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FLORENCE :: LAKE MAGGIORE :: ROME :: SICILY :: SORRENTO :: VENICE
Culture, beauty, history, climate-Florence, the renowned "Cradle of the Renaissance," has it all to perfection! Right in the heart of picturesque Tuscany on the banks of the Arno River, Florence represents the very best of Italy, from its museums, cathedrals, and palaces to its shopping, entertainment, and cuisine. Grab a gelato or cup of espresso and stroll through Signoria Square with its world-famous statues and medieval palace. Marvel at Brunelleschi's gigantic gothic Duomo, the Baptistry's incomparable "Gates of Paradise," and Michelangelo's David at the Academy of Fine Arts. Race up the Campanile's 414 stairs for stunning panoramas of the city, then head back down to relax and shop for treasures along the medieval Ponte Vecchio.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Florence. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Florence and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Florence insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
Born in Holland, with a passion for art history, fashion, and Italy, Florence was a natural draw for Helma. She now has several years of local tourism experience, and is a licensed guide. She is very happy to welcome Monograms guests to the Cradle of the Renaissance.
Enjoy a sensational view over the "cradle of the Renaissance" from Florence's most panoramic square. Climb to one of the highest points of the city, where the Benedictines erected a church in honor of St. Mennas.
Walk through the commercial heart of town—from the elegant and lively cafés of Piazza della Repubblica to the picturesque Old Bridge which crosses the narrowest point of the river Arno. Admire the patient and precious work of the local artisans and goldsmiths. Ask your Local Host about this and other walks to see the best of Florence.
Climb the interior staircase of the city's most dominant architectural feature—constructed between 1418 and 1436 on a base of approximately 150 feet in diameter and 330 feet high—by the genius of Filippo Brunelleschi. The Cathedral museum contains the major original artifacts and the original panels of the Baptistery, known as the "Gates of Paradise."
See Brunelleschi's early-Renaissance masterpiece and the mausoleum of the Medici family, built by Michelangelo, in the New Sacristy.
Florence's best food market is located in the middle of the picturesque street market of San Lorenzo; see displays of olive oil, pastas, herbs, and red wine.
Erected towards the end of the 13th century by the great architect Arnolfo di Cambio, this Franciscan basilica is a highlight of the specifically Italian architecture of the Gothic style. Wander along the three wide naves enriched by Galileo's and Michelangelo's tombs, and admire works of the Early Florentine School from Giotto and his followers in the transept chapels.
Enjoy the harmony of this medieval architectural jewel. Built in 1246 by the Dominicans, its beautiful arcades and its incredible vaults preserve works by many Renaissance artists.
The pharmacy displays the results of more than 800 years of work by Dominican monks. Following centuries-old formulas, the officina sells ancient remedies and tonics alongside hand-molded soaps and perfumed powders.
If you love Italian fashion, a visit to the designer houses of Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, or Ferragamo will make your day. Florentine leatherwork, gold jewelry, Italian craftwork, and art books are also good buys and great presents to take home.
Specialties to try include succulent 'bistecca fiorentina,' Florentine steaks; 'pappa al pomodoro,' a local bread and tomato soup; ribollita, a cabbage and bean soup; and 'biscottini di Prato con vin Santo,' the special biscuit and wine tradition to finish off a meal. Sip Chianti wine, Brunello di Montepulciano, or the Super Tuscans.
Located in the Italian Lake District on the south side of the Alps, Lake Maggiore is the second-largest lake in Italy. Set with the majestic mountains as a backdrop, it offers mild weather, lush vegetation, beautiful gardens, and dramatic scenery. A short boat ride brings visitors to Isola Bella, with its Baroque-style, 17th-century Italian gardens and palace filled with priceless works of art. A cable car ride to the summit of Monte Mottarone presents breathtaking views of seven lakes (on a clear day), and the Lake Maggiore Express, a narrow-gauge train and ferry, showcases stunning scenery including waterfalls, lakes, and chestnut woods. In addition to spectacular scenery, the area also offers many cafés and lakeside restaurants.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Lake Maggiore. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Lake Maggiore and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Lake Maggiore insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
Originally from Scotland, I have lived in the Lake Maggiore area now for 22 years. After working in Milan, and giving birth to my two children, I am happy to be working close to home as a Monograms Local Host in this beautiful resort area of lakes and mountains, and know you will enjoy its relaxed atmosphere, splendid scenery, and plenty to see and do.
