Driving in Italy: the ultimate 15 + 1 things you need to know

The top 15 answers to the most common questions about driving in Italy, to drive safely and make the most out of your Italy driving experience.

Many travelers are concerned about driving in Italy and eventually give up renting a car. This is unfortunate, since the “true” Italy is often found in small villages, rural areas and secluded landscapes.

Is that your case? Then no worries! Here are the answers to the most frequent questions I receive on my blog about driving in Italy, and all the things you should know to drive in Italy.

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How to visit Puglia in one week: Sea, Sun, Salento and Trulli

A fascinating Puglia in one week itinerary, to discover the best of Salento and of the Trulli district in just seven days, including top beaches.

 

Puglia is the heel of Italy’s boot, and Salento the southernmost part of it. It’s a magical region, still partially off the beaten path. Spending one week in Puglia is an experience you shouldn’t miss.

Seven day in Puglia will give you the opportunity to enjoy:

  • 25 centuries of history, starting from the Greeks. Actually local dialects still reflects Greek roots, and the Salento central area is called “Grecìa Salentina”
  • Amazing architectures: the Trulli country houses and their unique cones, secluded fortified country houses, the “masserie”, fascinating Barocco churches
  • Breathtaking landscapes, featuring endless century old olive trees plantations under the Mediterranean cobalto blue sky
  • Arguably some of the best beaches and cliffs of the Mediterranean.

Is that enough to motivate you? If yes, then hurry up.

So far mainstream tourist flows have mysteriously ignored Puglia. However, things are changing and this fantastic region is rapidly becoming a top Italian and European destination.

Your Puglia itinerary can be a self standing one week fly and drive vacation or the continuation of a “classical” Italian trip. Either way, you will be delighted!

What to see in one week in Puglia?

This tour combines the three main highlights of the region:

Continue reading “How to visit Puglia in one week: Sea, Sun, Salento and Trulli”

How to visit Portofino and San Fruttuoso, and why you shouldn’t miss them

How to visit Portofino

How to visit Portofino from Milan, Genova or the Cinque Terre. Discover Liguria poshest destination and amazing San Fruttuoso abbey and beach.

Portofino is not as renowned as Cinque Terre outside Italy, but it’s a lovely and beautiful place you shouldn’t really miss when visiting the region.

Actually, Portofino is one of the most upscale destination you may find in Italy, and its name is a synonym of Jet Set, Luxury and high life. It is a place for the rich and the famous, and for ordinary people that enjoy contemplating upscale way of life.

Portofino delightful colored tiny harbor hides fashion boutiques, starred restaurants and luxurious hotels. It’s completely different from Cinque Terre, and will give you a different flavor of Italian taste for beautiful locations.

In this post I will tell you how to visit Portofino in one day, either from Cinque Terre or from Milan. I will also disclose a hidden jewell you may miss otherwise: secluded San Fruttuoso abbey and its amazing cove.

Continue reading “How to visit Portofino and San Fruttuoso, and why you shouldn’t miss them”

15 amazing things to do in Matera, Italy, and how to plan a trip there

Matera - Road to Belvedere

Short guide to the best things to see and do in Matera Italy, in one day or more. How to get to Matera, best cave hotels, top restaurants, sunset viewpoint.

Matera Italy, is a unique and unmissable destination, and you should do your best to squeeze it into your Italian itinerary.

Matera is getting more and more importance as one of Italy Must Sees, and for excellent reasons. Unesco site, 2019’s European Capital of Culture, movie set for Mel Gibson The passion of Christ, 7000 years of history. What else would you ask for?

Continue reading “15 amazing things to do in Matera, Italy, and how to plan a trip there”

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Garda lake in 1 week – a 7 days itinerary to discover the amazing lake Garda region

A Garda lake 1 week itinerary to discover one of the most charming North Italy destinations.  Navigate on Garda lake to discover must sees such as Sirmione, indulge in Garda lake SPAs, have fun in Gardaland, enjoy wine tours and off the beaten path jewels. This and more in this 1 week Garda lake itinerary.

Garda lake in 1 day - Sirmione Castle

Spending 1 week at Garda lake will give you enough time to visit this beautiful areas and the surrounding region, and to enjoy a number of local experiences.

Garda lake is the largest Italian lake and, in my view, the most beautiful and interesting one to spend one week. First, the sights: you are in the Dolomite region, and the light grey-pink cliffs plunging in the lake are just  breathtaking. Second, the history: Garda lake was part of the Serenissima,  and you can see everywhere in the ancient hamlets the influence of the Venetian beautiful architecture. Third, you are close to a number of great day trip destinations, such as Verona, Mantova and Trento. Fourth, food and wine are great, from Amarone to Prosecco, and wine tasting at a local estate is an unmissable experience. Fifth, the theme park, such as world known Gardaland. Sixth… well, you’ll need to read the post to know more…

Continue reading “Garda lake in 1 week – a 7 days itinerary to discover the amazing lake Garda region”

How to visit Bergamo in one day from Milan

Bergamo in one day - Bergamo Alta view

Bergamo is a perfect one day trip from MIlan. Spending one day in Bergamo will allow you to discover its lovely city center and lots of art and culture, on top of its delicious food specialties.  Here is a  one day trip itinerary from Milan to Bergamo, including a Bergamo Alta  walking map.

