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    News bites – 26 May 2022

    The lesser-known Italy

    A dark cave in the sea of Palmarola, island in the Mediterranean, Italy. Courtesy of the Italian National Tourist Board

    Italy is a top destination for many Australians heading back to Europe – with 52% of those ready to travel planning a visit soon – but there is a change in the air. Repeat visitors, and those who prefer the pioneering to the popular, are swapping established tourist hotspots for alternative and underrated gems full of charm, character and colour.

    By embracing this ‘secondary travel destination’ trend, visitors can visit a much-loved destination and extend their stay for a more immersive Italian experience from the top of the boot to the tip. So go beyond Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, and the Amalfi Coast on your next Italian adventure with these destination swaps to get you started.

    Loved Venice? Then visit Chioggia

    Venice – city of cats, masks, and gondolas. Courtesy of the Italian National Tourist Board

    Just a hop, skip and jump from Venice, Chioggia is a quieter town with the same vibe you know and love. Situated on the southern side of the Venetian lagoon on the Adriatic Coast, Chioggia is home to charming canals, colourful historic buildings, and boats and bridges galore best explored on foot. While you won’t find any serenading gondoliers or back-to-back souvenir shops in Chioggia, you will find plenty of authentic canal-side bars to enjoy a leisurely Aperol Spritz or chat with old-school fruit and veggie vendors along Canal Vena, Chioggia’s answer to Venice’s Grand Canal, which is just as captivating, but operates at a more laidback pace.

    Get up early to hit up the local fish markets – the Mercato Ittico al Minuto for everyday shoppers, or the Mercato Ittico All’ingrosso to watch some lively wholesale haggling – which are among the largest in the region, then sample some of the town’s specialties such as anchovies, cuttlefish, and eel for a traditional local lunch or spend an afternoon strolling along Corso del Popolo and Corso Garibaldi, the streets at the heart of the town’s vibrant social life.

    Loved Capri? Then visit Procida
    If you’ve been captivated by the colour, cuisine and photogenic beauty of Capri, then you’re bound to fall in love with Procida, a tiny island nestled between Ischia and Naples which made an international name for itself as the filming location for The Talented Mr Ripley and is Italy’s reigning Capital of Culture.

    Combining coastal walking trails, mouth-watering Napoli pizza, historic buildings such as the Abbazia San Michele Arcangelo, fishing villages, and more than its fair share of traditional bakeries, Procida is gorgeous rather than glamorous and much less chaotic than Capri in peak season – although it does get crowded with Italian holiday makers during August.

    Don’t forget to snag a spot on one of the sunbeds at Spiaggia della Chiaiolella to enjoy a local aperitif and watch the sunset.

    Loved Rome? Then visit Ostia Antica, Matera, Bologna, or Verona

    Calatafimi Segesta Parco archeologico di segestao by Simone Antonazzo. Courtesy of the Italian National Tourist Board

    If you’re enchanted by the rich history and ancient architecture of Rome, you’ll be fascinated by Ostia Antica, where the ancient ruins are said to be better preserved than Pompeii.

    In southern Italy, Matera in Basilicata is utterly unique and a bucket-list destination for those fascinated by history. Home to the world-heritage-listed ‘Sassi di Matera’, a series of intriguing cave dwellings cut from rock dating back 30,000 years, the city’s narrow alleys are best explored on foot. Whilst in Basilicata, Castelmezzano is a beautiful medieval village perfect for a lazy local lunch.

    Bologna in Emilia-Romagna is known as Italy’s food capital, with a café and restaurant scene rivalling Rome, as well as its fair share of historic icons, including Europe’s oldest university and countless buildings boasting porticos. This is the spot to taste handmade tortellini and tagliatelle al ragu, or to take a tasting tour of the Quadrilatero market district, collecting cheese and cured meats along the way.

    For an amphitheatre to rival Rome’s Colosseum – and a romantic opera performance to elevate the experience – visit Verona in Veneto during the summer season.

