Our silver travel writers find Autumn is the perfect time to visit Italy. There are fewer tourists and the weather is pleasantly warm making it ideal for sightseeing. With its picturesque lakes, magnificent mountain scenery, historic cities, delicious cuisine and stunning coastline, Italy has something for everyone.
Here are some of our favourite destinations:
The largest of Italy’s famous lakes with its crystal clear waters, soaring mountains and scenery, Lake Garda is the perfect place to relax or explore. You can easily take a day trip to the UNESCO city of fair Verona to pose beneath Juliet’s balcony or to the ‘Floating City’ of Venice. Hop on the ferry to see some of the most charming towns along the lake, such as the village of Limone with its lemon groves or Malcesine, famed for its medieval Scaligero Castle.
Lake Como is perhaps Italy’s most well-known lake, with its tranquil waters and beautiful mountain scenery. A boat tour is a great way to see the opulent lakeside villas where you might catch a glimpse of celebrities including George Clooney and Sir Richard Branson who own properties there. Leave space in your suitcase as you’ll want to stop over in the town of Bellagio – ‘the pearl of Lake Como’ to treat yourself or a loved one to Italian handmade goods (no woman can have too many handbags!). From Lake Como, you can easily take an excursion to the nearby buzzing city of Milan with its amazing cathedral or experience the Bernina Express, an unforgettable scenic train ride through the Swiss Alps.
A holiday to Tuscany isn’t complete until you visit Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, which contributed so much to the cultural and political development of Europe. Highlights of Florence include the striking Duomo Cathedral where a climb to the viewing platform is rewarded with stunning views across the city; the iconic Ponte Vecchio lined with exquisite goldsmiths and jewelry shops, the Uffizi gallery, home to amazing works of art such as Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus; and the Piazza della Signoria, a free open-air gallery full of sculptures, including a version of one of the most famous artworks of the Renaissance, Michelangelo’s David (the original is in the Galleria dell’Accademia).
Explore the extensive network of alleys and squares and take a water taxi or gondola through the canals that make up this enchanting city. Famous landmarks include St. Mark’s Square, the Palazzo Ducale and the Rialto Bridge. Admire 16th and 17th century art in the Galleria Franchetti or come up to date with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection of modern and contemporary art.
If you’re staying in Lake Garda, take a day trip to Verona, just a few hours away. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is filled with historical buildings and best known for its Roman amphitheatre, home to the world-famous Verona Opera festival. The city is also the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and you can even see Juliet’s balcony – added to the house in the 20th century, but nevertheless, a wonderful photo opportunity and one of the many highlights of Verona.
Birthplace of Puccini, the beautiful Renaissance town of Lucca is the only city in Italy completely surrounded by walls. Follow the 4 kilometre pathway on top of the city walls on foot or by bicycle stopping at various viewpoints to see the town’s rooftops, bell towers and surrounding countryside. Make sure to visit Lucca’s remarkable Cathedral of San Martino, where you’ll find Tintoretto’s painting of The Last Supper and a wooden cross carved by the biblical figure Nicodemus.
The Sorrento Coast in the south of Italy is a dream destination for many silver travellers. Experience the unique landscape of hills and valleys, scented lemon orchards, olive groves, and dramatic cliff tops giving way to picturesque fishing villages. A boat tour to the island of Capri is a wonderful addition to your holiday, allowing you to enjoy amazing views of the Amalfi coastline – considered by many to be the most beautiful in the world.
No trip to Sorrento is complete without a visit to the iconic archaeological site of Pompeii to get a fascinating glimpse of ancient Roman life. In 79AD Mount Vesuvius erupted, simultaneously destroying and preserving Pompeii. Step back in time as you see homes and, sadly, people and animals, frozen in time from the volcanic blast. Archaeologists recently excavated a complete thermopolium – the original fast-food restaurant – believed to have served fish, goat, duck and snails washed down with wine. It’s worth taking a guided tour of Pompeii to get a fascinating insight into the history of the city and its residents.
The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is packed full of historic sites from different ancient civilisations – including Phoenician settlements, Roman amphitheatres, Greek temples and Aragonese churches. Make sure to visit the well-preserved Greek theatre in Taormina where you’ll see Mount Etna, the active volcano, rising up from the island’s east coast. Fit in a tour of the attractive Aeolian islands, an archipelago located off the northern coast of Sicily. These volcanic islands are packed full of natural beauty, earning them a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.