To make a list of unmissable Italian destinations is a tough task. Just sticking to official recognitions, Italy is the country with the most World Heritage Sites, with its 58 UNESCO sites. In spite of this, here are the top eight destinations, holiday season edition:
- Dolomiti: Located in northeastern Italy, the Dolomites are also known as Monti pallidi (Pale Mountains). Their rocks are, indeed, almost white: They perfectly reflect light and have a magical aura. You can practice winter sports or just enjoy the Insta-perfect, glorious scenery.
- Genova: At times overshadowed by the nearby Cinque Terre, the city is, nevertheless, a gem. Strolling around in the very center along its ancient carrugi, where no cars are allowed, feels like a ride on a time machine. And the winter adds charm to the city decadent vibe.
- Toscana: Winter is as close as you can get to a low season in Tuscany. The Tuscan hills are so harmonious that even the winter gloominess can’t spoil the magic. You still won’t be alone in Firenze—or Siena, or Pisa—but at least it won’t be 100°F with 90% humidity!
- Roma: There’s no such thing as a good time to visit Rome. Roma è sempre una buona idea!
- Napoli: Vedi Napoli e poi muori (Once you’ve seen Naples you can die happy), as they say, and there’s no better introduction. Plus, there’s no better place to admire the nativity scene. Local artisans craft elaborate scenes representing traditional characters but also politicians, soccer players, and pop icons, thus making their presepean amazing combination of sacred and profane.
- Sicilia: Travel in winter without traveling in winter. Sicily has an incredible temperate weather, and you can even dip in its wonderful waters. Or you can enjoy art, food, and the legendary hospitality of the locals.
- Puglia: A major tourist destination, and for good reasons. In addition to food, the sea, art, and natural landscapes—all common traits in the Belpaese— the region has some unique features, such as i trulli, traditional dry-stone houses with conical roofs and an amazing coastal line. In Santa Maria di Leuca you can see Mar Adriatico and Mar Ionico literally hugging each other (seriously, you can spot the line where the two seas meet!).
- Molise: The region has only recently started to attract tourists. Molise is tiny and quiet, with no big cities, but it still offers lovely landscapes, picturesque towns, and a breathtaking archipelago, the Tremiti. Il Molise non esiste! (Molise does not exist!) has become a common joke, even among locals. So, go and pay a visit before the secret is disclosed!
By Claudia Quesito