Best Jewel of the Mediterranean

The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily boasts dramatic coastlines and rugged interiors that are soaked in dazzling sunshine most of the year.

Many visitors stick to Sicily’s seaside resorts, but there is so much more to the island than beaches. Hire a car and go speeding down winding country roads, pausing to drink in the heady vistas, such as olive-coloured fields dotted with groves of orange and lemon trees or solitary hamlets standing in the shadow of a mountain-strewn horizon. Make sure you don’t miss out on these sights and flavours, too.

In the Valley of Temples

Halfway down the southern coast is Agrigento and the Valley of Temples, one of the best-conserved sites of Ancient Greek architecture. Then there’s the brooding presence of Mount Etna, whose hulking craters are well worth trekking up to; local companies offer guided tours through the countryside and mountains.

Sicily’s natural wonders may be what attracts visitors, but the cities are worth spending time in too. The largest, Palermo, is chaotic and sprawling, but it’s also home to the island’s most beguiling Norman-Byzantine architecture. Expect ancient churches, crumbling but charming palaces and gorgeous time-worn piazzas. For a taste of the high life in this ancient city, visit Voyage Privé for excusive deals on four and five-star accommodation in Palermo.

A Sicilian experience

When it comes to the people, forget the movies and the myths – Sicilians are a warm and welcoming bunch. Their distinctive culture stems in part from a fascinating, near incomparable history. Early settlers were Greeks and Phoenicians, who were followed by the Romans, while the arrival of the Arabs in the 9th century left profound marks on the islanders. The remarkable Norman-Byzantine-Arab hybrid culture of the 11th and 12th centuries then followed.

Perhaps because of this complicated history, Sicily still stands out from the rest of Italy, and not just for the widely spoken Sicilian dialect. The people have a reputation for being passionate, direct and superstitious, though city folk are increasingly cosmopolitan. As in other matters, Sicilian cuisine is more potent than in the Italian mainland, with pasta sauces tending to come laced with seafood and chilli, and pastries that seem more Middle Eastern than European.

Two staples are arancini – risotto balls caked in breadcrumbs often filled with ragu, mozzarella and peas – and cannoli – a crispy tube stuffed with ricotta. Both are thought to have Arab origins. Other dishes include the Sicilian version of pizza, sfincione, which has a thick crust, and pasta con la sarde, spaghetti with sardines, pine kernels and white fennel. Try it at the homely Trattoria Ai Cascinari (Via D’Ossuna, 43/45) restaurant near the imposing Porta Nuova, the city gates built for Palermo in 1570.

Best View in Bridgend Country

Southeast France attracts many visitors looking for sun, palms, beaches and a little taste of happiness throughout the year, but this idyllic part of France also possesses many charming places and monuments, as well as stunning casinos.

For an unforgettable stay in the French Riviera, let us be your guide as we head from east to west to discover some of the area’s must-see cities.

We begin with the most famous destination of the area: Monaco. The world-renowned Principality of Monaco is the perfect mix of luxury, beauty and history. This microstate, run by the Grimaldi Royal Family, houses amazing places such as the Oceanographic Museum and the Harbour.

The Place du Casino square is the centre of the city and the best spot to admire the beauty and luxury of SBM properties like theMonte-Carlo Casino or the Café de Paris Casino. These prestigious venues attract wealthy clients all year round. If you are a fan of luxurious cars and limousines, be sure to visit.

Having dreamt about all this sumptuousness, it is time to head to our second lovely destination: Nice. The city possesses the famous Promenade des Anglais, a charming and flowered avenue along the Mediterranean Sea.

This avenue affords nice walks and the opportunity to discover beautiful architecture such as the Casino Barrière Rulh in the Le Méridien Hotel and the Partouche Casino in the Hyatt Regency Palais de la Méditérannée Hotel.

Don’t miss the old town, ideal for discovering the city’s traditions and its typical boutiques. A guide will teach you all of the secrets the city has to hide.

A few kilometres along the coast is our third destination: Cannes. The whole world knows Cannes for its festival and red carpet. Each year, the biggest stars come to celebrate and promote their latest movies.

The other must-see attraction of the city is the celebrated Croisette promenade. Arching along the sea, visitors can saunter beneath the sun whilst savouring a tasty ice cream.

On the Croisette, you will find some prestigious hotels such as the Carlton or the JW Marriot, which features the Barrière Casino Les Princes. It’s worth noting that the Barrière Casino Le Croisette is also located along the prestigious avenue.

To finish our tour we want to share a new website with you: Casinos Avenue which features a “casino near me” button that helps you locate the nearest casinos during your trip!

Hell or High Water

“Hell or High Water”—nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Picture—is often likened to a modern, western version of “Robin Hood.” In the film, two brothers in west Texas team up to rob a bank and save their family ranch.

