With the frenetic pace of life, many of us yearn to pop on the out-of-office, pack a case, grab our passports and jet off to sunnier climes. But with the internet churning out an endless supply of villas in dreamy destinations, booking a holiday can be bamboozling. What we need is a friendly independent company specialising in handpicked holiday accommodation for discerning travellers. . . allow us to introduce the award-winning team at Essential Italy in Cambridge. Headed up by seasoned travellers - sister and brother Helen Forbes and Ian Styan, who work from a courtyard office, off Sturton Street - and Sardinian-based Sarah Sharland, Essential Italy are experts at bespoke holidays in beautiful locations. Whether you hanker after a converted convent in Puglia, a pretty white-washed Sardinian villa, or a classic Tuscan farmhouse for your extended family, these guys can make it happen.
Essential Italy started in 2000, after romance took Ian to Italy, where he worked in Florence for a travel company specialising in villas. When the business got taken over, some property owners were unhappy so enlisted Ian’s help. Helen pitched in, putting up posters advertising the Tuscan villas. They were soon snapped up, and demand grew, so Helen’s husband Malcolm set up a website, and the company was born.
Now specialising in Tuscany, Sicily, Umbria, Puglia and Sardinia, Essential Italy have 400 villas, plus apartments and boutique hotels, and boast super-knowledgeable representatives on the ground. The service they provide is first class; if you need advice on local restaurants, cookery courses, beaches, daytrips, or even help to transport home a stray cat (this actually happened), they will sort it.
So, if the thought of jetting off to marvel at world-famous art in Siena, visit Umbria’s enchanting medieval towns or bathe in Sicily’s azure waters sounds appealing, you know who to call!
The Courtyard, 17d, Sturton Street
Tel: 01223 460100