Italy, the land of romance, art and indulgence, is rich in history, charm and drenched in style. Being the birthplace of some of the world’s biggest brands, 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. Nowhere else owns this level of grace, turning the simplest of things into an art form.
With snow-tipped mountains, pristine coastlines and rolling hills to explore, the list of reasons to visit Italy is never-ending. But here are some of the best that will surely persuade you to take that long-awaited holiday!
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 visit Italy purely for the art. No matter if you are a history of art aficionado or you just curious to see what all the fuss is about, I guarantee you will find something here to peak your interest. Florence is undoubtedly the city with the most 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 Piazza Della Signoria.
It’s no surprise to find that one of the most popular activities in Italy is wine tasting, and Tuscany is one of the best places for it. Tuscany’s countryside consists of miles of rolling hills, family-run vineyards and traditional Italian farmhouses. It’s an unforgettable experience to book a homestay at one of the many family-run vineyards. Spend the days exploring the countryside, learning the secrets of the Italian kitchen and sipping glass after glass of deep red Chianti. Bliss.
Hiking the Cinque Terre
For those of you which value a more active holiday, hiking the Cinque Terre is one of the best things to do in Italy. 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!
The beaches in Sicily
When most people think of Italy, they picture wine, food and art. But did you know that Italy has beautiful beaches which some say rival the Caribbean? Sicily itself is worth the trip. However, if deserted islands are what you’re after, there are plenty waiting to be explored, each offering their own 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 destination on Italy 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 treasures! Make sure you visit the famous landmarks including the majestic San Marco Basilica, the Palazzo Ducale and the historic Rialto Bridge.
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 while away hours people-watching at one of the trendy 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 the Michelangelo-decorated Sistine Chapel, you’d be missing out if you skipped it.
Italy seems to have it all – beaches, rolling countryside and spectacular mountain ranges. The Dolomites are in north-east Italy, a famous location for skiing, hiking and mountain climbing. Summers see an influx of bikers head up for the annual bike marathon when it also becomes a popular place for paragliding. In the winter months, The Dolomites become a skiers paradise, with dreamy slopes, a variety of terrain and unforgettable, magnificent 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 recognised brands originated here such as Versace, Donatella, Gucci and Prada. If you’re one that follows fashion with a keen eye, then a trip to Milan is a must. Milan is home to one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, the ‘Galleria Vittorio Emanuele’. It’s even 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 as well as 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, we urge you to eat a lot of these too!) If you visit Florence (and you aren’t a vegetarian), you must try the 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, which are small savoury plates of bread topped with cured meats, cheeses or fish. Also keep your eyes peeled for gelato, truffle gnocchi, arancini balls and pistachio cake.
Roxy is a member of the marketing team for Tucan Travel. She has travelled solo for years, predominantly around Asia, Indonesia and Europe. You can find her on LinkedIn here.