A very troubled child’s guide to Italy

By Nadia Sheng,

Alberto Favaretto is a lawyer from Venice who has worked in Milan, London and is currently based in Hong Kong. It’s in Asia’s World City and the city he presently calls home that Alberto decided to pursue his dream of starting his own line of luxurious, custom-made travel luggage. His brand, Very Troubled Child, is named after the memories of his turbulent childhood. “I was a very troubled child myself,” says the Venetian entrepreneur. Inspired by the finest Italian craftsmanship and modern techniques, his collections comprise monogrammed leather duffles, soft suitcases, passport holders, and other custom made leather products.

Alberto_Favaretto

A Very Troubled Child – Alberto.

Together with his better half, Anna, the stylish duo behind Very Troubled Child jet around the world for work but mostly for leisure. After all, when you’re a designer of travel-related products, being well travelled is highly beneficial as there’s inspiration waiting to be found at every geographic coordinate. Now that you know Alberto, would you trust a very troubled child to show you how and where to travel?

Alberto’s Travel Bag

Alberto

  1. My passport: I once forgot it and couldn’t board my flight to Marrakesh. Since then, I make sure it’s always inside my passport holder.
  2. Italian cologne: I’m a fan of both Aqua di Parma and Santa Maria Novella.
  3. Non-fiction books: while my partner loves belles-lettres, I prefer to read reportages, biographies, and memoirs.
  4. Good sunglasses: Italians wear them even indoors, so it’s very important to have a pair once in Italy.
  5. My summer uniform: white trousers, a blue shirt, and a navy jacket.

Anna’s Travel Bag

Anna

  1. Chic for chilly weather: a bunch of shirts, trousers, and at least one jacket as the evenings can be chilly in Italy.
  2. A pair of comfy slippers: when you travel a lot like I do there’s nothing more comfortable than slipping on your own pair of slippers.
  3. Loads of Italian sweets: I’m currently craving Bonajuto chocolate from Modica, Sicily.
  4. Some good reads: “Made in Italy” is a book that contains all the unique shopping spots to find Italian made crafts.
  5. Murano glass earnings: world renowned Venetian glassmaker.
  6. Fendi perfumes: this colossal Italian fashion house produces my favourite fragrances.
  7. Monogrammed passport holder: where I basically tuck all my travel documents and cash.
  8. An elephant key chain and green crab toy: mementos from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
  9. Postcards from the places I’ve visited: I always send a couple of postcards to my closest family and friends.

They Packed For Italy…

Milan – Principe di Savoia

For designers, there’s nothing more fitting that starting a trip through Italy in its fashion capital – Milan. Incidentally, flying into Milan from Asia is often much cheaper that flying into other European capitals.

The Principe di Savoia is located in the heart of the city, right on Milan’s Piazza della Repubblica. The Milanese hotel favoured by international guests since the 1920s is a landmark, particularly to Milan Fashion Week goers who take to the hotel’s popular Principe Bar, designed by famed architect Thierry Despont, like elephants to water.

Like Alberto, the hotel’s luxury rooms are clad in the finest Italian fabrics. If you’re able to splurge, book a Signature Suite. Depending on the suite you choose, you could end up staring into a beautiful Murano glass mirror while brushing you teeth every morning or taking an evening dip in your suite’s very own swimming pool!

Milan

Anna with her morning espresso in the hotel’s lobby restaurant. Photos courtesy of Principe di Savoia.

Stay the Night!

Sirimione – Villa Cortine Palace Hotel

With a name that includes both “Palace” and “Villa”, it’s no surprise that Villa Cortine Palace Hotel is Sirimione’s top rated 5-star hotel. Alberto and Anna booked way in advance to secure their room as the hotel is only open to guests in spring and summer.

Given its exclusive hilltop, private park, address, with unmatched views of Lake Garda, our very troubled child couldn’t help but feel like Italian aristocracy during his stay. Aristocrats can even bring their aristocats and dogs – a dog sitter is available upon request.

If you’re into architectural style (if you aren’t, you sure will be after a trip to Italy) you’ll want to know that the hotel’s rooms are divided between the original 18th Palladian Villa and an attached, 50’s-era building. Whether in the old or newer building, all rooms have Venetian glass chandeliers, parquet floors, and views of the Lake Garda.

Sirimione

Photos courtesy of Villa Cortine Palace Hotel.

Stay the Night!

