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The best things to do in Italy for senior travellers

From the green hills of Tuscany to the sapphire tides of Sicily, here's where you need to be.

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Italy is one of the most popular travel destinations for senior travellers or those who are excited to make the most out of their retirement. Why? Because the country offers myriad opportunities to relax and unwind, while still leaving plenty of things to do, and it offers an endless range of opportunities for cultural and historic immersion.

Plus Italy is so different depending on which part you travel to. With the volcanic, sun-drenched scenery and laidback street food markets of Sicily in the south to the mountainous, wine-producing region of Piedmont in the north, from the stylish streets of Milan to the fishing villages of Cinque TerreItaly is the perfect base for those who are looking to enjoy anything from a short city break to a three-month journey.

If you are an over 50s traveller hoping to experience more of Europe, but you would just like to stick to one country (and really make it count!) this boot-shaped nation will never disappoint. Here are the best things to do in Italy for senior travellers:

A food and wine tour through Tuscany

One of the best things about exploring Italy as a senior traveller is that often, on escorted tours and holidays, you will be joined by a like-minded group of travellers. On a gourmet adventure through Tuscany, this is certainly the case. Explore the undulating green hills with your fellow foodies, learning about the region’s deeply-rooted culinary traditions while of course, sampling its best produce. There will be plenty of vineyards to wander and Italian farmhouse lunches to devour.

On a Tuscan trip, you can even head into Florence, where you can while away the morning at a cooking school in the city, and then take to the streets to explore its world-class museums.

Suggested tour: Tuscan Food and Wines

Experience Oberammergau and unwind in Lake Garda

The mountainous northern region of Italy is fascinating for its mix of cultures. As the boundaries of Austria, Germany and Italy converge, there is a unique fusion of cuisine and languages in this scenic part of the world. As such, you can combine your Italy trip with a cultural experience like no other.

Just under two hours from the Italian border, lies the home of the Oberammergau Passion Play. This 1500-villager production portrays the story of Christ's Passion on an open-air stage, depicting tense scenes from the old and new testaments over five hours and two acts. After you have enjoyed Oberammergau, you can journey across the Brenner Pass and back into Italy, stopping at Innsbruck or one of the charming villages nestled high in the Dolomites, before you reach the postcard-worthy Lake Garda.

In Garda, you can take your time exploring the gorgeous scenery surrounding the lake, including the dramatic mountain peaks and the citrus and olive groves. Along the way, be sure to experience the distinct personality of each town lining the shore.

Suggested tour: Oberammergau and Lake Garda

Travel back in time at Pompeii

While Rome is an undeniably attractive choice for history-lovers, a visit further south offers a chance to combine archaeological discovery with a well-earned coastal break.

Just 16 miles from the city of Naples lies Pompeii, an ancient complex torn apart and yet intricately preserved by the vicious eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. Covered up for hundreds of years, Pompeii was rediscovered during the 18th century, revealing a beautiful network of villas, temples and frescoed houses. Today, a visit to this site will offer the curious a vibrant glimpse into ancient Roman life.

From Pompeii, you can take a scenic coastal drive along the Amalfi coast, a time-old Italian vacation spot featuring rock faces plunging into the ocean, bridges spanning deep gorges, hillsides covered in vines and fruit, gardens overlooking the water, and elegant towns with stylish locals and travellers. 

Suggested tour: Capri, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in the Italian Lakes region

New Year’s Eve can be a tricky one, often with the hype outweighing the enjoyment of the night. But not in Italy. What better place to ring in the new year, and farewell the one that was, than on the vibrant shores of Lake Como? Known for breathtaking natural beauty, sophisticated historic villas, and for being one of Italy’s largest lakes, Lake Como is a must-see during your Italian odyssey.

Spend the week leading up to New Year’s in a lovely hotel, visiting the town of Bellagio - which sits on promontory entering Lake Como, offering spectacular mountain views! - and witnessing Como Town's magnificent Light Festival. On the night of nights, indulge in a five-course meal with a sparkling wine followed by live music.

Suggested tour: New Year on Lake Como

Serena is a writer based in London. Born in Malaysia and raised in Australia, she calls the UK home despite only recently acclimatising to the dearth of sunshine. Her writing has appeared in The Independent, Business Insider, South China Morning Post, i-D, Refinery29, Glamour, Vox, Metro, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan. She has also published a book of aerial photography: How Women See The World. Throughout her decade-long career, Serena has told the stories of Arctic explorers, human rights activists, award-winning chefs, refugees, and the UK’s last lighthouse keepers.

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