Italy, the land of romance, art and indulgence, is rich in history, charm and absolutely drenched in style. Being the birthplace of some of the world’s biggest brands, most famous artists and renowned chefs, the influence that Italy has had on the world is unparalleled. Tours to Italy are forever becoming more and more popular, and it’s not hard to see why. Italians have a passion for quality, always going the extra mile for the finer things in life. No where else in the world has this level of style and grace, turning the simplest of things into an art form. They even have a famous saying ‘dolce far niente’ – the art of doing nothing!
With white tipped mountains, pristine coastlines and rolling hills to explore, the list of reasons to visit Italy is as long as my arm (if not longer). But here are the main ones that will surely persuade you to take that long awaited holiday to Italy!
Studying fine art
It’s no secret that Italy has produced some of the most influential artists – Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Donatello, Caravaggio – the list is endless. Many people go on a holiday to Italy purely for the art. No matter if you are a fine art aficionado or you just want to see what all the fuss is about, I guarantee you will find something of interest. Florence is undoubtedly the city with the most vibrant artistic heritage, however no matter where you are in Italy, you will never be too far from a gallery. Some of the most famous sites in Florence are the Uffizi Gallery, Pitti Palace, Palazzo Vecchio and the Piazza della Signoria.
Wine tasting in Tuscany
It’s no surprise to find that one of the most popular activities in Italy is wine tasting – and there’s a good reason for it. Tuscany’s countryside consists of miles of rolling hills, family run vineyards and traditional Italian farmhouses. An unforgettable experience in Italy is to book a homestay with an Italian family at one of the many vineyards. Spend the days exploring the countryside, learning to cook fresh pasta and sipping glass after glass of deep red Chianti. Bliss.
Hiking along the Cinque Terre
For those of you that value a more active holiday, hiking the Cinque Terre is one of the best things to do. The trails are outstandingly beautiful, snaking down the coastline, passing through quaint and colourful coastal villages like Vernazza and Porto Venere. Treks are split into different routes and can take anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days depending on how often you stop off for a quick aperol spritz in the sun!
Lazing on the beaches of Sicily
When most people think of Italy they picture wine, food and art. But did you know that Italy has some beautiful beaches that rival that of Carribean?! Sicily in itself is worth the trip, however if deserted islands are what you are going for, there are so many waiting to be explored, each with their own individual charms. Some of the most popular are Lampedusa with its dramatic cliffs, caves and stunning beaches, and Stromboli which draws people in to catch a glimpse of the red hot lava glowing from the active volcano.
Getting lost in Venice
With its tranquil system of canals, historic Venetian architecture, and arguably the best seafood in all of Italy, it’s no wonder Venice is always a popular place on bucket lists. Part of Venice’s charm is the maze of narrow alleyways that you will inevitably get lost in. The best way is to just give in. Forget the map and stumble upon those hidden gems of restaurants and bakeries housing the most wondrous of treasures! Make sure you visit the famous landmarks including the majestic San Marco Basilica, the Palazzo Ducale and the historic Rialto Bridge.
Exploring the ruins of Rome
One of the biggest successes of the ancient Roman civilisation is their undoubtedly durable architecture. The city of Rome is the perfect example where the old and new live side by side. Visit the haunting ruins of the Colosseum, The Imperial Forums and the Arch of Constantine and wile away hours people watching at one of the trendy new street cafes. As well as the ruins, a must visit is the Vatican City. Being the heart of the Roman Catholic Church and packed with some of Italy’s most renowned masterpieces such as Michelangelo-decorated Sistine Chapel, you’d be silly to skip it!
Italy seems to have it all – beaches, rolling countryside and spectacular mountain ranges. The Dolomites are in north-east Italy and are a famous location for skiing, hiking and mountain climbing. Summers see an influx of bikers head up for the annual bike marathon, also becomes a popular place for paragliding. In the winter months, The Dolomites become a skiers paradise, with dream-like slopes, a variety of terrain and unforgettable scenery.
Italy’s lake scene is so enchanting that many tours to Italy focus solely on the lakes. Lake Como is the most famous with its dramatic scenery and beautiful backdrop of the Alps. Being Italy’s largest lake, Lake Garda is a popular one to visit due to its diversity. The southern half is lined with bright green hills and the northern shore is met by steep cliff faces.
Italy is famous for its quality of produce and its impeccable style. Some of the world’s most famous brands originated here such as Versace, Donatella, Gucci and Prada. If you’re one that follows the fashion then a trip to Milan is definitely a must. Milan is home to one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, the ‘Galleria Vittorio Emanuele’. Definitely worth a visit just to see the architecture and the magnificent glass dome! Inside you’ll find a collection of designer and haute couture shops and a range of elegant restaurants and cafes.
No blog about Italy would be complete without mentioning the food. And we’re not just talking about pizza and pasta (although, obviously you have to eat a lot of these too!) If you visit Florence – and you aren’t a vegetarian – do not leave without eating a Florentine Steak, traditionally cooked rare. If you’re in Venice, chances are you are spending the late afternoons sipping Chianti! Most bacaris (bars) serve cicchetti with drinks. (Small savoury plates of bread topped with cured meats, cheeses and fish.) Other foods to try are gelatos, truffle gnocchi, arancini balls and pistachio cakes. Mmm mmm.
Italy is one of those places that people visit time and time again, there is so much to see! Tucan Travel have several group tours that go to Italy. If you would like to focus on the main cities and sites of Italy, have a look at the Italy in a week tour. If you are lucky enough to have a bit longer, Tucan Travel also have a London to Rome tour. Starting in London, ending in Rome and stopping off in all the best places in Western Europe! – Paris, Amsterdam, Bruges, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Munich, Zurich, Milan, Venice and Florence.
Roxy is part of the marketing team for Tucan Travel. She has been travelling solo for years, predominantly around Asia, Indonesia and Europe. You can find her on LinkedIn here.