Where to go in Italy and when
You can’t disagree with me when I say that Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. A vast array of landscapes, seaside escapes, culture and ancient cities, plus unparalleled views and divine cuisine. Each and every part of the Italian peninsula deserves to be explored. But here are just a few that you should absolutely put on your to-see list.
Best time to visit Rome: September – June
No matter how many times you visit it, the Eternal City will always leave a mark on your emotions. Its outstanding beauty, its monumental gigantism, its cult of the aesthetics, its sensual atmosphere, its warm and hospitable inhabitants, and its great weather by far outnumber the cons a city born 27 centuries ago may have. You will walk through an open living museum with the largest historic district on Earth. As you stroll around, the Roman Empire’s legacy is everywhere and the more you indulge yourself with it, the more you become part of it, with a rising awareness of the privilege you are living by visiting it. Vatican City, a totally independent country in the heart of Italy’s capital, is a must-visit marvel, from Saint Peter’s basilica to the Vatican Museums. Don’t miss out on the views from Gianicolo Hill or Trinità dei Monti… Rome’s roof is a show of beauty and a lesson of architecture altogether. The Eternal City is beautiful year-round but the best times to visit it is in springtime, September and October.
Check out my guide to 7 days in Rome
Assisi & Umbria
Best time to visit Umbria: March – December
Known as the green heart of Italy, Umbria is a stunning region packed with medieval towns perched up hilly landscapes and mountains. From the beautiful city of Perugia (very well known for its chocolate), to the stunning town of Assisi and Montefalco, you’ll sure have a lot of exploring to do! The home of St. Francis, Assisi is a hilltop town you can’t not visit on your trip to Italy. Characteristic homes, beautiful churches and basilicas, stunning views of the Umbrian countryside and sunsets that take your breath away are in store for you. Indulge in regional cuisine with dishes such as truffle tagliatelle and cured meats and cheeses with glasses of hearty red wines. Go on walks exploring the countryside and Mount Subasio. If you’re a wine lover, indulge in wine tastings and immerse yourself in the wine cellars of Lungarotti, Arnaldo Caprai, Perticaia, Antonelli, Ruggeri and so many more. While if you’re into nature, go on walking trails or horseback riding in the mountains to escape from every day life. If you’re into adrenaline-pumping activities, parachuting and rafting may also be an option! Assisi is also the perfect base to explore Umbria, with beautiful towns such as Montefalco, Perugia and Spoleto just a short drive away. Don’t miss out Assisi in May with the famous Calendimaggio, in autumn for wine tasting and winter to enjoy the holiday atmosphere.
Bologna & Emilia Romagna
best time to visit Bologna & Emilia Romagna: September – June
Bologna is a city of contrasts. Located in central Italy in the rich Po valley, it’s a city that will capture you with its Medieval architecture, porticoes, views and amazing food. Its known for having the most ancient university in the western world – L’Alma Mater Sudiorum – founded in 1088, from which Bologna’s nickname La Dotta (“the learned one”) comes from. It’s also famous for being the birthplace of tagliatelle alla bolognese, tortellini and mortadella! If you’re a lover of cold cuts and cheeses, Bologna is paradise: Mortadella, Culatello di Parma, Salame, Squacquerone cheese. Not to mention that it’s the city of towers, considered a skyscraper city in Medieval times for having over 100 towers. If you’re a motorcycle or race car fan, chances are you’ve heard about the Motor Valley – the industrial district situated in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region specialized in the automotive industry. This area, mainly concentrated in Bologna, Modena, Cento and Argenta, is renowned worldwide for being the birthplace of some of the world’s leading automotive brands: Ducati, Ferrari and Lamborghini. The Motor Valley is also characterized by museums, racetracks, factories and sports competitions, making it an authentic “land of engines”. Which means you can visit the Lamborghini, Ducati and Ferrari museums, racetracks and factories during your stay in Bologna.
best time to visit Venice: September – May
A trip to Venezia will fill you with joy, mystery and fascination. Rising up the Venetian Lagoon, stretching along the mouth of the Po and Piave Rivers, is this astonishing city that just so happens to be the ultimate romantic retreat. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and known to be one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, Venice is simply one of those earthly corners that must be explored. Its unusual yet fascinating life on the lagoon, the gondolas cruising up and down the canals, the Renaissance architecture all throughout, and the mysteries hidden in each of its narrow streets make your heart race just by thinking you will visit it. From exploring the marble-dressed palazzos, to enjoying the stunning vistas, and breathing the romantic and unique vibe, your stay in Venice will be like no other. And of course, visiting Burano and Murano, and breathing in the spirit of the Venetian Carnival are simply musts. The best time to visit Venezia is from September to May, avoid the summer season packed with tourist crowds and unbearably hot weather.
Check out where to eat in Venice
Florence & Tuscany
Best time to visit Florence & Tuscany: September – June
Tuscany offers everything one can wish for: breathtaking landscapes, medieval towns, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, outstanding castles and beautiful seaside locations. And let’s not forget about the exceptional food and array of fresh local products such as cured meats, olive oil, cheese and bread. If you’re a wine lover, exploring the Tuscan region will be like entering heaven: the Chianti wine region, the Brunello di Montalcino in Val d’Orcia, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and the delicious Vernaccia in San Gimignano are just a few of the local wine productions. And definitely don’t miss out on Florence, the stunning city soaked in ochre and earth tones. The city of Galileo Galilei, the residence of the powerful Medici family, the home of Michelangelo’s David, a place where art and history blend to create the perfect balance. Stroll down the cobblestone streets and discover historic aristocratic residences and jaw-dropping architecture. Sit on the banks of the Arno River and overlook the iconic Ponte Vecchio with its small jewellery stalls. Admire the magical sunset and indulge in “la bella vita”.
