Flying to Italy: ITA Airways, Italy’s New National Airline, Has Arrived

Italy recently bid arrivederci to its long-running national flagship carrier, Alitalia, as operations have launched for its successor, Italia Trasporto Aero, or ITA Airways.

With inaugural flights from hubs in Rome and Milan Linate, ITA officially took to the skies on October 15. But liftoff wasn’t without minor turbulence, most notably some confusion over its name and branding. Just before officially launching service, ITA announced its €90 million (about $104 million) purchase for naming rights of its predecessor, which had been leading some industry insiders to speculate it would continue to operate under the Alitalia banner.

However, executives decided to make the ITA Airways moniker official, although some of the inventory and aircraft it purchased from Alitalia still currently bear the brand. “Until just a few hours before they started operating, we ended up knowing they would not be called Alitalia,” says Jacob Wert, a Germany-based aviation journalist for outlets including Aero Telegraph. “Everyone expected them to be named Alitalia, given that they spent €90 million for that name.”

In addition, the company is reportedly taking on fewer than a third of Alitalia’s 10,000 employees, a move that led to a protest by about 50 former Alitalia flight attendants days after ITA’s launch. According to the AP, union officials say the employees who will work for ITA are being hired at significantly lower pay scales. (A press contact for ITA did not respond to requests for comment.)

As aviation insiders keep an eye on what’s next for ITA, here’s what else travelers should know about the new airline.

Transatlantic routes are in the works

ITA’s initial network will span 44 destinations, 59 routes, and 191 flights in total. With bases in Rome’s Fiumicino and Milan’s Linate airports, it will offer 24 domestic and 56 international options to start, increasing in 2022 to 58 destinations and 74 routes. By 2025, plans are to expand to 74 destinations and 89 total routes.

However, as Wert points out, the initial fleet is a slimmed-down version of its predecessor’s. “One aircraft type they didn’t take over was the Boeing 777, which means their long-haul fleet is also significantly reduced,” he says. “Which inevitably means that ITA Airways will probably operate much fewer long-haul routes in the near future.”

Indeed, U.S.-based travelers dreaming of a getaway on ITA to the land of la dolce vita should keep in mind that options will be limited for a while. The airline plans to start offering service to New York JFK in November, but currently, navigating its website to price an Italy-bound flight is tricky (drop-down menus to select destinations are cumbersome, and the site often defaults to Italian). A search for a New York–bound flight from Italy, meanwhile, turned up a round trip, basic economy fare for around $380 in November. Enticing, to be sure, but it’s not a direct flight: It departs from Brindisi, a city in the southern tip of the country, and connects through Rome.

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The Insider’s Guide to Traveling Italy

For centuries, Italy was the preferred destination for poetically-minded nobles from across northern Europe. The “grand tour” was an exercise in communing with the ancient Roman world at a time when it was considered the height of culture to contemplate its romantically crumbling relics and vine-clad temples. But these “grand trippers” gave little thought to Italy beyond its artifacts and ghosts. For them, Italy—as a living, breathing culture—was an afterthought.

But today, in-the-know travelers seek deeper pleasures than the (still beguiling) ruins of ancient Rome. Italy is a country of 20 provinces, each of them proudly distinct, offering their own unique culinary, architectural, art, history, fashion, sightseeing, and cultural scenes. Ahead, our guide to the very best of Italy, divided by region. Buon viaggio!

View of the scenic Pontremoli village and Magra river in the Apennine Mountains, Abruzzo.

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Across the saddle of the Apennine Mountains, Abruzzo—a calm and historic region of national parks and rugged, tumbling landscapes—is a breath of fresh air after the more metropolitan west. Parco Nazionale D’Abruzzo is Italy’s second-oldest national park and one of its most ecologically rich (both the Italian wolf and endangered Marsican brown bear can be found there). After a refreshing hike, you can do little better than staying at Sextantio Albergo Diffuso (rustic but resplendent, and beautifully sprawling) and stopping for a bite in one of its remarkable restaurants. Abruzzo is muscling up as a powerhouse culinary region in its own right, with a whopping eight three-Michelin-starred eateries.

palazzo margherita
The gardens of Palazzo Margherita.



Head away from the Adriatic, and you enter a landscape of hills and forests. This is Basilicata, a hidden territory bordering the better-known environs of Calabria and Puglia. Secrecy is paramount here: the hillside towns are dotted with warren-like cave dwellings, many of which go back thousands of years. Of them, Matera is the most famous (and most spectacular). Francis Ford Coppola even debuted his own distinct hotel in this compellingly concealed region: Palazzo Margherita.


Go for the ancient Greek mythology; stay for the local charm. The beaches of this region are well known—and you won’t want to miss them—but there are countless little fishing villages to explore too. Of the list, we recommend Chianalea di Scilla; it’s here that you’ll get a true, authentic taste of the Italian south, right at the tip of the boot, with boats bobbing in the harbor and fishermen tending their nets.

chianalea di scilla, fishing village in calabria
Chianalea di Scilla, fishing village in Calabria.

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As far as hotels, we love Villa Paola, a truly gorgeous sea-facing setup with minimal yet sublime decor. A reminder: The food here leans toward the excitingly spicy (thanks to the region’s famous chiles), and you’ll not be short of places to dine. Scilla, a charming fishing village facing the island of Sicily by a hair’s breadth, is a particular gem.


Best known for the Amalfi Coast and its iconic “Path of the Gods,” the region of Campania is a photographer’s dream. A swell of romantically crumbling cliffs decorated with pastel-painted towns and threaded with beguiling alleyways, this is the Italy you’ve seen in films and dreamed about.

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The view of the village of Praiano, Amalfi Coast.

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Praiano is our go-to; this sun-drenched stretch of western Italy is sublime not just for the sunsets but for its proximity to the beachside bars in Vivaro and Fioriere. You’d be missing out if you didn’t post up at heavenly Casa Angelina, whose crisp decor and serene views will leave you floating on cloud nine. To eat, you’ll want to set yourself up at the low-key, laid-back Da Armandino in Praiano. Ori Kafri, CEO and founder of J.K. Place Hotels, speaks warmly of Capri (home to namesake J.K. Place Capri)—an island located just off the Bay of Naples. Here is Da Gelsomina, a restaurant of simple but delicious virtue. “It’s a very simple, family-run place that produces their own wine,” Kafri explains. Enjoy it “with wonderful handmade ravioli. To get there, they come to pick you up in a little car to take you to a narrow street where the restaurant is located. It has a spectacular view of the sea.”


