Travel Agenda: Hotel Villa La Massa; Oliver Peoples; Dorset Square; Tibet; The Olde Bell; Mersey Ferries


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The Independent Travel

Secret Tuscany

Hotel Villa La Massa, near Florence, is offering a six-night tour of the region that takes in gardens normally closed to the public, such as Palazzo Gondi and Medici Villa del Trebbio. Taking place from 10-16 September, it costs €2,730 per person, including breakfasts and dinners at the hotel (

Take shade

Oliver Peoples has launched its High Summer collection, with 10 new styles of sunglasses. Channel Roy Orbison with the Braverman or Parsons range, or go Audrey Hepburn with the black-framed Alivia. Other designs recall 1930s America or aviator styles (from £186;


June is the date that Dorset Square opens in London. Kit and Tim Kemp's first hotel opened in Marylebone in 1985, but was later sold. Now back under the Firmdale banner and fully revitalised, it features Kit's signature English style in a Georgian townhouse on the site of the original Lord's cricket ground. Doubles start at £234, room only (firmdale

Storm warning

June marks the start of hurricane season in the Caribbean and Atlantic basin. America's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this week predicted a "near-normal hurricane season" this year, with a 70 per cent chance of four to eight hurricanes (winds of 74mph or higher). "Of those, one to three will become major hurricanes (with top winds of 111mph or higher)".

Keep your cool

Whether you're on a long-haul flight or sightseeing in a sweltering city this summer, Rohan's new Pacific shirt could ease the discomfort. The lightweight (140g) check shirt is made with moisture control fabric that incorporates anti-odour silver. It's also crease-resistant and dries quickly. (£52;

Don't bet on Tibet

Travellers with plans to visit the area known as the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) are being forced to cancel after Chinese authorities imposed a ban on travel permits for foreigners. The ban comes after a wave of self-immolation protests against Chinese rule. The authorities have not indicated how long the ban will be in place for. However, tourism in the TAR raises issues of ethics. Free Tibet states that "tourism provides a window to the outside world for Tibetans" but also warns that it risks legitimising Chinese rule. Suggested alternatives are Tibetan-populated regions in India such as Ladakh.

Forgotten Father's Day?

The Olde Bell, a coaching inn in Hurley, Berkshire, has teamed up with the publisher Picador to host "Bell Stories" tomorrow. Five writers, including Jon Ronson, will be giving hour-long talks at the inn throughout the day, costing £5-£10 per talk. (

Canal cruise

Six hours, 35 miles and 118 years of history: that's the offer from Mersey Ferries for its special Manchester Ship Canal departures between Seacombe (on the Wirral, opposite Liverpool) and Salford Quays. There are about three departures weekly through the summer until 7 October. The £37 fare includes return travel by bus to your starting place(