6 Unmissable Italian destinations for 2023
Look beyond Italy’s iconic cities to the dreamy destinations we believe deserve attention this year. Embrace what the Italians call dolce far niente - the sweetness of doing nothing.
In the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. It’s Italy’s third-largest lake after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore.
WHY LAKE COMO?
Lake Como exudes elegance. It’s a perfect all-year round destination and has been a popular retreat for leisure since Roman times. Activity revolves around the lake, from the fresh lake fish and seafood served up at mealtimes to the numerous lake activities of boat rides and watersports.
Drawing an A-list crowd. George Clooney, Richard Branson, and Sylvester Stallone have all owned lakeside homes here, and many more celebrities are found wandering through the picturesque villages in the summer months. Even if you don’t meet anyone illustrious, you'll always feel glamorous with a trip to the town of Bellagio.
Breathtaking views. Situated at the foothills of the Alps, you’ll be blown away by how perfectly framed the vivid blue waters are by the lush green mountains with their (occasionally) snow-covered peaks. It’s utterly romantic.
Everywhere - you only need to look! The beautiful, terraced gardens of Villa Serbelloni and Villa Carlotta in Tremezzina are absolute treasures. To escape the summer crowds, take day trips to Gravedona or Colico in the northern area of the lake, or further south towards Dervio, Bellano, and Varenna, home to the beautiful Villa Monastero.
In the Campania region of southern Italy, the Amalfi Coast overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Gulf of Salerno.
WHY AMALFI COAST?
The Amalfi Coast is an idyllic 25-mile stretch of coastline and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The area became a playground for the Romans, and this tradition was continued by aristocrats who built ornate summer villas here that continue to embellish the beautiful surroundings.
Unique villages. The Amalfi Coast is made up of 13 towns and villages that hug the steep cliffs or are right by the beach. For glamour, head to Positano for boutique shops and beach clubs. For history, visit the impressive cathedral and cloisters in the town of Amalfi. For romance, you’re best going to the heart-stirring Ravello, home to some gorgeous gardens.
Lemons. Alluringly photogenic and distinctly Mediterranean, images of the Amalfi Coast are captured by the pop of yellow from the plump, zesty lemons that can be seen growing in the winding streets and on the clifftop terraces, all thanks to the rich fertile soil. These lemons add a zing to most meals and can be seen adorning local pottery.
Head to lesser-known villages for unique experiences. You can observe anchovy fishing boats in Cetara, discover a winery in the hillside village of Furore, get lost in the narrow streets of Atrani, or experience the alpine-like air of Agerola. Take a rowing boat from the timeless whitewashed fishing village of Conca dei Marini out to the Emerald Grotto, where sparkling light is cast over the waters of an underground cave.
Right in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is just off the coast of southern Italy and is the largest island in these waters.
Sicily celebrates the Mediterranean climate, with pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and landscapes shaped by its famous volcano, Mount Etna. Right on the global trading route, Sicily has been colonised by invaders over many centuries, so it’s a delightful melting pot of culture.
Beaches. The coastline stretches for 930 miles, and so there are many idyllic white sand beaches to unwind on and coves for you to explore, which are all lapped up by delightfully warm, blue waters. Embrace beach culture on the north shore by Palermo in seaside towns like Mondello, or look up at dramatic cliffs like the Scala dei Turchi in southern Sicily.
Delicious food. Sicily’s flavours have been influenced by Arab, Greek, French, and Spanish cultures. Whether you’re tucking into the famous Sicilian street food - arancini, panelle, sfincione, cannoli, frutta martorana, and granita, to name but a few - or fine dining, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Don’t miss out on the homegrown pistachios, almonds, olive oil, and delicious locally-caught seafood.
There are an incredible seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in Sicily, so you can dig into an array of ancient architectural styles found in the island’s various cathedrals and piazzas, such as the Norman Cathedral of Monreale. In the southwest, go to Agrigento Valley of the Temples for almost-intact Greek temples, or Syracuse to witness a 5th century B.C. Greek amphitheatre. Hop over to the nearby island of Ortigia to see the Temple of Apollo, or to Taormina to explore the Teatro Greco.
Ensconced by the Alps on three sides, Piedmont is tucked away in north-western Italy, and borders France.
The regional capital of Turin is distinctly elegant, with its baroque architecture and grand piazzas. Today the city holds one of Italy’s oldest and most successful soccer clubs, Juventus. Plus, Piedmont is home to dazzling Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second largest lake.
Earthy food and wines. Piedmont is a foodie’s delight, where curly-haired truffle hunting dogs sniff out delicious mushrooms and truffles from the region’s misty woods. It’s also the birthplace of Italian gianduja - authentic chocolate hazelnut paste.
Museums. In Turin in particular, you’ll find a wonderful collection of museums, from the Museo Nazionale del Cinema where you can learn all about the history of film, to the Museo Egizio, which boasts sphinxes and sarcophagus in one of the world’s largest collections of ancient Egyptian artefacts.
You’ll find delightful vineyards to visit in the many acclaimed wine zones of the region, such as Langhe, which produces Barolo, the ‘king of wines’, and Gavi, best for white wines.
Basilicata is nestled between Puglia and Campania in southern Italy.
Basilicata is often overlooked - and wrongly so. You’ll find a sleepy rural region characterised by rolling mountain landscapes that are crowned with age-old hilltop towns. From the beautiful scenery to a patchwork of historic sites, this is the off-the-beaten track destination you’ve been dreaming of!
Ancient cave dwellings. The star attraction of the region, head to the historical centre of Massi, where you'll find the sassi - an entire network of stone caves that have been dug out from the rock. They’re thought to be some of the oldest human settlements in this part of the world and would have been used to shelter pastoral families and livestock. Today they’re frequently featured in major films.
Archaeological sites among natural wonders. You’ll find so much natural beauty in Basilicata, which is often mixed in with the ancient world. Go to Metaponto and Heraclea, where you’ll find Greek remains.
Delve into Parco Nazionale del Pollino, which is one of Italy’s largest national parks and home to unique flora and fauna. Or head to gravity-defying mountain villages like Castelmezzano, Pietrapertosa, and Melfi.
Puglia is located right on the south-eastern tip of Italy, in what’s known as the ‘heel’ of the country.
Puglia looks, feels, and tastes quintessentially Italian, from the authentic whitewashed villages to the daydreamy seaside culture. Puglia is ideal if you like the heat - it’s so warm you’ll find an amazing display of pretty, wild cacti lining the roadside.
Brilliant beaches. Puglia arguably has some of the best beaches in mainland Italy. There are plenty of enchanting destinations like Polignano a Mare or Marina di Pescoluse to venture to.
Homegrown food. Puglia is one of the main food-producing regions. The hot sun helps nurture the endless, heavily protected olive groves that supply the region's renowned olive oil, as well as the bountiful vine tomatoes that thrive here. By the sea, the Apulian dishes always feature fresh seafood, such as pasta with a sea urchin sauce.
There are plenty of delightful hilltop towns and villages to explore, some of which are off-the-beaten track. You’ll find towns that have their roots as far back as the stone age, from the UNESCO World Heritage site of the trulli in Alberobello and the baroque architecture of Martina Franca, to the ‘white city’ of Ostuni.
DISCOVER THE REAL ITALY WITH CITALIA
Ready for Italy? Citalia are the UK’s leading Italy specialist with over 90 years' experience in tailoring holidays to Italy. Experts are on hand every step of the way to ensure you make memories to last a lifetime. It’s never too late to start planning your Italian escape!
Visit citalia.com to discover the real Italy on your next adventure.
Read more: Italy's most romantic hotels and traditions
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