Italy is arguably the envy of the world; it has a long and fascinating history with some of the best-loved cuisines in the Med, a warm climate, stunning coastlines, snow-capped mountains for skiing, lakes for rowing, cities for romancing and islands to escape to. With so much to recommend it, Italy deserves its reputation.
However, narrowing down what you want from your Italian holiday is important if you are going to make the most of your trip. Each region of Italy varies quite distinctly, from the sparkling glamour of the Riviera to the earthy agriculture that permeates Tuscany. So to aid you in your choice, we have cherry-picked a few of our favourite destinations, so that you will know what to expect from each of these different regions.
Often overlooked for the fairytale-like shores of Venice, the Adriatic Coast is lined with medieval villages, Roman ruins, and picturesque towns backed by postcard perfect landscapes. The Italian side of the Riviera transformed into a holiday hotspot after the infamous Mussolini poured a lot of money into its construction. As a result of this foresight, the area has become one of the most popular holiday destinations in the county and welcomes generations of Italians and tourists to its shores every year, to soak in the sun and the lively atmosphere.
A list of favourite places in Italy would hardly be complete without a nod to Tuscany, the beautiful interior of the world’s most famous boot. The agricultural heart of Italy, you will find authentic and locally sourced Italian cuisine and wine, a countryside that is lush and hilly, and welcoming locals. Gavinana is a small, typically Tuscan town nestled in the Pistoiese Apennine Mountains with terracotta roofed houses, stone churches and refreshing mountain air. The town also has the advantage of being set just north of Florence for those who want to take a spontaneous day trip, or spend a weekend exploring the museums of one of Italy’s most beautiful cities.
The largest lake in Italy is sandwiched between romantic Venice and the financial hub of Milan, making it a popular getaway destination for Italian nationals and travellers alike. Lake Garda has a reputation for reasonable prices and – of course – the wonderful Italian culture and history seen in the stunning townships that dot the area. Writers and artists have long found inspiration here and it’s not difficult to see why Lake Garda sparked their creative energy. Try heading to Malcesine, a scenic town on the eastern shores, to visit the majestic castle or the striking Church of St Stefano.
With the Dolomites dominating the landscape around this lake, amazing scenery is not hard to come by in Molveno. Lying a little to the north of Lake Garda, the area is made up in part of the Adamello-Brenta Nature Park, perfect for those looking to hit the trails for some hiking. For others who want to soak up the laid-back Italian atmosphere, the Molveno old town offers much in the way of bars and restaurants where you can sip a glass of Italian red and admire the views.
Sardinia is a self-governing island, considered to be one of the wealthiest regions of Italy with an exclusive reputation. You will find the odd celebrity and a landscape of yachts on its famous Costa Smeralda, but travelling further south will take you out of the glitz and onto beaches that are just as beautiful, far less expensive and much less touristy. If you are seeking a slice of azure waters and white sand, you can’t go wrong with this destination, as Sardinia has long held the title for having the best beaches in all of Italy.
Another autonomous region of Italy, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and tows the line between northern Italian sophistication and southern Italian fun and sun. Find ancient Roman ruins in Tindari, a hilltop town, experience traditional Sicilian culture by exploring the villages in the interior, or relax on one of their many beaches. Whether you’re a culture vulture or a foodie, if you want to keep active or stay relaxed, Sicily has enough to keep each visitor happy.
If you’re considering Italy this year, find out more by taking a look at our Italian holidays.