What can be said about Italy that hasn’t already been said, really? There’s a reason that this is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the entire world – besides the 10,000 churches, and 3,000 museums, and 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – and that’s because it’s simply, in a word, spectacular. The cobblestone cities, the inky cypress groves, the vespas, the cafés…all of it.
The sheer vastness of possibility can be overwhelming. Do you start in the ruins of ancient Rome, and then make your way down the coast to Cinque Terre? Or do you tour the Uffizi in Florence and then head to Venice to walk the canals? Do you concentrate on food, or museums, or historic sites, or try to fit in a little of everything you can? Do you drive? Or take the train? Or fly? If you’re feeling a little daunted, an escorted tour can take the guesswork out of planning and leave you more time to enjoy. That way, you can put your trip in the hands of someone that has literally made a career out of fine-tuning the perfect itinerary, and spend less time worrying about driving through Rome (Insider Tip: Don’t drive through Rome) or trying to see every piece of art in Florence (Insider Tip: Don’t try to see every piece of art in Florence).
Before you go, try to make a list of everything you’d like to see – Rome’s sprawling Sistine Chapel, Juliet’s balcony in Verona, the hills of Tuscany – and compare itineraries to see which is going to cover the most ground. If you want to do a “best of”-type highlight tour, options like Globus’s Italian Treasures Tour will take you to the most popular places in some of the most famous cities in the country. Keep in mind that most tours offer at least some free time, so even if your schedule is packed you can still squeeze in that hole-in-the-wall gelateria or one more shot at taking a picture where it looks like you’re pushing over the Leaning Tower (if you were curious, the trick is that it’s easier to have the photographer move instead of the person posing).
If you’d rather explore a bit deeper into the country, or if you’re on a return trip and have already seen most of the hot spots, you can consider a trip like Cosmos’s Hidden Treasures of Northern Italy. Think hidden frescos, cliffside fishing villages, and mirrored lakes at a leisurely pace with time to explore and take your time. Wake up late, drink espresso at a sleepy café (like a real Italian), and poke into local shops – basically unwind and enjoy taking it slow.
So what’s your favorite spot in Italy? Any tips or tricks for future travelers? Let us know in the comments!
By Megan Ranney