Malta for Digital Nomads: The European Chiang Mai?

At landing, Malta feels a lot like Italy. People at the public transport counter at the airport barely speak English, the bus runs every hour, it was 10 minutes late and fully packed with people with luggage. Not a great start.

But once you catch a glimpse of the limestone houses and the narrow streets through the bus’ windows, everything will be forgotten. Malta is love at first sight.

As you know, I am now enjoying the life of my dreams (AKA digital nomad lifestyle = work + travel anywhere in the world), but since I got back from my long trip and settling back in Italy after 10 years of living abroad, I much more enjoy shorter trips and I’m hoping to find a base somewhere one day. Since last summer I’ve taken loads of short-ish trips all around Italy and  Europe and I’m amazed by the number of things I didn’t see despite having spent the first thirty years of my life in Europe.

NOTE TO SELF & THE READERS: I still have loads to see and I’m super excited about my future trips (more to come in the next few months, make sure to follow my instastories where I constantly share insights about my itineraries!)

So when CoCoHub Malta invited me to stay at their newly opened co-living space in the heart of Malta, I was super excited. I had never been to one, I’ve tried and experienced many co-working spaces all around Asia, but I had always been a bit afraid of staying in a co-living for the lack of privacy and the usual hostel-feeling.

But CoCoHub was a pleasant surprise, keep reading to find out more about CoCoHub.

Top things to see & do in Malta


The Renzo Piano-designed City Gate, Parliament Building and Opera House have dramatically changed the cityscape of Malta along with Valletta’s status as European Capital of Culture for 2018. The city is reborn, with new museums, new hotels and bars and restaurants. Malta’s capital and the largest settlement on the island, Valletta is a great city, despite maybe not being the most beautiful Maltese one (in my humble opinion). It has a neat grid street system, so even if you try, it’ll be extremely hard to get lost. The centre is pedestrianised, but it is hilly – it reminded me a lot of Lisbon – so wear comfy shoes and opt for a backpack rather than a trolley.

Valletta was built on a 1km by 600m peninsula by the  Knights of St John after they withstood the Great Siege repelling a huge Turkish army in 1565 (this is a super fascinating story which deserves a separate article, or just pick up any books about the Knights of St John). Its founders declared that it should be ‘a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen‘, and in fact to today, it retains its 16th-century elegance. Valletta is packed with interesting sights and that’s why when Unesco named Valletta a World Heritage Site, it described it as ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world’.

Start on the bridge across Valletta’s ditch, which opens into Renzo Piano’s City Gate (1) built atop the ruins of Valletta’s Opera House.  Beyond it, you can wander around the spaces created by the Italian architect’s new Parliament Building (2), a huge sandstone block that has been machine-sculpted in the old Maltese style.

Walk down Strait Street (3), once known as “the Gut”, a notorious hang-out for off-duty sailors and the red district. The street still has the faded bar signs from its former life and today it hosts nightly clubs and hole-in-the-wall bars.

From City Gate (1), Republic Street runs straight to Fort St Elmo (4) at the peninsula’s tip. It’s a very busy street, filled with a permanent crowd of tourists and locals alike, take a side street and explore in peace.

I’ve seen incredible churches and Italy has probably the highest percentage in the world of gorgeous frescos and statues, but the magnificent St John’s  Co-Cathedral (6) left me truly speechless. It was packed with people, I will never understand why they still allow groups of 30-50 people in spaces such churches and museums. Rant over. The floor is made of polychrome marble and the ceiling is the work of the Italian artist and Knight of St John, Mattia Preti. Its other great treasures include two paintings by Caravaggio, who fled to Malta after committing murder in Rome. He spent several years on the island, becoming a Knight of St John (though he soon ran into trouble here too and ended up fleeing back to Italy)

Upper Barrakka Gardens (13), which offer wonderful views over the piercing-blue Grand Harbour, the Three Cities and Fort St Angelo (14),

The Three Cities

Malta for digital nomads

Despite their picturesque narrow streets and stunning views, the ‘Three Cities’, Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua, are surprisingly off the tourist radar and the perfect Maltese towns to absorb some local atmosphere. Vittoriosa and Senglea occupy two narrow peninsulas connected by a pedestrian bridge while Cospicua merges into Vittoriosa and lies just south of it.


Marsaskala (also spelt Marsascala), gathered around the head of a long, narrow bay, was originally a Sicilian fishing community: the name means ‘Sicilian Harbour‘. Today it is an increasingly popular residential area and a seaside resort among the Maltese. It a great place for a wonder or some fish-based meals by the harbour with its tiny colourful boats dancing on the water.


The mysterious golden-stone walled citadel of Mdina perched on a hilltop was fortified from as long ago as 1000 BC when the  Phoenicians built a protective wall and called their settlement Malet, meaning ‘place of shelter’. Later, the Romans built a large town here and called it Melita. It was only given its present name when the Arabs arrived in the 9th century – medina in Arabic means ‘walled city’. The Arabs dug a deep moat around the wall which has recently been landscaped as a lush garden.

While in Mdina, explore the hidden roads and avoid the tourist crowds who mainly stick to the main street, wander around the Città Notabile as it was called in medieval times because it was the favourite residence of the Maltese aristocracy. When the Knights of St John arrived in Malta and made the Grand Harbour and Valletta their centre of activity, Mdina sank into the background. as a holiday destination for the nobility.

Former Malta’s capital, Mdina, was my favourite city during my stay in Malta. The beautiful honey-washed and colourful doors and balconies filled my Instagramming eyes (and camera roll).

Malta for digital nomads

If you, like me are a Game of Thrones fan obsessed, you might be glad to know that several locations around Malta have served as GOT’s backdrops like the picture below. Do you remember what happened in this square in the popular TV HBO series?

Here’s the scene (spoiler alert!)

And what about Ned and Catelyn Stark farewell? The Vilhena Gate in Mdina is where the Stark see each other for the last time (sob!) and served as the entrance to King’s Landing on many other episodes.

While in Mdina, eat at Coogi’s: amazing courtyard, incredible and tasty food and super friendly staff. I choose spaghetti alle vongole and a mini bottle of white wine. Definitely the best meal in Malta.


Malta for digital nomads

Once you leave the walls of Mdina behind, the street leads you to Rabat. It’s a short and gentle walk which takes you to the equally cute town minus the walls. It’s filled with even more gallerias (Maltese balconies) and there are far less tourists around than Mdina. This is Instagram heaven for real! I even found several vintage cars on my way so some #soloparking shots are guaranteed there and I had one of the best of my Maltese days.

More Game of Thrones in Rabat as you walk to Saint Dominic’s Priory or the Red Keep courtyard is where Ned Stark signs his death when confesses to Cersei Lannister that he knows the truth about his children (don’t watch the clip – spoiler alert!)

Malta for digital nomads

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die” she whispered.


The ancient fishing village of Marsaxlokk (meaning southeasterly harbour) feels like an unchanged slice of real Maltese life, despite the arrival of hundreds of tourists every Sunday for its weekly fish market.

