What makes Oman a must-visit in the Gulf

Because Oman is close to Dubai, people think it will be like it, but it’s nothing like Dubai. There’s only one building over 10 stories high in the whole country, because the Sultan saw it in 1976, and then said, “Never again.” The Wave, a new residential and shopping area, is where lots of people, especially youngsters, go and hang out. The country is clean, with lots of character and a heritage that’s been well preserved.

Oman is a very thin, long country, so there’s such varied landscapes: Inland, there are mountains like Jebel Shams and Jabel Akhdar, which is where a lot of roses are grown. I go to the souk to buy my essential oils. Farther south, there’s monsoon weather, and even an island, Masirah. Omani hospitality is second to none. The Chedi hotel is beautiful, with such symmetry in the pathways and arches inside and out. There’s quite a large Indian population, so I buy a lot of kantha scarves, those beautiful, hand-embroidered ones that are superfine and will go through a ring.

Swap out Florence for this lesser-known part of Tuscany

A lot of people think of Tuscany as very rural, hilly, and full of yellow fields. But I love Pietrasanta, about an hour north of Pisa, on the coast in an area called Versilia—it’s where my husband and I got married. He’s Italian, and we’ve spent a lot of time there with his family. It’s near Carrara, where the white marble comes from, and it has marble, too; Michelangelo said it was better here. Now the streets are filled with sculptures, turning the whole town into an open-air art gallery. There are artisans’ studios and marble and bronze workshops tucked away in every corner, so it’s full of craftsmanship that’s been there for centuries.

From the town, it’s about a 20-minute bike ride to the beach, a really lovely ride through the pine forests. They’re Italian-style beaches: sandy, quite white, long, with not much tidal variation, and row upon row of beach clubs. Gilda beach club has a fabulous restaurant, and La Perla is family-friendly, with a lovely pool. I also like Ristorante Franco Mare.

Don’t hesitate to make a world trip as a family—and involve your children’s school, too

I just returned from a three-month trip across Asia and Australasia with Massimo and our son, Cian. It was an incredible immersion into all sorts of experiences. Having a child-friendly airline like Emirates made a huge difference. They come in, take a little picture with an instant camera, and give it you; then they bring a little kids’ pack, give them a toy, and their food comes first. They really think about things.

And we thought about the trip as a project that Cian’s class could benefit from, when he was away. He kept in touch with his class a lot; we would make a PDF of each country we visited, and they would learn about it. They made their whole term about traveling the world.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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