Plan a trip to Italy — the A to Z guide

 

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FEBRUARY 2020

Is Italy high on your list of places to travel? Do you dream about climbing to the top of the Tower of Pisa or hiking around Cinque Terre?

If you answered yes to both, this helpful A to Z will help you plan a trip to Italy. I spend a lot of time in the country, and have plenty of useful travel insight to share with you.

Get your notepad ready, and prepare to jot down all the places in Italy that you’ve longed to visit.

A is for Amalfi Coast

You’ve seen the photos, movies and travel shows, and now you want to experience it for yourself.

The stunning Amalfi Coast is popular for good reason. This 50km coastline along the Tyrrhenian Sea is home to picturesque towns such as Positano, Ravello and Tramonti.

Also, of interest is the coast’s namesake town, Amalfi. At the heart of this photogenic city is the glorious Amalfi Cathedral (Duomo di Sant’Andrea). A church embracing Norman, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architectural styles, it’s one to visit.

A is also for aperitivo — plan a trip to Italy

This delicious pastime usually takes place every day, and consists of a drink (typically alcoholic) and a light snack. Aperitivo usually takes place before dinner.

Boutique hotel in Amalfi Coast — Villa Magia

I love everything about Villa Magia, starting with its name. This magical hotel has a prime spot, overlooking the blues of the Mediterranean.

Fornilo Beach is just 700 yards from the property, and its Luna Terrace is perfect for al-fresco breakfasts.



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B is for Bologna

If you’re planning a food holiday to Italy, you can do no wrong by starting in Bologna. The capital city of the Emilia-Romagna region in the north-west of Italy is a food lover’s paradise.

Its most famous dish, and export, is the Ragù alla Bolognese. It’s usually served with tagliatelle pasta and a good-sized napkin to wipe away any excess sauce.

One of the city’s several nicknames is ‘la grassa’, giving an indication to Bologna’s rich and calorific cuisine.

Plenty to see and eat — plan a trip to Italy

Piazza Maggiore is the city’s principal square. From here, you can visit the 10th largest church in the world (by volume), San Petronio Basilica. The former city hall, turned museum, Palazzo d’Accursio, is also within walking distance.

To catch a great view of Bologna, head to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca. The church sits atop a forested hill, and is about 300m above the city.

‘B’ is also for Bistecca alla Fiorentina

This succulent joint of meat comes from the Tuscany region and is a must try for greedy carnivores. The steak comes from the Chianina cow — an ancient Tuscan breed known for its high quality and superb flavor.

Boutique hotel in Bologna — Hotel Corona D’Oro

The historic Hotel Corona D’Oro has everything you need for a relaxing Bologna stay. Check into a double deluxe room with a terrace, and enjoy an al fresco breakfast while admiring the red rooftops.



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The hotel’s also in a traffic-free zone, and guests are given free bikes to explore the city during their stay.

 

The A to Z of travel in Italy — your Italy trip planner 1

The dreamy Amalfi Coast at sunset — plan a trip to Italy

 

C is for Cinque Terre

Colorful houses, steep terraces and centuries old fishing villages, Cinque Terre is an Instagrammer’s dream. One of the second smallest villages, Manarola, has a population of just 353.

It’s most known for its love trail (Via dell’Amore) between Manarola and neighboring village, Riomaggiore.

The province in the Liguria region of Italy literally translates as ‘5 lands’. The coastline, 5 villages and the surrounding area form part of the Cinque Terre National Park.

It’s also a UNESCO attraction that covers 4,300 acres and holds the title of the smallest national park in Italy.

Plan a trip to Italy — escape the crowds

‘C’ is also for Catania. With Cinque Terre attracting over 1 million visitors each year, it might be worth considering another Italian alternative.

The Sicilian city of Catania has plenty of historic sites to visit, as well as an incredible food culture. What’s more, Etna volcano is also nearby. Book yourself onto a group tour at sunrise or sunset, to view Catania, and beyond, from a spectacular height.

Cinque Terre hotel with the best views — Hotel Porto Roca

In the village of Monterosso is a 4-star hotel with terraces overlooking the Ligurian Sea. Hotel Porto Roca is just 5 minutes from the center, offering guests incredible views and fresh seafood.

The most popular path, the Blue Trail, also begins here. Check for any restrictions before visiting, as limits and restrictions sometimes occur.



