The vibe: As if Jackie O had never left.
Jewel news: Day-trippers might come for the Blue Grotto, but style-seekers should beeline down a bougainvillea-wreathed alleyway off the tony main drag, Via Camerelle, to find the discreet headquarters of Grazia & Marica Vozza. The Capri-born twins run their namesake jewelry firm, known for its boho luxe designs, from this atelier — Grazia helms creative, while Marica focuses on business. It’s certainly a family affair: Grazia’s daughter Carolina has her own offshoot boutique, Finestre di Luce, a few doors down.
Stay & play: Hole up at the Capri Tiberio Palace, an idyllic retreat far from the crowd-choked town center; it oozes a jet-set-era glamour, thanks to the design hand of Giampiero Panepinto. Head to the Grand Hotel Quisisana for cocktails (no earlier than 8 p.m., though, as this is a laid-back, late-night island) and book supper at Da Paolino, tucked into a grove of headily scented lemon trees.
Milan & Valenza
The vibe: The flash-pack strikes back.
Jewel news: No gem fan should leave Italy without visiting the Piedmont region. Start in Milan, where both Pomellato and Buccellati have flagships. The former, famous for its pioneering use of colored stones, is on Via San Pietro all’Orto, while the latter, renowned for textured, tactile pieces, is two blocks away, on the toniest drag, Via Montenapoleone. Charm the staffers enough at either location and you might join other VIPs on tours of their ateliers, too. Drive a short distance from Milan to reach Valenza, a goldsmithing hub also on the River Po. There, jewelry-lovers can join a two-day guided tour hosted by Pasquale Bruni’s creative director, Eugenia (pairing workshop visits with gourmet dinners) or visit Vhernier, the newest gem in this century-old mecca, which focuses on unconventional designs.
Stay & play: Billionaire investors-turned-hoteliers Alex and Carrie Vik have just imported their expertise in art-heavy luxe retreats from South America to Europe. Their first spot on the continent is Milan, where 90-room Galleria Vik Milano opened this fall inside the historic Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II. Each individually designed suite features site-specific art installations, including an enormous mural in the lobby by Italian artist Alex Folla. Rub shoulders with Milan’s glitterati at the onsite restaurant, Vikissimo.
The vibe: Cradle of the Renaissance, reborn.
Jewel news: Gucci’s whimsical creative director Alessandro Michele had free rein to reimagine its onetime museum here. Michele’s typically unpredictable solution? The Gucci Garden: a three-story temple that’s part museum, part store and part restaurant (the Osteria onsite is run by Michelin fave Massimo Bottura). The project also underlines Gucci’s commitment to the city where it began: a portion of the 8 euro entrance fee is earmarked to support restoration projects around Florence. One of the first contributions, fittingly, was a 2 million euro donation toward the upkeep of the Boboli Gardens, just across the Ponte Vecchio.
Stay & play: The brand new, 38-room Hotel Calimala sits in the onetime Palazzo degli Angeli, a short stroll from every major attraction in the Centro Storico. Designer Alex Meitlis left many brick walls exposed, contrasting them with lush upholstery and mirrored bed frames, while tiling bathrooms in a chevron pattern that echoes nearby church facades. Pop up to the buzzy roof deck for aperitivos, or loll in the hotel’s sexy plunge pool. To refuel, try a riff on the classic bistecca alla Fiorentina T-bone at the new, upscale trattoria Regina Bistecca.
Vicenza & The Veneto
The vibe: La Serenissima rocked with a jolt of fresh energy.
Jewel news: Vicenza has been a jewelry-making mecca since the Middle Ages; today, roughly 10 percent of locals still work in the jewelry business, whether in small ateliers or as part of world-famous brands that began here, notably Marco Bicego and Roberto Coin. Nimble-fingered teens can even swap high school for goldsmithing apprenticeships at the Scuola d’Arte e Mestieri. No wonder, then, that the first museum in Italy dedicated entirely to jewelry, the Museo del Gioiello, is located here, inside the Basilica Palladiana, another masterpiece from Veneto-born architect Andrea Palladio.
Stay & play: Just 40 miles east, make Venice your base, and indulge with a suite at the new Il Palazzo Experimental in the Zattere. The 32-room property, a sister spot to chic hotels in London and Paris, is refreshingly airy and bright — its design swaps familiar Venetian tropes like brocade and gilding for Art Deco touches and a playful, dayglo palate. Gorge on fish at Antiche Carampane, guaranteed to be fresh: proprietor Piera Bortoluzzi doesn’t own a freezer.
The vibe: “Roman Holiday,” 21st-century style.
Jewel news: When Bulgari first arrived in Rome in the early 20th century, it opened a store called the Old Curiosity Shop, aiming to pique the interest of wealthy visiting Brits with a nod to Dickens. More than 100 years later, it now operates the New Curiosity Shop, a quirky concept store selling limited-edition trinkets and offbeat keepsakes on swanky Via Condotti. And Bulgari’s commitment to the city extends beyond retail: The brand funded the superb renovation of the Spanish Steps nearby, a multiyear project that has shored up the landmark for decades to come.
Stay & play: Italian luxury hotel mastermind Sir Rocco Forte has just debuted his newest Roman project: an extensive renovation of the Hotel de la Ville (left), atop those fresh steps, in conjunction with his interior designer sister Olga Polizzi. It now includes a two-story Sicilian-inspired spa and larger rooms with swoon-worthy terraces. Once you’ve checked in, scoot down the steps to the hipster hood of Monti for a cocktail in the bar discreetly tucked in the back of minimalist art gallery Sacripante.
By Mark Ellwood