From Italian Villas in Tuscany to your luxury villa in the Amalfi Coast, how do you choose? Each part of Italy is so individually beautiful and so incredibly unique. The thing that all parts of Italy have in common are amazing food, breath-taking scenery, phenomenal history, friendly passionate fashionable people and great art.
If you are a first-time visitor to Italy, it may be hard to decide on which part to visit? We hope we can make that decision a little easier for you by helping to give you an insight into the different regions, from Tuscany to the Amalfi Coast.
Where to visit?
Italy is one of the most recognisable countries in the world due to its very distinct boot shape. It is located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea and shares borders with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. Italy is long and narrow.
The distance from the most northern Italian point at the Austrian border to the tip of the Italian toe is over 1,300 kilometres or over 800 miles. Italy covers a total area of 301,228 square kilometres or 116,000 square miles with a population of over 60 million.
1. The Italian Alps
Because it is such a long distance from top to toe, the scenery, culture and atmosphere of Italy changes vastly from one end of the country to the other. At its most northern point, you can experience the stunning scenery and the majestic mountains of the Italian Alps and The Dolomites.
2. The Italian Lakes
Moving in a southward direction, are the beautiful Italian lakes such as Lake Como, Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore.
Lake Como is probably the most well-known of the lakes partly due to the fact that George Clooney lives on the lake but also because it is just so stunningly beautiful. Lake Como nestles in the foothills of the Alps and is close to Milan. Lake Como villas line the shore as well as gorgeous cobbled stoned medieval towns such as Bellagio, Cernobbio, Tremezzo, Menaggio and Varenna.
Cernobbio in particular is worth a mention for the fact that Villa d’Este, one of the most famous hotels in the world, is located here. If you would like to find out more, check our Things to do in Lake Como.
Equally beautiful is Lake Garda. It is over 51 kilometres (31 miles) in length and is full of history, partly due to the fact that it was one of the most popular places for ancient Romans to take their vacation. There are ancient ruins everywhere and pretty towns surround the lake such as Desenzano and Sirmione.
No matter which parts of the lakes you visit, you will be guaranteed breath-taking views, tree-lined promenades, cobble stoned streets, spectacular Italian Villas, wonderful restaurants and authentic Italian Piazzas.
Next is the incredibly stylish and fashionable city of Milan. The areas surrounding Milan are largely industrial, but if you go east of Milan, you come to in one of the luxury Villas in Venice which is one of the world’s most Romantic cities. Read about the best restaurants in Venice.
Next on the southward trail is the incredible historical region of Tuscany. It is full of nature, history, medieval walled villages, romantic towns, rolling countryside, vineyards, olive groves, beautiful Italian villa rentals, farmhouses and castles to rent and above all people who have plenty of time to chat.
Some of the most popular places to visit in Tuscany include Florence, Siena, Pisa and San Gimignano but Tuscany has hundreds of interesting towns and villages to visit as well as some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. If you are looking for peace and quiet, nature and a real authentic Italian experience, then Tuscany is simply hard to beat.
The two most popular towns are Florence and Siena, and I believe that a visit to Tuscany would not be complete without spending at least a little time in each. They are overflowing with ancient Renaissance architecture, history and art.
The entire historic centre of Florence is a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s most famous landmarks include the Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo), The statue of David, the Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Pitti and Ponte Vecchio (the iconic bridge full of jewellery shops).
Florence has even been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Siena is choc-a-bloc full of history and culture, but is probably most famous for the Palio Horse race which has been taking place in the famous Piazza del Campo every year since 1701. Aside from the Piazza del Campo, some of its most famous landmarks include the Torre del Mangia (one of the highest lookout towers in Tuscany), The Siena Catherdral and The Siena Baptistry.
Any mention of the merits of Tuscany would not be complete without talking about wine. Tuscany produces some of the best and most famous wines in the world. The most well-known regions are Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. There are literally thousands of winemakers throughout these three regions. I highly recommend some time spent visiting some of the smaller wineries. Not only will you get to taste some of the wines, but you will also learn a lot about the production and history of the wine. In the case of the smaller vineyards, you will often get to meet the owners of the vineyards.
