Rome–On the final day of my fabulous Italian vacation, here’s a bit of advice for fabulous females traveling solo. This was my first solo working vacation. I shot new videos for our networks during first two weeks in Amsterdam and Paris, but chose to visit Italy on my holiday.
I wouldn’t recommend visiting Italy in August. Now, I know why there are no Italians in Italy. I’ve never been so hot and sticky. Taking two showers a day and napping in mid-afternoon was essential.
Traveling on the clean and super-speedy Italian ‘fast trains,’ (up to 230 kilometers an hour) and splurging on first class tickets was the way to go. (First class tickets are only a few euros more than second class).
I’ve been to Italy before–40 years ago with a backpack, so I focused on just the highlights. I enjoyed the Accademia Gallery and Peggy Guggenheim home and art collection in Venice. The Coliseum and Medici Palace in Rome, but I didn’t push myself to see everything. It was just too unbearable hot and humid.
Staying in fabulous hotels added an extra level of joy and comfort to my adventure.
In Florence, I would recommend Palazzo Niccolini, an elegant, historic home located right outside the square around il Duomo. My room was a luxurious haven from the heat. I took full advantage of the deep bathtub and lovely bath salts in the marble bathroom. There was also a massive, modern shower.
Breakfast was a perfect cappuccino and a slice of fresh-baked and sugar-dusted lemon cake. (Yogurt and boiled eggs for protein). The location was perfect for exploring the historic sites, but a bit too close to all the fabulous leather and glitzy jewelry shops. Prices in Florence are comparable to New York, but after visiting a half dozen leather shops, I splurged on a perfect casual jacket–zippered, black and trimmed with cranberry leather inside the collar and cuffs. The shop owner was willing to negotiate a fair price for the jacket and matching black gloves.
In Venice, I stayed at a nine-room secret jewel of a hotel with a garden–Locanda Novecento. It’s tucked away on a tiny street near the Grand Canal. I enjoyed dinner every night in a larger square nearby, at dusk before the crescent moon rose.
Venice is a seductive and fancy shopping center. There are hundreds of high-end jewelry shops, shops selling Murano glass, accessories and a zillion boutiques. You can spend hours wandering through Fendi, Bulgari, Missoni an Dolce & Gabbana. There are no bargains, but shopping is a pastime for fabulous females. I visited the fish and fruit markets, but only to admire the fresh produce.
One critical travel tip is to always seek out posh hotels for a cold drink and a clean bathroom. Wherever I went, I looked for the finest hotels to take a break from the heat and hustle of the streets. I had a lovely cocktail in the Westin Excelsior in Rome, which arrived with a bowl of the most delicious green olives and a side dish of hazelnuts. Those nibbles were almost enough to serve as dinner. (But, of course, I had dinner as well).
Tired of museums, I decided my stay in Naples would be all about visiting an island. I stayed in the Mercure hotel within sight of the port. At 8:30 a.m. I was on the boat to Ischia, an island just about an hour off the coast of Naples. I think I was the only American on the boat, which was packed with locals toting beach bags and towels. Ischia’s harbor front is lined with cafes and tacky souvenir shops, so I wandered into the hills. I stopped at a bakery and ended up with a rich tart covered with maraschino cherries, too rich to finish it all. I wandered into the courtyard of a charming hotel tucked into the rocky hillside, in search of a restaurant. Instead, I found a bathroom near the bar and made myself at home.
Finding no place to eat, I walked back toward the harbor and ducked through a gate leading to the lovely Pagoda Resort. Remember, it’s easy to pretend you are a guest anywhere if you act as if you are. The private beach was crowded with families and couples. I found an empty chair near the beach in the shade, very tempted to jump in the cool water, but not sure if my black camisole and underwear would really pass as a bathing suit. (I left my bathing suit in the hotel, which was stupid, since Ischia is a beach resort).
Refreshed for more exploring, I decided to take the 2:30 p.m. boat back to Naples, so a divine seafood lunch was in order. I visited all the restaurants along the harbor and selected the one with beautiful linens and a shady terrace. I savored my fruitti di mare (seafood pasta), a half liter of icy white wine and chewy bread drenched in olive oil.
Enjoying your own company takes time getting used to. I admit I have felt lonely once in a while. But if you are looking to refresh and recharge, there is no better place than Italy.
Questions for you – share with us below!
Have you ever traveled alone? What are your thoughts on traveling solo in a foreign country?
What travel advice do you find most helpful from your experiences?
What are three things you CANNOT travel without?!