Why a day trip to Bergamo, Italy? Well, you have spent some days in Milan, enjoyed the bustling life, the glamorous atmosphere, fashion, design, and all the Milanese typical excitement. If you are now looking for something completely different, closer to the “Italian” cliché of history, art, nature and traditional food, then spending one day in  Bergamo, Italy is the best option for you.

Bergamo is a delightful small town, perched on a steep hill side and surrounded by impressive walls. Actually, there are two Bergamo: Bergamo alta (“upper Bergamo”), the historical center, and Bergamo bassa (“lower Bergamo”), built in  more recent times. In this Bergamo in one day post I will focus on Bergamo alta, but if you have time Bergamo bassa is worth a visit as well. If you plan to spend one full day in Bergamo you will have enough time to visit both.

Continue reading “How to visit Bergamo in one day from Milan”

How to go from Milan to Bellagio – a self guided tour

From Milan to Bellagio - Bellagio pier

How to go from Milan to Como lake main destinations: Como and Bellagio. A complete set of options and travel tips from MIlan to Bellagio and a travel map.

Como lake (actually we should call it Lario lake) is one of North Italy  top destinations, and lovely Bellagio is its pearl. Despite being relatively close to Milan, getting there as independent travelers could be tricky. So here is a quick guideto go from Milan to Bellagio, for a day trip or for a longer period.

Just in case you feel happily on holiday and not interested in handling Italian public transports: click here for a nice day tour from Milan!

Continue reading “How to go from Milan to Bellagio – a self guided tour”

Best 20 things to do in Umbria

A insider’s detailed guide about the 20 best things to do in Umbria, one of Italy most fascinating regions, still off the mainstream touristic itineraries. Interactive Umbria Google map to help locate Umbria charming towns and thrilling experiences.

It’s hard to select just 20 best things to do in Umbria, Italy. In my view, Umbria is one of Italy best kept secrets. It displays fascinating towns and villages, tons of culture, beautiful sceneries, fantastic food, cultural events and much more. And, despite that, it’s still ignored by mainstream tourism. Therefore, you won’t find the tourists crowds that will give you a hard time in Florence or San Gimignano. On the contrary, you will enjoy an atmosphere of bygone times, among the medieval paths, the palaces, the castles and the fortresses of charming villages.

This post is aimed at disclosing the best things to see and do in Umbria. I’m sure that after reading it you will want to squeeze Umbria into your Italy trip plan!

So here we go with the top 20 things to see and do in Umbria, Italy.

Umbria best things to do # 1 – Visit Perugia and its medieval art collections

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Perugia

Perugia is Umbria, Italy regional capital. It’s a fairly big city, with modern outskirts, but his medieval historical center, built up on a cliff as usual in Umbria, is fairly intact and keeps all its medieval charm.

If you are passionate about art, you shouldn’t miss Palazzo dei Priori, one of the most beautiful and imposing buildings in Perugia. It is home of  Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria , a superb gallery of Umbrian medieval and renaissance art.

Other top sights not to be missed are:

  • Piazza IV Novembre, Perugia monumental city center, and its beautiful  Maggiore Fountain, carved by  Giovanni and Nicola Pisano
  • San Lorenzo cathedral, and its San Bernardino’s Pulpit, from where the saint used to preach
  • The Basilica of San Domenico, where many statues and valuable works by local artists are housed.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Perugia

 

Umbria best things to do # 2 – Enjoy the Umbria Jazz festival

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Umbria Jazz

Umbria Jazz is one of the main Italian music events, and takes place in Perugia in the middle of July. It features artists like Quincy Jones, Gilberto Gil and David Byrne.  Click here for more info and to purchase tickets.

 

Umbria best things to do # 3 – Discover Assisi, the town of San Francesco

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Assisi

Assisi is one of the most famous Italian towns, since it is home of San Francesco, who was born here in 1181 and it is one of Italy’s World Heritage Unesco sites.

But Assisi is much more than that. Regardless if you believe or not, you could hardly avoid feeling the mysticism of this town  and being overwhelmed by the beauty of its ancient white stone streets and palaces. Build over the centuries on the slope of mount Subasio, Assisi overlooks the valley and offer astonishing views, especially at sunset.

The most famous sight in Assisi is the Basilica di San Francesco , where he was buried. Actually you will find two overlying churches, the lower and the upper, both filled with astonishing frescoes by Giotto, Cimabue and others.

On the opposite side of the town you will find Assisi Duomo and its splendid Romanesque facade, dedicated to the other saint of Assisi, San Ruffino.

Try to sleep in Assisi, so that you can visit it when all the day pilgrims are gone.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Assisi

 

Umbria best things to do # 4 – Enjoy Assisi Ester Stations of the Cross

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Assisi stations of the cross

The tradition of moving around the Stations to commemorate the Passion of Christ (“Via Crucis” in Latin) began with St. Francis of Assisi, and has continued century after century since the middle age.

