Italians know that the best kind of break is a long weekend of pampering, good food and a gorgeous seaside view. And Italy cannot be beat for some of the most beautiful and whim-satisfying locations. From Portofino to Positano, we line up the top places for your Italian spring getaway.
Porto Cervo and Costa Smeralda
The tiny northern Sardinian harbor of Porto Cervo is Italy’s hideaway and playground for the rich and famous, whether it’s a dance-floor-romping Rihanna, yacht-partying Gwyneth Paltrow or villa-hopping Silvio Berlusconi. While Porto Cervo’s small town is peppered with amazing boutiques, restaurants and clubs, you won’t want to leave its gorgeous beaches with clear, emerald-green water and undeniably soft sand.
Where to stay: Hotel Cala di Volpe, built by the Aga Khan in the 1960s as a jetsetter’s paradise, this resort is a luxury village within a village. Even with its amazing suites — decked out in traditional Sardinian décor, en suite pools and coastline views — summer star chef series and activities such as beachside horseback riding, Cala di Volpe is best known for its legendary poolside beach club. Opens for the season on May 26.
Porto Ercole and Maremma
Tuscany is not just a country house, rolling hills and a gorgeous sunset. The Tuscan seaboard is a gorgeous, all-season area of exploration from Monte Argentario’s harbor towns of Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano, islands such as Giannutri and beach villages to wine estates such as Ornellaia, natural reserves and hilltop towns such as Pitigliano — and that’s just the immediate area.
Where to stay: The historic Hotel Il Pellicano, sitting above the tiny bay of Porto Ercole, is a remembrance of things past with its cluster of coral stucco villas. Its quiet intimacy — and perhaps the beautiful bougainvillea and delicious cliff-side restaurant — makes Il Pellicano far more than exclusive. Open for the season.
Portofino and Cinque Terre
Set on the Ligurian coast, Portofino is a colorful fishing town and standout destination. After you’re bored with Portofino’s charm and never-never land atmosphere, it’s easy to head south to nearby Cinque Terre for a quick hike to reality.
Where to stay: A former monastery and now century-old resort, Hotel Splendido is the place to book a room in Portofino. Its Great Gatsby vibe (excessive luxury plus turn-of-the-century style) is complemented by its unrivaled view of the water. Nearly all of its 64 rooms (34 of which are suites) have balconies facing the harbor. But the best amenities are the saltwater infinity pool and access to the hotel’s motorboat. Open for the season.
Positano and the Amalfi Coast
There is nothing quite like the Amalfi Coast, that rocky stretch south of Naples whose picturesque towns make for movie settings and redolent lemon scent is invigorating. In spring, the coastline has just awoken and towns such as Cetara, Ravello, Positano and Amalfi are blossoming for the season. You can easily travel from town to town via bus, or opt for more comfortable transportation, ferry hopping.
Where to stay: Wedged into cliffs on the Amalfi Coast, Il San Pietro di Positano stands guard over the bay of Positano like a chic aunt at a birthday party — slightly aloof and very stylish. Each of 61 rooms faces the water and is impeccably decorated with crisp whites and colorful accents from Amalfi ceramics. You are catered to by a staff of 120 whose goal is to make you feel like a princess or prince hiding in the hills. The best-kept secrets are the tiny private bathing spot, the bar in Il San Pietro’s cove and the Morgan Joey, the hotel’s boat. Open for the season.
Photos Courtesy of Hotel Splendido and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.