Another unforgettable Tuscan experience is taking a tour of the Olive Oil Producers. The production of Olive Oil is taken as seriously as wine. Each one is unique and has a different taste.
And then there is ROME. In my opinion, it is one of the world’s most beautiful and interesting cities to visit in the world. On my first ever trip to Rome, I was dazzled by the incredible history, world-famous architectural landmarks, fabulous restaurants, trendy bars, chic designer shops and above all art everywhere. Every corner, every building, every church, every cathedral, every Piazza is more artistically spectacular than the last.
I remember walking around in awe. Not just at the iconic go to places in Rome like the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican but also at the off the beaten track areas of Rome.
I believe one of the most wonderful ways to explore this amazing city is to just wander around the myriad of narrow cobblestone streets and endless Piazzas taking it all in. Stopping occasionally for a cappuccino or an Italian gelati in one of the thousands of mouth-watering gelaterias.
Rome is seductive to all the senses. It is vibrant, stylish, romantic and elegant. I personally think that one of the most wonderful ways to explore Rome is to stay in an Italian Villa like Villa Nocetta
6. Amalfi Coast
South of Rome is the beautiful Amalfi Coast. The whole of Italy is romantic, but this area is possibly the most romantic of all. There are jaw-dropping panoramic views everywhere. The coast begins in Naples and meanders along tiny narrow roads hugging the coastline.
Driving here is not for the faint-hearted!
The most beautiful areas are along the main Amalfi peninsula which includes the beautiful towns of Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello.
The Amalfi coast is rich with culture and ancient history. A few of the most interesting places to visit include the Duomo of Ravello, Chiesa di San Francesco, the Grotta delle Matera and ancient Paestum which is well known for the three ancient Greek temples despite the fact that it was conquered by the Romans.
But one of the best ways to discover this jaw-dropping area is to either drive around by car or wander around on foot and soak it all in. The vistas are spectacular everywhere, and the towns are full of meandering streets, Italian trattorias, cobbled courtyards, Piazzas and of course lovely Italian villa rentals.
Positano is one of the most well-known of the Amalfi Towns. The town extends almost vertically from the sea up to the mountainside. Consequently, the views are stunning no matter where you are.
The town is a myriad of charming old buildings intertwined with steep cobbled stone steps. If you are the type of person who likes to explore on foot, you will be fit by the end of any visit to Positano. The centre of the town is chic and full of lovely boutiques, Amalfi Coast restaurants and bars. In another article, we address the question of what to do in Positano?
Ravello is another very pretty town located about 350 meters from the sea on a hillside. Once again, the views everywhere are fabulous. It is probably for this reason that many famous artists have based themselves here over the years including Turner, D.H Lawrence and Virginia Wolfe. It is hard not to feel inspired.
In Ravello food is also taken very seriously. Most because just about all of it in that town is amazing.
Sorrento is larger than both Ravello and Positano and is also a great place to base yourself if you wish to explore the whole region. Its location in the middle of the Amalfi area allows easier access to all the coastal towns as well as some of the historic sites in Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the mainland of Europe and is the best known for having erupted and covered the city of Pompeii and Herculaneum in A.D 79. There are plenty of good restaurants in Sorrento.
Pompeii is now one of the most preserved Roman towns in the world. Due to the huge amount of Lava covering the town, it was lost for more than 1500 years and only rediscovered in 1599. Today Pompeii is a World UNESCO Heritage site.
10. Italian Islands – Capri
Offshore from the Italian coast, there are many wonderful Islands of Italy to explore. Close to the Amalfi Coast is the stunning island of Capri. I highly recommend renting an Italian villa in Capri or at least stay for a couple of days. During the day, Capri is full of tourists and very busy, but if you are lucky enough to stay on the island, you will get to experience a much more exclusive, authentic and peaceful Capri. Once the day-trippers leave, Capri becomes magical. It is as chic as it is beautiful.
Capri is one of the favourite haunts of the jet set, and it is very likely you will see some famous faces wandering around the beautiful cobbled streets or enjoying one of the many trendy and chic beach clubs. Anacapri is the second town of Capri. It has a much more local feel and equally lovely.