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The A to Z of travel in Italy — your Italy trip planner 2

Cinque Terre is a traveler favorite — plan a trip to Italy

 

“Get your notepad ready, and prepare to jot down all the places in Italy that you’ve longed to visit.”

Map: places to add to your Italy trip planner

D is for Dolomites 

This incredible mountain range primarily in Italy also shares one region, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, with neigboring Austria. Come winter, the snow-capped peaks of the Dolomites create a dramatic sight; even more so when the sun sets.

Within the Dolomites are many towns ideal for skiing, or simply for relaxing. For the jetsetters, Cortina D’Ampezzo is glamorous, with flashy sports cars and expensive boutiques in sight. For a rustic and more traditional Dolomites experience, Corvara and Ortisei are superb alternatives.

Boutique hotel in the Dolomites — Berghotel Ladinia

Set in the stunning town of Corvara in Badia is the 4-star Berghotel Ladinia. Bag a room with views overlooking the Dolomites and one that also embraces a South Tyrolian style.
 
Some rooms come with a terrace, but all come with complimentary WiFi. The Col Alt ski slopes are just 30 yards away from the hotel’s front door.
 
Feast on local dishes in Berghotel Ladinia’s on-site restaurant. During winter, the hotel provides guests with a voucher to use in its restaurant.



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D is also for Duomo — plan a trip to Italy

Duomo. It’s a word you’ll come across often when traveling in Italy. A Duomo is a city or town’s principal church. Typically, they’re located in the center and are usually close to other buildings of importance.

As someone who enjoys visiting architectural attractions, I’ve got 5 top duomos in Italy that top my list.

The cathedrals in Siena, Florence, Venice, Milan and Noto are a handful of notable churches.

Inside and out, the duomos in Italy are a work of art, and absolutely deserve a place on your travel list.

‘D’ is also for dolci

If, like me, you enjoy anything sweet, Italy is your ‘dolci’, or sweets, playground. From traditional desserts like tiramisu and Sicilian cassata, to buttery pastries and cornetto, diet is a banned word here.

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A glorious salmon pink sunset in the Dolomites — plan a trip to Italy

 

E is for Erice

Get your best walking shoes on, as you’ll need them in this Sicilian hilltop town. Situated 800m above sea level, most travelers come to visit Castello di Venere (Castle of Venus). Steep lanes from the Porta Trapani gateway take you all the way to the top.

The 12th century castle is a prime location for catching the best views of the sea and coastline below. Erice is also a doable day trip from Palermo.

Gather your breath, and energy, on the way up at one of the cafes in Piazza Umberto. The castle’s park café is another good choice, providing shade and panoramic views, along with your coffee.

 

A castle on a hill - plan a trip to Italy

Get your comfiest walking shoes on when visiting Erice

 

E is also for Etna — plan a trip to Italy

This active volcano hovers over the east coast of Sicily, and is the largest of the 3 in Italy. Come here for sunrise or sunset tours, and see some of the best views of Catania, Messina and beyond.

F is for Florence

A city overflowing with locals and tourists, Florence is a must see, especially for first-time travelers in Italy. The river Arno runs through this historic city, with medieval churches and sculptures filling its historic center.

Along with Michelangelo’s David and its jaw-dropping Duomo, Florence also has a fantastic food scene. Buca Lapi serves up a mean Bistecca alla Fiorentina, and Osteria All’Antico Vinaio delivers deliciously-filling panini.

Boutique hotel in Florence

Minutes from the Ponte Vecchio, Gallery Hotel Art is a fitting choice in Florence. With the central theme of elegant minimalism running throughout the hotel, it’s a sophisticated stay in the city of art.



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F is also for Ferragosto — plan a trip to Italy

This public holiday takes place every 15 August and is a busy time of the year. Essentially, it’s a day to relax, eat, drink and, if possible, go to the beach.

Roads are busier than usual in the days leading up to Ferragosto, and some services may be closed.

 

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See a dazzling sunset like this in Florence — plan a trip to Italy

 

G is for Garda

Come here for boating, walking, picnics (summer) and just for the awesome landscape. Lake Garda is another of Italy’s most popular visitor destinations and is a must for first timers.

There are several towns and villages on the lake. Sirmione is home to many hotels, restaurants, a market, and the well-conserved Scaliger Castle. The lake’s namesake town, Garda, is another worth visiting while in the area.

