Italy is on most travellers’ bucket list. Full of culture, art, history, sensational scenery, amazing food and delicious wines, Italy has so much to offer to visitors. But how do you decide where to go, especially if you are having a quick weekend in Italy? Do you go to the north, the south, the centre or even the islands? Each area is perfect for a getaway and offers something a bit different.
I have chosen some of my favourite spots for an Italian weekend away and several of my travelling friends have added their inspiring places to visit.
Weekends in the North of Italy
A weekend in Ravenna
Contributed by Chelsea from The Portable Wife
With eight UNESCO World Heritage buildings, delicious cuisine, and pristine beaches, Ravenna is a wonderful place to spend a weekend in Italy.
Nestled along the Adriatic Coast between Venice and San Marino, this historically significant city is where Julius Caesar gathered his forces before crossing the Rubicon. Ravenna was a capital of the Western Roman Empire in the 400s and an important city to the Byzantines in the late 700s, and many mosaics from those empires miraculously survived to this day.
It’s these wonderfully preserved and colorful mosaics that bring tourists from all over the world to Ravenna. There are five major sites to see, and visitors can buy a “Ravenna Inclusive” ticket for discounted entry into all five. The collection includes the Archiepiscopal Museum and St. Andrew’s Chapel, the Basilica of St. Vitale, the Mausoleo of Galla Placidia, the Basilica of St. Apollinare Nuovo, and the Neonian Baptistery.
Being in the Emilia-Romagna region–a.k.a. Italy’s kitchen–it’s no surprise that Ravenna has a signature dish: piadina. This flatbread has been around for centuries, and restaurants and street vendors stuff the soft piadina with meats, cheese, and veggies for a savory and portable meal. La Piadina Del Melarancio is Ravenna’s top piadina shop.
While one day in Ravenna is just enough time to see the sights, it would be a mistake to leave without enjoying the white sand beaches. Locals and tourists alike will find several charming, historical hotels in the Marina di Ravenna area with direct beach access.
Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad
About 30-minute from Bologna by train is the town of Imola. With its ochre-coloured porticos and abundance of outdoor coffee shops, it is a slower pace of life than Bologna.
Near the centre of Imola is the magnificent 13th-century fortress, Rocca Sforzesca. It is now a museum displays Medieval weapons and ceramics. Note that it is only open at the weekends.
Imola has several museums including the Palace Tozzoni which was gifted to the town in 1981 and gives an insight into the life of an 18h Century noble family. The San Domenico Museum is an ex-convent which has been into an art gallery displaying over 600 works of art.
Step into the past in the Farmacia Comunale Ospedale Santa Maria della Scaletta. With beautiful arched ceilings and hand-painted frescos, the Farmacia has many of the original furnishings and the shelves are filled with blue and white majolica vases with the names of the herbs and medicines painted on the front.
Not everywhere in Imola is slow, however, petrol-heads will head to the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari for their motor-racing fix. From Touring Cars, Superbikes and in November 2020 Lewis Hamilton won the F1 Grand Prix. In the Parco delle Aqua Minarale is a statue to Aryton Senna who sadly lost his life at the track in 1994.
Masters of slow food, try San Domenico restaurant or Osteria del Vicolo Nuovo da Ambra e Rosa for delicious pasta and fish dishes.
Relax at the Hotel Donatello, just outside the town centre, with its own spa suite, swimming pool and exercise area.
Contributed by Annabel from Smudged Postcard
Despite being the first capital of a unified Italy in the 19th century and with bags of style and character, Turin is often overlooked by visitors to northern Italy. Turin is perfect for a weekend break: it’s an enjoyable city to stroll through with elegant porticoed boulevards, enticing bars for an evening aperitif and plenty of heritage to explore.
Turin does a very good line is vast piazzas. The most well known is Piazza Castello, home to the Savoy Royal Palaces. Turin has an excellent cinema museum housed in a building with a towering pinnacle from which visitors can enjoy incredible views across the city. Turin also has an impressive Egyptian museum which houses the largest collection of Egyptian artefacts outside of Egypt.
Lovers of Italian cuisine and wine will enjoy the culinary aspect of a visit to Turin. The surrounding hills produce the renowned red Barolo wine while the city’s coffee houses are home to the bicerin – a delicious chocolatey coffee drink. Turin has some excellent pasta dishes – ravioli flavoured with local truffles and risottos using locally grown rice.
If you’re visiting Turin with kids, it’s worth seeking out the locations where the film The Italian Job was shot. The film’s infamous car chase took place throughout Turin with the Fiat Lingotto rooftop test track being a highlight of the movie along with the Madre di Dio church by the River Po.
