Italy travel and holidays
Enjoy a glass of wine in an idyllic lakefront setting. Gaze out across olive groves and vine-grooved hills. Stroll through arcaded squares capped with extravagant fountains. Dine al fresco on flower-bedecked terraces. This is just a snapshot of what awaits in bella Italia. Our holidays to Italy cover ‘the boot’ tip to toe, from the Dolomites down to the southern shore of Sicily.
Take in the beauty of the Italian Lakes or the Amalfi Coast; discover the hidden delights of Sardinia or Puglia; circle Sicily’s sun-drenched shores; or skip between cities, countryside and coast on an all-encompassing grand tour of Italy. Wherever you choose to go, be sure to savour as much of la dolce vita as possible.
Italy’s cities are among the most beautiful in the world, and each has its own distinct character. Admire the mighty Colosseum and Roman Forum on a trip to Rome. In Puglia, appreciate Lecce’s baroque beauty and Ostuni’s hilltop centro storico. Gaze up at Florence’s famous Duomo and explore its art-filled museums. Or stroll along palazzo-lined canals on one of our Venice tours.
A tour of the Italian Lakes showcases some of Italy’s most spectacular scenery – think glistening waters edged by steep-sided mountains, thick woodland and picture-postcard villages painted in sorbet shades. Our trips to Italy’s Lakes region include a relaxed week on the shores of off-the-beaten-track Lake Orta, and a Lake Garda stay that includes day trips to Venice, Verona and the Dolomites.
Travel to Italy's Neapolitan Riviera and you'll find a slice of 1950s Italia. Beeping Vespas and vintage Fiats motor along cliffside roads, villages cluster around beaches lined with loungers and striped parasols, and glamorous visitors sip espresso at piazza-side cafes.
Our portfolio of Italy holidays includes trips to the boot’s two biggest islands: Sicily and Sardinia. In Sicily, go for a grand tour that circles the island, taking you everywhere from the baroque towns of the Val di Noto to beachy Cefalù to Agrigento’s Greek temples; or opt for a laid-back week in seaside Giardini-Naxos, in striking distance of Taormina and Mount Etna. Our Sardinia holiday introduces you to the island’s fascinating history, culture and landscapes, as well as its deliciously different cuisine.
Our collection of Italy tour holidays is all about choice. There’s more than a dozen to choose from, with a range of durations and destinations. Enjoy a leisurely week in Sicily or on the shores of Lake Orta, or go all-out with our two-week escorted tours to Italy, taking you from Venice to Taormina via Tuscany, Rome and Sorrento.
Each itinerary has been carefully thought through, ensuring you see some of the best places to visit in Italy, whichever part of the country you're exploring. And, since Italy is such a food-focused country, we try to make sure that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy its delicious cuisine and sample some superb Italian wine – on Grand Tour of Italy, for example, you’ll go wine tasting in Tuscany and nibble fresh mozzarella in Paestum.
As with all our holidays, our escorted tours of Italy begin the moment you leave home, thanks to our award-winning VIP door-to-door travel service, while our tour managers will be on hand throughout to offer advice and make sure everything runs smoothly. Finally, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that your holiday is safe – we’re ABTA bonded and ATOL protected, and our Protection Promise means you can book with complete confidence.
Kicking out from the toe of Italy’s boot is Sicily – a little island with a lot to offer. The interior is a mix of rugged mountains, vineyards, citrus groves and hill towns, while the coast offers beautiful beaches and relaxed seaside resorts.
When it comes to the sights, you’ll discover the influences that have shaped Sicily over the centuries. The Greeks left their mark in the form of theatres and temples, most famously in Agrigento and Taormina; and around Palermo, you’ll discover glittering churches decked out with golden mosaics by the Arabs and Normans.
This melting pot of cultures has also influenced the island’s cuisine. Specialities to look out for on our Sicily tours include arancini (perfectly crispy rice balls), granita (a sorbet-like treat), and pasta alla norma (a deliciously filling dish made with tomatoes, aubergines and ricotta). And to wash it down? A glass or two of Sicilian wine. Cin cin!
Exploring on your own can take a fair bit of planning (not to mention nerves of steel if you’re getting behind the wheel). Our Sicily tours wrap up the island’s best bits into memorable – and hassle-free – holidays. We always look to include a few unexpected touches too, so you might enjoy lunch with a local family or a Sicilian wine tasting at a garden festival.
Go for a Sicily grand tour that packs in as many highlights as possible – ours circles the island over 10 days, and includes time in Agrigento, Palermo, Taormina and Syracuse. Or take it easy and enjoy the ‘dolce far niente’ – the sweetness of doing nothing – on a relaxed beach break. Our ‘Sicilian Escape’ break is based in lovely Giardini Naxos, next to the beach and a quick 10-minute bus ride from pretty Taormina.
If you’re after a holiday with variety, Puglia could be the place for you. This sunny, southerly region (which forms the heel of Italy’s boot) has burst onto the tourism scene over the past few years, enticing travellers with its storybook villages, architecturally rich cities, and beautiful beaches and countryside.
Must-visit Puglia destinations include Alberobello, famous for its spiky-roofed trulli houses; the Valle d’Itria, with its endless olive groves and gleaming whitewashed towns; Lecce, home to an array of baroque buildings; and vibrant Bari, a port city with a classically Italian old town (look out for mammas chatting as they roll fresh orecchiette pasta in the tiny lanes).
The neighbouring region of Basilicata is easily reached, too. The big name here is Matera – 2019’s European Capital of Culture. Built on a steep hillside, its ancient neighbourhoods of cave houses and churches are a real pleasure to explore.
