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Inhabit History: Staying in an 11th Century Benedictine Abbey in Italy

January 28th, 2014 by

Relais della RovereThere aren’t many opportunities to sleep in the former home of a Pope. But on three of our tours, you’ll have exactly that opportunity to literally step into history by spending nights at an 11th Century Benedictine Abbey that was once the residence of Cardinal Della Rovere, who would go on to be named Pope Julius II—the Pope who commissioned the artist Michelangelo to create the famous painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The Relais Della Rovere comprises three buildings, the Benedictine convent that was built in the 1100s, a Renaissance villa built in the 1400s, a farmhouse built in the 1800s, as well as a courtyard between the convent and the villa. The transformation of the historic buildings into a modern hotel provide for a charming contrast of old and new, past and present. You’ll walk the wide halls and note historic details, including exposed brick and beams, and you’ll also enjoy all the modern luxuries. The grounds of the hotel are just as charming, and provide ample opportunity for strolling and enjoying the Italian countryside, or for quiet contemplation.

Several of our tours include stops at the Relais Della Rovere, including:

Classic Chianti Cycling

Relais della Rovere2This tour provides the best of both worlds in Italian cycling tours: On this 10-day holiday, you’ll have the chance to explore classic Italian cities and scenic and charming Tuscan countryside. Just picture yourself exploring cobbled streets and discovering hidden town squares, cycling through the olive grove-dotted countryside from one historic village to another, and with the opportunity to check out the medieval city of Siena, as well as Florence, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. On this trip, you’ll spend four nights in the Relais della Rovere, which will give you plenty of time to enjoy the property, including the pool and gardens.

Volterra to San Gimignano Walk

Relais della Rovere1There is nothing like the rolling hills of Tuscany. This walking tour lets you explore the Etruscan trails through breathtakingly scenic vineyards, forests and countryside dotted with olive groves among sun drenched hills, as well as hamlets and medieval villages.  The self-guided hotel-to-hotel tour begins and ends in Volterra, a city that’s been inhabited as a city continuously since the 8th century BC. In addition to your two nights at the Relaise della Rovere, you’ll also have the chance to get in touch with history with optional city breaks in Pisa, Siena, or Florence.

Two Catalan Trips, One Magnificent Castle

January 23rd, 2014 by

Hotel Castell d'Emporda1

Have you ever dreamed of spending the night in a centuries-old castle? On two of our favorite trips in Catalonia, you can do just that, at the spectacular Hotel Castell d’Emporda, a 14th Century Gothic castle that has been lovingly restored and updated into a truly romantic luxury hotel.

The castle has a rich history: The first documents that mention the castle date to 1301. In 1600, the chapel of Maria del Remei was built adjacent to the castle, a holy site that is still host to pilgrims every year. In 1973, the famous artist Salvador Dalí tried to purchase the castle for his wife, Gala, but the owner refused to take art as payment. The castle was eventually abandoned until a Dutch couple, Albert Diks and Margo Vereijken, purchased it in 1999.

Today, the lovingly restored castle has a unique air of sophistication touched with old-world charm and utter romance. The hotel, situated on the top of an outcropping and providing stunning panoramic views, as well as a trendy bar, fabulous restaurant and gorgeous pool, is one of the most popular hotels among all of the tours we offer. You may not want to leave—which is natural, and it’s why we offer extended nights on our trips.

Stays in the Hotel Castell d’Emporda are offered on two of our popular tours:

Contrasts of Catalunya Cycling

Catalunya cyclingThis seven day, six night trip is an excellent choice for those on their first cycling trip, as most of the travel is along nearly traffic-free roads. And in addition to the stay at the romantic castle, you’ll also have the opportunity to explore traditional Spanish fishing ports, gorgeous sunny villages and sandy beaches. You’ll ride through fruit orchards and coastal paths, as well as sun-dappled olive groves. It provides a perfect combination of fashionable and historic Catalunya—an absolutely unforgettable trip.

Catalan Classic Walk

Calella de PalagrugellseasideThis walking tour is one of the most popular trips we offer, and for good reason! You’ll start off by walking along the most picturesque coast of Spain, regularly catching sight of crystalline aquamarine waters through the pines. When you head inland, you’ll be amazed at the plethora of plant and animal life, including rare birds such as golden orioles and booted eagles.  The walking is truly spectacular—though not incredibly difficult—and the places you’ll stay are truly special, including, of course, the gorgeous Hotel Castell d’Emporda. Throughout the trip, you’ll be surrounded by scenery and history that’s simply breath-taking.

Foodie Alert: Dine at Michelin-Starred Restaurants on these Amazing Tours

January 14th, 2014 by


If you’re the kind of traveler who can say how many Michelin stars you’ve had, or even if you’re the kind of traveler looking to get your first Michelin stars under your belt, then certainly no trip to Europe would be complete without a stopover at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

A little background for those not in the know: The Michelin Guide is a more than 100-year old travel guide produced by the Michelin tire company (initially as a way to sell tourists on driving the countryside, and with a focus on hotels). Today, the Michelin ratings system is the most respected guide to food in the world, with restaurants sometimes catapulting into success by having been given one (“a very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard”), two (“excellent cuisine, skillfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality”) or three stars (“diners eat extremely well, often superbly. Distinctive dishes are precisely executed, using superlative ingredients.)Mas Pau at Avinyonet

Here at Breakaway Adventures, we offer several opportunities for our travelers to dine in a Michelin-starred restaurant. Here are three that are highly recommended—and be sure to plan carefully, as reservations are sometimes difficult, and restaurants may not be open every day of the week:

On this popular cycling holiday, you’ll travel the wine route through the infamous Alsace region of France, pedaling through scenic orchards, vineyards, picturesque countryside and quaint villages. And while you’re in the medieval community of Rouffach, nestled along the Lauch River, you can also dine in chef Phillippe Bohrer’s restaurant at the Hostellerie a la Ville d Lyon.

According to the Michelin guide, “This handsome regional abode is steeped in bourgeois, countrified elegance. It is ideal to sample gourmet cuisine accompanied by fine, mainly local, vintages.”Villa d'Amelia Gastronomic Restaurant

While much of Italy is often crawling with tourists throughout the year, this walking holiday takes you to a more undiscovered portion of the country, in the tranquil northwest corner.

You begin your trip at the Relais Villa d’Amelia in Benevello, which includes a Michelin-starred restaurant headed by Damiano Nigro, “a rising star of the contemporary Italian Gastronomy.” A simple trip through the tasting menu will make your mouth water, from braised beef with soft polenta, to combinations that send your imagination reeling, such as “Poached scampi of Sicily, water-weeds powder, beetroot, liquid beet, ricotta cheese and horseradish sauce.”

If you like the idea of a sun-dappled, independent cycling tour along the Spanish coast steeped with history, gorgeous views, and truly outstanding food (and who wouldn’t?) this is the trip for you. You’ll have the opportunity to explore battlefields, cathedrals, and the ruins of castles, as well as the chance to dine at Mas Pau at Avinyonet de Puigventos, a hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant in a country home dating from the Sixteenth Century. The food is indicative of the region, with careful attention paid to the classic flavors of the Spanish countryside.

Any of these trips provide amazing dining opportunities, and of course when you’re on a cycling or walking holiday, you can enjoy the food with none of the guilt, as you’ll build up an honest appetite!

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