Try The Intrepid Italian language course if you want to learn some common Italian phrases for travelling like a local
Contributed by Paul from The Two That Do
The coastal region of Cinque Terre in the northwest of Italy 50 miles south of Genoa is one of the country’s most stunning landscapes.
Starting with Monterosso al Mare in the north to Riomaggiore 30 km south the Cinque Terre is famed for its rugged coastline and the terraces built into them over hundreds of years. Combine these with the tiny fishing villages perched amongst them and you have a region unlike any other.
Traffic free and remote from each other there are 120 km of walking trails linking the villages through the surrounding countryside. The Cinque Terre express rail service though is the fastest and easiest way to visit each one.
Stroll through their narrow, cobbled streets and absorb their own unique identities. Monterosso perfect for beach lovers, Vernazza a true fishing village its quay lined with colourful boats and Corniglia, the only one of the five with no direct access to the sea. From here, perched high above the Mediterranean it is possible to see the other four. Manarola and Riomaggiore resplendent with multicoloured dwellings perhaps the most photographed.
Whatever your preference a huge part of the Cinque Terre experience is to sample its many local specialities. Look out for honey ice cream, a cone of Fritto Misto or fried seafood from Il Pescato Cucinato all washed down with a glass of Sciacchetrà wine.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 the Cinque Terre makes for a perfect weekend break destination.
Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad
On the Adriatic coast of Italy is the port town of Cesenatico, with long golden sandy beaches and a beautiful town to explore, it is ideal for a weekend break away from the hustle and bustle. Sitting between Ravenna and Rimini and just an hour by train from Bologna, Cesenatico retains the feel of a fisherman’s village but still having the amenities of a town.
The town dates back to the 14th century and the canal and port was designed by Leonardo da Vinci in 1502 which cuts through the town. At the top of the canal is the Museo della Marineria. The museum devoted to the maritime history of Cesenatico with two full-sized ships inside and a floating exhibition of ships outside.
Taking a stroll along the sea front and you will come to “la Cattedrale delle Foglie” an enchanting sculpture area by Tonino Guerra. There are also volleyball, tennis courts and cycle routes to keep you fit as well as sailing, fishing and windsurfing.
The pastel coloured restaurants that overlook the canal harbour are the best to try fresh fish either inside or when the weather is good, outside. Try Osteria da Beppe for the freshest fish dishes, homemade bread and pasta.
Contributed by Roma from Roaming Required
The region of Emilia Romagna in Italy provides visitors with a fabulous mix of culinary, cultural, and historical elements in a region that’s easy to navigate and explore on one’s own terms. The capital of Emilia Romagna is the stunning city of Bologna.
There’s plenty of things to do and sightseeing in Bologna is a blast. The best experiences will be on your feet, and via your taste buds because this is easily Italy’s most delicious region.
Built on some of the most fertile and agriculturally-rich soil in Italy, Bologna is known as the Food Valley of Italy for consistently producing high-quality products like wine, vinegar, cheese, and cured meats, boasting 44 products with PDO and PGI classifications, more than any other region in Italy.
Pound the pavement around the Old Town and discover Piazza Maggiore, the city’s main square and since 1200 it’s been the hive of city activity. That tradition continues to this day with the Square playing host to festivals, Christmas market, concerts and the starting point for many walking tours around the city.
Culturally curious travellers will love the story behind Basilica of San Petronio. Construction began in 1390, it was planned to be the largest Basilica in the world! Don’t forget to ask about the largest sundial in the world and the contentious painting Inferno by Giovanni da Modena both of which lie inside.
The iconic Due Torri, is the symbol and main tourist attraction of the city of Bologna. The two towers, Garisenda and Asinelli, named for the families who built them, dominate the skyline and have done since the beginning of the 12th century. You can climb to the top of the 498 stairs for spectacular views over the city.
Sitting atop of the hill the San Luca Monastery (the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca) is one of the most impressive and enduring symbols of Bologna. Don’t miss the opportunity to walk through the incredible porticos which stretch almost 4km containing an incredible 666 arcades.
It’s hard to have a bad meal in Bologna. Classics to opt for include Ragu (definitely not Bolognese!), mortadella, tortellini en brodo. Don’t miss the opportunity to have aperitivo in Quadrilateral, a bustling area in Bologna’s city centre lined with stalls and restaurants which has been the site of trading dating back to the Middle Ages.
Contributed by Michele from The Intrepid Guide
Situated in a glacial valley in Northern Italian is the quietly famous medieval city of Trento. Cosy piazzas signposted by medieval towers, the grand medieval Buonconsiglio castle overlooking the picturesque skyline, and the stunning 13th-century Cathedral of San Vigilio are just a few draw cards located in the heart of the city. Also here is the MUSE museum of science and natural history which was designed by the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano better known for designing the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and The Shard in London.
