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Christmas Shopping Breaks in Italy - Milan, Naples and Turin
Head for Italy in the lead-up to Christmas and visit tourist-free cathedrals and palaces, browse for gifts in luxury shops with ornate facades and step into an extraordinary world of nativity scenes, miniature figurines and Christmas accessories.
Stay at the art deco Hotel Principe di Piemonte in the heart of baroque Turin. A 3-night B & B stay with www.ExpertoItaly.com, tel. 020 7520 3100, in December starts at £310 per person, including a 3-day city card and airport transfers. The hotel has a spa centre with Turkish baths, a sauna and indoor pool. Return flights from £40 per person with Ryanair.
MILAN: No-one does shopping quite like the Milanese. Head for the Sant'Ambrogio street market or buy Christmas gifts for the foodies in your life at the irresistible Peck delicatessen, a gastronomic institution dating back to 1883 that is perfect for a brief pit stop or for stocking up on the very best of oils, vinegars and other gourmet goodies.
The Hotel Spadari al Duomo is in the heart of Milan's Quadrilatero d'Oro shopping district, home to Gucci, Versace, Prada and Cartier, amongst others. Once a private home, the hotel now has 39 rooms and suites filled with architect-designed furniture and contemporary art, with the rooms on the top floors looking straight out on to the Duomo. A 3-night break on a B & B basis in December starts at £410 per person (based on 2 sharing), including return airport transfers, with www.ExpertoItaly.com, tel. 020 7520 3100. Return flights from £40 per person with Ryanair.
NAPLES: Naples takes Christmas preparations to a completely new level. The city is the ultimate Christmas superstore, with accessories for nativity scenes taking pride of place. Visit Via San Gregorio Armeno in the Spaccanapoli area for everything you could possibly need for a nativity scene, right down to figures of Obama, Berlusconi and Sarkozy in place of the more traditional three wise men. For a less traditional stance, visit the Christmas market at Porta Nolana where live clams and the freshest seafood in town make a change from mulled wine and chestnuts, ready for the preparation of the traditional 'spaghetti alle vongole' Christmas Eve dinner.
Stay at the Hotel Decumani de Charme, formerly the residence of the last Archbishop of Naples, in the heart of the city. A 3-night B & B break with www.ExpertoItaly.com, tel. 020 7520 3100, in December starts at £325 per person including a Campania Arte tourist attraction card and a private guided tour of the historic centre. Return flights from £85 per person with Easyjet.
ExpertoItaly (www.ExpertoItaly, tel. 0207 520 3100) specialises in tailor made holidays to a selection of small independent boutique hotels in several Italian cities and in Sicily, Sardinia, Tuscany, the Amalfi coast and in the Italian Lakes.