What other Italian cities and towns off the beaten track do you love? Let us know and we'll publish the best letters here.
TIP OF THE WEEK
NOT THE USUAL SUSPECTS
As a regular traveller to Italy, I am always amazed at how many tourists limit their experience of that fascinating country to just Rome, Florence, Venice and Verona.
I also wonder why the Italian tourism authorities, who lament that these cities are being loved to death, do not work harder at extolling the virtues of so many other cities and towns.
I recently toured Northern Italy by train – a very easy thing to do – and absolutely loved visiting the relatively tourist-starved little cities of Mantua, Modena, Ferrara and Vicenza.
The first three were all once proud little city states and have splendid cathedrals, castles, palaces and magnificent art collections, and you have them mostly to yourself. Other historic northern cities I plan to visit in the future include Cremona, Pavia and Piacenza.
Stephen Doyle, Hepburn Springs, VIC
We contacted a company called Portugal Trails for advice for a two-week independent driving holiday around Portugal.
An immediate response and a questionnaire followed asking for details of our "bucket list" age and fitness level. Within a few days, two or three itineraries arrived with links to hotels for our choice and our final arrangements proved fantastic.
A pick-up at Lisbon airport, a lovely boutique hotel convenient to the main avenue and close to the car-hire pick-up along with a detailed travel kit and a programmed GPS.
We enjoyed guided walking tours in Lisbon, Porto, Evora, Lagos and Sages, wine tastings in Porto and the Duoro Valley, and excellent accommodation in all locations.
A visit to the 700-year old library in the University in Coimbra, suggestions for stops in walled villages and small towns along the way and all programmed into the GPS for a totally stress-free 15 days.
Portugal is the third oldest country in Europe – the history was fascinating, the fresh seafood fantastic and the Portuguese people charming.
Annette Riches, Mosman, NSW
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Margot Pope suggested to say the word "itadakimasu: before the meal in a sushi bar in Japan (Tip-o-meter, February 17) and, true, it's exactly the word, meaning an expression of appreciation for the food one is about to receive.
May I add one more short sentence? It's "gochiso-sama" or "gochiso-sama-deshita", used when one finishes the meal and meaning that you appreciated the meal.
You can use these words even in a restaurant but they are regularly used in a family home, three times a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, before the meal and after.
Aiko Hagiwara, North Turramurra, NSW
DRAWING A CASABLANCA
How fortunate for your reader Roderick Smith (Tip-o-meter, February 17) that Moroccan hospitality can also be found in Tunisia.
Andrew Townsend, Notting Hill, VIC
EDITOR'S NOTE We're checking with Roderick as to whether he had a case of damnesia in Tunisia.
Automatics are less popular in the UK than Australia and so you pay a premium price, especially for higher quality vehicles.
So during a UK visit, I used Sixt car rental's "lucky dip vehicles" and chose from a variety of automatics at Heathrow with a daily rate much less than half the usual price.
These included an A3 Audi Sports, a Mini Countryman and a big Mercedes, all with navigation, which you pay extra for at the time of booking.
It's definitely worth trying if you are on a budget and like driving different cars (remembering that narrow country roads make big cars a challenge).
Tony Danino, Wheelers Hill, VIC
Regarding L. Fagg's tips regarding cruising savings (Tip-o-meter, February 17) I don't know if he/she is a female or male but I do feel sorry for his or her partner, cutting down on coffee and alcohol. And isn't shopping on holidays one of the fun parts of the experience?
Robyn Hansen, Pennant Hills, NSW