Home to a staggering eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Ravenna is hardly under the radar—but some places are famous for a reason. Combine the historical city with a killer food scene and a stunning classical music festival, and you get a sense of classic Italia as you switch your phone off and forget emails for a few days.

aerial view of bologna, italy at sunset colorful sky over the historical city center with car traffic and old buildings
A view of the city of Bologna.

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In Bologna, you’ll want to stay at the Grand Hotel Majestic, which is, as its name suggests, utterly regal in feel. Think classic Italian style, exquisite views across the city, rooms furnished with antiques, enormous beds, marble bathrooms—the works. Located centrally, it’s just a stone’s throw from Piazza Maggiore and Due Torri, making it an ideal base for a culture-packed weekend.


This little-known gem is located in the very northeast of Italy. Its regional capital is Trieste, a favored haunt for artists and musicians throughout the 20th century—James Joyce among them. Give its proximity to central and eastern Europe, its culture and character are often informed by those of its neighbors, and you’ll feel that through the wine, food, and architecture. The Carnic Alps—black-stoned, snow-crusted—jut up mightily from forests of dense green pine. For bon vivants, there’s the exceptional Collio wine route. For the historically minded, there’s the UNESCO-protected Aquileia, with its sublime basilica. Until the 18th century, this was the very heart of Christianity in central Europe, and its thousand-year-old ruins and relics are a sight to behold.


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Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome

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All roads—so they say—lead to Rome. The timeless city moves at its own pace, but it’s truly bursting with life (after all, few would forget the bawdy, thrilling antics of Federico Fellini’s Roma of 1972). To sleep, try Hotel de la Ville from Rocco Forte, a vibrant and modernist refurbishment of an 18-century palazzo located at the very top of the Spanish Steps. It’s at the center of everything and is the best possible place from which to feel the pulse of the city — the epitome of Roman romance and contemporary cool (in that way, it’s a lot like Fellini).

But where to eat? Trust us, it’s a long list. Legendary architect and designer Achille Salvagni recommends “the Market at Piazza Campo de’Fiori, where the food is Italian, local, and incredibly fresh. Restaurant Il Sanlorenzo should be on your list for the absolute best seafood and traditional Roman fare. Dinner at La Trattoria al Moro is a must; they serve earthy and beautiful Italian cuisine.” Salvagni adds, “I also have a soft spot for the Bakery Roscioli on the piazza, where I cannot help but purchase the many types of breads, cakes, and desserts they bake daily.”

hotel de la ville
Hotel de la Ville, Rome


Also not to miss: Trattoria da Danilo (for the cacio e pepe), Retrobottega (for the moody laboratory vibes), Luciano Cucina Italiana (for its truly unforgettable pasta), and Le Mani in Pasta (for its classic Italian casualness). To walk it off and get inspired, Salvagni recommends, “a visit to Capucci on Via della Fontanella di Borghese. Mr. Capucci is the most famous Roman designer, and I have always been awestruck by his creations. His work is always a great source of inspiration, and I admire the boldness of his vision.”


Liguria, home to the famed Cinque Terre, is typified by statuesque mountains, verdant hills, and stunning coastal views of the Ligurian Sea. Cinque Terre tends to draw endless crowds. Instead, opt for Santa Margherita, a jumble of pastel buildings overlooking a sea of geraniums and bougainvillea. It feels like a scene straight out of a 1950s postcard.

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Santa Margherita

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Then there’s Camogli, the riviera that the world forgot. You’ll find the same steep hillsides and pastel-hued homes of the Cinque Terre, but what you won’t find are the tourists in droves. Just sleepy enough to feel undiscovered but with enough local life and quaint trattorias to help you while away the days, this is a place to go before everyone else. Stay at the incomparable Belmond Splendido Mare, a discreet but glamorous grand villa nestled in the wooded hills above Portofino. Impeccable service, exceptional views, and a legendary restaurant make this one of the very best hotels in Italy.


Brera district, Milano

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Get ready: There’s a lot to see in this one region alone. Italy’s fashion capital of Milan can sometimes be sidelined as an entry point, but it’s grossly underrated and definitely deserves deeper discovery. This bustling metropolis is best explored on foot for the world-class shopping (explore the Brera area), inspired cuisine, and extraordinary art. Trust us: It’s the perfect base for a luxurious Italian getaway. Just a short car ride away is Fondazione Prada housed in a former gin distillery in the industrial outskirts of Milan. Helmed by its namesake, Miuccia Prada, this institution is dedicated to showcasing the finest contemporary arts through a packed program of permanent and temporary exhibitions. Austere yet intimate, this breathtaking complex houses the colorful Bar Luce, whimsically designed by filmmaker Wes Anderson.

The Mandarin Oriental Milan, quietly hidden away but minutes from the action, is one of the finest places to stay in town. Choose a suite with balconies and soak it all up in this veritable oasis, unwinding in the subterranean spa and pool. The newly opened Galleria Vik Milano, from the stylish Vik family, should top lists, too; it’s beautiful and full of character with every room designed by a different artist.

grand hotel tremezzo


Italy’s sun-drenched Lake District is synonymous with glamour—and not a little bit of history. Gently, calmly buzzing, this is a place of mesmerizing vistas, of lush, manicured gardens, and legendary villas. It’s easy to see why this Y shape of lakes has inspired countless poets, writers, and painters, among them Ernest Hemingway. Nowhere epitomizes la dolce vita quite like Lake Como. Simply put: It’s absolutely stunning. Regal but easygoing, this is where the well-heeled come, year after year, to rest and play. The lake has a rich history, playing host to nobility and celebrities alike; you can easily spot George Clooney’s villa when you take a boat cruise, as well as Villa Sola Cabiati, which houses a suite designed for Napoleon himself. Valentina de Santis, CEO and owner of Grand Hotel Tremezzo, encourages boat sightseeing. “I love to watch the sunset from a boat,” she says. “It is such a different and special perspective of my beloved lake.”

