Eoin Higgins has three less-travelled, yet top-notch, September destinations and the reasons why you should make a bee-line.
GOOD FARE … The saffron-infused Risotto alla Milanese is a local specialty and a source of great municipal pride. The “King of Risotto”, chef Cesare Battisti, creates one of the city’s best, as well as many other Milanese classics at his restaurant Ratanà.
CULTURE … Up close, the world’s most iconic, copied, parodied and pastiched (from Simpsons
to Sopranos) fresco – Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper – is at once completely familiar and utterly new. milan-museum.com
STYLE … The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the world’s oldest, and most beautiful, shopping malls. Elsewhere, art, fashion and style climax at 10 Corso Como, while the Piazza San Bablia hosts a clutch of high street gems, such as the massive Zara flagship store.
NIGHTLIFE … To hear international jazz names noodle while you dine, tune in to Blue Note Milano; for sophisticated yet energetic nightclubbing, perhaps Cavalli Club is your thing; or, if a more relaxed glamour suits you, the enticing early-1950s restaurant styling at the Dolce & Gabbana Bar Martini should fit like a glove.
BARGAINS GALORE … Vintage magpies should head to one or both local markets: the multicultural Mosson market (Sunday mornings, 6am to 1pm) and the market at Promenade du Peyrou, also on every Sunday (7.30am to 2pm).
GET STUFFED … Montpellier has a lively gastronomic scene (it hosted the infamous MAD Symposium in 2015) exalting the greater region’s super-abundance of perky produce. A good way to discover the best edible and quaffable treats is to join a foodie walking tour (approx €45; vinenvacances.com).
GREAT OUTDOORS … Great beaches aren’t the only reason why you would want to head outdoors here. Beyond the main urban area, the Pic Saint-Loup is a tough but rewarding ascent that yields stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
ARCHITECTURE … Begin at its medieval heart and move outwards, taking in an extraordinary range of architectural fancies, from the Neoclassicism of Ricardo Bofill, to the epically bleeding-edge of Zaha Hadid’s extraordinary Pierresvives building.
TUSCAN GATEWAY … As a base for exploring the surrounding countryside, Pisa is perfectly-appointed for day-trips into the painterly scenery for which Tuscany is famous. Drink in the surreal beauty of the landscape’s poplar copses, rustic farmhouses and undulating hills.
WALK THE WALK … Pisa is ideal for walking and joining a guided stroll is a good way to make the most of the city. From intriguing historical homes, such as Galileo’s, and the building where Shelley wrote his last poem, there are lovely lesser-known streets to ramble along and admire.
CAFÉ CULTURE … Pisans, like most other Italians, love to sit and chat outside. Drinking coffee, nibbling on antipasti while discussing love, life and whoever’s gracing the gossip pages that week is an attractive proposition.
FAB FOLLIES … The stately Pisa cathedral and the opulent baptistry complement the world’s most beautiful architectural failure, but perhaps more impressive is the sight of hundreds of tourists trying to create photographic optical illusions with the eponymous tower.