    Loved Lake Como? Then visit Lake Braies or Lake Orta

    Lake Como by Lewis J Gertz. Courtesy of the Italian National Tourist Board

    Ask anyone about Italy’s most famous lakes and they’re likely to mention the villa-lined playground of the rich and famous, Lake Como or Lake Garda, yet some of the country’s other lake and alpine districts are often overlooked…but shouldn’t be.

    Lago di Braies, or Lake Braies, is a breathtaking lake with UNESCO World Heritage Site billing in the heart of the Dolomites in South Tyrol. Known for its crystal-clear water and dramatic mountain backdrop, it’s best explored by hiking the perimeter trail or renting a boat for a picturesque paddle with a picnic.

    Humbler than its larger lake counterparts and popular with writers from Lord Byron to Robert Browning, Piedmont’s Lake Orta lies in the foothills near the Swiss border and is a charming choice for those looking to experience the lakes like a local. The main town of Orta San Giulio offers churches, markets and even a Michelin-starred restaurant, while those willing to visit in requisite silence can take a ferry to the island in the lake, where the resident nuns of the abbey enjoy unrivalled views.

    Loved Tuscany? Then visit The Collio, Orvieto, Le Marche or Langhe

    Visit Tuscany. Courtesy of the Italian National Tourist Board

    If rolling hills, pretty hilltop villages, fields of flowers, gourmet adventures or zipping between wineries on a vespa are still high on your holiday wish list, there are several Italian regions which give Tuscany a run for its money.

    Choose The Collio wine region in Friuili-Venezia Giulia for blooming sunflowers, family-run vineyards and spectacular valleys along the Slovenian border. Over in Umbria, atmospheric Orvieto is home to a magnificent gothic Duomo, artisan boutiques peddling hand-painted ceramics and an incredible underground city, while Castelluccio boasts glorious views over the Apennine Mountains and fields of violets and poppies during spring.

    Sitting pretty alongside Umbria is Le Marche, a lesser-known region which deserves to be discovered. Combining turquoise waters along the Adriatic Coast, rural landscapes waiting to be painted, scenic Monti Sibillini National Park which is beloved by hikers, and historic walled villages where visitors can take a step back in time to experience authentic local Italian life.

    Piedmont Lake. Courtesy of the Italian National Tourist Board

    In Piedmont, Langhe boasts Tuscan-style rolling landscapes covered in vineyards with petite villages clustered on hilltops – with the added bonus of views across to the snow-topped Alps. Piedmont’s gourmet capital Alba is a must for any foodie’s itinerary, thanks to its elegant pasticcerie and providores specialising in white truffles and local wine.

    Loved the Amalfi Coast & Italian Riviera? Then visit Tropea, Ostuni, Sestri Levante or San Fruttuoso

    Amalfi Costiera amalfitanao by Simone Antonazzo. Courtesy of the Italian National Tourist Board

    If clifftop buildings, sandy beaches and clear blue waters normally lure you to the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre, try the impossibly beautiful Tropea at the tip of Italy’s toe in Calabria instead. Known as the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Tropea was lauded as Italy’s Most Beautiful Village in 2021. Visit to stroll its pedestrian-only cobblestone streets adorned with hanging bunches of red onions. Climb the 300 steps for panoramic views from the top of the 6th century monastery, Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’Isola, or seek out Cannone beach to enjoy a bigger patch of sand all to yourself.

    For a completely different ambience, Instagram favourite Ostuni in Puglia exudes Greek vibes with its whitewashed architecture, hilltop location, winding streets, and Adriatic Sea views.

    Positano. Courtesy of the Italian National Tourist Board

    Sestri Levante in Liguria is a dreamy alternative to popular Positano with its colourful houses, delightful boats, beaches, and lively evening street life, while the quirky hilltop village of Seborga above Rada di Poggio – which is seeking sovereignty to become its own micronation like Monaco (only a much more down-to-earth version) – is a heavenly hamlet known for its olive farming, elected ‘royalty’ and views.

    Hidden between Portofino and Camogli, San Fruttuoso can only be reached via a panoramic hiking trail, or by sea, but this tiny piece of paradise is reward in itself for making the effort to get there. With its pebbled beach directly in front of an ancient monastery, it’s an escapist’s delight inviting visitors to slow down, savour fresh local seafood and revel in the gorgeous Golfo Paradiso views.

