With its awe-inspiring landscapes and culinary options, Italy draws visitors from all over the globe. A leisurely Italian exploration, with multiple stops along the way – Milan, Florence and Taormina, and perhaps Puglia – may be the way to take it all in while embracing Italy’s slower-paced lifestyle. And with three hotels across the country, and more on the way, Four Seasons is uniquely positioned to reintroduce even seasoned travellers in Italy to la dolce vita.
A Stylish Stay in the “New Milano”
Start with Italy’s vibrant gateway to the world, Milan, which has been at the centre of trade since medieval times. Over the past decade, the sophisticated European capital has welcomed a profound and ongoing transformation in art, fashion, shopping and design – an exciting renewal shared by Four Seasons Hotel Milano, a 15th-century convent that re-opened in July 2021 after a complete refresh by Milan-based architect Patricia Urquila.
The Hotel’s general manager can’t resist stepping out the front door for a bit of shopping. “It’s a glamorous journey of senses where I discover the authentic fashion soul of Milan,” says Andrea Obertello of the neighbourhood, with its cobblestone streets and alluring boutiques.
For those rediscovering the city’s design scene, Silvia Brighenti, the Hotel’s senior director of marketing, suggests a stroll over to Nilufar Gallery. “The building is a piece of art in itself,” she says, “and the owner specializes in 20th-century work by both celebrated masters and emerging artists.”
Book ahead for a memorable private dinner in the Casa degli Atellani, the villa where Leonardo da Vinci spent much of his time while he was painting The Last Supper on the wall of the Let your appetite be charmed by a hint of the elusive genius in the rooms where he once worked.
In general, though, lingering over the pre-dinner aperitivo – this most Italian tradition of pre-dinner conversation, fuelled by a cocktail and nibbles – is de rigueur, according to Luca Angeli, who helms the Hotel’s Bar Stilla. “In Milan, we take the aperitivo very seriously.” he says. “This is a demanding city where everything has to be on trend, innovative and exciting.” Like his sultry modern twist on the negroni – best enjoyed in the bar’s clubby lounge that spills into the Hotel’s charming outdoor cloister garden with the first signs of spring. For an aperitivo deep dive, Angeli happily points his guests to other top Milano watering spots like Bar Basso in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele next to the Duomo “for its twist on classic cocktails and Camparino to get a feel for how Milanese cocktail culture has evolved.”
Immerse in Culture in Milan
On the Road: Florence and a Drive Through Tuscany
Next up is Florence, Tuscany’s capital and a glowing centre of the Renaissance. On this journey, rediscover the city’s luminosity anew – and explore the Tuscan countryside – from your Florentine base. Moments of grace and elegance unspool the moment you enter the world of Four Seasons Hotel Firenze. Lustrous marble, stately arches and delicate frescoes speak of generations of Tuscan nobility who once walked the opulent halls of the Palazzo della Gherardesca.
But the vast estate garden beckons, heady with roses and shaded by towering trees. As the sun lowers into the golden hour, it’s time for an al fresco aperitivo, perhaps atop the garden knoll, gazing over the city and its legendary Duomo. (Your sleek aperitivo box is laden with seasonal small bites inspired by the garden’s flowers and fauna.)
That’s just a taste of what’s in store at the Hotel’s Michelin-starred Il Palagio restaurant, where Chef Paolo Lavezzini’s goal is “taking people on a discovery of Tuscany in all its facets and subtleties.” You can discover the gorgeous countryside from behind the wheel as well if you’ve booked Beyond by Four Seasons, An Exclusive Driving Journey Through Tuscany, a week-long curated drive experience by luxury car from September 24 to 30, 2022.
Each day offers leisurely delights as you explore Tuscany with new eyes during your adventure. A private tour and wine tasting at the historic Antinori Cellars among the vineyard-swathed Chianti hills. The vivid landscapes of Siena, enhanced by a long pause for lunch under the storied arcades of the Montalcino City Hall. The sparkling Mediterranean on the drive through idyllic seaside towns and the famous green cypresses of Bolgheri to the famed vineyards of Ornellaia.
