Try these new insider experiences when you return to Italy

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It’s hard enough to fit in Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana, the master chef’s 12 table restaurant in Modena recognized as one of the best, if not the best, in the world. Next week, bookings for the table will open next February. So how much better would it be to have him cook for you in a private dinner aboard a yacht.

Travelers returning to Italy now that the country’s borders are open not only want to visit favorite places again, they also want experiences that were previously out of reach. Fortunately, some of the most famous names in Italian art and culture are willing to give them after this two-year travel absence, open doors that were previously closed or give private access to new discoveries.

If you are staying on the Amalfi Coast Monastero Santa Rosa, the hotel will put together a private visit to the ruins of Pompeii, including the new finds of a ceremonial carriage and erotic fresco discovered last year. To complement this experience, the hotel also includes lunch at a winery near Pompeii overlooking Mt. Vesuvius, a Pompeii-themed spa treatment with a Vesuvian stone massage or volcanic clay body and a dinner at the Michelin-starred Il Refettorio restaurant, which offers a menu that reflects the era when Pompeii was a thriving city. (Do not expect tomatoes despite the hotel’s location in southern Italy; tomatoes were not in use in the century.)


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The bespoke travel company Embark Beyond also has a special visit to Pompeii, involving private access to areas of the Old City and the Herculaneum, which is usually closed to the public. But that’s just one of the options in the new Insider Italy portfolio. Gastronomic experiences range from the Massimo Bottura yacht dinner offered in conjunction with Tuscany’s lavish Hotel Borgo Santo Pietro, to another lunch experience aboard the Hotel Principe dei Marmi’s yacht in front of the Cinque Terre prepared by Michelin chef Valentino Cassanelli, exclusive use of the island of Isola Bella in Lago Maggiore for a private dinner at Villa e Palazzo Aminta and cooking classes with several Michelin-starred chefs.

Fashion’s exclusive houses also open their doors. Among the options, guests can experience a private fashion show in Versace; visit the studio in Ferragamo and go on a private shopping experience in Florence with Tina Ferragamo or visit Pucci Palace for lunch with Emilio Pucci’s daughter Laudomio and a look at the design archives.

More active adventures are also possible. Guests can walk inside the Maserati factory and take one of the cars for a quick spin around the Varano de’Melegari track or hone on football skills with Gianluca Zambrotta, a former pro player and World Cup winner with the Italian national team. And fans of the art also have exclusive choices, including an invitation to the gala dinner at the Venice Biennale and a private art tour of Rome with contemporary gallery Galleria Continua owner Lorenzo Fiaschi. But the crowning experience may be a private concert by the famous tenor Andrea Bocelli, taking place in his Forte dei Marmi home, an experience that may be worth returning to Italy alone.

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