The main town of Capri is very elegant and full of designer shops and gorgeous restaurants and bars. For walkers and hikers, Capri is heaven. It is full of paths that wind their way around the island with stunning vistas around every corner.
One of the unique aspects of the island is the funicular railway that runs from the main harbour of Marina Grande to the heart of the town of Capri. Alternatively, if you fancy some exercise, it is possible to hike up from the harbour and around most of the island.
Another Italian island that exudes glamour and exclusivity is Sardinia. It is well off the western shore of Italy and harder to combine with the mainland. But it is most definitely worth a trip in its own right.
It has some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean with the clearest blue turquoise seas. Sardinia is another island frequented by the jet set and a place where you will very likely see some famous faces.
Moving to the most southerly point of Italy is the island of Sicily. It is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea with a population of over 5 million. Sicily is separated from the mainland of Italy by the strait of Messina. The distance between the mainland and the island of Sicily varies from 16 km (9.9 miles at its widest point) and 3 km (1.9 miles at its closest point). The islands most prominent and well-known landmark is Mount Etna. It is the largest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world.
Sicily is another island that merits its own visit.
First-time visitors are surprised at how large the island is and how much there is to see and explore. It is full of ancient history, cliff-top villages, vineyards, olive groves, endless stretches of beautiful beaches and breathtaking scenery. The landscape of the island is quite diverse. The northern part of Sicily is quite rugged and mountainous whilst the south is full of beautiful sandy beaches. There are some excellent Sicily villas for rent also.
If you are a first-time visitor to Sicily, I highly recommend that you visit the beautiful town of Taormina. It is a charming medieval town located on the side of Monte Tauro mountain. Taormina has spectacular views from everywhere and it also incredibly chic and full of wonderful designer restaurants. Below this beautiful hilltop town is Taormina Mare. It has some of the best beaches and crystal-clear waters.
Sicily is one of my personal favourite destinations in Italy and has some of the best Italian villa rentals
The one thing that all parts of Italy have in common is the fact that the entire country is full of World Heritage Sites, there is incredible art everywhere, it is one of the most fashionable countries, the people are among the friendliest in the world, the Italian Villa Rentals are among the best on the planet and above all the food is incredible. Italians know how to make the simplest dishes taste delicious. It is very easy to understand why it is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world.
Italy is great for couples who wish to enjoy a romantic trip. It is unbeatable for culture lovers. Italy provides ideal conditions for adventure lovers with its world-class ski and mountain resorts. For people who love to be active, there is amazing walking, cycling and hiking. It is perfect for beach lovers with over 5,000 miles of sandy beaches and above all, it is a great destination for families.
We love to hear your feedback so please send us a comment or email us. Our villa specialist Paul has seen every one of our Italian villas for rent on the Amalfi Coast and he will be delighted to help you find the perfect Italian Villa Rental to ensure a trip of a lifetime.
About Alexandra Baradi
Alexandra Baradi is the founder and owner of Exceptional Villas. She started the company 1992. Alex is a hotel manager by background and has travelled around the world in search of the best villas.
Her personal passion for travel and her entrepreneurial flair for making guest feel very special from the moment they enquire to the moment they arrive home, has enabled Exceptional Villas to become the world’s leader in luxury villas.
She believes anything is possible when you travel with Exceptional Villas and ensures you will be pampered every step of the way.
Alexandra and her team all have one thing in common; to provide their guests with an unmatched holiday experience and to go beyond expectations.
Each of the team members specialise in just one destination rather than in multiple destinations allowing them to become total experts in their fields.
Both Alexandra and her team spend much of their time travelling to all the destinations inspecting new villas and re-inspecting already featured villas.
Hello thank you for your beautiful website. The photos and articles are full of detail and very interesting. My husband and I would like to speak with you regarding a small group tour. Our idea is to spend about three days each in 3 or 4 areas. We are interested in the Amalfi coast and Tuscany. Florence and Venice are all still on the list. Balogna looked beautiful. We could certainly use an expert to help us figure all of this out. Recommendations on best travel times would be wonderful as well. Feel free to contact me at 609-408-4802.