Today, Assisi still hosts one of the most poignant Stations of the Cross of Italy.

Have a look here at my Assisi Stations of the Cross post.

 

Umbria best things to do # 5- Spend a couple of hours in lovely Spello

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Spello

Spello is a delightful tiny medieval town, ranged on terraces above the Spoleto Valley. There aren’t many major monuments to visit apart from Santa Maria Maggiore church, and its gorgeous frescoes from Pinturicchio.

What makes Spello special is the town itself, with its narrow alleys, the white stone century old buildings and, of course, the laid back atmosphere and the small town charm. The best think to do here is to sit on a café terrace under the tress, order a glass of local wine and enjoy life.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Spello

 

Umbria best things to do # 6 – Assist to Spello “infiorata”

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Spello infiorata

What makes Spello really famous is the tradition of the “Infiorate”, the christian tradition of covering the streets with flowers on the day of Corpus Christi.

Ephemeral works of art, the Infiorate are completed the early morning of Sunday and only last until the religious procession.

 

Umbria best things to do # 7 – Leave your heart in Spoleto

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Spoleto

English poet Shelley used to say that Spoleto was “the most romantic city I ever saw”.

Spoleto is worldwide known for its festival, but it doesn’t really need it to attract visitors. It displays tons of beautiful medieval buildings, Umbria’s prettiest cathedral displaying a major Renaissance fresco cycle (1467) by the Florentine Filippino Lippi. an impressive a Roman and medieval aqueduct and bridge that spans a picturesque gorge and a massive fortress. Isn’t that enough?

Click here to find the best places to stay in Spoleto

 

Umbria best things to do # 8 – Assist to Spoleto Festival dei due Mondi

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Spoleto festival dei due mondi

The Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds) is an unmissable annual summer music and opera festival held each June to early July in Spoleto. It has been going on for 60 years, and it’s now a worldwide known event.  It features a vast array of concerts, opera, dance, drama, visual arts and roundtable discussions on science.

More on 2018 Spoleto festival.

 

Umbria best things to do # 9 – Unveil Todi, one of Umbria prettiest cities

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Todi

Some years ago, the Italian press reported on Todi as the world’s most livable city. Not hard to guess why!

Todi stands  on the top of the hill overlooking the beautiful Tevere Valley. It is limited by three rings of walls (Etruscan, Roman and medieval) that contain the ancient city center. The main square is so perfect that it is often used as a movie set.  It hosts most of Todi medieval monuments: the co-cathedral church (Duomo), the Palazzo del Capitano, the Palazzo del Priore and the Palazzo del Popolo.

The whole square is built over some huge ancient Roman cisterns, with more than 500 pits, which remained in use until 1925.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Todi

 

Umbria best things to do # 10 – Get amazed in Orvieto

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Orvieto

Inhabited since Etruscan times, Orvieto’s monuments and museums cover millenniums of history. Its stunning cathedral is one of the best medieval monuments in Italy and the  astonishing St Patrick’s well will leave you appalled.

It’s a delightful town, which deserves at least half day in your Umbria trip.

Want to know more? Have a look at my Orvieto post.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Orvieto

 

Umbria best things to do # 11 – Walk up Gubbio ancient streets to Piazza Grande

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Gubbio

Gubbio is the oldest town in Umbria, and one of its most beautiful destinations. It’s relatively small, and its main attractions, such as the magnificent Palazzo dei Consoli (Consular Palace),  the renaissance The Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) and the cathedral can be easily visited in half a day and are a perfect day trip from Perugia or Assisi.

Piazza Grande, overlooked by Palazzo dei consoli, offers astonishing views on the countryside.
Read my full post about Gubbio.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Gubbio

 

Umbria best things to do # 12 – Assist to Gubbio traditions

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Gubbio corsa dei ceri

One of the most crazy and exciting traditions in Umbria (and I would say in Italy) is Gubbio corsa dei ceri (race of the candles). It takes place every year around the 15th of May, day of St Ubaldo. The traditionhas been going on uninterruptedly from 1160.

The candles are three tall heavy wooden artifacts, surmounted respectively by statues of Saint Ubaldo, Saint George and Saint Antonio Abate. With a height of nearly 5 meters, the “Ceri” are impressive to look.  In addition to the parade through the streets of the city, during the competition the candles are carried on shoulders and the “ceraioli” go through Gubbio to reach the  Basilica of St. Ubaldo, located on the top of Mount Igino that overlooks the city.

Here you can find a nice video of the corsa dei ceri.

 

Umbria best things to do # 13 – Enjoy Norcia and its mountain scenery

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Norcia

Not only Norcia is a lovely mountain town, it is also one of Italy’s leading gastronomic centers, offering an amazing selection of truffles, ham, salamis, lentils and cheeses.

