Written by By Will Snyder, CNN
For most Italians on holiday, it’s not surprising to find the roads splashed with holiday advertisements. But few of those advertisements feature Italian golf coach Federico Alba, a fact that hasn’t escaped Richard Russell, who writes a regular column for Travel + Leisure UK.
Russell chose not to attend the Phil Mickelson tournament in West Palm Beach earlier this month, but instead headed to Sicily in search of inspiration. And the results were entertaining.
“I was a bit surprised when Federico popped out for a quick coffee with me at this wine retreat in the foothills of Mt. Etna,” says Russell. “He immediately sent me back on a golf drive through the wine valleys. And it’s from here I saw how he enjoys work so much. This man loves nothing more than going on the range and hitting balls with his own clients.”
Below, Russell shares a selection of pictures and videos of his post-Mickelson trip to Sicily.
Kife Camp, in Tuscany
“The winds of Tuscany blew hard outside the awesome Kife Camp. The camp, which is surrounded by vineyards, doubles as a hotel with short and long courses. I had a day to myself and waited for the wind to die down so I could kick a few balls around. I ended up drawing an approach shot close to the red-carpet road, as if it was a touchline. Little do I know the whole people-watching scheme had been a ruse — Federico and his professional golf clients were on a social call and wanted to stop by my hotel in Rome. They seemed really happy with the experience, so very kind of them to take in the beautiful views of the city.”
Bourdais Castle, near Bacau
“Bourdais Castle is pretty stunning, and if you don’t know this area before you go you are missing out on a real hidden gem. It has open golf and it’s open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so there’s the chance of meeting a star golfer just for a glass of wine.”
Tulli Group Golf Resort, near Cosenza
“This really is the secret of Tuscany and it’s located right outside of Cosenza. It’s a little tiny course that takes about three hours and it’s a really great place for walking or a drive. And because there’s actually a restaurant and a few shops in the middle of it, you can actually spend part of your time sitting on the patio drinking a beer as well. It really is a great underrated spot for golf.”
La Quinta Hotel, near San Remo
“La Quinta is the ‘it’ spot for golf for stars who want to indulge. They have a real golf playground and it’s home to some really great courses like Amadeus, which I’ve also seen on movie screens. It’s got a beautiful restaurant which can be a very good setting for a practice session and for meals with some of the pros.”
Gormigni Monastery, near Trastevere
“The monks are famous for their playing partners. If you walked around the Monastery, you’d have a lucky chance of seeing a number of famous superstars on the green in front of the terrace. I’m not sure if those players actually intended to meet up with the monks, but it certainly made it very interesting.”