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DISCOVER ITALY

Life in Italy in 2022: 10 things to add to your bucket list

There's more of Italy to see and experience than one lifetime could allow. But we can give it a go... The Local brings you the ultimate Italian bucket list. Which will you tick off?

The colours of the Cinque Terre, Liguria, Italy.
The colours of the Cinque Terre, Liguria, Italy. Photo by Sung Jin Cho on Unsplash

When it comes to Italy, there are dozens of items you could throw into your bucket list, but we’ve drilled it down to bring you our top ten things to do in Italy in this life.

Ski in the Italian Alps

A man on Punta Presena, Tonale Pass in Val di Sole near Trento, Italian alps. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)
 
If you find yourself in Italy in the winter months and fancy an adrenaline-pumping experience surrounded by breathtaking views, skiing in the Italian Alps is unmissable.
 
There are slopes suitable for all levels of skier or boarder, whether it’s your first time on the piste or whether those hair-raising black runs are really what make you feel alive.
 
 
Plus, there are plenty of hiking trails that can be accessed even in the winter when you fancy a (relative) rest, making for magical snowy walks that will stay in your memory bank for a lifetime. And as plenty of Italians will tell you, the Italian part of the Alps always comes with world-class cuisine to restore you from all that outdoor excitement.

Climb to the top of St. Mark’s Basilica

St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice is world-famous. But the views from the top give you a unique perspective of the square. Photo by Anna-Philine on Unsplash

Visiting Venice as a whole is on many people’s bucket lists, but once you’re within the lagoon city, there is a plethora of other unforgettable experiences to be had.

There’s no missing the impressive St. Mark’s Basilica that dominates the picture-perfect St. Mark’s Square. But rather than marvel at it from below, head inside and up the stairs to its museum for more than just its interior views and its history.

Once at the top, you can walk out onto the balcony among the famous four bronze horses and gaze out at Venice from an entirely new perspective. St. Mark’s square and all its outdoor tables are laid out in front of you, to one side you see the Torre dell’Orolgio – a Renaissance clock tower – in much closer detail. To the other, you get a different glimpse of the Palazzo Ducale – a gothic palace – with the blue of the Grand Canal beyond.

READ ALSO: 16 surprising facts about Venice to mark 16 centuries of the lagoon city

You’ll also pass the ‘real’ four horses, known as the ‘Triumphal Quadriga’, when you enter through the museum. Some scholars date the originals as far back as the 4th century, while the ones you see outside are copies to preserve the original works.

Hike the Cinque Terre

Photo by The Bored Apeventurer on Unsplash

Without wanting to add to the over-tourism that can sometimes blight this wondrous corner of Italy, the Cinque Terre really are spectacular and something to see at least once in your life.

The path known as the Sentiero Azzurro (the blue path) has to be one of the most beautiful in the world – and it’s one of the area’s easiest too. Stretching 12km, the trail hugs the coast and connects the Cinque Terre (five lands) of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.

As you make your way through the journey, you’re gifted with steep, lush green hills on one side and that turquoise and emerald sea on the other. Multicoloured houses perched in the cliffs dazzle the senses and stun you into silent awe as you crest each hill into another town. There has been talk of charging to access the route in order to better control the amount of tourists and to preserve the area. Perhaps visiting in low-season is one way to sustainably visit this remarkable area.

READ ALSO: The best events and festivals in Italy in 2022

Once you do make it to one of those quaint towns on your hike (and try to count all the colours), a must-try is the local Ligurian pasta speciality of trofie al pesto.

(Don’t) touch Juliette’s boob for luck in Verona

The bronze statue of Juliette Capulet stands near the balcony of her house in central Verona.  AFP PHOTO / Maurizio LAPIRA

Fair Verona, the stage of star-crossed lovers and the setting of William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. 

One of the city’s standout attractions is the 14th century building that is claimed to be Juliette’s house. Regardless of how true this is, the Gothic-style home attracts lovers and heartbroken souls from all over the world, who seek luck and love from Juliette.

Leaving notes on the walls for this member of the Capulet family has since been banned as the city officials attempt to keep the place clean and free of vandalism. But one custom they can’t seem to prevent is the touching of Juliette’s right breast for luck.

TRAVEL: Why Verona should be the next Italian city you visit

In the courtyard stands a bronze statue of the young protagonist, which is looking decidedly shiny thanks to millions of tourists having rubbed her boob while grinning for a photo.

