Solo Inspired: 15 Top Things To Do In Italy
When it comes to things to do in Italy, the options seem endless. My list of best things to do in Italy are solo inspired; just some of my favourite experiences in Italy that have left unfading memories. When you’re planning a trip to Italy the one thing to remember is a ‘less is more approach’ may be the best way to enjoy your travels. So much of the enjoyment of touring Italy is about soaking up the atmosphere, and having the time to enjoy the simple Italian pleasures; the food, the drink, and watching the world go by.
I’ve started off with the simplest of the best things to do in Italy, from sipping on a drink to eating gelato - they're some of my first memories when I think of Italy.
#1 SIP LIMONCELLO
Starting with the simplest of the best experiences in Italy, sipping Limoncello, on the Amalfi Coast, as the afternoon sun goes down and the twilight hits the water. There’s no better place to enjoy it, than the Amalfi Coast, the home of Limoncello. A lemon liqueur, with a zesty and sweet flavour enjoyed as an aperitif or ending a meal. The idea is to sip. But too many zips and you may have an Italian headache to match the next day.
#2 EAT GELATO
No visit to Italy would be complete without enjoying a gelato. I like to live by the motto, ‘a gelato a day keeps the doctor away’ on visits to Italy. And why not? It’s a part of soaking up the Italian food culture, and they’re incredibly hard to resist.
#3 WALK THE CINQUE TERRE
A superb day trip from a stay in La Spezia, Cinque Terre (Five Lands), a UNESCO World site, made up of five villages, each one of them oozing charm. From La Spezia there’s the option to take the train to reach Cinque Terre, arriving to walk around the postcard pretty villages. There's also the option to return by boat after the walk (which is spectacular) or you can choose to walk further to more of the five villages and return by train to La Spezia. For the adventurous there is a hill side track which leads from one village to another.
#4 EXPERIENCE THE BEST OF ITALIAN DINING
There’s no shortage of superb dining in Italy. If you’re seeking out the best Italian restaurants, Trip Advisor or Google searches are a handy place to start. Even better, on the best Italy tours, you’ve got the option to ask your guide for the local insights of where Italians love to dine – not just the tourist spots. I’ve made the dining a feature of our Italian Splendour solo travel tour, from regional dining, local good eats, to including a ‘Michelin plated’ restaurant in the hilltop town of Assisi.
#5 VISIT POMPEII
Pompeii is one of my most vivid, and lasting memories. The impression you get from a visit for the scale of this volcanic disaster is what defines a visit to Pompeii, the town that was buried by an eruption of Mt Vesuvius in AD79. Top tips – make it a guided tour to get a full impression of this site, and take a hat and water, there’s little sun protection if it’s a hot day. I visited on a very miserable rainy day – turned out it was in my favour, as I almost had the site to myself, with very few other visitors.
#6 VISIT THE SMALLER TOWNS OF AMALFI
If you’re touring, give yourself time on the Amalfi Coast. I recommend a three night stay, and not less, to allow enough time for visits to the smaller villages along the coast, like Ravello and of course Positano. Positano is the more popular of the villages visited by tourists. However, Ravello, it’s a bit more of a hidden gem, perched on a hilltop with some sweeping views. It’s a pedestrian village, easily discovered on foot and wonderful for some solo travels, meandering around enjoying the picturesque setting.
#7 TAKE A PIZZA CLASS
Hand picked as one of the best interactive experiences, you’ll have a blast with a fabulous cooking class we include on the Amalfi Coast – a two hour hands-on cooking class. And after, enjoy what you’ve prepared with wine, and of course limoncello!
#8 TIME IN ASSISI
A charming hilltop town of Umbria. Don’t rush a stay in Assisi, plan more than a night so you have time to wander the cobble stoned streets of this hilltop town.
#9 TAKE GUIDED TOURS
Some of the best places to visit in Italy are best enjoyed with a guided tour. It’s not just because Italy has so many incredible stories and history. A main reason is because these favourite sights are on everyone’s else list of places to visit, and the last thing you want is a memory of standing in queues waiting to purchase tickets, and then waiting to enter sights, just to find that you learn little about what you’ve seen and out of energy after prolonged queue waiting. So, if you’ve got some independent travel plans to see some popular sights, pre book a guided tour. Standing in a queue can be particularly dull when you travel solo. When on tour with us, of course it’s included and pre booked.
#10 STOP AT SMALLER TOWNS
From Assisi to Florence, it’s not a long drive, and the ideal detour is a visit to the majestic medieval walled town of San Gimignano. It has retained all its old streets, its walls, gates and palaces. San Gimignano is best explored on foot, discovering this very charming town with its squares and winding streets. It’s just an extra thirty minutes on travel time between Assisi to Florence and it’s likely to be a highlight memory of your solo travels in Italy.
#11 ISLANDS OF LAKE MAGGIORE
There’s beautiful spots to stay around Italy’s northern lakes region and Lake Maggiore is a highlight. While visiting you must experience the islands of the lake. We feature a three island guided visit on our solo travel tour - Isola Madre being the largest of the Borromeo Islands and Isola Bella. And, also enjoying a highlight lunch at a fabulous restaurant on Isola Superiore di Pescatori, the third of the three islands. Isola Superiore di Pescatori is renowned as a quaint village with its narrow and cobbled streets, pretty harbour and charming homes.
#12 BEYOND VENICE
Venice, it’s amazing. I’ve spent more than a week exploring Venice and surrounds. Don’t limit yourself to Venice Island. With free time in Venice it’s easy to reach the nearby Murano Island by boat, famous for being the world’s leader in glass blowing with traditional skills used to manufacture all kinds of glassware and products. You can book a tour with one of the glass factories with the boat transport organised, or take the water taxi to explore as you wish. Tip - if shopping – look for the Murano glass trademark so you know what you’re buying is authentic and from Murano.
#13 ISLE OF CAPRI
Keep a day free for a boat trip to the Isle of Capri, off the Amalfi Coast. You’ll want to include a visit to the Blue Grotto and the town of Ana Capri. Sure, it’s a busy destination for tourists, however it’s all the character of the Amalfi Coast and a lovely day’s trip.
#14 A TUSCAN LUNCH
I love the movie ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’, the scenery of the movie, and the setting is a beautiful insight into the Tuscany region of Italy. I was inspired by the movie to include this highlight lunch as it features the joy of dining Italian style; relaxed, with friends and family, with home cooked food. On our way from Florence, the Tuscan capital, to La Spezia our solo travel tour, makes a special stop for a Tuscan lunch at a Tuscan farm and winery in Montecarlo.
#15 VINEGAR TASTINGS
The regions famous for balsamic vinegar are Bologna, Modena, and Reggio. On the way to Venice, from the direction of La Spezia or Florence, a stop in Bologna is a foodies delight. While you wander the streets of Bologna you can seek out the local balsamic vinegars. And maybe a destination more well known by visitors is Modena, with many Modena vinegars on the shelves in our supermarkets and delis. Our solo travel tour of Italy includes a stop for vinegar tastings in Modena, not far out from Bologna where we also stop to enjoy this city of food delights.
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