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Gino D'Acampo reveals his favourite Italian Escape filming locations: from San Marino to the idyllic Tremiti Islands

The i logo The i 6 days ago Claire Webb
a man standing in front of a body of water © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Gino D'Acampo discovers the Adriatic Coast's classic recipes and azure warm waters in his Italian Coastal Escape series.

Italy's east coast is over 700 miles long, stretching from the Balkan port of Trieste in the north down to the heel of the boot. Most British travellers end up in Venice, but Italian holidaymakers know it has plenty more to offer: pristine white-sand beaches, picture-perfect islands, ancient towns and the world's oldest republic.

             

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D'Acampo, who grew up in Naples, says it was a revelation for him, too.

"To be honest with you, I wasn't very familiar with the Adriatic Coast so I’ve learnt a lot myself," he tells i. "It has everything you expect in Italy: fantastic food, beauty, the people are incredibly friendly."

Possibly because he'd had enough of driving after his macho road trip with Gordon Ramsay and Fred from First Dates, the chef ditched his car in favour of two wheels whenever he could.

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"I went around a lot on a bike, which is an incredible way to discover these little villages and towns. If you go too fast, you’re going to miss these beautiful places, so cycling and walking is the way to do it in Italy. Don't take the car or taxi, rent bikes or Segways."

When is the best to visit? "Spring and autumn: May and June or September and October. In the middle of summer, it's far too hot and it gets very busy – the Adriatic coast is where the Italians go on holiday."

Here are his favourite spots:

San Marino

D'Acampo's favourite town is also one of the world's smallest nations: San Marino, where he met their traditional crossbowmen and whipped up a panettone.

"San Marino is a republic and just magical," says D'Acampo. "They’ve been independent since the 4th century – they are part of Italy but they have their own laws, president, their own way of doing things. It's a very old town in the mountains."

a view of a city © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Why go? Like D'Acampo, most travellers visit San Marino's Unesco-listed capital Citta di San Marino, which dates back to the 13th century. Perched atop a mountain, it offers stunning views of the coastal plains.

The Tremiti Islands

The chef was also seduced by the Tremiti Islands, which are known as the "Pearls of the Adriatic".

"It's just insanely beautiful," he says. "There are no cars and you can walk around the islands very easily. There are a lot of beautiful beaches with little restaurants on. It's very unspoiled - it’s like going back to Italy 50 years ago."

a body of water © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Why go? D'Acampo arrived in style in a helicopter, but there's a cheaper way to get there: the islands are only an hour's ferry ride from the port of Tremoli in the province of Foggia. After you've explored the coves and grottoes, the crystalline azure waters are great for snorkelling and scuba-diving. Only two of the five islands are inhabited: San Domino and San Nicola.

Polignano a Mare

D'Acampo plans to take his family back to Polignano a Mare on holiday, a historic town atop a limestone cliff in Puglia. "The white-washed old town is beautiful and the water is like a swimming pool: crystal clear," he says.

a large body of water © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

"They hold the Red Bull Cliff Diving championships there, and I had the chance to jump from a 15 metre-high rock into the sea. Very scary because I don’t like heights! But very cool."

a person swimming in the water © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

He also recommends hiring a bike. "Puglia is a very flat region, so all the Italians go there to cycle."

Why go? If you don't fancy plummeting off a cliff, its Blue Flag beach is a stunning spot for sunbathing and swimming, while the winding streets of the old town are home to lovely churches. Polignano is also famous for its fabulous ice cream.

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