Although there is a sign asking people not to do this, old habits die hard. One saving grace is that this is at least a replica – the original statue is inside the house and cordoned off from the public.

Go wine tasting in Valdobbiadene

Photo by Marika Sartori on Unsplash

Wine tasting in Italy? Not groundbreaking, you may think. But where to go when there are so many vineyards and internationally renowned varieties is the tricky part.

Valdobbiadene is known as the home of prosecco. Beware sparkling wines peddling themselves under this name – it can only be called as such if it comes from the prosecco region – and the hills of Valdobbiadene to the north-east of Venice is where you’ll find it (as well as nearby Conegliano).

READ ALSO:

While the region spans over 500 towns in total, only 15 make the top quality version known as Prosecco Superiore DOCG. This is produced around Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, where complex geology is claimed to produce a more diverse, flavourful taste.

Eat pizza in Naples

Members of the Pizzaioli Acrobats Coldiretti perform “twirling” pizza to celebrate the Unesco decision to make the art of Neapolitan “Pizzaiuolo” an “intangible heritage”, on December 7th, 2017 in Naples. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
 
You’ve never quite tasted pizza like the pizza in Naples, in the south of Italy. Of course, pizza all over Italy is excellent, but here’s where you’ll find the real experience.
 
The art of Neapolitan pizza making – Pizzaiuolo – is a culinary practice that comprises four different phases from preparation of the dough to its baking in a wood-fired oven.
 
 
This became a UNESCO intangible world heritage in 2017, placing Neapolitan pizza among the list of Italy’s other world-recognised cultural customs such as truffle hunting and extraction and Sardinian pastoral songs.

Go diving off the island of Elba

Photo by Paul Cuad on Unsplash

It’s impossible to pick just one out of Italy’s many stunning islands – island hopping through Italy is a bucket list entry in itself.

However, for an experience you’ll treasure always, diving off the coast of Elba is right up there. The Mediterranean isn’t generally known for world-class diving spots, but just off Elba island is a marine park reserve called Pianosa, which is home to an array of sealife thanks to its protected status.

Fishing boats can’t enter this zone and the number of divers per day is restricted with marine park fees applied.

Splash into a zone of tranquility and excitement where the underwater visibility is generally good to excellent and in the right season, you might just spot a whole school of eagle rays elegantly gliding to you in the blue, giving you an awesome display of barrel rolls and play.

Cycle around Lake Garda and Parco Sigurtà

Photo by Elisabetta Falco on Unsplash

Lake Garda does grab the headlines a lot when in reality, we admit there are many stunning lakes in Italy to visit that also maybe carry a lower price tag too.

Still, cycling around Lake Garda and its surrounding areas is an experience Italy lovers should do at least once. You can hire mountain bikes or electric bikes depending on where or how far you want to go.

One striking trail is the route that leads from Peschiera del Garda all the way to the quaint and enchanting little town of Valeggio Sul Mincio. Peace and quiet greet you amid vivacious green landscapes and a pale green river that runs through – and envelops – its buildings.

Relax your legs after the scenic cycle with lunch and a glass of wine on one of the restaurants’ raised platforms while the water flows around you.

And while you’re on your bike, pedal on over to Parco Sigurtà, definitely a green space large enough to be enjoyed on two wheels. Its flower-lined immaculate gardens and stunning water features make for a truly idyllic day out in nature.

Drink espresso at the counter

Photo by Yamil LAGE / AFP

Lingering over a long coffee is not something Italians do. If you really want to live like the locals – even if it’s just while you’re visiting – order your coffee and drink it propped up at the bar.

Mornings in towns and cities are usually a vibrant affair with locals stopping by for a quick shot of espresso before work, which is then repeated after lunch when workers need a pick-me-up to push them through the afternoon’s tasks.

READ ALSO: Where, when and how to drink coffee like an Italian

There are more than a few rules when it comes to drinking coffee in Italy. Milk coffees like a cappuccino or caffè latte, for example, are strictly breakfast drinks to go along with your cornetto or brioche pastry. Order one of these drinks after about 10 or 11am and you might get a very strange look, but you have more of a chance of getting away with it as a foreigner.

Stay in a trullo in Puglia

Photo by Kirsten Velghe on Unsplash

And for a stay that’s definitely going to stand out, spend a night or two in a trullo in the southern region of Puglia.