A very photogenic fleet of brightly coloured luzzu (fishing boats) and fishermen sat by the waterside mending nets, make the subject for perfect Instagram shots.

Marsaxlokk is the perfect base for those looking for a relaxed place (if you can overcome the Sunday hoards).


CoCoHub Malta

Nestled in the cute village of Birgu, also known by its title Città Vittoriosa, CoCoHub Malta is a great option for those who like peace and tranquillity, without feeling totally disconnected (Valletta is only 30 minutes bus ride away). Vittoriosa is an old fortified city on the south side of the Grand Harbour and it occupies a promontory of land with Fort Saint Angelo at its head and the city of Cospicua at its base.

Why choose CoCoHub:

If you are looking for a great, lively, fun space to live and -as they put it – #getshitdone, this is the place for you. The vibe is great and you can meet loads of people in a matter of seconds.
CoCoHub is managed by three brilliant, young and entrepreneurial guys with lots of digital experience. They chose the perfect location and managed to create something great in a 400 years old building in just a few months. Choose CoCoHub if you are looking for:

  • community vibe
  • good location (away from busy Valletta but not too quiet )
  • reliable and fast wifi
  • arty feeling and settings
  • fun and interesting events
  • young environment

The only downside I could find during my week-long stay was a lack of an actual cleaning schedule or a professional cleaner (especially in the kitchen and bathrooms). But sorting that out, CoCoHub has the potential to be the number one reference for digital nomads in Malta.


If you’re like me, you may not have realised that the island nation of Malta is actually an archipelago, made of two other islands on top of Malta. Gozo and Comino, only a short ferry ride away are in fact two beautiful additional destinations which are well worth a visit. Comino is inhabited but home to stunning Blue Lagoon, while Gozo offers the perfect middle ground between busy Valletta and super quiet Comino.

How to reach Gozo

Board the #222 bus from Valletta to the Cirkewwa ferry terminal at the very northern point of Malta. The bus is slow and it took about an hour and a half despite being only a few kilometres away, but embrace the journey and look outside to breath more of Maltese life. The ferries run about every hour during low season and more frequently during summer months. It was just a quick 25-minute journey before arriving at the town of Mgarr in Gozo. Oh! Remember that you will board the boat “for free” since you only pay on the way back from Gozo!
Click here for the ferry schedule.


The capital city of Gozo is Victoria, and in the heart of the city is the Citadel, which has been the centre of activity since the Neolithic ages (that’s 10,200 BC – 2,000BC!), but it was first fortified during the Bronze Age (1500 BC). Right at the centre of the Citadel, lies St. George’s Basilica, which was built between 1672 and 1678, with (you guessed it) limestone blocks. Once I was inside, my jaw dropped: the interior is filled with colourful frescos, stained glass windows and all its 11 chapels are uniquely beautiful.
When in Victoria, make sure to stop for a pint or two at the Jubilee Cafe, a pub-like institution in the main square.

Ggantija Temples

These megalithic temples with its 6m high walls and 40m are the largest as well as Malta’s oldest temples (3600BC).  At the visitor centre, you can see several of the famous “fat ladies”.


This is Gozo’s main holiday resort with a promenade, its restaurant facing the seas and low-rise hotels and apartments.

Calypso Caves

The caves aren’t impressive, but the view overlooking Rambla Bay is.

The Azure Window (The Dothraki Wedding)

Daenerys Targaryen is now one of the series’ favourite characters and I hope she’ll be the one to claim the Iron Throne, but at the beginning of Game of Thrones series, she was a fragile bride to Khal Drogo.

It is sad that the arch has now sunk into the ocean, but the sight is still well worth a visit even if just for imaging the Dothraki wedding.

Where to stay in Gozo for digital nomads 

When looking for a place to stay, as a DN, the first thing i Check is the wifi connection and most of the time I ask the property to do run a quick speed check for me and send me the results. But in Gozo, I found the perfect accommodation for digital nomads: Calido Hogar. Managed by Mark and Karen, this is the perfect place if you wish to chill, work and maybe jump in the pool. When I’ll go back to Malta I’ll definitely stay there again. You can get €28 off booking through this link.


It’s a tough question, but I guess I gathered enough info through CoCoHub and other fellow digital nomads to give you a reasonable answer.


Renting an apartment in Malta is not that expensive when compared to other European cities, so if you wish or need to be based in Europe, Malta could be a great option.


The bus system is reliable and cheap, even if slow. A one-way ticket valid for 2 hours is €1.50 whilst a week-long pass will set you back €21 or you can get a Tallinja card for even cheaper fares. Otherwise, you can get anywhere in 20 minutes by car/motorbike and you can easily rent one from a shop in the main cities.

TIP: If you have a smartphone, use the Google Maps app to find bus routes and schedules around the islands. Bus times can be off by 15 minutes or so, but Google Maps is the best way to get around in Malta!


Malta has been voted as the country with the best climate in the world, so there isn’t much to add to this point. The weather is warm all year round, although you might want to skip the months between December and February, as it tends to get quite chilly inside since houses are not equipped with heating.


European citizens can enter freely, while others visiting from other continents shouldn’t have too much trouble getting at least a 3-month tourist visa.


English is one of the island’s official languages, together with Maltese and Italian. If you speak it, this makes things easier. Additionally, since tourism is one of the biggest economies in Malta, people here treat travellers very well.


Being home to several IT and online gambling companies, Malta has invested heavily in technology during the past few years, so you can easily find a good internet connection and, of course, mobile networks. There are several public wi-fi hotspots and most cafes are provided with free wifi.
TIP:  there are lots of work opportunities related to IT here in Malta, especially in gaming companies which have relocated here for the favourable tax system. These companies look very favourably on employment of foreigners, so if you are just at the start of your digital nomad adventure, you can find some extra cash working part-time while connecting with other expats.


Maltese traditional cuisine is an interesting mix of Italian, Arabic/Spanish and Greek traditions. The most common local dish is the rabbit stew and pastizzi, while lots of Italian products are also brought over from nearby Sicily, and you can find them in the supermarkets.

Make sure to sample the traditional cheese of Gozo, Ġbejniet and don’t miss the goat cheese stuffed ravioli and of course, the Maltese bread, the ftira.


Malta is an island, so the easiest way to get there is by plane. There are also catamaran services to nearby Sicily. It is quite cheap to travel via air to and from Malta, especially in summer when Ryanair services a number of routes throughout Europe.


When you consider everything, Malta is one of the cheapest places you can choose. It is probably more expensive than places in Asia, but it is much cheaper than living in other European countries.


No matter what part of Malta you choose to settle in, you’ll likely find everything you’re looking for as a digital nomad. Local and international food, restaurants and bars, events and outdoor activities.

Malta also has some of the best weather in the world, blazing fast wi-fi and it’s the perfect place for digital nomads, yet somehow, Malta isn’t Chiang Mai or Bali. There aren’t the same amount of DN  events, workshops or communities, but this isn’t necessarily a minus point! I believe Malta could be a great place to spend part of the year.