One of the best things to do in Trento is to visit the impressive Ponte Alto Gorge. This feat of engineering was built to protect the city from being flooded by River Fersina and is now open for visitors to explore.
For epic views of Trento, take the cable car to Sardagna and enjoy a drink at the small bar or hike up the hill to see the Cesare Battisti Mausoleum made up of sixteen columns standing over 10 metres tall.
Located north-east just outside Trento is the Pyramids of Segonzano. These odd-looking pinnacles reaching over 20 metres high date from to the last ice age some 50 thousand years ago!
The region of Trentino is home to several lakes but one of the most picturesque is Lake Toblino with a Renaissance castle hugging the shoreline. Be sure to take the circuit walk that loops around the lake to enjoy it from all angles.
Val de Funes
Contributed by Paul from Anywhere We Roam
The Instagram famous church of San Giovanni in the village of Ranui may draw visitors to capture its unique aesthetic, but it’s the other wonderful things to do in Val di Funes that keeps them utterly enchanted.
Nestled in rolling green meadows under the jagged spires of the Puez-Odle massif, Val di Funes is a scenic and refreshing weekend in Italy. The less-photographed Santa Maddalena is a traditional light grey stone church nestled among the green pastures of the Obermesnerhof Farmstead.
Capture the church and the farm on the two easy hiking trails that skirt the valley: Panoramaweg and Sunnenseitenweg. Both paths capture the best of the idyllic rural nature of the area. Allow your senses to be filled with the intoxicating aroma of freshly cut grass; the sway of wild alpine flowers; and the sights of traditional farmers working in the fields.
For a more strenuous adventure, hike up to Rifugio Malga Brogles. From here, a carpet of yellow flowers frame the rocky views of the Puez-Odle massif. The rifugio still houses a working dairy farm and is a beautiful spot to sit and admire the views.
The small village of Santa Maddalena is the most picturesque part of the valley and a great place to stay to get away from it all. For more facilities and dining options, the slightly bigger San Pietro has a number of different accommodation choices for all budgets.
Gorizia in Friuli Venezia Giulia
Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad
One of the many hidden gems in Italy is Gorizia. In the northeast of the country in the Friuli Venezia Giulia above Venice and bordering Slovenia. Gorizia has influences in its food and architecture from Slovenia, Austria and Italy.
With a rich and diverse history, Gorizia has much to offer for a weekend visit. In the town take a guided tour around Palazzo Coronini Cronberg for a glimpse into the Habsburg past of Gorizia. Visit St. Ignatius’ Church with its twin onion domes and its beautiful marble interior and inlaid furniture dating back to the 17th Century.
High above Gorizia sits the 11th Century Borgo Castle and gives views over the town as well as neighbouring Nova Goricia in Slovenia. The castle was heavily bombed during the First World War and was rebuilt in 1937. It is now a museum to the Middle Ages with furniture, sculpture, painting and tapestries.
On the way up to the castle are two interesting museums. The Museum of the World War I has exhibits and memorabilia from the war. The Museum of Fashion and the Applied Arts follows the towns long history with lace and fashion.
The restaurants and bars in Gorizia offer Italian flavour with Austrian and Slovak influences. Try Trattoria alla Luna for eclectic decor and amazing dishes, Locando 101 for the best fish dishes or Ristorante Enoteca Majda for their rich traditional cuisine. Look out for liptauer the local cheese made with a blend of cheeses, paprika and mustard into a spreadable cheese and the rosa di Gorizia, which is a specially raised radicchio so that it opens out like a rose.
Hotels are plentiful and the best is the Hotel Entourage with its yellow ochre walls and views behind to the Castle. Gorizia is also the perfect base for a wine tour around the Collio wine region.
Contributed by Or from My Path in the World
With enchanting colourful towns, serene beaches, and stunning natural scenery, Lake Garda makes a perfect weekend getaway and a fantastic Italian road trip destination. It is also a perfect foodie destination that offers some mouthwatering dishes like tortellini (locally known as ‘nodo d’amore’ – ‘love knot’), polenta, and risotto.
Lake Garda is the largest in the country, and getting around can take more time than expected because of the winding roads, so each day should be dedicated to a different area of the lake.
When exploring North Lake Garda, towns like Limone sul Garda and Riva del Garda are must-sees. Situated only a few miles away from the northern coast, the Varone Waterfall and turquoise Tenno Lake are a nature lover’s paradise, and the little hamlet of Borgo Medievale di Canale di Tenno will make anyone feel like they’ve stepped back in time.