The 2016 earthquakes heavily hit Norcia, causing great damages especially to the San Benedetto church. Nonetheless, the town is recovering and is still a great destination. Norcia is also a great hub to viist Piano Grande and the Parco dei Monti Sibillini.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Norcia

 

Umbria best things to do – Browse Norcia “Norcinerie”

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Norcinerie

Norcia is so famous for pork meat delicacies like sausages, tasty hams and salami, that in central Italy the characteristic shops that produce and sell them are commonly called “Norcinerie” (litterally “coming from Norcia”).

For sure, in Norcia you can find some of the best Italian pork meat products, as well as famous lentils and delitious cheeses.

In the picture you can see the Norcineria fratelli Ansuini, one of the most reputed in Norcia.

 

Umbria best things to do # 15 – Get amazed at Marmore waterfalls

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - cascate delle Marmore

The Cascate delle Marmore (Marmore waterfall) is the tallest waterfall in Italy, with a total 165 meters height. It is located in the beautiful Nera river park, rich of green meadows, thick forests, teeming streams and hidden gorges. It’s arguably one of the most beautiful areas in Umbria.

Many trails are available in the park, where you can also enjoy rafting, canoeing and canyoning.

 

Umbria best things to do # 16 – Discover Umbria wine routes

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - wine tours

There are 4 wine routes in Umbria. They are the ‘Strada del Vino dei Colli del Trasimeno’, the ‘Strada dei Vini del Cantico’, the ‘Strada dei Vini Etrusco Romana’ and the ‘Strada del Sagrantino’. They will allow you to discover Umbria excellent wine production, and to spend an enjoyable day around wineyards and cellars. Click here to find your wine routes map.

Whichever route you decide to explore, don’t miss the tenute Lunelli estate, and it’s amazing cellar “il carapace” designed by world famous artist Pomodoro (it’s the one in the picture)

 

Umbria best things to do # 17 – Discover Bevagna

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Bevagna

Bevagna has been (rightly!) included among the most beautiful hamlets in Italy. It has been built in the middle age over an ancient Roman road, which is now Bevagna main street. Bevagna has a lovely central square, piazza san Silvestri, and two beautiful Romanesque churches:  San Silvestro, from 1195, squat and dark with age and San Michele on the other side of the square, known for the wonderfully macabre gargoyles over the main doorway.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Bevagna

 

Umbria best things to do – Admire the flowering of poppies in the Sibilini national park

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - monti Sibillini

Tired of churches, ancient towns and art? Need for some physical activity in a beautiful scenery? Well, the Monti Sibillini is what you are looking for in Umbria.

Monti Sibillini provide great opportunities of  trekking along the many marked trails, with some themed tours like the Zafferano (Saffron) trail. Rock climbing fans will find many opportunities on the slopes of Monte Bove and mountain bikers several marked bike path.  Rafting and canyoneering are also practiced in the Forca Canapine area.

That said, what makes Monti Sibillini unique is the wonderful poppies flowering, which takes place between May and July in the Piana di castelluccio di Norcia.

 

Umbria best things to do # 19 – Walk the mystical Franciscan path of Peace

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - Franciscan path of peace

This is a path that links Assisi to Gubbio, and it follows the route covered many times by Saint Francis after 1206 when he renounced his father’s properties. It’s a religious path and an important pilgrimage destination, so expect loads of mysticism (on top of the exquisite views).

Click here for more info and for the map (unfortunately only in Italian), local tourist office in Assisi can provide further guidance.

Umbria best things to do # 20 – Raft on the Nera River

Best 20 things to do in Umbria - rafting

Just downstream Marmore waterfalls, the Nera river offers some of the best rafting spots in Italy. Operators offer experiences with different level of thrill, so this could be a funny completion of a day visit to the waterfalls.

Rafting Marmore is a well known operator who also offers hydro speed and canyoning experiences.

Click here to know more about exciting experiences in Umbria

Enjoy beautiful Umbria!

_____________________________________________________________________Delightfullyitaly.com: Italy top destinations and travel itineraries, off the beaten path

Delightfullyitaly.com is the blog for all the ones in love with Italian culture, Italian sights, Italian monuments .. and with Italian food! If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discoveredVenice , Rome , Florence , the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures. And if you like what you read, why not follow delightfullyitaly.com and get free updates?

 

 

One day in Burano – discover Venice lagoon islands

One day in Burano

One day in Burano: self guided day trip from Venice to discover Burano amazing colored houses,lovely Venice lagoon islands, secluded wineyards and delicious fish restaurants.

Tired of crowded Venice? Hungry to discover a completely different environment, where the scenery seems frozen in time? Then what you need is to spend one day in Burano and to enjoy the calm and beauty of Venice lagoon.

Actually most travellers visit 3 island at the same time, either self guided or with an organized tours. Murano, Burano, Torcello, in this order. My suggestion would be to go directly to Burano, so to skip the masses and to enjoy the island all for yourself.

You can then proceed to Torcello, before or after lunch, as you wish. If your pockets are deep enough, a lunch at the worldwide known Locanda Cipriani is a great experience, but an aperitivo could be good enough.