If chain hotels aren’t your thing and you usually search for places with unique charm, look no further. These almost fairytale houses are traditional stone buildings characteristic of Puglia, characterised by their unusual conical limestone-tiled roof.

Wandering through the streets of these magical buildings alone is a moment to remember.

The Trulli of Alberobello are one of Puglia’s two UNESCO World Heritage sites and many have been converted into properties fit for tourists, some even furnished with pools to help you cool down from that southern sun.

How many of these have you ticked off from your Italian bucket list? Or which ones would you add? Let us know in the comments below!

Member comments

  1. Have managed to tick 5/10 on your list. Would need to have several lifetimes, to see everything beautiful Italy offers. I am missing Italy so much and can’t wait to visit again. Listing 10 is difficult, however, have had a shot at it and had to go to 11.

    MATERA – Get lost in the Escher like Sassi and stay in cave accommodation.

    MT ETNA – Take the cable car, then the 4×4 vehicles to reach 2,900 metres. Have done this twice and the landscape was incredibly different both times, despite it being the same time of the year but a few years apart.

    SCANNO – For their exquisite pieces of unique, handmade jewellery.

    GIARDINO DI NINFA – A huge garden among Mediaeaval ruins, a garden like no other.

    SANTA MARIA CAPUA VETERE AMPHITHEATRE – My personal favourite Roman amphitheatre. Able to roam freely beneath it with the added beauty of no tourists. Also visit the Mithraeum in SMCV.

    ISOLA SAN GIULIO – Incredibly picturesque.

    ALCANTARA RIVER – Take the walk near Francavilla di Sicilia. Lovely path with ruins and lizards.

    CASCATA DELLE MARMORE – Roman made waterfall, arrive in time to see them turned on or stay until they are turned off, we stayed for the latter and it was amazing.

    GIARDINO DEI TAROCCHI – Will delight children, while appealing to the inner child in adults.

    PARCO ARCHEOLOGICO DI SELINUNTE – Incredibly sad history, which is difficult not to reflect on when roaming the ruins. Magical location perched on a hill, overlooking the Mediterranean.

    NAPLES – For a sensational sfogliatella, which has just come out of the oven.

    1. Hi Kris,

      Thank you for your wonderful list. I have taken note and will try to tick those off in this life too! I agree, there is far too much to fit in when it comes to Italy.

      Buona giornata!

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DISCOVER ITALY

What to do in Rome this August

Rome may be emptied of Italians in August, but the city still has plenty to offer.

What to do in Rome this August

August has arrived in Italy, which means chiuso per ferie (closed for the holidays) signs are starting to pop up in the shuttered shopfronts of towns and cities across the country.

Each summer, there’s an annual exodus from urban centres as locals flee their simmering asphalt jungles for the cooler climes of the coast – and Rome’s no exception.

READ ALSO: Ferragosto: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

But if you’ve unwittingly booked your holiday to coincide with the capital’s emptiest and sweatiest season, don’t despair: there’s still plenty going on.

Here are ten things to do in Rome this August.

Go sales shopping

Shopping sales, or saldi, are closely regulated in Italy, with only two big sales allowed per year.

This year’s summer sales season in Lazio, the region where Rome is based, runs until August 15th.

Until then you can browse the sales at your leisure, taking advantage of the lack of other shoppers to snap up items locals have missed.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about sales shopping in Italy

Chill on the Tiber with Lungo Il Tevere

Lungo Il Tevere, a series of summer events and food and drink stalls along the Trastevere section of the River Tiber, runs from mid-June until the end of August every year.

From 7pm each evening you can have an aperitivo or even a meal at one of the pop up restaurants overlooking the river, browse stalls selling clothing and trinkets, and play table football.

Every summer in Rome the Lungo il Tevere festival hosts a series of events and stalls along the River Tiber.
Every summer in Rome the Lungo il Tevere festival hosts a series of events and stalls along the River Tiber. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP.

READ ALSO: What changes about life in Italy in August 2022

From around 9pm until 2am, a nightly events programme kicks off that includes film screenings, discussions, presentations and musical performances.

Outdoor cinema screenings

Many of Rome’s outdoor cinema programmes close at the end of July, but there are a few that run into August. 

One is the Caleidoscopio programme, which is held in an open air ‘cinema’ at Villa Borghese from June 9th to September 19th, including throughout the month of August. Most non-Italian films will be shown in the original language with Italian subtitles.

READ ALSO: The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

Tickets are free, but are first come, first served: to secure a seat, attendees should go to the ticket office within two hours of the film’s start time of 9pm.

