Italy offers fabulous art and architecture in awe-inspiring cities and fascinating little towns, a glorious variety of countryside and coastline, and some of the finest food and wine served anywhere. You can meet friendly, civilised people and you can easily spend your entire annual clothing budget on designer clothes at bargain prices. All that and Puccini opera under the stars. Holiday bliss!”
Here are 10 excellent reasons to consider a holiday in Italy:
Beaches: You’ll find well-maintained sandy beaches at traditional resorts on the Adriatic coast and in Tuscany. Sardinia is also a bather’s paradise with some classy hotels. For quieter beaches, consider Sicily or Puglia.
Nightlife: Clubbing hotspots include Rome and lively university centres such as Milan. Rimini is among resorts with a party atmosphere. Something more restrained? There’s opera everywhere, including Verdi festivals in Verona and Puccini in Torre del Lago, Tuscany.
Food: Try the delicious regional cuisine. Hearty game and other rustic specialties are enjoyed in the north, while the south is best-known for its seafood and vegetable dishes. Bologna is regarded as the country’s gastronomic capital.
Wine: Italy cultivates more grape varieties than anyone else and almost every region produces memorable wines. Reds include Tuscany’s popular Chianti and Piedmont’s robust Barolo, while Verdicchio and Gavi are among distinctive whites.
Art: The land of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci reputedly has 60% of the world’s most important works of art – and half of these are in Florence. Galleries in every main city display stunning Renaissance works and many, such as the Guggenheim in Venice, have eminent modern collections.
Cities: Places like Rome and Florence offer a wealth of art and history and the big-city attractions of excellent restaurants, entertainment and shopping. Venice is a must for romantics – and check out smaller cities such as Lucca in Tuscany, or Orvieto in Umbria.
Nature: Enjoy the fabulous scenery and wildlife of the national parks, such as those in Abruzzo and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Sicily has two parks and Mount Etna to explore. If you’re mountain-minded, try inland Sardinia or head north into the Alps.
History: There’s no escaping Italy’s rich heritage. Rome launched an empire, Venice was one of the world’s great commercial and maritime centres, and virtually everyone – from the Greeks and Byzantines to the Normans – left their mark on Sicily.
Shopping: Fashionistas head for Milan, but most cities have stores selling the latest from Prada, Armani and Versace. Bargains can be found in designer outlets, particularly in Tuscany, and at street markets around the country.
Touring: Popular routes take in the medieval hill-towns of Tuscany or Umbria, and the lesser-known rural delights of Puglia, the ‘heel’ of Italy.