We then caught the Bernina express through the Swiss alps to Italy and then started our four and a half week Italian adventure. The Bernina is truly spectacular. The panoramic windows allow you to see the snow capped alps and feel truly immersed in the very changeable scenery. The landscape changes from open green valleys, rugged snowy mountains, vineyards, glaciers, lakes, tiny villages…the list goes on.
Tips: It is an expensive train if you board in Germany where it originates. But if you board in Switzerland it’s maybe 1/4 of the price – look up www.seat61.com for how to do this! Sit on the right side of the train for better viewing.
Alp Grum, Switzerland.
Italy: Lake Como was a huge highlight. So charming and very lush! We stayed in Bellagio. Busy but great. Definitely see the lake by your own private boat – no license required and very easy to operate, take a picnic, some wine, pre-made spritz and enjoy swimming and seeing some famous houses (Clooney, Richard Branson…). If you can, dock at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo for a drink – this place looks as though it’s straight out of a Wes Anderson film and is very iconic.
The cobblestone laneways of Bellagio
In Sardinia we stayed in Porto Rotondo. It was a good base to see the north of the island. We rented a car, which is necessary to see any of Sardinia, as public transport is non existent. La Maddellena (the archipelago in the north) is worth visiting via a yacht tour. We went on a small boat that departed from Palau and had a great day snorkelling and visiting different beaches. We stayed at Geco di Giarda Art suites and villas.
Spiaggia di Rena Bianca, Sardinia
The Aeolian islands off Sicily were another major highlight – we went to Salina and Panarea. Both have views of Stromboli volcano and at night you can see the orange glow of lava run down the mountain. Panarea is tiny (2.5km x 1.8km) and although it attracts a VIP crowd and super yachts galore, it has a down to earth feel and not much goes on here.
We stayed at Hotel Cincotta. We rented a boat and explored nearby beaches. Salina is very green with Caper trees and the famous Malvasia wine. We stayed in Malfa at hotel Ravesi, where Mrs Ravesi cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner. It has such a local feel. We ate at La Pinnata Del Monsu twice for the freshest seafood and did a wine tasting at Capofaro winery. The sommerlier was full of local knowledge and was also very gorgeous!!
Hotel Cincotta, Panarea
Hotel Ravesi, Salina
Hotel Ravesi, Salina
Polignano a Mare was a great base to explore the towns of Puglia (we did day trips to Locorotondo and Alberobello). Our highlights were gelato and traditional coffee at Bar Gelateria Mario Campanella, and cheap, amazing seafood at Il Pescato.
We were gifted a cooking class through Le Cesearine which was held in a traditional Truli house in Alberobello that the host grew up in and still lives in. Our host spoke NO english, but we got by with google translate and hand signals and it was the best experience! A major highlight. Our accomodation here was, we think probably one of the best views of the beach. It is called BnB Calaporto.
Polignano A Mare
BnB Calaporto, Polignano A Mare
This island is typically very party orientated (do not stay in Laganas!) but we just came to relax so really have no tips as we did not stray far from our pool! We stayed at Donkey Bay BnB for four nights. This BnB has lots of return travellers as it’s a family run business who really take care of you. Then we stayed at St Johns Suites with a private pool. If we had our time again, we would have stayed at Donkey Bay for the whole time.
We stayed in Kanakis apartments in Asos, which we highly recommend. The host cooks AMAZING food – breakfast and dinner. Asos is small but charming (four tavernas only). Again, we rented a boat and explored the island and searched for the clearest water! We docked our boat at Jerusalem beach and stumbled upon the most amazing local taverna called ‘Odysseas Taverna’ where we had the best Greek food we had all trip.
Things we would change – we wouldn’t go to Positano again. It was overpopulated with Australians, so just didn’t have that local feel about it and we found everything about it overpriced and very aimed at tourists.
St Johns Suite, Zakynthos
Jerusalem Beach, Odysseas Taverna
Ms Zebra Says: What a trip?! Thanks for the great recommendations and I know we are all dying slightly of jealousy as we enjoy your amazing pictures!