A passionate traveler, Ellen Bettridge is the President and CEO of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, a sister company of Luxury Gold and part of the Travel Corporation family of brands. We caught up with her to find out more on living La Vita Bella in Italy.
Perhaps it’s the incandescent light as the sun begins to set over the hills of Tuscany, the pure pleasure of a seaside lunch with friends in Chioggia, or a walk along the Tiber to reflect on the miracle that is Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Whenever I travel through Italy, I am always reminded of the intention Italians bring to the things that truly matter – beauty and our relationship with those who bring this gift into our lives.
This thought was with me during my recent and decadent trip to Italy, a combination experience that included a chance to partake in a Luxury Gold journey through Rome and Tuscany, a glorious stay aboard Uniworld’s River Countess in Northern Italy and a grand finish on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train that took me and my husband, Jack, from Venice to Paris.
It is hard to imagine a more luxurious way to achieve la vita bella in Italy than through his very special trinity.
In Rome, we especially appreciated the evening we spent with our local EatWith host, Debra, and the delicious, home-cooked Italian meal she prepared and served in her wonderful city-centre apartment. The generosity of such authentic hospitality cannot be replicated and while we shook hands hello, it was hugs all around for the goodbye.
If there is a better way to experience the islands of the Venetian lagoon than onboard The River Countess, I cannot imagine it. She is a gorgeous ship with amazing staff who seem to anticipate what you desire and magically make it so – like the amazing evening of champagne and fireworks we enjoyed during the 440-year-old Festa del Redentore that celebrates the end of the plague in Venice.
We’d all gone to the top deck to watch the festivities and what was an impromptu gathering was made special by the staff who brought out warm wraps for the cool evening, bottles of champagne and yummy retreats. It was an incredible night in this incredible city that I will never forget.
While leaving Venice can break your heart, departing via the stunning Venice Simplon-Orient-Express en route to Paris is an immensely helpful antidote to relieving the sadness. This is the place to watch with wonder the spectacular scenery passing by and happy people enjoying each other. There are few places where one can sit, relish and remember everything that they’ve just experienced, but this is it.