• Corsica at Sunset

    6 of Europe's Best-Kept Secrets

    <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/europe/" target="_blank">Europe</a> is known for having some of the most iconic sites in the world. From the picturesque canals of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italyfamily/" target="_blank">Venice</a>, the standing stones at <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Stonehenge</a>, to the lavender fields of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/provence-tours/" target="_blank">Provence</a>. It’s easy to find yourself on a merry-go-round of repeating travels. But you can still find amazing places off the beaten path… the places not known yet to tourists. And with the help of Classic Journeys, you’ll find that Europe is full of them!<br><br>Here you’ll find six of the best-kept secrets in Europe. Which one will you visit first?<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><img alt="Croatia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rP9" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><b>Slovenia + Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula</b></a><br>Just a generation ago, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank">Slovenia and Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula</a> were part of Yugoslavia. Now, they’re two of the great under-the-radar and off-the-chart destinations in all of Europe. These unspoiled next-door lands sit right at the top of the Adriatic Sea just east of Venice. The scenery is so insanely perfect that you don’t want the walks to end. Think vineyards rolling into olive groves sweeping to the Adriatic and mirror calm mountain lakes reflecting snow-capped Alps.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank"><img alt="Basque" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPE" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank"><b>Basque Pyrenees</b></a><br>A museum sheathed in titanium. Wild horses that eat baguettes. Villages with names in three languages—Basque, French and Spanish. Farmers on tractors yield the right of way to fierce but friendly pelota games in village squares. Garlands of brilliant red pimientos dry in the sunlight… then show up on a dinner plate stuffed with seafood. You’ll be surprised at the richness of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank">Europe’s oldest culture</a> that few have had the chance to experience.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank"><img alt="Corsica" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPJ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank"><b>Sardinia + Corsica</b></a><br>Travel between the isles of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Sardinia and Corsica</a> and you&#39;ll only venture eight miles...but they&#39;re worlds apart. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Corsica</a>—part of France, but defiantly non-French—is blanketed in fragrant herbs and dotted with quaint villages. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Sardinia</a> seeks adventure. Travel through the island and see how it&#39;s rustic, mysterious; with a few thousand years of Phoenician, Spanish and Italian blood in its veins. Together, these two gorgeous islands are some of the least-touristed spots in Europe. When you leave behind the yacht-studded harbors for the mountains, pastures and vineyards of the interior, you have the rarest of privileges—to see and experience countryside and culture that seem to have stood still in time.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montenegro/" target="_blank"><img alt="Montenegro" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPO" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montenegro/" target="_blank"><b>Montenegro</b></a><br>How will you explain <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montenegro/" target="_blank">Montenegro</a> to your friends who haven’t been (and that will be 99.9% of them)? Do you start with its Adriatic coast, where golden stone villages nestle on secluded, palm-lined bays? You can’t leave out the wild mountains with their sheer canyons and whisper-quiet lakes. You’ll certainly have stories about the hospitable Montenegrins… the olive growers, grappa-makers, shepherds and artists. You’ll fall in instant love with this compact Balkan land because it’s still so undiscovered, unexpected and unforgettable.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank"><img alt="Prague" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPT" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank"><b>Prague to Budapest</b></a><br>The journey from <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank">Prague to Vienna to Budapest </a>is one of Europe’s best hidden gems. These one-time capitals of the Habsburg Empire, with its spires and castles, create the continent’s most inspiring skylines. Out in the countryside, the sights are spectacular. Powder-blue cathedrals leap up from the heart of valley towns. Incredibly intact villages are so perfectly preserved that the U.N. recognizes them as World Heritage Sites. Vast farmlands make it feel as though you’ve stepped back into feudal times. This is a rich slice of Europe’s life and history that most travelers never see.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank"><img alt="Apulia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPY" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank"><b>Apulia</b></a><br>When we ask our Italian guides where they&#39;d most like to take our friends who think they know Italy on a walking tour we get one response: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank">Apulia</a>. And then they use their hands. To paint a vista of gnarled olive trees silhouetted against a lapis lazuli sea. To express the amazing sunlight. To sketch the saw-toothed skyline of a village comprised entirely of trulli—the conical stone roofs unique to the region. Best of all, Apulia (pronounced ah-pooh-lya) passes the most important Classic Journeys test—it offers fine leisurely walking, elegant accommodations, and a glimpse into a region and culture that&#39;s not quite like any you&#39;ve encountered before.