Continue reading “One day in Burano – discover Venice lagoon islands”

Day trip to Cinque Terre

A short video to share what to do and see in a day trip to Cinque Terre. Explore the Monterosso – Vernazza trail, the scenic Sentiero Azzurro.

The easy walk from Monterosso to Vernazza is arguably the  most scenic and famous path in the Cinque Terre. You will walk among the renowned Cinque Terre vineyards (ever heard of Vermentino and Sciacchetrà?) and enjoy breathtaking views of the steep cliffs, blue sea and beautiful Monterosso and Vernazza sights.

Here is a quick video to anticipate what you will see when you get there.

Continue reading “Day trip to Cinque Terre”

What to do in Italy at Christmas time

Centuries old Italian Christmas traditions, delightful Italian Christmas markets, delicious Italian Christmas cakes: here is the list of the five (plus one!) best things to do in Italy at Christmas time.

Discover Italian Nativity scenes

Delightfullyitaly.com_San Gregorio Armeno_131

Preparing a Nativity scene (“Presepe” in Italian) is a widespread Italian Christmas tradition, especially in Southern Italy. Every church will display a nativity scene, and some are real masterpieces, with moving elements and detailed scenes displaying Italian rural life in the XVIII and XIX centuries. Unsurprisingly, baby Jesus is only displayed after December 25th, while you will have to wait until the Epiphany to see the three wise men!

The largest and most famous nativity scenes can be found in St Peters square and on the Spanish steps, but exploring Rome or Naples churches to find the Nativity scenes you like the most can be a really funny way to spend an afternoon, especially on Christmas day when museums and other attractions are closed. If you travel with your children, they will surely enjoy! Continue reading “What to do in Italy at Christmas time”

How to visit the Cinque Terre in one day

 Key info and tips to visit the Cinque Terre in one day from Florence or from Pisa. Discover and enjoy the most of the Cinque Terre if you only have one day: charming Monterosso, Vernazza and Manarola.

Ideally, you would like to dedicate at least a couple of days to explore beautiful Cinque Terre, plus maybe two or three days more to visit Portovenere and the Golfo dei Poeti, Santa Margherita and Portofino, and beautiful Abbazia di San Fruttuoso. Unfortunately, not so many travellers have more than one day to visit Cinque Terre, and many want anyways to get a glimpse of the Cnque Terre while staying in Florence or in Pisa.

So this post if aimed at the rushy travellers, who want to see in just one day Cinque Terre key highlights: Monterosso, Vernazza and Riomaggiore. It is intended to give you the hints to visit Cinque terre on youself, which is not that difficult.. Alternatively, you can participate to an organized tour, which will probably alow you to see more. In case you are interested, click here for a very good Cinque Terre day tour.

The cinque Terre are five hamlets built on steep hills overlooking the Mediterranean sea., they are accessible from Florence via Pisa. Cars are not allowed, so only way to visit is by sea or by train or, of course, by walking the many trails. This is the cinque terre map, where you can see where the five hamlets are actually located and the main trails.

The cheapest way to organize the trip is to use train. You have many trains leaving from Florence and getting to Moterosso in as less as 2:10 hours, with a change in La Spezia to catch the Cinque Terre Express, the shuttle that connects the five hamlets.

Returning to Florecne will take the same amount of time, so check Trenitalia time table to select and to reserve the train best suited for you.

cinque-terre-map_credit to James Martin
Credits to wanderingitaly.com

The most popular (and, unfortunately, crowded) trail is the so called “Sentiero Azzurro” (blue trail), which is the closer to the coast, and the only one that requires an entry ticket (7€). You can’t do it all in one day, so my suggestion would be to limit your walk to the Monterosso – Vernazza segment (roughly one hour), so that you can visit the first two hamlets and use the frequent local train to visit Riomaggiore and Manarola, if you still have time, or continue walking from Vernazza to Corniglia (another hour).

Unfortunately, the famous Via dell’Amore (a beatiful trail linking Riomaggiore to Manarola) is presently closed due to a land slide.

So here we go with your tour.

Your gateway to Cinque Terre will likely be Monterosso. This is the largest of the Cinque Terre, the only one with a beach and the one with the highest number of hotels and Pensions.

The railways station  is located on the main beach, close to the Tourism office, to get to the old town walk on your left for less than half a mile and take the short tunnel.

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Monterosso beach

Moterosso is a delightful ancient village, which has kept all the charme of the past. You will find some very good restaurants, my preferred is the one just on the small cove.

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Monterosso main square

The Sentiero Azzurro starts just on the beach, just follow the many panels.

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Monterosso – the trail to Vernazza

The trail starts climbing on the hill, and you will shortly be walking among some of the most amazing vineyards you may think of.

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Monterosso vineyards

The Cinque Terre are reputed for their wines, you should taste the Vermentino (fruity white whine) and the Sciacchetrà, a sweet whine very typicall.