On the eastern side of Lake Garda, no one can miss visiting the colorful Malcesine, taking the cable car to enjoy the scenic views of Monte Baldo, and strolling through the charming Bardolino.
Last but not least, southern and western Lake Garda is home to many wineries, as well as beauties like Sirmione, Peschiera del Garda, Desenzano del Garda, and Salo, but there are also plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
Contributed by Diana from Travels in Poland
A quaint and exquisitely beautiful place, Lake Como is quite well known in many places around the world. Made famous by some of its well-known residences, to include actors and musicians, the splendour of Como is difficult to explain unless one chooses to visit, and Lake Como does not disappoint.
Though even two days seems like not enough time to visit this upside Y shaped lake, it does provide visitors with the opportunity to see the beauty of the lake.
Dotted with picturesque little villages, it’s best to get up to the middle of the lake, to Bellagio and explore the town first before continuing to other villages. Some great places to eat include Ristorante Silvio as well as Ristorante Antico Pozzo.
From Bellagio, take off to many parts of the lake. The towns of Varenna, Menaggio and Cadenabbia, as well as Tremezzo, are all worth a quick day trip by boat. There are also several villas that are well known situated at different points on the lake and well worth a visit. Several can be reached as a direct stop on one of the boats departing Bellagio.
Relaxing on the water is a must, especially when it’s warm outside and the water permits. Griante Beach is a stony beach but allows for free entry and has a few options for activities including renting a canoe or just relaxing at the bar. Many other places include beach clubs such as the Lido di Bellagio or the Lido di Argegno. However, if staying on the water, most if not all places will have access to the water and some type of accompanying boat or canoe.
Lake Como truly is a spectacular weekend visit with amazing villages and beaches to see and some of the best seafood in northern Italy.
Contributed by Amy from Amy Guides
Ah, Sirmione! What an amazing, captivating little corner of the Lombardia region of Northern Italy. As you plan your trip to Venice, Verona, Lake Garda or Lake Como, please don’t make the mistake of skipping over Sirmione. The enchantment of this small town is real.
Not only will you find a giant grotto (akin to a castle, but better!), there are several Michelin Star restaurants tucked away on this tiny peninsula, including La Rucola 2.0, La Speranzina Restaurant & Relais, Ristorante Risorgimento, and Ristorante Le Gardenie.
Secure parking is ample in open lots just off the entrance to Sirmione, so if you prefer to drive, you may park and walk in over the drawbridge. As you cross the threshold, savour immersing yourself in a fantasy world laced with abundant sights, scents and sounds.
Sirmione hosts unique events year-round, as well as a weekly farmer’s market with foods, artisanal creations, clothing, antiques and more. Have a hankering for gelato or fun-themed icey treats? Pop into Cremeria Bulian.
Maritime lover? Take one of the many boat tours offered. Alternatively, stroll the beach behind the Grotto di Catullo, take a seat, and pass the afternoon languidly counting the yachts and sailboats dotting magnificent Lake Garda. If you’re a nature lover, walk or hike the hilly peninsula and meander your way to the highest point of Sirmione for breathtaking panoramic views of the cerulean waters. While you may pack all of these activities into a single day trip, the most authentic way to enjoy Sirmione is simple: relaxed.
Sarnico in Lombardy
Contributed by Kristine from Wanderlust Designers
Sarnico is a little village situated at the western tip of Lake Iseo – one of the many lakes in Italy’s Lombardy region. It is a place of immense beauty where majestic mountains meet the charm of lakefront promenades. Two different worlds, yet blending in seamlessly and with gusto, as always in Italy.
There are heaps of great things to do:
– Take a walk along the Lungolago (lakefront promenade) and just enjoy the scenery.
– Get lost in the narrow streets of the Old Town. It is small but offers a lot – from pinacoteca to enoteca. So whether it’s art or wine that floats your boat, Sarnico has it all.
– Drive around the Iseo Lake, stopping in various picturesque little villages such as Riva di Solto or Zone.
– For hikers – Sarnico is the starting point for a spectacular hike to Monte Bronzone (experienced hikers) or Baita Pompiano (suitable for less experienced).
– In summer, take a ferry to Monte Isola, the largest lake island in Europe.
There’s an ample choice of accommodation both in Sarnico and villages near it, but to get the real feel of Italian hospitality stay in B&B Riad Sarnico, a charming little place with a lakefront garden, or Sarnico Holiday Apartment in a beautiful residential complex with its
private outdoor pool.
Sarnico has plenty of restaurants and bars offering a variety of Italian dishes. For exquisite fish dishes and a beautiful lakefront setting go
to La Pagoda di Eolo. For innovative regional cuisine try Casoncelli alla Bergamasca in Al Tram.
