The Amalfi Coast is wildly beautiful, and the few towns strung along its length are ideal vantage points for taking in the coast’s dazzling ensemble of craggy cliffs, lush forests and dramatic seascapes. Chichi Positano, a dramatic huddle of pastel-coloured houses tumbling down to the sea, is the pick of the towns.
Its center is a warren of stepped lanes framed by pink bougainvillea and lined with smart boutiques.
Villa Rufolo, Ravello
Sun and nature, tradition and prestige, the Amalfi coast and Ravello, architectonic and artistic masterpieces that frame Villa Rufolo like a timeless treasure.
A favourite haunt of musicians, artists and poets, eulogised in the poetry of Bocaccio and where Richard Wagner saw the living image of the garden of his imagination: a unique experience that takes you into a different world.
The jewel in the crown of Ravello, veduta_villathe defiant stronghold of the once great Amalfi Maritime Republic, contains centuries of history, magnificent works of art, and legends.
The Villa is unique in terms of its architecture and decoration, and has never failed to make travellers marvel - all those who have had reason to cross its threshold down the centuries.
You’ve probably only heard of Parma in relation to Parma ham or Parmesan cheese. But just in case you haven’t, Parma is a city in Italy that has beautiful architecture and AMAZING food.
It’s not so much a tourist city but feels more like a working and college town. It’s pretty diverse as well and offers fantastic restaurants and macellerias.
Parma is synonymous with nature, history and art. Indeed, names such as Antelami, Correggio, Parmigianino, Verdi and Toscanini made their mark in a city in this sophisticated and graceful jewel of a city.
With charming medieval alleyways, artisan workshops, and a thriving nightlife, there’s always something to do in Trastevere, one of Rome’s most traditional neighbourhoods. The picturesque quarter is named because it lies on the other side of the Tiber river from the historic center (Tras = beyond, tevere = Tiber).
The area is no longer isolated from the center of Rome, but Trastevere still manages to feel like a small village in the middle of the Eternal City. If, that is, small villages come with cool mescal bars, hidden Renaissance villas, the best pizza of your life, and stores selling handcrafted goods you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Full of winding cobblestone streets, this area is the ideal spot to wander and get lost – but in order to help you find the best stops along the way, here is how to spend a day in Trastevere, Rome’s coolest neighbourhood.
The vineyards in this picturesque part of Tuscany produce the grapes used in namesake Chianti and Chianti Classico: world-famous reds sold under the Gallo Nero (Black Cockerel/Rooster) trademark.
It's a landscape where you'll encounter historic olive groves, honey-coloured stone farmhouses, dense forests, graceful Romanesque pievi (rural churches), handsome Renaissance villas and imposing stone castles built in the Middle Ages by Florentine and Sienese warlords.
Fonte Gaia, Siena
Art critic Cesare Brandi has highlighted the fact that creating this fountain was a “project with conflicts, interruptions, alterations, and new starts.
The Fonte is unlike any other, and does not resemble any of the Gothic style fountains in Central Italy – Viterbo and Perugia – nor any of the ones in Siena, which are still Gothic but have an Arab influence.
It is like a great seat with a mirror of water in the center, with sacred images all around like in a church”
While in Siena, pay a visit to this beautiful fountain: it is one of the most wonderful woks of art in the world.
Manarola, Cinque Terre
These five fishing villages, wedged into steeply terraced cliffs along a stretch of craggy coastline on the Italian Riviera, take the top spot for the unvarnished beauty of their pastel-painted houses and diminutive harbours filled with fishing boats.
The hiking trails that thread between the villages are some of the world’s most scenic, taking you past vineyards and olive groves, with dramatic seascapes at every turn.
Camogli, situated in the north-west Italian region of Liguria, between Genoa and Portofino, is a fishing settlement rather than a beach resort. Camogli's rather ordinary shopping street a block or so inland from the coast, with the railway station, main bus stop and information office at one end, provides no clue to what is just round the corner. Step out onto the promenade and take a sharp breath.
This is as much a hallucination as a view. In one direction, beyond a tottering cliff, the vast wooded cape of the promontory reaches out, crowned at the halfway point by a domed church, looking almost inaccessibly high. During poor weather the upper slopes may be lost in cloud. In the other direction Camogli's own church stands above a stony beach, backed by a ruined fortification, on a short peninsula.
The more distant curve of the Ligurian coast behind it sweeps away to Genoa and far beyond, a visual summary of the Italian Riviera.
Camogli's little headland is a hill village in miniature, with a few houses as well as the church clustered around a couple of narrow lanes, steps and a vaulted passageway, with the remains of the stone fort guarding them at the back. From here, the landward view is filled by several tiers of pastel-painted tenements six or seven storeys high and very old.
