Italy travel opens the door to the land of la dolce vita, where locals have a penchant for revelry and enjoy a lifestyle of scrumptious food, high fashion and rich traditions. With sun-kissed beaches, snow-capped mountains and cosmopolitan cities to explore, an Italian travel adventure is a real European must-do.
“Fantastic 12 days! Saw so much of Italy, learnt about the culture, ate some truly amazing food and met some great people from all over the world! Got to see the big cities like Rome, Milan, Venice and Florence but also the smaller places like Lake Garda and the Island of Capri. It was well organised and our tour manager (Erica!!) went out of her way to make sure we had the best time!!! Thanks Contiki!!!”
“Amazing 21 days! Lots to fit in, and heaps was coverd! Had lots of busy time,as well as chilling on your own, great group of people! All the hotels beat my expectations although some of the dinners could have been a lot better. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a good idea of Europe and be mezmorised by some of the things you will see! I really had an amazing time, an I'm sad to be home without my contiki family!x”
“This trip was so much fun and the tour group was amazing! There was so much to see and do, but we still had lots of free time to go off on our own and explore. I definitely fell in love with Italy!”
Culture vultures, sporty types, foodies, sun-lovers and fashionistas planning Italy travel 2015 will be spoilt for choice. Here are our top tips for things to do:
Marvel at the iconic Sagrada Familla in Barcelona.
Gaudi’s majestic creation has been wowing crowds since it first began construction in 1882. Since then, multiple architects have taken up the reins on the project, some honouring Gaudi’s original designs, other’s redefining the creation completely. The multiple and varied facades of the building, plus its sheer size and majesty, make it a must do for any traveller visiting Barcelona.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Indulge in traditional Andalusian delicacies in Seville.
Seville is renowned for its gastronomic offerings, and whilst the traditional dishes may be simple to prepare, they’re bursting with fresh regional flavours. Gazpacho, Pescaito frito and Huevos a la Flamenca are all famed Andalusian specialities, or for those preferring traditional tapas, Seville has around 4,000 tapas bars to choose from – take your pick!See all trips that visit Seville
Live like a King in the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Get a glimpse of life as the other half live with a guided tour of the Royal Palace in Madrid. The largest palace in Europe, the Palacio Real de Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, though is only used formally for state ceremonies. Gorge your eyes on the many works of art by famed Spanish painters as you delve a little deeper into Spain’s rich history.See all trips that visit Madrid
Party till dawn in the clubbing mecca of Ibiza.
Nowhere on Earth will you experience clubbing quite like Ibiza. Home to some of the world’s most infamous clubs, come and join the party as night after night revered world class DJ’s play their hearts out to adoring crowds. Get into the mood with sunset cocktails at Café Del Mar then party till sunrise at Space, DC-10 or Ibiza Rocks.See all trips that visit Ibiza
Bask in sunlight on Barceloneta Beach.
Some cities are fortunate enough to have the perfect city/beach balance, and Barcelona is one of them. Whilst Barceloneta Beach may be man-made, the water is clear and refreshing and the beach is alive with travellers and locals alike chatting, swimming and generally loving life. Spend long leisurely lunches in the surrounding cafes and restaurants, hire bikes or rollerblades or just relax in the sunshine.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Explore the Islamic inspired fortress of Alhambra.
Rising from woods of cypress and elm, the Alhambra reigns supreme on the hillside of Gibraltar. Born in the 11th Century and then further developed over the 14th and 15th century’s, the fortress holds an extensive network of lavishly decorated palaces and irrigated gardens and gives those who visit it a glimpse into the rich history of the Spanish empire and the influence both Islam and Catholicism had on the Alhambra’s design.See all trips that visit Gibraltar
1. Biennale di Venezia – As if Venice wasn’t already exciting enough, this annual extravaganza features a rolling calendar of theatre, dance, music and modern art, and sees the city become a glittering stage for the world’s greatest contemporary artists – especially during the legendary Venice Film Festival.
For more information on Biennale di Venezia, click here.
2. Palio di Siena, Siena – An adrenalin-fuelled horse race around Siena’s Piazza del Campo, Il Palio has been described as “the most intense 90 seconds in the world”. Almost as impressive is the pageantry of the pre-race procession through the city’s historic centre, making this event one of the world’s most unique and unforgettable spectacles.
For more information on Palio di Siena, click here.
3. Calcio Fiorentino, Florence – Live the origins of football at the Calcio Fiorentino in Florence. Watch as teams of 27 gladiatorial players battle it out on the sand pitches of the Piazza Santa Croce, a clash that culminates with a grand finale and party on San Giovanni’s Day, the patron Saint of Florence.
For more information on Calcio Fiorentino, click here.
4. Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea – The origin of Ivrea’s Battle of the Oranges is a tad hazy, with some claiming it is a celebration of the city’s defiant overthrowing of a 13th century tyrant. However it started, today this is one of the most unique festivals in Italy, a sticky street skirmish that sees thousands of joyous revellers hurl oranges at each other before partying on into the wee small hours. Sounds like fun, right?
For more information on Battle of the Oranges, click here.
5. Carnival of Venice – The Carnival of Venice is one of the most famous festivals in Italy of them all, a rampage of colour, costumes, masked balls, music and dance that harks back to the city’s Renaissance heyday. Don a mask and be a part of one of the greatest citywide shindigs in Europe.
For more information on The Carnival of Venice, click here.
1. Uffizi Gallery, Florence – Housed in a 16th Century palace and one of the most famous things to do in Florence, the Uffizi Gallery contains a monster collection of European masterpieces from the likes of Caravaggio, Titian and Michelangelo, as well as Rembrandt, Rubens and Dürer. Pencil in a couple of days; there’s a LOT to see here.
For more information on the Uffizi Gallery, click here.
2. Ferrari Museum, Modena – This is the mother of all museums for Formula 1 fans and lovers of little red sports cars alike. Goggle in green-eyed awe at the world’s most comprehensive collection of Ferraris, before getting dizzy on the drive of a lifetime in a Formula 1 simulator.
For more information on the Ferrari Museum, click here.
3. Vatican Museums – The Vatican Museums are a collection of 54 salas (galleries) housed within the walls of Vatican City. They feature art and artefacts collected over the centuries by successive Popes. Expect to see everything from Ancient Egyptian material to Renaissance masterpieces, as well as religious works by the likes of Dali, Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.
For more information on the Vatican Museums, click here.
4. National Museum of Rome – A ticket to the National Museum of Rome gives you access to fascinating historical sites across the city and is one of the most interesting things to do in Rome. Dig deep into the cultural history of Italy through the museum’s vast collection of ancient art, archaeological artefacts and icons of the Renaissance.
For more information on the National Museum of Rome, click here.
5. Auditorium Parco della Musica – Named the ‘Factory of Culture’, this modernist hub of culture is an architectural masterpiece in its own right and houses an archaeological museum, three halls for music, theatre, film and dance, and an art gallery and exhibition space. Culture vultures will love it.
For more information on the Auditorium Parco della Musica, click here.
Thanks to its simplicity and reliance on fresh ingredients, the fame of Italian food has spread around the world, and the pleasure ordinary Italians get from great food is one of the highlights of any trip to the country.
Whether seafood feasts in Sardinia, meat spreads in Tuscany, Neapolitan pizzas or Milanese risottos, the Italian food experience is one to be savoured.
Carbonara –This Roman speciality is a simple yet rich sauce made from bacon, Parmesan, egg and black pepper, usually served with the pasta of your choosing.
Best eaten at – Armando al Pantheon, Salita dei Crescenzi 31, Roma
Ossobuco – A real treat for you carnivores, Milanese ossobuco involves the braising of crosscut veal shanks in a broth of juices, vegetables and white wine.
Best eaten at – Mama Rosa Osteria Grill, Piazza Cincinnato 4, ang. via San Gregorio, 20124 Milan
Pollo alla cacciatore – Literally translated as ‘chicken cooked in a hunter’s style’, this hearty dish is all about simplicity. Add chicken to onions, tomatoes and wine and cook until tender.
Best eaten at – La Torre Antica, Via Santa Maria A Chianni, Gambassi Terme, Italy
Tiramisu – Italy’s most popular desert, tiramisu is, as its name suggests, a ‘pick me up’. It combines the bold flavours of cocoa and espresso with rich mascarpone, masala and savoiardi biscuits. Go on then.
Best eaten at – Bar Rizzardini Pasticerria, Sestiere San Polo, 1415, Campiello dei Meloni, 30125 Venice
Pizza Margarita – This simplest and most patriotic of pizzas combines tomato, basil and mozzarella to mirror the red, green and white of the national flag.
Best eaten at – Sorbillo Gino, Via dei Tribunali, 32, 80138 Napoli
Sunglasses - Whether you’re hanging out in Venice, dancing the night away in Rome or simply trying to look as good as the suave locals, shades are essential for any Italy travel 2016.
A good camera - How else are you going to prove that you held up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, trod the dirt of the Coliseum, or high-fived Leonardo DiCaprio at the Venice Film Festival?
A second suitcase - It takes a master of discipline to resist the temptations of Milan’s Corso di Porta Ticinese or the trendy shops of Monti, in Rome. Leave space for a new wardrobe.
Swimwear - With a coastline of nearly 7500km and a warm summer climate, Italy has a million and one spots where you could and should get wet.
ID - Carrying identification at all times is the law in Italy but it is safer to carry a copy of your passport rather than the real thing.