Italy is a world-famous travel destination, and whether its enjoying a coffee in a quaint piazza, enjoying a romantic drive along the stunning Amalfi coast, or just indulging in the high-end fashions of Milan – Italy always feels so gloriously cool and chic.
It is this underlying romance and style, combined with la dolce vita (the good life) – that seems to appeal to visitors just as much as its many UNESCO World Heritage sites (more than any other country).
Rome, Florence, Milan, Naples and of course Venice draw big crowds, and the architecture and art of these cities is truly remarkable and will not disappoint even the most wary of travelers. There really is nothing like drifting through the canals of Venice in a Gondola, marvelling at the majesty of the Colosseum in Rome or taking in some of the art in its many churches and chapels. Italian cities gave birth to some of history's most beloved and influential figures, works by Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Giotto are unforgettable. Owing to Italy’s flourishing peak in the Renaissance, its museums are full of exhibits which rival any in the world – for me the museums and palaces in Venice with their old maps are a particular highlight.
For the food lover the food is quite cheap (outside of some tourist hotspots!) and plentiful, with tomatoes, cheeses, seafood, and of course pasta all very popular. The best food is usually found in the family restaurants which focus on the Italian tradition of simple food made well.
The food scene in Italy is vibrant and dishes vary wildly by region, with places like Positano on the Amalfi Coast and the fishing villages of the south a worthy stop for a meal with a view.
Wine too is an important part of Italian culture, whether it’s the stone terraces of the Cinque Terre on the western coast, the hillsides of Chianti, or the volcanic slopes of Etna in Sicily, Italian wines pair perfectly with regional cuisine and are customary at almost every meal or gathering.
Of course Italy is not just about sunny coastlines, monuments and fine wines; it boasts skiing in the Dolomites, diving in the waters of Sardinia and all the nightlife you could desire in its cities – but Italy is a different beast – a different type of destination.
For us, the best recommendation would be to pick a few highlights, space them out well and enjoy Italy the way the locals do; in your own time and at your own pace.