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Aløft

There's nothing new about Nordic interiors - blond timbers, concrete surfaces, warm, mid-century charm without the twee - and thank heavens for that. It's a style that augments the beauty of everything around it, in this case, gorgeous Hobart harbour, which makes up one whole wall. What is new here, however, is the food - by veterans of Garagistes, which once dazzled diners down the road, Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Gordon Ramsay worldwide. There's a strong Asian bent, but with Tasmanian ingredients. In fact, the kitchen's love of the local verges on obsessive - coconut milk in an aromatic fish curry is replaced with Tasmanian-grown fig leaf simmered in cream to mimic the flavour. Other standouts include a gutsy red-braised lamb with gai lan and chewy cassia spaetzle, pigs' ears zingy with Sichuan pepper and a fresh, springy berry dessert. While the food is sourced locally, the generous wine list spans the planet. 

Secret Tuscany

A far cry from Tuscany’s familiar gently rolling hills, Monte Argentario’s appealing mix of mountain, ocean, island and lagoon makes it one of Italy’s hidden treasures, writes Emiko Davies.

Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

Discovering Macedonia

Like its oft-disputed name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia defies simple definition but its rich diversity extends from the dinner table to the welcoming locals, writes Richard Cooke.

Grilled apricot salad with jamon and Manchego

Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

What to eat, drink and do in Versilia

Forte dei Marme beach

Forte dei Marme beach

The ultimate guide to exploring the region of Versilia, Italy, including what to do and where to stay, eat and shop.

The home of the great composer, Versilia could be Italy's best kept secret. This is our guide to Tuscany's northern resort region, filled with natural beauty, beaches, and elegant seafood restaurants.

GETTING THERE

The nearest international airport to the region is in Pisa, 25 kilometres south of Viareggio. The Versilia district is easy to reach by car or train from Rome, Florence, Genoa and Milan. The autostrada A12 runs parallel to the coast, just a couple of kilometres inland.

STAY

Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte

Prestige, class and refinement are rolled into one in an elegant Liberty palazzo on the Viareggio promenade. Be sure to book at its two-star restaurant, Il Piccolo Principe.

Piazza Giacomo Puccini 1, 55049 Viareggio, +39 058 44 011, slh.com

Hotel Plaza e de Russie

Relive the atmosphere of the Grand Tour in the oldest luxury hotel in town.

Piazza Massimo D'Azeglio 1, 55049 Viareggio, +39 058 444 449, plazaederussie.com

Locanda Le Monache

A recently restored hotel-restaurant adjacent to a 16th-century convent in the old town centre.

Piazza XXIX Maggio 36, 55041 Camaiore, +39 058 49 89258, www.lemonache.com

Hotel Club I Pini

A charming hotel in an Art Nouveau mansion just 200 metres from the beach.

Via Roma 43, 55041 Lido di Camaiore, +39 058 46 6103, clubipini.com

Albergo Pietrasanta

Hotel-meets-art gallery with an extraordinary collection of modern and contemporary Italian paintings in guestrooms and public spaces.

Palazzo Barsanti Bonetti, Via Garibaldi 35, 55045 Pietrasanta, +39 058 47 93726, albergopietrasanta.com

EAT

Trattoria Buonamico

Likely the oldest seafood restaurant in Viareggio. Don't miss the baby cuttlefish with polenta and the cacciucco.

Via Sant'Andrea 27, 55049 Viareggio, +39 058 49 43266, trattoriabuonamico.it

Da Romano

This elegant seafood restaurant is much favoured by pioneers of Italy's Slow Food and Gambero Rosso gastronomic movements.

Via Giuseppe Mazzini 122, 55049 Viareggio, +39 058 43 1382, romanoristorante.it

Trattoria La Darsena

Fine traditional Viareggio fare.

Via Virgilio 150, 55049 Viareggio, +39 058 43 92785, trattorialadarsena.it

Osteria Barsanti 54

This pleasant historic osteria is the place to sample typical local dishes, especially inland specialties such as tordelli and zuppa Lucchese.

Via Padre Eugenio Barsanti 52-54, 55045 Pietrasanta, +39 058 47 15114, osteriabarsanti54.com

Da Lorenzo

Habitués claim this restaurant serves the best fish in Italy. In the words of its owner, Lorenzo Viani, "A fish has 24 virtues, but loses one with each hour that passes."

Via Giosuè Carducci 61, 55042 Forte dei Marmi, +39 058 48 74030, ristorantelorenzo.com

SHOP

Mercato del Forte

With craft, pottery, objets d'art, napery and designer fashion, Forte dei Marmi's Wednesday morning market is tantamount to Milan by the sea.

DO

Parco di Migliarino, San Rossore, Massaciuccoli

This nature park, which spreads south from Lake Massaciuccoli, spans wetlands and Mediterranean scrub, and features Roman ruins, baths and a museum of antiquities.

+39 050 53 9111, parcosanrossore.org

Festival Pucciniano

The annual summer festival in Torre del Lago is dedicated to the operas of Puccini. You can also visit the villa where the great man wrote them.

+39 058 43 59322, puccinifestival.it/en/

Carnevale di Viareggio

Without doubt, Italy's most rowdy but good-natured "politicised" carnival.

+39 058 45 8071, viareggio.ilcarnevale.com

For more information, see our gallery or read John Iriving's feature on Versilia.

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