Category Archives: italy

Dream Cruise Destinations

599ac5b858a4d1b03cd0ed6c3a44e9efOne of the best things about taking a cruise is the luxury of waking up in a new destination, with a new place on your doorstep to explore. Cruises are a great way to travel if you’re short on time and want to pack a few destinations into one trip. Alongside visiting some great destinations, you can also enjoy the range of facilities that your cruise is packed with. If you’re traveling with a family, cruise holidays can be a great way to keep the whole family entertained. I’ve been dreaming over a few destinations in Europe I’d love to visit on a cruise and thought I’d share some juicy travel inspiration with you.



With the recession in Greece now is a great time to visit because things are cheaper, but also because you can help out boost the Greek economy. You have so many choices in Greece, as there are tons of beautiful islands to visit. You can visit the romantic, beautiful island of Santorini which is world-famous for the white buildings with ocean-blue painted roofs. You could spend a few days exploring Mykonos, with the turquoise water laced with golden sand. Corfu is a beautiful island with striking rock formations and stunning beaches. It would be hard to miss Athens, when visiting Greece, as there is so much historical significance jam packed into this beautiful city.



Croatia is quickly becoming a hot travel destination in Europe and rightly so, it is beautiful. The only problem is, I can see it becoming busier and busier as time goes on. I think now is a great time to visit as it’s on the edge of being completely dominated by tourism, so you can still find areas to enjoy by yourself. I’m hoping to get there this upcoming summer. When sailing in Croatia, it’s common to make your way from Dubrovnik to Split or vice versa. People say Dubrovnik is a must-see stop on any cruise through Croatia, with its charming old streets. Along the way it’s been suggested to stop in Hvar, which is an island that boasts a lot of natural beauty. Mjlet also has lush green national parks, grand lakes and a few beautiful beaches scattered around the island.



Ah, Italy. Who can plan a trip to Europe without giving into the temptation that is this beautiful country. Because so much of Italy is next to the coast, you’re almost spoiled for choice in places you can visit in Italy on your cruise. One of my favourite places is Capri, which has great food and beautiful beaches – an irresistible combination. For some striking contrast, spend a few days in Sardinia, where you’ll see impressive coastlines unlike anywhere else.

Have you been to any of these countries? What are your dream cruise destinations?


Filed under greece, italy, travel

8 Supremo Tours in Italy with Walks of Italy

Walk this way. Talk this way. Just give me an Italian kiss!

I was so so fortunate so spend time last November in the beautiful country of Italy. It was my third visit there but I was no less enamored than my very first. Touring cities I had visited previous times, I felt, afforded me the opportunity to be less of a tourist and just enjoy Italy at a pace that they operate anyhow…SLOW! I was also incredibly lucky to partner with the very best tour company I’ve ever encountered – Walks of Italy. Walks of Italy offers small groups (no more than 12 people) everything from guided walks to full-day excursions that are designed to engage and inspire you. As a repeat traveler to Italy, I can assure you, I learned more in my time on my Walks of Italy tours than all other visits combined. Take a look see…


Tuscan Farmhouse

UNO – My first tour started with a journey to a Tuscan Farmhouse located on the border between Tuscany and Umbria. A 2 hour train ride from Florence, I was going to be spending the day there learning to cook Italian style. SI, you read that correctly, Lola COOK! I wasn’t so sure about the “cooking” part but I’d actually never been to this part of Italy so I was looking forward to the scenery at least. The organic farm is a 40 acre estate with rolling hills, olive groves, vegetable gardens and vineyards. It’s exactly like you picture Tuscany/Umbria to look like. My eyes were completely sated.

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From this 6 hour full Tuscan experience you can expect to tour the estate, learn how olive oil and wine are made and turn their fresh home-grown produce into a meal, all guided by the farmhouse chefs and owners. You might recall, this was my favorite day on my 30 day Eurotour! So, in the end, I enjoyed far more than the scenery. I loved learning how to cook Tuscan Italian food and most of all making new friends!


