Five experts reveal their insider tips, from a ceramics tour of the Amalfi Coast to a culinary drive in Emilia-Romagna.
Mantua: Design Scene
5 Ways to See Italy
Mantua: Design Scene
Style guru Carla Sozzani highlights the best spots in her native Lombardy town.
Carla Sozzani may be synonymous with cutting-edge style in Milan, but the founder of the 10 Corso Como shopping emporium actually hails from a history-rich town 120 miles east of Italy’s fashion capital. “Mantua informed my earliest experiences,” she says. “The beautiful places that surrounded me still influence my aesthetic choices.” Mantua’s palpable past—medieval streets; Renaissance palazzi—is now the backdrop of a burgeoning arts, design, and literary enclave, which continues to draw Sozzani back to her birthplace year after year.
Great Value Hotel Casa Poli All 34 minimalist rooms are outfitted with Flos and Groppi light fixtures; beds are dressed in dark blue and bordeaux linens. Doubles from $216.
Ristorante Il Cigno Sozzani’s favorite restaurant is housed in a 500-year-old palazzo and serves the town’s best tortelli di zucca (pumpkin ravioli). Dinner for two $150. L’Aquila Nigra Under original 14th- and 15th-century frescoes, choose from a mix of classic and experimental dishes. Try the crunchy fried river shrimp with zucchini. Dinner for two $180.
Bar Caravatti Select a table by the window, order the golden-brown namesake aperitif, and watch the bustle in nearby Piazza delle Erbe. Drinks for two $15.
Agape The white-and-wood design store sel
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.
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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