How to plan a trip to Italy

Best places to visit in italy

How to plan a Trip to Italy and why Italy should be on the top of your list of vacation destinations.

If you are wondering what is so special about Italy we can help answer the question. Hands down, the best way to understand why Italy is so special is to go there and experience it for yourself. This unique boot shaped country is consistently on the list of most visited countries. Many of its cities are included in the lists of top cities to visit. While there are many reasons to put Italy on your bucket list, in our view there are three main factors.

Number One: The Italian Culture ... la "Bella Vita" Art, Philosophy, history and Lifestyle.

Italians love living life well. This predisposition has survived many hard times that Italy has faced from World War II to todays global recession. Italians have very clear ideas about what constitutes living well or la "Bella Vita" and they live it in a most natural way. Their love and appreciation of art and music is so effortless given the fact that Dante, Michelangelo Da Vinci and other greats part of their daily lives as they walk past their masterpieces or study their works in their schools. History, Italians are surrounded with the vestiges of their past from the Etruscans to the mighty Roman Empire. This formidable past is much appreciated by Italians and has been skillfully incorporated into their present. Their fashion sense is instilled in them from a young age as they live along side the great designers such as Armani, Ferragamo, Gucci and many others. This Italian trait of appreciating and assimilating their cultural heritage so naturally to them, attracts people to visit this country and inspires them to take a little bit of this home with them.

Rome - Piazza Navona
Sardinia - traditional parade in Oristano
Trip to Italy - Pisa

Number Two: Italian Food and Wine

Food and wine of Italy is another of the components that bring people back to visit this wonderful country. They give scrupulous attention to the cultivation of good quality organic food and how it is prepared, served and with what wine. Italian food is one of the most popular foods throughout the world, but don't be fooled to think that it Italian cuisine is limited to Pizza and Pasta. First of all there is no such thing as "Italian cuisine" From north to south Italy offers hundreds of different culinary experiences. For example did you know that in the North of Italy rich sauces using butter are popular while in the south, tomato sauces and olive oil are mostly used? Italy's diversity in cuisine is due to historical, geographical and cultural differences that exist in the country. However, the one thing that binds Italians from every region together at the table is the uncompromising dedication to using only the finest, freshest local ingredients and to prepare them with love.

Of course Italy is also known for its great wines. From north to south, Italy's wines have gained incredible popularity and Italian producers have distinguished themselves by producing high quality wines. In Italy you can find very traditional as well as modern wine making techniques. Tuscany wine tours just to mention one region have become a regular addition to most Italian vacations.

Italian food tasting
Italy wine tours
Italy wine tasting

Number Three: Natural Breathtaking Beauty & Picturesque Cities and Towns

Last but not least, the natural and beauty and exciting cities of Italy keep travels coming back year after year. Italy has it all: majestic mountains, lakes, seashore, wide sandy beaches, dramatic rocky coast lines, gently rolling hills, volcanoes, and islands. From the awesome Alp and Dolomite mountains, to the gentle rolling hills of Tuscany to the magnificent colors of the Mediterranean, Italy has inspired works of art throughout the ages. Scenes have been captured on canvas, and songs, poems and novels have been written about its scenic wonders.

Tuscany landscape
Liguria Coast
Dolomities

What are the best places to visit in Italy?

The Capital: Rome

And of course there is Rome the political, religious and historical capital. In this city perhaps better than in any other place in Italy the visitor can see the relationship Italians have between past and the future. In this vibrant and exciting city the old and modern world coexist in a beautiful and elegant way. The Colosseum, Roman Forum, beautiful piazza's graced with architectural and artistic masterpieces are a backdrop to the modern life. The Vatican as the center of Catholicism but also as the custodian of an immense collection of art from all over the world and of one of the most renowned works by Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel, is one of the most visited sites in Italy.

Rome - Roman Forum
Rome - Colosseum
Vatican MuseumsItaly Tips

Florence and the Tuscany Region

Tuscany located in the center of Italy offers everything possible for an exceptional trip to Italy. The region is blessed with a varied landscapes that extend from the mountains of the Apennine chain to the coasts of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its many beautiful towns hold an immense collection of historical and artistic works. Florence of course is the center of this artistic treasure with its Uffizi Gallery and Accademia not to mention other important structures as the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio and much more. Smaller towns such as Siena, Pisa, and Arezzo, hold many masterpieces from the great artists in their churches and many architectural wonders as well.