And while enjoying your walk along the lakefront promenade, grab agelato at Gelateria La Gatta and a heavenly tiramisu at Gelateria San
Marco, or sip on an Aperitivo at Dehors Café.
Contributed by Anisa from Two Travelling Texans
Venice is one of the best places to spend a weekend in Italy because it is so unique. It is a city built on over 100 islands. The gondolas, churches, bridges, architecture, history, and atmosphere make it special. Some say it’s the most romantic city in Europe.
While in Venice, you must get out on the water, whether it’s a gondola ride, canal tour, or the water bus, known as the Vaporetto. It’s also nice to take in the views from the Rialto Bridge or San Giorgio Maggiore. There are also lots of restaurants where you can dine along a canal like Ristorante alla Fontana.
Also, plan to spend some time in St. Mark’s Square. It’s one of the most popular areas in Venice so be prepared for crowds during peak times. There you will find St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and several other museums. Don’t miss the iconic Bridge of Sighs that connects the Doge’s Palace to the prison.
If it’s a romantic trip to Venice, it might be worth splurging on a luxury hotel like the Gritti Palace. The building dates back to 1475 and is overlooking the Grand Canal. Those on a tighter budget may prefer to stay in an Airbnb in Venice or one of the outlying islands like Murano or Lido.
Contributed by Kathryn from Travel with Kat
Porto Venere is an enchanting small town, known as the gateway to the more famous Cinque Terre on Italy’s Ligurian coast. Though not as well known internationally, together with the villages of the Cinque Terre it, is included in the region’s UNESCO World Heritage listing and its many charms should not be overlooked.
The first things visitors notice on arrival are the striking colours of the town. The marina is lined with a row of thin, tall brightly painted houses that date back to the 12th century. Like much of Porto Venere, these were built by the Genovese, but the town was founded long before this by the Romans. The village’s name most likely originates from a temple to the goddess Venus that once stood on a promontory looking out to sea. It’s long since been replaced by a striking black and white marble church dedicated to Peter the Apostle.
Though a small, compact town, there’s plenty to do to fill a long weekend. Most visitors spend at least one day hopping on and off the local ferry exploring the Cinque Terre – five picturesque villages that tumble down the hillsides. At Porto Venere itself, don’t miss a walk up to the marble church or to the fortress Castello Dorio built in 1161. Perched high above the town, the views of the Golf dei Poeti are stunning. The fortress is now used for art exhibitions.
And, if you’ve ever wondered why the gulf has this name, the poet Byron once lived in Porto Venere. He is famed to have swum the gulf in order to visit the Shelleys in nearby Lerici. While you may not want to swim that far, the local beach is a wonderful place to relax after climbing up all those hills.
At the end of the day enjoy a meal at one of the many wonderful restaurants that line the water’s edge. For the best Ligurian cuisine, however, head to Portivene Un Mare di Dapori, one street back from the harbour on Via Giovanni Capellini.
Weekend Trips in Central Italy
Contributed by Dymphe from Dymabroad
A great place to visit for a weekend is Pisa. It is one of the best cities in Italy to visit. Pisa is a lovely city in Tuscany and there are many things to do and see.
One of the best things to do, and the most well-known activity, is visiting the Tower of Pisa. This famous tower is known for its lean of several degrees. You should definitely visit it and take a photo of you holding it when you are going to Pisa!
Another great thing to do in Pisa is to go to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. It is located next to the leaning tower of Pisa and is very interesting and beautiful to see. For a very good museum in Pisa, head over to the Museo Nazionale. Here you’ll find a collection of objects relating to the history of Pisa, such as sculptures.
Besides this, Pisa has some great places to eat. For example, go to Pizzeria le Mura for the most delicious pizza. Or taste the best pasta in Pisa at La Ghioterria.
Because Pisa is really small it doesn’t really matter in what part of the city you are staying. However, if you are planning on going to other places near Pisa, such as the photogenic Cinque Terre, accommodation near the central station is most convenient. A good hotel here is Hotel La Pace, but there are many other good ones.
Contributed by Linn from Brainy Backpackers
Tuscany’s capital city, Florence, makes the perfect weekend getaway and there is so much to see and do as well as amazing food (read: pasta and pizza). But you can see a lot of Florence in 2 days.
First of all, you need to visit the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, the iconic cathedral that dominates the city’s skyline. It was built on top of a church from the 4th-6th century and the remains can be seen at the museum at the bottom of the cathedral.
But you can also see masterpieces of prominent artists like Michelangelo and Donatello in the Opera Duomo Museum. It’s also worth climbing the 463 steps to the top of the dome for city views and to the top of the clock tower, to get a view with the dome. If you’re looking for the best city views, head to Piazzale Michelangelo.