Lungo Il Tevere is also screening at least one film a night – some free, others €6 entry – until August 15th.

Make sure you check language restrictions before going – V.O. means the film is in its original language, sott.Eng/ sott.Ita means it has either English or Italian subtitles. Neither means the film is dubbed into Italian or in the original Italian without subtitles.

Day trip to the beach

If the summer heat is getting too much for you, there are several beaches within easy reach of the Italian capital.

Fregene, just 30km from the capital is a popular destination – though you can’t get all the way there by train, and will have to take a bus for the last stretch of the journey if using public transport.

Santa Marinella beach with Santa Severa castle in the distance.
Santa Marinella beach with Santa Severa castle in the distance. Photo by Alessandro Canepa on Unsplash

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

The twin beaches of Santa Severa and Santa Marinella, while a little further out, are both without walking distance of stations that can be reached via a direct train from Rome.

Day trip to a lake

Not such a fan of the seaside? There are plenty of swimming lakes around Rome that can be visited by train for a small day-return fare.

The easiest to access from Rome are Lago di Albano and Lago Bracciano, both a little over one hour from city centre train stations.

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Why now’s the best time to discover Italy’s secret lakes and mountains

Both have shores and lidi that can be accessed via a short journey on foot walking downhill from the nearest train stop. You have the option of paying for a sunbed at a private lido or simply laying down your towel on a free section of the shore.

Outdoor opera at Terme di Caracalla

If you’ve ever dreamt of attending an opera under the stars amongst ancient Roman ruins, now’s your chance.

Every summer sees the Terme di Caracalla thermal baths in Rome host a series of after-dark operatic and ballet performances. The season ends on August 9th, but until then you can catch Carmen, The Barber of Seville, and Notre-Dame de Paris.

Performances start at 9pm. Tickets can be bought here.

READ ALSO: Seven things to do in Italy in summer 2022

Jazz concerts at Casa del Jazz and Castel Sant’Angelo

Summertime 2022 at the Casa del Jazz features a series of outdoor evening concerts in the Villa Osio park. The programme runs until August 7th.

If that’s not enough jazz for you, Castel Sant’Angelo near the Vatican is also putting on ‘Classic Mit Jazz‘ on August 11th – a fusion of jazz and classical music with an ensemble that features a sax and drums as well as a violin and cello. Tickets are €12 full price, €2 for 18-25 year-olds.

Rome's Castel Sant'Angelo hosts a series of summertime events.
Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo hosts a series of summertime events. Photo by Mauricio Artieda on Unsplash 

The event is part of the venue’s ‘Sotto l’Angelo di Castello’ festival of dance, theatre and music performances, which runs until September 25th. 

Go to a museum for free

History and culture buffs who find themselves in Rome on August 7th are in luck: on this date (the first Sunday of the month) the city’s civic museums are open to all for free.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

That means you can visit popular sites like the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the National Museum, Palazzo Barberini, the ancient city of Ostia Antica, the Caracalla and Diocletian thermal baths, and Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este without paying a cent.

A full list of the museums and sites included in the scheme can be accessed here (this is a nationwide initiative involving hundreds of museums all across the country; search ‘Lazio’ to see which venues are included in and around Rome).

Attend a guided tour of the Colosseum under the stars

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night this August (and until the end of October) you can take a nighttime tour of the Colosseum featuring video projections and audio narration.

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Nine tips for making the most of a Rome city break

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The tour lasts one hour, with slots available between 8pm and midnight.

Tickets cost €25 full price and €20 for under-25s, and can be bought here.

Nighttime tours of the Colosseum can be booked Thursday-Saturday throughout August.
Nighttime tours of the Colosseum can be booked Thursday-Saturday throughout August.

Witness a midsummer snowstorm

Every year on August 5th Rome commemorates the ‘miracle of the snow’ outside the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Legend has it that on the night of August 4th in 358 BC, the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream before a noble Roman couple and showed them where to build a church in her honour.

READ ALSO: How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

The next morning the couple related the dream to Pope Liberius, who had had the same vision. He went to the place and found it covered in snow in the middle of summer. Tracing an outline, he demarcated the foundations, and had the church built on that spot at the couple’s expense.

The annual event starts at 9pm, with performances and music set against the backdrop of moving images and light plays projected on the basilica’s facade, and culminates in a midnight ‘snowstorm’ on the piazza outside.

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