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Where to go on holiday in Italy: a complete collection to enjoy unforgettable moments in the Italian territories
 

Don’t miss the opportunity to travel to Italy to experience the wonders it has to offer. Pristine nature, villages, lakes, sunny beaches and a thousand other enchanting places to add to your travel itinerary. Visit new places, cities and explore the magic of many wonderful destinations.

  • Highlights
  • Cities
  • Sites UNESCO
  • Villages
  • Sea
  • Mountains
  • Tourist destinations
Art & Culture

Vernazza

Vernazza, a small village of great wonders A rocky spur reaching out towards the sea, backed by high cliffs and covered with green hills, home to a village of houses and monuments next to the marina. Introducing Vernazza, among the most authentic villages in the Cinque Terre. The small, colourful houses and moored boats, the prickly pears and cultivated terraces create an enchanting landscape. Venture into one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, for an immersive experience in the pristine Mediterranean landscape. Alleyways and stairways In Vernazza, everything centres around the small harbour and the small square behind it, where the locals rent apartments to tourists. The “carruggi”, the narrow alleyways of Ligurian villages, all branch off from here. We highly recommend taking a stroll among the colourful, towering houses, through courtyards, under porticos and loggias (the perfect spot for a cup of coffee), and along Via Roma, an ancient underground river. An unmissable site in this ancient village, which dates back to the year 1000 and was once used by the Romans as a strategic port, is the Church of Santa Maria d'Antiochia: dedicated to the village’s patron saint, it has mullioned windows overlooking the sea and presents a blend of Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic styles. While the Belforte tower acts as a lookout next to the small port, dominating the town from above is Doria Castle, on a dramatic cliff. Be sure to try the local speciality, Tian di Vernazza: baked potatoes and anchovies flavoured with Mediterranean herbs and lemon zest - the land and sea come together in one unique dish. At a slow pace to contemplate the landscape The entire UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cinque Terre is dominated by rock and sea, small bays and inlets, and flourishing vegetation. Nature reigns supreme, so the Cinque Terre National Park ask that you explore respectfully, ideally on foot or by train. It’s well worth spreading out a beach towel on the cliffs to the right of the pier or near the harbour. Then, after enjoying a cool dip, it’s time to put on your hiking shoes. You are sure to enjoy the spectacular trek from Monterosso al Mare or Corniglia, two other villages in the Cinque Terre, located either side of Vernazza. The best route is the famous Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Path), which narrows in some places as it enters the woods, while opening up elsewhere to offer breathtaking glimpses of the sea and towering coastline. This circular trekking route climbs up to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Reggio, with its beautiful Romanesque façade. The forecourt is lined with holm oaks, cedars and horse chestnuts, and providing shade is the oldest cypress tree in Liguria, which has thrived for 800 years and counting. The route continues towards San Bernardino before descending back down to the village, past cultivated fields and vineyards, dry stone walls, fragrant Mediterranean scrubland, streams and springs, well-worn ancient mule tracks shrouded in silence, and crisscrossing houses lost in the wilderness. You will find yourself outside civilisation, inside a natural space that regenerates the body and mind.
Nature

