This small, secluded region in southern Tuscany is off the beaten path with great restaurants, hotels and wineries. The area has a plethora of wineries and tours that will keep you busy during your stay, and when enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, make sure to sample the delicious house wines Morellino di Scansano, Bolgheri, Maremma Toscana, and Montecucco. Order a liter over selecting a bottle from the wine list—you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable they are!
Cinque Terre, Italy
This is such a picturesque, magical coastal town on the Italian Riviera. Spend the day soaking up the beauty, eating local seafood, especially the Anchovies of Monterosso, which are famous all over Italy. If you’re into pesto, it’s a local favorite that pairs awesomely with other local treats—like freshly baked breads and olives. And if you’re into cooking, take a class with a native chef to learn how to prepare Ligurian cuisine, such as handmade pasta and the well-known pesto sauce.
Grape vines and olive trees surround the mountainous area and two wines, Cinque Terre and the desert wine, Sciachetrà are both made using Vermentino, Bosco, and Albarola grapes from the region. Besides wine, grappa is a favorite local drink as is limoncello—one of the most versatile liqueurs you can have in your home bar. You can serve it many different ways, and as a mixer in cocktails, there are a myriad of recipes where some extra lemon flavor can make or break a drink. We often use the libation to make granita as an intermezzo during a multicourse meal.
Polignano a Mare, Italy
Italy’s boot, otherwise known as Apulia (a.k.a. the Puglia region of Italy), is home to whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland, breathtaking Mediterranean coastlines, and hundreds of wonderful wines and restaurants. And one of the not to miss restaurants in Southern Italy, in the town of Polignano a Mare, is a spectacular restaurant, The Summer Cave, inside the Grotta Palazzese hotel. Centuries ago, it was built inside a cave, carved from the cliff made of limestone, just 74 feet above sea level, providing a spectacular backdrop for diners.
Torre Sant’Andrea, Province of Lecce, Italy
Head to the beach at Torre Sant’Andrea, in Pulia on the Adriatic coast for beautiful views. The area presents a rocky scenery and the stacks of Torre Sant’Andrea. The main beach is reachable via a flight of stairs and some areas are deep enough to dive, if you dare! And if you are looking for a drink and something to snack on, head to Babilonia for pizza or Il Porticciolo, a wine and food bar that has a large selection of wine, spirits and sparkling wine.