Portovenere & Cinque Terre
Best time to visit Portovenere & Cinque Terre: May – September
Dotted along the Liguarian coastline overlooking the Bay of Poets is this small fisherman village. If you’ve never heard of Portovenere, you’re not the only one. While hoards of tourists flock to the famous Cinque Terre on the Ligurian Riviera, the picturesque Portovenere remains less crowded and definitely Liguria’s best-kept secret. Crystalline waters, a small yet bustling port, divine local cuisine and a town that is so colorful it seems like a splash of colors. But the best part about Portovenere are its views. Anyone who is into views cannot leave Portovenere out of their itinerary. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this pearl of the Ligurian coastline has marvellous panoramas that can be admired from its scenic viewpoints. It comes as no surprise that famous poets sought inspiration for their works in Portovenere’s beauty. Portovenere has it all: history, culture, views, food and beautiful waters perfect for a swim! Plus, the wild Palmaria island is right in front of Portovenere if you want to head to the beach, and boats to Cinque Terre leave every hour.
Check out my guide to Portovenere
Best time to visit the Amalfi Coast: May – October
The Amalfi Coast is a rush of emotions. It brings you joy and happiness, and makes you feel on top of the world. Driving one curve after the other is already a sight in itself. The cliff tunnels, the stunning views and the picturesque towns are too good to be true. From Positano and Praiano to Amalfi and Ravello, the colourful towns of the Amalfi Coast are like no other in the world. And the hospitality, well, we’re in the south of Italy, and it doesn’t get any more hospitable than this! If relaxation is what you’re looking for, the Amalfi Coast offers incredible spas in luxury five-star hotels, and for those that are searching for a simple dip in the crystalline waters, the pebbly beaches or a private boat ride are the perfect way to start your holiday. During the day, excursions to UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Pompeii or Villa Oplitis are a must, and afterwords, a delicious lunch in one of the local restaurants is mandatory. But don’t forget to stroll down the streets of Positano, buying handmade leather shoes or spectacular Vietri ceramics. And by all means, don’t miss out on a fabulous cocktail before the sun sets. Summer is packed with tourists, so reserve your accommodation well in advance and try to avoid visiting in August.
Read everything about the Amalfi Coast
Best time to visit Ponza: June – September
Ponza is a magical island. You’ve probably heard that about most islands, but this one will have a special place in your heart. As you arrive with your ferryboat from Monte Circeo, your eyes will be glued to the the green landscape, the fascinating rock incisions on the coastline, and the charming colors of the island’s characteristic port. From the houses in the port and Santa Maria, to the turquoise, transparent and blue sea water, everything is a splash of color. Hire a boat for the day and explore one beach cove to the next. From the scenery of Chiaia di Luna and the Arco Naturale, to the splendid Cala Lucia Rosa and the island of Palmarola, you’ll have lots of beach coves to visit. And it’s not just the water that’s amazing, the whole panorama is jaw-dropping. For foodies, the island is a true treat to the palate. A simple yet inventive Mediterranean cuisine awaits you, in stunning restaurants with unparalleled views. The sunsets? To die for. You know the best part? It’s only a one hour ferry-ride from San Felice Circeo and super close to Rome!
Best time to visit Capri: May – October
Few destinations need so many words to describe them, yet when you try to describe them you find yourself with a loss of words. That’s when you truly realise that a place is magical. From emperor Tiberius, to famous poets and writers, Capri has always drawn people from all around the world. And who can blame them? If you haven’t had a taste of this island, you can’t fully understand what makes people come back to it over and over again. The natural beauty of Capri makes it marvellous. The sloping mountains, the crystalline waters, the hidden sea caves – it’s simply romantic. Capri is so far from our every day lives, yet so close to it: once you land at Marina Grande you feel like you’ve crossed an ocean, yet you’ve only crossed a few kilometers of the Gulf of Naples. Capri is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Swimming in its crystalline waters, walking along its trails, going on boat tours to discover its hidden caverns, sipping coffee on the Piazzetta or tasting first-class seafood in one of its restaurants is what Capri is all about. And yes, it also has a fun and cosmopolitan nightlife. It’s no wonder Capri has been nicknamed “the living room of the world”.
Best time to visit Ischia: May – October (June and September best months)
Ischia is the largest volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples, full of history, myths, beautiful sceneries, mineral-rich thermal waters, vineyards, towns, delicious food and fun activities. Not to mention, it’s known for being the European capital of wellbeing for its abundance of healing waters! People tend to flock to the famous nearby Island of Capri, but Ischia has nothing to be envious about and is a great alternative (especially for its more budget friendly prices). So if you’re searching for a few days in the sun, Ischia is the perfect place to visit. From going on boat excursion to wine tasting in vineyards on panoramic terraces, all the way to indulging in delicious food and pampering yourself in thermal baths.