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore, the village on the rooftop of the Cinque Terre Squeezed between two valleys in a panoramic position, Riomaggiore stretches from the Ligurian coast towards the Apennines, clinging to the ridge. It is the first village in the Cinque Terre coming from La Spezia and offers splendid scenery between land and sea: crystal-clear water and cliffs, brightly coloured houses, and paths leading up towards the mountains for a total immersion in the Mediterranean vegetation of the Cinque Terre National Park. Among the carruggi of the historic centre Alleys and steep stairways wind around houses with pastel-coloured plaster and slate roofs, outlining a picturesque village where dazzling light and shadowy corners alternate. The village follows the course of the stream, buried at the end, looking out to sea at the bottom and then climbing symmetrically on both sides of the rise: a perfect "V" drawn on the cliff. In the upper part you can admire the 14th-century Church of St John the Baptist in front of a beautiful square, then climbing further you reach the Castle, a fortress from which you can enjoy a magnificent view of the coastline. To admire the sunset, choose a spot along the wall and wait for the curtain to open on the spectacle of the sun plunging into the water. A stroll through the old town offers pleasant breaks at outdoor tables, where each restaurant offers both land and seafood menus. You must have the famous trofie with pesto, and try the anchovies, generously offered by the sea. When choosing gourmet souvenirs, be sure to include the fine Cinque Terre CDO white wines and TGI reds from the vines cultivated on the terraces, preserved anchovies and fragrant lemon jams. Experiencing the Sea The Riomaggiore beach is in a small inlet, only pebbles and lapped by a perfectly clear sea. There is an organised, and licensed, diving centre in the village: here, in the Marine Protected Area, snorkelling and diving are an authentic experience. You will come across a surprising amount of fish, from groupers to bream and sea bream; further out to sea whales swim. You will discover the varied vegetation on the seabed near the reefs and in some places you will see veritable sea gardens of lush algae species. For a sea trip, boats can be hired, even for large groups, and solo canoes and kayaks can be hired. By land A walk of less than an hour leads to the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Montenero via a forest path and a sequence of steps. And that is the only way to get there, there is no road that can be travelled by car. You are at an altitude of 350 metres at a point where the vegetation thickens and the green stands out against the blue sky in a poetic contrast. The view is one you won't forget. The entire area of the Cinque Terre opens up from up there, including the three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, and on clear days the view flies as far as Corsica. For the more experienced, the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Montenero can be the first stop on a long scenic trek. Just take the Sentiero dell'Infinito from here, which connects Riomaggiore to Portovenere in 12 km. In the Cinque Terre National Park, the territory presents itself in all its magnificence, with ever-changing views. As you walk above the sea, you encounter ancient terraces for the cultivation of vines and olive trees, pleasant vegetable gardens and dense forests: the best of the Mediterranean landscape, which UNESCO has honoured by declaring it a World Heritage Site. Even more challenging is the Monesteroli Steps to reach the tiny village of the same name, which can also be admired from the sea. But it is the 1,200 steps that provide a unique thrill. The coastline follows you in parallel, on what was an old mule track used by farmers to reach the vineyards. A dizzying ascent towards the sky, breathing in the fragrant air: a bouquet of flowers, essences and saltiness.
Art & Culture

Santa Severa

Santa Severa Castle, a piece of history by the sea The castle of Santa Severa dates back to the 14th century, and has the typical fairy-tale silhouette of mediaeval fortresses. It is located in the hamlet of Santa Severa, which belongs to the municipality of Santa Marinella, a few kilometres north of Rome, in Lazio. The castle dominates the landscape between the beach and the sea. With its unique settings, where explorers, merchants and conquerors once stayed, a visit to Santa Severa Castle is a very interesting experience. A lavish past in one of the most evocative places in Lazio The first written documentation on the Castle of Santa Severa dates back to 1068, when it was gifted by Count Gerard of Galeria to the Abbey of Farfa. It then passed into the ownership of Pope Anacletus II in 1130, and in 1482 it was handed over to the Order of the Holy Spirit. It was managed by the latter for five hundred years, until 1980. It takes its name from a young Christian martyr who was killed under Diocletian's empire. The early Christian church that can still be seen in Piazza della Rocca is also dedicated to Santa Severa and her martyrdom. The area now occupied by the Castle is of enormous archaeological significance: in the seventh century BC, Pyrgi, a major maritime port of Etruria and the ancient Etruscan city of Cerveteri, was situated there. The Maritime Museum is dedicated to underwater archaeology Santa Severa Castle houses the Museum of the Sea and Ancient Navigation. The exhibition and educational route is totally dedicated to underwater archaeology and ancient navigation, with interesting artefacts from the Etruscan port of Pyrgi and the nearby depths. A brief leap into history You cannot miss a visit to the mediaeval village of Santa Severa, with its arches and narrow stone streets that tell of the castle's history over the centuries. In the piazzale delle Barrozze, at the heart of the hamlets, stands a two-storey circular fountain, crowned by three large millstones. Heading towards the picturesque Piazza delle due Chiese, you can visit the Church of Santa Maria Assunta and Santa Severa, as well as the Baptistery dedicated to Santa Severa and Santa Lucia. Inside the latter, amidst frescoes from the late 15th century, votive graffiti depicting ships can be seen, which is the work of sailors who passed through the port. A convivial atmosphere and fresh fish abound With its taverns and restaurants, Santa Severa offers somem excellent fresh fish: L'isola del Pescatore (Fisherman's Island) is one of the most popular restaurants and has a view of the castle, but there are plenty of alternatives, all serving the best traditional Mediterranean cuisine and the local catch. For more information castellodisantasevera.it
Relax & Wellness

