Where to travel in Italy in 2018
Last week to lift our moods in dreary January I put together a list of 18 Trips to Take in Italy 2018!
Hopefully you have all now read Part 1, where you learnt about the first 9 destinations to add to your 2018 Italian Travel Wish List!
I wanted to help you explore areas you may not have heard of or to try something that not everyone knows about.
So here are the final 9 destinations! I hope you enjoy them and get inspired!
Bormio is a gorgeous ancient mountain village (Think cobbles, arches, frescoed churches). It's a great destination for skiing or husky dog sledging in Winter or picnics, cycling, horse riding in Summer.
The air here is fresh, free from any pollution (Except the odd cow with a jingly bell!) and so pure. The food, hearty, cheesy and with a healthy dose of prosciutto!
Papa' Prada has been going here since he was 6! I've been visiting for 12 years. It's a very restorative holiday destination and you come away feeling like you've done something good for your body and mind.
It's also home to the famous Stelvio Piste which is one of the Alpine World Cup Downhill Ski Slopes.
A must visit place here is Bagni Vecchi. An incredible spa up in the mountains, which has been visited by Roman aristocrats for centuries and now you can go too! Think open air warm pools (with this view above!), lavender blankets and sensory bath tubs. You can also book treatments and stay in the beautiful hotel...
A few years ago we went to a friend's wedding in Cagliari, the Capital City of Sardinia. I didn't know what to expect but was taken aback by how stunning it was.
The buildings are huge, majestic and golden. The light and the palm trees give you the unmistakable feeling that you are in the very south of the Mediterranean. You could be in Malta or Andalucia rather than Italy.
If you want to sight see, there is a beautiful Castello on the hilltop, I would really recommend walking up the many steps to the higher areas of the ancient citadel. The views are wonderful and you will find large rooftop bars and hidden cafes to absorb the sunshine.
If it's beach you are looking for, Cagliari's famous Poetto coast line is 8km long and dotted with great bars and restaurants.
12. Lake Como
I could talk about Como all day as I was married here... However my recommendation would be to find some accommodation on the West side of the lake between Argegno and Cadenabbia. From these areas there are plenty of ferry stops where you can hop on and off the boats and visit all of the towns/villages.
Most people do want to take in the main well known villages and some villas. Argegno, Menaggio, Tremezzo are all beautiful places with ferry stops. Menaggio has a large Lido which is perfect in summer.
If you only have time for one villa visit I would choose Balbianello. It's just exceptional and if you are a film buff Casino Royale and one of the Star Wars movies were based here.
So what can you do that's different?
- Varenna on the East side is a particularly pretty village. I always return here. However my recommendation would be to go to Hotel Villa Cipressi as it has the most incredible gardens and you can pay to enter them even if you're not staying at the hotel.
- Visit Como the actual City! You can stroll around and take in a bit of shopping, the beautiful main Piazza Cavour and enjoy a blend of stunning old architecture mixed with modern life. You can't really get lost here and if you want a better view of the lake take the cable car up to Brunate above the city.
- Go to the breathtaking Mount Sighignola This is a mountain on the border of Italy and Switzerland. You will need to drive from Lake Como to reach it. But you literally are crossing the mountain top and over the other side is another lake. Lake Lugano in Switzerland. It's really wonderful and not everyone knows about it. See my video above for the views...
A practically tourist free City and better than Florence is how Ferrara is often described!
Ferrara is an ancient Medieval and Renaissance City built by the famous Este family. It is home to a moated castle, Palazzo dei Diamanti and a beautiful Gothic Cathedral.
The city is divided by a boulevard which separates the medieval quarters from the renaissance. The renaissance side is spacious and grand with parks and palaces.
The medieval side shows how local people really lived with modest houses in the stunning warm coloured brick typical of this area. Here you will find tiny jumbled roads and and churches a plenty.
The city is famous for filled pasta such as cappellacci di zucca. Which are little pasta parcels of pumpkin.
Years ago I went to Florence and Pisa for a short break. The part of my holiday I loved the most though was an unplanned visit to the little City of Lucca.
Lucca is an ancient City in Tuscany, easily accessible from Florence and Pisa and on a flat plain which makes it perfect for getting around.
If you love cobbled streets, tree lined paths, and ancient city walls this is the place for you. The walls of the city are quite unique as they have remained intact even after the city has expanded and they are now a lovely pedestrianised walkway.
Lucca is also the birthplace of the composer Giacomo Puccini and host of the Lucca Summer Festival which can boast performances from none other than Eric Clapton, Placebo and Massive Attack.
15. Montalbano's Sicily
This a bit of homage to the Italian TV show Inspector Montalbano. If you've watched this programme you will see why I have chosen the Sicilian villages in this series as one of my must see regions in Italy.
The villages used for the series are all much more wild and raw versions of Sicily than we are used to experiencing in the popular resorts of Taormina or Palermo. This may or may not suit you so research a bit before you go or book an organised tour. You can visit:
- Punta Secca: Montalbano's apartment
- Trattoria La Rusticana in Ragusa - which is his favourite restaurant
- Scicli: location of the police station
- Gorgeous beaches of Donaluca and Sampieri and much more...
The North East side of Sardinia with Porto Cervo is popular, stunning and a mini Saint Tropez.
But this is not my destination suggestion! We recommend you head North West to the little village of Stintino.
This is a place for long summer beach holidays. If you want to find the clearest most stunning shallow, azzure waters in the Mediterranean. This is where you'll find them, at the famous Pelosa beach.
What can you eat in Sardinia?
- You'll find seafood pasta aplenty.
- The Sardinian bread 'Pane Carasau', is a flat bread that snaps as you eat it and is very moreish!
- Sardinians make their own distinctive Pecorino cheese which is divine and quite different from the Tuscan one.
- If you're brave try bottarga, a fish roe from this area.
- But do not go home without tasting the delicious roast suckling pig. It's a very traditional dish in Sardinia and seriously good!
Trieste is a beautiful large City in North East Italy. It's part of a strip of land on the border with Slovenia and close to Croatia. Because of this proximity it was the forth largest city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It's buildings have unmistakable influences from these times.
Now it's one of the most wealthy provinces in Italy. The port is still an important shipping point throughout the world.
However what I love about Trieste is that the quality of life is good. There are more jobs here, which is a rarity in Italy.
You are close to mountains so you can ski after a short 40 mins drive. There's a beach! So some of our friends go to the beach after work with their children in the summer.... I know don't think about it! Sigh!
If you've ever flown to Venice with Ryanair and found yourself instead in what they call 'Venice Treviso' don't be alarmed!
Forget your trip and stay in Treviso instead! This is such an overlooked City. It's like a mini Venice due to the stunning little canals. But there's no Rialto bridge, fake handbags and barely any tourists, you can walk around here and feel like a local.
There's a great fish market, cobbled streets and beautiful colonnades. The main Piazza dei Signori is quaint and has an old school charm. Nothing is too brash or boastful, it's a very classy city.
It's also more importantly the origin of Prosecco! I thought you would all appreciate that!
Another regional specialty is a wonderful salad called 'Radicchio rosso'. You can grill it with salt or olive oil but my Husband always puts it in risotto which is divine. So if you see it on a menu please try it!
I hope I've inspired you to take some Italian city breaks this year? If you missed Part One, find it here.
Which cities have caught your eye?