Last updated: 05:30 PM ET, Thu August 18 2016

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  • Su-Jit Lin-DeSimone | August 18, 2016 5:30 PM ET

    7 Underrated, Astounding European Destinations for 2017: Part 1

    7 Underrated, Astounding European Destinations for 2017: Part 1

    PHOTO: Gritty and gorgeous, beautiful with an edge — the neighborhoods of Naples are guaranteed to excite. (photo by Su-Jit Lin)

    Although Travel Impressions’ 200-plus destinations cover most of the best-known places in the world, our portfolio also offers luxurious and unique accommodations just slightly out of the main center of the action as well, for a more authentic experience. Neighboring famous counterparts, these two destinations create fantastic jumping-off points for other nearby cities.

    Here are the first two in the series of 7 Underrated & Utterly Astounding European Destinations for 2017:

    7. Cannes, France

    You know how Manhattan has the Hamptons for summer socialites? I imagine that Cannes is kind of Paris’s similar counterpart, but with much better weather than New York and a much deeper history. It’s as famous as the stars that visit for its renowned international film festival, but when I was there, I realized it was so much more than its glittery surface.

    Many bypass this port city for its beachier counterpart Nice or the old-age glamor of Monte Carlo, Monaco, but believe you me, this town is worth a stay beyond red carpet season.

    There are a few reasons why I loved this city, but those can all be summed up with a one-word activity: ogling.

    There’s just so much visual splendor to take in here, and I’m talking beyond the beauty of being in the French Riviera.

    READ MORE: 7 Underrated, Astounding European Destinations for 2017: Introduction

    The pastries and macarons at Jean-Luc Pele, nothing short of sheer artistry. The grand hotels of the Promenade de la Croisette and the 19th century grand villas — awe-inspiring with such a sense of deep-rooted age. The massive, multi-hundred-foot-long yachts that fill the harbor. The beautiful people that fill the beaches. Even the views to and from the haunt of the Man in the Iron Mask, just offshore, make you wonder if he was better or worse off being imprisoned with such beauty beckoning.

    Pro Tip: Take the darling Little Train for a cute and cheap tour of the city and the narrow streets of Old Town, plus views from on high at the Notre Dame d’Esperance cathedral on the extended version.

    6. Naples, Italy

    Naples is the rebellious punk cousin of the refined Amalfi Coast. Idyllic and beautiful, quiet and ladylike, the cities of Sorrento, Positano, Capri, Amalfi and the other charming citrus-scented destinations tend to attract well-heeled travelers looking for elegance in Campania. Perhaps it’s because of this contrast that Naples has suffered some minor stains upon its honor, but from my personal experience, it’s undeserved. To me, this gorgeous, scrappy, old and unique city is one of the most fascinating in Italy.

    With an increasing emphasis on authenticity in travel, it’s hard to get more immersive than a stay in Italy’s third-largest city.

    I was beguiled by the nonnas yelling through open Dutch doors and across cobblestoned alleyways to each other. I was intrigued by streets made suddenly un-traversable by scooter or car due to a sudden drop-off into a stairwell that led down to another street. I was delighted by the old-school flapping of laundry on clotheslines that were slung between buildings.

    This was the Italy I came to see — a little loud, a little chaotic, but huge in local color. Round off this time-capsule experience with a run along the gorgeous harborfront around the Bay of Naples, a break to watch Mt. Vesuvius belch in the background, and a finish-line authentic Neapolitan pizza greedily ravaged on a crooked sidewalk, and you’ll feel, too, that the typified Italy of your imagination is real after all.

    Pro Tip: Obviously, you can’t visit Naples without having an original pizza. In fact, its process, taste, and texture is so special that it’s protected by a designated association created just to verify its authenticity. Thin-crusted, domed wood-fire oven-baked, and topped with fresh basil, only one (or some) of three approved varieties of fresh tomatoes, and certified buffalo mozzarella, the Margherita is the classic. Signs of a great pie include plentiful bubbles and some charred spots. But eat it quick! The center gets soggy otherwise.

    Next up: Budapest, Barcelona, Galway, Chania, and Taormina.


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Su-Jit Lin-DeSimone Making Lasting Impressions

Su-Jit Lin-DeSimone With experience in both advertising/marketing copywriting and editorial journalism, multiple-award-winning writer Su-Jit Lin-DeSimone’s passion for words is exceeded only by her love of travel. As communications manager for Travel Impressions, she uses that diverse background to create a unique bridge between marketing and storytelling, whether it’s used to share her excitement for Travel Impressions’ latest deals and agent-oriented programs and incentives or for new destinations and suppliers that inspire.
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