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Monterosso to Vernazza trail – the old staiirs

The trail can be quite steep, and very hot during summer time. I suggets to take plenty of water and, in summer time, to avoid the cenral hours of the day. luckyly, you will find many shade areas along the trail.

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Following the trail to Vernazza

The trail proceeds fairly high in the hills, and offers breathtaking views of the coast and of the villages.

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Amazing view of Vernazza from the top

After roughly one hour, you will get in view of Vernazza.

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Vernazza from the Sentier Azzurro trail

Vernazza is in my view the most interesting and pictureque of the five hamlets. Don’t miss the old romanic church and the remains of the castle, from which you can enjoy a great view.

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Vernazza, the view from the castle
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Vernazza: the romanic church

Vernazza enjoys a bunch of good restaurants, and after all this walking you surely deserve a delicious fish delicacy. Anchovies are one of the local specialties.

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Vernazza delicacies: acciughe and sardine

If it’s not too late (and you are not too tired) you can proceed along the trail to Corniglia (1,5 hours at least) or take the Cinque Terre Express to Manarola and Riomaggiore. You can take the train to Corniglia a s well, in that case take the bus from the station, so not to climb all the stairs.

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The coast towards Corniglia
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Corniglia breathtaking terrace

Riomaggiore is the last of the Cinque Terre,and one of the most visited.

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Riomaggiore view from the sea

From Riomaggiore you can catch your Cinque Terre express to La Spezia, and from there back to Florence or Pisa.



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Delightfullyitaly.com: Italy top destinations and travel itineraries, off the beaten path

Delightfullyitaly.com is the blog for all the ones in love with Italian culture, Italian sights, Italian monuments .. and with Italian food! If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures. And if you like what you read, why not follow delightfullyitaly.com and get free updates?

How to travel from Florence to Pisa by train or by tour

Florence to Pisa trains, for a day trip or as a stop on your way to Cinque Terre. How to buy train tickets, walk from station to leaning tower and tips to plan your climbing on top of Pisa leaning tower. Half day escorted tour from Florence.

Florence to Pisa trains are fast and convenient. This makes visiting Pisa an easy day trip from Florence, or a stop while going to or coming back from Cinque Terre (it’s the same train line). This is what the itinerary looks like: Continue reading “How to travel from Florence to Pisa by train or by tour”

The ten best restaurants in Milan, plus one

Great pasta, risotto and other local delicacies in the ten best restaurants in Milan. Delicious Italian food in lovely locations at reasonable price.

Forget Pizza ans spaghetti Bolognaise: here we are talking about some of the best food you can taste in Italy, in posh locations and with a great service! This is my very personal selection of the restaurants in Milan with the best quality/price ratio, those where I usually have dinner with my friends and family.

I will not present the true Milan top dining places, such as Savini, Cracco, Joia, Aimo and Nadia, Armani Nobu and the similar (much too expensive for most travellers), but rather 10 excellent Milan restaurants when you can enjoy a a fantastic meal in a great location, spending around 50-60 € per person (the wine you will choose could be a major driver of your bill…).

Continue reading “The ten best restaurants in Milan, plus one”

Amalfi coast Italy: discover Amalfi, Positano, Ravello, Praiano

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Amalfi coast Italy, is a not to be missed destination for any Italian traveler. Read this article to discover the best sights the Amalfi coast, and use the interactive Amalfi coast map to fine tune your trip. Explore main highlights such as Amalfi, Positano and Ravello and get to know its off the beaten path hidden jewels.

Imagine ancient white hamlets perched on high cliffs, overlooking the deep blue Tyrrhenian sea. Add cytrus fields, steep light grey mountains, medieval churches, hidden fjords and beaches. Complete with amazing sea food and a “dolce vita” feeling stronger than anywhere else in Italy. That, and much more, is the Amalfi coast, Italy: you can’t really say you know Italy without visiting this delightful destination.

While you can have a glimpse of it in a day trip from Naples or from Sorrento, the Amalfi coast deserves at least two or three days, if not an entire week.

So here is my personal Italy Amalfi coast Italy itinerary. It will let you explore all the area, including off the beaten path jewels such as the mills valley and the astonishing “path of the gods” trail . My recommendation is to complete this tour by one or two days in Capri, which could be easily reached by hydrofoil from Positano. In my view, Sorrento can be skipped, but I leave this to you.

A last tip: like most central Italy destinations, best time to visit the Amalfi coast Italy is from May to early July, and, even better, from mid September to October’s end. Weather is perfect and the area is not too crowded (better to avoid week ends if possible). Absolutely avoid July and August, when the heat and the crowds would spoil most of the enchantment.

 Amalfi coast Italy five days tour: click on the image to get to the interactive Amalfi coast map

Amalfi coast tour map

Amalfi coast Italy tour – Day one: Salerno-Amalfi, Amalfi tour

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Amalfi cathedral

My Amalfi coast Italy itinerary starts in Salerno, very conveniently located for those arriving from Rome on a high speed train. Salerno itself deserves a visit, but if you are short of time, just jump on a  cab to the harbour and get the hydrofoil to Amalfi (here is the Ferry company  web site). You may also take a bus, but a journey by boat will give you a fantastic initial glimpse of the coast.