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  • Borgo Ignazia Hotel, Puglia, Italy

    Best Luxury Hotels in the World for R&R

    <p>After you’ve hung the decorations, wrapped the presents, cooked the food and entertained all your guests – it’ll be time for you to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/reservations/" target="_blank">book some much-needed R&amp;R</a>. In the meantime, while you’re currently in full holiday-mode, just think... the rush will be over in a few more weeks and you can be lounging poolside (or bar-side) at one of these six luxury accommodations while on a handcrafted trip of a lifetime.   <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/iceland-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Skalakot" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002EiTZ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rmc" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/iceland-tours/" target="_blank">Skalakot - Iceland</a></b><br>With white gables that echo the nearby mountains, this <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/iceland-tours/" target="_blank">family-owned manor</a> hotel is a cozy and luxurious retreat. Rooms are decorated in true Icelandic style. The exceptional restaurant features local specialties from Arctic char to homemade bread. Now, this is getting away from it all. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Hotel Sahrai" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002EiTZ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rmh" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco-tours/" target="_blank">Hotel Sahrai - Morocco</a></b><br>On a hill between the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco-tours/" target="_blank">Fes Medina</a> and the New Town, this boutique hotel has unparalleled views. Light-flooded rooms are decorated with a contemporary twist on Moroccan design. Facilities include an infinity pool, fitness center and Givenchy spa – perfect for your well-deserved, post-holiday pampering.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank"><img alt="Borgo Egnazia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002EiTZ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rmm" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank">Borgo Egnazia – Italy</a></b><br>Apulia is where the high-profile stars go to escape and decompress, and<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank"> Borgo Egnazia </a>is the perfect stay. A whitewashed seaside compound, this chic property is designed as a Mediterranean village. Elegant rooms decorated in shades of white amplify Apulia’s sun. The property offers indoor and outdoor pools, a terrific spa and a range of dining options.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Iguana Crossing" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002EiTZ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rmr" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">Iguana Crossing - Galapagos</a></b><br>What better way to relax than with an <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">ocean-front room</a> in paradise? There’s nothing but National Park (with a live volcano) out the back. This hotel is cool, very close to nature and eco-minded. Amenities include a swimming pool, a roof-deck Jacuzzi and its own excellent restaurant.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Inkaterra Machu Picchu" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002EiTZ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rmw" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank">Inkaterra Machu Picchu – Peru</a></b><br>Set among 13 acres of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank">tropical gardens</a> featuring over 140 species of orchids, this hotel proudly 100% carbon neutral. Spacious rooms are situated in unique hillside casitas and feature lovely tile floors, carved wood furniture, and luxurious bathrooms.<br> <br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/india/" target="_blank"><img alt="Amarvilas" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002EiTZ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rn6" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/india/" target="_blank">Oberoi Amarvilas – India</a></b><br>Just 600 meters from the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/india/" target="_blank">Taj Mahal</a>, all rooms and public areas in this fine resort offer breathtaking views. Inspired by Moorish and Mughal architecture, it has been ranked in the top 10 hotels in the world by Travel + Leisure.</p>

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  • Water and Town View in Sicily, Italy

    Which Italian Travel Destination Next?