Boutique Hotel near Lake Garda — La Zarraba Boutique Hotel

Wake up to views of the mesmerizing Lake Garda at La Zarabba Boutique Hotel. Rooms are elegant and decorated in an Italian Renaissance style. The hotel’s located in Ponti Sul Mincio, a commune in the province of Mantua in Lombardy.

If visiting in summer, save your spot on one of the sunbeds by the swimming pool. From here, you get the best of both worlds: a pool with a lake view. La Zarabba Boutique Hotel also has a garden and terrace for guests to enjoy. Take advantage of the free WiFi and on-site private parking.



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G is also for gondola — plan a trip to Italy

In the same region as Lake Garda is the legendary, and ultra romantic, boat transportation that is the gondola.

While they can be expensive, and considered a novelty, gondolas are part of the Venice package. Whether you want to try one out, or prefer to watch and photograph, is completely up to you. 

 

Two rows of colorful houses by the sea — plan a trip to Italy

The colorful houses of Sirmione in Garda

 

H is for haunted

Add a dash of the macabre to your Italy travels by visiting some of the country’s most haunted castles.

Plagued by ghostly sightings and legendary fables, these historic buildings are not for the easily frightened.

Take the Castello di Montebello. This 14th century historic castle in Rimini, north-west Italy, may look beautiful, but there’s a chilling tale behind its walls.

Historic and haunted — plan a trip to Italy

Its most famous story is of the owner’s missing daughter, Azzurina — named after her piercing blue eyes. One day in June, the day of the summer solstice, she mysteriously vanished.

Her disappearance remains a mystery, and is unsolved to this day. However, every five years during the summer solstice, people have reported sightings of a young girl fitting Azzurina’s description.

Another spine-crawling report comes from the medieval Fénis Castle (Castello di Fénis) in the Aosta Valley.

One of the most famous structures in the region, there have been many reports of strange noises and footsteps. What’s spookier, is that they usually come from the castle’s upper floor — an area not open to visitors.

Come here for Halloween if you enjoy getting a real fright.

Boutique hotel in Rimini — Rimini Suite Hotel

From the scary to the sublime, Rimini Suite Hotel is a modern hotel in Rivabella. Just 100 yards from the coast and some of Rimini’s best beaches, the hotel has modern rooms and free WiFi. Some rooms come with a private hot tub.

Other amenities also include a swimming pool, and guest receive discounts for a nearby private beach.

A continental-style breakfast is provided daily and features sweet and savory products.



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Visit if you dare… the ‘haunted’ Castello di Montebello in Rimini

I is for Ispica

Another place in the south of Sicily, Ispica is the classic image of a quaint Sicilian town. Along with examples of fine baroque architecture, it’s also home to the Ispica caves (Cava d’Ispica).

When we visited during the height of summer, it was deserted. However, this gave us plenty of time to explore the city and take unlimited photographs.

Measuring 13km in length, the caves stretch from Ispica to the neighboring town of Modica. Its most interesting feature are the homes carved into the mountains.

They were inhabited until the end of the 19th century and are something unique to Ispica.

 

A street filled with flowers — plan a trip to Italy

Watch the streets blossom in Noto during the Infiorata di Noto

 

I is also for Infiorata di Noto — plan a trip to Italy

Each May, a spectacular floral festival descends upon the southern Sicilian town of Noto.

A blanket of flowers embracing that year’s theme, covers one of its central streets, attracting visitors from near and far.

Taking place over 3 days, the Infiorata di Noto is a festival for travelers that enjoy flowers and art.

J is for Jesolo

Technically, Jesolo shouldn’t really be here, given that ‘J’ doesn’t exist in the Italian alphabet. However, for non-Italians for whom the letter ‘J’ does exist, you’ll see mentions of Jesolo — just not in Italy.

Instead, Italians know is as Iesolo with an ‘I’. This seaside town north of Venice is one of the largest resorts in Italy. Jesolo receives around 4 million people each year, also including visitors from overseas.

Its main attraction is the 15km (9 mile) beach called Lido di Jesolo. There are several ways to get there from Venice, the quickest route being by car (about 45 minutes). You can also take the ferry to Punta Sabbaioni and then a bus onwards to Jesolo.

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A dreamy sun setting over Jesolo — plan a trip to Italy



K is for The K Boutique Hotel

Similar to ‘J’, the letter ‘K’ also doesn’t exist in the Italian alphabet.

However, I do have a valuable contribution to add under ‘K’ and that’s the fabulous K Boutique Hotel in Rome.

