Lifestyle

My must-visit spots in Italy

5th September, 2022

Sightseeing in Rome with Sophia

Italy has always had a special place in my heart as we’ve been going there for family holidays since I was young. Given we haven’t been able to travel for so many years, making the trip there this year with my own family was wonderful. It’s also as magical as I remember it to be. I’ve always loved hearing people’s travel recommendations whether it’s places to stay or restaurants to check out. If you’re planning to head to Italy, these are a few places that got my tick of approval — hope they come in handy!

Taormina

This hilltop town in Sicily has been a beloved destination for my family and I for years. Luke and I even got married there so it’s definitely a place filled with so many great memories. It’s wonderful to now be able to bring my own family there and to see how much the girls love it. Here are a few of my faves.

Places to stay

We like to stay at the Mazzarò Sea Palace which is right on the beach and has a pool so it’s super easy, especially with kids in tow. It’s also right next to the cable car to get into town so it’s an ultra convenient spot. A few other spots that would be great to stay include the Four Seasons San Domenico, Grand Hotel Timeo and Villa Sant’Andrea. For a more budget-friendly option, the Hotel Gallodoro is great and is in a good location.

Places to eat

For coffee and granitas in the morning, definitely hit up Bam Bar. If you’re looking for places to eat that are by the beach I would recommend Il Barcaiolo (great view and seafood aplenty); Il Delfino (so much good seafood); Da Giovanni (beautiful hearty meals and also a great view of the water); Sant’Andrea (expect tasty fresh produce and seasonal dishes).

There are also spots in town that will satisfy any foodie. Try Four Seasons San Domenico (stunning hotel with a number of different restaurants that range from fine dining to casual bar fare); Granduca (for the pizza fans!); Raya Restaurant (great pasta and a picturesque setting); L’arco dei cappuccini (great pasta and seafood); Grand Hotel Timeo (this was my wedding reception venue! There are a range of options from bar food to an intimate dining experience with just 16 people).

If you’re in the mood for drinks or a fancy dinner option, my hit list would be Grand Hotel Timeo, Four Seasons San Domenico or Sant’Andrea. If you’re in the mood for dancing, then go to Morgana Bar.

Sightseeing/Activities

A lot of the time we had to make sure activities were child-friendly but luckily Taormina is a great spot for families, couples, seasoned travellers, you name it. I would highly recommend doing a walk around the public gardens which is so picturesque. If you want to work up a sweat do the Mount Etna day trip and walk the volcano. The kids really loved doing a boat tour of the grottos, and also enjoyed doing a cannoli cooking class at Roberto’s.

The famed Roberto’s where the girls did a cannoli cooking class

With Mum and the girls in Taormina

Rome

A bustling cultural wonderland, we were so excited to visit Rome with the girls. There are a number of iconic landmarks to see of course but it’s also a great spot to just stroll around and take in the city.

Places to stay

We stayed at the Villa Agrippina Gran Melia which is near Vatican City. It’s a great spot if you are travelling with kids as you can escape the heat in the middle of the day by hanging out at the pool. 

Places to eat

For an upmarket dining experience we loved Al Moro, which is near the Trevi Fountain. The menu is full of traditional Roman dishes and was absolutely delicious. Traverna Trilussa is all about rustic Italian dishes and is famed for its pasta. Ristorante Nino, which is right near the Spanish Steps, specialises in Tuscan meets traditional Roman cuisine and is more than 80 years old.

Enjoying a tour of the Coloseum

Aeolian Islands 

The Aeolian Islands are north of Sicily and considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. The sites are stunning and well worth a visit if you’re in Sicily (or elsewhere in Italy for that matter).

Isola di Salina

Places to stay

The Aeolian Islands is comprised of seven islands, one of which is Isola di Salina which is one of the islands we stayed on. Our hotel was called Capofaro and is a boutique hotel which only comprises 27 rooms. It was quite intimate which was a nice change of pace.

Places to eat:

You’re really spoilt for choice as far as restaurants in Salina are concerned. Try Porto Bello (close to the central port of the island, dreamy seafood dishes); La Pinnata del Monsu (lovely ambience and great local cuisine); La Locanda del Postino (serves great traditional Aeolian and Sicilian dishes); Ristorante Capofaro (views are unbeatable).

Activities

I’d highly suggest doing a boat tour around the island as the scenery is gorgeous. It’s also possible to visit other islands for day trips.

Panera Island

Places to stay

We stayed at Hotel Raya, which has a bit of a quirky vibe compared to the other places we stayed at giving it a little extra personality, plus the views are unbeatable.

Places to eat

If you love seafood, Cusiritati is a lovely restaurant to check out. Delicious local fare and the location and service was great.

Island life with the girls

If you’ve visited Italy, what are some of your must-visit spots?

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