When you think of Italy, you automatically associate it with love, romance, and – of course – enjoying decadent cuisine. In this issue, BELLA NYC is taking you first to Florence, then to Verona, for a bellisimo journey of luxury and decadence.

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FLORENCE

You don’t usually think of rolling hills in Florence, but enter Il Salviatino, located in Feisole, a few minute drive away in the hills of Tuscany. This grandly appointed 15th century villa-turned-hotel is entrenched in luxury. While the hotel evokes the old world charm of ancient royalty, each detail is exquisitely up to date, high tech, and modern, from the Wi-Fi to customized plasma screen TVs that vanish into the suite’s mirror. Each room also provides a stunning view of the manicured but wild romantic gardens, sweeping vistas of Tuscany, Florence’s famed Duomo, and the bell tower. A complimentary shuttle runs to the center of Florence every 15 minutes.

The rooms are spacious, especially for Europe’s standards; if you are looking for utter royal luxury, opt for one of the suites. If you are hoping to really live like a Medici, indulge in the Affresco suite where you can lounge on leather Chesterfields and gaze at restored frescos that were found by the owners during renovation from villa to hotel. Talk about a private art viewing!

Better yet, take a trip to the Greenhouse Suite where the floor is a glass ceiling and you’ll have a private rooftop balcony. (We hear a well-known super model frequents this room, but we don’t kiss and tell!)

During the warmer months of April to October, enjoy a three-level infinity pool overlooking lush greenery and fresh lavender.

Dining at Il Salviatino is a treat! Master Chef Carmine Calo pleases and delights with decadent local dishes, such as the traditional Tuscan tomato soup with Burrata cheese, fresh ricotta cheese- stuffed ravioli with local zucchini and spring onion topped with black truffle, and last (but definitely not least) a delicately flavored veal chop in a herbed crust. We recommend trying the light Tuscan pasta dish Gnudi, a homemade pasta with light ricotta cheese and flavorful Spinach.

Book through Salviatino.com.

Things you must do while in Florence:

  • Visit Mama Florence, a hands-on – or, shall we say, fingers-deep-in-dough – cooking class-meets-wine tasting from master chefs and expert sommeliers. Learn how to make authentic ravioli and other delights. com/en/
  • Visit Cibero, a jewelry box find of a restaurant. Looking for an authentic place to dine? You have found it here. Dishes range from delicate meatballs to deconstructed eggplant parmesan to light polenta. Leave room for dessert – you will not soon forget the experience! it
  • Take a walk with Claretta Guatteri, and leave your thoughts of boring history class behind. Claretta, a local resident, will take you behind the most well-known stories and into the secrets that lie within each corner, nook, and cranny of the city. Her warm personality, passion, and sense of humor will keep everyone engaged and interested even through the light history lesson. Book through the concierge at Il Salviatino.
  • Are you a truffle enthusiast? Visit Guilio, the renowned Tuscan truffle hunter. Have the hotel book a private experience with him where you will meet Edda, his furry friend, who will lead you through the forest to the most sought after truffles in the land. com
  • Amble through Mercato Centrale, a marketplace that rivals the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. Here you will find every product imaginable infused with truffles, bright and fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish. Upstairs there is a wonderful restaurant court where you can taste local faire and enjoy espresso and deserts.

 

VERONA

 

Board the train for a short scenic ride north through Bologna to the utterly romantic and famed Verona, home of the opera and the fabled Romeo and Juliet. While thought of as a small off-the-map destination, Verona truly provides a passion-steeped look into the history and true beauty of Italy.

In contrast to Il Salviatino’s sanctuary quality, Palazzo Victoria is situated in the center and heart of the ancient city of Verona on the bustling main street of Corso di Porta Borsari. But by no means does it lack a signature luxurious quality. It’s only a few steps from the Arena and through the ancient Roman gate of Porto Borsari, which once marked the southern entrance into Verona. The hotel stands on ancient Roman remains, which can be viewed in the basement of the structure, technically making Palazzo Victoria the first museum once you enter into the city.

With 74 rooms, this hotel has an elegant atmosphere with modern luxuries while staying true to the ancient history of the city. Even though the hotel sits directly in the city proper, do not worry – Palazzo Victoria is a spacious haven to relax in thanks to the warm colors and rich décor of the lobby and each room.

If you want to be absolutely stunned and left speechless by the art and history of Verona, book the Dei Signori Suite. The living room upon entering has been restored to flaunt the original frescos and the wooden beams from the 15th century. The courtyard-facing room is flooded with natural light and is outfitted with a large soaking tub in a private bathroom that boasts a peek-a-boo detail into the master bedroom, perfect for a romantic interlude.

Book through PalazzoVictoria.com.

Things you must do while in Verona:

  • Shop along Corso Di Porto Borsari, the lively main street lined with shops, Gelaterias, and restaurants, and land at the Arena, the city’s Roman amphitheater. If you are lucky enough to be in Verona during opera season, be sure not to miss it!
  • You cannot think of Verona without thinking of Romeo and Juliet, so what better way to pay homage than to visit Juliet’s balcony? Verona’s theatre is where Shakespeare’s story of the star-crossed lovers took place. In the center of the city stands a XIII building that merges literature with reality and hosts a courtyard with a bronze statue of Juliet with a balcony overlooking.
  • Take some time to spend an afternoon outside drinking espresso while people-watching at the elegant Piazza delle Erbe. On the weekends, a lively market there sells trinkets and gifts.
  • Dine at Borsari 36 within Palazzo Victoria, a modern restaurant that is unique to the city of Verona. View the ancient Roman ruins through the glass flooring. Insider tip: Try anything off the grill. Delicious! it

 

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