Its sunny position facing south offers a stunning panorama over one of the most beautiful sections of Lake Como with Bellagio in front and Menaggio to the right.
Envisage deep blue waters sheltered beneath commanding, luscious green mountains and traditional Italian lakeside villas perched effortlessly on the sloping hills, and you have the magnificent Lake Como. Situated in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, and not far from the hustle and bustle of Milan, Lake Como is a paradise to escape to for tourists and Italians alike.
In the summer, visitors can enjoy boat rides on the Lake, hiking around the spectacular natural scenery, as well as exploring the various towns and villages that are scattered around the Lake. This list will educate you as to what all of the towns on Lake Como have to offer, as well as the key highlights and experiences of each.
A voyage over an emerald sea, past characteristic coves and beaches of snowwhite sand … this is Sardinia, an island that strikes its visitors with natural contrasts, the lights and colors of a region that boasts old traditions and a wild and pure nature.
Situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia is a mainly mountainous region, without high peaks, with a vast and charming, yet bittersweet, natural environment.
In fact, the presence of man does not seem to affect this territory; great surfaces still preserve their natural composition, luxuriant woods with even millenary trees, small desert areas and marshes inhabited by deer, wild horses and rapacious birds.
The legendary island of Capri, beloved of the emperor Tiberius, any number of artists and writers in search of inspiration, and legions of modern-day celebrities, has star appeal in spades. Away from its twin centres, Capri Town and Anacapri – bursting with designer boutiques and chic cafés – picturesque lanes wind past Roman ruins and grand villas, with staggering views over the deep blue Mediterranean.
Burano island, Venice
Picturesque Burano in Venice is known for its brightly colored fishermen's houses and its casual eateries serving seafood from the lagoon. The Museo del Merletto has exhibits on the development of lace-making in the area, and shops sell lace products like linens and clothes, as well as the local butter cookies called "bussolai buranei." The ancient Chiesa di San Martino has a leaning 17th-century bell tower.
Although earlier Roman remains have been found on Burano, the island was permanently settled in the 6th century by people fleeing hostile invaders on the mainland. Burano was and is a fishing village whose residents have always relied on the lagoon for sustenance. Burano rose to prominence in the 1500s, when its lacemaking traditions were born. For centuries, women made the intricate handmade lace, which was in high demand across Europe.
Lacemaking waned in the 1700s but was revived in the late 1800s. Today, while Burano is famous for its lace, there are only a handful of traditional lacemakers remaining on the island
San Pellegrino Pass, Dolomites
San Pellegrino Pass, a wide mountain pass 11 km away from Moena, marks the border between Trentino and the Belluno province. Equipped with state-of-the-art lifts, the whole skiing area offers over 100 km of slopes of various length and difficulty, linked by the carousel of the TreValli Moena-Alpe di Lusia, San Pellegrino, Falcade.
The mountain pass offers hospitality in its various prestigious hotel accommodation, allowing direct access to the slopes and granting an ideal solution for those who wish to enjoy a full day of skiing on the ever-sunny slopes. Visitors will never forget the view from this spectacular balcony at 2,500 metres in altitude, featuring Marmolada, the Queen of the Dolomites.
Nordic ski lovers will be familiar with the Alochet cross-country ski centre, which is part of the national Nordic Super Skipass circuit, featuring ski-runs surrounded by beautiful woods.
Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna
Church of San Vitale, also called Basilica of San Vitale, church in Ravenna, Italy, that was built in the 6th century and is considered a masterpiece of Byzantine achitecture. It is especially noted for the colourful mosaics of Christian iconography that decorate the interior walls and ceilings
The Basilica of San Vitale is one of the top sights to see in Ravenna, Italy. This church dates from the early sixth century and is as interesting for its architecture as for its Byzantine wall mosaics.
It influenced church architecture for centuries while the mosaics are the largest and best-preserved outside Istanbul. San Vitale is also the only church from the time of Justinian the Great that has survived intact and unaltered to the present. The small Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in the garden is also of significant art interest.
Set up high on a cliff top with spectacular views across the Mediterranean to even as far as Tunisia on a clear day, Erice is a fairytale medieval town that is still shrouded in mystery.
If you pay close attention to one of the legends, you’ll hear that Erice was named after the mythological Eryx, the son of Aphrodite and Butes, who founded the island more than 3000 years ago and became its king until he was vanquished by Hercules.
Today if you wander along the winding ancient streets, passing through the narrow archways and under flower clad balconies, there’s a sense of history in the air and maybe you’ll catch a whisper of other legends.
