Here are our top five gems in Italy:
Explore the traditional Italian countryside, it is well renowned for its wine and food! Hiring a car is the best way to get to the vineyards, isolated villages and historic sites- such as San Gimignano for the many towers unchanged since the middle ages; Monteriggioni to spot the odd film star; and Bagno Vignoni to visit traditional Roman baths.
Sienna is a major spot and easily accessible. Be prepared for the long walk through the old town city walls! The Palio bareback horse racing which dates back for centuries takes place here from the 2nd July to the 16th August. It is the perfect atmosphere to bond with the locals. You can visit Pisa for, you guessed it- the leaning tower! You only need one or two days here.
2. Lake Garda:
I stayed in Desenzano, the main port to access the various spots around the lakes: cycle, hike, camp or take a reasonably priced boat ticket to various villages for the unique shops; full of soaps, leather and other gifts. Colourful houses filled with flowers and shutters for siestas mark the waterways. Cafes looking out over the lake are perfect for people watching with a coffee and Italian Bruschetta. Take a train to Verona to see the Famous ‘Romeo and Juliet’ balcony, wander the and visit the well preserved colluseum for some Italian opera.
Culture yourself up in this romantic city. The Piazza della Signoria, viewpoint Piazzale Michelangelo and the Galleria dell’Accademia which houses Michelangelo’s sculpture of David are worth a visit, along with climbing the famous ‘Domeo’. The Ponte Veckeo is the only bridge to not be bombed in the Second World War, with the historical walkway of the Medici family who did not want to walk with ‘peasants’. Explore sights, squares, churches, restaurants and shops that are off the beaten track, and tourist prices.
Visit Amalfi drive where villages and monastries adorn the coastal hills. It is often described as one of the most beautiful routes in Europe. The island of Capri is where you can take a cable car (with a lack of health and safety!) onto the mountain. Be careful to pick a clear day otherwise you will be engulfed in clouds! Sorrento is also the perfect base to visit the famous Pompeii and climb Mount Vesuvius.
5. Lido Di Jesolo:
For the typical Italian beach resort, think miles of well kept beach, brightly coloured umbrellas, water sports and ice cream parlours! It is lovely to relax here but you can also try out plenty of bars and activities. It has good transport links to both Venice (which is a must if visiting Italy as Brooke confirms!) and the smallest independent country of San Marino.