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Where To Stay in Anacapri - Hotel Al Mulino

Barking dogs and crowing roosters serenaded us on the afternoon we arrived to Hotel Al Mulino through the bougainvillia hedges and grape trellises of Anacapri. The hilly village rising over Italy’s Island of Capri may be Edenic, but all I could think about was the bad night’s sleep that awaited this big city girl.

Thankfully, I was wrong. The restored 19th-century mill owned and managed by Antonietta Viva and her husband is made of sturdy stuff, and once we lowered the heavy blinds, a radio silence descended on our room. The only real noise to disturb us came from CNN on our TV -- and from our chats with Antonietta, whose twinkly-eyed warmth and down-home hospitality alone should earn the three-star establishment a ratings boost.

Al Mulino is a country home wreathed by private gardens and stone facades, and when the sun naps them in gold, you grasp why Mediterranean clichés aren’t worth resisting. The leafy idyllia is not only a salve for sore eyes, its fruit groves supply the fresh orange juice of your breakfast and fig and apricot reinforcements for your day about the island.

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Places to Stay in Sorrento - Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria

Leave it to the Romans, inventors of indoor plumbing and wine, to discover the charms of cliffside Surrentum, at the spur of South Italy’s Sorrento Peninsula. That’s where Ceasar Augustus was said to have built a villa, and that’s where, in 1834, Naples’s Fiorentino family established the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria.

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Where To Stay in Palm Springs - Andreas Hotel & Spa

Enter the Andreas Hotel & Spa in downtown Palm Springs, and you’ll enter three eras. First, theAndreas bamboo garden and earthenware jars will send you time-tumbling to the Native American past. That’s several millennia of mileage before you even reach the front door.

Thirties Spanish Revival will hit you next. A vintage year for the town’s development, 1935 was when the hotel was built, and it’s also about when its ironwork was forged and its bricks were baked. Originally called the Royal Palms Hotel, it soon became one of downtown Palm Springs’ preferred courtyard lodgings.   

On closer inspection, visit one of the hotel’s 25 guest rooms and suites, and you’ll find yourself back to the future. Looking fetchingly photogenic for any architectural magazine close-up, my ground-floor suite contained sleek present tense-references like a marble bathroom and a built-in armoire amid such retro accents as wood ceiling fans, alligator-skin trunks, fireplaces and brocade-covered couches in sepia tones.

The Andreas was renovated in 2004 with such modern touches as flat screen TVs, microwave ovens and oversized Jacuzzis. Its deft fusion of old and new recently got this boutique hotel nominated for a Gold Nugget Award for Architecture and Design.

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Places to Stay in Capri - Hotel La Palma

If you’ve ever seen It Started in Naples, you’ll remember the Isle of Capri as an exotic lair where Sophia Loren lookalikes rollick. Fifty years later, beautiful revelers still steam up the Italian island’s fashionable hotels and bars, and perhaps nowhere more than in Hotel La Palma, the chicest haunt on Vittorio Emanuele II drag.

Capri offers a potpourri of glitz, culture and nature, and at the close of a rigorous day shopping, eating pizza or trekking the bluffs, a glamorous spot to sip grappa and swap boasts may be just what you’re up for. Or a sauna and massage. La Palma runs the gamut.

Despite its central location a Manolo Blahnik hop from the main Piazetta, Capri’s oldest hotel keeps its 74 rooms (66 double and 8 single) intimate and cozy. The frescoed walls take their cue from the airy “voyage-in-Italy” brushstrokes of 19th-century guests who painted in exchange for their lodging at the site’s original “Casa Pagano” inn.

Lively Caprese scenes in equally lively Caprese greens, blues and yellows brightened the interior of my Junior Suite, where you’d half-expect a musical to break out under the faux dome ceiling and arched doorway. The striped closet curtain and majolica floor tooted the same cheery colors, as did the bathroom ceiling and wall frescos. Nearly all of the rooms have a private terrace.

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