Useful Websites & Resources for Digital Nomads in Malta

This is only a short overview about Malta for Digital Nomads, obviously, there is much more to see and say. If you have any questions, the comments section is waiting for you. I would also like to hear feedback from some other digital nomads who have been to Malta in the past or are thinking of coming here soon.


NOTE: I was a guest at CoCohub Malta where I was hired as a social media strategist and influencer during my stay – all opinions are my own. 





Leave the dreams to the dreamers….

planner 2018

Leave the dreams to the dreamers….

They said.

I don’t normally promote my own business ventures and don’t usually celebrate my successes here (or nowhere else). But this time, I will make an exception. Firstly, because success should always be celebrated, and secondly because this little, cute, project deserves a special place since it’s been a dream of mine for over a decade.

deluxe planner

And today is here. Today is real.

My first baby is born. 

original planner

~ Don’t ever let somebody tell you “You can’t do something”. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it.



Another Life is Possible – The eBook

change your life

“Choose a life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers… Choose DIY and wondering who the f**k you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away in the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself, choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that?”
― Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting


I’m sure you’ve seen the movie or read the book and if you haven’t you should.


Because life isn’t only what you think you should be doing.
Life is also what you want to do.

Society pushes us to think that we have to:

Go to school, go to uni, get a job, make money, get married, buy a house, or two, retire. 


But what if in YOUR limited time
you could do something truly REMARKABLE?

The truth is that

You can


Another Life is Possible 

After months of researching and learning (the hard way) from my personal 25-month experience around the globe, I am ready to share what I’ve learnt about creating a lifestyle that matches your values, dreams and passions.

This book (like me) doesn’t have all the answer, nor it contains all the options that are currently available,
but it’s a great starting point if:

  • You don’t know what you want to do in life and you are lost in a sea of ideas, doubts and options. Or the complete lack of them
  • You already have a job, but it takes up all your energy and you are left with nothing to give to your family, friends, beloved ones or side projects
  • You want to travel the world but don’t have the money / time / courage or whatever else it takes.

I’m here to tell you that….


With the right information and the right attitude, you can actually tailor your life instead of coping with something you are not totally into.

This book won’t encourage you to leave your safe job and hit a deserted island, it’s not even a guide to becoming a digital nomad. There are so many other options to actually have a remarkable life and I’ll share them with you on my ebook.

This guide is your manual to create a life that is perfect for you rather than finding a job that pays the bills.

I am not a guru nor I want to become one. This book is the result of thousands of conversations I had with friends and people I’ve met around the world, but it’s mainly the output of my personal research and it’s exactly the book I searched for everywhere three years ago when I made the decision to change my life.

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 SAVE THE DATE 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Another Life is Possible – the eBook

is out on 

December 1st 


Get your copy with 10% discount by signing up to the event on my facebook page here



Your Perfect Weekend Itinerary In Umbria


Don’t let the title “Your Perfect weekend in Umbria” fool you. A weekend is far too short to see all of that stunning beauty that Umbria has to offer. But a first weekend there in the lush heart of Italy will definitely convince you to go back. And keep coming back over and over again.

Umbria, the central region of Italy, green and peaceful is impressively beautiful and it’s an amazing destination to visit all year round. It was the last region left for me to explore, having been to all the other 19 at least once in my life and I was ashamed to realise what I had left behind, but as they say, better later than never, right?

This first time there, we visited Perugia, Assisi and Gubbio, but I am already planning another trip further south to explore the other hidden gems and borghi (villages) nestled in the Umbrian hills. Yes, because the whole region is galore of rolling hills, vineyards and woods, dotted with picture-perfect medieval towns and villages and it will be impossible not to fall in love there. But Umbria is not only green nature, it also boasts an old elegance, rich history and incredible food and wine traditions.

Start from Perugia on Friday

 We started our trip from the main hub of Umbria. Perugia is a college town that attracts thousands of international students who give a lively and active vibe to the city. Park your car in the Piazza Partigiani parking lot and take the series of escalators passing through the underground remains of the Forziere Antico and the medieval centre, which now form the foundation for the modern city above. Stroll around the city, map in hand or not and just enjoy the vibe of the brick-houses. Make sure to stop at Pasticceria Sandri on the Corso for a great espresso and some yummy pastries.  

We went to Umbria and in particular to Perugia mainly for the Eurochocolate festival and to stuff our faces with all sorts of artisan chocolate. But in between chocolate sessions, we also managed to see a bit of the city.





Head to Assisi on Saturday

Best known as the birthplace of St. Francis, the gorgeous city of Assisi lies on Umbria’s rolling hills. Religious pilgrims have come here for centuries to visit the Basilica of San Francesco (where St. Francis is buried) and the Basilica of Santa Chiara (to see the tomb of St. Clare).

Despite the tourists and pilgrim buses, you will notice that Assisi is far from being a party city and in the evening most places and shops close early. If you are coming here for some calm, you may find such solitude quite appealing and restorative.

What to do in Assisi 

Basilica di San Francesco 

If you can, avoid visiting on a weekend and remember that Sunday gets VERY crowded. I mean, Sunday is the most crowded day of the week, when day-trippers, group tours and devotes from Tuscany, Rome and beyond fill up the parking lots and churches. If you must visit on Sunday, make sure to get yourself to the Basilica of Saint Francis as early as you can to enjoy the view, the church, and the famed frescoes.

Pro traveller’s TIP
Tip: To fully enjoy the Basilica, you should get a good guidebook or rent an audioguide (€6/one hour tour; open 9:30am-5:30pm).



Il Bosco di San Francesco (Saint Francis’ Woodland)

If, after exploring the huge St. Francis Basilica, you feel in need of even more peaceful moments, you should head to the gorgeously restored wood with the same name. The entrance is just steps from the main door of the Upper Basilica and its the best homage to the saint’s love for nature (I would say much more than the basilica itself which is huge and pretentious and St Francis adopted a life of poverty and simplicity and such a church would have embarrassed him, to say the least….)

Hours: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm April to September;  10:00 am — 4:00 pm October to March  (the last visit must begin an hour before closing time). Weekends only in February. Closed Mondays, and the final two weeks of January.
(more info about Fondo Ambientale Italiano – FAI)

Via San Francesco

One of Assisi’s main roads which is lined with everything from the kitschiest of souvenir shops to Assisi’s civic museum.


After a lunch made of Torta di Testo and prosciutto, make sure to wander around the little-cobbled streets of the ancient town but don’t miss the Roman Temple in the Piazza del Comune and the lovely museum under the Cathedral of San Rufino. In the afternoon, climb up to the dramatic Rocca fortress for some incredible views, but also for a great physical exercise which you always need when visiting Italy ‍









Immerse yourself in the calm and peaceful Gubbio on Sunday

Gubbio is a cute little village, often forgotten on the Umbrian itineraries because it is a little off the beaten track and not really easy to reach. However, a stop there is necessary especially after spending two days in busier cities like Perugia and Assisi. The road from the latter makes up for a gorgeous drive among the Appennine foothills.