You can also book ahead for an introduction to truffle hunting – a unique Four Seasons experience in the bucolic Tuscan countryside.
Sunset finds you back at your retreat in Florence, delighting in your new point of view while relaxing at the hotel spa, or perhaps by the garden’s elegant swimming pool, before another special evening of bespoke discovery. In the morning, toast the new day as your hot-air balloon lifts off from the Hotel garden for a sunrise float above the red rooftops of Florence, where humankind’s potential for beauty and romance knows no bounds.
Bask Under the Tuscan Sun in Florence
Epicurean Delights in Taormina
Perched on a rocky headland high above the azure Ionian Sea in the shadow of Sicily’s storied Mount Etna, Taormina has captured the imagination of epicureans for centuries. Since the time of the ancient Greeks, whose temples grace the hillsides, the region’s stunning natural beauty and bounty, springing from the rich volcanic earth and surrounding seas, have exerted a magnetic pull. It’s not surprising that San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel arises in its midst, with Mount Etna to the right and Taormina’s iconic, ancient theatre to its left.
In July 2021, after a spectacular restoration, the legendary palace hotel reopened and now offers guests a full immersion in the Sicilian version of la dolce vita. Begin, perhaps, with a dip in the private plunge pool on your suite’s balcony overlooking the sea far below. If your dolce vita dreams include, well, dolce (sweets), book a cannoli master class with Pastry Chef Vincenzo Abagnale at the San Domenico Palace kitchen for insider tips on how to re-create the luscious ricotta-filled classic.
And, since every view is framed by the turquoise waters around Taormina, why not sail away on the fresh sea breezes? Lift off by helicopter for your departure port, flying over Mount Etna’s fiery cauldron. In a twinkle you’re on board a Four Seasons luxury yacht, your home for the day, where Hotel staff caters to your every whim as the winds carry you over the Tyrrhenian Sea toward the legendary Aolian Islands. If you choose to stay closer to Taormina, there’s a private sailboat ready to whisk you off to Isola Bella, a picturesque island sprinkled with Greek ruins, for a picnic lunch before an afternoon snorkel in the crystalline waters of the famed Blue Grotto.
On terra firma, continue feeding soul and spirit on a culinary adventure curated by Hotel Chef Massimo Mantarro. Your first stop? A delightful Mount Etna village where a local shepherd shares his freshly made ricotta and country bread hot from the wood-fired oven. Then, discover Mantarro’s insider foraging spots for seasonal wild vegetables and herbs. And after that, learn why Sicilian wines have burst into the international limelight during a leisurely lunch and tasting at the state-of-the-art Pietradolce vineyard on Mount Etna’s northern flank.
Back at the Hotel, unwind by the pool – or stroll through the museum-worthy Grand Cloister and grounds with the resident Art Concierge—while the chef prepares your foraged bounty for a celebratory dinner. Toasting the close of a spectacular day, you can honestly say you “ate the volcano.”
Feed Soul and Spirit in Taormina
A stunning new Four Seasons Resort is underway in remote Puglia – the unspoiled, mountainous region of dusty olive groves, verdant vineyards, wild landscapes and charming fishing ports known as Italy’s boot. With Four Seasons panache and style, the beachfront haven will provide a unique point of view for guests who seek to discover the area’s national parks and ancient villages, like neighbouring Ostuni, inhabited since the Stone Age and known as “the white city” for its chalky façades clinging to the hillside. From there, the golden landscape gives way to a Mediterranean Sea of ever-changing blue, with secret beaches and coves ripe for discovery. Although with private seaside villas, six fabulous restaurant and bars, a state-of-the-art fitness centre and destination spa, guests may never want to leave the new Resort.
YOUR JOURNEY BEGINS HERE
Where can you rediscover la dolce vita?