When asked where to dine on a lake that isn’t short of places to eat, de Santis recommends a hot spot in the must-visit village of Bellagio. “I take my friends to Darsene di Loppia, a restaurant located in a historic hamlet of the same name. Speaking of Tremezzo’s grand hotel, there are few places to stay as iconic in this or any part of the world. Perched in the shadows of the Grigne Mountains and boasting every five-star facility you could ever dream of, this is the place to rest your head on the lake. From its elegant mix of period and modern decor to its luxurious suites, lavish alfresco dining, this hotel is straight-up legendary. It’s also quite close to two must-visit restaurants on Lago di Como: Al Veluu, located just up the hill from the hotel, and Locanda La Tirlindana, in nearby Sala Comacina.

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A harbor on Lake Garda

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A short ride down the road is Villa D’Este. This regal, 16th-century estate feels very palatial indeed, with a jet-setting buzz, opulent rooms, a floating pool, and 25 acres of well-kept parklands. Jackets are expected at dinner, a nod to its Old World glamour, so embrace it and outfit yourself while in town. A more remote option on the other side of the lake in Torno, Il Sereno is a breathtaking, more contemporary option and in a sense its own little, modern island. There’s only one way to explore its breathtaking surrounds—which is on board one of its three custom-built Cantiere Ernesto Riva boats.

Situated on the edge of the Dolomites is tranquil and stylish Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake. This beautiful and relaxing setting is also best explored by boat. Take in the lake’s most iconic vistas, charming villages, tiny islands, and, of course, villas, all framed by the dramatic backdrop of snowcapped peaks. Stop by the historic Riviera dei Limoni, with a guide in tow, and learn about the citrus-scented history of this stunning lake. Lake Garda is also a spectacular setting for a hike, especially Monte Baldo, which has some of the most impressive views. Stay at wellness-focused Lefay Resort & Spa, tucked away on a hillside under azure skies. Or check in at the historic Villa Feltrinelli, which is a palace in its own right. Just a short walk away are the cobbled streets of charming Gargnano, where vibrant orange trees line the shore; this part of the world is hard to beat.

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Isola San Giulio, Lake Orta

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The best beaches have always been those accessible only by boat, and Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle in Marche is no exception. Years of being overlooked in favor of the Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast has left this strip of coastline untouched and unspoiled. Pack a picnic; you won’t find anything else on this serene stretch of sand, but it is very much worth a visit.

Piedmont, home to the prized truffle, is a landscape of tranquil countryside, sleepy villages, and lively marketplaces. They take gastronomy very seriously here; if you time it right, you can go on the hunt (replete with dogs and a guide) in search of the Alba Madonna truffle—the holy grail of fungi. Hike through the Langhe, an area that feels almost designed for a slower pace of travel, and stay at the charming Relais San Maurizio. This former 17th-century monastery has been lovingly restored with great sensitivity to its past roots, and this resulting hilltop respite is truly spellbinding. Enjoy its fragrant botanical gardens, a panoramic pool terrace, and a dreamy spa (that offers vinotherapy, of course). No surprise, there’s also a Michelin-starred restaurant on the property.

Hike in the Langhe, Piedmont

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Don’t forget about Lake Orta, the Italian Lake District’s best-kept secret. Italians have dubbed it Cinderella for the profound subtlety of its beauty. Make sure to post up at the contemporary and stylish Casa Fantini. Located on the stunning shores of Lake Orta, Casa Fantini’s 11 light-filled rooms look out over an intimate garden and pool to San Giulio Island, a postcard-like island home to a Benedictine monastery, stunning cathedral, and two Michelin-starred restaurants. The best place to watch the sunset with a glass of wine? From the vantage point of a Prestige Room at Casa Fantini, Daniela Fantini herself shares. “From up there, the view is stunning; there is peace, calm, tranquility, and you can spot special, enchanting, and protected corners of landscape far from the chaos, always accompanied by the presence of the crystalline water of Lake Orta.”


borgo egnazia
Borgo Egnazia, Puglia


Puglia—white-stoned, Adriatic, the heel or spur of the boot—is best known as the land of the olive tree. Every family seems to tend at least one, but there are tens of thousands more dotting the hills, slopes, and fields of this chilled-out corner of Italy. Puglia’s most beautiful and prominent towns are pressed gorgeously against the coast or else located a matter of miles inland. For this, think Ostuni. Elsewhere, there’s Locorotondo, a village whose name rolls bubblingly off the tongue. Calm and quiet, it’s the perfect place to lose yourself. For years, we’ve adored Borgo Egnazia, a hotel that might better be considered a commune or a sprawling ancient village. The masseria-style hotel is typical in the region, but Borgo takes that sensibility to glorious new heights.

When it comes to where to dine in Puglia, Aldo Melpignano, co-founder of Borgo Egnazia, feels spoiled for choice. “There are so many options! If they are looking for true Puglian flavors, I would recommend the restaurant at San Domenico Golf. It’s a place with a very special “chef,” Mimina. She has always been the cook of our family, she knows all the traditional recipes and her panzerotti are simply amazing! For a special dinner, I would suggest Casa Ciaccia in Ostuni; it’s a new place, nice and delicious and Ostuni, the “white town” as we call it, is an unmissable place to visit in Puglia.”

While in this region, hit the ground running and “catch the sunrise close to Otranto, Melpignano advises. There is a lighthouse, called Faro di Punta Palascia, which is definitely the easternmost point of the country; it is considered as the place where the days start in Italy. There’s a special magic atmosphere when you see the first ray of light just surrounded by nature and the deep blue of the sea.”


castella mare del golfo trapani sicily
Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily

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Located at the very foot of Italy, Sicily—the largest of the Mediterranean islands—is dominated by the broad-shouldered massif of Mount Etna. Beneath it lies incredibly well-preserved ruins (not least the spectacular Valley of the Temples), Byzantine mosaics, bustling cities, and phenomenal cuisine. This is a bright, colorful, and deeply happy place. If you pressed us for our favorite things about this beautiful isle, we’d opt for Isola Bella, a pinprick of an island with more than its fair share of natural beauty. Known as the Pearl of the Ionian Sea, this is where you’ll find hidden grottoes and pebbled beaches in sublime solitude. When it comes to sleep (and so much more), check out the newly opened Four Seasons Taormina and Villa Igiea; they’re both inspiring options on this paradisical, balmy island.