Gubbio is an archetypical medieval walled town which remained architecturally frozen in the middle ages. Be sure to dine on truffles and drink on red wines while you’re there.


Other things to do in Umbria (and that I will see next time):

  • Lake Trasimeno
  • Spoleto
  • Spello
  • Todi
  • Orvieto


Where to stay in Umbria

Lots of options on Airbnb







Relais & Chateaus – Borgo San Felice, a Medieval village in the heart of Chianti

Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice

Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice is an oasis of peace, nature and beauty on the Tuscan hills. Borgo San Felice is the only Relais & Chateaux 5-star hotel in the Chianti Classico area. Only an hour drive from Florence, this is the perfect base to explore the surrounding area as well as those green rolling hills you must have seen in postcards and movies for years.

Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice

Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice

Surrounded by 147 hectares of vineyards, lovely squares and narrow paths, Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice was founded in the 8th century and its beauty has remained intact since. In 1991 it was renewed completely and turned into a 5-star hotel, but the medieval village buildings haven’t been spoiled.

Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice features 33 rooms and 21stunning suites like these ones:

Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice


There are several food options at Borgo San Felice. You can opt for a gourmet dinner at the restaurant Poggio Rosso or go for the traditional flavours of Tuscany at the Osteria Del Grigio. If you are feeling hungry during the day or after a swim, there is a pool bar and if you wish to try the wonderful wines at BSF you should head to the Winehouse.

Poggio Rosso: find out more here

Osteria del Grigio: find out more here


Agricola San Felice, the Borgo San Felice’s Winery, produces 14 different wines and visiting its cellar is a great way to get familiar with wine production and ageing.
Leonardo Bellaccini, the enologist, in collaboration with several universities, established the “San Felice method” which is a perfect combination of old traditions with state of the art scientific innovation. Today, Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice also produces DOP extra-virgin olive oil on top of acclaimed wines like Campogiovanni, Brunello di Montalcino and Poggio Rosso as well as a selection of grappa and vin santo.

Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice


At Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice, they fight soil erosion with the right terracing combined with a constant attention and analysis of the local flora and fauna. A great example of this approach is Vitiarium, where hundreds of species have been protected and cultivated for the past 30 years to prevent them to disappear.

Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice


What’s the best way to pass on traditions from the elderly generations to the new one? What’s the only way to share invaluable skills about agriculture and nature? Well, the answer at Borgo San Felice is Umana Mente, an Allianz Group’s foundation that connects the elderly with young people with disabilities in a common project that is a vast vegetable garden.

Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice


Relais & Châteaux is an exclusive collection of 540 of the finest luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants in 60 countries. Established in France in 1954, the mission of the Association is to divulge its unique art of living in the world by selecting exceptional structures with a unrivalled tradition and heritage.

Relais & Châteaux is also a family of hoteliers and Grands Chefs from all over the world who share their passion and personal commitment to give their Guests moments of exceptional harmony. Choosing Relais & Châteaux is choosing an unforgettable celebration of the senses. The signature of Relais & Châteaux reflects this ambition:


Notes: I was a guest of Relais & Chateaux “The Art of Living” press trip – all views are my own. As always.




Relais & Chateaux – L’Albereta, a little girl’s dream turned into magic

Relais & Chateaux - L'Albereta

Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Carmen who travelled the world with her dad Vittorio, a guide always under her arm and the dream to have a hotel as beautiful as the ones they were staying at. Relais & Chateaux – L’Albereta is Carmen Moretti’s dream come true. Today, this gorgeous hotel, which opened twenty years ago, is one of the most renowned 5-star hotels in Italy and part of the French Relais & Chateaux Association.

Relais & Chateaux - L'Albereta


Relais & Chateaux – L’Albereta shares with its guests the charm of its history and traditions also thanks to its strong connection to the Franciacorta region. L’Albereta entered the Relais & Chateaux network in 1998 with 10 rooms. Today it features 57 suites and bedrooms, each with its own style and details. You can choose from Classic, Superior or Deluxe rooms or pick a Suite Lake Tower, a Suite Contaldi Tower or a Bellavista Grand Suite. But if I was to go back I would surely book the Cabriolet Suite, a magical room where the roof above the bed opens to the sky showing you the starred sky. No doubts.


L’Albereta was associated to Gualtiero Marchesi, the patriarch of Italian haute cuisine, who was the head of the restaurant for twenty years. Today, Executive Chef Fabio Abbatista proposes a cuisine based on the excellence of ingredients, most of which come directly from the hill where L’Albereta is located: here are bred exquisite chickens and rabbits, while vegetables, aromatic herbs and fruits are produced by the family vegetable garden and picked up every day by the kitchen team.

Relais & Chateaux - L'Albereta

There are three restaurants at L’Albereta, each with its own identity and purpose.


Opened in 2014, LeoneFelice is a fine restaurant, with a contemporary décor made of the best Italian design where Executive Chef Fabio Abbattista, coming from Apulia proposes a cuisine that mixes the flavours of the south with the taste of the north in outstanding combinations and surprising dishes. The name of the restaurant is a tribute to the old guardian and gardener, Leone. He has always taken care of this house and garden with love and joy.

Relais & Chateaux - L'Albereta

Relais & Chateaux - L'Albereta

If you wish to enjoy the unforgettable experience of discovering what really happens behind the scenes of a high-end restaurant you can book the Chef’s Table. A private table in the heart of the kitchen where the brigade alongside the head chef will cook a specific 6-course menu for you and your friends. The Chef Fabio Abbattista will accompany you during the entire experience sharing the ideas behind each dish and the products used to create them.

Relais & Chateaux - L'Albereta

The Chef’s Table of LeoneFelice can accommodate a party from 2 to 8 people (120 euro per person, wines excluded). Book far in advance since the waiting list is months long.

Open from Tuesday to Saturday – 7.30pm to 10.30pm
Tel. +39 030 7762603

VistaLago Bistrò

Set in the oldest room of this XIX villa and decorated with ancient frescos and Latin quotes about the art of hospitality, the VistaLago Bistrò offers its guests outstanding views over the Lake Iseo and the surrounding hills.

Open from 7.30am to 1.00am, it’s perfect from the breakfast as well as for cocktails before and after dinner. Throughout the day it proposes delicious snacks, a special selection of typical Italian and regional dishes for lunch and dinner as well as Sunday brunch and afternoon tea at five.

So, if you are feeling peckish after a golf match, a ride on the lake or a cycle on the hills that surround the area, the VistaLago bistro is open all day and you’ll surely find something to satisfy both your stomach and palate.

Relais & Chateaux - L'Albereta

Open from 7.30am to 1 am.

La Filiale

The kiosk La Filiale combines a menu entirely dedicated to Franco Pepe’s pizzas with outstanding Franciacorta wines. His world-famous pizzas are light and produced with hand-made dough and local ingredients.