Amalfi used to be one of Italy’s four powerful maritime republics (with Venice, Pisa, and Genoa). Today, Amalfi is one of southern Italy top touristic destinations. You will enjoy its scenic seafront setting, its tiny, centuries old alleys, crowded of interesting workshops and delightful restaurants, and, of, course, its amazing cathedral, the Duomo.

Amalfi’s cathedral, the “Duomo di Sant’Andrea”, is a beautiful middle age church, perched on top of a monumental stairway and  fronted by an intricately patterned façade. Next to the church lies the XII century Chiostro del Paradiso, or Cloister of Paradise, whose somber Romanesque tone is enlivened by Arab elements.

You can decide to sleep in Amalfi or to spend the night in romantic Ravello.

Amalfi coast Italy tour – Day two: Ravello and valle dei mulini

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Sea View from Villa Ruffolo, Ravello

Your second Amalfi coast Italy day starts in ravello, which is considered one of the most romantic and beautiful small towns in Italy.

Perched on steep, terraced slopes it is a place blessed with lush gardens, quiet lanes, sleepy, sun-drenched corners. Perched high above sea level, Ravello will offer you unbelievable views over the azure coast below.

Highlights of  your visit are the 11th-century cathedral and its two major villas, Villa Rufolo and villa Cimbrone, who have hosted many VIP travellers of the past such as Richard Wagner (both can be visited). Villa Cimbrone is now a hotel, where you can enjoy spending a night (if your wallet is big enough!).

When you are done with Ravello, you can visit the Valle dei Mulini, a steep-sided ravine dotted with ruined watermills (“mulini”). Locals once used the mills to make paper, an industry for which Amalfi was, and still is, famous. It’s a fresh and relaxing walk, far from amalfi’s crowds.

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The Valle dei Mulini, Amalfi

Amalfi coast Italy tour – Day three: Amalfi – Conca dei marini – Furore – Praiano – Positano

Your third Amalfi coast Italy day will lead you to Positano, not before discovering some really amazing jewells along the road. Leaving Amalfi towards Positano, you will find many places worth a visit. Grotta dello smeraldo is one of the unmissable ones.

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The Emerald Grotto, Conca dei Marini

Conca dei Marini is one of the several delightful hamlets that dot the Amalfi coast. However, what makes it unique is the astonishing Grotta dello Smeraldo (the emerald cave). This cave is a cove in the coast which contains all the most spectacular colours of the nature. The visit by small rowing boats will be one of the highlights of our trip.

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Furore fjord

Your next stop after conca dei Marini is the lovely Furore fjord, another often overlooked sight.

Furore fjord is a narrow gorge cutting inland from the sea. A cluster of old fishermen’s houses cling to the cliffs. It is bypassed by an arch bridge over which a state road passes. The 30 meters high bridge is also the location where every summer the International Diving Championship is held

It’s a great place for a stop, especially on midday, when the sun manages to break through the narrow gorge and shines on the short beach. An old lime kiln has been converted into a bar and gift shop, perfect place for a glass of white whine.

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Praiano from the above

Continuing west from Amalfi, the increasingly spectacular corniche will get you to Praiano.

Praiano has two characteristics: the stairways and the little votive altars. Stairways are everywhere but the continuous up and down is worth the effort because the panorama is breathtaking. The little votive altars were built by the families on their properties to claim their possession to the place. Take some time to go visit the beautiful church of San Luca Evangelista, that is the fulcrum of the city, and the Torre a mare (Tower in the sea).

Back on the road, after a few miles you will get to breathtaking Positano. Plan to arrive in the afternoon, so you can enjoy the sunset and leave more time to day four.

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Positano

Amalfi coast Italy tour – Day four: Positano and the coastal road

Positano is the most impressive town on the Amalfi Coast, and arguably the most photographed of the region. Its the highlight of your Amalfi coast Italy trip.

Seen from the sea, Positano shows a dramatic vertical panorama of colors. The green of the Monti Lattari, the white, pink and yellow of the Mediterranean houses, the silvery grey of its pebble beaches and the blue of the sea. Just amazing!

The sea colour is crystalline and its black, volcanic sand beaches such as Marina grande and Fornillo are an irresistible temptation.

On top of the exceptional landscape, you will love the church of Santa Maria Teresa of the Assumption and its colored tiled dome, the Saracen towers, the little villages of Nocelle and Montepertuso which are places of an extraordinary beauty.
Positano is also known for its shops, selling local pottery and leather sandals. Local craftsmen produce them in traditional small workshops you can visit.

Don’t forget to taste local delicacies: on top of seafood you should have a try to local desserts such as Delizie al limone (soft pastry with a delicious lemon flavoured cream) and  torta positanese (cake with almonds).

