From the cypress-dotted hills of Tuscany to the sorbetto-hued villas on the Amalfi Coast, the glittering social scene in Lake Como to the rugged Sicilian seaside, Italy has timeless appeal as a travel destination. And many of the country’s hotels are enduring classics, too.
Among the properties that made our list of the best resort hotels in Italy—a new category for T+L’s World’s Best Awards—are a handful of repeat winners from the Best in Europe list. Apparently it’s tough to tire of the Mediterranean views from the lap pool at Palazzo Avino, a 12th-century patrician palace in Ravello that we named the top resort in Europe in 2010 and the fourth best in Italy this year. The appeal of the planted terraces at the Hotel Santa Caterina, near the town of Amalfi, is lasting—it ranks second in Italy this year, and was the best in Europe in 2012.
Every year for the World’s Best Awards Survey, Travel + Leisure asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe—to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. In the hotels category, readers rated properties on their rooms and facilities, location, service, food and drink, and overall value. Properties were categorized as city or resort based on their locations.
Castello di Casole, a 10th-century Tuscan castle that’s been transformed into a hotel, was voted best in Europe last year, and this year takes that honor as well as topping the Italy list. It has 41 suites, a spectacular hilltop setting, and a spa in the former wine cellar.
Readers favored hotels that are close to Italy’s great cities but far enough away to feel like an escape from the crowds: the sprawling JW Marriott Venice, for instance, sits on a private island in the Venetian lagoon but is just 20 minutes by boat from St. Mark’s Square. Call it a practical paradise.