But in order to save their production budget, film crew headed to eastern New Mexico, just miles from the Texas border, to shoot.

For those who want to relive this old school, western drama, here are the New Mexico spots where the film shot its gunslingin’ fantasies.

“Hell or High Water”—nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Picture—is often likened to a modern, western version of “Robin Hood.” In the film, two brothers in west Texas team up to rob a bank and save their family ranch.

But in order to save their production budget, film crew headed to eastern New Mexico, just miles from the Texas border, to shoot.

For those who want to relive this old school, western drama, here are the New Mexico spots where the film shot its gunslingin’ fantasies.

The city has an impressive collection of historic architecture still standing—including the Yam Theatre, which was one of the most modern in the nationwhen it opened in 1926.

Tucumcari, New Mexico

Tucumcari is an essential stop for anyone traveling down Route 66. The town—with a population of about 6,000 people—shut down a few blocks along the route last year for filming.

The town is packed with old Americana signage and buildings that look straight out of dust bowl days.

Best Holiday in January

Start the new year with a resolution in your head and a passport in your pocket; 2017 will be a better year, so why not kick-start it with a January holiday?

 

One for the beach bums
Cape Town, South Africa

For beautiful beaches, Cape Town in South Africa comes top of the list for any self-respecting beach bum – you can lie back on soft white sand with the beautiful people on Clifton Beach or Camps Bay, go surfing at Muizenberg or chill with the penguins at Boulders Beach. There’s more, though, if you can drag yourself away: as well as awe-inspiring scenery (the city lies at the foot of a mountain), you’ll find urban nightlife with a distinctly African flavour in the city centre, a world-class aquarium and, 45 minutes drive away, a wine region to rival those of France.

Head to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in Costa Rica for the ultimate adrenaline rush. Extremo Park offer a bungee jump that is the highest in Central America at 143m (469 ft), and those brave enough to go through with the experience leap from a tram suspended by cables between two mountains. Other thrilling activities on offer here include zip-lining and a “Tarzan swing”, where you can jump off a platform in a harness and swing through the air. The reserve features misty fog clinging to the treetops and an incredible diversity of wildlife, from jaguars to rare Quetzal birds, regarded as gods by the Aztecs because of their vivid plumage.

One for the city slickers
Beijing, China

Wake up to the crowing of a rooster in 2017. This year’s Chinese New Year falls on 28 January and the cockerel is the designated animal sign for this coming lunar calendar. Chinese New Year, orChunjie, is the mother of all festivals in Beijing and arguably the best time to visit the city. Firecrackers, red lanterns and jiaozi, the traditional dumpling, are all integral to the celebrations and dressing in red for the turning of the year is advisable – it’s China’s lucky colour and believed to scare away the spirits of bad fortune. The ultimate way to experience the five-day holiday is with a Chinese family. If you don’t know one, speak to the Beijing Greeters and with any luck you’ll be paired with a Beijinger willing to show you a new side of their sprawling megapolis.

Trips Based on the Year’s Best Films

Through some of this year’s best films, audiences were able to vicariously travel all around the world.

In “La La Land,” we saw Los Angeles through the eyes of artists out to change the world. “Moonlight” gave a voice to an often-neglected community in Miami and “Manchester by the Sea” highlighted the working fishing towns of Massachusetts.

So, in honor of some of the amazing roster of films that earned Golden Globes nominations this year, here is Travel + Leisure’s guide to some of the most cinematic places on the planet.

And the award goes to…

La La Land

Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, this musical tour through Los Angeles has been nominated for over 140 awards, including seven Golden Globes. The entire movie is a perfect itinerary for anyone with dreams of making it big in Hollywood. The movie includes stops at iconic locations like Grand Central Market, Griffith Observatory and the Chateau Marmont.

Jackie

The nation’s capital has played host to many of the most important events in American history. “Jackie” stars Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, in the days immediately following JFK’s assassination. For anybody hoping to tour D.C. in the eyes of a Kennedy, the filming locations for this movie act as a perfect start.

Moonlight

“Moonlight”—nominated for six Golden Globes—visits a part of Miami seldom seen by tourists. The film follows Chiron, a boy born in one of the city’s roughest neighborhoods, as he grapples with his identity and sexuality. In order to do justice to the lives of the people in Miami’s Liberty City, film crew went directly there. The movie captured Miami’s color and diversity, including stops at some of its iconic beaches.

Manchester by the Sea

“Manchester by the Sea” was filmed in Cape Ann, a part of Massachusetts often referred to as Cape Cod’s lesser-known cousin. The movie—produced by Matt Damon and nominated for five Golden Globes—follows a Boston janitor when he must go back to his hometown because of his brother’s death. The film is a great portrait of the fishing towns along Cape Ann, worthy of a visit for anybody looking to head off the beaten path.