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The Amalfi coast road

If you have a car, you may enjoy one of the most exciting driving experiences in Europe by driving from Positano to the end of the Amalfi gulf. The roads along the Amalfi Coast are famously winding, narrow, and challenging to drive. Add in drop-dead views and daring Italian drivers, and you have all you need for a high adrenaline experience! However, better to plan a drive of the Amalfi Coast during the shoulder tourist seasons. In mid-September to October and May, the road is less crowded and lumbering tour buses are fewer.

Another great activity you could plan when in positano is a hike on the God’s Path (Sentiero degli Dei).

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View from the Sentiero degli Dei

The Sentiero degli Dei links the tiny hilltop town of Agerola with Nocelle, a fraction of Positano nestled on the slopes of Monte Peruso.The name of the footpath clearly suggests how amazing the views could be! The hike can be hard, especially during hot summer days, so plan it with care. Local guides are available to assist you.

Amalfi coast Italy tour – Day five: Positano – Capri

On your last Amalfi coast Italy day, you can either proceed to Naples (and,, why not, have a stop in Pompei) or take an hydrofoil to Capri for a glorious conclusion of your Amalfi coast Italy trip (click here for the time tables). Then from Capri you can easily get to Naples (many hydrofoils, one hour trip) and then to Naples train station.

To know more about why you just can’t miss Capri, have a look at my post: Capri: breathtaking Faraglioni and Natural Arch walking tour.

 

Enjoy Amalfi coast Italy!


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Delightfullyitaly.com: Italy top destinations and travel itineraries, off the beaten path

Delightfullyitaly.com is the blog for all the ones in love with Italian culture, Italian sights, Italian monuments .. and with Italian food! If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures. And if you like what you read, why not follow delightfullyitaly.com and get free updates?

 

 

 

 

Off the beaten path Italy itinerary – in two or three weeks

A two weeks Italy  itinerary off the beaten path for the travelers who already enjoyed Italy essentials, and look for more. Discover Milan, Emilia Romagna, Umbria, Apulia and Sicily.

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Civita Bagnoregio

What? Visiting Italy without seeing Rome? Not even Florence or Cinque Terre? Yes, that’s what I mean, and I didn’t get crazy!

Here are five good reasons why you may wish to skip Italy main touristic highlights and to explore less famous (but for that reason even more fascinating!) destinations:

  • You already saw them in your previous trips (sounds logical, indeed)
  • You’re tired of seeing more tourists than Italians (yes, that’s what can happen in Rome, Venice and Florence in high season!)
  • You are looking for the real Italian atmosphere
  • You believe that there’s much more to see than just St Peter, St Marc and Piazza della Signoria (and you’re right!)
  • You hate doing what everybody else does

So for you maverick travelers, here is my itinerary, to be enjoyed in two weeks or more. Of course, you can cherry pick any of these destinations and add it to a “classical” Italian tour: you won’t regret it!

Continue reading “Off the beaten path Italy itinerary – in two or three weeks”

Florence in a day

How to discover Florence in a day by foot, including some hidden jewels, off the beaten path. An interactive Google map will make it easier to follow your path.

Let me tell you before hand: visiting Florence in a day is possible, but this wonderful town would deserve more than one day of your Italian itinerary. But if you have to rush, here is a walking itinerary to have a glimpse of Florence in just a day.

Continue reading “Florence in a day”

Romantic Rome: look for romance in Villa d’Este, Tivoli

One of the most romantic things you can do while in Rome is to visit Villa d’Este, in Tivoli. It will be a fantastic escape from chaotic Rome, and you will love its renaissance gardens and fountains. Villa D’Este will definitely be one of your Romantic Rome highligts.

Villa D’Este and its amazing fountains are arguably one of the most romantic day trips from Rome. Strolling in its fresh alleys, admiring the amazing fountains and the beautiful views over the valley, loosing yourself in the lost in time atmosphere will be one of the most enchanting memories of your Italian trip.

While you are there, you could also visit Villa Gregoriana. It’s a nice walk in a deep gorge, with waterfalls everywhere and a tiny round Roman temple overlooking it. Actually you can see this sight on many 18th and 19th paintings, since this has been an inspirational view to legions of famous painters.

Alternatively, you could visit Emperor’s Adrian villa amazing ruins. A Unesco heritage site, and a top romantic visit. Unmissable if you are in Tivoli!

 In case you don’t want to bother organizing your day trip to Tivoli on your own, here is a nice tour that combine Villa d’Este and Villa Adiana

Villa d’Este is a really romantic place during daytime, and it becomes absolutely magic after sunset!

Don’t miss the opportunity of a night visit. Villa d’Este opens to the public at night, from July 4 to September 13, only on riday and Saturday nights, from 8:30 PM to 00:30 AM (this is for 2017, better to check for 2018).

Admission is limited to 2.000 persons, so better to reserve at the following number: 199 766166.

If you are lucky enough to attend the night visit, what about spending the night there? Click here to find the best places to stay in Tivoli


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Delightfullyitaly.com is the insider’s Italy travel guide for independent travelers. Here you will find city guides, travel itineraries, Italian experiences and much more.

If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures.

And if you like what you read, why not follow delightfullyitaly.com and get free updates?