Read our pocket guide to Italy
Italy: A pocket guide
It’s helpful to think of Italy not as one country but as a culturally diverse nation of distinct states and infinite possibilities. Whether you’re looking for a chic city break, an elegant stay by the lakes, the glamour of the Amalfi Coast, or the tranquility of the Tuscan hills, Italy cannot fail to inspire.
Starting in the north, the Italian Alps border Switzerland, France, Austria and Slovenia. Its snowy peaks and valleys offer some excellent skiing. Many skiers head to the resorts of the Aosta Valley like Courmayeur, Breuil-Cervinia, and Pila which have a total of 180 pistes and skiing above 2,500 meters.
In the pre-alpine valleys is the breathtaking Italian Lake District. Lake Como is a spectacular location for stylish breaks. The summer months are wonderful for boating and swimming, and a meal at Locanda dell’ Isola Comacina, a restaurant on a little island in the middle of the lake, is always a treat. Wine enthusiasts are also catered for, with a visit to Vini Affini in Como Town. Finally, why island hop when you can country hop? Take the ferry from Como Town over to Lugano, Switzerland, and spend a day taking in the sights. Alternatively, discover the many pleasures of nearby Lake Garda, it’s less busy than Lake Como, but equally splendid.
Further to the east is the breathtaking region of the Veneto. Its most famed destination is certain found in the Venetian Lagoon: the enchanting city of Venice. Soak up its unique ambiance by staying in a historic palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal or venture further afield to discover some of the intriguing, hidden islands of the Lagoon.
While in the north, stop in at the country’s fashion capital Milan for some fabulous shopping and exquisite fine dining. Or another nice city break can be had in Bologna. Home to Europe’s oldest university, you can enjoy wandering the arcades of the city-center and seeking out its marvelous medieval architecture. South of Bologna is the gastronomically and culturally rich region of Emilia-Romagna. Dine on the best truffles dishes in Ferrara, tempt your palate by Modena‘s famous balsamic vinegar or try some of the country’s best known cheese in Parma.
For the ultimate introduction to la dolce vita, a trip to Tuscany is a must. It’s a perfect destination for tranquil retreats at all times of the year. During the summer months, hire a boat, pack a picnic, and discover Isola Giannutri—be sure to stay for the stunning sunset. Foodies will also enjoy a romantic evening at Il Pelicano hotel restaurant, with its exquisite food and breathtaking panoramic views. During autumn, explore the colorful Bolgheri vineyards and sample the excellent wintertime Tuscan game. The region’s awe-inspiring cities of Florence, Siena and Pisa attract art and history lovers the world over.
Most trips to Italy include a few days in the country’s capital, Rome. You could spend days exploring its world-class museums and archeological sites. Save some time for shopping near the Spanish Steps or simply sipping on a coffee in the Piazza Navona or facing the Pantheon.
Get a slice of island life in stylish Capri. During high season, Capri is the perfect base from which to discover the Amalfi Coast. Simply hire a boat or take the ferry to discover the wonders of the coast. For beaches, top up your tan on the celebrity-studded La Fontellina or escape the crowds and head to Il Faro. For a perfect evening, ask your concierge to arrange a meal at the excellent Alle Grotelle before catching a classical concert at Villa San Michele. Finish by soaking up the evening glamour from Bar Tiberio on the Piazzetta.
There are also many other hidden treasures in Italy, less touristed than other parts of the country. Wander authentic villages in the southeastern corner of the boot in picturesque Puglia or admire the gorgeous vistas of the hilltop towns of Umbria.
Italy is home to some of the most spectacular luxury villas, apartments, and private estates in the world, and our UltraVilla experts have handpicked the very best for you to enjoy.