How about the secrets hidden by the Castello di Venere, the domineering twelfth century castle which has become the symbol of Erice. It was built by the Normans on the sacred site and even using materials from the Temple of Venus after which it was named.
This was a landmark that the Normans wanted to remove from their landscape as they introduced christianity onto the island … you see in times of antiquity this temple enjoyed quite a reputation and made Erice a Mediterranean hotspot for sailors who had come to seek out the goddess of love.
Their frequent journeys made Erice an important and wealthy city. Today only the legend remains as stories are passed down from one generation to the next.
Chiaia di Luna, Ponza
The Pontine islands are a dragon-backed scattering of humps sticking up out of the sea south of Rome
This five-and-a-half-mile-long stripe of tortured rock is generally accepted to have been the summer home not of the Sirens but of the witch Circe (who, in Greek mythology, ensnared Odysseus for a bit). It looked like it would suit mountain climbers more than pop artists. The main harbour town clings to a perilously high cliff rising around a bay.
At first it feels more Greek than Italian. Its vertiginous paths rival Santorini. I have never peered over a wall to see a back garden quite so very far below me. Take strong Welsh legs if you can. Prepare to abseil back to the port from your boutique hotel if you must. But be ready to clamber.
This Renaissance beauty has it all. For starters, there’s the glorious architecture – who could resist the cheerful pink-and-green facade and famous cupola of the Duomo, the photogenic Piazza della Signoria with its statement statuary, and the Ponte Vecchio’s jumble of shops spanning the river Arno?
For most, though, Florence’s biggest draw is its staggering hoard of world-class paintings, frescoes and sculptures: according to UNESCO, 30 percent of the world’s most important works of art can be found here.
Tuscany has no shortage of winsome hill-towns but San Gimignano stands tall above the rest for its distinctive skyline, bristling with medieval towers, and its remarkably intact historic centre, a gorgeous assemblage of honey-coloured stone buildings.
Its winding backstreets hold frescoed churches and Gothic palazzi, and beyond the city walls on all sides, the hills are blanketed with vineyards and olive groves.
Puglia in the heel of Italy's famous "boot", offers a slow pace, stunning beaches, great food, authentic villages, and wonderful year-round sunny weather.
With its crystalline seas, white-sand beaches and hidden rocky coves, Puglia is many Italians’ favourite place to soak up the sun in the summer months. Its interior is just as beautiful, with wooded hills, wildlife-rich lakes, and endless olive groves: the region produces around 40 percent of Italy’s olive oil.
No one forgets their first glimpse of Venice. However many times you’ve seen it in pictures, you can’t prepare yourself for the sight of a city of stately marble palazzi sitting pretty atop a dazzling green lagoon.
Mesmerizing in sunshine, moodily atmospheric when wreathed in mist, colourful at Carnevale, unforgettable when it floods: Venice is never anything short of a knockout.
Despite Verona’s spurious Shakespeare connections – Juliet’s much-visited balcony is a twentieth-century fabrication – there’s plenty to love about this city.
It’s chock-full of Roman ruins, not least the legendary Arena, the hulking amphitheatre in the centre of town that puts on summer opera performances under the stars; and its historic piazzas and buzzing thoroughfares are ideal for people-watching with the obligatory gelato in hand.
Unashamedly a holiday resort, Sorrento enjoys a privileged perch on the Bay of Naples’ lofty southern peninsula, as well as a gloriously long summer season. Its labyrinthine historic centre holds plenty of Baroque and Renaissance buildings, and its hub, Piazza Tasso, is a fun place for an aperitivo.
For a touch of indulgence, head to one of the glamorous clifftop hotels’ terrace bars: the perfect vantage point to take in that view.
GARDA and COMO lakes
Lake Como and Lake Garda are top travel destinations in Italy year-round—but especially during the summer, when the weather’s hot and the water tempting. While both lakes are beautiful (and famous!), you might have to pick between the two. How can you possibly choose?
Both lakes have been beloved by celebrities since Roman times. (In fact, Pliny the Younger built two seaside resorts at Lake Garda in the 1st century, and the Roman poet Catullus may have had a villa on Lake Garda). But these days, it’s Lake Como that’s getting the most Hollywood buzz.
The general perception is that Lake Garda is more touristy and crowded than Lake Como. That’s not entirely fair—Lake Garda has plenty of quiet, tranquil spots. In fact, the northern part of the lake, which is surrounded by mountains, is rugged and undeveloped.
The difficulty is that the northern part of the lake is trickier to get to (most people come into the towns of Sirmione or to the train station, and it takes some two hours on the ferry to get to the northern part of the lake from there). Meanwhile, Sirmione, in the south, is gorgeous, but full of day-trippers from Verona and Venice.