Located in Rione Monti, luxury features in this 4-star hotel include a private terrace, hot tub and spa (ADD ARTICLE). Rooms are modern, bright and come with all the amenities for a comfortable stay.

Staying here means an easy 10-minute walk from sights like the Coliseum and the shopping street of Via Nazionale.



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Two historic buildings against a blue sky — plan a trip to Italy

Add the beautiful city of Lecce on your Italy trip planner

 

L is for Lecce

A city full of good vibes and good food, Lecce is one of my favorite cities to visit in Apulia. Over 2,000 years old, Lecce is also one of the most important cities in the region.

The city has a strong connection with its Greek founders. In fact, the griko language is still spoken in a group of towns not far from Lecce.

Wander around the city taking in the many baroque monuments and Lecce limestone sculptures. At night, enjoy the laidback vibe, sampling the local olive oil, cured meats and wine.

L is also for Lipari — plan a trip to Italy

North of the mainland of Sicily is a cluster of islands that evoke memories of long summers by the sea. The Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie) consist of 7 in total, the largest of the group being Lipari.

A destination with the perfect blend of sandy beaches, blue waters and traditional cuisine, Lipari has it all.

The best viewpoint in Lipari is from the Chiesa Vecchia di Quattropani, a church at the top of a hill. You’ll need a car or motorbike to get there, but once you arrive, you’ll be treated to some incredible sights.

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Marina Corta in Lipari — plan a trip to Italy

M is for Milan

Probably the most visited city in the region of Lombardy, Milan is important for several reasons.

The second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, Milan is known for being a capital of art, commerce and fashion.

Art galleries and museums are in abundance. Pinacoteca di Brera and Castello Sforzesco are two notable galleries in the city. The former includes masterpieces such as the Brera Madonna by Piero della Francesca.

No visit is complete to Milan without visiting its incredible Duomo di Milano, the city’s cathedral. Showcasing a fine example of Italian Gothic architecture, the largest church in Italy is unmissable.

While in the city, order yourself one of the city’s classic dishes, the cottoletta alla Milanese.  

Boutique hotel in Milan — Matilde Boutique Hotel

With a penchant for fashion and sophisticated living, you’re spoiled for choice in Milan.

Matilde Boutique Hotel is in a central part of the city, and just 200 yards from Piazza Duomo square.



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Other main attractions like La Scala and San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore are also within walking distance.

 

Milan Cathedral from outside — plan a trip to Italy

An architectural marvel: Duomo di Milano — plan a trip to Italy

 

M is also for Modena — plan a trip to Italy

An ancient town on the south side of the Po Valley, Modena is a city in the Emilia-Romagna region.

Its most known for its sports car industry, along with producing top-quality balsamic vinegar.

The baroque Ducal Palace and the Duomo di Modena are some of the city’s main attractions. Ducal Palace was the seat of the Italian aristocratic family, the Este court, from the 17th to 19th centuries. The palace’s military museum and library provides more insight on this influential family.

Construction of Modena Cathedral began in 1099 and was consecrated by Pope Lucius III in 1184. Its façade follows a Romanesque architectural style, featuring sculptures of prophets and patriarchs.

M is also for Modica and Mazara del Vallo — plan a trip to Italy

I couldn’t write about ‘M’ places in Italy without mentioning these 2 Sicilian cities. Chocolate lovers need to highlight, circle and underline, Modica.

The southern Sicilian city’s famous for the sweet, brown stuff, which I can personally say, is sublimely delicious.

Mazara del Vallo on the north-west coast is well known for its former Arabic influences. From the buildings, the food, to even the wine, you’ll feel like you’re almost in a North African city.

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Feeling miniscule outside the Duomo di San Pietro in Modica — plan a trip to Italy

N is for Naples 

The city of pizza, historic buildings and a volcano watching your every move, Naples is a buzzing hub of activity.

With the largest historic city center in Europe, Naples is home to important sites, such as the Palace of Caserta.

This former royal abode in Caserta was once the main residence of the kings of Naples. It is one of the largest royal palaces in the world and covers an area of 47,000 m².

Naples and around — plan a trip to Italy

Also close by is the Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The latter ancient Roman town was destroyed and buried under volcanic ash in the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD.

If time permits on your Naples travel itinerary, make time to visit Posillipo and Nisida. A residential quarter of Naples along the northern coast, Posillipo was a top vacation spot for the Romans. It was here that the most elite built their villas — the remains of which you can still see today.

