Highlights of Italy

There are not many people in this big old world of ours that don’t love many or perhaps all things Italian. A beautiful country with beautiful people combined with pizza, pasta, passion and pavarotti …..I’d call that perfection!
As I was growing up my father often used to mention, on a fairly regular basis and egged on by my mischievious mother, his adoration for Sophia Loren, the beautiful Italian actress from the latter half of the 20th century.  She epitomised Italy in the 50’s and 60’s with her grace, her style and class. It puts my teenage crush of the 80’s singer now gardener Kim Wilde into perspective – oh well each to their own eh!
When I sit back and think about it perhaps I should’nt love Italy like I do. So much of it is the mirror opposite of what draws me to a country – the roads are chaotic, screaming kids (and adults) run amok in restaurants, the people love to show off, personal space on beaches rarely exists, the political scene is a shambles and everything is last minute……yet somehow none of that matters as you just get wrapped up in the magic of a country that just takes your breath away at every turn.   


Maybe its an age thing...

Over the years I have visited Italy on a number of occasions and each time I have questioned why it took me so long to return. I actually get that feeling about a lot of places but Italy perhaps more so than most! 

I think for a long time I saw Italy just as a weekend or city breaks destination which it is but there is of course so much more. I perhaps overlooked the idea of a full summer holiday as in my twenties and thirties there were other hotspots offering the bright lights and boozy nights for a fraction of the cost. As I have got older though, and it comes to us all, places like Italy and Croatia which have so many similarities, have become much more my scene.

Now of course, the idea of a week or two in a Tuscan villa with a pool overlooking olive trees and vineyards, or an island escape, a cultural adventure or a Venice and Rome two centre holiday with added on experiences like wine tasting, truffle hunting, olive oil making is exactly where I am now at!

Something I have also always dreamed of doing is touring Italy in a open top sports car. I actually did do that on the island of Sicily back in the 90’s but the thought of travelling the Mille Miglia route of the fifties in an iconic rosso red Ferrari Dino 206 GT is the stuff of schoolboy dreams as opposed to my reality of cruising stressed as hell through the crazy streets of Palermo, Sicily in rush hour in 1996 in a Renault Megane – it was a convertible mind… but silver….and French!

Such a choice...

Cities like Rome, Naples and Florence in central Italy are home to some of the country’s best cultural attractions. As you head south, the sun-drenched coastal towns like Sorrento or the Bay of Naples area, offer traditional Italian life, authentic experiences, excellent food and wonderfully fresh locally grown produce.

Italy is also full of romance and iconic places to visit, such as Rome’s Colosseum, the amphitheatre in Verona, the northern lakes of Garda and Como, and then there is also Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast and of course you have the Vatican.

I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time on the island of Sardinia particularly back in 1998 when I lived in Corsica. I used to regularly make the short 45 minute ferry crossing and visit Sardinia’s wild coastlines and secluded coves as well as the glizy seaside towns of the Costa Smeralda or the historic old town of Alghero. If you’re after culture, then Sicily is packed with sights to see too, the original Greek settlement in Syracuse, the mystical village of Corleone or the majesty of the smoking Mount Etna.

Whilst these are the iconic hot spots, I get just as much, if not more enjoyment from the undiscovered Italy, the off the beaten track retreats, the little villages, those cobbled streets in the twilight hour, that knockout coffee hit at breakfast or as I remember like it was yesterday, the Pecorino Romano cheese soaked in rosemary oil washed down with a glass of Chianti in stunning Lake Como.

A moment that captured a nation....

Now when people start talking to me about Italy there is strangely a moment from the world of football that I believe sums up this country.

It was back in 1982 at the World Cup in Spain when an Italian team who were slow out of the blocks at the start of the tournament hit their straps and made it to the World Cup Final against an unbelievable Brazillian team.

Against the odds Italy won the final and in doing so scored a goal by Marco Tardelli which had one of the greatest goal celebrations ever and it still gives me goosebumps to watch it today ….and I am English ! Even if you hate football have a watch – its just 50 seconds….

Life is a Dream...

Watching this clip, listening to the Italian commentary, seeing that excited elderly gentleman in the crowd maintaining his style for me just sums up this nation – Italians are emotional, they are passionate, they are flambuoyant, yes they are loud and yes they are at times crazy but mamma mia….. put this all together and its dynamite.

There is a saying in Italy – “La vita è un sogno” – which means “Life is a dream”. Welcome to Italy !

Essential information

Italy Flag, Europe

Continent:                         Europe


Time Difference:              Local Time + 1 hour



Flight Time:
2h 30m from London

No for British Nationals

Language:                          Italian

None required



Google Maps

Top Sights & Attractions


With so much history, art, amazing sites including the Colloseum, the Pantheon, Trevi fountain & the Vatican, Rome is a must visit attraction


The art capital of the world Florence has a wealth of attractions - the Duomo, Michelangelo's David, the Uffizi gallery and a Piazza to die for.


For romance, history and gorgeous canals, gondolas, architecture plus the towns of Murano and Burano, Venice is a dream


With some of the best beaches in europe coupled with sensational cuisine, history and home to the rich mans playground of the Costa Smeralda


One of the most iconic and instantly recognisable buildings in the world is the leaning tower of Pisa.

Getting Around

Regions & Cities


Italy is divided into 20 regions as per this map. …

The regions are divided into provinces, 110 in all, varying considerably in size.

These provinces are then divided into communes which has a mayor and a local authority and of which there are 8,100.


Key Towns/Cities / Regions

N – North. C – Central. S – South. I – Islands

Milan (Lombardy) N
Lake Como (Lombardy) N
Bologna (Emilia Romagna) N
Turin (Piedmont) N
Verona (Veneto) N

Venice (Veneto) N
Genoa (Liguria) N
Rome (Lazio) C
Florence (Tuscany) C
Pisa (Tuscany) C
Siena (Tuscany) C
Naples (Campagnia) S
Sorrento (Campagnia) S
Palermo (Sicily) I

Italy Regional Map

Northern Italy

Central Italy

Southern Italy

Italian Islands

More Information....

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