This well known beautiful botanical garden and 200 year old Kashmir Cypress ia s 15 minute boat ride from Stresa or by "dotto" train.
A 19th century villa, small zoo and park containing plants, flowers and trees. 10 minutes walking along the lake from Stresa.
This is a 20 minute panoramic ride to the top of Mount Mottarone. From the summit take in 360° views over 7 lakes and the alps. At the mid-way stop you can visit the Alpine Garden, with over 500 essences, unique of its kind for the typology of its plants, solely of alpine origin. Departure from Lido di Carciano, walking distance from hotel Bristol.
A wonderful collection of parasols and umbrellas, together with the history of the families who made them. Near Stresa, just up to the hill, towards Mount Mottarone.
This picturesque town of Mergozzo, is the ideal place for nautical sports. For over six centuries the quarry of Candoglia has been supplying its precious marble for the Duomo di Milano
This English style garden has a collection of plants and flowers from all over the world where you can admire countless botanical species. An arduous elaboration undertaken by Captain McEacharn in 1931.
This is one of the loveliest and picturesque villages on Lake Maggiore, it takes you to the top of the Sasso del Ferro Mountain ( 1100m). In the solemn silence of the nature a superb panorama is under your eyes.
This unique place is a hermitage clinging to the rocks. South convent, small convent and the Church (the only one open to the public)
A medieval building property of the Borromeo family, with a famous collection of dolls in the Doll Museum. Amazing view from the tower.
Many cities in the world are old, even ancient. But only one city has earned the sobriquet of "eternal"-the Italian capital, Rome. As you explore the countless ancient wonders that litter the streets, it's almost easy to imagine what life must have been like during the golden age of the Roman Empire. Highlights include the enormous gladiatorial venue, the Colosseum; the Roman Forum; the well-preserved 2nd-century mall, Trajan's Markets; the impressive Baths of Caracalla; and ruins of the famous Appian Way. Some other must-see attractions are Rome's most spectacular water feature, Trevi Fountain; St. Peter's Basilica; and the Vatican Museums featuring the breathtaking Sistine Chapel.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Rome and Italy. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Rome and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Rome insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
I have many years of experience in both European and African travel. I was the first-ever, English-speaking guide to lead the Imperial city tour in Morocco. I have a great love of Rome and know all its secrets, which I take great pleasure in sharing. Thanks to my kindness and thoughtfulness, Monograms’ clients like to call me “Mama.”
Ask your Local Host for a walking route to see Piazza Navona, the church of San Luigi dei Francesi with its paintings of Caravaggio, the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and Piazza del Popolo.
See the Ara Pacis, Borghese Park, and the Spanish Steps—the longest and widest staircase in Europe.
This is another possibility for a walking route to discover more of Rome’s splendors. See Castel Sant’Angelo, piazza Farnese, and the district of Trastevere with the Basilica of St. Maria in Trastevere.
Rome has many museums and galleries. Ask your Local Host for information.
Dare to put your hand in the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth), the marble disk presumed to be the face of a river god that, legend has it, will bite off a liar’s hand.
Visit the imposing Jewish Roman synagogue, which includes a small museum of Roman Jewish life and ritual. Also see the Jewish Quarter with its Tortoise Fountain.
Cross the oldest surviving bridges, Ponte Fabricius or Ponte Cestius, to explore boat-shaped Tiber Island, which has long been associated with healing.
See this Roman theater later converted into a residence.
Families may wish to spend some time at the Gianicolo Park, with its wonderful panoramic views of Rome, carousels, and puppet shows.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do and stroll in this vast green area, a combination of old and new parks. Admire its fountains, monuments, and sculptures.