Nisida is a volcanic islet, a short distance from Cape Posillipo. A stone bridge connects Nisida to the mainland making it easy for visitors to access.

 

Best UNESCO world heritage sites - Bay of Naples

The colorful Bay of Naples

 

Boutique hotel in Naples — Artemisia Domus

This gorgeous 4-star boutique property is 1,000 yards from Castel Nuovo (Maschio Angioino). Elegant suites and a central location, Artemisia Domus is an excellent boutique choice in Naples.



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N is also for Noto — plan a trip to Italy

I’m a frequent visitor to the Sicilian city of Noto. The historic center may be small but it’s filled with striking baroque architecture and cobbled streets.

When summer arrives, keep cool with a refreshing spritz at one of the many roadside bars and cafes.

For accommodation, try something a little different by glamping in Sicily. IUTA Glamping & Farm is just a few minutes’ drive from the center. Offering luxury yet rustic living, it’s a fabulous site surrounded by the lush Sicilian countryside.



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The annual flower festival that’s Infiorata di Noto — plan a trip to Italy

O is for Ortygia

It’s not often on your travels that you come across a historic center that also happens to be an island. However, this is just the case in the Sicilian city of Siracusa.

Separated by a narrow channel, there are 2 bridges that connect Ortygia to the mainland. Once on the island, you’ll find, among other things, plenty of magnificent historic sights.

At the center of the old city, or ‘città vecchia’, is Syracuse Cathedral (Duomo di Siracusa). Awarded UNESCO status in 2005, the church’s structure was originally a Greek Doric temple.

Ortygia is extremely popular with travelers, more so during the busy summer period. That said, you may prefer visiting in spring or autumn when the streets are a little emptier.

 

Cathedral in Syracuse Italy — plan a trip to Italy

Plan a trip to Italy — the incredible Duomo di Siracusa in Ortygia

 

O is also for Olbia and Orgosolo — plan a trip to Italy

In the north-east of the island of Sardinia is the city of Olbia. Close to the dazzling and glitterati Costa Smeralda, Olbia is also known for its sandy beaches and picture-perfect sea.

The city also has several places of interest within the vicinity. Historic churches in Olbia include the Romanesque cathedral of San Simplicio, and the medieval Church of St. Paul Apostle.

Over in the center of Sardinia is the commune of Orgosolo. This municipality’s most famous for its political murals that you can see everywhere on the city’s walls. These colorful paintings represent the island’s political struggles as well as international issues.

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Keep an eye out for the murals on buildings of Orgosolo in Sardinia — plan a trip to Italy

P is for Palermo

Busy and buzzing, the Sicilian capital of Palermo is a great example of Sicilian life in action. Loud, passionate and exciting, exploring Palermo is nothing but fun.

There are plenty of must-see sights in Palermo, my favorite being inside the Norman Palace (Palazzo dei Normani). The inside chapel, La Cappella Palatina, with its golden mosaic interior will blow you away.

Palermo Cathedral, Teatro Massimo and the city’s gritty, yet historic, neighborhoods are also worth adding to the list.

For an authentic and friendly Palermitan dining experience, I suggest trying Ai Cascinari. They serve up classic Sicilian dishes and generous portions big enough to share.

P is also for pasticceria — plan a trip to Italy

You’ve probably noticed a running theme throughout this post — my love of food. And when in Italy, it’s hard to say no to trying anything.

The pasticceria in Italy is sinfully good and you can find them everywhere. Ideal for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up, it’s a delicious, and must-try, stop on your Italy travels.

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A top attraction in Palermo, the Norman Palace

Q is for Quartu Sant’Elena

Located 4 miles from the Sardinian capital of Cagliari is Quartu Sant’Elena. It’s the third biggest city in Sardinia with plenty of historic churches, mesmerizing coastlines and sandy beaches.

There are 5 churches situated in the city, the most important being Sant’Elena Imperatrice. Inside, are frescoes and a pulpit dating to the 18th century, as well as a statue of its patron saint.

Sardinia has some of the best beaches and cleanest waters in the world. Some examples in Quartu Sant’Elena include the sandy Is Canaleddus, and nearby Is Mortorius with its natural pools.

Q is also for Quattro Canti — plan a trip to Italy

Probably the most visited site in Palermo, Quattro Canti typically tops visitors’ travel lists. Loosely meaning ‘four places’, the octagonal square has 4 baroque buildings with almost identical façades. 

