By Erin Ward
It may be possible to spend an entire lifetime discovering Italy and still many stones would be left unturned. It is a place where authentic experiences are abound, so we asked our friends at Luxury Italian Tours if they could share some of their favorites. This guide holds some of the coolest tips on what to see, eat, admire and embrace in an Italy that most travelers never experience.
1. Eat sea urchins in Puglia on the shores of San Vito. Throughout April and May sea urchins are in season. During this time, visitors can join locals at eateries, parties and festivals in indulging in this unique delicacy.
Photo via Unlabeled11
2. Treat your inner history buff to the Greek influences abundant in Siracusa.
3. Stroll through the cobblestone streets of Dozza and admire the outdoor art gallery. Once a year, the Emilia Romagna invites artists from all over the world to come to their quaint hillside town and decorate the houses and facades of buildings with contemporary-style murals.
Photo via brtsergio
4. Make and taste delicious Italian pastries like cannoli and casata with Maria Gramatico, affectionately known as “Mama”, at her cake shop in Erice, Sicily.
5. Roam the cliff-side gardens in Ravello as you admire the breathtaking Amalfi Coast.
6. Marvel at the artistic riches in San Rocco, Venice, home of the largest collection of Titian art.
7. Stop in a Venetian cafe or bar in any city for Cicchetti – plates of snacks for one euro each “” and feel like a local. They pair perfectly with a glass of prosecco!
8. Bring your bathing suit and take a swim around the tiny islands off the coast of Venice. Burano and Mazzorbo are perfect for enjoying a lazy Sunday lunch. Sant’Erasmo is known as the market garden of Italy famous for its asparagus and artichokes. And for a truly local experience, sail to the tiny fisherman’s village of Pellestrina where you can enjoy the slow pace and pristine nature reserves.
9. Explore Umbria and go truffle harvesting; savor these black diamonds of the earth.
10. Sip Sagrantino at Tenuta Castelbuono winery — Umbria’s newest vineyard in Bevagna — under an architectural masterpiece designed by Pomodoro.
Photo via rithim
11. Hit Milan during Fashion Week and don’t miss an evening of glamour at La Scala, one of the largest opera houses in Italy.
12. Take a walk to admire the pastel homes of fairytale Ponza, a beautiful island just south of Rome and a favorite respite for Romans.
13. Stay over night in the masserie or trulli, two ancient architectural wonders of Puglia.
14. Admire the Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel in Padova, otherwise known as the “miniature Sistine Chapel”.
15. Drink apricot grappa at an organic wine farm in Sorrento with Mt. Vesuvius in the backdrop.
16. Ride a helicopter over Mt. Etna’s crater.
Photo via annahesser
17. Go to Perugia to the Perugina chocolate factory and learn how to make (and taste!) decadent Italian treats.
18. Catch a whiff of the butcher shops as you weave along Cisternino’s cobblestone streets, an experience unique to this little city.
19. Get ready for Carnevale and learn how to make a Venetian mask.
Photo via gnuckx
20. Walk through the Vasari Corridor in Florence and admire the artwork that Cosimo Medici spent years collecting to adorn this secret passageway between his palace and the church.
21. Visit Le Velette winery and sip Oriveto Classico, a famous wine that owes its quality to the Orvieto underground. Fun fact: the Orvieto is an underground water network that was built by the Etruscans and has consecutively helped to produce some of the highest quality grape harvests in Italy.
Photo via Le Velette
22. Discover Ascoli Piceno, the region considered to be the jewel of Le Marche, and experience the fusion of ancient history with modern design.
23. Stop by Café Meletti, an elegant Art Deco café in Abruzzo where anisette liquor was first made in 1870 by the café’s founder. Even Ernest Hemingway stopped by and sipped this house specialty.
24. Ride bikes through the breathtaking hills of Ferrara in Emiglio Romagna and admire the castles and palaces that dot the countryside.
25. Let the melodies of Verdi at the opera in Parma sweep you away during the Verdi festival, which occurs every October and is a highlight for this sleepy little town.