Shop on Via Condotti, which ends at the Spanish Steps. Here you will find boutiques of many world-famous designers. Italian craftwork and religious artifacts also make good buys.
Try some special pasta dishes, such as pasta alla carbonara, bucatini all’amatriciana, and lasagna. Also, enjoy memorable gelato and the white Frascati wine made in the Roman Hills for 2000 years.
Located on the coast of the Ionian Sea, the resort town of Giardini Naxos, Sicily was founded in the 1st century BC and is now famous for its beaches. Nearby is Taormina, built on the cliff overlooking the sea and offering visitors a town steeped in history. Visit the ancient Greek Amphitheater, built in the 3rd century BC and still used for summer performances today. Taormina also has many restaurants and a medieval quarter with reminders of its Greek and Roman past—with its narrow streets and old shops now selling modern goods. Mt. Etna, Europe's largest active volcano, is only a short drive from town.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Sicily. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Sicily and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Sicily insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path while in Sicily, Italy, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
As the Local Host in Sicily, I look forward to welcoming you to this beautiful Mediterranean island in Italy. Originally from Germany, I have enjoyed living in Sicily for more than 20 years. With its long history and rich culrure, great specialties to taste, and scenic wonders, I know you will love Sicily too.
Ask your Local Host about great walking routes to explore locally on your own.
The Watchtower in Giardini Naxos was built in the 16th century to protect the coast against raids by Barbary pirates. Schisò Castle overlooks the bay, and was originally constructed between the 13th and 14th centuries.
Mario Puzo enthusiasts may wish to visit the Godfather sites Forza d'Agrò, Savoca, and Castello degli Schiavi.
This tiny, picturesque village, built to defend Taormina, is well worth a visit. While there try their Vino alle mandorle, a dry almond wine.
Learn more about Sicily's rich history at the Regional Museum of Archaelogy. A visit to the archaeological site of Naxos, perfectly hidden by citrus trees, where man has lived for thousands of years, is also very interesting to understand more about the island's turbulent past.
Nature lovers will enjoy the wonderful flora and fauna in the Reserve, and viewing the impressive gorges at Alcantara River Park.
Savor fresh fish such as swordfish, tuna, mackerel, sardines and anchovies prepared according to Sicilian tradition. Enjoy salads dressed with local olive oil. Try a granite al caffè con panna (iced coffee with whipped cream); Sicilian pastry filled with ricotta cheese, or delicious ices in soft round rolls, unique and wonderful on a hot day!
Ask your Local Host where to buy colorful local Sicilian pottery and embroidery.
Relax on the beach and enjoy the Mediterranean up close. Have fun at the Giardini Naxos water park.
Join the locals and promenade in the cool late evening. Your Local Host will have suggestions about local Sicilian musical and cultural events.
Few places in the world match the magical atmosphere of Sorrento in southern Italy's Campania region. Delightfully situated above the Bay of Naples for breathtaking views as far as Mount Vesuvius, the picturesque resort town boasts an outstanding climate, winding streets lined with boutique shops, fascinating museums, flower-festooned terraces, and a vibrant nightlife. Spend some time people watching at Piazza Tasso, Sorrento's main gathering place, and relax in the glorious Mediterranean sun with a glass of locally produced limoncello or delectable gelato. Excellent ferry and hydrofoil service to Capri, Amalfi, and Positano make Sorrento an ideal jumping-off point for area sightseeing.
Monograms provides traveler's access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Sorrento and Italy. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Sorrento and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Sorrento insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
My name is Annamaria and I was born here in Sorrento. I really enjoy sharing the culture and secrets of my land with Monograms visitors: from the world-famous island of Capri and the extraordinary excavations of Pompeii to the enchanting atmosphere of the Amalfi coast, not forgetting the wonderful flavors of Mediterranean cuisine.
