Thursday, April 18

Travel guide to Italy

Why it will be your favorite

Italy captured my heart on a trip arranged by my sixth-form college’s art instructor. We drove from the Alps all the way down to Sicily in an old VW van. For six weeks, we slept in campgrounds, set up easels in piazzas crowded with pigeons, and overall had an amazing time. That vacation sparked my passion for travel in general as well as Italy specifically. There weren’t many people or cruise ships congested in Venice back then (don’t even try to guess when). There wasn’t much of a line for the Sistine Chapel or the Uffizi. Sicily was much more wild than Puglia. My first pizza taste was from a truck on a deserted beach with tamarisk trees in the background. I recall falling asleep on the roof of the van as the sky burst with stars. The mosquitoes didn’t bother me at all.

Read More: vakantie Italië

I’ve been there every year since, and while things have changed, the enchantment still exists. By that, what do I mean? Well, Italy is more to me than just a place with an abundance of priceless artwork and well maintained buildings. It has everything to do with looking out to sea at sunset and allowing the soothing milky-blue light to soothe your eyes. It is present in the welcoming atmosphere of its bars, where people of all ages are welcome to mingle and speak in the morning (not to mention how fast they prepare fuss-free cappuccinos) and during aperitivo hour. The scent of a calle is magical; it combines the aromas of freshly made bread, warm old stone, or delectable ragu with the background murmur of conversation. And passeggiata, the proud nightly parade of infants and toddlers, elderly men eating ice cream, and flirting couples, is undoubtedly a manifestation of it. Italy is, in my opinion, as much about its people as it is about the nation.

How to Proceed

No matter how picky you are, there isn’t much that an Italian vacation can’t provide. You should plan a city break to Rome, Florence, or Venice if you want to take advantage of the abundance of its art and architecture, whether it be Roman, Renaissance, or baroque. Remember that these three are busier at the busiest times of the year and are preferable to come in the shoulder seasons or even the winter.

The same is true for Herculaneum and Pompeii. Pompeii is seeing a resurgence in popularity after recent digs revealed a painted fast-food counter and a well-preserved Roman chariot. Instead of choosing to go with one of the touts at the entry, reserve a tour in advance.

But if you’re more interested in being mesmerized by picturesque coastal towns than culture, you should definitely check out the fishing villages of Liguria’s Cinque Terre. You may walk from village to village or use the train to go to each one. The Amalfi coast is indeed stunning, with pastel and terracotta buildings piled like opera boxes above horseshoe-shaped bays; nevertheless, at the busiest time of year, it becomes overcrowded. Consider visiting around late September or May.

On the Adriatic side, especially around Rimini, beaches are typically incomparable, as is Puglia (I suggest the less well-known Punta Prosciutto, 40 minutes west of Lecce). The likelihood that pricey and exclusive beach clubs have claimed those pristine beaches increases with the resort’s level of fame.

The Italian lakes are a good option if you want to be near water but not necessarily at a beach. Gorgeous Lake Como has been enhanced by George Clooney, but there are other, more serene lakes that are equally beautiful: Orta, Iseo, and Trasimeno come to mind.

And now, for Tuscany. Particularly south of Siena, Tuscany is as picturesque as a backdrop painted by Leonardo da Vinci, with its cypress-studded slopes, vineyard-clad valleys, and hill villages. You may walk, tour the cities, or just stay put in a honey-toned villa. Don’t forget to enjoy the wine, whatever option you select.

Where to lodge

Italians are often quite creative when it comes to lodging; this is seen in the rising trend of turning deserted hill towns and rural villages into dispersed hotels, or alberghi diffusi. I’ve been in a few of them, and the greatest ones expertly strike a balance between preserving the historical elements and providing modern amenities deserving of five stars. There are still some whose senior residents are content to live in their newly refurbished houses rather than see their hamlet disappear. Typically, the layout consists of many guest homes or self-catering alternatives, occasionally an opulent rural hotel housed in the former castle, followed inexorably by a little café and restaurant. Consider visiting the ancient village of Borgo Lucignanello Bandini in the wine-growing region of Montalcino if you’re looking for a Tuscan wine tour. Hikers will enjoy the stone cottages of Abruzzo known as Sextantio in Santo Stefano di Sessanio, or the hotel Diffuso Locanda Senio in the town of Pallazzuolo, which is located between Florence and Bologna.

You have many of options for a city getaway, ranging from an elegant five-star hotel housed in a structure of historic significance to a basic pensione. Rent an apartment as an alternative. The trend was initially seen in Venice, which today offers a variety of stunning apartments, many of which are located in palazzi that overlook the Grand Canal.

Those conical-roofed trulli buildings are native to Puglia, of course, and have made the village of Alberobello a Unesco World Heritage Site. Since the stone keeps you warm in the winter and cool when needed, they’re a great option in the summer—or really, any time of year.

For those who enjoy the seaside, Italy offers excellent campgrounds, family-owned alberghi, or luxurious coastal hotels. The best are the Hotel Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole, Tuscany, or the Belmond Hotel Splendido in Portofino, then Positano, Le Sirenuse.

Avoid missing

It is inevitable that lovers of Italy will have their favorite region in the nation, and during the high season, regions of Tuscany, Puglia, most of Capri, and the northwest coast of Sardinia fill up with vacationers. Not everything is lost, though; there are still some appealing, less well-known options in Italy. Think about the eastern part of the peninsula, Le Marche. It boasts 100 miles of excellent sandy beaches, rolling countryside, and historic hill villages (like Urbino, where Raphael was born) that readily rival those in Tuscany. It is also a great deal less expensive.

Go to Venice’s hinterland if a city break there leaves you craving some fresh air. The Veneto is an intriguing area with lovely, less-traveled villages and vineyards that produce prosecco. I suggest spending some time in Asolo, the former residence of Robert Browning and Freya Stark. Alternatively, plan a trip to Venice that includes time spent on the Lido. Bicycles are available for rent from several of the hotels in this area, and you may take a ferry to reach the island of Chioggia or pedal the whole length of the Lido.