Of course Tuscany is widely known for its food and wines and this is one of the big draws to the region. Here a visitor can learn all about how to grow, prepare and eat the best quality food accompanied by amazing wines. There are different wine regions within Tuscany producing world class wines; Chianti Classico, Montepulciano, Brunello, and the wines of the Bolgheri, Sassicaia and Ornellaia are just a few.

Tuscany offers something for everyone from culinary experiences to art and history to active holidays. Its beautiful coast line is also a great location for a beach break. There are wonderful resort towns like Forte Dei Marmi that offer wonderful hotels, beaches and lively nightlife during the summer months. For those who like to relax in a Spa, Tuscany is the place for you. From spas with thermal waters to the most sophisticated spas with vino therapy, Tuscany offers world class spas in postcard like settings.

Florence - Duomo
Florence
Tuscany Tours

Venice and the Veneto Region

Venice in the Veneto region has become synonymous with romance and mystery. The canals the gondolas, the bridges, and the its beautiful architecture make Venice a most unique city that draws scores of tourists to it every year. Staying in Venice is special and you may end up in a hotel that was once a palace. You can imagine elegant ladies and gentlemen strolling about in their 17th century attire. The famous St. Mark's square is the hub of the city and the center of its artistic treasures housed in the Basilica of St. Mark and the impressive Doges Palace.

From Venice you can easily visit some very interesting cities and towns in the Veneto region. Verona the city of Romeo and Juliette is a wonderful day trip from Venice. Here you can see Juliette's house and the balcony made famous in the work of William Shakespeare. The Arena of Verona, a Roman amphitheater hosts an impressive opera season each year.

On your day trip you may include a visit of the Valpolicella wine region and visit one of the many historical wineries where one of the most famous wines of the region is produced; the Amarone wine. Other interesting day trips are to the north of Venice to the hill towns of Veneto at the foot of the Dolomite mountains. Here you can see beautiful towns like Asolo, and Marostica and you can sample a glass of the local sparkling wine, Prosecco.

Venice - Rialto Bridge
Venice - Gondola Ride
Verona - Juliet Balcony

Sorrento and the splendid Amalfi Coast

The Campania region in the south of Italy is great addition to an Italy trip. Its lovely seaside towns offer beautiful scenery, wonderful food and relaxing resort-like atmosphere. The people of the south are warm and generous and hospitable and love to share the beauty, history and culture of their land.

Sorrento is a lively town and a great base to visit areas surrounding it. The town offers a good selection of excellent restaurants and there are hotels for all budgets. It is a very convenient location from which to visit the Isle of Capri. Ferries leave frequently from the port of Sorrento for this famous Island. On Capri you can spend the day exploring its sites, shops and restaurants. You can also visit the awesome Blue Grotto.

Moving further down the coast form Sorrento you can drive along the fabled Amalfi Coast. The hairpin turns, the rugged cliffs and the mesmerizing turquoise color of the sea, make the Amalfi coast one of the most break taking areas of all of Italy. Positano, Amalfi and Ravello are a few of the towns along this coast where you can visit or stay.

The area is also rich with ancient history with the archeological sites of Pompeii, Paestum and Herculaneum. And of course you will not miss seeing the imposing Mt. Vesuvius as it looms over the bay of Naples.

Amalfi Coast drive
Positano
Capri Faraglioni

The Beautiful North

In the north you have the Alps and dolomite mountains not to mention the beautiful lakes like Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Garda. The region of Piedmont offers the important wine regions producing Barolo and Barbaresco wines. Milan in the region of Lombardi offering the elegance of a fashion capital and the famous Opera house La Scala and the DaVinci's masterpiece "the last supper" is a an excellent choice to add to a Northern Italian tour. The north western coast offers from the north the Italian Riviera with its elegant towns, the port of Genoa, the famous Portofino and the incredible Cinque Terre.

