Culture goes on tour

Museums and galleries across the British Isles are offering holidays so fine, they’re almost works of art

The past few years have seen many of our museums, galleries and learned societies team up with specialist tour operators to create unique itineraries that combine the institution’s expertise and the travel company’s know-how. Together, their clout and connections mean you can enjoy exclusive access to little-seen exhibits, or visits outside opening hours. Here’s our pick of the trips for 2013.

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/travel/Holidays/Learning/article1160865.ece

Sarah Barrell: Line up at the lido for an Italian cultural lesson

Travel notes: Independent on Sunday, 14 August 2011

If you’re packing for the Italian beach this summer, there is a list of essential kit to consider. Swimming togs in this season’s colours are clearly essential – coral pink and orange since you ask, and that includes you, chaps. As an accessory you will likely need the hide of a rhino or the patience of a saint.

Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/sarah-barrell-line-up-at-the-lido-for-an-italian-cultural-lesson-2337195.html?origin=internalSearch

The Italian playground that’s fighting for its soul

Forte dei Marmi’s newest hotel looks like it belongs in Miami and its pricey villas are full of Russians. And yet this Tuscan resort is trying very hard to remain authentic, says Sarah Barrell

A man in a black suit with black-mirrored shades leads me to a vast Bentley; its paintwork, black, hums in the heat haze. Inside, behind black-tinted windows, the air is white cool.

This is not my usual Italian welcoming party – my in-laws prefer something a little less showy – but then I’ve never been to Forte dei Marmi, and by Italian standards it’s a fairly unique resort. Given that this seaside town has most lately been associated with, if not the Russian mafia, then that country’s wealthy elite, my transfer vehicle seems appropriate.

I find myself on Forte dei Marmi’s narrow, pine-shaded streets within half an hour of leaving Pisa airport. Nowhere are the spaghetti roads and dramatic cliffy drops into hidden, rocky bays that characterise stellar Italian resorts such as Amalfi or Portofino. Here, a landscape of square, modern villas and contemporary takes on country houses line a neat street grid. A palm stretches up from behind a gated driveway, an electric-blue sports car sit in front of a manicured lawn. Inland, behind this orderly patchwork, are the elegant folds of the Apuan Alps, in front, a stretch of golden sand.

Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/europe/the-italian-playground-thats-fighting-for-its-soul-2046336.html

Summer on the beach: the Italian Riviera

It’s got glitz, it’s got glamour, and it’s got some of the best seafood you’ll taste in the whole of Italy. Sarah Barrell reveals how to get the best out of a holiday in Liguria

Motorways: not generally a favourite with summer-holidaying families. Yet the road running along Liguria’s coast, from the French border to Tuscany, offers views that are almost reason alone to visit this, the “Italian Riviera”.

Narrow gallerie (tunnels) shuttle you through craggy mountains that plunge with an urgent grace down to the sea. Blink and whip your shades back on as you pop out of the end of each tunnel to be repeatedly dazzled by glimpses of sparkling azure bays, with terracotta-roofed buildings piled high up the mountainside. It’s so impressive even wilting children in the back seat will “oooh” and “ahh”.

Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/europe/summer-on-the-beach–the-italian-riviera-1761110.html

City slicker: A guide to Genoa

A new film is about to put this Italian port in the spotlight. Sarah Barrell offers a guide to the sights for new, and returning visitors.

This underrated port is about to become a film star. A new thriller, simply entitled “Genova” and starring Colin Firth, uses the winding alleys and gothic atmosphere of this Ligurian city to great effect and puts the spotlight on its rich 16th and 17th-century architecture.

Genoa is a city defined by its port: a working hub for vast cruise boats and cargo containers. The old town climbs directly out of this watery, industrial heart, a glorious, vertiginous mess of medieval buildings piled up against the base of the steep Apennine mountains – it’s no surprise Henry James described it as “the most winding, incoherent of cities”.

Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/europe/city-slicker-a-guide-to-genoa-958338.html