If you’re thinking of a trip to Italy this year, you’re in for a treat. There isn’t much that this diverse destination can’t offer.
In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to come up with anything lacking from holidays in Italy.
Winter in the Italian Alps
Winter sports fans will have a ball in the Italian Alps, skiing or snowboarding down snow-packed pistes, while its modern ski resorts promise plenty of après-ski fun and stacks of local amenities. Take the unspoilt alpine village of Campitello, with a new 125-person cable car to whisk you to the famous Sella Ronda circular ski tour and several lively bars for warming up after schussing down Campitello’s wide intermediate ski runs.
Indeed, all the Italian ski resorts are quite stunning – with majestic mountains and pretty little towns offering traditional charm and the chance to become immersed in Italian culture. In between snowfalls, it’s quite common to enjoy crisp sunny days during the winter – perfect for excursions across the peaks or long, lazy picnics several thousand feet up. Talk about holidays with sparkle.
Lakes in Italy
Away from the pistes, Italy holidays continue to serve up plenty of diversity. The Italian Lakes – like Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and the vast Lake Garda – should be explored at leisure (you have to drive slowly anyway, at least around Lake Como’s narrow, twisty roads).
Hollywood actor George Clooney was so enchanted with the area, he bought a villa in Laglio on Lako Como.
Enjoy traditional mountain living with a dash of flair as you soak up the chic lifestyle that surrounds these pristine and achingly beautiful lakes. Flanked by craggy mountainous peaks, lush greenery and pretty towns packed with historic architecture, Italy’s lakes are incredibly photogenic.
Have you heard of “Le Marche” (The Marches)? Sometimes touted as “the next Tuscany,” this small province with lavender and sunflower fields runs along the Adriatic coast, bordering Tuscany to the northwest.
Le Marche boasts hill towns rivaling Tuscany’s.
The steep hill town of Urbino is the birthplace of the Renaissance painter Raphael (you can visit the family house, now a museum). One of Italy’s most spectacular palaces, the Palazzo Ducale, is found here too. Check out the exquisite inlaid images in the wood-paneled study and Raphael’s Portrait of a Gentlewoman, which hangs in the palace.
Medieval Ascoli Piceno, population 60,000, is known as the “city of travertine.” Most of the buildings in the old town, even door frames and floors, are made from solid blocks of travertine stone – don’t miss the intricately-carved entry portals to the gothic-style Church of St. Francis.
For a rural retreat where you can soak up the Italian lifestyle, there are plenty of opportunities to rent a private villa and hire a car to help you make the most of your escape. Tuck yourself away in a remote corner of Tuscany and enjoy the luxury of a farmhouse cottage or a modern villa, with your own private pool.
Spend your days touring the Tuscan countryside, exploring local villages like Poppi (dominated by the 13th century Castle of the Guidi Counts) and Montefioralle (originally a walled castle, now ringed by cobblestone streets). Of course, you’ll want to stop for lunch – maybe cured meats, cheeses, olives, handmade pasta and sausages with white beans, washed down with local wine – before heading back to soak up the last few rays on your poolside terrace. Heaven.
Disclosure: This post has been brought to you jointly with Thomas Cook. (We haven’t yet visited the Italian Alps or lake region – but they’re on our “one-day” wish list.)