When it comes to luxury, Europe has no shortage of great travel destinations. From the opulent hotels in London’s Mayfair to the glitz and glam of Saint-Tropez, visitors are spoiled for choice. If you’re traveling in Italy, things get even better. The country has an abundance of five-star hotels, high-end shops, and great cultural treasures that rank among the best in the world. If you want to know the top places to go, here is a list of the best luxury travel destinations in Italy.
One of the most romantic and dramatic cities in Italy, Venice is an unrivaled luxury destination. Hotels like the Cipriani, which sits on a private island accessible only by boat, offer privacy and seclusion, while icons like the Gritti Palace and Hotel Danieli offer visitors five-star accommodation and opulent Venetian surroundings. Furthermore, Venice has no shortage of artistic and cultural treasures, from the Doge’s Palace to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The famous Venice Biennale is a great place to get inspiration for your own collection, too. And let’s not forget Carnival, when luxury and indulgence are at their peak.
Just off Italy’s Amalfi Coast, the island of Capri has long been a favorite travel destination of the international jet set. The hilly island has no shortage of five-star hotels and accommodation, and the streets overflow with luxury goods shops selling everything from clothing to jewelry and watches. Even the taxis are convertibles here!
Synonymous with art and culture, Florence is the perfect luxury travel destination for those that want to mix a city visit with life’s hedonistic pleasures. Hotels like the Four Seasons and the St Regis are great places to ensconce oneself in the finer fabrics of life, and indulgent spas and rooftop bars make for enjoyable days and nights. Florence’s art scene is also an attraction, with world-class collections at the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’Accademia, where Michelangelo’s David can be found.
Another great island destination, Sardinia is firmly on the list of the best luxury travel destinations in Italy. This Mediterranean jewel is overflowing with grand hotels, fine dining restaurants, and all the beautiful people one could want to lay eyes on. The summer months are popular with Italian visitors, and Sardinia has a great local ambiance and plenty of sunshine.
For fashion lovers, Milan offers the ultimate in luxury travel. The northern Italian city is the home of global fashion, and every designer’s wares can be found here. The stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade is one of the oldest and most opulent in the world, and is not only a great place to shop, but also an attraction in its own right. Beyond fashion, Milan offers an abundance of cultural highlights, including the city’s famous opera house, La Scala, and Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
Autumn is one of the best times to visit Italy. The weather is pleasantly warm after the heat of summer has subsided, and the tourist crowds during the high season have dissipated as people go back to work and school in September. If you have the time to travel to Italy in the autumn, you will be able to enjoy the benefit of visiting the top destinations in the ideal conditions.
Furthermore, there are a number of places in Italy that are best for visiting in the autumn. From festivals to fashion weeks, these destinations have a lot going on in the fall.
Located in the Piedmont region of Italy, the small town of Alba is home to the annual White Truffle Festival. During October and November, Alba comes alive with its local delicacy, celebrating all things truffle in fairs, events, and markets throughout the town. It’s a great time to visit, and a good way to learn more about Piedmont’s cuisine and culinary specialties. Most visitors are Italian, too, so it’s the perfect way to experience the local culture.
Milan is best known for fashion, so what better time to visit than during Fashion Week in the fall? Women’s Fashion Week in Milan usually takes place in late September, and is a great way to experience the city’s most famous industry (and hopefully do some celeb spotting while you’re at it!).
Foodies can also head to Milan in the autumn to enjoy the Gorgonzola Festival in nearby Gorgonzola (it’s so close you can take the metro). The annual festival is dedicated to the famous cheese of the same name, and is a great place to indulge in foodie fun.
Known the world over for its rolling hills and wine production, Tuscany is a great place to visit in the autumn. Places like Chianti are home to cultural and food festivals throughout the season, and as with Alba, there is truffle hunting in Tuscany.
Furthermore, Florence is far less touristy in the autumn than in the summer, so it’s easier to find cheaper hotel rooms and good deals on flights and tours. And that’s to say nothing of the lack of crowds at the city’s top attractions.
But perhaps the most exciting thing about Tuscany in the autumn is the grape harvest for the region’s famous wines. As the leaves in the vineyards turn yellow and orange, grapes for the iconic Brunello di Montalcino and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines are harvested. It’s a great event to witness in beautiful surroundings.
With so much to do and see in the Italian capital, it’s hard to know where to start. To help you narrow down your choices, below is a list of the top 10 things to do in Rome. While you’re there, these Rome sightseeing tips can also help.
Throw a Coin in the Trevi Fountain
First things first. If you want to return to Rome someday (which you will), throw a coin into the famous Trevi Fountain. Legend has it that all who do so will come back to Rome in the future. Even if you don’t believe in the prophecy, the stunning Baroque masterpiece is one of the world’s most famous fountains, and is worth a visit. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider going at night.
Visit the Colosseum
No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Colosseum. Surprisingly intact for how old it is, the amphitheater is the most famous ancient Roman monument in the world. Visitors can spend hours there exploring the halls and seating areas, and imagining what it would be like to watch a gladiator in the ring. A good way to avoid the often long lines at the Colosseum is to get a Roma Pass, which will allow you to bypass the regular ticket line.
Walk through the Roman Forum
Adjacent to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum is another of the city’s best ancient Roman monuments. Covering a wide area, the forum gives visitors a great idea of what life was like in Roman times. The pathways throughout the area can be uneven, so make sure to wear good walking shoes when you visit. A water bottle is also a plus on hot summer days.
Go to the Pantheon
Rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian around 125 AD, the Pantheon is a famous Roman temple dedicated to the many gods of ancient Rome. The building is famous for both its history and the large hole in its domed ceiling. It also features an impressive classical exterior with Corinthian columns under a triangular pediment.
No trip to Italy would be complete without tasting the country’s most famous sweet treat, and Rome has a great variety of gelato shops to keep visitors satisfied. Two of the best gelato shops in Rome are Old Bridge Gelateria near the Vatican and Gelateria Corona on Largo Arenula. The latter is known for offering unique flavors like ricotta with saffron.
Visit the MAXXI Museum
For lovers of contemporary art, Rome’s MAXXI museum is a must. Opened in 2010, it was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid and houses a great collection of 21st century art. The museum is located in Rome’s Flaminio district, and is a short bus or taxi ride from the city center.
Sit on the Spanish Steps
In addition to having one of the world’s most famous fountains, Rome also has one of the world’s most famous staircases. Built in the Baroque period, the Spanish Steps lead from the Piazza di Spagna at the base to the Piazza Trinita dei Monti at the top, where a beautiful church dominates the scene. The steps are known for the large pots of colorful flowers that adorn them throughout the year, and are a great place to stop and rest during a busy day of sightseeing in Rome.
Go out in Trastevere
One of Rome’s hottest neighborhoods, Trastevere is known for its picturesque medieval ambiance and great restaurant and nightlife scene. In recent years the area has undergone a transformation, making it one of the best places in the city for dining and bar hopping.
Visit the Galleria Borghese
One of Rome’s most beloved museums, the intimate Galleria Borghese is set in a beautiful villa in one of the city’s prettiest parks. The museum itself is home to a stunning collection of Renaissance art and sculpture, and is a great place to visit to see the works of Raphael, Caravaggio, Bernini, Titian, and other famous Italian artists.
Tour the Vatican and its Museums
No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Vatican. St Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world, and one of the most important. Additionally, the Vatican Museums house some of the world’s most famous art, as well as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. You can pre-book tickets in order to avoid the lines at the entrance, or go at night during the summer months.