Other sites worth your time are Ponte Vecchio, which is the only bridge that survived the second world war, Basilica di San Lorenzo, which is the oldest church in Florence (and once Florence’s cathedral). The basilica also includes the famous Medici Chapels which is the burial place for the famous Medici family and you can see Michelangelo’s sculptures on their tombs.
The old town is full of wonderful places to eat, but for something a bit more local, why not head to the Mercato Centrale. One of the best hotels in Florence is Your Florence, which is situated right by the cathedral and offers a stunning rooftop terrace.
Contributed by Tom from The Travelling Tom
Rome is the perfect place to visit for a weekend in Italy. The capital is known the world over as a fantastic destination, and there’s a reason why. It’s a city that is brimming with history and places to explore. Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire and that is reflected by the numerous relics of that era. Of those, the Colosseum is the most prominent. Taking in the site is a must. Walking in the same footsteps as Emperors and Gladiators thousands of years earlier is an incredible feeling.
The Roman Forum is nearby an equally historic place, where the minutiae of Roman governance was hammered out. The Pantheon, once a temple to the Roman Gods, now a resplendent Catholic Church, is another place that cannot be left off any itinerary of Rome.
Italy is well-renowned for its cuisine and Rome is no exception. Il Sori, which offers a range of Italian food and wines, in the San Lorenzo is one such place to check out. 3 days in Rome is the ideal amount of time to explore the city, but a weekend is fine if time is precious. With so much to see and do, any time trip to Rome is worth it!
Contributed by Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler
An amazing hidden gem in Italy, is the tiny micro-country of San Marino. The oldest country in the world boasts breathtaking views of the Italian countryside while being home to an impressive castle. Traveling to San Marino is one of the best weekend destinations in Italy.
The first thing one notices about San Marino is the towering castle on the peak of Monte Titano. There are three towers to explore, dating back to the 11th century! The First Tower, Guaita is the oldest tower built in the 11th century and most famous. The Second Tower, Cesta, is on the highest peak and is home to a museum holding over 1500 weapons dating back to the Medieval Era. The Montale, the third tower, is on the smallest summit and is not open to the public.
Visit Ristorante Il Beccafico for a delicious meal. Hand-tossed, fire-grilled pizza with local wine overlooking the countryside? What’s not to love? On the second day, enjoy some of the museums San Marino has to offer such as the National Museum, the Basilica de San Marino or the Torture Museum.
Hotel Cesare is located at the top of the mountain and has a patio overlooking the hillside. Enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sunset over the Italian countryside.
Contributed by Annalisa Franceschini from Travel Connect Experience Blog
One of the most bizarre ways to spend a weekend in Italy is to visit the region of the Valley of the River Treja, located in northern Lazio, 50 km from Rome. The heart of this territory is the village of “Calcata Vecchia“, which has been nicknamed the city of artists, hippies, cats, and witches…
Calcata is perched on a tuff cliff in the middle of a lush valley. The views from the village and of the village are breathtaking.
Once you reach Calcata, explore all the small squares and alleys, starting from the church of Nome di Gesù, which is said to preserve the relic of the foreskin of Christ, and then discover all the workshops of the artisans and artists who have been pouring into Calcata since the 70s.
Calcata Vecchia is a pedestrian island. Have a coffee or eat in one of the small restaurants that serve typical products like porcini mushrooms, homemade pasta, second courses based on wild boar. The atmosphere is particularly beautiful at sunset.
Once you’ve had enough of the romantic medieval village, go down into the valley of the river Treja, and reach the ruins of the ancient Faliscan town of “Narce”. In the “Parco Valle del Treja” there are small waterfalls, ropes, and bridge passages for the more adventurous and picnic areas.
If you like hiking, reach the village of Mazzano Romano on foot, or visit the museum of art in nature “Opera Bosco”. The visit to the museum includes a two-hour guided tour through a dense forest where the works live in symbiosis with the environment: tuff rocks, wood, lianas, a prehistoric cave, and what remains of some Etruscan tombs. After the visit, you can have the packed lunch you brought sitting in nature and sipping organic local wines offered by the host. To book your visit, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributed by Michael from The World Was Here First
A great underrated option for a weekend in Italy is visiting the student town of Perugia in the Umbria region. Possessing a lot of the natural beauty that is associated with Tuscany but with far fewer crowds, there are many great things to do in Perugia as well as the surrounding area that is perfect for a couple of days visit.
Some of the top attractions in the town of Perugia include exploring Underground Perugia — a network of medieval streets that are the remains of a 16th-century fortress, walking through the beautiful city centre and seeing landmarks such as the Piazza IV Novembre & Etruscan Arch and watching the sunset at Giardini Carducci, which offers spectacular views of the city.
