You’ve always thought Italian was the most sensual language on earth and you’ve long had an appreciation for Michelangelo, limoncello and lasagna—but you’ve never touched down in Italy itself. Well, what have you been waiting for? It’s time to hit up the Mediterranean and explore Italy’s bustling cities, picturesque islands and lush countryside. Take the train and stop in at each of these must-visit destinations. Just be sure to clear your phone’s storage—you’ll need tons of space for all the Insta-worthy photos you’ll be snapping.
Known as the City of Canals, one of the best things about Venice is its lack of cars—and the many alternative modes of transportation available: water taxi, vaporetto and the pricier (but not to be missed) gondola. Between rides, book time at the Doge’s Palace, the Puntadella Dogana art museum and La Bottega dei Mascareri, a shop that sells authentic papier mâche masks traditionally worn during Carnival. Don’t forget to boat over to the Venetian Islands—especially Murano, where all of Venice’s glassmakers once lived.
Glorious Firenze in Tuscany is home to masterpieces of Renaissance art—such as Michelangelo’s David sculpture at the Accademia Gallery—and architecture. Walk the city at night to marvel at the Florence Cathedral (the largest one in all of Italy), Basilica of San Lorenzo, Pitti Palace and Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s oldest bridge. Take time in the Tuscan countryside as well with a Vespa tour, horseback riding or a train trip out to Cinque Terre, a series of five seaside towns filled with colourful houses and fishing boats. Take the walking path that runs across hills and vineyards to connect all five villages it offers breathtaking views from the cliffs down to the sea below.
No trip to Italy would be complete without a few days in the capital city. Walk whenever possible to take in the streets dripping in history while checking the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon off your list. For a change of scenery, order a few scoops of gelato and stroll through Villa Doria Pamphili, a landscaped park just outside of the city centre that’s favoured by the locals. Round out your visit with an exploration of Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Museums filled with renaissance art.
Cross from the Sorrento harbour to the island of Capri—a famous rustic-meets-glamorous vacation spot whose name was given to a summer wardrobe staple, the Capri pant. While on the island, take a tour of the Blue Grotto (an underwater cave), have an espresso in the bustling central square of Capri town (La Piazzetta) and pick up a pair of handmade sandals. Also be sure to sip on limoncello, the liqueur made from the fragrant lemons of the region, when on Capri or back in Sorrento.