Our Puglia holidays show you the highlights of this rugged region – without any of the hassle. Driving in Puglia can be tricky at times, so we’ll take care of it for you. We’ll travel all over, from southerly Ostuni across to Matera and up to Trani in the north, staying in three different destinations to give you a more in-depth experience.
Your tour manager will ensure everything runs as it should do, while expert guides will bring sights and cities to life with local insight. We’ll make time to enjoy traditional Pugliese food and drink, too, including olive oil in Ostuni and wine in Alberobello.
Sprawling stretches of white sand lapped by clear, warm water. Scalloped bays backed by sheer cliffs. Sardinia’s coastline is undeniably beautiful – the best you’ll see this side of the Atlantic – and that’s what put it on the map with luxury hoteliers and Hollywood jetsetters in the 1960s. But wander further inland and you’ll soon realise there’s more to this Mediterranean gem than first meets the eye.
A journey through Sardinia is quite literally a journey through time. It may be Italian now, but that’s only since 1861. Before then, the island was visited by the Phoenicians, Romans, Pisans, Genoese and Spaniards – all reflected in the culture, architecture and food of the island. The fascinating Bronze Age nuraghi towers still stand today (7,000 of them, in fact), while Alghero – once a Catalan colony – is the island’s most beautiful medieval city.
The middle of the island is blessed with a verdant and wild landscape. This is where the traditional gastronomy of the island is really brought to life. Pasta and pizza are staples, of course, but the island’s foodie centre feasts on more robust cuisine – think spit-roasted suckling pig, lamb pie and stews with toasted pasta dough.
Florence and Tuscany
Visit Tuscany and you’ll find picture-perfect Italian scenes at every turn. Rolling hills are patchworked with vineyards and sunflower fields. Shady piazzas are lined with cafés for al fresco lunches and evening aperitivo. Hilltop towns are crowned with centuries-old churches that glow in the afternoon sun.
This part of Italy is a joy to explore. Discover the ancient walls of Lucca and Pisa’s Leaning Tower, or step inside the grand cathedral in Siena, with its wedding-cake façade of white marble. Be sure to indulge in a little of the local cuisine, too – perhaps panzanella (bread salad) or a hearty Florentine steak (ideally washed down with a couple of glasses of Chianti).
Then, of course, there’s the region’s pin-up capital: Florence. The Duomo is its most famous sight (climb the steps of the dome or campanile for 360-degree views of the city), but there’s plenty more to explore here. Marvel at paintings and sculptures in the Uffizi, gaze up at the frescoes in the Palazzo Vecchio, or perhaps go for a quiet stroll through the sprawling Boboli Gardens.
On our Grand Tour of Italy, you’ll spend three nights in Tuscany, exploring Pisa, Lucca, Siena and Florence by day and the lovely spa town of Montecatini Terme in the evenings. You’ll enjoy expertly guided walking tours, giving you an insight into the history and traditions of these beautiful cities, as well as free time to explore on your own.
It's a comprehensive holiday that covers some of Italy’s star attractions. You’ll start just outside Venice, then move south to explore Bologna and Tuscany. Next, you’ll have three nights in Rome, before you head towards the coast to discover the delights of Caserta and Sorrento. You’ll finish in Sicily, relaxing in the beach resort of Giardini Naxos. Covering this much of Italy requires molta planning – and that’s where we come in. We organise everything from the timings to the transfers, so all you need to do is sit back and soak up la dolce vita.
Sorrento holidays introduce you to one of Italy’s prettiest destinations. The town sits on a clifftop above a series of tiny pebbled beaches and bathing platforms, with spectacular views across the bay to mighty Mount Vesuvius. Delve into the mazy backstreets and you'll find ivy-draped trattorias, gift shops and hole-in-the-wall cobblers crafting leather sandals (something of a speciality in Sorrento).
To the west of Sorrento lies the Amalfi Coast. Tours here tend to start in pastel-hued Positano, before snaking along lemon grove-lined cliffs to pretty Amalfi town. Explore its monochrome-striped cathedral, before heading up into the hills to the beautiful botanical gardens of Ravello.
Out in the Bay of Naples is the island of Capri. With its designer boutiques and beach clubs straight out of a Slim Aarons print, this glamorous isle makes an ideal day trip from Sorrento.
The Italian Lakes have been pulling in holidaymakers for centuries. They’re no doubt lured by the landscapes – glittering lakes backdropped by forested mountains and dotted with tiny isles just waiting to be discovered.
Each lake has its own charm and character, which makes the region such a delight to explore. There’s little Lake Orta, where time-warp towns move at a go-slow pace and walkers are rewarded with hillside sanctuaries (and panoramic views). Lake Maggiore has more of an old-money feel to it, with grand lakefront hotels and a pair of palazzo-topped islands, while Lake Garda is all about variety – think crenellated castles, vineyards, Roman ruins and fragrant lemon groves.
Italian Lakes tours give you the chance to explore other destinations, too. Daytrip options could include fashion-focused Milan and the spectacular Swiss Alps from Lake Orta, and romantic Venice and Verona from Lake Garda.
One of the biggest benefits of an Italian Lakes tour is the fact that you won’t have to get behind the wheel – the winding, narrow roads that skirt the water’s edge can be a little white-knuckle if you’re not used to them. Whether you’re spending your whole holiday in the Lakes, or enjoying a few days here before a cruise, on all of our Italian Lakes holidays, we’ll arrange expert local guides to show you the highlights, introduce you to the local food (and wine), and give you free time to explore at your leisure.
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