Sometimes the best way a luxury travel advisor can help you is to make you disappear. It is shocking, I know, and counterintuitive. While most of the times I help travelers to see and been seen in the right places, there are times when I simple say NO to this. What you really want is an escape from civilization. Over the years I’ve advised my travelers to say NO to the crowd and the routine way of travel for a short while. NO to Amalfi Coast during the touristic peak hours. NO to the nice, centrally located hotels that are annoyingly noisy. And No to be in the crowd while you are on your “off” time.
I challenge you to travel in these Italy’s top 3 secret hideaways to block out all the crowds, noises, and have some quality time for yourself. This is the real luxury – to relax, rest, and feel the simple good things while in close contact with nature. By saying NO to modernity, you are saying YES to a happier you.
1. Eremito, somewhere in Umbria
Here is THE place to detest modern technology and do a digital detox. This 17th-century, convent-turned property is found in the middle of a massive lush forest, somewhere in Umbria. No telephone, no Wi-Fi, no television, no air conditioner (great weather here anyway). Here is the place to detest modern technology and do a digital detox.
You’ll wake up in a room with minimal decoration, bare stone vaults, and wooden bookshelves. You’ll hear Gregorian chant on your way to the candle-lit lounge, where you sit on pads to meditate or just do nothing. Food is all prepared with homegrown ingredients and described as “divinely cooked.” It’s a pilgrimage place for someone who wants to disconnect for real.
2. Nun Assisi Relais & Spa Musuem, Assisi
Also built out of an ancient monastery, this place is a little less extreme than Eremito. You can still feel the town life of Assisi (hometown of Saint Francis), yet the area’s mystic ambience is unbeatable. Surrounded by mildly curved mountains and a lavender field, the whole property is soaked in lavender’s aromatic smell. It is easy to spend days just marveling the monastery’s simple architecture and the mountain views here.
Have I mentioned the spa yet? This place is named as a “Spa Museum” for legitimate reasons –you get to experience the real Roman bath while admiring the six limestone pillars of the first century AD surrounding the pool.
3. Monastero Santa Rosa, the Amalfi Coast
This is my ultimate secret for you in Amalfi Coast – stay here, and you’ll see why soon. At least movie star Sofia Loren saw it. This place is right beside her old villa.
Perched on a spectacular cliff between Amalfi town and Positano, this monastery-turned-hotel isolates itself from all the masses in this extremely touristic region. The Mediterranean Sea breeze and the ancient bell sound are going to be the only things you hear.
While the masses are lining up in front of gelato stores in the town on the other side, you are “al-fresco” dining in a tranquil terrace overlooking the intensely blue water. The dramatic costal landscape full of towering cliffs arrests your eyes. The abundant scent of lemon and rosemary soothes your senses. People have told me that they have redefined “good life” after having been here.
4. Poecylia, remote part of Sardinia
This bright-colored resort is a wild childhood dream coming true. Located in a remote part of Sardinia, which is already remote from Italy’s main peninsula, this resort was originally photographer Piero Giaculli’s meditation sanctuary. Featuring amazing views of stargazing, gentle sea wind, rustic houses painted in rough brushstrokes, Poecylia has a sense of child-like charm.
This is the perfect escape for adults who have a child living within them. Colorful art, island exploration, and pebble beach are the main focus here. It exudes such a special sense of joie de vivre and naiveté.
5. Adler Mountain, the Dolomites
Mountain lovers need to mark down this lodge as their new favorite. You’ll enter an upland pasture in the jagged Dolomites mountain. I personally recommend clients to come here during winter, and experience the jingling sleigh rides through the snow-covered countryside. Simply magic. Clients always say they find the perfect “Nordic” experience here, where they can ski all day long and immerse themselves in rocky landscape. In no-snow seasons, this incredibly beautiful area is also perfect for horse riding, Alpine golfing, and endless walking trails to see spectacular views of the Dolomites.
Oh, don’t forget to try the specialty omelet with meadow herbs here, which is their regional niche plate you won’t find anywhere else. So fresh.
Paul Lewis is Managing Director at Luxo Italia.