Visitors to Perugia can also use the city as a base to explore more of Umbria including a day trip to the pilgrimage city of Assisi or having a tasting at a nearby vineyard.
Umbrian cuisine is incredibly unique and there are a number of great restaurants in Perugia where you can sample the unique flavours of the region. Civico 25 and Trattoria Borgo San Francesco are two fantastic options.
Weekend Trips in the South of Italy
Contributed by Sam from Sam Sees World
Spending a weekend in Italy is sure to be one of the best weekends of your life. There are very few places on earth as magical and beautiful as Italy and a weekend getaway to this stunning country is always a good idea. Although there are a plethora of stunning towns to visit, none are as amazing as Positano.
Positano is one of Italy’s most famous travel destinations. It is a small village located along the beyond charming Amalfi Coast and is known for its pastel-colored houses, huge mountains, and charming beaches. If you are looking to visit one of Italy’s most beautiful places, Positano is the weekend trip for you!
In addition to being absolutely stunning, there are a ton of amazing things to do in Positano for all types of travellers. One of the most popular things to do is spend some time relaxing on the beach that sits at the base of the village. This beach is made up of colourful sunbeds and vivid blue water and the view of the city from the beach is breathtaking. After enjoying some time at the beach you can also enjoy fresh Italian cuisine, go for a mountain hike, or take a boat tour around the region. If you are a foodie, be sure to book a table at Zass for an amazing meal.
Contributed by Anda from Travel for a While
Sorrento is a charming town across Naples Bay from the busy city of Naples. It’s a perfect destination for a relaxing weekend or a busy week of sightseeing.
The city is high on a cliff with spectacular views over the bay. You can spend the day relaxing at the beach, having lunch in Marina Grande, and discovering the shopping streets of the historic center in the afternoon. You will find an incredible range of products based on the famous Sorrentine lemons that you’ll definitely want to take home with you. Anything from soap, candles, beautiful textiles, and of course, the limoncello liquor.
If you want to visit the area, Sorrento is the perfect base to visit the towns of the Amalfi Coast, as well as Capri island and the archaeological parks at Pompeii and Herculaneum.
You can stay at Palazzo Jannuzzi Relais, a perfect location in Piazza Tasso, at the centre of everything.
Sorrento has two more selling points: beautiful year-round weather and the amazing food of the Campania region. One of the best things to do in the area is to take a cooking class and make the most of those fresh ingredients while spending some great time with your family and meeting more people.
Contributed by Pauline from Bee Loved City
If you are into history, spending a weekend in Naples will be ideal for you. Located in the southern part of Italy, Naples is known for its food and heritage sites.
The foodies will be in for a treat in Naples as it is the birthplace of the pizza and Italian coffee! The pizza Margherita was created in the 19th century to celebrate the unification of Italy. It uses only 3 ingredients, representing the colours of the Italian flag: basil for green, mozzarella for white and tomato for red. But if you want to taste the typical Neapolitan delicacies, you must try the pizza fritta! In terms of deserts, make sure to give the Babba a go too!
Naples was both a Greek and Roman colony back in the days. For this reason, you can now discover amazing vestiges of these 2 civilisations.
The city centre is full of landmarks. If you want to learn more, going on a walking tour will be a great way to make the best of your time. The local guide will bring you to Piazza Dante, Port’Alba, Piazza bellini and of course, the famous Scappanapoli. For amazing views, make sure to go up to Castel Sant’Elmo.
Although it would be easy to spend days exploring the city itself, going on a day trip from Naples to Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius or Capri island is a must-do too! Pompeii is a Roman city that was completely covered by the ashes of mount Vesuvius during Roman times. It’s particularly interesting to visit as it will give you an excellent idea of how the Romans used to live.
In terms of accommodation, staying in the Old Town or near the central station is best. From there, you can easily reach all the main sites and the Circumvesuviana (the train that goes to Herculaneum, Pompeii and Amalfi).
Contributed by Nadine from Le Long Weekend
The ‘heel’ of Italy’s boot, Puglia sits at the very end of the country, straddled between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. It’s an area of rustic and rugged appeal, arguably one of the few places unscarred by over-tourism, and where you can experience to true hospitality of the Italian people.
For a weekend trip, you could criss-cross the land, exploring the exquisite towns and villages as you weave through the olive groves and goat farms.
Discover the baroque architecture on display in Lecce, wander through the the ‘white city’ of Ostuni, or marvel at the Trulli of Alberobello. Or stick to the coast, where you can spend your time getting to know Puglia’s best beaches and swimming holes – of which there are many.
