The following articles are provided by Rocco Forte Hotels

Our favourites Italian spots

Whether you prefer historic sights or dramatic views, Italy provides an incredible backdrop for a spring break. Here are some highlights from Rocco Forte Hotels

Valley of the Temples, Sicily
Valley of the Temples, Sicily

1. Segesta, Sicily

The island of Sicily, off the toe of Italy’s boot, has an incredible history. Over its lifetime, Sicily has been governed by many great civilisations, which have left their mark in some way or another. The Greeks and Romans left striking architecture: the Temple of Segesta, perched on top of a grassy hill, is a flash of history in the rolling countryside. Built around 420 BC by the Elymians the historical park also includes the ruins of the ancient Theatre of Segesta, a stunning semicircular amphitheatre that would have been used by the Greeks and the Romans to put on action-packed shows for up to 4,000 guests. It’s also a prime photo point, as its hilltop position affords striking panoramic views over the valley, with the ocean on the horizon. Verdura Resort, located on the southwest coast of the island is a perfect position for exploring these key sites and can arrange private tours to discover the multicultural heritage of the island.

Valley of the Temples, Sicily
Valley of the Temples, Sicily

2. Giotto’s Bell Tower, Florence

The best views of Florence can be found at the top of the city’s many historic towers. Giotto’s Bell Tower is an excellent example of Gothic Florentine architecture. Standing tall on the Piazza del Duomo, the Campanile is considered one of the most beautiful towers in Florence, if not in the country. Designed by Florentine painter and architect Giotto, it was built in the 14th century to a height of 84.7m. Visitors can walk up the tower’s 414 narrow steps, stopping at three observations floors, which offer differing perspectives of the surrounding city. Or, for more relaxing panoramic views, drive up to the Piazzale Michelangelo on the south bank of the Arno River.

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3. Trekking routes, Sicily     

Uniting fitness with culture and nature, Verdura Resort has created a series of impressive trekking routes across Sicily. Guided by the fitness team – who provide water and healthy Rocco Forte Nourish snacks to keep energy levels up – the treks vary in length and terrain to accommodate all levels of fitness and experience. While some treks can be completed in regular trainers, some of the more adventurous options require hiking boots or waterproof shoes, which are available to hire or buy at the Verdura Spa shop if you forget yours. Or master the flavours of authentic Sicilian cuisine with a private cooking lesson at Verdura Resort.

Giotto’s Bell Tower, Florence
Giotto’s Bell Tower, Florence

4. Trattoria Sostanza, Florence

Italy is a food connoisseur’s nirvana, and Florence, home of the Tuscan trattoria, is one of its key culinary hubs. Step back in time to ancient Florence at the traditional Trattoria Sostanza. Tucked away on a side street near Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, the trattoria has a no-frills style (think white tiled walls, handwritten menus and a cash-only bar) – but people don’t come for the decor. The menu is full of rustic, Tuscan dishes that are cooked simply with quality, local ingredients. It’s particularly well-known for its pollo al burro (butter chicken), which is cooked on an ember fire, and the artichoke flan. Or, wander the Mercato Centrale food market and design your own Tuscan gastronomic adventure.

Piazza del Popolo, Rome
Piazza del Popolo, Rome

5. Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Roma, Rome 

Rome’s art scene has welcomed a wealth of contemporary offerings, from internationally acclaimed museums like MAXXI to collective art hubs and creative spaces, but an art tour of Rome isn’t complete without visiting Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Roma. The museum specialises in modern and contemporary art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and displays over 3,000 pieces by some of the most significant artists of the period. As well as exploring masterpieces by the likes of Giulio Aristide Sartorio, Nino Costa and Onorato Carlandi, enthusiasts can explore entire artistic movements such as symbolism, realism, divisionism and expressionism. Or visit Basilica Parrocchiale Santa Maria del Popolo, which features two famous canvases by Caravaggio. 

Ponte Sant’Angelo, Rome
Ponte Sant’Angelo, Rome

6. Pierotucci leather workshop, Florence

True Italian leather is a sign of unbeatable quality and excellence and Pierotucci is one of the most celebrated workshops in Florence. Its elegant handmade bags, wallets and accessories have been coveted across the globe by in-the-know fashionistas. It has even produced designs for major brands such as Valentino and Dunhill. More than just a boutique, Pierotucci is a functioning workshop where visitors are invited to take a tour of the factory and learn all about the techniques and traditions that have been passed down between generations. Or learn how silk is made at Antico Setificio Fiorentino silk factory. Speak to the concierge at Hotel Savoy to arrange a private appointment for one of the last remaining silk manufacturing workshops. 

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7. Sartoria Ripense bespoke tailoring, Rome

When it comes to men’s style, there’s nothing better than a bespoke, tailormade suit. With a long history of craftsmanship in men’s clothing, Rome is a fitting place to commission a custom suit. Presenting Italian style combined with the best artisanal traditions, Sartoria Ripense is one of the city’s premier tailoring houses and a favourite of the local fashion set. Owned by Roman tailor Andrea Lucarelli, the workmanship here is second to none, whether you’re after a classic three-piece or a bespoke creation of customised colours and materials. And the perfect place to wear your new suit is enjoying an aperitivo in Hotel de Russie’s Secret Garden, a green oasis in the heart of the city.

8. Antica Manifattura Cappelli hats, Rome

Local favourite Antica Manifattura Cappelli is one of the oldest hat shops in Rome. If you’re looking to purchase a piece that will last for years and never go out of style, this is the place to go. The manufactory, which has a shop close to Piazza del Popolo and a workshop in Via Degli Scipioni, has been family-run since opening in 1936. Hats are handmade by milliners who use trusted age-old methods to create a range of modern, historic and custom headwear for a variety of occasions. And after a long day of shopping, rest and unwind with an Ancient Roman Ritual at De Russie Spa. The healing foot treatment encompasses a warm foot bath and exfoliation, followed by a mask, a reflexology massage and moisturising, to leave feet feeling soothed and relaxed.

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