The latest addition to L’Albereta, La Filiale is an informal restaurant, perfect to start out your evening with a “pizza a libretto” accompanied by a glass of wine or a cocktail.

Relais & Chateaux - L'Albereta

Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 7 PM, Sunday from 12 PM to 3 PM and from 7 PM (closed for lunch on August). Take-Away available.


Relais & Chateaux – L’Albereta offers health and fitness programmes for those who are looking to detox and get fit in gorgeous settings. On top of specific and personalised training programmes, there is also a tailored food menu so that you don’t have to worry about calories and ingredients.

Relais & Chateaux - L'Albereta


For more information, click here


About Franciacorta


Franciacorta is a region of rolling hills extending from Mount Orfano (south of Rovato) to the southwest area to the shores of Lake Iseo, and from the river Oglio on the western border of the city of Brescia in the east. The soil made of glacial moraines consists of gravel, sand and limestone, drains well making it ideal for the cultivation of grapes and winemaking. The weather is mild and constant due to its location south of the foothills of the Alps and the tempering presence of large lakes making it perfect for nature and agriculture. In fact, since the Middle Ages, Franciacorta has boasted an intense cultivation of vineyards, olive groves and vegetable gardens. Consequently, the nobles choose this area to build their magnificient country residences. Today, Franciacorta features an incredible landscape with towers, castles, palaces and villas as well as rural churches and abbeys, making it the perfect destination for a road trip or a bike ride.

The first appearance of the name “Franzacurta” can be traced back to 1277, where it appears in the municipal statute of Brescia as a reference to the area south of Lake Iseo. Franzacurta or Franzia Curta was then an important area for the supply of wine to the city of Brescia. The name derives from the fact that here tax was not paid here “corte franca” (AKA nothing to do with France!)

For information about ideal Franciacorta and exploring the region, please visit the website of the Association La Strada del Franciacorta.

During our The Art of Wine Living tour organised by Relais & Chateaux, we had the opportunity to visit two famous wineries belonging to the Moretti family and it was a great opportunity for me to learn more about Franciacorta’s wine and its production process.

Bellavista Winery

At Bellavista, they use time-proven cultivation methods, which comply with the rhythms of nature and do not try to cheat it with any artificial help. The privilege of the right vineyard exposures, mass selection and manual harvest and selection (vineyard by vineyard, row by row) are some of the essential elements that make Bellavista’s wines unique in the world.

The fermentation takes place in small white oak casks where the wine refines its Franciacorta character. The re-fermentation happens in bottles set in their vast cellars at a constant temperature of 13°C and then silent refinement over long years (more than six sometimes).

Here, manual work is still at the center of the production of wine and in fact they are one of the very few winery which hasn’t adopted a giro pallet but instead have hired an incredibly agile and fast guy who can turn 120 bottles in 20 seconds (don’t ask me how!!) for a total of 7000 bottles.

Bellavista Winery, Carmen Moretti’s family business uses the Leone grapes to produce 1000 bottles yearly of a pure Chardonnay that is unique in the world and can only be found here.

“Imperfections aren’t weaknesses, they are our strength and uniqueness” Mattia Vezzola – aenologo at Bellavista

Among the various Riserva wines, there is also a recent experiment of wine which is resting in 9-liter bottles made of Murano glass.

Contadi Castaldi

The name is a synthesis of the ancient history of Franciacorta and its vocation for outstanding agriculture. In 1500, when the Venetian Republic was at the height of its splendour, Franciacorta produced food and wine destined for the tables of princes, kings and rich merchants. For Franciacorta, the beautiful city of Venice was the market of choice for introducing its wines.









One of the many quarries in the area gave rise to the Biasca brickyard, the old building that houses the Contadi Castaldi winery today. When the Franciacorta region was at the peak of its development in the 1980’s, Vittorio and Mariella Moretti decided to convert the brickyard into a winery. Its large spaces and long tunnels where the bricks were fired proved to be the perfect place for ageing Franciacorta vintages and welcoming wine lovers.

Contadi Castaldi is the only winery that owns winegrapes all over the Franciacorta territory.  It was a passion for the art of innovation that pushed their wine specialists to search the Franciacorta region to find the most evocative vineyards and the most passionate winegrowers.

About Relais & Châteaux

Relais & Châteaux is an exclusive collection of 540 of the finest luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants in 60 countries. Established in France in 1954, the mission of the Association is to divulge its unique art of living in the world by selecting exceptional structures with an unrivalled tradition and heritage.

Relais & Châteaux is also a family of hoteliers and Grands Chefs from all over the world who share their passion and personal commitment to give their Guests moments of exceptional harmony. Choosing Relais & Châteaux is choosing an unforgettable celebration of the senses. The signature of Relais & Châteaux reflects this ambition:




Notes: I was a guest of Relais & Chateaux “The Art of Living” press trip – all views are my own. As always.















Relais & Chateaux – Il Falconiere, where time stands still

Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere

The first stop of our The art of wine living tour was the Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere which, like a Tuscan dream, takes place at Silvia and Riccardo Baracchi’s 17th-century family residence. Set amongst the vineyards and olive trees that surround the small Etruscan city of Cortona, this maison is a true delight. The guest rooms, located around the main residence, have all the simplicity of a Tuscan villa. The terraces of the former winter garden, with their heady aromas of rose, offer superb vistas over the neighbouring countryside. A sophisticated restaurant serves Michelin cuisine, reflecting the flavours and fragrances of the local traditions while the Thesan Etruscan spa offers exclusive, luxury rituals.

The Estate: Relais & Chateaux ll Falconiere

Surrounded by vineyards and olive groves and immersed in a charming family atmosphere, the Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere embed the Tuscan dream. Set in the middle of the Val di Chiana and with Cortona perched on a not too far hill, Il Falconiere is the perfect location for relaxing and living under the Tuscan sun while tasting and cooking incredible dishes made with local produces.

“Our enthusiasm has always has been, along with our passion, the engine of this great adventure.Our dream has become reality “ Riccardo Baracchi  

History, Traditions and Philosophy of Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere

Riccardo and Silvia Baracchi, the owners, had a dream that they slowly turned into reality and that today attract visitors from all over the world. The name comes from their great passion for falconry, and in fact, during our time, we were welcomed by the house hawk and I got to hold him on my arm too! (In the pic Silvia and Riccardo’s son, Benedetto)


Set in a 17th-century farm villa, the Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere is a true oasis of peace and calm in the middle of the Tuscan countryside. Here, time has stopped, and traditions have taken over innovation and technology. Here at Il Falconiere, you can feel at home while enjoying the slow pace of life and the stunning views.

A unique mix of passion, haute cuisine, great wine, love for nature and unchanged traditions is what welcome its guests at Il Falconiere. As soon as you walk down the gravel driveway and you hear the noise expanding down the valley, you will feel at home. Here you will be treated like an old friend and Silvia’s hugs will welcome you into her universe.

