When in Rome: Shannon’s Italy Hotel Recs


Shannon O'Donnell

Some friends of mine recently mentioned a yearning to head to Italy for a vacation. They hadn’t shared this tidbit with me for more than five minutes before I’d sent them an email with my top Italian hotel picks…three locations that my husband and I found particularly romantic and wonderful on our honeymoon a few Aprils back. We were just so crazy about these three spots, that I want other people to have the same wonderful experience!

I’m no world traveler…our family vacations as a kid usually revolved around the dreaded summer road trip to locations within a few hundred miles of home (Yellowstone, Cannon Beach, Banff…all of which I now look back on fondly and can’t wait to ‘Holiday Road’ it with my own kids someday). If you couldn’t get there on a few tanks of gas, the O’Donnell family didn’t do it. We even had to take the Greyhound all the way from Seattle to Wisconsin to see my grandparents, as round-trip plane tickets were too expensive for a family of four (and now that I have a family of four of my own, I see the problem!). This West Coast kid didn’t even bask in Hawaiian sunshine or (gasp!) take in the glory that is Disneyland until well into adulthood. So, when my husband and I were thinking about honeymoon destinations, I really wanted to travel abroad to a romantic, faraway destination.

We settled on Italy, and traveled there a few months post-wedding in the Spring of 2003. My husband Peter isn’t big on booking hotels beforehand, as he kind of likes to just go with the flow and not have travel plans set in stone. I’m just the opposite–I like everything planned out and guaranteed. Some of our hotels were luckily ‘happened upon’, while some were chosen based on glowing reviews a la travel websites. Some were less than stellar (I’m not a fan of the Euro bathrooms where the shower is simply a spout in the middle of the bathroom that you ‘enclose’ by wrapping a curtain around you), while others were stupendous. Here were our top three:

1) La Cisterna in San Gimignano

We jumped off the Eurorail bandwagon to venture out on our own with a tiny rented car, meandering through the breathtaking hill towns of Tuscany. Nearby Sienna you’ll find adorable San Gimignano, a town of 14 ancient towers (there used to be 72!). Right on the little town square is the La Cisterna, and we stayed in a room at the top of one of these towers…very ‘Rapunzel’! The hotel has an exquisite, world famous restaurant, and I enjoyed the most divine gnocchi I’ve ever tasted there.

2) Albergo del Sole in Rome

Talk about location, location, location. Directly across from the Pantheon, this is one of the oldest hotels in the world. Its central location makes for easy walking to the numerous historical sites. We stayed in Rome twice, and our other hotel near the Spanish Steps was the worst we’d stayed in. I wish we’d stayed in this one both times. The hotel is the building in the center of the picture, just to the right of the fountain.

3) Hotel Miramare in Positano

Ahhh, I relax just thinking about this place. Located near Capri on the Almalfi Coast, this hotel has panoramic views of this beautiful coastal town and the Bay below. Just look at the views from where you eat breakfast, or even shower!

So there you are–bon voyage, and let me know if you go to any of these fabulous locations!

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist


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