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What are the best adventure and cultural holidays in Italy

Italy, Oh Italy - land of la Vita Bella! Where style and flair live next to Michelangelo and Bellini. Where ancient Roman ruins stand next to Renaissance churches. Where picturesque hilltop towns look over verdant vineyards. Where good food and wine are a way of life. From the canals of Venice to the museums and churches of Rome, from the sheer mountains of the Dolomites to the stunning Amalfi Coast, from the villages and volcanoes of the deep south to the villas of Lake Garda - here are the best adventure and cultural tours, trips and holidays in Italy. including the vacation I booked for myself.

Cultural Discovery Tours

For first-time visitors, Iconic Italy is probably your best bet. From the villages of the Cinque Terre to Tuscany's medieval splendour, this is an adventure for those looking to indulge in all of Italy’s delights: Venice, Lake Como, Rome, Florence, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. Another great introduction to Italy, but focusing as much on experiences as on famous sights is Italy Experience. And if you have a month to spare and want to see all of what makes Italy special, consider Venice to Sicily.

The variety and richness of Sicily's heritage is unparalleled - nowhere else have the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Spanish and Italians left such an indelible historical legacy. On our Sicily Grand Tour we sample the island's best UNESCO heritage sites, impressive archaeological treasures, quaint villages and its diverse landscape.

Walking holidays

In the far north of the country, the small village of Villabassa is the perfect base for this Dolomites walking holiday, sandwiched as it is between the spectacular, jagged limestone peaks. An inspirational guided walk joining two of the most important Tuscan cities, Florence, the city of Leonardo, Giotto, Dante and Brunelleschi, and Siena, native land of the "Palio", is our Classic Tuscany Guided Walk. Between the two lies the Chianti wine region, an area of rolling vine covered hills, medieval villages and olive groves visited on this Walking trip in Tuscany staying in lovely comfortable hotels. The Cinque Terre or 'five lands' is a stunning coastal area running along the Ligurian coast in Italy. It consists of very steep rugged hillsides, which plunge dramatically into the sea. Quite unexpectedly, and against all odds, five vibrant fishing villages cling to the bottom of these hillsides just above the sea.

Probably one of our best-selling trips ever is Walking the Amalfi Coast. Mountains jut steeply out of the Mediterranean and picturesque towns nestled in the coves below as you walk the ancient hillsides studded with lemon groves and framed by deep gorges. If you want to upgrade your hotels and stay down by the water, this Amalfi Coast trip is for you.

Cycling trips

Bike and barge in the Veneto is a unique concept where you cycle during the day and sleep on a converted boat at night. Beginning in Venice, cycle through seaside towns, taste wine and cheese while in the evening you experience the camaraderie of your fellow cyclists, whilst moored at picturesque locations. Encounter the picturesque hills and olive groves of Tuscany on this cycling adventure from Florence to Pisa. In the south, Cilento National Park is largely undisturbed by the 21st Century and as you cycle through Cilento to Amalfi, through quaint fishing villages, you realise that the traditional way of life is still very evident. Further south, while Cycling in Sicily, explore the south-eastern part of the island, pedalling through the Baroque gems of Ragusa, Modica, Noto and up to Syracuse, the ancient Greek capital.

Luxury trips

On our Essence of Italy, discover the Eternal City of Rome, the Renaissance glories of Florence and Tuscany, and the dazzling Cinque Terre, indulging in unforgettable food and wine and experiencing Italian culture up close. Learn valuable tips and techniques from a National Geographic photographer as you document iconic Italian sights, from the canals of Venice to Rome’s Vatican Museumson our Italy Photography Expedition. Recapture the glamour and elegance of rail travel’s golden age as you ride the British Pullman and the Belmond Venice Simplon Orient-Express from London to Venice, connecting in Paris along the way. Hike to hilltop towns perched above Chianti’s vineyard-laced valleys, discover San Gimignano’s soaring towers and Siena’s Gothic architecture, and explore the coastal villages of the Cinque Terre on a series of spectacular walks and hikes. Discover the glories of Southern Italy on a panoramic journey that includes Sicily's ancient ruins and exotic landscapes, the remote towns of Calabria and Puglia, and the breathtaking Isle of Capri on the sparkling Amalfi Coast.

Foodie trips

A visit to Italy is worth it for the food alone. To combine a food focussed itinerary with one of the country's most charismatic walking trails and historically rich regions, as Food Lover's Francigena Way does, makes the allure to travel to Italy almost irresistible.

On Italy Real Food Adventure you uncover the secrets of Italian cuisine while travelling from Venice to Rome. On South Italy Real Food Adventure you discover why the southern Italian regions of Puglia, Basilicata and Campania are the newest foodie hot spots everyone's raving about. Combine both trips in to the 15-day gourmet Italian Odyssey Real Food Adventure.

Italy is famous for its food and nowhere is that more evident than on a foodie adventure in Sicily. The various civilisations that have occupied the island over millennia have not only left an unparalleled cultural heritage, but a culinary history that sets Sicily aside from mainland Italy.

Sailing trips

Set sail across some of the clearest, bluest water on earth on our Sardinia & Corsica Sailing Adventure. Island-hop stopping to snorkel among the coves, swim am,ong the islands, or find a quiet spot on a white sandy beach. Or fall in love with Italy’s Amalfi Coast on a cruise through Sorrento, Capri and Procida.

Self-guided trips

On self-guided trips we book your hotels, transfer your luggage and give you clear maps and route notes so you can walk or cycle at your own pace.

The countryside of Piedmont, a gastronomic gem quietly tucked into Italy's north-western corner, is a glorious mix of gently rippling, wave-shaped hills cloaked by layers of vines, sunflowers and oak forests, crowned with honey-hued hamlets and majestic Savoy castles. Enjoy all aspects of it on our Gastronomic Barolo Self-Guided Walk. Meanwhile, explore unspoilt Chianti countryside with the chance to visit the world-famous cities of Florence and Siena on our Volterra to San Gimignano Self-Guided Walk.

From Canterbury in England to Rome in Italy, the 1900km Francigena Way dates back to the 11th century when pilgrims travelled across Europe on foot to Rome. We offer the Italian section of this route in bite-size one-week segments. For those with more time it's possible to walk the whole Italian route and discover the history, culture and camaraderie of the The Full Francigena Way. Each of the Cinque Terre towns and villages has its own unique character and flavour and on our Cinque Terre Villages self-guided walk you will dicover them all.

The Amalfi Coast is a land where the mountains, marquis pastures, lemon groves, vineyards and villages meet the sea. A place where you could be strolling on a rugged trail for one moment and then in the next be winding down through a citrus grove then through a pleasant village towards the blue waters of the Mediterranean, gelati in hand. You can do it all on our Classic Amalfi Coast.

Winter trips

Dobbiaco, is a charming town set at 1200m amid the unique scenery of the Dolomites, in the Alta Pusteria region. Days are spent following a variety of ski tracks deep in the heart of the mountains, with their towering limestone walls and jagged peaks of coloured stone.

And the trip I booked for myself?

This fall I am returning for my 9th visit to Italy. I booked Self-Guided Walking in the Italian Dolomites - Premium. With over 1000 kilometers of trails, the Italian Dolomites are a mecca for high-level walkers. And at night I get to retire to the beautiful 4-star Park Hotel Bellevue. It combines old-world charm with good old-fashioned hospitality. Facilities include a luxurious spa with sauna, steam room, swimming pool, massage/beauty treatments....

For more Italy highlights and must-have experience, visit out Italy page.

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