The rooms 

The Baracchi family has slowly restored the ancient farm buildings of the estate, and they now offer 22 rooms spread all over the property. Every room is completely different and unique in style and details, including artworks of local artists and artisans. There is also a little old chapel that still serves as the base for religious functions.  If you choose Il Falconiere for a romantic stay with your other half, there are also small cottages sprinkled about the property.

Relais & Chateaux - Il Falconiere

Il Falconiere rooms include:

5 Classic rooms 

8 Deluxe rooms 

4 Junior Suites 

2 Suites

2 Executive Suites

1 Winery Master Suite

If you are planning to visit Il Falconiere with your family or with a group of friends, there is also the Villa Borgo del Falco which you can rent exclusively.

The Queen of Il Falconiere: Silvia Regi Baracchi 

Relais & Chateaux - Il Falconiere

A true Etruscan, Silvia was born in Perugia and grew up in Cortona right in the middle of the Etruria. Her parents also had a restaurant and from them she learnt the art of hospitality and traditions. In 1989 she opened Il Falconiere restaurant trasforming the old lemon house of the villa. Four years later, with the husband Riccardo they opened the first nine rooms of the Relais and slowly refurbishing and turning all the buildings of the old estate into what is today: an elegant and gorgeous 5 star Michelin wine resort.

Silvia is not only a famous Michelin Chef, sommelier, entrepreneur, wife and mother, she is also involved in many social projects, such as the Cene Galeotte (Convicted Dinners) at the Volterra prison where inmates and chefs cook together. Additionally, Mrs Baracchi, being a true multi-talented woman, has also published “Rosso di gusto, passioni in cucina”, a series of fun and intriguing stories where recipes are shared through love stories and red ingredients (yup, the best combo indeed).

Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere

The Restaurant 

The restaurant, Il Falconiere is set in the old lemon house which was restored and refurbished and now features a fantastic panoramic terrace overlooking the Tuscan hills and countryside. The interior design is traditional with a modern twist, while the stone walls give the restaurant that warmth feeling often missing in more modern places.

Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere

Relais & Chateaux - Il Falconiere

In 2002, thanks to the high-quality ingredients, respect of seasonality and the use of local products mixed with the outstanding and creative cuisine, along with a wide selection of incredible wines, Silvia Regi Baracchi obtained the first Michelin star.

“The colours, the stones, the serenity of an ancient Tuscany, is a spell where time stands still 

Michelin Guide talking about Il Falconiere

Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun

The Baracchi Winery

Everything at Il Falconiere started from here, the Baracchi Winery. Riccardo Baracchi wanted to continue the ancient family art of grape growing and wine-making since 1860, and with the help of the agronomist Stefano Chioccioli, who selected and identified the best land for each variety, they created a world-renowned brand. Today, spread on a 60 hectares property along the valley, the Baracchi Winery produces excellent Sangiovese, Syrah, Cabernet and Trebbiano grapes. 

All operations in the vineyards are carried out by hand with the utmost attention so that each of the 6.250 plants per hectare will produce only a few bunches of grapes, each one with the full expression of its variety. In the cellar, fermentation takes place in vertical barrels and made by hand for Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cabernet and for the other vines in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature.  the oenological technique must succeed in pulling out the essential components of grapes in such way to obtain harmonious wines. The use of French barrels completes the ageing of the wines.

Today,  the company’s products including wine, grappa and extra virgin olive oil are distributed in 3 continents and 12 countries around the world, sharing this way the best of the Tuscan traditions. 

Thesan Etruscan Spa

The exclusive Thesan Etruscan Spa, which was added to the already fantastic property in 2009, is an intimate and luxurious spot for relaxing and wellbeing. Here, the Spa treatments follow the cycle of the seasons as well as a link from the table to the Spa which uses the local products such as olive oil and wine for its treatments

Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere

The collaboration with the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella completes the high quality of the treatments at the Thesan Etruscan Spa which guarantees the use of the best natural products respecting the sustainable choices of Il Falconiere.

About Relais & Châteaux

Relais & Châteaux is an exclusive collection of 540 of the finest luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants in 60 countries. Established in France in 1954, the mission of the Association is to divulge its unique art of living in the world by selecting exceptional structures with an unrivalled tradition and heritage.

Relais & Châteaux is also a family of hoteliers and Grands Chefs from all over the world who share their passion and personal commitment to give their Guests moments of exceptional harmony. Choosing Relais & Châteaux is choosing an unforgettable celebration of the senses. The signature of Relais & Châteaux reflects this ambition:


Thank you so much to Silvia, Riccardo & Benedetto Baracchi and their fantastic team, especially Lina Bartelli – Sales & Marketing Manager and Anna Maria Coli – Resident Manager, for their incredible, charming, warm and genuine welcome into their home.

 Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere

Follow Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere on Facebook  and Instagram and book your there here


NOTE: I was a guest of Relais & Chateaux’s The Art of Wine Living press trip. All views and opinions in this post are my own – as usual 🙂











Another Life Is Possible – Escape The City – Rome 2017

Another Life is Possible

Another life is possible and in September 2017, I was invited by Escape The City to share my story from former Senior Project Manager at Amazon EU to Social Media Strategist and Content Creator around the world.

Many people who couldn’t participate in person to the event, asked me to stream the event, but because that wasn’t possible, I’ve decided to share with you the main points here.

Life 1.0 – My Previous Life

After graduating from Economics at the best faculty in Italy (Padova), I took an internship in London at an American management consulting firm with several offices around the world. The internship became a full-time, permanent contract and after 3 and half years with the same company and a 2-year assignment in Milan, I decided to join a smaller agency in London. After 3 more years, I switched to corporate life and joined Amazon’s European Centre of Excellence where I applied my previous experiences to the Ops team of this tech giant.
Another Life is Possible But one day in November 2014, something happened and turned my life upside down. Time was suddenly more important money, success, career. Time was more important than anything else. As Jep Gambardella said in the fantastic movie “The Great Beauty”:

My most important discovery is that I no longer can waste time doing things I don’t wanna do. 

Jep Gambardella

Another Life is Possible


Fear as the engine for change

I’ve been asked about a million times if I was scared when I left my safe and well-paid job in London. The short answer is “Hell, yeah!”. The longer answer is here and the way I used to use my fear as an engine was answering this question:


What’s the worst thing that can happen? 


The answer for me was to die without having at least tried. To test if another life was possible.

Another Life is Possible

And so I decided to take a 6-month sabbatical which turned into a 25-month trip. Which turned my life upside down.
Once again.




Life 2.0 – Another Life is Possible 

Today, I am a Social Media Strategist and Content Creator (you can read more about what I do here). I’ve been on the road full-time since September 2015 and I have no intention to stop. I help my business clients to be successful online and I help my personal clients to be successful offline and make it remarkable through tailored coaching programmes.
One of the channels I use for my clients is Instagram, where I promote products and services as well as help them to grow their accounts.


