5 Ways to See Italy

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Andrea Wyner

Five experts reveal their insider tips, from a ceramics tour of the Amalfi Coast to a culinary drive in Emilia-Romagna.

Modena: A Foodie Drive

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Chef Massimo Bottura whips up a weekend tour of culinary treats and cultural highlights.

Modena-born Massimo Bottura recalls his grandmother making pasta dough twice daily to serve the family fresh tortellini for lunch and dinner. “In her hands, the dough became a translucent yellow sheet that illuminated the dark rooms closed off from the summer’s heat,” he says. At his Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana he draws on the local bounty he remembers from his childhood dinner table: Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, balsamic vinegar, and prosciutto crudo.

Day One

Check in to Great Value Hotel Cervetta 5 (doubles from $140), an unpretentious hotel in the city center. Then drive 20 minutes east to the Abbazia di Nonantola to see an eighth-century monastery with an imposing vaulted interior. Continue 10 miles to Antica Osteria del Mirasole (lunch for two $100), a rustic trattoria where owner Franco Cimini grills steaks from the region’s bianca modenese cattle. Pair your lunch with a glass of Lambrusco or Sangiovese (drivers: the bottle can be recorked for later). Before returning to Modena, stop in the suburb of Cittanova for Hombre, an organic Parmigiano-Reggiano dairy (a tour finishes with a sampling of cheeses). End the day over dinner at Hostaria del Mare (dinner for two $150). Bottura’s pick: chef Vittorio Novani’s fresh pasta with ricci (sea urchin).

5 Ways to See Italy

Modena: A Foodie Drive

Chef Massimo Bottura whips up a weekend tour of culinary treats and cultural highlights.

Modena-born Massimo Bottura recalls his grandmother making pasta dough twice daily to serve the family fresh tortellini for lunch and dinner. “In her hands, the dough became a translucent yellow sheet that illuminated the dark rooms closed off from the summer’s heat,” he says. At his Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana he draws on the local bounty he remembers from his childhood dinner table: Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, balsamic vinegar, and prosciutto crudo.

Day One

Check in to Great Value Hotel Cervetta 5 (doubles from $140), an unpretentious hotel in the city center. Then drive 20 minutes east to the Abbazia di Nonantola to see an eighth-century monastery with an imposing vaulted interior. Continue 10 miles to Antica Osteria del Mirasole (lunch for two $100), a rustic trattoria where owner Franco Cimini grills steaks from the region’s bianca modenese cattle. Pair your lunch with a glass of Lambrusco or Sangiovese (drivers: the bottle can be recorked for later). Before returning to Modena, stop in the suburb of Cittanova for Hombre, an organic Parmigiano-Reggiano dairy (a tour finishes with a sampling of cheeses). End the day over dinner at Hostaria del Mare (dinner for two $150). Bottura’s pick: chef Vittorio Novani’s fresh pasta with ricci (sea urchin).

Andrea Wyner

5 Ways to See Italy

Bespoke travel agent Andrea Grisdale leads the way to the area’s best shopping.

Andrea Grisdale has visited just about every corner of Italy, yet the place that the Lake Como–based CEO of IC Bellagio keeps returning to is the Sorrentine Peninsula. “The bright blue water, fresh food, and Mediterranean sun make the Amalfi Coast one of my favorite places in the world,” says the U.K. native. “Most of all, I love the handmade ceramics: my house is full of them.” Rich with natural clay pits, the area has been known for pottery since the 13th century. Grisdale is especially partial to the tiles and dishware painted with the region’s palette: seaside azures, lemon yellows, and sunset pinks.

Related: Best of the Italian Lakes

The center of Amalfi Coast ceramics production since medieval times has been Vietri sul Mare. At the best factory and store, Ceramica Artistica Solimene Vincenzo, a building covered in 20,000 brown and green vase bases, you’ll find crockery designed with handsome, nature-inspired motifs (grapes, lemons, flowers, foliage). Grisdale’s recent discoveries: a tapered vase with blue-and-yellow flowers and simple blue-and-white dinner plates. A 10-minute drive from Vietri takes you to Marsia Ceramiche for contemporary pieces by Salerno-born, London-trained artist Mariella Siano. Don’t miss her spherical lamps with light filtering through pinholes and her decorative agave-leaf sculptures. Ten miles to the northeast, in Monti Picentini Natural Park, Antico Cotto di Berardino De Martino is where the De Martino brothers bake terra-cotta-colored tiles in a 450-year-old wood oven. In nearby Ravello, visit

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