Ask an expert: A drop of Italy

Cinque Terre, is a must-see on an Italian wine-tasting holiday.
Cinque Terre, is a must-see on an Italian wine-tasting holiday.

We're planning on doing the Edinburgh Festival next year and would like to see some of rural Scotland while we're there. Any good tips? - A Dickson

Claire Wallace from Flight Centre Hamilton East grew up in Edinburgh. She shares her top tips of things to do in her homeland.

I am absolutely delighted that you are going to visit my home town - especially during the festival when Edinburgh really comes alive. If you're there at the start of August, be sure to check out some Fringe shows, they often have great deals for tickets as well.

There are some amazing venues to visit in Edinburgh, including The Pleasance - part of Edinburgh University, which isn't usually open to the public. It's a great place to grab a beer or bite to eat, see a comedy show and spot celebrities all at the same time.

One of the best aspects of Edinburgh is that there are so many wonderful places to escape and get away from it all. Calton Hill is a must-see, on a clear sunny day it offers spectacular 360-degree views of the city, including the majestic Edinburgh Castle.

Stroll down to Stockbridge, part of the "new town" built in the late 1800s. It still has a very authentic village feel and the Pizza Express is a great spot to stop and enjoy a bite to eat, overlooking the Water of Leith.

Just a short walk from here, the Water of Leith footpath will take you to the hidden treasure of St Bernard's Well. This is only open to the public during the festival and the ornate decor is well worth checking out.

Not much more than an hour by train from Edinburgh's Waverley Station is North Berwick, a beach town with an awesome fish and chip shop and you can take a trip to Bass Rock by boat to view the seabird sanctuary.

Or travel north across the famous Forth Bridge to a quaint little village named Aberdour, where you can walk part of the Fife Coastal Path or visit Aberdour Castle. The train journey alone is worth the trip.

Depending on how much time you have, head to the Shetland Islands to truly experience rural Scotland. Head to Oban, then take the ferry to the Isle of Mull.

Make sure you take a good waterproof jacket, sturdy walking boots, and layer up to combat the unpredictable Scottish weather. Don't leave Scotland without having a "wee dram" of whisky and be sure to try our national dish - haggis, "neeps and tatties"!

I'm a wine lover and I've done plenty of tasting in Australia. I'd like to go further afield. What are your top recommendations for an overseas wine tour? - H Taylor

Taahia Hurihanganui from Flight Centre Panama Street, Wellington is a wine lover and she recommends venturing to Italy for your overseas wine tour.

Ciao! I highly recommend doing a wine tour in Italy - what better place to enjoy a glass of rich Nero d'Avola or a refreshing Vermentino than in one of the world's oldest wine growing countries?

Trafalgar's Flavours of Italy tour will take you deep within the Tuscan countryside to the heart of the famous Chianti region, where you can pair your wines with local delicacies and enjoy the beautiful scenery. For something a little different and more independent, mix your passion for wine with a Mediterranean holiday.

Start in Rome and enjoy a few days in the magical capital before catching the train north to La Spezia. From here, a local train will take you to one of the five fishing and wine-making villages of the Cinque Terre - a Unesco world-heritage site with colourful homes.

My pick is the peaceful village of Manarola. It's right on the water and surrounded by the vineyard terraces above, with great access to the walks and trails of the area. The Acla Apartments are a great place to stay with some of the best views in town and Emanuela will not disappoint you with her hospitality and local knowledge.

For your first taste of the local cuisine, stop at the bar on the cliff edge named Pie de Ma. Here you will meet Yvonne, an award-winning sommelier who will showcase her talents in a degustation of local wines, cheeses, olives and pesto. She can also teach you about the region's history of wine making and the daily struggles of the wine makers who battle the rugged terrain to keep producing their favourite whites. These whites are definitely the most interesting I've ever tasted; they're dark yellow with a delicate scent and leave an almost salty aftertaste. My husband refers to them as the wine of the sea.

Continue your journey to Volastra, a tiny town where you will want to have your camera handy. Here you'll find Luciano Capellini's cantina, which resembles just an ordinary house on the outside. Carlo, a family member, is a young and enthusiastic sommelier who will happily show you around and help quench your thirst. Some of the bottles we saw were 40 years old - you can also purchase what you like straight from the growers - making for a special souvenir.

Before leaving this incredible place you must have dinner at the delicious Dal Billy restaurant - I recommend the catch of the day - we were lucky enough to have fresh lobster on our night. End your journey with a glass of Sciacchetra, a sweet, white "passito wine" perfect with dessert. Sit back, relax and salute!

- NZ Herald

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