Arta Terme

Arta Terme, the pearl of Carnia, combining wellness, alpine itineraries and archaic cults A small Friulian town in the province of Udine, 442 metres above sea level, 10 kilometres from the Austrian border and 20 from the Slovenian border: there are many reasons to visit Arta Terme. The town, nestled in the Valle del But that connects Tolmezzo to Austria via the Passo di Monte Croce Carnico pass, has been renowned for its waters since Roman times. The sulphurous water gushes from the Fonte Pudia spring, which has been providing cures and wellbeing for centuries, and has also made Arta a popular spa resort, the perfect place to rejuvenate the body and spirit, and the ideal starting point for walks and hikes among the malghe (shepherd's huts) and mountain huts. The Arta Thermal Baths and its portentous waters, loved by Carducci Enclosed in a green basin, the Arta Thermal Baths are located within a complex, the Water Palace, formed by two connected buildings. The first, dating back to the 1960s and designed by architect Gino Valle, features an oriental-style roof; the second is more recently built. Its rooms invite you to relax among the saunas and Turkish baths or to recharge your batteries under the sensory showers and along the Kneipp path. Surrounding it is a beautiful park where you can enjoy mini-golf, tennis, or freshen up in the swimming pool with hydromassage. A word of advice: don't be put off by the intense sulphurous odour of the waters flowing from Fonte Pudia, whose name originates from the Latin participle putens and alludes to its not particularly pleasant odour, because it is precisely because of the wealth of minerals in its waters that the Arta Thermal Baths are able to offer highly specialised treatment and rehabilitation courses for various ailments, especially those of the airways. In fact, for centuries their medicinal properties have attracted tourists and patients to the Carnic locality: among the most famous personalities is Giosuè Carducci, who dedicated one of his poems, Il comune rustico (The Rustic Municipality), to Arta. Excursions amid history and spectacular views Piano d'Arta, a few kilometres from Arta Terme, is an excellent starting point for a series of walks that will allow you to better discover the area. If you enjoy trekking, the first destination you should tackle is without a doubt Mount Zoncolan, one of Friuli Venezia Giulia's best-known mountain settings, home to a well-known ski resort in winter and criss-crossed in summer by panoramic itineraries, amidst flower-filled pastures, woods and malghe (shepherd's huts). You should not miss, in the vicinity of Arta Terme, the town of Zuglio, the ancient Iulium Carnicum, a flourishing economic and trade centre in Roman times, founded between 58 and 40 B.C., which became a colony in the 1st century A.D.. Close to its Archaeological Museum, you will be able to admire the remains of the Roman forum and artefacts found during archaeological excavations. On the road back to Arta, also worth a visit for its architectural merit is the parish church of San Pietro near Zuglio, a Gothic church built on the site of an earlier Romanesque parish church, the windows of which still survive. Inside, the church preserves a wooden altar by Domenico da Tolmezzo, a masterpiece of Renaissance art, as well as a Baroque organ, and two canvases painted between the 16th and 18th centuries, portraying the conversion of St. Peter and the handing over of the keys to the Saint. Discovering ancient Carnic traditions It is precisely in this parish church that every year, to mark the feast of the Ascension, the so-called Kissing of the Crosses takes place. This is one of the most cherished sacred festivities, dating back to a very ancient cult, probably of mediaeval origin: following a series of paths through the woods, the faithful carry in procession to the parish church of San Pietro the precious astylar crosses, crucifixes for procession placed on a pole, which are stored throughout the year in the churches of the nearby valleys. And if you pass through Arta Terme during the Christmas festivities, as well as visiting the Christmas market, you will be able to experience an ancient Carnic tradition that is celebrated every year, from 26 December until the Epiphany: that of the Stele di Nadal, a procession of believers led by the Three Wise Men who, singing songs and holding a wooden star decorated with coloured paper bows and a lamp in the centre, go from house to house to herald the birth of the Saviour. And at the table, cjarsòns, a dish that is a symbol of Carnic tradition You cannot leave without being enticed by the delights of Friuli's gastronomic tradition. In the local shops you can buy honey, plum and pear distillates, cheeses and, above all, the typical cjarsòns, one of Carnia's signature dishes: handmade agnolotti stuffed with officinal herbs and spices, usually topped with melted butter and smoked ricotta. There is a festival is dedicated to cjarsòns, which is held every year on the first Sunday in August in Arta Terme, in the locality of Val Rivalpo.
Art & Culture
Verrès castle

