BEST TIME TO GO
November – February
April – September
Direct flights from London Heathrow to Rome, 2hrs 30mins
Italy really does have it all. Wonderful coastlines, stunning inland lakes, majestic mountains with great skiing, unique destinations, such as Venice, beautiful islands, amazing cities and delicious food and wine. The country offers so may different travel options it’s difficult to know where to start. Each region has a different feel, with its own wine and food specialities.
The options are almost endless. Spend a week in Sicily, travelling across this lovely island, with its rich history of Doric-style Greek temples in the Valley of the Temples and Byzantine mosaics, its diverse natural heritage with mountains and hills, and of course, Mount Etna volcano, its crystal clear coastal waters and incredible azure seas. Then head to the mainland and work your way north. The beautiful Amalfi coast with its imposing rocks and cliffs with flower-clad hotels seemingly clinging on, providing stunning views over the Mediterranean.
Pompeii with all its history is worth a diversion. It really is the town that stood still when the nearby Mount Vesuvius volcano erupted in 79AD and buried the town in lava. One of Italy’s 51 UNESCO World Heritage sites and tells the fascinating story of a bygone time.
Nearby you’ll find the wonderful city of Naples, nestled in the beautiful Bay of Naples also in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Known for its fiery people, wonderful food, history and art – a heady cocktail with plenty of energy and joie de vivre. From here you can take boats to sophisticated Capri Island for some great hotels and peace and relaxation.
The Eternal City of Rome is a place to spend as much or as little time as you like. It is doable for a long weekend, although with so much to see you will only skim the surface. Or you can take a week and immerse yourself in the narrow streets, that open onto historic piazzas. Take your time and sit in the piazza by the Pantheon and have an espresso and let the world go by, or a delicious gelato sitting by the Trevi Fountain. It seems there is a famous monument or piazza around every corner – be sure to take your walking shoes as that’s the best way to get around and all those cobbles can play havoc with your heels!
Tuscany needs little introduction with its distinctive landscapes dotted with beautiful buildings, and vineyards, and with its wonderful Renaissance cities of Florence and Pisa. The Uffizi with Michael Angelo’s iconic David and some of Botticelli’s finest works, along the extraordinary Duomo basilica are worth visiting, while nearby Pisa with its extraordinary leaning tower – already leaning when it was built in 1372 – and its lovely atmosphere should be on your itinerary.
If opera is your thing, then the medieval town of Verona with its huge first century amphitheatre, home to the world famous opera festival, is a must. Famous too for being the setting of Romeo and Juliet. It’s a lovely town with narrow streets and some fine vineyards in the vicinity. It is also situated very near the stunning Lake Garda.
Venice with its watery thoroughfares has its own special feel. Enjoy getting about on the water taxis or doing the tourist thing on a gondola (it’s almost obligatory). Another destination where walking is a great way to get around. Don’t miss the Jewish Ghetto and its atmospheric streets and lovely little bars. St Mark’s Square is beautiful, the Duomo is stunning, the Bridge of Sighs is evocative. Murano, full of skilled glass blowers, is only a boat ride away and you can see the craftsmen at work, and get yourself a beautiful souvenir.
If you’re a fashionista or wannabe interior designer, then Milan is the destination for you. There are famous designer names at every corner. The Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery, considered the living room of Milan for its elegance and interior design stores. Milan’s Teatro alla Scala is another opera destination, famous the world over.
Keep heading north and you end up at the Italian Riviera with the colourful, gravity defying Cinque Terre district, surrounded by vineyards, divine smelling citrus orchards and olive groves. The water around here is pristine and the climate lovely, but probably best visited off peak season as it has become so popular.