The joy of Italy is that it offers you so many different types of holiday experiences. There are 20 regions from North to South and they all offer diverse scenery and activities. Magnificent mountain peaks and serene lakes characterise the north, then there are the farms in the lush green hills and charming coastal villages of regions like Tuscany and Umbria, that provide art and famous Italian gastronomy.
The stunning coasts of Puglia and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia in the south with their white-gold sands, surrounded by turquoise seas, are waiting to be explored. This incredible range of landscapes lends itself to a huge storybook of history and culture. You’ll find a veritable treasure trove, including ancient cities bursting at the seams with the world’s best-loved works of art and architecture. No wonder Italy dominates the UNESCO cultural sites list! Come and see it.
In the north of Italy there is so much choice. You can explore ornate villas, built by the aristocracy to host their grand parties in the Italian Lakes. There are the Tuscan treasures of Florence and Siena. Widely considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is heaven for culture vultures – especially art lovers.You can immerse yourself in many breath-taking works, including those of Michelangelo, Botticelli, Donatello, Brunelleschi.
Lovers of fashion must browse the classy shops of Milan, showcasing Italian designer brands like Prada, Armani and Versace. The city also boasts world-revered architecture and art: marvel at the marble façade of its Gothic Duomo, and Da Vinci's painting of ‘The Last Supper’. There’s opera to die for too, at La Scala in Milan, one of the world's most famous opera houses. Parma is also known for opera, because conductor Arturo Toscanini was born.You could satiate your literary thirst by discovering the romantic cities of Shakespeare’s plays, like Verona and Venice; and your literal thirsts by driving an hour from Venice to the Prosecco region, to imbibe its world-class bubbles of the same name. Then there’s more awesome art and architecture in beautiful Bologna.
Big city highlights: Rome and Venice
The ancient capital of a vast empire – and modern-day marvel, is an exhilarating outdoor museum with indoor masterpieces for visitors of all ages. It offers everything from some of the best historic sites in the world (the entire historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site) – to the verdant Villa Borghese gardens - to the setting of ‘La Dolce Vita’, the classic boulevard Via Veneto. Awe-inspiring art and architecture are everywhere: Rome is the cradle of Catholic Christianity and Vatican City is home to the stunning Saint Peter’s Square, with its 13th-century-BC Egyptian obelisk and a monumental colonnade, watched over by 140 beautiful statues of saints.
This romantic and surreal city of marble palaces and iconic gondoliers navigating narrow canals offers an experience you won’t find anywhere else. Built in the middle of the Venetian Lagoon, it drips with history and culture. Venice is a carnival city and holds many throughout the year; the most well-known is Venice Carnival in February. The sheer spectacle and atmosphere, with party-goers donning ornate, baroque costumes and masks is worth a trip to Venice in itself. You can even participate and dress up. we can organise costumes for you, as long as you book early.
The South of Italy is a beautiful tapestry of lush green fields, perfect for farmland and great walks; sizzling sandy beaches and sleepy coastal fishing villages – and historic sites bursting with art and architecture. Then there’s the glorious cuisine, especially fresh seafood and fragrant, refreshing wines.
Puglia is well worth exploring, with over 800km of beautiful coastline, vineyards and olive groves, pretty villages and a wonderfully mild climate. The village of Alberobello with its conical-roofed dwellings called trulli, is a ‘must see’. You can stay in traditional ‘masserie’ - a sort of fortified farm typical to the region.
The Neapolitan Riviera provides incredible holidays, with one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world. The Amalfi Coast has UNESCO World Heritage status and rightly so – it offers some spectacular scenery that sears itself in your memory, as much as the sunshine. The majestic Amalfi Coast is a 50 km stretch of coastline along the Sorrentine peninsula that includes the towns of Positano, Amalfi, and the hilltop village of Ravello. It has winding clifftop roads with panoramic views of the sparkling waters of the Tyrrhenian sea. Sorrento sits on a stunning rocky peninsula, overlooking the Bay to the Island of Capri and Naples – perfect for excursions.
Naples itself is worth discovering – it has two royal palaces, ancient ruins, three castles and Caravaggio masterpieces for starters. Nearby are the haunting archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which are well worth visiting.
The Island of Capri is famous for its Blue Grotto, a beautiful cave of light turquoise waters hidden in dramatic rocky cliffs. There are two picturesque little towns, Capri and Anacapri; Piazetta in Capri is 'the place to be' in the evening. There are two harbours, Marina Piccola and Marina Grande, as well as the lovely gardens of Augustus and the Faraglioni Rocks to explore.
The Island of Ischia is the largest of the Neapolitan islands and also known as 'the green isle'. You can experience the soothing qualities of its thermal springs in fantastic thermal parks along the coast - havens of peace and tranquillity. If you love gardens, also visit the Villa La Mortella, previous home to composer Sir William Walton, which has a wonderful display of over 3,000 rare plants.
Stunning Sardinia has unspoilt, white and rose-gold sandy beaches that provide barefoot bliss. The north east coast of Sardinia is known as the Costa Smeralda or Emerald Coast and is home to several smart resorts nestling in sandy coves lapped by crystalline waters. The rugged coastline has amazing rock formations and there are some wonderful views across to the amazing archipelago of La Maddalena.
The island of Sicily is the largest in Italy and its rich history explains why it offers so much variety; the wealth of historical and archaeological sites, delicious food and wine, and glorious scenery with dreamy beaches. Explore the 3rd century BC Greek Theatre of Taormina, with the Mediterranean Sea and Mount Etna as its awe-inspiring backdrop. Stroll around the historical city of Syracuse, with its enormous amphitheatre and contrasting baroque centre. Marvel at the golden mosaics of Monreale Cathedral – a Norman masterpiece just outside of Palermo.