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Holidays to Italy offer a feast for the senses; flavours from one of the world’s best-loved cuisines; scents of mountain air and coastal breezes; warmth on your skin from the Mediterranean sun, and the sights and sounds of a place exuding history and charm at every corner.
Discover the stunning lakes and mountains of Northern Italy, in Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige and the Veneto, where the elegant resorts, sumptuous villas and fragrant gardens that fringe the shores of Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore provide the framework for a memorable Italy holiday, especially when combined with a tour of great Italian cities like Milan, Turin, Verona and Venice, the last justifiably amongst the world’s most popular wish-list destinations.Read more
Head south, into the plain of Emilia-Romagna, to find renowned centres of gastronomy like Modena and Bologna – ‘the Fat’ – and other small Italian cities, such as Mantova and Ferrara, bursting with colour and romance. Continue into Tuscany, the thrilling heart of Renaissance Italy, where jewels like Pisa, Lucca, Siena, San Gimignano and peerless Florence stud a landscape of rolling hills, cypress trees and vineyards. Take time to discover each city’s delights, revel in great art and wonder at some of Europe’s most striking buildings and monuments.
Eternal City Rome, set between the prosperous north and the rugged, largely agrarian south, is the cultural glue that holds the country together, its three-thousand-year-old history, reflected in its truly awe-inspiring ruins and monuments, combining with its irrepressible zest for la dolce vita to ensure the city ranks amongst any on the world stage. Wander past ancient sights agog at their preserved glory, shop in some of the world’s most stylish streets, throw coins in a fountain, dine wonderfully – and not always expensively - on dishes drawn from throughout the country, and simply sit and watch the Roman world go by.
Italy’s south begins in Campania, where one of the country’s most enthralling cities – noisy, independent, pizza-loving Naples - one of its most striking natural sights – brooding, conical Vesuvius – and some of its most alluring coastlines, the stunning bays of Naples and Salerno, draw the eye and flood the senses of delighted visitors. Don’t miss Naples’ verve and vigour, lemon-scented Sorrento’s colourful charms, the dizzying Amalfi Drive, and gorgeous resorts like Positano, Amalfi, Ravello and Salerno, all awash with Southern Italian colour and crumbling charm. Offshore, Capri epitomises island idyll and expensive chic – a must-do, must-see bucket-list favourite.
Further south still, in the dusty provinces of Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria, another Italy awaits, one shaped as much by successive invaders as by its hardy inhabitants, where Spanish, Greek and even Arab influences are keenly felt in the towns and cities, the culture and the cuisine of Italy’s sun-baked foot. Discover Bari’s souks, Alberobello’s iconic, conical trulli, Lecce’s Baroque treasures, the barren beauty of Le Murge hills and some of the Adriatic’s bluest, most inviting waters on the gorgeous, verdant Gargano peninsula – all part of Puglia’s increasingly popular attraction.
Completing the mainland south, known as the mezzogiorno – literally midday, but flowing to the region’s sun-filled days – the provinces of Basilicata and Calabria are the country’s least populated, most rugged of all, with Matera’s famed sassi caves, some recently inhabited by some of the country’s poorest souls, others much renovated and sought after, drawing increasing numbers from across the globe. Calabria, Italy’s toe, faces west to the Tyrrhenian Sea and east towards the Ionian, across which its former Greek colonisers once sailed. Largely ignored by all but the most intrepid traveller, places like pretty cliff-top Tropea, on Calabria’s west coast, university seat Cosenza, the wild, protected Sila National Park and the ancient Greek relics at Locri on the Ionian coast, all await discovery and exploration.
There is probably no better way to understand modern-day Italy than through its food. Food and a pride in the nations favourite dishes is nothing less than a source of national unity.
Each region in Italy produces and protects its share of the world’s favourite dishes, and some of its most revered produce, meaning a trip through the country is a culinary event unlike any other. Popular local dishes include pizza and pasta. While in Lake Garda, try yota – a stew made with beans, ham and garlic or ‘pike and polenta’. Pike is one of the species fished straight from the lake and is delicious served traditionally with a ‘Gardesana’ sauce and creamy polenta. Don’t forget to round off your meal with an ice-cream from one of the many gelatarie – we recommend stracciatella flavour, milk-based ice-cream with fine, irregular shavings of chocolate.