From trattoria kitchen to lakeside palace, from Tuscan countryside to Sicily’s seaside idyll and from Roman ruin to Renaissance cathedral, Italy has allure in abundance. With 51 UNESCO-listed treasures to its name, no country features more World Heritage Sites.
Indeed, when confronted with Italy’s sheer abundance of cultural delights, it’s often easiest to think of the country as a collection of 20 regions, each with its own distinct identity. Sicily is a case in point; Greek temples crouch in valleys, vineyards terrace green contours and playful Mediterranean cuisine is served up in seaside villages. It’s a world away from Rome’s architectural exuberance where you can trace the source of whole empires and religion between the crumbling colonnades of the Roman Forum and the Michelangelos of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. Then there’s the rural charm of Tuscany where medieval towns dot a rolling countryside broken only by wineries.
That’s they joy of Italy. One moment you could be relaxing in a Belle Époque palace on the Italian Lakes, and the next looking out over Amalfi's bright patchwork. Here, centuries-old houses spill down dramatic cliffs to the beach-fringed waters below. And our multi-stop itineraries will bring you between the country’s richly varied highlights in style, enjoying stays in luxury accommodation and the services of private drivers and guides throughout. But, there’s one thing that’s found throughout the country – an appreciation of la dolce vita, the good life. You’ll be well looked after whether you’re feasting on a Fiorentina steak, sipping prosecco in Venice or waking up to an espresso in a piazza-side café.
Enjoy a private gozzo tour of the Amalfi Coast to a secluded restaurant or explore the region’s bohemian towns – whether you cruise around in a classic sports car or on a Vespa is up to you. Alternatively, take a hot air balloon and float over the ancient village towns and vineyards of the rolling Chianti hills. Let your charismatic guide bring alive the days of the Roman Empire while you investigate the eerie remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum or ask about how to visit after the crowds have departed. Explore the striking coastlines of the Aeolian Islands on a gullet-style tall ship or discover Sardinia’s pristine beaches and glamorous nightlife aboard a super yacht. Wander between the villas and gardens on the shores of Lake Como or explore the Italian Lakes aboard a timelessly elegant Riva yacht. Take to the roads of northern Italy and drive the route of the Mille Miglia in a classic Gran Turismo sports car. Lose yourself in the mystique of the masked carnival in Venice, we can even help you to arrange your own private masked ball in a palazzo, and experience a behind-closed-doors visit to St Marks or the Sistine Chapel. Enjoy a private visit to the most prestigious Murano glass factories or see behind the scenes of a fashion superbrand. Join a local and his dog to look for truffles in the Abruzzo or learn how to make the most amazing pasta in a cookery lesson with either a local family or an Italian Mamma. Imagine the stories you’ll tell.
Spoil yourself with a stay in an opulent Venetian palazzo such as Baglioni Hotel Luna or base yourself in a private Roman residence. Take time out in a traditional Tuscan farmhouse or restored fort, experience life in a converted Franciscan monastery or traditional Puglian masserie and immerse yourself in a restored alberghi diffusi in the Abruzzo. Indulge yourself with vintages available at your hilltop winery retreat or bask in the luxury and privacy on offer at your private lakefront Como villa or stunning coastal escape. Ask us too about travelling on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express to experience old world glamour and serious style on a great rail journey across Europe.
Baglioni Hotel Luna, Venice
Just off the Grand Canal, this Venetian palace is old-world luxury at its finest, complete with chandeliers, frescoes and gilded furnishings. Its private pier and fine-dining restaurant don’t hurt, either.
Villa Athena, Sicily
At the heart of Sicily’s Valley of the Temples, the deluxe Villa Athena is blissfully boutique, with just 27 rooms. The only five star property in this historic part of the island, with five-star views of the Temple of Concordia.
Baglioni Hotel Cala del Porto
Most of the rooms at the delectable Hotel Cala Del Porto overlook the bay of Punta Ala, a glorious swathe of blue punctuated by the island of Elba. The Maremma, a less explored but most exciting corner of Tuscany provides the perfect counterpoint.
Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea
A private swathe of beach, almost tropical gardens, laidback elegance, old-fashioned, fine Italian furnishings and cutting-edge art make the Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea the most glamorous stay in Taormina.
Alberi Del Paradiso, Cefalù
Secluded above the beautiful town of Cefalù, this four-star hotel, with its pool, wellness centre and extensive gardens, is just 20 minutes' walk from the beach.
Step back to the Golden Age of Travel aboard the world’s most iconic rail journey. And, as Europe’s great vistas sweep past, you’ll sit back to enjoy piano-accompanied cocktails, multi-course gourmet dining and that famous white-gloved service.
Hotel Regina Cristina, Capri
Capri has been known for centuries as an isle of pleasure. The Regina Cristina sits right at the centre of the island, perfectly placed to enjoy all the attractions and a superb view over the surrounding Bay of Naples.
Relais Santa Croce
Set in an old palazzo, with original murals still gracing the walls, the Relais Santa Croce is as beautiful as the Florentine views it enjoys. Frescoed ceilings and fine art feature throughout, as do high standards and lashings of luxury.
Hotel de Russie, Rome
The historic but hip Hotel de Russie sits right at the heart of Rome, a five star setting for a five star hotel.
Capri Palace Hotel & Spa, Anacapri
Capri has long been an island dedicated to decadent pleasures, and the sophisticated Capri Palace Hotel specialises in the tradition.
Because Italy can be exceptionally busy, ask us about how to explore the country in the shoulder seasons, travelling to the cities and countryside in spring or autumn instead of high summer. Alternatively, grab a towel to travel to the beach in June or September. Otherwise, look out for annual events such as the Venice Carnival in February or the Palio in Sienna in July and August and plan ahead to secure the best bases from which to experience these exceptional events.
Italian Coast to Culture
9 days from £1,650 pp incl. flights
Tuscany is famous for Renaissance art and architecture, with the city of Florence at its forefront. Less well known perhaps are the region’s beaches, each as lovely as the Botticelli Venus. This trip combines the beauty of both.
Capri and the Amalfi Coast
9 days from £1,755 pp incl. flights
Capri and the Amalfi coast are characterised by vertiginous cliffs and grand, salt-encrusted villas. Crescent beaches in secluded coves line an aquamarine sea, and there’s history at every turn.
Best of Sicily
8 days from £1,390 pp incl. flights
From glorious swathes of golden sand to millennia-old ruins framed by scented lemon groves and sun-soaked vineyards, Sicily’s highlights are as enchanting as they are varied. Take it all in with stays in iconic hotels and scenic country drives.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: London to Venice
4 days from £3,385 pp incl. flights
Between indulgent fine dining, champagne receptions and private city tours, this elegant journey pairs the ultimate in luxury rail travel with a palace stay in the heart of ancient Venice.
Spas of Tuscany
13 days from £1,860 pp incl. flights
Staying at ducal palaces and country manors, you’ll be treated to a superb range of included hot-spring spa treatments. In between, you’ll be able to explore Tuscany’s vineyards and medieval towns on scenic country drives.