Walk through the Old Town along the fisherman's path to Marina Grande, once the main harbor of Sorrento. Sophia Loren was filmed in movies at this picturesque harbor. Stop at one of the restaurants to enjoy fresh fish brought in by the local fleet.
The eighteenth century Palazzo Correale di Terranova houses the town's museum, Correale. This was created by Alfredo and Pompeo Correale, Counts of Terranova, who later donated it to the town. The rooms hold precious examples of crafts and local art from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. On exhibition are some remarkable pieces from the Greco-Roman age, medieval elements from the Cathedral, furniture, clocks, porcelain, glass and a fine collection of paintings. Of special interest are the nineteenth century marquetry items made by local artists according to the tradition which has brought international fame to Sorrento.
A visit to the new Marquetry Museum is also well worth a visit to learn more about this decorative art. The Museum's principal objective is to promote and ensure continuity of the tradition of Sorrentine marquetry.
Take a ride on the Sorrento train tour, with audio commentary, to admire panoramic terraces and the city's beauty.
Enjoy some of the best views of the peninsula, its Mediterranean vegetation, blue sea and small, picturesque towns and villages. Stop at the ones of your choice to admire and explore, and then catch the next bus according to the circuit's timetable. Audio guides with commentary are provided on board.
Relax in the gardens and enjoy spectacular views across the Bay of Naples to Vesuvius. Newly weds head to this shaded oasis fo fairytale wedding photos.
Stroll out of town to the Queen Giovanna's Baths and ancient fortress to view the Mediterranean up close. Walk back or catch the local bus.
Good buys of local craftsmanship include inlaid woodwork 'intarsio', created in anything from small musical boxes right up to large pieces of furniture. Cameos and corals make splendid jewelry pieces. Admire lifelike Capodimonte figurines created in the Naples area. Other shopping possibilities are embroidery and silk work made at home by local ladies, or look out for ceramics from the Amalfi coastline.
The Sorrento and Naples areas are well known for their cuisine, but perhaps the most famous of all is the Pizza Margherita, invented in Naples. Sorrento is renowned for its fresh fish dishes, shell fish (often served with Scialatielli home made pasta) and other sea food such as the delicious calamari. Spaghetti with clams is certainly one of the favorites. For dessert maybe try the local Pastiera (cake with ricotta cheese, wheat grain and candied fruit).
Ask your Local Host about street markets for local color and bargains.
Sorrento offers everything to visitors, sea and sun, magnificent mountain views, music and culture, a relaxing atmosphere and everything within a short distance.
Breathtakingly beautiful and one of the most popular destinations in the world is the remarkable floating city of Venice. Founded more than 1,500 years ago on 117 different islands, this romantic travel mecca is linked by over 150 canals and 400 bridges. A gondola ride around the Venetian lagoon or boat ride through the canals is a must, as is a stop for a coffee and the ambiance at the world-famous Caffé Florian and visits to many of the city's famous landmarks, including St. Mark's Square and Cathedral with its exceptional gold mosaics; Rialto Bridge in the heart of Venice; Doges' Palace and the evocative Bridge of Sighs; and the island of Murano to purchase spectacular blown-glass souvenirs.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Venice. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Venice and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Venice insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
Hi, I’m Graziella. While studing foreign languages abroad and tourism in Italy, working for a cruise line around the world, and tour guiding throughout Europe, Venice, my home town, was always in my thoughts. I really enjoy being back in Venice as a Local Host, and helping Monograms guests get to know my city...so different, so unique. Sharing with them it's splendors, it's elegant palazzi, it's history, and special moments that only a city like Venice can create: sunset on the Lagoon, music in St. Marks' Square, and even the early morning atmosphere, it all makes my job so special, knowing Monograms guests enjoy and appeciate discovering this great city so much.
Ask your Local Host about a walking route around Old Venice, embracing the oldest parts of the island situated in the Rialto Bridge area. Alternatively, you could join the locals strolling on their evening promenade.
Travel to the top for an unrivalled view of Venice and some of its surroundings.
