Late last month, Norwegian Air found itself in the spotlight when it announced trans-Atlantic airfares to Italy that were so affordable, you could practically taste the carbonara — US$189 (RM807.03) from Newark to Rome.
Never mind that this represented only a limited-time promotional offer, and only for a one-way ticket. And that the carrier is known for charging passengers for seat assignments, meals, checked bags and everything in between.
When all is said and done, it’s still a great deal — and a superb excuse to plan a trip.
But if what you were looking for was a new reason to go to Italy, look no further than the country’s latest crop of new hotels.
You may already be aware of Hotel Eden, Dorchester Collection’s fully renovated grande dame in Rome, which emerged from a top-to-bottom, 17-month renovation in April.
Its 98 spacious rooms and gilded common spaces, designed in partnership with Jouin Manku, are a study in Italian craftsmanship, from the Pompeii-inspired frescoes in the foyer to the Bottega Veneta amenities in the bathrooms.
Here are four other notable newcomers — ready to be strung together, like pearls, into the ultimate Italian grand tour.
A Sleek Hideaway in Milan
Creating a sense of place can often mean falling back on Renaissance clichés when it comes to urban Italian hotels. But at the Fifty House in Milan — which was once a boarding school — the opposite is true.
Industrial lighting, open-flow common areas, and a 50-shades-of-grey colour palette feel provocative and fashion-forward; not coincidentally, the property opened just in time for the runway shows last February.
Here, stately architectural details mix with edgier accents, like graphic art and sudden bursts of colour.
Book the Attico penthouse, with its own rooftop garden, where you can find refuge from the bustle of the design district just outside. From US$308 (RM1,315).
The Ferragamo-owned Hotel Lungarno, in Florence, built its reputation on postcard-perfect views; the hotel practically hovers over the Arno.
But in recent years its ruffled bed skirts and pleated lampshades have shifted from timeless to passé.
A thoughtful, six-month redesign — which culminated on June 1 — brings the property’s 64 guest rooms up to date, replacing honeycomb-pattern carpets with preppy stripes, slipcovered desk chairs with nailhead-trimmed upholstery and old botanical prints with contemporary fashion sketches.
It accomplishes exactly what the perfect face-lift should: A return to glory for the Lungarno, with its 50-year-old identity firmly intact. And those views glimmer even more as a result. From US$461.
A Museum on Lake Como That You Can Sleep In
The 116-year-old Grand Hotel Tremezzo is proof that, in Italy, what’s oldest is always new again.
After a substantial expansion last year, including an overhaul of its award-winning spa and restaurants, as well as the addition of a new harbour, the family-owned great pile on the lake is adding one more sparkling jewel to her crown.
Now under Tremezzo’s exclusive purview is the six-bedroom Villa Sola, an 18th century aristocratic mansion that previously hadn’t been available for public bookings.
There, you can survey Count Sola Cabiati’s tapestry collection, take in a languid alfresco lunch amid neoclassical gardens and see the bed Napoleon slept in hundreds of years ago — knowing that he didn’t have access to an Alfa Romeo house car or a sauna with waterfront views. Rooms from US$806, buyouts from US$35,000 per week.
The New Jewel in Venice
Venice is accustomed to visual spectacle. (Did you see George and Amal Clooney’s wedding at the Aman Canal Grande?)
But when Palazzo Venart soft-opened last October, it shattered the Murano glass ceiling.
Arrival to the 440-year-old villa is typically by boat, and a first look around the lobby and public areas reveals original tempera frescoes and floors, along with faithful reproductions of period furniture.
A blast to the past? Not quite. Venart is as invested in 1500s exuberance as it is in modern luxury.
Chef Enrico Bartolini, who earned two Michelin stars at his Milanese restaurant Mudec, looks after the 30-seat dining room — one of the only five-star spots in Venice where you can find an a la carte breakfast.
Personalised service means that if you want spaghetti with clams in the morning, Bartolini will make it happen. There’s more than one staffer for each guest, a ratio that’s hard to find even in five-star resorts.
And if you get sensory overload from the textured wallpaper, gold trim, and dramatic chandeliers in the blinged-out accommo-dations, the hotel’s rare private garden will ground you. From US$660. — Bloomberg