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DUE – My next Walks of Italy experiences were to take place in Rome. So, off I went by train 2 hours in a different direction from the farmhouse to Rome. Once in Rome, I was being treated to a “behind the ropes” tour of the Vatican. VIP…SAY. NO. MORE. I’d been to the Vatican twice before this tour and really felt no need to return, yet again, BUT getting into private rooms and seeing secret treasures without the wait or the crowds made me appreciate the Vatican so much more. As always, I’m surprised I made it out alive. I swear, I think a nun was chasing me out of there 😉

rome food tour

TRE – On Walks of Italy tour number 3 I got to partake in a food tour. I’ve never done a food tour before and I gotta say, “what took me so long?” I mean, how else to better get to the bottom of one’s culture than through its food? This FAB tour kicked off in the famous food market of Rome, Campo dei Fiori. Talk about a visual delight and, of course, a culinary one as well! Expect to have olive oil and vinegar tastings at the market stalls while learning about their aging processes and differences in taste. Go to a famous meat market on the square to try local meats and cheeses. MMMM. Make your own Roman pizza from scratch. SO FUN! And finish off with none other than Italian coffee and gelato. This was tour that was both educational and delicious. It was a full meal and an authentic way to experience Rome just like a local.



QUATTRO – During this Walks of Italy tour, I took a 45 minute train ride out to the countryside to the medieval town of Orvieto. Orvieto is full of history that dates back to its Etruscan origins and is breathtakingly beautiful. While this day trip tour offers insight into the 3,000 year old underground city with its hidden cellars and caverns, my tour also included searching out some of the freshest local foods. I was escorted to a fabulous cheese factory as well as an olive oil factory, where I was able to see how these items are made, processed and prepared for sale PLUS sample them! And I cannot forget to mention the incredible lunch I had at a traditional Umbrian restaurant. I’m not sure I’ve ever had better tasting pasta (and I should’ve prefaced this by stating I ate pasta every day in Italy)!



CINQUE & SEI – My Walks of Italy tours numbers 5 & 6 took me to the ancient city of Pompeii and to the Naples Archeological Museum.  These two tours are quite necessary with one another as you have to see Pompeii to gain an understanding of how life was but visit the Naples Archeological Museum to actually see what was unearthed in more depth. To be sure, Pompeii was fascinating, eery and beautiful, touring the Temple of Apollo, their Roman Forum, a typical house where their outdoor space was in the center of the home and the thermal baths. BUT all the real treasures found in the excavations are housed at the Naples Archeological Museum and, to me, this really drove home how similar we were even 2000 years ago. Found there are intricate mosaic columns, intact rooms from homes, pottery & jewelry and important works of Pompeian art. All retelling the story of this lost city and its inhabitants.



SETTE & OTTO – Seven found me exploring the Amalfi Coast. Although I’ve been to the gorgeous island of Capri, I desperately wanted to take a drive along that famous coastline. So, I took a Walks of Italy private car tour, because is there really any better way to see the Amalfi Coast?! Even though it was November and most things were closed in the little village towns, it was still pretty and you could just imagine what it’s like in the height of the season. All the towns nestled into the cliffs rolling down to the Mediterranean Sea, it was thrilling to drive the winding roads and walk up and down the small paths in the seaside towns. Stopping for lunch at a spot that had an incredible vista, I felt like I was in a movie.

mount vesuvius

My eighth and final tour with Walks of Italy found me hiking the upper crater of Mt. Vesuvius. I wouldn’t have thought it was all that important to visit Mt. Vesuvius but, after the fact, it was possibly my favorite part of all the tours.  Talk about exhilarating, the VIP access to the crater of Mt. Vesuvius with a volcano expert was quite something. This part of the tour might not be for those with a fear of heights but IT IS for you if you like a bit more action and adventure. I probably loved it because I didn’t know what to expect and OH MY the views of the Bay of Naples from the highest point of the crater are spectacular.