    Loved Florence? Then visit Lecce, Pienza, Urbino
    The unofficial ‘Florence of the South’, Lecce in Apulia is the obvious choice for those looking for cities renowned for Renaissance arts and architecture. With its central Duomo, Sant’Oronzo square, Baroque buildings, historic amphitheatre and churches with golden facades, Lecce is vibrant university town worthy of inclusion on any Puglian itinerary.

    For a compact city with a Renaissance flavour, Pienza in Tuscany is a charmed choice. Enjoying a classic hilltop location, this UNESCO World Heritage-listed city enjoys 360-degree valley views and remarkable Renaissance masterpieces in its papal Palace Piccolomini and Diocesan museum. Visitors keen to work off the local olive oil and pecorino cheese will be spoilt for choice with cycling routes around the region’s olive tree groves and vineyards.

    Back in the 15th century, Urbino in Le Marche was a Renaissance power player, and the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche inside its historic Palazzo Ducale is full of Renaissance treasures. The town itself remains relatively untouched with its steep streets, cosy standing-room-only bars and perfectly preserved historic centre, which has earned it UNESCO World Heritage status.

    Kaftans – why they should be on your packing list

    Green is the hot colour this season. Courtesy of Czarina

    Looking for the perfect item to throw into your luggage? The kaftan is the classic travel companion whether it be for airport chic or to throw on for the beach. Yet this classic item has many fusions in fashion today.

    While it started life as a symbol of exoticism the loose-fitting tunic described a variety of clothing which came from North Africa and the Middle East. The Persian word is thought to have originated in Mesopotamia. Sultans from the Ottoman Empire loved a bit of kaftan fashion and lavishly decorated their garments which were made from silk, wool and cotton.

    Packing list to travel

    Dress up or down with Czarina. Courtesy of Czarina

    The Kaftan is a genderless clothing item which is perfect for hot climates because the loose silhouette ensures ventilation thus lowering the temperature of your body.

    Australian company, Czarina, has drawn inspiration from many destinations and style icons to make their own style of kaftan which brings to life designs from watercolour and acrylic hand painting finished with crystals and sequins sewn on by hand. They have then chosen to mould the bright flowing materials into a variety of different clothing items which have the kaftan style as its base.

    Vegan silk

    Dinner chic with Czarina. Courtesy of Czarina

    We love that Czarine is moving towards producing almost their entire collection from Vegan silk to protect silkworms around the world. So why vegan silk? Czarina has chosen to use vegan silk because while silk has been associated with luxury from emperor’s robes to concubines’ scarves, silk is cruel. The textile comes from a silkworm spinning a fibroin protein into a cocoon which can be comprised of up to one hundred metres of silk thread. To emerge from its cocoon, the silkworm secretes a fluid which burns a hole through the strands. But since this damages and breaks the fibre, farmers habitually boil the silkworm alive to save the silk. Finding this to be cruel, Czarina’s next collections will be made with 100% vegan silk.

    Sustainable swimwear
    Czarina even has a range of sustainable swimwear made totally from recycled materials processed into a nylon fabric.

    A mini kaftan style dress by Czarina. Courtesy of Czarina

    The kaftan is ideal for travel where there are constrictions on space and weight and ironed garments! Kaftans can fit into a small zip locked bag; do not need to be ironed and are light. They’re easy to clean and can be dressed up or down for every occasion.

    Here are our Czarina picks to pack for your next trip:

    1. Traditional pink kaftan to be dressed up or down beach or dinner
    2. Black mini kaftan inspired dress also can be worn at a variety of events
    3. Baby blue wrap dress to be worn in the evening or day depending upon accessories
    4. Green is the colour this season and this exotic kaftan inspired fabric looks perfect in a shirt and pants
    5. Our favourite – a gypsy address. Put on a loud belt and shoes and you can go anywhere in this.


    For more personalised information tips and advice, or to book an incredible holiday, contact your local TravelManagers’ personal travel manager.

    With compliments of First Class: visit them online or at Instagram