All along the heeled boot of Europe you will find a wealth of things to do in Italy. A benefit of a tailor-made itinerary is that you can combine the many different regions or focus on one in particular to discover its culture and gastronomic delights. Here we have split up the regions so you can see what highlights each one has to offer.
Beginning in the north of the country, Lombardy boasts some of the most beautiful locations in Italy, including Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore. Milan is the largest city in Lombardy and the commercial and financial centre of Italy. Highlights of the city include the cathedral, La Scala opera house and Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
Venice is the most popular place to visit in the Veneto region. The narrow canals, tiny alleyways, elegant bridges and exquisite palaces are a delight to explore. Alongside this are architectural wonders such as the Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Basilica and its shimmering gold-tiled interior, and St Mark’s Square.
A short train ride from Venice is Verona, a Unesco world heritage site, where you will find magnificent Roman and medieval architecture, including the enormous Roman amphitheatre in the main piazza.
Tuscany is widely considered to be the most beautiful region in Italy, with rolling hills, sweeping valleys, sprawling vineyards producing fine wines, and cypress trees silhouetted against bright blue skies. Visit the medieval hilltop towns and cities, including Florence, Pisa, Siena and Lucca.
Rome, located in the region of Lazio, is a city like no other. Founded in 753BC, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe. Its ancient past can be seen everywhere, from the ruins of the Roman forum and immense Colosseum to Renaissance palaces, baroque fountains and churches, and the fascist architecture of Cinecittà.
Within the Vatican City alone, itself an independent state, you could take a day exploring the Vatican Museums, the artistic masterpieces in the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.
Marvel at one of the finest collections of Graeco-Roman artefacts in the world at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples. Journey beneath the slumbering Mount Vesuvius to explore the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
On the other side of the Bay of Naples begins the magnificent Amalfi coast. The strikingly attractive towns of Sorrento, Positano and Ravello all provide luxury accommodation and breathtaking sea views. Off the coastline the islands of Capri and Ischia provide tranquil retreats from the crowds. Capri has been a haven since the days of the Roman republic, while Ischia is renowned for its thermal springs and cuisine.
Puglia is one of the more remote regions of Italy, situated right down in the ‘heel’ of the country. It is less touristy yet there are a wonderful array of things to see here, including the traditional stone dwellings called trulli with distinctive domed roofs in Alberobello. It’s well worth hiring a car to drive around the countryside and enjoy vistas of orchards and olive groves, as well as reach some of the beautiful stretches of golden sandy beaches.
Finally, the most southern point of Italy, Sicily is a world apart from that of northern Italy. Expect to see superb Norman architecture and beautiful Roman floor mosaics to Arab-inspired gardens and the finest Greek temples to be found anywhere in Europe. There are also excellent wines from this region and such tasty cuisine that you will eat like you have never eaten before.