A characteristic boatyard (squero) dating back from the 17th century on the rio (little canal), of San Trovaso, in a particularly picturesque position. It's one of the last traditional squeri still constructing gondolas.
For special family time, see Giovanni Moro's hand-painted replicas of Venice's historic buildings and churches in miniature. Take a boat to the Lido Island to relax on the beach, or stroll in the gardens and playgrounds of Saint Elena island.
Accademia Gallery, Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Ca'Rezzonico Venetian Museum, Jewish Museum
The Accademia Gallery contains works by Tintoretto, Bellini and Carpaccio. In Peggy Guggenheim's former home, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal, see one of the most important collections of American and European Modern Art. Ca'Rezzonico, a beautiful Venetian palace and residence, is home to a collection of 18th century Venetian furnishings and paintings. Visit the Jewish Ghetto dating back to the early 16th century, its Museum exhibits traditions of goldsmith's and textile arts.
The Arsenal and Naval History Museum
The Arsenal, founded in 1104, was once the hub of Venice's naval power and is now a closed military zone, but its impressive gates, an inkling of past glory, are well worth seeing. Close by, visit the Naval History Museum's fascinating collection of model ships, which served as copies when building the real vessels, including the amazingly lavish ceremonial Doges' barge, the Bucintoro. Visit the Ships' Pavilion to see its collection of important historic vessels.
Venice has a wealth of churches showcasing fine religious art and historic testimony. Here are a selection of the most famous which are well worth a visit. Your Local Host will be able to give you more details about each one and how to find them.
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari Basilica: one of the greatest churches in the city, with a major religious art collection.
Basilica of San Giovanni e Paolo: after the 15th century funeral services of all Venetian Doges were held here, and twenty-five Doges are buried in the basilica.
Church of San Rocco: was erected between 1489 and 1508, then underwent major alterations in 1725. It holds paintings by Venetian artist Tintoretto (1519-1594), and was one of the plague sanctuaries.
Santa Maria Formosa: built in 1492 on the site of a church dating from the 7th century where the Virgin Mary was believed to have appeared.
Santa Maria dei Miracoli: known as the marble church, was built in 1481 to hold a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, and is one of the finest examples of early Venetian Renaissance architecture.
Basilica of San Pietro di Castello: designed by Andrea Palladio, dates from the 16th century, but has been a religious site from early times. From 1451 to 1807 it was the city's cathedral, serving as its spiritual and religious administration center.
San Giorgio: located on St. George island, the church is a masterpiece of architect Andrea Palladio. From the top of the bell tower enjoy one of the best panoramas of Venice and the lagoon. The church houses paintings by famous artists, including Tintoretto.
Visit one of Italy's most famous theatres, the reconstructed La Fenice which is famed for its acoustics. The world was stunned when it was destroyed by fire; millions of dollars were raised and stars such as Luciano Pavarotti and Woody Allen offered their support so that it could be reconstructed.
The center of the Venetian glass blowing industry for more than 1,000 years; also known for its Glass Museum and the Byzantine church of Santi Maria e Donato with a beautiful mosaic floor dating back to the 12th century. Venetian shopping specialties include Murano glass crafts and glass pearls, lace, masks, and unique Christmas gift calendars.
Ask your Local Host about one of the many Vivaldi concerts in town, or the Venetian Biennale.
Sample cicchetti and baccari appetizers and the local aperitif Spritz, or a small glass of fiery grappa at the end of your meal.
A great place for a night out; enjoy a glass of sparkling prosecco wine in the university district.
Harry's Bar was one of Hemingway's favorite haunts, see where the novelist created his signature cocktail … made of 15 parts gin to 1 part vermouth! Or try its world famous "Bellini". Why not have a drink at the Caffè Florian, situated in the shadows of San Marco and listen to its orchestra dueling with the others. This is particularly suggestive in the evening under the illuminations.
If you have already visited Venice and want to take advantage of its excellent location to visit mainland areas, Verona, Padua and the Dolomite mountains are nearby.
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