You already know you need to see the Colosseum, Pompeii, and Venice, but if you’re looking for the full, authentic Italian treatment, here are some ideas that might inspire you.
1. Visit Monte Mario
The highest point in the city of Rome, Monte Mario is the place to be if you want to see those unparalleled, second-to-none views of the city.
A mere 15-minute drive from the city center, Monte Mario is the perfect place to enjoy the sunset and soak in the glorious beauty of this ancient city. While a little off-the-beaten-track, a visit is so worth it if you’re looking to see Roma at its finest, away from the typical hustle and bustle.
2. Eat The World’s Rarest Pasta
Though it requires an epic 20-mile pilgrimage to the entrance of Santuario di San Francesco, it’stotally worth the effort if you’re a die-hard pasta lover.
Translated as “Threads of God,” su filindeu is unimaginably intricate and time-consuming to create. In fact, it’s currently made by only three women on Earth – hence why it’s renowned as the rarest pasta in the world.
Mastering the technique this noodle demands is so complicated that celebrity chef Jamie Oliver gave up after a mere two hours. Engineers at the prestigious Barilla pasta company even attempted to create a machine to manufacture su filindeu: all attempts have so far been unsuccessful. (Take that, robots!)
To get your chance at trying this incredibly rare masterpiece, it’s essential you book a trip to Sardinia during May or October when the Feast of San Francesco takes place.
3. Spend A Night In Umbria
Often overshadowed by the ever-popular neighboring duchy of Tuscany, Umbria isjust as stunning and historic. Far less busy and much cheaper too, Umbria is the ideal destination if you want to pass a few quiet, unassuming days somewhere new – but old!
Dripping with medieval ambiance – hilly villages, summer festivals, inimitable Italian cuisine – renting an Umbrian farmhouse for a few days will shed a whole new light on the bucolic charms of old Italy.
4. Sunbathe At Lido Di Venezia
Venice is one of Italy’s most popular destinations, and for good reason! The City of Canals is simply bursting with romance. But Venice can sometimes be a little busy and overwhelming during the summer months, especially if you’re looking for something more low-key.
To experience the subtler side of Venice, take a short ride to Lido di Venezia, a 7-mile stretch of sand with gorgeous views and sophisticated beach bars. Here you can sip on Venetian culture away from the tourist traps. Lido di Venezia is the ideal place to kick back and catch some sun.
5. Visit The Gucci Museum
A second-to-none yet little-known activity for avid fashion lovers? A visit to the Gucci Museum in Florence is guaranteed to impress.
Showcasing authentic vintage Gucci work with a menagerie of pieces from every era since the brand was founded in 1921, this museum houses the essence of haute couture.
6. Experience The Ruins Of Herculaneum
Everyone knows the tragic story of Pompeii, but the neighboring hamlet of Herculaneum is often forgotten.
Situated on the north side of the volcano Vesuvius, and thought to have been buried a few days after Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, Herculaneum reveals secrets of Italian history you can’t unearth anywhere else.
With most of its ruins still resembling the original structures, you can view preserved mosaics that once adorned the villas of wealthy Romans and feel the calamity of this little-known town in your bones as you walk its desiccated streets.
7. Take In The Beauty Of Grotta Azzura
Also known as the “Blue Grotto” in English, Grotta Azzura is thought to be the personal swimming hole of the ancient Emperor Tiberius. True to its name, the water in the grotto can almost be said to glow, rippling brilliant, transparent blue.
The only way to enter the grotto is via a small rowing boat, through a culvert in the face of a perpendicular cliff. And, as the opening is a mere 4 feet high and 4 feet wide, it’s a tight squeeze! But once you get in, you’ll have an experience unlike any you’ve had before!
Accessible by bus from Anacapri or by boat from Marina Grande, make sure to plan your visit in good weather, as Grotta Azzura is closed on windy days for safety reasons.
8. Go To Church
Even if you’re not particularly religious, experiencing an Italian church service is with increase the cultural payoff of your trip.
Though Italy is a predominantly Catholic country, not every single person will abide by Catholic teachings in their everyday lives – naturally. But since religion plays such a huge role in Italy’s identity, experiencing a church service is an important way of immersing yourself in the heritage.
All church pages and information booklets will list the hours of scheduled services which you can attend.
9. View The Pyramid Of Cestius
While pyramids are more closely associated with Egypt (and rightly so!), the Pyramid of Cestius is the only “Egyptian” pyramid in Europe.
Situated in Rome near the Porta San Paolo, Cestius was originally built (around 12 BC) as a lavish tomb for a wealthy Roman priest of the same name.
Standing an impressive 120 feet high and featuring a much sharper angle than the traditional pyramids of Egypt, this unusual cenotaph is well worth a look.
10. See An Italian Soccer Game
Even if you’re not a soccer fan, or a fan of sport in general, attending an Italian soccer game is a experience like no other.
Italians are notoriously passionate about their soccer clubs. In fact, soccer could more accurately be considered their second religion!
The intensity at these events is simply second-to-none, giving you of that famous Italian spirit that you won’t get anywhere else.
11. Let Your Hair Down At The Carpino Folk Festival
Italians are known for their fun-loving nature, but nothing proves why quite like the Carpino Folk Festival.
By day, this small village lounges in peace and tranquility. But every August it transforms itself into an exciting open-air theater to which thousands of lovers of traditional music flock to chat, and sway, and dance the night away.
Featuring an array of colorful performances, cinematic shows, and workshops, the Carpino Folk Festival is an absolute must for people of all ages who enjoy good music and fun.
12. Visit Rome’s Vegan Cat Cafe
One of Rome’s best kept secrets, the Vegan Cat Cafe is perfect if you’re looking to branch out from typical Italian dining.
Unlike the suburbs full of traditional pizza and pasta restaurants Rome has on offer, the Vegan Cat Cafe is precisely what its name suggests – a cafe bursting with delicious vegan options, with cats occupying virtually every available space.
It might not be the best option if you’re meat-eating or allergic to felines, but it’s great if you’re a cat lover and looking to experience another, more modern side of Italian food.
13. Watch A Living Chess Game
Every other September, Marotisca transforms the classic game of chess into a real-life spectator sport.
Taking place over three days right in the center of town, these games feature human chess pieces dressed in traditional 15th-century costumes.
Guaranteed to impress, with accompanying period dances, music, fireworks, and parades, many flock to Marotisca to watch the chess.
14. Visit A Medieval Village
Situated in Turin’s Valentino Park, this medieval village is a perfect replica of a 15th century Piedmontese Village.
Effortlessly complex and including lively artisan shops, authentic narrow streets, and an expansive castle, this village will transport you back in time for an up-close an personal look at Italy’s past.