Each has a fountain, and statues representing the 4 seasons. You’ll also see sculptures of the Spanish kings of Sicily and the patronesses of Palermo.

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Quattro Canti in Palermo is the usual first stop for travelers — plan a trip to Italy

R is for Rome

What can I say about the Italian capital? Home to dozens of incredible attractions, like the Coliseum, the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, Rome’s a no brainer.

Another good reason to visit Rome is the nearby Vatican City. It may be the smallest country in the world, but it’s home to the world’s most marvellous buildings. St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Castel Sant’Angelo are all within its limited vicinity.

R is also for Ragusa — plan a trip to Italy

In the south of Sicily is the ancient city of Ragusa. An earthquake in 1693 split the city of Ibla in 2, leading to some of the buildings being re-built in Baroque style.

The city’s home to several duomos like the Duomo San Giorgio and the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista. Both are fine examples of Sicilian Baroque architecture, and 2 to add to your Italy trip planner.

Boutique hotel in Ragusa — Locanda Don Serafino

Book into a 4-star hotel built into the side of a cave. Locanda Don Serafino has elegant rooms, striking suites and delicious food. Its hotel restaurant is fine dining, Sicilian style, and it’s really worth making a reservation.



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Add the Pantheon in Rome to your Italy trip planner

S is for Siena

My heart skips a beat every time I think of Siena. The city in the Tuscany region of Italy is my idea of a perfect day trip.

No cars are able to enter the center of Siena. Streets are narrow, historic, and all lead to Piazza del Campo. The fan-shaped square is home to the Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall, and the 14th century Torre del Mangia. Piazza del Campo is also where the famous Palio horse race happens twice a year.

For me, the highlight of Siena is its jaw-dropping cathedral (Duomo di Siena). There are no photos that do justice to this Italian Romanesque-Gothic masterpiece; you just have to see it for yourself.

 

Grand square in Siena Italy — plan a trip to Italy

Make your way to Piazza del Campo in Siena

 

S is also for Syracuse (Siracusa) — plan a trip to Italy

I’ve already covered some of the best sights to see in Ortygia, which is located off the coast of Syracuse.

Back on the mainland, signs of the city’s Ancient Greek past are everywhere.

Probably the number one landmark to visit is the Greek Theater of Syracuse. First built in the 5th century BC, the theater’s on a sloping hill, focusing on the stage below.

There’s an entry fee to the Greek theater (around €10 ($11/£8)*. Lines move quickly even during the peak summer season.

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Take a seat at the Greek Theater in Syracuse, Sicily



T is for Turin

The cultural and business hub of Turin is an important city center in north-west Italy. As well as being the capital city of the Piedmont region, Turin was also the first capital of Italy.

Within its vicinity are several art galleries, palaces, churches and museums. The city also showcases different periods of architecture, including Renaissance, Rococo and Art Nouveau.

Piazza Castello is Turin’s principal square. It’s here that’ll find the 16th century Royal Palace of Turin of the House of Savoy. They were the ruling dynasty of the period, eventually expanding their reign to Sicily.

Also, in the square is Palazzo Madama, the building of the first Senate of the Italian kingdom.

 

Birds eye view of Turin — plan a trip to Italy

Visit Italy’s first capital, Turin on your Italy trip

 

Boutique hotel in Turin — TownHouse 70

Stay at a hotel that’s within minutes from Turin’s best attractions. TownHouse 70 has rooms and suites that are chic and modern, with soft colors and minimalist design.

T is also for Taormina — plan a trip to Italy

The hilltop town of Taormina in south Sicily is a popular vacation spot. It’s where you’ll find, among other things, the Greek amphitheater along with stunning views overlooking the Ionian Sea.

Depending on when you visit, try to include Isola Bella in your Italy trip planner. This enchanting isolated island has a narrow path that connects to a sandy beach. It gets extremely busy — very quickly — during summer, so if you want to visit, arrive early.

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Arrive early to claim your spot in Isola Bella in Taormina

U is for Udine

Between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps in the region of Friuli Giulia Venezia is the city of Udine.

One of the main sights is the city’s castle high atop a hill. Castello di Udine was once a former military building, but today is home to its history and art museum.

In the Piazza della Libertà is the 15th century town hall (Loggia del Lionello) and the clock tower (Torre dell’Orologio).

Another notable monument in Udine is the fountain by Bergamo architect Giovanni Carrara. Look out for the columns bearing the Venetian lion, the statues of Hercules and Cacus and the Statue of Peace.

