Designed to embody the grace and glamour of Italy in the 1950s and 60s, known as ‘La Dolce Vita’, these nostalgic excursions are inspired by iconic actresses from Hollywood’s golden era such as Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot, who flocked to Italy for their holidays.
Guests can also start or end their journey in ultimate style aboard the vintage Art Deco carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, following in the footsteps of some of history’s most famous film icons. This legendary train has inspired literary icons and featured in films such as Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love in the 1950s, as well as the set for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes in 1938. The world’s most famous train travels from London throughout Europe to Venice and keeps the spirit of ‘La Dolce Vita’ alive, making the journey as wonderful as the arrival.
Embark on a Film Tour of Venice
Positioned beside the Venetian lagoon overlooking the Doge’s Palace, Belmond Hotel Cipriani is a true Venice legend that has played host to countless film stars over the years. Guests can journey back in time on a tour of the city’s most famous film locations, including the 18th-century Venetian coffee house that featured in 1955 romance Summertime with Katherine Hepburn and the bridge under which Alberto Sordi’s handsome gondolier tried to seduce pretty tourists in the 1958 Italian comedy Venice, the Moon and You.
The hotel has also launched a ‘Tour of the Senses’ to showcase Venice’s vibrant culture and hidden gems. This sensory experience includes a visit to Francesco Molon’s luxurious perfumery, the famous chocolaterie Viziovirtù, a violin-maker’s workshop and a special visit to the glorious Palazzo Ca’ Bernardo, which is normally closed to the public.
Recapture Taylor and Burton’s Romance in Portofino
Belmond Hotel Splendido in Portofino is said to be where Richard Burton proposed to Elizabeth Taylor for the first time during a break from filming Cleopatra, and couples can recapture the fabled pair’s romance on a sunset cruise aboard the hotel’s private boat. Sipping chilled Prosecco while cruising past Portofino and Camogli Bay, guests can enjoy a dip in the emerald sea before mooring at the secluded beach of San Fruttuoso Abbey. Here, their own waiter will serve an alfresco candlelit dinner for two.
Burton and Taylor also enjoyed water-skiing in Portofino and Belmond Hotel Splendido can arrange for guests to enjoy this classic pastime in the crystal waters of the Italian Riviera.
Follow in Brigitte Bardot’s Footsteps in Florence
A 15th-century national monument surrounded by the cypress-studded Chianti hills, Belmond Villa San Michele is a work of art with the ambiance of a private home. Guests with a love of nostalgia can drive back in time in a vintage Fiat 600, retracing Brigitte Bardot’s discovery of Florence in the 1962 classic film Love on a Pillow. Scenic locations where scenes were shot include the gardens of Villa Gamberaia and the abbey of San Miniato al Monte.
The historic hotel also offers guests the chance to explore Florence on a retro Ape Calessino, a classic symbol of the laidback Italian lifestyle. After meandering up and down the city hills, guests will be guided through the best food shops and markets before enjoying a traditional Italian aperitivo on the Arno River at sunset.
Visit Jackie O’s Favourite Shops in Ravello
Set on a verdant clifftop balcony with a spectacular infinity pool, guests at Belmond Hotel Caruso can embark on a three-hour sailing trip aboard a ‘gozzo’ (a typical coastal wooden boat), harking back to the summer of 1962 when Jackie O famously visited the area. During this dreamy adventure of old-school glamour, guests will sail to the private beaches of Conca dei Marini and while away an afternoon swimming in the sea, sunbathing and enjoying a Mediterranean picnic.
Film fans can also take a drive along the breathtaking Amalfi Coast in a vintage Fiat 600, stopping to browse Jackie’s favourite local shops and looking out for stylish handmade sandals and linen camisoles to complete their retro look.
Take a Vintage Drive Through Time in Sicily
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina sits adjacent to the Greek Theatre with unrivalled views of the coastline and Mount Etna. During Italy’s golden years Hollywood stars including Greta Garbo and Truman Capote holidayed in the area, and guests can take a spin to their favourite haunts in the world’s most glamorous three-wheeler, an Ape Calessino. This classic car epitomised ‘La Dolce Vita’ in the 1950s and 60s and is perfect for a stylish leisurely drive.
Male guests can also be groomed like a ’50s film star during the hotel’s weekly Sicilian barbershop experience. After an invigorating massage, a top local barber will apply cream with a pure pig-bristle brush before performing a traditional straight-razor shave, followed by another massage and hot and cold towels.
At sister hotel Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea in the Bay of Mazzarò, guests can take a voyage in a beautiful rainbow boat. Charming boatman Valentino will steer through the clear waters past the famous Grotta Azzurra, Isola Bella nature reserve, the Gulf of Giardini and the Bay of the Sirens before reaching Capo Taormina, where guests can soak up spectacular views of Taormina, Giardini Naxos and Mount Etna