but they fall over themselves to help and it is quite a genuine Italian experience.

If you were going for something a bit funkier I would suggest the edgy and arty The First Hotel. And it’s not often you get a jacuzzi in Rome!

I must say also that Rome sounds romantic but it is a very touristy city and, particularly at busy times of year, will be very busy and very hot.   It is not my favourite Italian city and you may do well spending some time elsewhere.  Personally, I wouldn’t spend more than 3 nights there.

One of the best drives in the world…


One of the great drives of the world is from Rome to the Amalfi coast – Rome is only for the most experienced of international drivers but renting a Ferrari or Lamborghini or other great car and driving down to Positano is an experience of a life time.