Take Me Away Tuesday with James LaRusso

Thanks to my mom’s job as a corporate travel agent and two semesters studying abroad, I’ve had my fair share of travel experiences. But these days, with two little ones at home, I live vicariously through my longtime family friend James LaRusso. James earned his undergraduate degree in Rome and has been traveling non-stop ever since. I love browsing his Instagram to see highlights from his travels. He’s graciously allowed me to share some photos along with travel recommendations and reflections on his favorite trips. These days James is back in New York and runs PR for some of the best hotels in NYC. I hope you enjoy reading our Q&A below!

Dreaming of your next travel adventure? As a Fora Travel advisor I can help you plan and hopefully add in some perks too =)

Q&A – Take me Away Tuesday with James LaRusso

Favorite city? Rome or New York?

It’s truly a tie! I spent many years in Rome, along with doing all four years of university there for my bachelors degree. Spending my late teens & early 20s in Italy was an absolute blast. But New York is an easier city to live in for being in a successful career.

What do you love most about New York? What’s not to miss? Your favorite spots and restaurants? The best time to visit in your opinion?

I am a born & raised New Yorker, so it will always feel special. If you’re coming to visit, I always recommend walking along the water … The whole west side highway is now filled with parks and piers to really enjoy the Hudson River breeze. I love the West Village and Tribeca and one of my favorite restaurants in Malatesta for an authentic Italian meal. NYC is best experienced when the weather is comfortable, so I always think Fall & Spring are the best.

Photo @jjlr – New York City skyline

Favorite local spots and the best time to visit Rome?

La Scala in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome is my favorite restaurant and I also love sitting in Piazza delle Coppelle with friends exploring the bar scene. Rome can be crowded in the summer and all times of year are great to go except for August. In August all the locals leave and lots of small businesses are closed for the Ferragosto holidays – so don’t go then!

Any trips planned?

Next weekend I am heading to Alghero, Sardinia for my best friend’s daughter’s baptism. Alghero is a truly unique place. Although the island of Sardinia is Italian, specifically in Alghero the people descend from the Catalan conquerors of Spain. Still, to this day, the Catalan language is the co-official language in Alghero.

Photo @jjlr – Alghero, Sardegna

What’s your favorite winter getaway in the US?

My parents live in The Villages, FL but when I travel down there in the winter I love to explore the beaches of the Sarasota area. I have friends who live in Siesta Key and Long Boat Key, and of course the beaches are fabulous but so are the arts & culture! I also like to venture off to smaller, older towns that feel more authentic. Recently my dad took me to Mount Dora, FL. Founded in 1880, Mount Dora is known for its small-town charm filled with many antique shops and restaurants.

What’s your favorite winter getaway outside the US?

Recently, I have been enamored with Cartagena, Colombia. The atmosphere and flare of Latin America is always enticing, but Cartagena also has this European colonial feel. It’s such a great combo of islands and beach tied to traditional Spanish culture with great cafes and restaurants in plazas on cobble stoned streets.

What’s your favorite destination / best trip overall?

One of my favorite destinations was Kenya. I was expecting a great safari, but was shocked how awesome the beaches were! Specifically in Malindi, Kenya, the water was like being in the Bahamas. Best trip overall was exploring India last year. Jaipur and Varanasi really impressed me. Agra was a bit overrated (the Taj Mahal is there, and that’s incredible, but not much else to see in Agra).

From your travels…

Best beach?

Stintino, Sardinia – Spiaggia La Pelosa

Photo @jjlr – Spiaggia La Pelosa, Stintino, Sardinia

Best food?

The tuna tostadas at Contramar in Mexico City

Favorite hotel?

Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Tremezzina, Lago di Como, Italy

Photo @jjlr – Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lago di Como, Italy

How do you pick where to travel?

I rack up a lot of airline points & sometimes pick destinations based on airline reward miles. I’ll go anywhere once, if it’s free!

What else is on your bucket list?

I am fortunate to have visited every single wonder of the world except for one- Machu Picchu in Peru! So I need to do that to complete my list.

Want to hear more from James? Leave a question in the comments.

James’ campaign, The James New York – NoMad, Breaking Through the Rainbow, was a recent HSMAI Adrian Platinum Award Winner. Congratulations James! His portfolio of NYC hotels also include The Surrey Hotel, The Benjamin Hotel, and Affinia Hotels & Suites. The best deals can be found at Affinia Hotels & Suites.