Top of the list – Italy!

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! Are you swamped with the pre-back-to-school punch list or still enjoying the last weeks of summer? 

I’m enjoying my post-Virtuoso Travel Week high, although I participated virtually.  I had 36 meetings with incredible travel partners from across the globe, including Italy, Argentina, Abu Dhabi, Switzerland, Scotland, and many other bucket list destinations.  Although global tourism is still grappling with the impact of the pandemic, optimism is high for 2022 and beyond! 

Bucket list vacations are best planned well in advance.

It’s smart to plan now and travel later!

For the next few newsletters, I’ll be sharing the highlights of my meetings from Virtuoso Travel Week. This week, we take a look at Italy – bucket list vacation royalty and always at the top of most places people dream of exploring!

I haven’t met a single person who didn’t dream of an Italian vacation!  Many people who have been once admitted can’t wait to return.  Italy is simply magical and its offerings run the gamut – there’s something for everyone, literally. 

To this end, I share some highlights from my virtual meetings with my Italian partners – including incredible experiences and hotels in Italy that will whet your appetite to plan a vacation (maybe even celebrate a milestone) in 2022 and beyond.

How to Access Hidden Gems in Italy

I met with a local tour company that only works with the trade and accesses incredible experiences across Italy.  They made sure I understood that their secret sauce is the EXTRA special requests.  For example, the owner took Angelina Jolie to his favorite coffee spot which has an incredibly unique recipe that amazes the most discriminating coffee lovers. 

Celebrities aside, showing guests secret areas in iconic cities is their lane.  For example, they work with many families (they love to wow kids!) and couples who want curated culinary experiences (imagine going home being able to make a truffle pasta worthy of a Michelin-star restaurant). Alternatively, if you’re intrigued by the concept of living a long, healthy life, they can arrange a private Sardinia longevity tour. Those are just a few examples of what they offer. 

What experiences in Italy would speak to you?

San Clemente Palace Kempinski Venice

The Best in Venice

Full disclosure – I was supposed to stay at this iconic hotel in April 2020 (obviously that got canceled ☹) and am still sad over the missed opportunity.  But I am rescheduling! 

Voted Best Hotel of Venice 2020 and Best Suite in Europe, San Clemente Palace Kempinski Hotel is a 600-year-old hotel on a private island just off Venice proper – 8 minutes to Piazza San Marco if you’re familiar with the city. The hotel was refurbished in 2017 leading to many awards like those mentioned. 

When I reschedule in 2022, I can’t wait to check out the new Buddha Bar by the pool and catch those incredible sunsets.  My clients get the perks – VIP status, breakfast, and much more.  You can’t VIP yourself – that’s where I come in!

💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Hidden Gem Travel guests receive daily breakfast for two and other VIP perks! More info here: Best Of The Best Hotels and Experiences.

Palazzo Avino

There’s a Pink Palace in Ravello!

Ravello is a gem (perhaps hidden to some) on the Amalfi Coast, and Virtuoso network’s Palazzo Avino is a 12th century, pink palace crown jewel.  It’s been family-owned for generations, and I virtually met with one of the daughters. 

Love to cook? There are cooking experiences galore for all skill levels.  The best ones book well in advance so planning ahead is the key.

Love classical music?  The annual Ravello music festival that runs end of July through early September is unique – the stage floats in the air! 

Love martinis?  The martini bar is epic and well-loved by guests. 

As a Hidden Gem Travel client, I’ll VIP you at Palazzo Avino as part of your exploration of the Amalfi coast.  Oh, and the pictured breakfast is one of your perks 😊

Casa Angelina

A Santorini-style hotel on Italy’s Amalfi Coast

Does an oasis of calm with unobstructed views of the coast appeal to you while in Italy?  Do you love the look of Santorini in Greece?  Then my partner hotel, Casa Angelina, will be right up your alley.  As a Virtuoso property, Hidden Gem Travel clients get the perks. 

Chic, sleek, white Casa Angelina is the best of both worlds because it’s only ten minutes from Positano. I dream of checking into the beach house that’s built into a rock wall.  For couples and honeymooners, this is nirvana.  You can also walk to restaurants and bars.  Win-win. 

Mandarin Oriental Lake Como

Milan+Lake Como= WOW!

Last week, I was given a live tour of the Mandarin Oriental, Milan which was quite thrilling.  It’s located on a private street walking distance to the key sites like the Duomo, fashion district, and La Scala Opera House.  If you’re into shopping, Milan has it all, and I can arrange a private design tour with local artisans and/or a private shopping experience for my clients. 

Their sister hotel is in Lake Como is crazy gorgeous!  With its unbeatable scenery, understated luxury, and natural beauty, my clients adore this gorgeous hotel which is PERFECT for a special occasion trip. Do you have an anniversary coming up?

Inspired? If you’re intrigued about some of these incredible experiences and hotels in Italy and wanting to brainstorm, here’s the link to schedule a chat with me

💎 Hidden Gem Tip:  Follow my Facebook/Instagram pages this week for more travel inspiration: or Instagram:

.Wishing you and your family continued good health,


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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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