The mighty Dolomite Mountains provide the dramatic backdrop for the region of Trentino-Alto Adige. Championed for its picturesque landscapes, exceptional cuisine, and legendary vineyards, this magnetic part of Italy has been shaped by its amiable proximity to nearby Austria and Switzerland.

the dolomites
Lago di Carezza, the Dolomites

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Rosa Alpina, located in the beautiful South Tyrolean village of San Cassiano, is one of our favorite hotels the world over. A luxurious family-run enclave idyllic in both summer and winter, this sophisticated hotel blends classic alpine charm with contemporary luxury and boasts some of the best Michelin-starred cuisine in a region already lauded as a gastro wonderland. What’s more: It was just adopted into the acclaimed Aman portfolio. It’s also the perfect base for big adventure; hike alpine meadows in summer or ski UNESCO mountain ranges in winter. The wineries of Bolzano are an easy day trip and give a real sense of place to any trip to these mountains.


The Florence skyline

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This vast bite of Italy you’ve certainly heard of. Life feels like a never-ending harvest in this golden-hilled region. Its heart (undoubtedly) is Florence, home of the Medicis. Many will stop at the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (as would we), but you should also wander over to the smaller and more intimate Basilica San Miniato while in town. Clad in the same multicolored marble as its bigger sibling, it boasts a sweeping view from its doorway that truly sets it apart. Looking ahead, you’d do well to post up—once it opens in 2023—at Collegio alla Querce (part of Auberge Resorts Collection). Beyond the domes and palazzos of this ancient city, you’ll want to book a room at Borgo Pignano, our Tuscan favorite. There’s a warm euphoria that envelopes the entire place—romantic, intimate, authentic. Elsewhere, there’s newly opened Casetta and La Fortezza; both are worth your time. The former is located in the mellifluous town of Montefioralle, a tiny, incomparable hilltop settlement that casts a spell over all who enter it.

A vineyard in the Chianti wine region, Tuscany

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Annette Joseph of La Fortezza is right to recommend the sunsets from her sublime property (accompanied by a glass of their very own rosé). “We live in the Tuscan region known as the Lunigiana,” Joseph explains, “and it’s truly a spectacular vista here on top of the mountain. Every night, there is an astounding light show, just as the sunrise offers an incredible wake-up call.” And this particular wake-up, Joseph suggests, should be followed with a visit to Albergo Pasquino, a restaurant located in nearby Aulla. “It’s family run, and the local fare is delicious. They cook on a giant wood-burning stove in the middle of the restaurant, which is lots of fun to watch, and they offer a local dish found only in the region named panigacci. It’s basically an Italian taco. It is served with the best selection of charcuterie and regional soft cheeses; it’s a specialty—so much so that it takes one year to apprentice and become a panigacci master.”


Hotel Castello di Reschio

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Poetically speaking, Umbria is known as Italy’s green heart, a stunning region of medieval hill towns, ancient forests, truffle hunts, and vineyards. At its cultural center is Perugia, home to the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria art museum. Spoleto, a favorite haunt among the Roman nobility, has held on to its authentic, historic charm and makes for a beautiful day trip into the Umbrian hillside. Start in the medieval upper town before paying a visit to the Duomo, then making your way to the modern lower town and its ancient city walls. When it comes to resting your head, try the newly opened Reschio, a charming and authentic luxury hotel housed in a historic castle that draws on the best of Tuscan and Umbrian traditions. This ancient estate is comfortably nestled among the rolling, sunbaked hills with 1,500 acres of protected wilderness at its doorstep. Each of its nine historic farmhouses has its own unique character, while the thousand-year-old castle at its center is a marvel of design, restored and modernized with panache and wit.


A city on stilts, Venice is an archipelagic townscape and the Queen of the Adriatic, spread across 118 individual islands. For all its fragility, the city—once a kingdom unto itself—feels immeasurably solid. History is here in every rubbed-round stone, stained-glass window, church bell, and labyrinthine alleyway. For poet Joseph Brodsky, Venice “resembles a gigantic orchestra, with dimly lit music stands of palazzi.” Continuity is obliterated in this tightly clustered space; a glimpsed alleyway might be impossible to find again. Take a peculiar turn from a busy palazzo, and you find yourself buried in a cacophony of silence, little side streets bending this way and that. If you’re after the best place for dinner, head to Ristorante da Ivo.

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Tucked away behind the Chiese Santa Maria della Salute, Dorsoduro awaits—and it’s a taste of the real Venice, of cicchetti and half bottles of local wine. For art lovers, don’t miss the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Sleep at the stylish Ca’ di Dio, which just opened this year and is already turning heads. Some choose to take a vaporetto (or water taxi) to the lagoon island of Mazzorbo, a restful break from the buzz of Venice proper. When in town, a Michelin-starred meal at Venissa is a must.

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Volcanoes, gelato and canals: Italy’s great small cities chosen by readers | Italy holidays

Winning tip: Happy wanderer in Puglia

A little piece of my soul was left in Polignano a Mare, a beautiful slice of real Italian life in Puglia. Pretty houses perching on clifftops overlooking emerald seas, a labyrinth of streets leading to a stunning old town, delectable gelato and a buzzy atmosphere as locals promenade and music plays, all combine to create a real gem. The contemporary art museum is worth a gander. It is the wandering, however, getting lost in delightful white-washed streets, stumbling across the poetry written on doorways and stairs, finding a clifftop bar beloved by locals, which is the key to enjoying this romantic town.
Vivienne Francis, Kent

Lovely Lucca

Photograph: JM_Image_Factory/Getty Images

Lucca is the hidden jewel in the Tuscan crown of Italy, and September is the best time to visit. Just 20 minutes from Pisa, its medieval walls, cobbled streets and shaded squares create a calm, quiet atmosphere. Cars are absent inside the walls, so it’s great to stroll around at any time, and not uncommon to hear Puccini’s music playing from open windows or balconies – Lucca is the composer’s home town. Around mid-September a candlelit procession followed by fireworks and open-air festivities mark the climax of the Holy Cross festival – simply magic.
Yasmin, Cambridge

Venice without the hype

Great water view of Chioggia with vintage cabins and bridgeChioggia, little Venice in Italy
Photograph: LianeM/Getty Images