    <h2>Visit Italy every year forever, and you’d never have to repeat yourself.</h2>   <p>Do you know this word <i>campanilismo</i>?” asks my friend Giampiero, as he makes a not exactly tongue-in-cheek case for spending every vacation in his homeland. The term is derived from campanile, or bell tower, which is the tallest structure in many an Italian village and city. “<i>Campanilismo</i> means that as long as we Italians are within earshot of our own bell, we are home. Once we venture far enough to hear a different bell, it is a strange foreign land.” His bigger point: Tuscany is not Amalfi is not the Italian Lakes. For all of us who love this country – but who don’t like to repeat ourselves when we travel – that’s fantastic news.</p> <p>When travelers ask me which Italy they should head for, I have just one ironclad recommendation: Don’t try to “do” all of Italy in one trip. The peninsula is 768 miles long, from the Alps in the north to Mt. Etna in Sicily. Unless you have a couple of leisurely months, you’ll end up in “if this is Thursday, it must be Naples” mode. That sort of <i>vita</i> is not <i>dolce</i> at all.</p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italy/" target="_blank" title="Italy adventure travel">IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE MORE THAN “POSTCARD” ITALY, THEN CLASSIC JOURNEYS’ ITALY ADVENTURE TRAVEL IS THE WAY TO GO.</a></h3> <p>To capture the traditional, classic essence of Italy, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank" title="Tuscany &amp; Cinque Terre walking tour">Tuscany is probably the best place to start</a>. (See how I qualify my recommendations? I can already hear my friends in<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi/" target="_blank" title="Amalfi Coast &amp; Capri walking tour"> Amalfi</a> and the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italianlakes/" target="_blank" title="Italian Lake District walking tour">Lake District</a> typing their emails of dismay to me!) Still, there’s no arguing that <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank" title="Tuscany &amp; Cinque Terre walking tour">Tuscany</a> embraces the Renaissance treasures of Florence…gracious hilltop villas that overlook rolling carpets of vineyards and olive groves…Chianti and homemade pasta. This is exactly how most of us <i>dream</i> that Italy will be. I don’t know anyplace on earth that more people love more passionately.<br><br><img alt="Tuscany vineyards" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mi&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pCE" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>If Tuscany has a sort of serene gentility, I’d choose Amalfi for its spectacular coastal setting and lush sub-tropical climate. Amalfi makes me want to stretch out and soak it all in, preferably with a frosted flute of <i>limoncello</i> within reach. It’s romantic in the “I can’t believe how beautiful it is” sense of the word. When you’re in Capri, you feel a kind of lazy sway in your walk. In Positano, your hotel may seem to barely cling to a steep cliff overlooking the sea, but you feel nothing but calm and cared for.</p> <p>Prefer something a bit more off the beaten path? Head for <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank" title="Apulia: Italy&#39;s rustic south">Apulia</a>, the “heel” of Italy’s boot. As a region, it’s more rustic, closer to the earth. Shepherds still tend their flocks here. Conical stone houses called <i>trulli</i> are the iconic structures. One night, your hotel is carved into the canyon wall at Matera. Then, in one of those quick-change transitions that Giampiero is so proud of, the next night you move into the 5-star splendor of an 18th century palace in Lecce.<br><br><img alt="Apulia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mi&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pCT" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>For cool elegance and a look at how the other half lives, head north to the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italianlakes/" target="_blank" title="Italian Lake District walking tour">Italian Lakes</a>. From Pliny the Younger to George Clooney, this is the Italy of choice for sophisticated retreats. The lakes – Como, Maggiore and Orta – sit at the foot of the Alps and have the country’s mildest summer temperatures. Centuries worth of villas and lovely hotels line the shores. Whether you’re up in an alpine meadow or on a stately lake cruise, this version of Italy has a distinctly Old World resort vibe.<br><br><img alt="Italian Lakes" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mi&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pCY" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>At the opposite tip of the country and the climate spectrum, Sicily floats. They say <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sicily/" target="_blank" title="Sicily - Island in the Sun walking tour">Sicily is like Italy a hundred years ago</a>, a little more off the grid and fierce about insulating its traditions, food and lifestyle from the mainland. Mt. Etna towers in every view, a reminder that nature rules. Greek, Phoenician and Moorish blood runs in the veins, and that’s bred a vivid not-what-you-expect culture. I think that no place in Italy has ever surprised me in so many ways as Sicily.<br><br><img alt="Sicily" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mi&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pCd" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>And these are only five of the most popular areas in Italy. There is no right or wrong sequence in which to visit them. A lot of travelers link visits to the Amalfi Coast and Sicily to build strong contrasts into a single vacation (and because the two places are an easy overnight ferry ride apart). Others only want to return to Tuscany again and again and again. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that one trip or two to Italy means you’ve been there/done that. I have to admit that Giampiero is right. If you never traveled anywhere but Italy for the rest of your life, you could find a new region that would ring your bell every time.</p> <h3>READ MORE ABOUT OUR LUXURY TRAVEL TOURS TO ITALY BY TYPING “ITALY” INTO THE SEARCH BAR ON THE RIGHT OR <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/?s=Italy&amp;searchsubmit=Search/" target="_blank" title="stories about travel to Italy">CLICK HERE</a>.</h3>

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