Donald Strachan

Profile

Donald Strachan is a freelance travel and technology journalist whose work appears regularly in publications worldwide, including the Sunday Telegraph, Guardian, National Geographic Traveller, and others. He has also written several guidebooks for Frommer's Italy and Frommer's EasyGuide to Rome, Florence, and Venice 2014.

Donald Strachan

Featured

Italy's craft beer revolution

The first week in March is a big one for Italian drinkers: the annual Settimana della Birra (“Beer Week”) sees breweries, bars, and bottle shops across the country run events for Italy's growing army of beer lovers.

But, wait: “Italy” and “beer”? I must mean Peroni, right? Oh, no.

In fact, the country now has over 600 artisan brewers, most of them small and a huge proportion less than five years old. There is a craft beer revolution in full swing. And whatever week of the year you visit, you'll find plenty to celebrate.

How to see Turin in one (busy) day

One of Europe's longest-running royal dynasties, the Savoys, made Turin their home for 300 years, before upgrading to reign over the whole of Italy until the end of World War II. Their legacy lends Italy's first capital a baroque flavour, with streets lined by arcades to keep the elements off while you shop. The city has a café culture borrowed from France.

The best of Bologna in one weekend

The capital of Italy's Emilia-Romagna region is a city with three personalities. As La Grassa, “the fat”, it is the country's foodie hotspot, and the home of several dishes we think of as “classic Italian” cuisine.

Italy: Where to ski if you love to eat

So, is it fine dining or powder skiing you want from your next winter adventure? Fortunately, in northern Italy, you don’t have to choose.

 


 

Italy’s so-called ‘green heart’ is a spiritual kind of place. St. Francis, Italy’s patron saint, once roamed its gentle hills, quiet forests, and tended olive groves. His life is celebrated in churches everywhere, but especially in the Basilica frescoes in the hill-town of his birth, Assisi. St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictine monastic order, St. Clare, and St. Valentine (yes, that one) are just a few more of history’s many canonized Umbrians.


 

Five unmissable Tuscan Paintings and where to see them

Just five? Of course, it’s impossible to select only five Tuscan paintings. The region is stuffed with art and architecture spanning the history of Western art.

The corrugated hills cloaked in pine, chestnut, and oak run for miles and miles. Fortified towns and rose- and terracotta-coloured farmhouses peek above a sea of vines and olive groves. The food is hearty; the red wine is pressed carefully from the native sangiovese grape. 

For centuries, north-eastern Italy was a collection of squabbling provinces and city-states, republics and dukedoms. Great powers—and art fashions—came and went. Each one left a mark that that you can still see today. Venice and its legacy is everywhere you look.

The Tuscan capital is a work of art; a city built from stone that straddles the River Arno. The home of Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli and countless other painters, sculptors and architects is the heart of Italy’s most beautiful region, yet has an allure quite distinct from the rolling, hazy landscapes of central Tuscany just beyond its city limits.

Nothing you have experienced in well-visited cities like Florence and Venice can prepare you for your first visit to Naples. This isn’t a place that rolls out the red carpet for tourists, but its effortless authenticity only makes it all the more thrilling. The nearby ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum draw plenty of through traffic.But among the narrow, cobbled alleys lined with shops selling everything from religious relics to football shirts—which amount to the same thing to football-mad Neapolitans—there are several cultural treasures.

Crystalline waters and snow-capped peaks on the northern horizon. Belle Epoque resorts and memorable lakeside walks and drives. It’s hardly surprising that tourists have been coming here for thousands of years. Garda’s shores are littered with ruins of once-grand Roman villas—the poet Catullus, for one, had a pad.

There’s Italian wine… and then there’s Tuscan wine. Among Italian reds, only wines from the two great villages of Piedmont—Barolo and Barbaresco—come close to the consistent quality of an aged Brunello di Montalcino, a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, or a top Chianti Classico.

The sights and flavours of the Aosta Valley

With its towering granite crags and four of the Alps’ highest mountains, Italy’s Valle d’Aosta is best known as a winter playground. But the semi-autonomous valley region has much more to offer. In spring and summer, the climate is benign, and alpine meadows are scattered with wildflowers.

 

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