Another life is possible
Make it remarkable


If you wish to book your first coaching session and understand how you can also change your life, feel free to email me directly (using the contact form here


Relais & Châteaux Il Borro – A place like no other

Il Borro

Set in the middle of a superb 700-hectare Tuscan estate, the Relais & Châteaux Il Borro is an oasis of charm in the form of a mediaeval village with a villa, a farm, many traditional shops, a modern SPA and farm buildings. Vineyards, gardens, tennis courts and horse fields surround this incredible Tuscan paradise where wines and olive oil are produced by traditional methods and are an integral part of the landscape of the region. The property mixes ingredients like art, style and haute cuisine to the old traditions of the best wine-making creating a combination of sublime perfection that is best appreciated when spending a few days at Il Borro.

 Il Borro was the third hotel of our The Art of Wine Living press trip among some of the most stunning Italian Relais & Chateaux properties was. I only wish I could have stayed there for a week. Or two. Or forever.

Relais & Chateaux - Il Borro

History and traditions OF Il BOrro

The story of Il Borro estate starts as a fortress built to defend a strategic area crossed by stretches of the Clodia and Cassia, two important Roman roads which made it the object of contrasts and disputes between local factions and noble families. In 1254, the Marquis Borro Borri, then mayor of Arezzo, bought the property but it was only in the 16th century, under Alessandro del Borro that the village took his current shape and look.

In the mid-Fifties, Il Borro passed to Duke Amedeo of Savoy-Aosta and in 1993 the Duke sold the entire property to the Ferragamo family during what Ferruccio Ferragamo often called “an enduring act of faith”. He and his son, Salvatore spent more than a decade restoring and refurbishing the ancient place while taking care and preserving its old traditions and history.

Relais & Chateaux - Il Borro

Today, walking around the medieval village and passing by the old shops and artisans’ workshops you can clearly feel and breath the values that the Ferragamo family wanted to protect and preserve: the atmosphere of the past times taken to today and to the future generations.

The borgo still features the ancient church which two times a month is still used for the religious function which attracts locals, guests and the staff. The integration with the local community is vivid and alive in all the aspects of the resort.


The art of WIne-making at Relais & Chateaux Il borrO

The winemaking revival at Il Borro begins in 1995, two years after the Ferragamo family bought the estate. Ferruccio decided to make the most of the temperate climate and the excellent exposure of the vineyards combined with an ideal soil for the cultivation of the vine.

In 2012 the estate converted to biodynamic agriculture with the aim of obtaining an even more fertile soil and an ever-better quality product with no use at all of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The whole production at Il Borro is organic since 2015 and in the same year, Il Borro produced the first two organic certified wines: Borrigiano and Petruna.

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world” Ernest Hemingway

Relais & Chateaux - Il Borro

Thanks to its eco-sustainable choices, biodynamic principles and respect for the environment, Il Borro is an example of sustainable agriculture and development as well as a zero carbon footprint estate.

A tour of the Il Borro Cellars is a journey to the heart of Tuscan wine-making tradition and a chance to learn more about this “art”. Here, in one of the oldest cellars in Italy, the first ever Chianti wine was produced, and today as then, the magic of winemaking continues with the same passion and commitment. Accompanied by experts you will see the different steps that turn simple grapes into fine wines and the vats, barrels and barriques that make this possible.

The labels produced at Il Borro are:

IL BORRO – 50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet, 10% Syrah, 5% Petit Verdot
POLISSENA – 100% Sangiovese
PIAN DI NOVA – 75% Syrah, 25% Sangiovese
LAMELLE – 100% Chardonnay
BOLLE DI BORRO – Classic Method Rosé, 100% Sangiovese
GRAPPA DEL BORRO – 100% organic Petit Verdot
BORRIGIANO – 35% Syrah, 40% Merlot, 25% Sangiovese
PETRUNA – 100% Sangiovese
ROSÈ DEL BORRO – 100% Sangiovese

We were lucky to be at Il Borro during their Winederful Harvesting Day 2017 and, after learning the ropes of grapes cropping, we were spoiled by a fantastic BBQ which we washed away with some of the delicious wine produced right in the estate and mentioned above.

Il Borro



Sustainability and respect for the local community and the territory are the guiding principles in everything Il Borro does. The Ferragamo family made a commitment to respect the local ecosystem so that every product would be a real expression of the territory. These principles are also applied to the production of Extra Virgin Olive Oil which began in 1996. The harvest is done manually and a biodynamic approach is used during the crushing and pressing phases.

Relais & Chateaux - Il Borro

Another great example of Il Borro’s sustainable approach is the Orto del Borro which takes an entire hectare of the property. It was certified as organic in 2014 and it employs centuries-old practices like crop rotation which allows the land to regenerate. The produce is used in the kitchens of the resort creating km-zero and tasty dishes.

With its constant focus on the ecosystem, in 2014 Il Borro also decided to welcome bees. 30 hives were set up in the natural reserve for the entirely organic production of honey and since 2015 they also have 200 chickens for the production of organic, free-range eggs.

FOOD & TAste At RElais & Chateaux, Il borro

Il Borro features three restaurants each with its own identity and style but all under the direction of the Executive Chef Andrea Campani. His cuisine is based on the idea that every dish deserves a special emotion and that eating should involve all our senses. The venues are open also to non-residents and aim to satisfy the tastes of all guests.

The Osteria del Borro is a gourmet restaurant where Andrea Campani offers the unique opportunity to discover the traditional Tuscan cuisine with a touch of futuristic taste. The venue features elegant and refined rooms making the place the perfect spot to enjoy a mouthwatering dinner. 

The Tuscan Bistro is a more informal restaurant, ideal to enjoy breakfast or a delicious meal with locally sourced products. The concept is also present in Florence as the Tuscan Bistro Firenze as well as in Dubai in the luxurious Hotel Al Naseem Madinat Jumeirah. The restaurant gained its Gambero Rosso Best Italian Restaurant award only 5 months after its opening.

The Vin Cafè offers light lunches, tea or a glass of wine that can be enjoyed admiring the picturesque medieval village or while sitting at the side of the infinity pool.

The Ferragamo Family: a story of fashion, style and art

In 1996, Salvatore and Ferruccio Ferragamo decided to replant the Il Borro vineyards and concomitant Ferruccio decided to start a unique and private collection of engravings with a wine theme. Today, after many years of research and scouting, some of these artworks are currently on display in the Ferragamo Museum, where visitors are taken on a journey through the Il Borro history, from Alessandro Del Borro to the Medici to the House of Savoy and the finally the Ferragamo family. The gallery includes artworks by great artists such as Mantegna, Picasso, Goya and Warhol.  

For info and booking:   tel:+39 3665601139








Right at the centre of the estate, there is an oasis of wellbeing where guests can keep in shape with gym or yoga classes, be pampered in the exclusive Spa Suite and enjoy regenerating treatments at the hands of expert therapists.

