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2 May 2013..../Pack your designer sunglasses and this year’s must have swimwear, as some of Italy’s finest hotels have thrown open their doors for the summer season with a host of new cultural experiences. 

Set in the beautiful towns and cities of Venice, Portofino, Ravello, Taormina and Florence, Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. has launched a series of experiences aimed at showing a different side to these much loved destinations. From exploring Amalfi by night, to driving through the wine regions around Venice in a motorbike sidecar or rafting on the Arno River in Florence, each hotel is offering guests new tailored ways to discover Italian classics. 

Hotel Caruso, Ravello – Amalfi By Night 
Set on a verdant cliff-top overlooking the Mediterranean Ocean, night owls staying at Hotel Caruso can uncover the hidden gems of Amalfi on a star-lit guided stroll, away from the crowds when the city is quieter and taking in some of the city’s most memorable sights. The trip starts in true Italian style, on board a Vespa as a driver whisks guests to the tour’s starting point. Once in Amalfi the guide will share legends and anecdotes, while winding through storied medieval streets by foot and stopping on secret terraces to admire the harbour below. The experience concludes with a visit to nearby Atrani, the smallest city in Italy, to toast the night with a cool glass of sparkling Prosecco. 

Nightly rates at Hotel Caruso start from £356, based on two sharing a Village View Double Room with breakfast. The Amalfi By Night experience costs £136 for two people and lasts two and a half hours.

Hotel Cipriani, Venice – Wine Tour By Sidecar
With so many bespoke blends a visit to Italy’s wine country is a must for the to-do list. The iconic Hotel Cipriani can arrange a guided wine tour with a twist to the nearby Collio region, an area that is thickly blanketed by vineyards that are gaining an international reputation for their crisp white wines and tasty red options. This experience is ideal for those visiting Venice for longer periods or who have stayed in the city before. Adding an extra thrill, wine connoisseurs can cruise between tastings on a motorcycle with sidecar while soaking up the surrounding vine-covered hills. The relaxing day is rounded off with a scenic drive through the nearby Carso plateau, the scene of major First World War conflicts, while learning about the region’s dramatic past and how its 2,500 year-old wine making tradition survived and continues to flourish to this day. 

Nightly rates at Hotel Cipriani start from £600, based on two sharing a Double Garden View Room with breakfast. The Collio Wine Tour By Sidecar experience starts from £264 per person, for two people and includes transfers, private guide, motorcycle and sidecar when in Collio and lunch in Michelin starred restaurant ‘La Subida’. For those not wishing to use a motorcycle and sidecar, chauffeur driven transfers between wine tastings can also be arranged. 

Villa San Michele, Florence – Rafting In Florence 
Guests staying at Villa San Michele, a former 15th century monastery with unparalleled views over Florence, can now take in the city’s sights from a thoroughly different perspective. Travelling by raft expert guides will lead adventurers along a 2km urban stretch of the Arno River, passing under the glorious Ponte Vecchio and three more magnificent bridges that cross the city. For a more heart-thumping ride, adrenaline junkies can partake in a full day excursion to the Sieve River, a tributary to the Arno. Here it is possible to take in the stunning natural wonders of Tuscany before speeding through the rapids. Afterwards rafters can relax with a dip in the crystalline waters of the Sieve and a delicious picnic on the rivers verdant shore. 

Nightly rates at Villa San Michele start from £513, based on two sharing a Classic Double Room with breakfast. The Rafting in Florence experience starts from £68 per person. A minimum of four people is required. 

Hotel Splendido, Portofino – Up and Down Tour of Genoa 
Located 45 minutes away from the glamorous Hotel Splendido, Genoa is a buzzing vibrant city and a popular day trip from the property. For a more unusual experience, Hotel Splendido can arrange for guests to visit two extremes, some of the most spectacular rooftops and some of the most fascinating underground buildings in Genoa. The buildings in this UNESCO-protected city were built so close together that in some places their roofs gently touch and lean on each other for support. The tour includes a stopover at the dramatic terrace of Palazzo Rosso, which is normally closed to the public and where it is possible to have full views of the city and also the Museum of the Treasure of San Lorenzo, which located underneath San Lorenzo Cathedral is one of the city’s best kept secrets. One of many high points in the day is a ride in the Montegalletto Elevator, built in 1929 it is a remarkable lift which starts off horizontal and then turns vertical, creating a totally fascinating journey. 

Nightly rates at Hotel Splendido start from £394, based on two sharing a Garden View Room with breakfast. The Up and Down Tour of Genoa tour starts from £187 per person for a full day or £119 per person for a half day. 

Grand Hotel Timeo & Villa Sant’Andrea, Taormina – Chocolate Making in Modica 
Sicilian Baroque architecture abounds in the beautiful historical town of Modica, in Southern Sicily. An easy day trip from Grand Hotel Timeo and Villa Sant’Andrea, Modica makes an interesting alternative for those looking to explore further than the quaint town of Taormina where the properties are located. Following a guided tour of the city, guests are taken to renowned Sicilian chocolate shop ‘Antica Dolceria Bonajuto’ where the owner proudly presents home-made chocolates that have been made lovingly by six generations of the family. Here he teaches antique Aztec techniques and recipes for making chocolate brought to the island by Spanish conquistadors when Sicily was under Spanish rule in the 15th and 16th Centuries and that are still in use today.  

Nightly rates at Grand Hotel Timeo start from £490, based on two sharing a Double Classic room or at Villa Sant’Andrea start from £480 based on two sharing a Double Classic Room with breakfast. The Chocolate Making in Modica experience lasts 8 hours and starts from £366 including transfers, guided tour and chocolate making.

The above hotels and experiences can be booked by visiting www.orient-express.com or by calling the Orient-Express Hotel Ltd. reservations team on 0845 077 2222. All prices are converted from Euros and may vary. 

- Ends –

About Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. 

Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. is a luxury hotel company and sophisticated adventure travel operator which seeks to deliver memorable experiences that are the ultimate expression of each destination's authentic culture.   The Company has offered exceptional luxury travel experiences since 1976, when it purchased Hotel Cipriani in Venice and then shortly thereafter recreated the celebrated Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, linking London, Paris and Venice, along with other European cities.   Today the Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. brand embraces 46 hotel, cruise and luxury rail businesses in 22 countries, including distinctive properties such as Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Grand Hotel Europe in St Petersburg, Hotel Ritz Madrid, Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro and Maroma Resort and Spa on Mexico’s Riviera Maya.  The Company also operates six luxury tourist trains, three river cruise operations and one of New York’s most iconic restaurants.  www.orient-express.com

For further information, please contact Sara Mirza or Emily Wilson at Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. on 0203 117 1376 or Sara.mirza@orient-express.com, Emily.wilson@orient-express.com

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