Have you ever wanted to let your inner James Bond come out? Experience sophistication and glamour with an exclusive excursion through Italy and southern France behind the wheel of a vintage 1960’s European convertible roadster. That’s la dolce vita! I had a taste of “the sweet life” when I visited fashionable Milan, artistic Florence, and glamorous St. Jean Cap-Ferrat with my partners from the Four Seasons Hotels.
You too can experience La Dolce Vita (and shift into high gear) by driving from city to city in your choice of classic roadsters including a two-seat 1960 Giulietta Spider, 1958 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Cabrio and 1956 Porsche 356 Speedster.
Our La Dolce Vita tour began in the center of Milan’s fashion district with lunch in the buzzy lobby bar of the Four Seasons hotel, a 15th century convent turned into a sophisticated garden retreat. You can sleep under frescoes in high-ceiling rooms as well as watch the local high society ladies who lunch and local business folk who stop in for the atmosphere.
We took in the stunning views of the city while walking the rooftop of the imposing cathedral Duomo di Milano just steps away from modern luxury designer shops.
Lake Como, a leisurely 1 ½ hour drive or even quicker train ride from Milan, makes for a lovely day trip. I recommend a boat tour of the lake with stops for shopping and lunch in the pretty villages.
As we bid adieu to Milan, our hosts surprised us with negroni cocktails, antipasti and a private opera performance in the hotel.
While it would have been a fantastic experience to drive one of the classic roadsters, our schedule didn’t allow for it, so we took the frecciarossa (fast train) to Florence where we spent two nights at the Four Seasons Florence.
The historic art-filled Renaissance Palazzo is separated from the Villa building (a former convent) by an 11-acre private park filled with art and statues. There are not many papal residences where you can sleep, so take advantage of the opportunity here as it was once owned by Pope Leo XI who served only 26 days.
During our brief stay, we took a walking tour of the city and saw the Ponte Vecchio, Duomo Santa Maria Novella, Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard, the Bardini Gardens, and the Laurentian Library where masters (including Michelangelo) studied and honed their crafts.
Our final stop was the chic French Riviera where we stayed at the palatial Grand Hotel du Cap-Ferrat. It has an enviable perch overlooking the Mediterranean and a guest book signed by everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Winston Churchill.
Our exploration of the Riviera included a scenic drive along the coast and visit to the world-renowned Fragonard perfume house, a walk in the quaint hilltop village of Eze, lunch at La Mère Germaine in Villefranche-sur-Mer, and a peek into how the ultra-rich lived in earlier times at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.
The pièce de résistance was a private boat ride from Cap-Ferrat to Monte Carlo for dinner and stroll through the casino.
Experience the art of travel and enjoy a memorable journey driving the scenic roads to one or all three amazing cities in a classic roadster. From buzzy Milan to the inspiring ochre lands of Tuscany to the azure sea of the Mediterranean, you can live your own glamorous La Dolce Vita.