I must confess I had various massages in my life, but Valerie’s hands made miracles to my stressed back and neck. Truly, it was the best treatment ever!

Relais & Chateaux - Il Borro

Whether you are strolling through the narrow streets of the village, relaxing at the pools, enjoying treatments at Il Borro Spa or the traditional cuisine at one of the restaurants, you will experience the same pleasure: that of a particular art of living only possible at Il Borro. 

About Relais & Châteaux

Relais & Châteaux is an exclusive collection of 540 of the finest luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants in 60 countries. Established in France in 1954, the mission of the Association is to divulge its unique art of living in the world by selecting exceptional structures with fan unrivalled tradition and heritage.

Relais & Châteaux is also a family of hoteliers and Grands Chefs from all over the world who share their passion and personal commitment to give their Guests moments of exceptional harmony. Choosing Relais & Châteaux is choosing an unforgettable celebration of the senses. The signature of Relais & Châteaux reflects this ambition:















Matera, why you must visit it now


I’ll admit it. It was through Instagram that I fell in love with Matera and it became a constant, fixed, ever-present travel obsession goal. And finally, this summer – my summer of fulfilling Italian dreams and exploring my home country-  I managed to see it with my own eyes.

As much research you can do about Matera, as much as you stalk people on Instagram and Pinterest, there is not much that prepares you for seeing the shiniest Italian gem for the first time.

World-known for its famous sassi, Matera is located on the border of Basilicata and Puglia and is one of my latest (and favourite) discoveries in Italy. Walking around this cute town where the sun reflects off the white limestone is not only breathtaking but extremely fascinating because of its history but also for its stunning beauty. But things were very different not too long ago…


Matera dates back to the Paleolithic Age and once you get there, you will see that not much has changed. Matera, after Petra in Jordan, is the oldest city in the world which was continuously inhabited for more than 30,000 years. It was once considered a giant slum filled with malaria and where poor people were living in medieval conditions. In caves. Exactly as described in the controversial book ‘Christ Stopped at Eboli‘ by Carlo Levi (1945), there was no running water or electricity and people were really living in very basic conditions. Truth to be told until the 1950’s Matera was also where prisoners were sent to live (and possibly die) in horrible conditions. In 1952, after the visit of the then prime minister, the Italian government ordered its evacuation due to inhumane living conditions and the city was left behind and abandoned by everyone but the addicts and the “bad people”. The residents were offered a new apartment in the new Matera, but some struggled to live their homes, livestock and families.


The city was never completely empty until the 1980s, but it’s only in the last two decades that the government and the local authorities and entrepreneurs have launched and managed a deep and important make over and facelift. Today, Matera has re-shaped its streets, caves and general vibe. There are luxury and boutique hotels at every corner and you can dine at some of the best Italian restaurants right in the same caves that not long ago hosted entire families and their livestock, often in the same room.

After so much general effort, in 1993, Matera was named a UNESCO World Heritage sites, which means that it is considered of ‘outstanding value to humanity and is protected to preserve the cultural and natural heritage of the area.” Matera will also be the 2019 European Capital of Culture and I think this gem is totally ready to attract thousands of visitors.

First of all, let me tell you that the sassi aren’t what you think (or what I thought!). Many people think that Matera’s caves are the “sassi”, but they’re not. The sassi (literally meaning “stones”) refer to the two neighbourhoods, Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano, made of stone dwellings in porous limestone of tufa in the ancient town. The original living quarters were primitive cave dwellings on the other side of the canyon. Gradually, the people made their way over to build the city you can visit today. 

To really get a feeling of Matera, you need to walk (and get lost) among the narrow lanes between houses.




How to explore the city 

Kids, there is a new way to explore a new city and this new way is an app called Aroundly (available in the App Store and google play). Aroundly allows you to tailor your visit to your preferences, whether you are alone or in a group, looking for fun or culture, this app creates an itinerary just for you takes you around Matera (or Cagliari, Erice, Catania, Trapani, Siracusa, Trieste and many other cities) and puts you in touch with locals and new friends.

Where to stay in Matera 

Sant’Angelo Resort

When I was invited to stay at the Sant’Angelo Resort in Matera, I had no doubts to say YES and immerse myself in this stunning hotel and its ancient walls and rooms. The owners took on the massive project to transform these caves that were once humble abodes, into splendid residences, suites and luxury rooms in order to redeem and restore the noble soul of an old civilization. The result is a mesmerising resort where you are constantly spoiled by incredible views over the old town and where every little detail screams luxury, but also home. I had a fantastic stay at Sant’Angelo and I am sure I’ll go back next time I am in Matera.

As I always do when I travel for work, I opted for breakfast in bed which was served in a sumptuous basked filled with all the delicacies you would expect from such a top notch hotel.

Vicolo Fiore

If you are looking for a simpler room in Matera, then Vicolo Fiore is the go to option. Only 50m from the Piazza Pascoli viewpoint, this brand new and super cute apartment features two double rooms (Barisano & Caveoso, the names of the two neighbourhoods) and a brand new kitchen that offers all you need for a short stay in town.

You will have all the comforts and facilities you will need for a short or a long stay in Matera, including (strong) wi-fi making a perfect place for fellow digital nomads looking for a place to work and stay put for a short period of time. Another plus is the free parking (which is a massive plus in Matera which is almost completely car-free).


How to reach Matera 

  • Train: if you want to travel by train, the easiest way is to first get to Bari which is connected to Trenitalia (the national train system and it’s a 4-hour train ride from Rome to Bari), then go to the regional train site, Ferrovie Appulo Lucane, putting in “Bari Centrale” as your starting point and “Matera Centrale” as your endpoint. The ride takes between 1 hour and 15 minutes and 1.5 hours and it is very cheap (something like 2 euros). From the train station, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the sassi of Matera.
  • Car: as part of our #fromnorthtosouthandbacksummer road trip we came by car, but parking in the centre of Matera can be quite difficult (erm…impossible!) since it’s a big ZLT area (no cars allowed except for residents), but you can still find a solution by talking to locals or parking just outside the city center.


  • Matera was tagged a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993
  • Here is where Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of Christ’ movie was filmed
  • Forget your heels and wear (very) comfy shoes – ideally with a good sole as the streets can be quite slippery
  • Fully charge your camera batteries and bring a wide angle lens if you have one


  • Christ Stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi’
  • The Passion of Christ by Mel Gibson
  • Ben Hur
  • La Lupa, 1953
  • Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo 1964, by  Pier Paolo Pasolini


Today, the city (still) has a great non-touristy vibe. I don’t think it will be the same next year since Matera will be the 2019 European Capital of Culture and I am sure it will attract even more visitors in the next decade and beyond. So, if you don’t love crowded places and queuing every 10 minutes book your stay in Matera now!

Sleeping in a cave? Where else can you experience it? I am not sure, but I think Matera is the only place in the world.

As Carlo Levi said:

Anyone who sees Matera cannot help but be awe-struck, so expressive and touching is its sorrowful beauty

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