Those wanting to truly get off the beaten path can head to Gravina in Puglia to climb through the caves that pockmark the cliffs, drive out to the Capo Santa Maria di Leuca Lighthouse, or explore the underground world of the Castellana Grotte.
Your tastebuds will be well catered for too with the earthy, flavoursome dishes the region is famous for, accompanied by local wines and homemade desserts. For an authentic stay, seek out a Masseria – a traditional farmhouse – many of which have been converted into luxury accommodation with a traditional twist.
3 Weekend Trips to Italian Islands
Bosa on Sardinia
Contributed by Lotte from Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog
One of the prettiest places to visit on the island Sardinia is Bosa, located 45km south of Alghero. With its enviable location at the mouth of the river Temo, colourful houses, cobblestoned streets and an ancient castle, Bosa makes for a great Alghero day trip. However, if your Sardinia itinerary allows it, you can easily spend more time here.
Start your day in Bosa by grabbing an espresso or cappuccino with brioche, a typical Italian breakfast. Wander around the narrow streets in the Medieval city centre, peruse the boutique stores and pick up a souvenir or two.
Next up is Serravalle Castle, also known as the Castello dei Malaspina. The castle was built in the 12th century and while there are only parts of the ancient structure remaining, it’s well worth a visit. Situated on an 80-metre-high cliff, the only way to reach the castle is via a steep staircase (if you travel with kids, don’t bring a stroller but put your baby or toddler in a carrier instead). Rest assured that the view from the Castle is worth the effort, offering panoramic views over Bosa town, the river and the sparkling ocean.
Head back down for lunch at Bacco Bistrot (their platter of Italian cured meats and cheeses is divine) before visiting the beautiful Cattedrale dell’Immacolata. Other worthwhile sites are the Museo Casa Deriu and the Museo delle Conce.
Taormina and Mount Etna on Sicily
Contributed by Veronika from Travel Geekery
If you have only a weekend in Sicily, you can’t go wrong with staying in the East. Taormina and Mount Etna are the real highlights of the region and can be easily explored during a weekend stay.
Taormina offers the best combination of ancient sights, lovely town vibe, delicious food and beach time. You cannot miss the Ancient Greek Theatre, strolling between the city gates Porta Messina and Porta Catania and tasting a delicious granita in Bam Bar. Once you start craving the beach, it’s time to hop on a cable car and let it take you down to the seaside. Skip the closer Mazzaro Beach and enjoy the lovely Isola Bella Beach with a little island of the same name that you can walk to.
Already from Taormina, you’ll catch a few glimpses of the mighty Etna volcano. It would be a shame not to visit it when in Sicily. You can drive to the large parking lot at Rifugio Sapienza. Many of Etna’s craters can be explored freely around there. If you wish to get higher to the top, you can take a cable car from there for £26.91.
Contributed Lori from TravlinMad
The Mediterranean island of Capri in southern Italy is one of the country’s most beautiful destinations. It has an A-list reputation and is the perfect playground for a weekend Italian getaway.
Located off the southern coastline near the Sorrentine peninsula, Capri is only accessible by boat, and ferries arrive daily from Naples, Sorrento and other points along the Amalfi Coast. Many tourists visit for just the day, so the afternoon is when the magic really starts when the tourists begin to leave and the quiet narrow streets are a pleasure to stroll. Shopping is one of the best things to do in Capri — local handicrafts and high-end designer goods are a favourite.
In the morning, grab a cappuccino and pastry in Piazza Umberto, also known as La Piazzetta then get out on or in the water for the day. Depending on the time of year, a boat trip around the island to see the famous grottoes or swimming in the sea is an unforgettable experience. There are several easy day hikes around the island — to Villa Jovis, the ruins of Italy’s Emperor Tiberius’ summer villa, or to any number of trails leading to breathtaking views around every turn.
At night, al fresco dining is enchanting. Ristorante Michel’angelo and Buca di Bacco are favourites for the freshest catch of the day, handmade pasta, and seasonal produce.
The island of Capri is truly one of Italy’s best weekend getaways.
Map of the Best Weekends in Italy
I hope you have enjoyed this tour around the best places to stay in Italy for a weekend and that it has given you some inspiration to plan your next trip to Italy. Let me know in the comments below where you would love to go.
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Larch lives a semi-nomadic life. Her life changed 20 years ago when a silly accident left her with restricted use of her right arm and neck and was told she would never work again. She turned her life around, retrained herself and set up as a self-employed website designer. This allowed her to work wherever she was in the world. Her passion for travel led her to start up her travel blog The Silver Nomad, to inspire over 40s to explore new destinations and expand their horizons. In 2019 Larch qualified as a CAA Drone Pilot which she combines with her travels.