Venice – The Westin Europa & Regina

The only hotel in the centre of Venice, just steps away from Piazza San Marco, with a selection of breathtaking terraces on the Grand CanalThe Westin Europa & Regina is where guests come to indulge.

From internationally renowned operas and exhibitions to world-class shopping, satisfying every whim is an element of each daily escape.

In-room spa treatments, the Westin Heavenly Bed, and a selection of thoughtful amenities ensure guests rest easy, restoring both body and mind to meet the offerings of each new day.

The hotel’s restaurant and bar offers around-the-clock gastronomic delights and its grand salons and spacious meeting suites are inspiring work environments in which guests can achieve their best.

Venice

Venetian masked Alberto & Anna in front of the beautiful La Salute church. Photos courtesy of The Westin Europa & Regina.

Stay the Night!

Sicily – Friend’s Apartment

We’re convinced that Caffè Sicilia in Noto has the best ice cream in the world. If your travel motto is “be unique” we recommend tasting either the basil or onion flavoured gelato.

Because not everyone has a friend in Noto like Alberto, a hotel can be a friend indeed to travellers in need. A highly recommended friend hotel in Noto fit for Alberto and Anna is Masseria della Volpe, not only because volpe is Italian for fox and Alberto’s alias is Fantastic Mr. Fox, but because it’s Noto’s top rated hotel. With the distinctive scent of citrus trees found throughout the hotel, guests will feel refreshed long after their day at the spa.

If we were to send you a picture of Masseria della Volpe with “wish you were here” and lipstick kisses printed all over it, the scene depicted in the photo would be, in one word, “Sicilian”. A 19th century Sicilian manor enveloped in orange groves and an olive orchard – it doesn’t get more traditionally Sicilian than that. Well actually it does for guests as they’ll get to enjoy traditional Sicilian sweets, homemade bread, and fresh juice from the orchard during their stay.

Sicily2

A table at Cafe Sicilia.

Stay the Night!

Amalfi Coast – Le Sirenuse Hotel

Le Sirenuse Hotel is Positano’s top 5 star hotel as rated by users on trivago. As with all the other hotels Alberto and Anna stayed at, Le Sirenuse has a character of its own – and the keyword is “family”. Started by four siblings in 1951, the feeling of home is as apparent at today’s hotel as it was a half-century ago even though, since then, it’s grown to become an internationally renowned luxury resort. Each of the Sersale brothers and their sister left a mark on the hotel. The charming interior design is, for instance, the work of the Sersale’s artistic brother, Franco.

Great American writer, John Steinbeck, stayed at Le Sirenuse in the 1950s and, as great writers do, described the village of Positano in his writing:

Nearly always when you find a place as beautiful as Positano, your impulse is to conceal it. You think, “If I tell, it will be crowded with tourists and they will ruin it, turn it into a honky-tonk and then the local people will get touristy and there’s your lovely place gone to hell”. There isn’t the slightest chance of this in Positano. In the first place there is no room. There are about two thousand inhabitants in Positano and there is room for about five hundred visitors, no more. The cliffs are all taken. Except for the half ruinous houses very high up, all space is utilized. And the Positanese invariably refuse to sell. They are curious people. I will go into that later.

If you’re travelling as two, like our trendsetting duo, be sure to reserve a table at Le Sirenuse’s La Sponda Restaurant – the most romantic place in Positano and one of the most famous restaurants on the Amalfi Coast.

Positano

La Sponda Restaurant. Photos courtesy of Le Sirenuse Hotel.

Stay the Night!

Capri – Hotel La Scalinatella

Repeat guests have nicknamed the hotel Bella Scalinatella (beautiful stairway) owing to the fact it’s located on a pathway known as Via Tragara. They’ve also given it rave reviews, commending the staff’s professionalism and courteousness, and the hotel’s superb location. Hotel La Scalinatella is situated overlooking Capri’s impressive Faraglioni (vertical columns of rock in the sea).

A boutique hotel with thirty bedrooms, La Scalinatella is the smallest accomodation in terms of capacity that Alberto and Anna stayed at on their tour de Italy. With two large swimming pools and just a handful of guests, the luxury hotel is the perfect romantic getaway as guests have the privacy to enjoy their partner’s company to the fullest. And with in-room whirlpools couples are bound to enjoy come rain, shine, or pool closing time.

Capri

Photos courtesy of Hotel La Scalinatella.

Stay the Night!

So that’s it children (and very troubled children too)! There’s something for the fashionista, the pet lover, the shopaholic, the foodie, the romantic – and for the jet setter it’s all of the above.