GRAZIE Walks of Italy for treating me to some of the best of Italy I’ve ever experienced. Your guides were passionate, professional and personable and I loved every single thing I was privileged to do with you. My Walks of Italy tours were in the late fall, but I imagine they are outstanding in all seasons. The subject matter is Italy, after all, and the guides are top-notch ECCELLENTE and completely ‘Lola Approved’ lola_blackpink


Filed under amalfi coast, italy, naples, pompeii, rome, travel, tuscany, umbria

Travel Style – a #FriFotos Special Edition

Stylin’ & Profilin’

Lola's #Style is #lolafied

Lola’s #STYLE is #lolafied

I’m excited to share that I’ll be co-hosting #FriFotos on Twitter this Friday, April 26. In case you aren’t clear what #FriFotos is exactly, it’s a 24-hour chat that trends internationally. People worldwide share their photos that match the week’s theme and you can play along if you’re on Twitter or Instagram by following the #FriFotos hashtag and including it in your Tweets with your photos.

The usual hosts will be there: @FriFotos who can also be tweeted to as @TravelDesigned, @EpsteinTravels & @CharlesYap. I’m sharing co-hosting with ooo lala @purplepassport AND you can find me @LolaDiMarco. NOW onto this week’s theme. After a little discussion we decided on #STYLE. I think this is a fantastic topic for #FriFotos because it can apply to lots of things with regard to travel. Like is your #STYLE solo travel, backpacker or luxe? Is your accommodation #STYLE swanky, hip or budget? What’s your travel food #STYLE or even libations #STYLE? You get my point, right?! #STYLE is about the LIFESTYLE of travel too. Of course, I think the more creative the better and to help inspire you I’ve put together some ideas to show you LOLA’S TRAVEL #STYLE.



Theres no doubt about it. My travel #STYLE involves lots and lots of PINK wherever I can pull it off!

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Lola’s drink #STYLE of choice is COCKTAILS

Seen here are a Dark & Stormy at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Ultimate Gin & Tonic at SLS Beverly Hills, CA, 3 different versions of Negronis at Four Seasons Florence, Italy & the delicious Eastern Standard at Soho Beach House, Miami.

my travel #Style most certainly includes luxury hotel stays

my travel #STYLE most certainly includes LUXURY hotel stays

Don’t know what your #STYLE is for accommodations but mine’s definitely one where I’m looking for something special! These properties absolutely fit the special #STYLE bill. Seen here are two Four Seasons properties: Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, CA and Four Seasons Milan in Milan, Italy. AND two Relais & Chateaux properties: Bellevue Syrene in Sorrento, Italy and Villa Galicci in Aix en Provence, France. I can assure you that I have never stayed in any Relais & Chateaux or Four Seasons property that didn’t meet every expectation in GREAT #STYLE.

Lola #Style also goes with HIP hotels

Lola’s #STYLE also goes with HIP hotels

My travel #STYLE enjoys finding the new hot spots too. These hotels certainly exude a HIP #STYLE. We’ve got Mondrian SoHo in NYC, W Barcelona in Spain, The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas & The James Royal Palm in Miami. All very HIP. All very COOL.

FACT: Lola hearts the #Style of a beach vacay

FACT: Lola hearts the #STYLE of a beach vacay

It’s gotta be NO surprise that my travel #STYLE is definitely one that leans toward beach vacations. Sun, sand & the sea make me so happy! Here are a few of my favorite beachy spots: Miami Beach in Florida, Gouverneur Beach in St. Barts, Lucy Vincent Beach in Martha’s Vineyard, MA and Cas Abao Beach in Curacao.

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very important in my world…minibar #STYLE

One thing that I’ve found that really sets some properties apart is a beautiful, well-appointed minibar! First up is the BEST up so far – Soho Beach House, Miami. To the right is Mondrian SoHo, NYC. Below is Four Seasons Florence, Italy. To the left is W Barcelona, Spain. If you love a cocktail to start your evening off right or to have a night cap at days end, a minibar with serious #STYLE is essential! Just sayin’

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Lola’s #STYLE is definitely all about a FAB hotel pool

I don’t care if it’s not even warm enough to sun yourself, there’s something amazing about the #STYLE of great swimming pool. Granted, I prefer the sunshine & warmth option in my travel plans. Found here are Delano South Beach in Miami, W Barcelona in Spain, Petit Palace in Santorini, Greece and Soho Beach House in Miami. I ask you what’s not to LOVE about these pool’s #STYLE?