Hotel choice in Udine — Astoria Hotel Italia

Close to the town’s tourist attractions and shopping streets, Astoria Hotel Italia is a sound choice for Udine.



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Elegant, spacious and with a modern décor, you’re in for a comfy stay. The hotel can also organize visits for guests to wine, ham and grappa producers in the nearby area.

U is also for unni è’ — plan a trip to Italy

Learn some Sicilian slang, with this handy ‘U’ phrase. Meaning ‘where is it?’, ‘unni è’ (oo-nee eh) is one phrase you may hear in Sicily. Watch the intonation here as it makes a big difference to saying it correctly.

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Consider adding Udine to your Italy trip planner

V is for Venice

The city of canals, architecture and art, Venice is a travel dream come true. It’s typically busy all year round, but summertime is the when visitor numbers reach its peak.

It’s because of this, that I actually prefer visiting Venice in winter. The crowds are less, meaning less time lining up for attractions, and more time exploring. Weather wise, it can get cold in winter. However, if you’re lucky, a good dose of winter sunshine will quickly warm you up.

St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is a good starting point. The grand plaza is home to the basilica, its towering Campanile and the Renaissance clock tower. From here, you can walk through the Merceria — a busy shopping street — directly to the Rialto.

Shop, eat and wander around the Rialto. It’s the commercial and financial center of Venice, and is also where you’ll find its iconic namesake bridge.

 

Table by the sea — plan a trip to Italy

Get the best table in Venice during winter — plan a trip to Italy

 

Boutique hotel in Venice — Corte di Gabriela

With just 13 rooms, Corte di Gabriela is my boutique hotel pick. Providing luxury comfort, spacious showers and generous breakfasts, the hotel’s within walking distance to Venice’s main attractions. 



Booking.com

V is also for Verona and Vicenza — plan a trip to Italy

Within the same region of Veneto are 2 more ‘V’ cities that deserve a place on your Italy trip planner.

Verona is one of the most romantic cities in Italy. The setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the Casa di Giulietta is a tourist favorite. Not far from Piazza delle Erbe — the city’s main square — the house is worth a quick look.

While in Verona, get to the top of Castel San Pietro to see some of the city’s best views. The Arena di Verona isn’t just a marvel to see, but it also plays host to some excellent concerts.

Detour to Vicenza — plan a trip to Italy

You may not have heard of Vicenza before reading this post, but this small city has big sights. At its heart is the Basilica Palladiana.

Designed by renowned architect, Andrea Palladio, this Renaissance building is one of his most notable works. 

Also, in Vicenza’s historic center is the Olympic Theater (Teatro Olimpico). It’s another of Palladio’s works and was also the first closed theater of its time. It was his last project before he died in 1580.

The A to Z of travel in Italy — your Italy trip planner 17

The Basilica Palladiana in the historic center of Vicenza

Z is for Zafferana Etnea

We’re skipping straight to Z as letters W, X and Y don’t exist in the Italian alphabet.

There’s a slight clue in the name as to this last town’s location.

Sitting among the hills that lead up to Mount Etna, Zafferana Etnea is a meeting point for volcanic tours. From here, there are roads and trails leading to the national park.

 

Sea and sky with green hills — plan a trip to Italy

Can you spot Mount Etna in the distance? — plan a trip to Italy

 

More than a pit stop — plan a trip to Italy

About 500m above sea level, the town’s located between the mountain and the Ionian Sea. Many visitors don’t realize that Zafferana Etnea has seaside, as well as winter sports tourism.

Small in size, the town has a few notable buildings. The Municipal Palace is a Liberty-style villa, complete with palm and pine trees. Zafferana Etnea also has an Ancient Roman-style amphitheater, and an 18th century church, named after the town’s patron saint.

The town takes its name from the pricey, yet fragrant, saffron (zafferano). It was once an important source of income for Zafferana Etnea, hence its homage to the costly spice.

And there you have it, you’re A to Z of travel in Italy. Do any of these places feature on your Italy wish list? Let me know in the comments below.

Till next time, happy boutique travels x

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. Thank you for your support.

*Prices correct at time of travel

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Lisa Rivera

Lisa Rivera

Founder

 

Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience; a demographic (late 20s onwards) that enjoys glamping over camping, staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels, sampling the local food and wine, cultural activities, and indulging in a spot of wellness on their travels. Read more here…

       

 

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