Like I said last year, these Italy Travel Resolutions are suggestions on destinations, mentalities and experiences to try.
Each year I try to give tips and ideas for your next trip to Italy. To help you learn from my mistakes, or to give a nudge in a more unique direction.
The resolutions are not restricted to any certain year. Rather, they’re designed to be evergreen, rolling over until you have dozens of ways to see Italy and travel in the Bel Paese.
I will go inside
Awash in ancient architecture, it’s easy to spend all day wandering the streets of Italian cities, enjoying the sights and atmosphere of Italy. There is many a small town whose beauty comes from its stonework, its alleyways and incredible views, but I’d caution against only seeing a city from the outside. For 2020 make it a point to actually go in to that tiny chapel, that unmarked courtyard or the storefront whose picture you’ve taken more than once while passing by. Make it a full exploration by actually paying to visit the main sights. Palermo’s Teatro Massimo is gorgeous from the outside, but a tour or a show adds so much more charm. The Colosseum is iconic, but go inside to see the underground and walk the same floors as gladiators. Or, consider Ravenna, which is visited nearly exclusively for what it has inside: world-class mosaics that rival Istanbul and cover the churches, tombs and museum walls of the city.
I will try some of Italy’s more esoteric food
We all love pizza and gelato and lasagna, but the true Mediterranean diet is much, much more varied. Try spaghetti al nero di seppia, blackened by squid ink, or get a panino con la milza (pani câ meusa in the local dialect) from Palermo, Sicily made of boiled and fried veal spleen and lung. The truth is, the classic cucina povera of Italy required a wide palate and the use of all the animal and resources the peninsula had to offer. Did you know that horse meat is still eaten throughout Italy? If that’s to much for you, try some donkey ragù in Verona or Mantova. If you’re shocked, just know that all those delicious salumi you’ve been eating is usually made with a wide mix of pig parts that you might not be so thrilled to know about – but isn’t it delicious! Next trip to Italy, branch out beyond mozzarella and cappuccini to try some of the more, ahem, unique regional dishes.
Find out more about Italy’s Most Esoteric Cuisine
I will visit an island
There’s so much to see in Italy that most people don’t even consider the islands. Of course visiting an island takes a bit more planning, time and probably money, but what a unique Italian trip! Italy has some 50 islands to visit and explore. From entire regions like Sicily or Sardinia to their surrounding archipelagos. Nearly any seaside region of Italy has an island or two dotting its coast. There’s Elba and its archipelago off the coast of Tuscany, Ponza and its archipelago off the coast of Lazio, the Aeolian Islands off of Sicily and the rugged Tremiti Islands off the coast of Puglia. Of course Venice itself is an island, but when you’re there why not ferry over to Murano, Burano or Torcello? And, let’s not forget that even some of Italy’s most famous lakes have islands of their own, like the Isole Borromee in Lago Maggiore, with the beautiful Isola Bella and Isola Madre!
Let me help you: How to Visit the Isole Borromee
I will add on a lunch stop
Most travelers to Italy want to see 100 million destinations but realistically have time to see only four. Actually, it’s one of the biggest travel mistakes many people make when planning a trip to Italy. For those travelers, I’d suggest the strategic lunch stop.
Read: The Joy of a Lunch Stop
This works best when traveling by car but is even possible with certain train routes. Break up your travel day with a stop in a town you’d otherwise wouldn’t have dedicated time to see for lunch. A lunch stop is great for a few reasons. First, you can have a delicious, sit-down meal that allows you to fully enjoy in the local food that is likely different than the food of your final destination. Second, it gives you a rest from long journeys and finally, it gives you the chance to see a new place, albeit briefly. It’s up to you to decide how much time you have to see the town afterward. How big is it? What’s your travel schedule like? Just remember: the small amount you’ll be able to see on a lunch stop is still more than you would have otherwise!
I will go for a hike
I started truly hiking after I moved to Italy, but you don’t have to live here to hike here. Italy is awash in well-organized, easy to navigate trails with plenty of towns and rifugi, or mountain huts, along the way. Not only that, but the views are gorgeous, the landscape is varied and in a country with millions of visitors a year, it still provides paths that are slightly less trod. Of course favorites like the Path of Gods above the Amalfi Coast, the Path of Love in Cinque Terre (still closed as of now) and others in the highly popular Dolomites might still find crowds, but with 24 national parks and even more regional ones, those looking to get off the beaten path can surely do so. Try something new for your Italy trip in 2020: take a hike!
I will check out the modern art also
Italy is obviously a history-buff’s dream, but time didn’t stopped with the ancient Romans or romantic Renaissance-men. Maybe religious Renaissance art isn’t your thing. Maybe you want to see a country that doesn’t just rest on its laurels. Then you should seek out modern art in Italy – there’s plenty of it!
I will reserve meals in advance (in small town Italy)
Learn from my mistakes: make reservations when traveling in small town Italy. Otherwise, you might be waiting until well-into the night to get a bite, any bite, to eat! In big cities like Rome and Milan this is only necessary if you’re determined to eat in a particular restaurant. Otherwise there will always be a table available somewhere. But in the small towns that this blog loves so much that’s not the case. In small and medium towns the restaurants tend to be small – and popular.
You don’t have to be impossibly organized to do this. We typically tour the town in the morning and when we find a promising place, pop inside to book for lunch. Then we know we’re taken care of and already know where the place is as well!
I will expand my wine tastes
Italy is known for its wine, but often that knowledge doesn’t expand past a few Tuscan reds. Though the Tuscan vineyards truly are beautiful and the wine truly is delicious, Italy’s wine culture expands far beyond that one region. Italian wine also comes with a 2,000 year history and deeply ingrained culture. It also comes from throughout the peninsula. All 20 Italian regions produce wine and so many of them are worth tasting. This year I tried to write about the other wine regions of Italy, those beyond Tuscany, in an effort to spread awareness about all the excellent local wines.
Read about a few of the Wine Regions of Italy, Beyond Tuscany
Remember, Tuscany isn’t the only region with royal rolling hills. It’s not the only place with fertile soil and abundant sun. It’s not the only place you can take a tour in a vineyard and enjoy international-famed wines. So in 2020, drink local!
Happy New Year and Happy Italy Travels!
Which one will you try?