JUST BACK: Porto Santo Stefano, Italy
I just returned from my third trip to Monte Argentario, a dramatic peninsula two hours north of Rome on the Tuscan coast. My sister married a Roman who grew up going to a place called Cala Moresca (or the Moorish Cove), and he's since introduced us to the area, which is better known to Italians than to Americans. (It's a place locals save for themselves.) Here are some of our favorite stops, plus a couple new discoveries:
EAT: At the far north end of Porto Santo Stefano, past the ogle-able yachts and the light bustle of the town’s restaurant row, Trattoria da Orlando sits peacefully up on a hill and has a cinematic view. 3 Via Breschi; 39/0564-812-788; dinner for two $150; closed Wednesdays.
On the Via Panoramica, perched above the port, the well regarded and highly recommended Il Veliero serves wonderful pastas and the freshest of seafood—orata, prawns, mussels, tuna. 149 Via Panoramica; 39/0564-812-226; dinner for two $130.
Any pizza at Da Gigetto, especially paired with a Nastro Azzuro beer or two, will make you seriously consider never eating anywhere else. 9 Via del Molo; 39/0564/814/495; dinner for two $45.
Bar Giuila is the hopping spot for an after-dinner gelato and a front-row seat for the parade of chartered-yacht vacationers, couples dressed for romance, and preening ragazzi.
DRINK: Steal away for Camparis and soda at sunset on the lawn of the Hotel Torre di Cala Piccola—it feels like a well-kept secret. 5 miles west and south on Via Panoramica.
EXPLORE: Rent a gommone, or rigid inflatable boat, for $195/day from Zeurino to tour the majestic, surreal coves around the peninsula.
Laura Teusink is associate managing editor at Travel + Leisure.