With 3000 years of history Rome truly is the ‘Eternal City’ and as such, a magical place to visit. Many of the wonders of this city are not in the museums but in the streets, and in fact the entire historical centre is a UNESCO World heritage site.
From the magnificent Roman monuments, such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon, with its amazing domed roof still perfectly intact, to ‘la dolce vita’ of the swish Via Veneto, Rome has so much to fascinate. There are many marvels that we can show you, including the outstanding works of art accumulated by popes, wealthy patrons of the finest artists in Europe; the treasures of the Vatican and the Sistine chapel by Michelangelo – few cities make the past such an enjoyable experience. In April, the Spanish Steps are bedecked with azaleas for the Spring Festival. On the 21st April Romans celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Rome with pageantry and music. From June to August Roman Summer hosts an extensive programme of open air events and concerts in the Forum, and again throughout the summer months Rock in Rome hosts a programme of open air concerts featuring an array of international stars. So, no matter what time you visit, the city will have something spectacular to show you!
The historic centre of Florence is small enough to explore on foot, but what a wealth of treasures are packed into it! Brunelleschi’s glorious dome floats above it all and a pleasant stroll through the narrow, pedestrianised streets will bring you to Piazza della Signoria with its marvellous Renaissance statues and the famous Uffizi art gallery. Florence has a unique style and elegance that permeates everything, from street market souvenirs to smart couture, from simple snack bars (offering an amazing range of delicious pizza and ice cream!) to the best Tuscan cuisine. The Scoppio del Carro, or the Festival of the Explosion of the Cart, takes place on Easter Sunday – an ancient festival in which a flower covered cart is pulled around the centre of the city by oxen followed by fireworks and bell ringing.
Milan is best known as Italy’s economic capital and driver behind the world-famous Italian fashion industry. Beneath the surface, the historic centre of this bustling city is still beguiling. The centre of the city is marked by the outline of the fairy-tale Gothic Duomo, with its impressive display of over 100 spires. From here, Milan’s streets of elegant boutiques fan out and include the stylish Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Leonardo’s world-famous fresco of the Last Supper can be seen at the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and the immense Sforza Castle is well worth a visit too!
The ideal climate, lush vegetation and majestic landscapes make this the most popular of the Italian lakes, with several delightful resorts along its shores to choose from. Visitors are drawn by its distinctly Mediterranean feel, with olive and lemon groves, palms and oleanders. The scenery here is incredibly varied with the south of the lake surrounded by gentle hills cultivated with vines and olive groves, and the north by dramatic mountains dropping precipitously to the water’s edge. Along the lakeside are many lovely towns and villages, all of which have attractive old squares and bustling streets with shops and cafés. There’s plenty to see for culture lovers too, and we can organise trips to nearly Verona and Venice, and there are interesting trips around the lake by boat to visit the various towns. The shores of Lake Garda fall into three regions; Veneto, Trentino and Lombardy, meaning you can enjoy a wide variety of influences on local cuisine. But we can highly recommend trying tasty fresh fish from the lake, such as rainbow trout, perch or carp, simply grilled and accompanied by a fresh salad – delicious! Because of its mild climate, olive oil has been produced here since Roman times and surprisingly, lemons too, but the restaurants around the lake serve all the Italian favourites like pizza and pasta. A local Bardolino Grape & Wine Festival at the beginning of October has five days dedicated to the grapes and wine of Bardolino, during which you can browse market stalls, taste wine and enjoy local foods, culminating in a fantastic firework display.
Sardinia is famed for its pristine, white sand beaches that can only be rivalled by those of the Caribbean, whilst the interior remains wild and quite remote. The north-east coast is known as the Costa Smeralda or Emerald Coast and is home to several smart resorts nestling in sandy coves lapped by crystalline waters. Porto Cervo is a chic resort full of yachts and designer boutiques, whereas Baja Sardinia, just 7km away, is a little more laid back, but with a lively central square with shops, bars and restaurants. Over in the west, the town of Alghero has a lovely historic centre of cobbled streets with a distinctly Spanish feel. In fact, Catalan is still spoken here – a hangover to when it was one of their colonies. Being surrounded by the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean, Sardinian cuisine understandably revolves around seafood, with lobster, fish stews and of course sardines.
Sicily is a land of contrasts as continuous invasions over the centuries have created a curious mix of cultures, traditions and cuisine. In the east of the island you still feel very much in Italy and few places in the world can beat Taormina’s superb position perched on a cliff above the sea, with Mount Etna in the background. The west however, has a distinctly north African influence, and it’s much less visited making it a little rough around the edges. Sicily also has the finest Greek temples outside of Greece, superb Roman and Byzantine mosaics, astonishing Norman cathedrals and flamboyant baroque cities, all set in dramatically beautiful countryside. If you’re looking for something a little unusual then look no further than the stunning Aeolian Islands; a volcanic archipelago lying just off the north-east coast and perfect for a few days’ relaxation.