Chioggia is like Venice without the crowds and the high prices. At the southern end of the Venetian lagoon, it combines views of the snowcapped peaks of the Dolomites on a clear day and the Adriatic from its fine, sandy beach. The pastel-coloured houses create a colourful canvas to its waterways, as the fishing boats chug slowly along, dispensing their catch to local trattories. A medieval clocktower watches over the city and the Museum of Adriatic Zoology showcases the area’s maritime traditions. Sit at a cafe sipping your cappuccino with vistas of calm canals and chatting fishers.
Gonca, Birmingham

Baroque gems in Vigevano

Italy, Lombardy, Vigevano, Ducale Square
Photograph: AGF Srl/Alamy

Just 35km south-west of Milan and easily accessible by road and rail, the town of Vigevano is an architectural gem. Its centre is dominated by the Castello Sforzesco, now a museum which is closely linked to that of Milan: it is connected to the town’s outer fortifications by an amazing and unique 200 metre-long medieval, covered bridge and roadway which allowed horsemen to ride directly from the castle to defend the town. Alongside the castle is the breathtaking 15th-century porticoed Piazza Ducale, enclosed at one end by the baroque cathedral – it is one of the most breathtaking open spaces in Italy.
Ian Statham, Cardiff


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Artisanal Anghiari

alley in the medieval village Anghiari, Arezzo, Tuscany
Photograph: Getty Images

The vast, 13th-century defensive walls of Anghiari still loom high over the plain of the Valtiberina, location of the decisive Florentine victory over the Milanese in 1440, and celebrated annually by a colourful, viciously contested Palio. Hidden within, a flower-strewn labyrinth of winding alleyways reveals linen looms, artisans’ workshops and boutiques hewn from the bedrock. The Southbank Sinfonia performs in the piazza under the stars each July, and the town revels in seasonal celebrations of Tuscan gastronomy, culminating in the “Chequered Tablecloth”, in which local produce is served at candlelit, communal tables, accompanied by performances of folklore, poetry and song and dance.
Benedict Leonard, London

Roman Christian mosaics in Ravenna

Mosaic of the baptism of Jesus, in the Arian Baptistry of Ravenna.
Mosaic of the baptism of Jesus, in the Arian Baptistry in Ravenna. Photograph: Michael Honegger/Alamy

Go to Ravenna – it is perfect for a long weekend, and close to Bologna. The imperial capital in the dying days of the Roman empire, it houses the most amazing collection of early Christian mosaics you’ll ever see. The art mostly dates from the fifth and sixth centuries and adorns just a handful of ancient churches in the compact city centre. The imagery is a real shock. There are no crucifixions or other signs of Christ’s suffering, and everywhere you’ll see sheep. Yes, they took the idea of us all being a flock very literally 1,500 years ago.
Chris Wilson, Fife

Sunsets in Sicily

Taormina with Mount Etna at sunset.
Taormina with Mount Etna at sunset. Photograph: Westend61/Getty Images

The city of Taormina in Sicily has it all. It’s perched on a hilltop, therefore boasting amazing views of an active volcano, Mount Etna, while also having beautiful sandy coves, which can be accessed by a steep hike or via cable car. The town’s piazza is one of the best places to watch the sun set in Sicily and a visit to the ancient Greek-Roman theatre is not to be missed– you can even catch a show here today.
Rachel W, Cumbria

Blown away in Sardinia

The Roman amphitheatre of Cagliari
The Roman amphitheatre in Cagliari. Photograph: Luis Leamus/Alamy

Try a short break in Cagliari, a beautiful and bustling port city on the island of Sardinia – . Countless places to eat and drink, all fiercely proud of the local produce. Bombas, a modern burger restaurant, is nestled inside a cave within the stunning medieval city walls. Sightseeing includes La Torre dell’Elefante, an imposing 14th-century limestone tower, the sprawling ruins of the Roman amphitheatre and a host of museums and galleries. We visited not expecting much, but were blown away by what Cagliari had to offer.
Dom S, Accrington

Railway rapture in Genoa

funicular railway Genoa
Photograph: Roberto Lo Savio/Alamy

Genoa is steep, built into the Ligurian cliffs. But if you don’t fancy walking up and down the many staircases, there are a series of delightful funicular railways. The Zecca-Righi funicular gets you from the city centre to the high hills in minutes. But best of all is the cute and weird Ascensore Castello d’Albertis-Montegalletto – a delightful little carriage that trundles you 300 metres into the hillside, before boarding its own lift to leave you high up above the city, overlooking the port and just around the corner from the Museum of World Cultures. Journeys are €0.90.
Thom, London

Friuli had you fooled?

Piazza Libertà in Udine.
Piazza Libertà in Udine. Photograph: MassanPH/Getty Images

Italy but not Italy … That’s the feeling that strikes you as you wander the streets of Udine, in the lesser-known region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. Sitting in the shadow of the castle, Piazza Libertà is considered to be the most beautiful Venetian square on terra firma, but it’s the people and food that hint towards a more unusual mix of influences. The local language, Friulian, and the hearty dishes of frico, cjarsons and gubana give clues to the city’s mountainous hinterland and its intoxicating Germanic and Slavic influences. Yet as your senses are filled with new sights, tastes and sounds, a glass of bianco from the Collio vineyards reminds you that, well, maybe this is Italy after all.
Steve Bassett, Exeter

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Italy is reopening to Americans with Delta flights that require coronavirus tests

According to data from the travel management company TripActions, the top booked Italian travel destinations this summer are Rome, Naples and Florence. Its chief travel officer, Danny Finkel, says he believes Delta’s announcement will create a domino effect of reopenings across Europe. Additionally, he believes that after a year without travel, Americans may have more discretionary savings available for booking international vacations.

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Share a tip about a small city in Italy to win a £200 holiday voucher | Travel

Now that the five-day quarantine has been lifted, we’d love to hear about your favourite city in Italy. Not big hitters like Florence or Naples, but the smaller, more idiosyncratic jewels that dot this country – Cremona with its violin history, Modena’s balsamic vinegar lofts or the ancient stones of Matera. Tell us what you saw and did that made it special – maybe it was a lovely place to stay, a brilliant family restaurant, the architecture or a local festival – with websites and prices if appropriate.

If you have a relevant photo, do send it in – but it’s your words that will be judged for the competition.

