Wanderlust

Is it these short days of late December, or the extra time spent cooped up at home during holiday festivities ?  Is it spotting the very first early spring vegetables in the market and knowing that warmer days lie ahead or seeing the first yellow blooms of the mimosa tree ?  Is it our children, clammering to climb again aboard a Eurostar, toting with them their own miniature suitcases (equipped with drawing pads, crayons, teddy bears and binoculars) ?

Whatever the cause, we are eager to begin 2010 with Italian travels.  We imagine that you must be too.  Two locations we will be visiting in January, and hope you will also include in your New Year plans, are easily a part of any Italian itinerary.

The first is our Maremma inn favorite, a southern Tuscan one that clients have called “charming, so friendly, very special in every way”.  This countryside agriturismo, family-run by Valentina and Serafino, is part of a larger estate that, over 37 acres, produces a large variety of local and Tuscan wines (mostly excellent to superb). Nearby are ancient, walled small towns that tourism has not discovered, as well as better known Tuscan locations like Pitigliano, the Argentario and Saturnia.  We will be basking in the local thermal baths, soaking in waters that are as warm as they are therapeutic.  Wintertime outdoor swimming is something our children especially love.

We are just as eager to revisit the off-the-tourist-track Basilicata coast, south of the famous Amalfi coastline, and where we love an inn that is an ex-convent hotel and framed by the roofs of an old medieval village. The area’s reputation of great beauty, and end-of-the-earth wildness, dates far back into antiquity. We cannot swim yet — the season runs from early May through late October — but wading, wildflower admiring and seashell gathering will be wonderful.   Our principal day trips will be to an organic buffalo milk dairy for the best mozzarella in Italy and to the monumental Greek temples at Paestum (pictured below) where among the ruins we shall enjoy a succulent picnic.

Won’t you let us plan some wanderlust adventures for you too ?   Visit www.insidersitaly.com and complete our survey.

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