Short cuts: the latest travel news and inspiration

Tuscany The writer Iris Origo called Pienza “one of the most perfect Renaissance cities”, and so it remains. Pope Pius II’s idealised 15th-century “new town” is a 90-minute drive from Florence. All it has lacked is an agreeable hotel. On March 23, however, La Bandita Townhouse opens. The Renaissance palazzo and former convent has been turned into a 12-room boutique hotel by former New York music industry executive John Voigtmann, who also owns and runs La Bandita, a rural property in the neighbouring Val d’Orcia. Rates start at €195.

Baden-Baden After 45 years, the Berlin Philharmonic has quit its residency at Salzburg’s Easter Festival to establish a new festival in Baden-Baden (March 20 to April 2), the Black Forest home of Germany’s largest opera house. Tickets, inevitably, are like gold dust but the concierge at Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa, a sister property to the Bristol in Paris and Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc near Antibes, can source practically anything. The hotel is offering two-night packages that include accommodation in a junior suite, dinner, access to its casino and spa, and transport to and from performances. From €1,020pp.

England The South West Coast Path winds 630 miles west from Minehead in Somerset to Land’s End, then east through Cornwall, Devon and Dorset along the length of the Jurassic Coast. The walkers who use it contribute an estimated £300m a year to the local economy. Erosion and heavy rainfall tend to mean it usually suffers two or three “cliff falls” a year but there have been more than 20 such collapses since November 2012. An appeal aiming to raise £250,000 has been launched to ensure the survival of the trail, to which end a series of expertly guided sponsored walks is being organised. To register, visit by March 4. Donations also welcome.

Côte d’Azur Even the one per cent are renting out holiday homes this season. Roman Abramovich has put two of his superyacht fleet on the charter market. Holidays on the world’s largest expedition yacht, the 115m, 11-stateroom Luna, as well as on the 162.5m Eclipse, can be booked through Super Yachts Monaco (prices on application;

The Irish tycoon Michael Maye is also making his Riviera home, Villa Egerton, available to paying guests. His seven-bedroom villa, at which Coco Chanel and Winston Churchill are said to have stayed, has been extravagantly restored, hence its vertiginous rates, which peak at €90,000 a week in July and August, plus €11,000pw if you require staff.

Panama Not quite two years since Donald Trump set a new standard for luxury in Panama City with the opening of the 70-storey Trump Ocean Club International (, Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria brand is hoping to raise the bar yet higher from March 6, when its latest hotel opens in Calle Uruguay, the city’s entertainment district, within sight of the sea and 20 minutes by car from the canal. From $229.

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