I hope these examples of #STYLE has got your creative juices flowing. It will be so FUN if you come PLAY along on Friday on Twitter with #FriFotos. Don’t forget to tweet to me @LolaDiMarco and add the hashtags #STYLE and #FriFotos to your photos. I look forward to seeing you & your travel #STYLE there!

xo – LOLA


Filed under amalfi coast, barcelona, california, caribbean, cocktails, curacao, europe, florence, florida, france, greece, hipster hotels, italy, martha's vineyard, miami, milan, new york, spain, st. barts, swanky luxe stays, travel, USA, vegas

my favorite day of my 30 day Eurotour

too many cooks in the Italian kitchen? never!


everyone has asked me about my favorite this and my favorite that from my 30 day stint over in Euroland. the truth is everything was my favorite and it’s a really hard question to answer. BUT if i had to pick…i guess i could really say there were some things that topped the rest. in an effort to share these favorites, i give you my favorite day in my 30 days in Europe.

it started off at the early hour of 8:30am when the owner of the Florence apartment was coming to check me out. i needed to schlep my belongings to the train station and hop a train to Chiusi-Chianciano, which is on the border of Tuscany and Umbria. OK. easier said than done but with the help of the gracious apartment owner, a cab was called and i was on my way. once in Chiusi, one of the proprietors of the farmhouse informed me that the region had suffered from flash flooding and that 2 out of 3 roads were closed to get the farmhouse. the only open road which was the “long way” was also virtually impassable unless you had an SUV type of vehicle. this day looked to either be a massive failure or an amazing adventure. only time would tell.

after a long car trip, i arrived at Il Fontanaro. it looked like what all the movies make Tuscan farmhouses out to be. it was beautiful. it was rustic. it was cozy – like home. the owners, mother & daughter, were warm and welcoming. it seemed as if the day would be saved. only other thing is, i was there to take a day of cooking lessons and i really don’t cook. insert the UH OH here.

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Alina (daughter) and Lucia (mother) said let’s start off by looking at the menu we’ll be preparing – intimidating for the non-chef – but then handed over a plate of cheese, meat and a bottle of wine. ok…i can eat & drink and then the cooking will come – right?!

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things to make:

  • saffron & pumpkin rice
  • home-made tagliatelle & Umbrian meat ragu
  • slow cooked beef fillet
  • Alina’s spaghetti carbonara
  • Lucia’s apple strudel

i’ll just say that Alina & Lucia made it easy to “help” and i felt as though i were really cooking. everything was spectacular. the entire day was spent making the menu come to life and enjoying it along the way at lunch and then dinner. even better than the delicious homegrown organic food we made into meals was the company. you can’t help but get to know people as you spend an afternoon cooking, eating & drinking wine together. and, it turns out we’re kindred spirits as mother and daughter fully endorse wine in every dish! what’s not to amore?!

the menu

so why was this my favorite day? well, i guess because i was surprised how much i enjoyed a day of cooking. i learned about making different things, of course, but i also learned about the history of the farmhouse and a lesson in wine, to boot. Alina is a certified sommelier and gave a quick history lesson in Super Tuscan wines, which are of particular interest to me. Alina & Lucia treated me like a friend not a stranger taking a cooking class and staying overnight in one of their farmhouse villas. so much so that the next morning Lucia delivered me to the Chiusi train station with Alina as an escort to Rome.

filet of beef

the best news is, the story is far from over. for one, i’ve enjoyed making some of the dishes i learned to make at Il Fontanaro since returning home. it’s a souvenir that keeps on giving in the reliving of the day and the enjoyment of a delicious meal. secondly, i’ve booked a week-long stay to go to Il Fontanaro this summer and cannot wait to return and discover more about cooking, the medieval village of Paciano and wines of the region as well as seeing my friends, Alina and Lucia, again.

wine cellar

Il Fontanaro is on the border between Umbria and Tuscany, just 2 hours from Florence and Rome. staying as a guest of Il Fontanaro affords you the opportunity to have a slow, eco-organic country living experience. MOLTO BENE!

