European secrets

We are the sum of our experiences. The more experiences we have, the greater we become. This is why we travel: to witness scenes different to our daily lives, to meet compelling characters in unfamiliar landscapes, and to discover the wonder to be found in the smallest of things. These pleasures may have felt a world away in the last year, but soon they will be within reach once again. There are secrets to be discovered, horizons to expand.

Aman Venice, Italy

Hidden corners of Venice

To walk the streets of Venice is to travel through time. Architectural styles from different eras whisper stories of the past, sending curious minds on flights of imagination.

Artisans such as the Bevilacqua family, with their 500-year history of silk weaving, and the Orsonis, who produce artistic mosaics in gold and glass have been using techniques unchanged since 1888.

Aman Venice guests are exclusively invited to step inside these historic ateliers on a specially developed Artisan Tour with a knowledgeable guide whose tales and insights bring the talents and secrets of these master craftsmen to life.

Aman Venice has its secrets, too. Even the smallest details of the palazzo can unlock human stories from across the centuries. It’s easy to walk past the lantern in the lobby without a second thought, but those who take the time to find out will discover that this artefact is a survivor of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 – the largest-scale naval conflict in history – when it stood on the deck of Admiral Coccina’s warship.

He kept it as a memento, and brought it home to his palazzo, where it stands today. An afternoon spent exploring Aman Venice is as eye-opening as exploring the city itself. Discover the secret self-portrait concealed in the wall of the Blue Room, and the stone bee on the fireplace of the Brustolon Room — details that, for generations, the Arrivabene family have touched to bring luck.

 

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AMAN SVETI STEFAN, MONTENEGRO

Aman Sveti Stefan Gallery Aman Sveti Stefan

Natural wonders of Montenegro

Although one of the smaller countries in Europe, Montenegro manages to fit 117 beaches along its short coastline, as well as a startling inland landscape of glacial lakes and rugged limestone peaks. For many travellers, such beauty and serenity is restorative – whether gazing across Kotor Bay and the Adriatic horizon from the mountaintop, or picnicking in a pine forest glade, it can feel as though the entire country is a secret shared only with you.

The Montenegrin landscape is said to be too varied to take in at once — the closest one can come to doing so is from the sky. From a helicopter, one can enjoy a bird’s-eye view – akin, perhaps, to that of the resident Dalmatian pelicans as they soar over the water. Seen from high above like this, the bays and beaches, mountainside monasteries, medieval villages and great swathes of forest cannot fail to inspire a sense of awe, and instil a fresh perspective on the planet. Guests of Aman Sveti Stefan are invited to take to the air, with a range of route options lasting 30 minutes or more.
 

AMANZOE, GREECE

Journeys to the dawn of humanity

The history of humanity is woven into the Peloponnese. The region around Amanzoe is full of ancient secrets. In the Franchthi Cave, overlooking Kiladha Bay, for example, traces have been found that date the cave’s human history as far back as the Palaeolithic era, 38,000 BCE – making it one of the world’s oldest places of human settlement.

 

An hour away, the Asclepeion at Epidaurus was the most important centre of medicine in the Classical world. The sick would come from afar to spend the night in the temple’s enkoimeteria, a special dormitory where, the Greeks believed, the healer god Asclepius would visit them in their dreams to diagnose their ailments and offer guidance on the path back to good health. 
 

The hiking trails of the Peloponnese are extraordinarily beautiful but, with minimal official signage, difficult to navigate without experience. Amanzoe’s seasoned guides escort guests to some of the most astonishing viewpoints by off-the-beaten-path routes. Follow the riverbeds and an ancient Roman aqueduct to picturesque Fourni Village; discover the legendary Katafiki Gorge, taking in historic mountain churches en route; and hike the pine forests of the Bisti Peninsula, stopping for a swim in the crystal sea, and to spy the ruins of temples to the gods Athena and Poseidon.

 

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AMANRUYA, TURKEY

The atmosphere of the Bodrum Peninsula makes stress slip away from the moment of arrival. Those who live here seem privy to a secret that many can go their entire lives without discovering: how to live the good life, slow and satisfied, aware of and inspired by the beauty of the landscape and the serenity of the sea. Amanruya is in tune with this distinctly laidback lifestyle, creating space to bring the simplest of pleasures into sharp focus.

Slow down and set sail

One of the greatest delights of the Bodrum coast is time spent on the sea. Stop for a swim in the balmy turquoise waters of Cennet Bay, en route to Küçük Tavsan Adası ('little rabbit island') and Mercan Adası ('red coral island'), both named for what can be seen at each.

 

The waters in the parts are the cleanest and clearest in all of Bodrum, and yet it’s rare to share them with others. At the highest point of Küçük Tavsan, the ruins of the second-century Apostoli Church open a window across the centuries to Bodrum’s medieval past.

ROSA ALPINA, ITALY

Aman Rosa Alpina Pool and spa at Rosa Alpina

The healing heights of the Dolomites

The mountains of South Tyrol are naturally invigorating, blessed with fresh crisp air and inspiring scenery. Here in the Dolomites, where Italy and Austria collide and combine, is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, a region that rewards hikers with trails both manageable and challenging, and with spellbinding vistas at every turn. This is believed to be the birthplace of via ferrata climbing – the ‘iron roads’ of steps, ladders and cables that the adventurous can use to traverse plunging rockfaces and cross from peak to peak.

Alta Badia retreat Rosa Alpina serves as the starting point for hiking and via ferrata expeditions for adventurers of all levels of ability, and directs guests to little-known trails and ferrata routes. The mountain terrain means that many of the Dolomites most spectacular places will remain unseen by all but those with the means to reach them. The vast wall of ice known as ‘the Silver Mirror’ is one of the most astonishing sights in the range – a natural wonder made accessible to Rosa Alpina guests by helicopter, accompanied by a knowledgeable guide.

AMANJENA, MOROCCO

Amanjena, Morocco - Interior Amanjena Gallery Amanjena, Marrakech - Landscape, Mountains

Another world on the doorstep of Europe

A short drive southwest of Marrakech lies Lake Lalla Takerkoust, a beautiful mountain-water reservoir of extraordinary tranquillity, promising an often-welcome change of pace from the dynamic bustle of the medina. On an exclusive day-trip from Amanjena, guests can experience the serene pleasure of a private picnic and yoga session at the lakeside.

The journey to Lalla Takerkoust showcases the astonishing variety to be found in the Moroccan landscape. Beyond the unmistakable fronds of the Palmeraie lies the rugged, snow-capped grandeur of the Atlas Mountains, the sun-baked lunar emptiness of the Agafay Desert, and a sweep of dusty plains dotted with villages and wandered by nomads. 

This exotic, mystical place, seems a world away from the cities of Europe – even though Marrakech is easily and quickly reached from almost every major hub on the Continent.

Morocco is a land of stories, its culture built on a rich oral narrative tradition. For almost 1,000 years, people have gathered around hakawati  (storytellers) in Marrakech’s main square of Jemaa el-Fnaa to hear their tales and take in their wisdom.

Today, there are very few storytellers left, but Amanjena offers a rare chance to hear a master of the ancient craft share his fables. Hajj Ahmed Ezzarghani spent his youth collecting Morocco’s stories, sharing them for more than 50 years since. Join him at Amanjena for a truly memorable storytelling performance – one that very few today have the privilege to witness.

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