In my opinion the Acura brand offers a group of some of the easiest cars there are to drive, manual or automatic. And in Italy, you get some of the coolest roads and places to visit in Europe. It's not hard to put two and two together and think about pairing the two.
For lovers of all things Italian there is a hotspot to visit in the country, Italy's Marche region. Well-known for its white truffle festival held every weekend in October, whether you are heading to the popular truffle extravaganza in Sant' Angelo in Vado or just finding a good meal anytime of the year, this destination is a smorgasbord of food, wine and the immaculate truffle.
Make the drive in the region in the attractive 2015 Acura ILX 2.4 Premium. Overall, this Acura comes in with plenty of extras in the world of the compact luxury sedan choices.
Competition includes the 2014 Audi A3, Mercendes-Benz CLA-Class and also the Buick Verano. The Acura ILX has undergone some minor changes for the New Year depending on the trim. However, the biggest disappointment is that the ILX Hybrid has been discontinued.
Acura devotees might consider they are paying a bit more for this compact luxury sedan considering the mid-size sedans like the Honda Accord and the Nissan Altima cost about the same price, but the drivability of an Acura really does stand out -- a fact that Acura fans know all about.
There are four trim levels on the 2015 Acura ILX including the 2.0, 2.0 with Premium package, 2.0 with Technology package and 2.4 with Premium package.
Under the hood, the 2015 ILX has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that will give you 150 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque with a five-speed automatic transmission using the front wheels. The ILX 2.4 with the Premium package, which I drove comes in much faster with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and 201 horsepower with 170 pound feet of torque. You get a six-speed manual transmission only on this trim.
Inside this ILX the interior is well-crafted and looks and feels fine. You will also find the seats easy to get comfortable in, very soft, and adjustments can be made for just about any body type stepping behind the wheel. Add to that a lot of interior space even in the backseat. In the trunk you have 12.3 cubic feet, but the rear seats fold down if needed for more room. However, if you fold one seat down both must go down so in that case it means no backseat passengers.
Indeed, quiet, comfortable and a pleasure to drive, the 2015 Acura ILX fans know the value of this brand and with the 2015 Acura ILX 2.4 you will get 25 miles per gallon combined or 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 miles per gallon on the highway.
Back to Italy, planning your vacation early, the truffle hunting in Sant' Angelo in Vado takes place in the heart of this little medieval village in the inland part of Marches in the province of Pesaro and Urbino and take note, the truffle hunter uses a dog not pig like in many other truffle areas of Europe.
And, like the white truffles that can only be discovered in this fine region of Italy, the wine from the area is also considered a carefully guarded secret since production is low. Only those who discover this place have the chance to test the "Vino Santo" (Saint Wine), which is a sweet wine from the surrounding local hills and produced in very limited quality.
If you opt for a springtime visit you can take part in a pasta making class then head out for wild boar spotting, a tour of a Roman nobleman's home from the first century and then on to a local artist's workshop where the medieval art of using yellow flowers to make blue dye is taught.
Even better, there is no place that speaks to an Italian experience better in the Marche than a destination called Palazzo Donati located right in the center of the small village of Mercatello sul Metauro. The Palazzo was built in the 1600s and "it's the best way to experience an Italian village in the heart of an unspoiled valley full of ancient culture and tradition," says Palazzo Donati owner Luisa Donati.
The little town is a quiet village that still embodies the charm of ancient times and was the former chief town at the edge of the Umbrian and Tuscan territories. Marcatello was also the diocesan centre in regard to spiritual personalities and is said to be the birthplace of the blessed Margherita della Metola and St. Veronica Giuliani and when visited don't miss the Collegiate Church that was once St. Peter's parish church with sculptures and paintings dating back from the 16th and 17th century as well as a Byzantine style icon representing "Our Lady of Mercy."
The Donoti family also offers a second chance to enjoy fine Italian luxury in Villa Pipistrelli in Montestigliano also offering dinner in the properties rustic restaurant as well.
Pipistrelli is located in the Tuscan region of Italy and sits on the edge of a 2000-acre estate with a protected Italian landscape that is covered with ilex oaks under which you will truffles as well as porcini mushrooms, olive groves and a variety of fruits.
Pipistrelli is located nearby the small village of Rosia and near enough to Sienna for a day visit as well as Chianti and Pienza.
The house dates back to the 17th century and was a Tuscan farmstead with the entire house being open for rental including bedrooms, bathrooms and common areas with fireplaces and that bespeak the Tuscan architecture both inside and out. There is also a wood-burning oven and infinity pool on the property with a refreshing fountain flowing day and night.
NOTE: This author does not and will never take any money from any automotive brand or destination/restaurant/activity, etc. in exchange for coverage, the views are strictly the author's opinion.