GRAZIE to Walks of Italy for giving me such a wonderful experience of cooking at Il Fontanaro. you made my favorite day possible and, clearly, i’m a fan since i’ll be returning!


Filed under europe, italy, travel, tuscany, umbria

4 Reasons I Love Four Seasons Milano

Milanese Magnificence at Four Seasons Milano


In the past year, I’ve been quite lucky to have stayed in my fair share of Four Seasons properties and I’ve come to expect certain things. Let’s just say something like excellence on many levels. A prime location. An amazing dining offering. An impeccable staff. And, if I’m really lucky, a unique, personal and memorable experience. Truly inspiring – Four Seasons Milano didn’t let me down with any of these.


UNO – Property & Location

Four Seasons Milano, located in the heart of the Golden Quad area,  may have the best hotel address ever – certainly in Milan. The “quadrilatero della moda” or “the fashion” district is the square shape made by the intersection of Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Sant’ Andrea and Via Manzoni – Italy’s most POSH, SLEEK & FASHIONABLE streets. Four Seasons Milano, a 118 room hotel housed in a 15th century convent that has been restored with historical references to its past , is nestled in this quad off the quiet Via Gesu. Milan, known as a private city due to much of its beauty being hidden behind closed gates that keep gardens, courtyards and terraces out of sight from the street, can be discovered here in the relaxed elegance of Four Season Milano. Like the view of the gorgeous inner courtyard, some rooms are decorated in shades of green with only the finest of timeless Italian linens from Frette.

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DUE – Unique One-of-a-Kind Experience

When I let Four Seasons Milano know that I was coming for an overnight and hoped to experience one of the things that Milan is most known for, SHOPPING, they did not let me down. They didn’t highlight a map and send me on my way. Nope. They asked a local in-the-know personal stylist to take me on a private tour. Melanie Payge took me to behind-the-scenes sample sales and showrooms and explained the heritage of the fashion design industry in Milan. It was interesting and a great lesson to learn about how fashion doesn’t fall far from the family tree! I loved discovering some of the up and coming Italian fashion superstars. Plus, it was bonus eye candy for this shopaholic and so much fun! I even scored a Fall 2013 item just off the runway. CHA-CHING! oh & Melanie’s tagline is “she knows Milan like the back of her handbag” which couldn’t be any more true or perfetto!


TRE – Incredible Culinary Experience

Every Four Seasons I’ve stepped foot into has a unique flair for food in its own way. Four Seasons Milano absolutely blew me away with a special VIP invitation to a white truffle &  Barolo wine dinner at Il Teatro. For starters, the restaurant is consistently ranked in the top five in Milan – OOO LALA! Plus, the truffle business is not to be trifled with as it’s edible gold with a very limited season. Not only was this multi-course, multi-wine pairing meal amazing but the table company was wonderful. I had the continued pleasure of Ms. Payge’s bubbly personality, who stayed on after our shopping afternoon, as well as the company of the Four Seasons Milano Sales Manger, Dina, and two handsome wine & truffle reps. I felt like a true VIP to be in such lovely, interesting and fun company.


QUATTRO – Phenomenal Staff

As soon as you step inside this urban sanctuary you will feel personal service that is exemplary. Greeted by multiple staff who know who you are and are there to ensure you have all that you need is just one of the things I found exceptional about Four Seasons Milano. It is said, the concierge team’s reputation extends city-wide to be the best for arranging almost anything under the Milanese moon. I was particularly impressed with how I was welcomed in as practically one of their own, especially during the special VIP dinner.

A note of gratitude to Four Seasons Milano for hosting my stay in Milan. I haven’t met alola_blackpink Four Seasons property that I didn’t adore but if I didn’t ‘Lola Approve’ it I’d say otherwise. The views here are mine, grazie!


Filed under italy, milan, swanky luxe stays, travel