Castello di Verrès

Verrès Castle: home of a noble leader An imposing monolith in a dominant position on a rock overlooking the ancient village and valley. This is Verrès Castle, a majestic monobloc manor built in the late 14th century by the Challant family, one of the most prestigious in the entire Aosta Valley. All around, the picturesque landscape and unspoilt nature of the lower Aosta Valley bathed by the Dora Baltea. The mule track leading to the manor house As soon as you arrive, you’ll feel projected into a dimension of yesteryear. This is because you must follow a steep mule track to reach Verrès Castle, perched on a rocky spur overlooking the Évançon stream: a ten-minute walk to forget civilisation and immerse yourself in another world. Even from the village of Verrès it’s a 20-minute walk, a recommendable alternative to driving, for intense contact with the landscape. Another famous Aosta Valley castle stands on the other side of the Dora Baltea River, that of Issogne with a very different structure, in an interesting architectural contrast. A revolutionary castle The nobleman Ibleto di Challant started from a pre-existing complex and gave the manor its current appearance, choosing an innovative path compared to the region’s other castles, characterised by several buildings enclosed in a defensive wall. Instead here it is a single compact block, which emphasises the military function and attracts for its power. The refined style of the interiors The interiors are less austere: admire the grand staircase in the courtyard that connects the three floors, the ornamental work on the windows, doors and fireplaces, and the ornate white and green stone details created by the skilled craftsmen of the time. Don’t miss the Hall of Arms and the Dining Room, where you can see the detail of the serving hatch to the master kitchen. The Middle Ages return here in May Verrès Castle hosts the Historical Carnival, a re-enactment of the epic deeds of Countess Catherine of Challant, in a combination of historical events and fascinating legends. Between May and June each year, you can enjoy medieval costume parades, knights' tournaments and dances; a sumptuous banquet is also organised at the castle. Strolling through the centre From the castle, return to the village of Verrès, a small stone jewel whose origins date back to Roman times. Wander through the narrow streets and stairways, reach the small Place René de Challand, then walk along the cobbled street to the Collegiate Church and the Parish Church of Saint-Gilles. Climbing enthusiasts can stop at the climbing gym near the village in Chopine, with diversified walls suitable for everyone, including children. Plunge into nature The Arboretum trail starts from Verrès and goes up towards the entrance of Ayas Valley. The easy nature hike also offers a view of Verrès Castle from afar, so you can fully grasp its strategic and panoramic position on the plain. The route is also called Borna di Laou in patois, meaning Den of the Wolf, because legend has it that the animals built their den here in the 19th century. You won’t encounter any ferocious beasts here today, only beautiful and varied vegetation that the educational signs will help you decipher. The native species include dogwood and hawthorn, followed by ash, chestnut and linden trees and a few rarities considering the area: medlar and laurel. Cycling along the Dora Baltea Verrès is one of the stops of the Via Francigena: a long bike route. Here you pedal between continuous ups and downs mainly on the left bank of the Dorea Baltea, even on short mule tracks, on a route that touches on some of the most beautiful castles in Aosta Valley, including the Fortress of Bard, as well as scenic spots with peaks outlining the mountain skyline. Find out more www.lovevda.it www.carnevaleverres.it
Art & Culture
Ussel castle

