Of the five-star hotels in Sorrento, I like to think that one has become a real friend. And, as with any real friend, the pleasure deepens with familiarity. But there is no real secret about why I like the Grand Hotel La Favorita so much: it is spacious, immaculately maintained and wonderfully practical. You might be surprised by the use of the word ‘practical’. But practicality is a characteristic too many hotels neglect nowadays, and the result of such neglect is a plague of hostelries which look wonderful in glossy magazines but are hard put to offer their guests a comfortable chair or a useable bath tub. There is none of this nonsense at La Favorita – thank goodness. Yet you must not think it lacks aesthetic appeal, for within this palace of sparkling white, located in the historical heart of beautiful Sorrento, you will find an abundance of pretty things.
The Grand Hotel Imperial Tramontano is a large and expansive property which has welcomed guests for over two hundred years. Indeed, parts of its building date back to the 16th Century. These include the Stella Maris Chapel, which is covered with brightly coloured, ‘restored’ frescoes. The Tramontano’s location – close to the Old Town and to the Cathedral, and atop Sorrento’s famous cliffs – is a privileged one, affording a superb panorama of the Gulf of Naples. Whenever I approach the entrance portico through the hotel’s shady gardens, I feel the most pleasing anticipation.
You will want to eat well in Florence, of course. But you should set your sights on good drinking, too. The magnificence of Florentine art is so overpowering that aesthetic ‘overload’ can set in. Then some really good wine is necessary to recharge the batteries. And I know the perfect place to find both the good food and the good wine. It has a magic name: Frescobaldi. This ancient and noble family produces some of the very best wines in Italy. Indeed, those who love their wine can be confident that even the cheaper wines produced by the Frescobaldi wineries will be good examples of their type. I was therefore delighted by the prospect of visiting the newly located Frescobaldi Restaurant in Florence. It has now moved right into the famous Piazza della Signoria (home of Michelangelo’s statue of David – or, at least, the copy which stays out in the weather).
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