Keep your tip to about 100 words

The best tip of the week, chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet, will win a £200 voucher to stay at a Sawday’s property – the company has more than 3,000 in the UK and Europe. The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website, and maybe in the paper, too.

We’re sorry, but for legal reasons you must be a UK resident to enter this competition.

The competition closes on 7 September at 9am BST

Have a look at our past winners and other tips

Read the terms and conditions here

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here and privacy policy here

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12 Tips On How To Eat Like A Local In Italy

Italian food is one of the main reasons for visiting Italy. Heck, it was the whole “eat” part of Eat, Pray, Love. Master of None did a whole season in Italy, just so Aziz Ansari could eat Italian food. Iron Chef Bobby Flay and Rome native Giada De Laurentiis spent six weeks sampling everything from gelato to pizza for their new mouthwatering Discovery+ show, Bobby and Giada in Italy.

Eating is a big part of anyone’s Italian vacation. Knowing how to eat like a local in Italy is important because no one wants to stick out like a sore thumb, or worse, inadvertently offend someone. We reached out to Steve Perillo, CEO, President, and third-generation family owner of Perillo Tours, America’s leading tour company to Italy, for some expert advice on how to eat like a local in Italy. Here are some tips he shared with us.

1. Seat Yourself At Cafés And Bars

Italian seating customs will be familiar to Americans. “While visiting a ristorante (restaurant) or pizzeria/trattoria, guests should wait for the host to seat you. At a café or bar, guests can seat themselves,” according to Steve.

Few coins and the bill on a coffee table after the clients have left.
Radu Razvan /

2. Tips On Tipping

Steve’s advice on leaving a tip: “You are not expected to tip restaurants in Italy, but it is appreciated. If you are sitting down or standing for coffee, you can leave one euro, which is more than enough. You can tip as much or as little as you like, but the tip is not anywhere near the 20 percent that has become standard in the U.S. A good rule of thumb in a restaurant is about one euro per person. Or you can round up the bill. For example, if the bill is $91, you can leave $100.” Read on for an explanation of charges you may see on your bill.


Steve says to keep in mind that there is sometimes a charge called a coperto. “This coperto should be clearly stated somewhere on the menu and may range from one to three euro per person. A coperto is not a tip, it is a cover charge to offset the price of bread, oil, salt, and anything else you might be using.”


Steve told us, “Another charge that you may be charged is called the servizio. This should also be clearly stated on the menu and should be used for groups of eight or more. The servizio is a tip, so there is no need to leave anything more if you have been charged this fee.”

A residential street in Rome, Italy, where people are dining outdoors at a small neighborhood restaurant on an old cobblestone street at night.
CherylRamalho /

Steve recommends making reservations for dinner, especially in major cities.

4. Dress For Dinner

Italians are quite fashion-conscious. While American standards for dining dress consist of “No shirt, no shoes, no service,” Italians would expand that to say, “No tank tops, no shorts, no flip flops.”

When we asked about dress codes, Steve responded, “Unless it is a fancy restaurant that enforces a dress code, one can wear slacks with a nice shirt or blouse. Jeans are also fine unless it is a fancy restaurant.”

Italian Bruschetta (Photo Credit: Laura Ray)

5. Don’t Butter Your Bread

In Italy, bread is served with the meal, not as an appetizer. Steve explains why: “A typical Italian meal consists of a first course, ‘il primo’ (pasta or soup); a second course, ‘il secondo’ (meat or fish), served together with a side dish, ‘il contorno’ (vegetable or salad); dessert; and coffee. No pasta dish is complete without the act of ‘fare la scarpetta,’ which literally means make a little shoe and mop up the leftover sauce on your plate. It’s a widely used ritual in Italy. This is why bread is usually left on tables in restaurants. Butter and oil are not served with bread in Italy.”

Friends having a pasta dinner at home or at a restaurant.
Yulia Grigoryeva /

6. Follow These Table Manner Dos And Don’ts

Here are a few more tips from our guide Steve that you may not be aware of:

  • Don’t cut your pasta with a knife
  • Do fill up your neighbor’s glass before your own
  • Don’t ask for salad dressing — oil and vinegar are all you need. 
  • Don’t expect ice in your drinks! Italians do not drink ice-cold drinks and normally do not put more than one cube in a drink unless you ask for it. 
  • Don’t put any cheese on pasta with seafood.
  • Don’t ask for a doggie bag at a restaurant.
23 may 2015-rome-italy-Places to eat in the district of Trastevere,rome
Ghischeforever /

7. Don’t Order Cappuccino After Mid-Morning

Ordering a cappuccino after a certain hour of the day is a sure-fire way to oust yourself as a tourist. According to Steve, “Cappuccino is considered a breakfast coffee and is never drank later than mid-morning.”

Cup of fresh espresso coffee in a cafe with view on Vesuvius mount in Naples, Campania, Southern Italy
Ekaterina Pokrovsky /

8. If You Ask For A Latte, You’ll Get A Glass Of Milk

Steve sets us straight when it comes to Italian coffee: “The classic Italian coffee is an espresso, though the term espresso is hardly ever used in Italy — it’s simply called a caffè. The word lattè means milk, so if you order a ‘latte’ at an Italian bar, you’ll get a glass of cold milk. Ask for a caffè con latte if you want the Italian version.”

9. At The Café, Pay Then Order

It may seem backward to Americans, but if you stop at a café for a quick coffee, pay at the cash register first, then take your receipt to the barista and give them your order. 

Alessandro Perazzoli /

10. Don’t Buy Bottled Water

Just bring your own reusable water bottle! As Steve relates, “Italian fountains contain some of the freshest water in the country. Rather than buy multiple water bottles, do as the locals do and bring your own disposable bottle and refill it from these fountains. If you don’t have a water bottle handy, you can plug the side spigot on most fountains with your thumb and the water will come out of a top spigot so you can drink.”

In Italy, it’s customary to bring dessert, wine, or prosecco instead of gifts.
Jacob Lund /

11. Bring Something Edible As A Hostess Gift

If you’re going to someone’s house for dinner, don’t bring soap or candles as a gift. In Italy, it’s customary to bring dessert, wine, or prosecco instead.