Castello di Ussel

The Castle of Ussel: the spectacle of an impregnable fortress As you progress along the steep path, the solemn vision of the Castle of Ussel approaches. And, wow! It is not protected by defensive walls, because the manor already has in itself the absolute character of an impregnable fortress. The stone parallelepiped with its austere lines towers above a rocky promontory, its severe silhouette guarding the towns of Châtillon and Saint-Vincent as far as the valley floor crossed by the Dora Baltea. An amazing sight. On the rock with a dramatic panorama The last 50-metre stretch towards the Castle of Ussel from the plateau below can only be travelled on foot: a slow approach from the access side, while a dizzying precipice opens up on the other side. The manor is a landmark in the history of military architecture in Aosta Valley. In fact, it was the first fort to be built from scratch as a single compact body, by Ebalo II of Challant around 1343. Today it is a perfectly preserved testimony to the last stylistic phase of the medieval castle. Over the centuries, it passed several times from the feudal family of Challant to the Savoy family and was even turned into a prison after the death of the last lord in 1470, only to be completely abandoned a hundred years later. Traces of the monumental floors and fireplaces can be seen inside, and one of the attractions is the ornate mullioned windows, which provide the perfect frame for photographs with the landscape framed by the arches. Don't miss what was once the patrol path, a footpath flanked by battlements only recently made accessible to visitors. From up there, the 360° view of the Châtillon plain is truly breathtaking. The Baron and the Bic pen A more recent, but no less fascinating, story is that of the Castle of Ussel when it was acquired in 1984 by Baron Marcel Bich, whose family was originally from Châtillon. The nobleman was a brilliant entrepreneur; it was he who bought the patent for ballpoint pens from the inventor László József Bíró, and then marketed it worldwide under the name BIC. And he continued his successful climb with the worldwide success of disposable razors and lighters, also of the BIC brand. After purchasing the fortress, the baron donated it to the Aosta Valley region, with the stipulation that the institutions would undertake to restore and open the Castle of Ussel to the public. This happened right on time, with a grand opening in 1998. Since then, the fort has become an exhibition space for temporary exhibitions, the first of which was naturally dedicated to the donor and his BICs. Horseback riding around the manor Are you ready for an unusual experience? The Castle of Ussel and its surroundings can be visited while riding magnificent horses. It is a two-and-a-half hour group tour with an equestrian guide, suitable for everyone with the only restriction being age: those under 14 will have to wait a little longer. Horseback riding is a slow and sustainable way of exploring the territory. Forget the car and test yourself with a few trots. The fort stands before you in all its magnificence, with its almost menacing stone, its two turrets, the living rock on which it literally stands anchored. The rest is landscape as you pass through a beautiful part of Aosta Valley, the nearby Saint-Vincent and the surrounding forests; cross ancient mule tracks and encounter tiny mountain villages where ancient ovens are still standing. Find out more www.lovevda.it www.beniculturali.it/evento/visite-guidate-al-castello-di-ussel. www.cavalloenatura.com