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. Come and explore Italy with us!
best time to travel
Spring (April, May) and Fall (September, October) are delightful times to visit Italy. You can visit in summer too - but the weather will be hot and it is the busiest travel time.
places to go
Rome the Eternal City, one of the world's most beautiful and inspiring capitals. An artistic, spiritual and architectural heritage dating back two millennia is on display in its churches, palaces and world-class museums. Its streets, patios and squares brim with life. Its core is an energy and a Mediterranean rhythm, the rhythm of people enjoying La Dolce Vita.
A city built in a lagoon, the capital of the old Venetian Empire, the city that took on Byzantine Constantinople, a city with a proud history, reflected in its palaces and churches lining its canals. Discover this city of hidden alleyways, small intimate cafes where you eat the freshest of seafood standing at the counter, a city overflowing with incredible churches and museums, filled with artistic treasures.
Craggy peaks towering up to the sky, where wooden farmhouses dot the orchard-clad valleys, where hiking trails lead you from mountain huts to spa resorts to glorious vistas. These are the Dolomites, part Austrian, part Italian, with a culture all its own.
Stately villas and romantic towns line the shores of the lakes in northern Italy. Forested slopes lead your eye to the never too-distant snowy peaks of the Alps. Beguiling villages dot the landscape and beautiful vantage points abound, be it your hotel terrace or a viewpoint reached on foot or by cable car.
Birthplace of the Renaissance, where narrow streets lead to light-filled squares, where palaces hide intrigue of an age gone by, where bridges lead to museums overflowing with world-famous art, where intimate cafes beg you to stop in for some wonderful Florentine food.
Cliffs plunging into the sea, colourful villages clinging to the mountain side, walking trails wending their way through walled farmyards down to the sea. The Cinque Terre is one of Italy's most famous and most picturesque areas.
It is the classical Tuscan view of poppy fields and stately cypress trees leading you into a vista of town walls and fortified towers high up on a hill. Enter the town and wander its cobblestones streets, visit its galleries and shops and sit down for a gourmet meal. This is La Dolce Vita, Tuscan style.
Isolated Umbria is a unique area where many of Italy's old traditions still survive. Medieval hilltop towns, dominated by fresco-clad churches grace its ancient landscapes of mountains, flower-decked meadows, vineyards and forests. Walk the trails of Francis of Assisi, or sample its wonderful cuisine - Umbria is the beating heart of Italy.
Steep mountains rising from the turquoise Mediterranean, slopes covered in lemon groves, white-washed villages lining deep valleys where they meet the ocean. Explore covered alleys leading to hidden courtyards and sit down for a glass of wine or some gelato. Follow ancient footpaths and stairs up the hills to hamlets tucked away in forest-covered hills. Hike up to a vantage point and marvel at the views over this, the Amalfi Coast.
Picture olive groves with trees as ancient as the world, a landscape dotted with trulli and criss-crossed by quiet country lanes, beautiful towns boasting exquisite churches and sea side resorts perched over azure-blue seas. And then there is the food, the glorious food that made Puglia famous.
Meeting point between East and West, Africa and Europe, Islam and Christendom, Sicily has been a melting pot of cultures since the days of the ancient Greeks. Seas where fishermen haul their daily catch on to the beach, a smoking volcano, intriguing towns and cities, ancient ruins and a hinterland all its own, Sicily is a mesmerisingly beautiful island and a highlight for many visitors to Italy.
There is no better country in the world to experience art than Italy. Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, Milan - indeed the entire country is one incredible repository of art. Among the best known are the Vatican Museums in Rome and the Uffizi in Florence. But don't miss out on such hidden gems as Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in Rome or the utterly moving Cappella Sansevero in Naples.
Vivaldi in Venice
Music can enrich your travel experiences and nowhere more so than at Interpreti Veneziani: Vivaldi on 18th century instruments in a Baroque church. You will never listen to The Four Seasons the same way again!
Climb the Duomo in Florence
Come eye to eye with an incredible artistic Renaissance interpretation of hell inside the dome of the cathedral in Florence. Then step out and soak up the view.
Hike the hills
From the hills of Tuscany to the craggy peaks of the Dolomites, from the villages of the Cinque Terre to the towns of the Amalfi and the volcanoes of Sicily, Italy is a country made for walking. Don't forget to join the locals as they enjoy their evening stroll, the passeggiata.
Cycle villages and vineyards
Cycle between hilltop towns in beautiful Tuscany, between vineyards in the Veneto, or on the forgotten roads of Puglia. Cycling enhances your senses, slows the world down and brings it into focus.
Climb a volcano
The south of Italy is an active volcanic zone with peaks such as Vesuvius and Etna dominating the landscape. Take a stroll to peer into Vesuvius' crater, hike to the rim on Etna and enjoy the views, or trek the slopes of the picturesque and varied Aeolian Islands.
Italian cuisine, with a pedigree stretching back to antiquity, is characterized by its simplicity, with most dishes consisting of four to eight ingredients. Savour cicchetti with a glass of local white wine in Venice, pizza in Naples, spring lamb in Rome, strudel in the Dolomites, tagliatelle with truffles in Umbria or bruschetta in Tuscany.
A culture of wine
Italian wines are known for their regional differences. Try a glass of Barolo with beef, pizza with Chianti classico or pasta with Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. When in doubt, let the waiter or sommelier recommend a wine or follow your own taste.
Ride a gondola or ferry
Is there a more quintessential experience than riding a gondola in Venice? How about taking it up a notch - hire an opera singer to accompany you... If that's not your thing, be sure to take a vaporetto up and down the Grand Canal during the day, at dusk and at night.
Explore a hilltop town
Follow cobblestone streets lined with high stone facades down to the piazza, duck in and out of galleries and small stores, savour a good meal with a view over the surrounding vineyards, fields and forests - this is il dolce far niente - the sweet art of doing nothing.
Take a break from sightseeing and find solace in the quiet of a chapel tucked away in the busy streets of Rome or a monastery hidden deep in the Umbrian hills.
Roam a ruin
With a history as rich as Italy's, be sure to spend some time exploring its many ruins. From the Valley of the Temples in Sicily to the Forum in Rome and the villas of Herculaneum and Pompeii, picture what it was like to live in places like these.