12. Take La Passeggiata After Dinner

“Passeggiata is a daily ritual that Italians really enjoy,” according to Steve. “Take some time later in the day to stroll through the streets, chat with friends, or do some window shopping.”

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Traveling to Italy from the U.S.? Everything you need to know.

Italy implemented its version of the European Union’s vaccine passport, the “certificazione verde,” or green pass, on June 17 to facilitate safer travel within Europe and allow access to large gatherings. On Aug. 6, its use will become more widespread, and either that passport or another proof of health will be required for most things travelers love — including going to restaurants, museums, bars, spas, pools, gelato shops, gyms, concerts, sporting events and as of Sept. 1, long distance train travel.

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Delta And American Welcoming Passengers On COVID Tested Flights To Italy

If you’ve been anxiously waiting to plan a trip to Italy, your wait is over.

In a calculated move to gradually reopen in time for the summer tourist season, Italy now welcomes travelers who arrive on COVID-tested flights from the U.S., Canada, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates. In response, Delta, and then American Airlines, announced they are offering such flights.

“It’s encouraging that the Italian government has taken this step forward to reopen the country to leisure travelers from the U.S. on dedicated protocol flights and further support economic recovery from the global pandemic,” Alain Bellemare, Delta’s executive vice president and president – International, said in a statement.

A Cautious Reopening

Italy was the first European country to experience a COVID-19 outbreak. There still are approximately 200 deaths a day from COVID-19, a U.S. News article reports. On the other hand, after country-wide lockdowns and amid an accelerating vaccination campaign, Italy’s confirmed caseload has dropped to fewer than 10,000 a day, the article notes.

With these numbers in mind, Italy’s Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, recently signed an order which relaxes entry requirements for travelers arriving from the EU, Great Britain, and Israel. A separate order allows travelers from the U.S., Canada, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates to avoid a quarantine period when arriving in Italy — as long as they arrive on COVID-tested flights.

Delta’s Flights

Delta quickly announced it will offer COVID-tested international flights between the U.S. and Italy. 

Here’s how Delta’s program works. Before boarding a flight, travelers must “take a COVID-19 PCR test at a test provider of their choice and provide proof of a negative test result in order to check in for the flight,” Delta explains. “This test is at the customer’s own expense, and the timeframe for testing depends on the flight selected.”

Customers traveling on a Delta flight to Italy will also be required to take a rapid test — at no additional cost — before they depart from the U.S. to Italy.

One important caveat must be emphasized: Proof of having received the COVID-19 vaccine does not exempt customers from testing requirements — or from Delta’s face mask policy.

Delta offers several nonstop COVID-tested routes to Italy. There are flights from Atlanta to Rome five times each week. The carrier also offers daily service between New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport and Milan. Plus, there are flights from JFK to Rome three times each week — increasing to daily flights in July. Finally, COVID-tested flights are also available on Delta’s trusted partner, Alitalia, between JFK and Rome.

American Airlines

American Airlines recently announced that in response to the change in Italy’s travel restrictions, it is offering COVID-tested flights from JFK to Italy.

Here’s how American’s flights work. Travelers first need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before a flight, and also again upon arrival in Milan or Rome. After taking a second test at the airport — that produces negative results — travelers can avoid the quarantine period in Italy.

Right now, American offers daily flights between New York’s JFK and Milan. It also offers flights from JFK to Rome three times each week. Finally, American offers flights from Dallas Fort Worth to Rome and “expects those flights to become quarantine-free and open to all travelers in the coming days.”

Know Before You Go

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies Italy as a Level 4 country with “very high levels of COVID-19.” The CDC explains that this means “even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Italy.” If you must travel to Italy, the CDC recommends travelers be fully vaccinated, wear a mask, stay six feet from other people, and avoid crowds.
You can read up on the latest travel news here.

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BBC – Travel – The Sentiero dei Parchi: A new hiking trail uniting Italy

On a recent evening, Elia Origoni stood at Sardinia’s south-eastern tip, watching the azure sky darken until it merged with the sea, and contemplating the most daunting leg of his ambitious trip. In two days, he would set off on a 405km paddle across the Tyrrhenian Sea in hopes of becoming the first person to traverse Sardinia, Sicily and the entire length of Italy using only his feet, a rowboat and his prodigious stamina.

His remarkable 7,000-plus km journey is helping to highlight a newly announced trail that will span the entire Italian peninsula

“It’s a combination of fantasy and really hard work,” said Origoni, a mountain guide from northern Italy. He expects to cover 30km to 40km each day, walking and camping in Sardinia, rowing to and hiking through Sicily, and then rowing again to mainland Italy, where he will walk all the way to Muggia, a small town in the far north-eastern region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Origoni’s remarkable 7,000-plus km self-propelled journey is helping to highlight a newly announced trail that will span the entire Italian peninsula and will connect all of Italy’s 25 national parks.

“I’m doing this without using Google Maps or a GPS because we’re losing the value of being able to move without a phone in our hands. With a physical map, you have a much wider view of where you are; you discover your surroundings and how they connect,” Origoni told me, confessing that the Sardinia-to-Sicily paddle gave him pause. “The next four days will be the longest of my life, because I’ve never done this before. In the mountains, I move confidently; in the boat, it’s a new challenge.”

Origoni, who is making the arduous trip carrying just a 7kg backpack, is at the extreme end of a growing movement among young Italians. By embracing an ecologically friendly approach to tourism that emphasises connections with local cultures, the nation that birthed the world’s Slow Food movement is increasingly championing slow, sustainable travel – and celebrating the beauty of its vast and largely unexplored wilderness in the process.

The Sentiero dei Parchi will cross 20 regions, pass through six Unesco sites and stretch nearly 8,000km

After Italy became the global epicentre for the coronavirus pandemic and imposed some of Europe’s strictest lockdown measures last spring, the Italian National Tourism Research Institute reported that more than 27 million Italians chose hiking trips for their summer holiday last year, with nearly half of Italians wanting an immersive nature holiday. The study, titled Covid Changes the Holidays of Italians, concluded, “The fear of the virus… allowed Italians to discover and try a new way of going on vacation.” The Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore termed this trend “a paradigm shift caused by the need for social distance, the desire to visit small, uncrowded places and the need for air and movement”.

