There are as many reasons to visit lovely Italia as there are types of pasta (that’s 350). You type one question into Google and a hundred answers come right back at you. Mamma mia!
Wouldn’t it be better just to have categories, not lists? A short little article with each of Italy’s best sides? A mood-board guide to where to go in Italy? Can you see where this is going…?
Here are our tips on five different styles of Italy destinations and how to visit them.
1. The History – Rome
Rome feels more like an archaeological site than a city. A restaurant here, the Roman Forum over there. In one 12-minute walk you can cover 2,000 years, from the Colosseum to the Victor Emmanuel Monument to Italy’s 19th-century unification and the victims of WWI, along an avenue ploughed by Mussolini’s fascist visions. And let’s not even start on the Vatican’s absurd collection of masterpieces by Michelangelo, Bernini, Raphael and co.
Rome has a lot to cover, but is easy to reach with two major airports. It is also one of the great low season Italy destinations, seeing as bad weather won’t affect you under the roofs of the city’s churches, museums, and galleries.
2. The Lakes – Lombardy
We’re with you on this one George Clooney: one holiday on Lake Garda, Maggiore, or Como, and you’ll also find yourself buying a mansion on this stunning waterfront (well, dreaming about it anyway). You’ll need two or three spare hard drives to store your snaps of the natural and man-made beauty as you make your way around Como.
The Villa Carlotta’s botanical gardens or the Villa Balbianello are two of the top places to go in Italy – if Tolkien’s elves were Mediterranean, they would have built something like the Balbianello. No wonder it’s starred in Bond and Star Wars films.
3. The Vineyards – Tuscany
Deep colour, with exotic notes – wine or landscape? Tuscany is the fabled region that has both. Its rolling fields and vineyards have been luring in writers and artists for centuries.
For young men in the 18th and 19th centuries, this was where to go in Italy in order to become “complete”; the phenomenon known as the Grand Tour. Do as they did: take in the dazzling rural scenery with a glass of Chianti in hand.
To get out into the sticks, travel to Florence first and make the city of art your starting base.
4. The Coast – Amalfi
For seaside places to go in Italy, there are hardly any more elegant than the Amalfi Coast. Brightly coloured houses tumble down the cliffs to meet the cobalt-blue sea. Wandering through the streets of nearby Sorrento you’ll find lemons that weigh a kilo.
You’re also only an hour away from the shadow of Mt.Vesuvius and the city that it ruined, Pompeii. At least you’ll have a head start if it erupts again…
To get to this paradise, Naples is the closest major link. Naples itself also faces onto a gorgeous bay.
5. The Mountains – South Tirol
The sheer rock faces of the Dolomites may not look like it, but these are the best places to go in Italy for snow sports. And not just for daredevil black-slopers! The adrenaline boosts from skiing are counterbalanced by the calming atmosphere of hiking: the valley views are the sort of thing you thought only existed in photoshopped empowerment memes. And at the end of a long winding path, a little hut will be waiting for you with the heartiest Austrian/Italian grub to revive you. Ahh, Tirol life.
Normally mountains play hard to get, but this stretch of the Austro-Italian Alps is actually very well serviced. Squeezed in between gorgeous green slopes, Bolzano has an airport and train station and is also only a couple of hours away from Innsbruck.
And these are just some ideas for places to visit in Italy…
The country is just too plentiful. You might as well devote ten pages of your bucket list to places to visit in Italy alone. Goethe spoke for us all when he wrote: “We are all pilgrims to Italy.” How are you going to make your pilgrimage?