2 January 2012

Best of Italy 2011

Here are my personal Italy highlights of 2011

Most luxurious hotel

Best off-the-beaten-track accommodation

Hotel Novecento, Scicli

Most frightening experience

Walking right around the rim of Vesuvius

Best views (and best exercise)

Amalfi Coast walking holiday with Exodus

> See a view

Best ruin

Castello Eurialo – an ancient Greek fortress outside Siracusa

Best meals

A tie between La Rusticana in Ragusa and Sicilia in Tavola, Siracusa

Best antipasti

Buffet at the Antica Trattoria Pizzeria in Olbia

Best ice cream

Olive-oil flavoured gelato in Ragusa

Best beaches

La Maddalena islands, Sardinia

Most surprising city

Cagliari - from beaches to art to flamingos

Best sighting

The Pope in a boat

Creepiest spot

The Ipogeo Celtico, a mysterious underground chamber in Cividale del Friuli

Best tourist trap

Grotte di Nettuno show caves, Alghero - actually worth a visit

Best tour in the footsteps of a fictional detective

Visiting the Montalbano locations in the baroque towns of Sicily

Naughtiest moment

Sneaking in with a private tour to see some of the best - and rudest - frescoes in Pompeii

and finally:

Top destination

I've spent time in lots of amazing places this year, but my award for top destination goes to Scicli, for its off-the-beaten-track charm, fine architecture, atmospheric hilltop churches and ruins, and mellow atmosphere.

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