Italy’s unique blend of gorgeous scenery, world-beating cuisine, azure-blue seas, and unbelievably rich history and culture make it one of the best holiday destinations in the world. Italy boasts everything from an extraordinary coastline, unbelievably beautiful hilltop towns, pristine ski slopes and rugged mountain ranges.
Italy’s culinary traditions are some of the most exciting, interesting and mouth-watering to be found anywhere in the world, and the regional variation offers a new food adventure wherever you go. Finally, Italy’s history and culture are unparalleled, from the ancient history of the Romans and Etruscans to the glories of the Renaissance, with the finest artistic traditions on show at every turn.
With so much to see and do, just deciding what to leave out of your Italian itinerary can be a challenge! The diversity of experiences available on a holiday to Italy can also be something to think about, as ensuring your bag is full of something for every occasion can test even the most ingenious holiday packers. Even exploring Italy by taking a cruise, one of the most convenient and comfortable ways to see all the sights, will require a variety of outfits and luggage necessities.
With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a few tips about must-see places and unmissable experiences in Italy, and how you might want to pack your bags to ensure you are ready for anything.
Read on for our ultimate Italian holiday guide
Rome is Italy’s ancient capital, and a city literally packed with history, from the majestic Colosseum and the Vatican, to tiny churches and crumbling stone walls hidden around every corner. For history buffs, a visit to Rome is a no-brainer, and you could easily spend weeks exploring every nook and cranny of this vibrant, fascinating city. Visit the inspiring Pantheon, admire the four ancient Papal basilicas, or explore the ruins of the Roman Forum, the beating heart of the city.
What to pack: The sights in Rome are stunning, so don’t forget your camera, a few extra SD cards, and spare batteries! You won’t want to miss that perfect shot of the Colosseum, so be prepared.
Italy is full of impressive art, but Florence stands head and shoulders above anywhere else as one of Europe and the world’s great capitals of art. The city was the birthplace of the Renaissance, and boasts some of the best museums and galleries in the world, with some of the finest artworks ever created. Discover Botticelli, Da Vinci and Caravaggio at the Uffizi, the splendour of the Medicis at Palazzo Pitti, and Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David at the Galleria dell’Accademia.
What to pack: It is easy to forget how many steps you’ll take when strolling around the museums and galleries of Florence, so don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes. You’ll inevitably want to pick up a few souvenirs too, so leave some space in your carry-on!
Nightlife, style and fashion
Italy is an elegant and immensely sophisticated society, and lovers of fashion and mixing with the creme de la creme should add Milan to their itinerary immediately. Whether you are hanging out with the glitterati in Zona Tortona during Design Week, rubbing shoulders with high society in Porta Romana, or exploring the more alternative, hipster side of the city in Isola, a night out in Milan is an exquisite experience.
What to pack: In Milan, fashion and style are everything. You will need at least one killer outfit to strut your stuff with the fashionistas, so don’t forget to bring your A-game! Make sure it’s compact, or bring a light jacket to polish any outfit.
Italy’s unique coastline is made up of gloriously craggy cliffs, hidden bays, and miles of gorgeous, sun-drenched beaches. In the summer, Sicily is a magnet for Italians and tourists alike, providing a wonderful mixture of fascinating cultural influences and stunning stretches of sand. Head to San Vito lo Capo on the western edge of the island and discover an immaculate two-mile sweep of pristine beach and crystal-clear seas.
What to pack: Bathing suits are obviously a must but don’t forget a lightweight, foldable hat. If you are out in the sun all day, you’ll want to cover up, so stick some flexible headwear into your day bag. Sunscreen is key.
Hitting the slopes
While neighboring Switzerland, France, and even Austria tend to take the plaudits when it comes to skiing, the Italian Alps are magnificent and offer a wonderful experience for both beginners and experienced skiers. For novices, resorts like Passo Tonale or Bardonecchia offer gentle slopes and wonderful teaching courses, while more serious powderhounds might want to explore Alagna’s Chamonix-rivalling terrain, or even somewhere like Corvara in the Dolomites!
What to pack: A down jacket that can be packed up into a tiny bag is a must for any skiing holiday. Keeping you warm on the pistes and during the apres-ski, and fitting snugly into any hand luggage, this is an essential piece of kit for an Italian skiing holiday.