If you are traveling to Italy, make sure you include the northern portion of the country, which has some little-known bargains and fabulous places to stay.  Check out the following places you probably haven't thought about:




Lake Como--Stay at the Hotel Belvedere on the shores of the most beautiful lake in the world (slightly better than Lake Tahoe in the USA).  Ride the ferry to visit the Bellagio Hotel.  It's beautiful, but you don't want to stay there because it's not worth the extra money and the service cannot compare with Hotel Belvedere. Around the shores of the lake you there are many things to do, including a wonderful shopping area that has local designers and artists as well as the world's most famous designers' stores like Ferragamo, Gucci, etc. Also, there is a wonderful botanical garden that is well worth the time to go through.  One of the scenes from Star Wars, Episode 2, was shot at Lake Como.  Do you remember the beautiful tree?


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Alba, Italy-- This little-known small town in North Central Italy is the wealthiest region in the country, thanks to its wine production and chocolate manufacturing.  A beautiful wine country (Piedmonte), the region has tons of great bed & breakfast style hotels in a wonderful country setting.  The restaurants are fabulous as well.  Make sure to tour some of the vineyards.  My favorite is Cerreto, which makes a fabulous Barolo wine. The shopping in Alba is unlike anything I've ever seen.  A back alley is home to the most prestigious collection of stores I've seen.  They're all there--Gucci (two stores connected by an underground tunnel), Cartier, Fendi, Baccarat--you name it, it's there.  Great place to shop!













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