Lake Como
Milan - Duomo
Piedmont - Venaria Reale

Liguria

Liguria with its 186 miles of coastline makes up the Italian Riviera. It offers divers ways to enjoy an Italian vacation from nature to culture and entertainment and nightlife. There are two important UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Liguria. The city of Genoa is one such site. The old part of the city tells the story of the historical Maritime Republic. Here you can see 16th century architecture in the Palazzi Dei Rolli which was built for the aristocracy and politicians of the day. Not to be missed in Genoa is the amazing Aquarium, the largest and most complete in Europe. The structure was designed by the architect Renzo Piano.

The Cinque Terre is the most famous of the UNESCO sites. This area comprises of five fishing villages Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. You can visit the towns by foot on the hiking path, by train or by boat. The area is extremely scenic with colorful houses of the towns, rugged cliffs and deep blue sea.

Liguria is known for its wonderful seafood but it's most famous for its Pesto. This delicious green sauce used on pasta and ravioli is made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan and pecorino cheese and extra-virgin olive oil.

Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre
Liguria Coast

Umbria

Umbria neighbor to Tuscany is another wonderful region worth exploring. Not as known as Tuscany, it has retained its genuine flavor. Umbria is the land of Saint Francis. In Assisi you can visit the Basilica of the famous saint and visit this amazing medieval town. Other wonderful towns include Perugia, Spoleto, Gubbio and Orvieto. Because Umbria is landlocked and does not border any other country, it has retained many cultural and culinary traditions. You will not be disappointed with a visit to Umbria its historic towns, natural beauty and wonderful people will enhance any visit to Italy.

Umbria - Assisi
Umbria ladscape
Umbria - Perugia

Puglia

The Region of Puglia has come to be known as the "new Tuscany". There are many reasons for this. Puglia is an undiscovered jewel. It offers so many options for the visitor and remains a region where one can enjoy an authentic experience.

The cities of Puglia are rich in history and art. Because Puglia has an extensive coastline, it has been conquered by many foreign groups. You will find vestiges of Norman, Spanish, Turk, Greek and Swabian cultures. Bari is the capital and a great place to start a visit of Puglia. Here you will find different architectures from the Castel Del Monte built under the reign of Frederick II of Swabia and the majestic Basilica di San Nicola with its Romanesque architecture. The city of Lecce is called the Florence of the south due to its 17th century architecture. The city of Ostuni is absolutely stunning with its glittering whitewashed houses. The city is built on different levels connected with staircases, small roads and alleys. It is a must see.

Then there is Alberobello, a Unesco World Heritage site. Here you will find the remarkable structures called Trulli which are cone shape houses built using the same techniques from prehistoric times.

Puglia's growing popularity can also be attributed to its unique cuisine. The area is known for its wonderful seafood and local products such as Olive Oil. It is also winning prizes for its superb wines. Foodies can enjoy and learn how to make typical dishes in one of the many "masserie" or farms where you can visit for a cooking lesson or a tasting. Puglia is definitely a wonderful addition to a trip to Italy.

Puglia - Trani
Puglia - Ostuni
Puglia - Alberobello

The Islands: Sicily

Many cultures from the past have left their imprint on Sicily creating its unique cultural and culinary traditions. For lovers of ancient history Sicily is a veritable museum. The Island offers a vast selection of beautifully preserved archeological sites from the Greco-Roman era. Sicily is a perfect place to visit in Italy especially if you have experienced the main land. Its people are warm and hospitable always ready with great food and wine. The cities Palermo, Agrigento, Syracusa, Modica, Taormina and many more offer history and culture from the Greeks to the Normans. Its beaches are un spoilt and the fishing villages doting its coast are quaint and charming.

Sicily - Palermo
Sicily - Segesta
Sicily - Monreale

The Islands: Sardinia

Sardinia is an ancient land with roots in the Nuragic civilization circa 1500 BC. This predates the Etruscan civilization of the mainland.

The Island is best known for its emerald coast which is the beautiful resort area of its north eastern coast. Here in Porto Cervo the exclusive town built by the Aga Khan is the mecca for the rich and famous. But the Island offers so much more for lovers of active holidays; hiking, climbing, boating, swimming and much more. Inland you will find un-spoilt landscapes and the stone monuments of the Nuragic civilization.

Sardinia
Sardinia
How to Plan a Trip to Italy