Italy is a destination that has something for everyone from history buffs to beach lovers. If you have been dreaming of the brightest azure sea, the rolling hills covered in vineyards, the snow capped mountains, the mirror-like lakes or the most magnificent art-filled cities in the world, then Italy delivers. It is a country that brings you from one opposite to another, from the spices of Calabria to the rich polenta and sausages of Friuli. It’s the long, magnificent coastline of enticing Puglia and winding roads of the Dolomites. Italy is a place that holds the hearts of repeat visitors who find it hard pressed not to come back and continue exploring its twenty magical regions.
“Open my heart and you will see graved inside of it, Italy.”Robert Browning
Before You Go to Italy
There are several direct flights from the states to both Rome and Milan and all the major airlines have partners that fly from their hub to the smaller, and often more convenient, airports through Italy (for example. Lufthansa flies from most international airports in the states to Munich and then Air Dolomite to Pisa, Florence, Verona, Torino, Venice, Catania, Naples and more).
With one week’s time to vacation, you can enjoy 2 destinations comfortably, but we recommend a minimum 10 to 14 days. For the first-timers, at least two of the “big three”, which consist of Rome, Florence and Venice, should be on the agenda, but we also suggest mixing these with either a bit of countryside (such as Tuscany) or the sea (the Amalfi Coast or the Italian Riviera). We also love Puglia and Sicily and the remoteness of the Aeolian Islands for romantic getaways. Sicily can be a full trip in itself. For food (and wine) lover’s, you should consider Emilia Romagna, Piemonte and the Veneto. And don’t forget both the Italian Alps and the Dolomites provide fantastic family adventures both summer and winter.
There are plenty of options for getting from point A to B, including high speed train (usually very reliable and convenient), inexpensive and efficient inter-country flights, English-speaking private drivers that often serve as excellent tour guides as well and, of course, rental cars. Driving in Italy is fairly enjoyable with excellent state roads called “autostrade”. We just recommend not having a car for the cities.
Food and wine are just about as essential as art and history. Each region has its own signature dishes and local vintages not to be missed. With so many choices, our team can help you narrow down your eno-gastronomic wishes!
No visas are necessary for North Americans to travel less than 90 days.
While the national language is Italian, you will find English spoken and/or understood just about everywhere.
When to Go
Italy can be enjoyed just about all year long. The cities are excellent destinations in the winter (imagine having the Uffizi Gallery almost all to yourself!), as well as the mountain resorts of the Alps and Dolomites. In the spring and fall, we think Sicily and Puglia are the perfect spots for mild weather. The fall is for food and wine lover’s with stays in the countryside of Piemonte, Tuscany and Umbria. Mid-July to mid-August can be very hot, muggy and crowded, but a “secret” wonderful time to visit is the last week of August which is often less stifling and the Europeans have return to work giving you a small pocket of tranquility before September hits (with a new influx of tourism mostly from the states).
Where You’ll Stay
Italy has it all: from curated farm stays at boutique working farm agriturismos to some of the most prestigious 5 star luxury resorts in the world, from family owned, cozy B&B’s to a well appointed, one of a kind hotel set in ancient cave dwellings for a rustic yet upscale experience. At BVT, we have literally scoured the country finding the absolute best in accommodations that follow our strict criteria and standards for comfort, location and allure – and often uniqueness.
Memories You’ll Make
- Before or After Hours Visits to the Vatican – Imagine having the Sistine Chapel to yourself, or at least with only a few people! You can even enjoy a private breakfast in the Vatican gardens
- White Truffle Hunting – best done in the fall and preferably in Piemonte, go with your private local expert and dog for an adventure in gastronomic discovery, then enjoy the “fruits of your labor” with an amazing truffle filled meal!
- Cycling through the 100 year old olive groves of Puglia – Explore the countryside of the Val d’Istria plus a few of its “white villages” topped off with burrata, negromaro and of course, local olive oil on your private picnic under the olive trees!
- Aeolian Islands by Caicco – In your charming mahogany built sail boat, discover the beautiful archipelago of volcanic origin located in the north-east of Sicily composed of seven legendary islands, which still have a wild and pristine nature.
- A private full-day private tour through Italy’s “food valley” – Explore and taste the secrets of Prosciutto di Parma, Aceto Balsamico di Modena, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. While there, you can also visit the Ferrari museum and even take a super car for a spin.
- Learn how to row a gondola in Venice – While enjoying before dinner ‘cicheti’ (Venetian before dinner snacks- with wine, of course!) learn one of the oldest professions in Venezia with our expert rowing guide (and sommelier!)
- Private shopping tours in the most exclusive ateliers of Italy’s fashion capital, Milan
- An exclusive private boat tour of the Italian Riviera – A whole day dedicated to the sea, the sun, relax and the visit of the Cinque Terre by sea with your choice between charming motor boat or luxurious sailing yacht
- Enjoy the Amalfi Coast from a different perspective– hike above the villages where you’ll witness some of the most spectacular views of the coastline and Capri. Along the way, your guide will treat you to a picnic lunch of local specialties.
- Have you ever dreamed of driving a Ferrari or Lamborghini on a test track? Or would you rather enjoy a leisurely drive in a vintage Italian sporty convertible or Vespa through the Tuscany countryside? Everything is possible with Bella Vita Travels.
- Hiking Mt. Etna and Winery Tour – Combine a day of exercise, incredible sites and views, plus the opportunity to experience some of the island’s most sought after wines.
- Visit in-depth the region of Tuscany: our portfolio of luxury villas and exclusive experiences like sunrise hot air balloon rides followed by a champagne breakfast, private winery visits, cooking classes, private guides and drivers to the most lovely cities and villages in the heart of Italy will make you fall in love with one of our favorite parts of the country.
- Tour impressive Greek and Roman ruins throughout Southern Italy with our expert private guides. From the more well-known sites such as Pompeii to the lesser known Greek temples in Sicily, our guides will make your visit interesting as well as educational. For our Roman history enthusiasts, we have special guides in Rome that can lead you through sites that are normally closed to the public.
- If you’re looking to get ‘off-the-beaten-path’ in Italy, our team has in depth experience with helping our guests discover areas in Italy that are off most tourists’ radars. Genoa on the north-west coast has the largest historic center of all of Europe plus one of the world’s most impressive aquariums. The north-east region of Friuli Venezia Giulia is just a couple of hours away from Venice but often overlooked by visitors. The Austrian and Slovenian influences on the region have contributed to some of the best wines and food products in the country. Tuscany’s coastline is mostly a secret haven for Italian tourists. There you can find luxurious hotels and delightful beaches- along with fantastic wineries and restaurants. The list goes on… but for your first- or fiftieth- trip to Italy, we can help you discover new and exciting destinations.
- Visit the Carrara quarries where Michelangelo sourced the marble for his most famous works. While there, enjoy a delicious traditional meal in the hills above the sea!
- Throughout the year, Italy explodes with local festivals, concerts, traditional events and seasonal activities. Whatever your interests, we can find something special for you to see or experience. Our favorites include the Classical Music Festival in Ravello (Amalfi Coast), the Biennale Art Exhibition in Venice (only on odd-numbered years), the Palio of Siena horse race, and of course the small-town festivals that often center around the local foods and wines.