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Once upon a time, young English baronets and heirs to noble families used to set off on a Grand Tour of Italy, and return replete with knowledge of art, life experiences and copies of Piranesi sketches.
This phenomenon gave rise to tourism - both the practice and the word:
It was an educational journey which might last several years and which saw Europe’s young aristocracy travelling the length and breadth of Italy to visit the major cities.
Rome - obviously - but also Milan, Venice, Florence, Bologna and Naples. And the obligatory stay in Sicily, in search of direct contact with classical culture without the risks involved in travel to Greece, at the time under Turkish rule.
So where would a young Windsor or Orange-Nassau go today on their journey to Italy, after a day among the ateliers and architectural digs? To have an aperitif on a rooftop overlooking the city, of course.
Are you ready to enjoy the architecture of Venice and the loveliness of the lagoon all in one go, just as your wealthy peers have done over the past four centuries? Perhaps while sipping a Bellini or a glass of Prosecco.
A stone’s throw from St Mark’s Square, Hotel Danieli is the perfect spot for admiring the sunset: its extensive terrace is open from May to October, allowing you to enjoy a club sandwich or a bowl of calamarata while the last rays of sun touch the dome of Santa Maria della Salute.
Nicknamed the Forest of Towers for the enormous number of city towers that once shaped the skyline, today Bologna still has several that can be visited.
One of these dates from the 12th century: it’s the Prendiparte Tower, and from here you can marvel at the city from a height of 60 metres, having climbed (just) twelve flights of stairs. In this tower you can have lunch or dinner, enjoy an ice cream from classic gelateria La Funivia, or sip a cocktail as the sun goes down.
And the detail that would undoubtedly have attracted the romantic young writers on their tour? You can visit the male prison cells, where those convicted of crimes against the Church - such as flirting with nuns - were thrown.
Another city, another tower: Florence was an obligatory stop on the way to Rome. The rooftop we’ve chosen on this occasion is the Antica Torre Tornabuoni, which has embellished the heart of the city since the late 18th century.
A renowned residents for artists in the first half of the twentieth century, the tower boasts a terrace with views of the Arno where you can have breakfast and enjoy the morning sunshine or watch the sunset while sharing a bottle of Chianti.
It’s the perfect stopping place before continuing your journey to the capital.
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Michele De Lucchi & Giancarlo Fassina
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