In response, last May as restless Italians emerged from one of the world’s longest nationwide lockdowns, Italy’s Ministry of the Environment and the storied 158-year-old Italian Alpine Club announced an ambitious €35m, 13-year plan to extend Italy’s existing Sentiero Italia (the Grand Italian Route) by roughly 1,000km to form a new path connecting each of Italy’s 25 national parks, including those on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. When it’s completed in 2033, the new route, known as the Sentiero dei Parchi (Path of the Parks) will cross each of the country’s 20 regions, pass through six Unesco World Heritage sites and stretch nearly 8,000km – twice the length of the US’ Appalachian Trail and roughly 10 times the distance of the Camino de Santiago’s complete St Jean Pied de Port to Galicia route.

The investment shows “how much we care about our priceless heritage of biodiversity and its enhancement in terms of sustainable tourism, especially in this post-Covid recovery period when we all feel the need to be more outdoors,” said Italy’s Minister of the Environment, Sergio Costa, when he announced the initiative.

Conceived by a group of environmental journalists, the Grand Italian Route was completed in the 1990s but has been neglected in recent decades. Now, hikers, environmentalists and tourism officials are championing its new offshoot as a way to celebrate Italy’s rural soul and expand many travellers’ notions that the Italian landscape is limited to the rolling Tuscan countryside they see on postcards or screensavers.

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In fact, the Path of the Parks encompasses a veritable highlight reel of dramatic – if lesser-known – Italian vistas. Hikers can explore Sardinia’s ancient cork forests; travel into the Apennine Mountains, Italy’s mountainous backbone, and look for bear and fox in the Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise National Park; search for hidden hermitages surrounded by beech forests in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna; and come face to face with ibex in the snow-capped peaks that tower over Evian-clear lakes in the Alpine Gran Paradiso National Park.

“Until now there has never been a national authority or study on the care and planning of the Italian hiking trail network,” said Alpine Club vice president Antonio Montani. “The work has always been carried out by volunteers who look after their own land free of charge or with occasional funds without a general vision. With this change, we hope that mountains, hiking trails and slow tourism can gain sufficient importance and dignity to be relevant at government level.”

With Italy expected to lose a devastating €36.7m from coronavirus-related tourism restrictions in 2020 and travellers potentially hesitant to cram back into Italy’s many cities, museums and trattorias once international travel resumes, officials hope the new Path of the Parks will offer visitors a new, more Covid-friendly way to experience the bel paese.

Officials hope the Path of the Parks will offer a new, more Covid-friendly way to experience the bel paese

“The impact of Covid on the tourism industry … has been significant,” said Maria Elena Rossi, marketing and promotion director of the Italian National Tourist Board. “[Italy] can benefit in the future from more diversified and innovative itineraries connected to outdoor activities, both slow and adventurous. The Path of Italian Parks connects communities, biodiversity and natural environment.”

Sara Furlanetto, a photojournalist, echoes this point. “Italy can’t just be known for cultural cities or the beautiful sea. It’s much, much more. Most Italians are not aware that Italy is 70% mountains and hills. We wanted to shift the narrative and put the face of the mountains out front,” she said of the hiking organisation she founded, Va’ Sentiero.

Before Covid, Furlanetto and her friends would post their Grand Italian Route hiking trips on their website and invite other outdoor enthusiasts to join them for all or part of the itinerary. Since 2016, Va’ Sentiero has grown from a group of three intrepid friends to a forum for more than 2,000 fellow hikers.

“Now more than ever, thinking about the post-pandemic scenario, people want to reconnect with [nature],” Furlanetto said. “The Grand Italian Route is also a symbol for environmental protection, so it must be promoted with a slow approach. Right now, the trail crosses 16 out of the 25 national parks of Italy. I believe the idea of expanding the trail in order to reach the totality of the parks is of great value, and… can represent an important boost for the promotion of Italian natural areas.”

Now more than ever … people want to reconnect with [nature]

Supporting local communities and encouraging multi-day hiking trips is critical to the path’s success said Montani. For now, much of the existing Grand Italian Route requires hikers to camp. But as part of the new €35m investment, Montani is working to develop a network of small hostels and bed and breakfast options at some of the stops within the national parks, as well as trails to accommodate wheelchair-bound travellers.

“We have a wealth of small artistic sites, like the Oropa Sanctuary in the Alps, with frescoes from the 1500s,” Montani said. “Normally you’d think you have to go to Florence or Rome to see them, but if you love nature and you love art, these trails give you the possibility for both. Every 20km you get a different view, different kinds of cuisine, different cultural traditions.”

That sense of discovery and wonder also inspires Francesco Paolo Lanzino, the mastermind behind Woodvivors, a seven-person group that recently started a six-month trip riding mules from the far southern Sicilian island of Pantelleria all the way to Turin.

“We’re choosing to follow the Sentiero Italia because it really is a path linking every part of Italy, passing from some of the ancient and storied paths used since the time of Romans, Greeks and even before,” he said. “The Sentiero dei Parchi will open up new opportunities not only to explore these ancient routes, but to connect small villages along the way. The new paths show that we are not alone, but united through the rural roots of our historical connections.”

Along the way, Lanzino and his team are going to shoot a documentary and television episodes about local culture, highlighting the often-overlooked regional farmers and artisanal wine and cheese producers so central to Italian culture.

“We are looking to capture the traditions that were always passed orally from parents to children, and looking at what remains,” Lanzino said. “I’m convinced that from this past, which seems so far away but is still alive in rural parts of Italy, people can learn to build a more sustainable future.”

One timeless tradition, so long a lure for tourists in Italy, is the country’s warm hospitality. Though this has cooled by necessity in Covid-plagued cities, Origoni says the pre-pandemic social spontaneity is part of what is making his self-propelled trip so appealing. As he concluded a day of hiking and was looking for a spot to pitch his tent in rural Sardinia last month, a man saw him and invited him over for dinner.

“I went to his small country home and had dinner with him and his family. We had pasta, two glasses of wine and became friends. It was lovely,” Origoni said. “In Milan, we’re under an orange alert, but in certain small rural areas, you can go back to socialising in a way that feels normal. To be welcomed by people feels great.”

Slowcomotion is a BBC Travel series that celebrates slow, self-propelled travel and invites readers to get outside and reconnect with the world in a safe and sustainable way.

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Italy Has Reopened to International Travelers – What You Should Know

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