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The Best Italy Tour for Every Interest

From the Etruscan frescoes to medieval villages, Italy presents a staggering panorama of history, natural beauty, and culture—and we haven’t even made it to the Renaissance yet. It’s no wonder that travelers often feel overwhelmed trying to decide where to go here. Should you pick wildflowers in the Dolomites? Sip limoncello along the Amalfi Coast? Wander the hushed naves of Il Duomo? Linger on the promenade by Lake Como? There are countless Italys to explore—and most travelers won’t have time to experience them all.

But we’re here to help! As it happens, certain regions in bella Italia lend themselves to certain types of travelers. Where should you go in Italy? That all depends on your interests.

First-Time Travelers

Tuscany & Umbria This is the Italy you’ve always imagined: in the cradle of the Renaissance, glorious cathedrals and stonework piazzas give way to a rolling countryside of sun-dappled olive trees and vineyards. Hilltop medieval towns like Spello and Orvieto hide quaint trattorias where you can sample authentic Italian cuisine: fine cured meats, shaved black truffles, handmade pasta, and exquisite wine. The region boasts a refinement and pastoral splendor that is quintessentially Italian, ideal for travelers savoring their first taste of the country.

Experience It:

Italy: Tuscany & Umbria Guided Walking

Italy: Umbria & Assisi Self-Guided Walking

Mountain Lovers

dolomitesThe Dolomites With limestone pinnacles, verdant valleys, hearty meals in rustic rifugi, and the distant snowcapped peaks of the Alps, the Dolomites are a naturalist’s dream. Combining the best elements of Austria and Italy, it’s a region that offers timber chalets, wildflower-filled meadows, chic resort towns, and exceptional vin santo (holy wine). Best of all, at the end of an invigorating day hiking in the mountains, witness the spectacle of the enrosadira, daily sunsets that paint the white-stone summits pink and purple.

Experience It:

Italy: The Dolomites Guided Walking

Garden & Flower Enthusiasts

italian_lakesThe Lakes For centuries, Italian cognoscenti have flocked to the massive ultramarine lakes along the country’s northern border for rest, relaxation…and to build massive Baroque estates. Travelers exploring the region today can savor this legacy: a dazzling array of formal gardens, terraces, and manicured grounds trimmed with umbrella pines, brilliant oleanders, azaleas, and delicate pink camellias. Whether strolling the statue-dotted paths of a stone palazzo or viewing the spectacle from aboard a water taxi, flower fans will adore this lushly landscaped region.

Experience It:

Italy: The Lakes Guided Walking

Wine Aficionados

italy_piedmont_winePiedmont In the birthplace of the Slow Food movement, fine wine is in plentiful supply. From the world-acclaimed Barolo (a ruby-red wine with a full-bodied flavor) to lesser-known local varietals like the effervescent Asti Spumante or the dry and crisp Roero, travelers here can experience a symphony of vini pregiati (fine wines). Even better, you have a chance to experience their creation. Strolling through quiet fields in the Alta Langhe or Barolo, you pass by ripe clusters of nebbiolo grapes on the vine and chat with farmhands and vintners in the field. Of course, that’s not all Piedmont has to offer: a hub for truffle foragers, cheese makers, and many other delicacies, the region will satisfy even the most demanding foodies too.

Experience It:

Italy: Piedmont Guided Walking

History Buffs

history_buffs_sicilySicily Graced with the ruins of at least 12 empires, the island of Sicily is an ancient civilizations college course come to life. Travelers here will be delighted by the remarkably preserved monuments hidden around every turn. From the spectacular Greek theater in Syracuse Archaeological Park to the 14th-century Norman castle near Erice, you have countless opportunities to learn first hand about the cultures that formed the bedrock of Western Civilization. Best of all, thanks to Sicily’s spectacular natural beauty, these ruins are almost all located in areas that are scenic in their own right. When exploring the Necropolis of Pantalica, you’ll savor the colorful and fragrant vegetation of its Mediterranean landscape. Stop to watch the tall grass swaying beside the sea by the Grecian temples of Selinunte. Take in the well-preserved mosaics of the Villa Romana del Casale hunting lodge—each depicting snapshots of outdoor life in the 4th century—before experiencing the lush terrain they depict for yourself.

Experience It:

Italy: Sicily Guided Walking

Jetsetters

jetset_amalfiThe Amalfi Coast Since ancient times, well-to-do travelers have made the plunging coastline of the Sorrentine Peninsula and the nearby island of Capri their summer retreat—even Augustus Caesar had a summer home here. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1800’s (when the first paved road was completed), that it reached its full potential. A haven for European and American jetsetters, chic towns like Positano, Ravello, and Amalfi have dazzled luminaries ranging from Queen Victoria to Keith Richards over the last century and a half. Jackie Onassis Kennedy famously vacationed here, as did John Steinbeck, Picasso, and Zeffirelli. Today, that legacy is evident among the pastel villas and wisteria-draped hotels of the region. Moda Positano fashion has influenced wardrobes the world over (capri pants, anyone?) and travelers today might still be able to spot celebrities like Reese Witherspoon or Gwyneth Paltrow peeking out from oversized sunglasses here.

Experience It:

Italy: The Amalfi Coast & Capri Guided Walking

Italy: The Amalfi Coast Self-Guided Walking

Seafood Fans

italian_seafoodCinque Terre Along the Italian Riviera, a stretch of coast reaching from the French border to Tuscany, travelers will savor mild climates, quaint villages, and some of the most exceptional seafood available in Italy. No place is that more evident than around the Cinque Terre, a string of five fishing villages perched beside the Ligurian Sea. Here, travelers strolling by the waterfront—past rows of pastel-colored houses—can watch wooden boats chug out to sea and know that the bounty they catch will be served in near-by restaurants that same day. Though a broad range of fish is available, perhaps most popular are anchovies. Visitors turned off by the salted and canned American staple will discover something fresh and different: a flavorful fish served grilled, fried, salted, or baked with an aromatic blend of spices and fresh vegetables. Don’t miss out on antipasti ai frutti di mare, either—lavish platters of shellfish, squid, and more served in extravagant arrangements.

Experience It:

Italy: Portofino & Cinque Terre Guided Walking

Italy: Genoa & Cinque Terre Self-Guided Walking

Off-the-Beaten-Path Explorers

explore_maremmaMaremma At the southern tip of Tuscany—just an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Rome—a forgotten world of lazing wheat fields, hilltop villages, and majestic Etruscan ruins presents itself. Often overlooked by travelers, Maremma is the ideal destination for people hoping to explore a region off the beaten path. Exploring here, you’ll encounter the mysterious Via Cave—Etruscan footpaths carved deep into manmade canyons. Medieval Pitigliano’s dramatic location atop sheer cliffs of tufa stone is breathtaking—and its vibrant Jewish heritage equally intriguing. The hot springs of Saturnia have been celebrated for their “curative” properties since Roman times. In Tarquinia, an ancient necropolis hids lavishly painted frescoes, depicting candid moments of daily life in striking red, indigo, and gold. Don’t miss out on delightful Giglio Island, just a short ferry ride from the mainland.

Experience It:

Italy: Maremma Guided Walking

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