The Siren Song of Seaside Italy is Calling for You
“Savor traditional dishes at a family-run trattoria and linger in the sidewalk cafes of terraced Ravello. Along the way, bathe in the aroma of cliffside lemon groves, rosemary and sweet jasmine. Ah, la dolce vita.”One of the most charming and picturesque destinations in the world, Italy is synonymous with a passion for life, farm-grown cuisine, delicious wine and a remarkably rich history that changed the course of the world. It’s no wonder it continues to top the travel list for so many people. But the Italian coast, with its dramatic, rocky shores, colorful villages and peaceful harbors, will beckon you back time and again.
What could be more heavenly than a string of five candy-colored fishing villages clinging to the serpentine coastline of Italy’s Riviera? Cinque Terre, or Five Lands, continue to beguile even the most jaded travelers. Accessible only by boat, rail and footpath, these seafront towns along the Ligurian Sea simply don’t seem real. Wind your way through the five — Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore — by following cliffside stairways and narrow trails through citrus and olive groves, and passing neatly terraced gardens, hillside grape arbors and medieval hand-cut stone walls.
Venture to the sun-drenched heel of Italy’s “boot” for whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and scenic stretches of Mediterranean coastline. Without the crowds of the more well-known regions, Puglian travelers can explore Monopoli and other nearby cities visiting 18th-century cathedrals and historic harbors, learning about the cultural footprints left by the conquerors of the past. Beyond the cities, Puglia shows off her original, earth-inspired finery. From the ancient Forest of Umbra to the fruitful Valle d’Itria and sun-baked Salento, you’ll find seas of 800-year-old olive groves, country roads and quaint villages.Discover the stone Trulli dwellings of Alberobello, share a farm-fresh lunch and enjoy a refreshing swim in the crystalline water at Porto Badisco.
Circumnavigate the legendary island of Sicily as the royals might, aboard a small luxury yacht. Begin in the fascinating town of Catania, home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Visit Porto Empedocle with some of the best ancient ruins in the entire Mediterranean at Agrigento; the centuries-old city of Syracuse, which Cicero himself called “the most beautiful of all”; the ancient Phoenician salt marshes and gorgeous sea views at Trapani; and the timeless island of Lipari, reachable only by small ship and known for its pastel-colored seafront, Spanish castle and Baroque cathedral.Call on the Maltese capital of Valletta, known as “The Fortress City.” There you can feast on the paintings of Caravaggio in St. John’s Cathedral, the stately Palazzo Parisio, where Maltese knights once gathered. Stroll along shorelines that beg to be photographed. Finally, sail along the stunning Amalfi Coast and marvel at its postcard-perfect views of limestone cliffs and terraced villages spilling into the Mediterranean Sea. Before returning to Rome, spend a day exploring the towns of Amalfi, Positano, or Ravello and toast your good fortune with a glass of the region’s signature limoncello liqueur. Saluti!
In a country of exceptional beauty, Italy’s Amalfi Coast — forming the southern edge of the Sorrentine Peninsula — stands out for its stunning scenery. Soaring rocky cliffs plunge into the sun-dappled Mediterranean Sea, and pastel-colored fishing villages laden with cascading flowers cling to the steep hillsides.Stroll along the Path of the Gods, named for its divine views of Capri and the islets of Sirenuse. The latter are famous for the mythical Sirens that attracted seafarers.Discover the scenic Alta via dei Monti Lattari trail, which winds through a lovely chestnut forest and wildflower field before ending amid dazzling vistas of the Gulf of Salerno.Off the trail, visit the ruinsof Pompeii and the storybook towns of Positano and Ravello. Ride the ferry to the enchant-ing Isle of Capri, to explore the cafés and chic boutiques of its bustling main square, or seek quieter pathways flanked by elegant villas and lush gardens.Walk to the Belvedere delle Noci for spectacular views of offshore rock formations, swim in the island’s aquamarine waters, or tour the cave-studded coastline. Learn the ancient art of paper-making at the Museo della Carta in Amalfi. Savor traditional Neapolitan dishes at a family-run trattoria and linger in the side-walk cafes of terraced Ravello. Along the way, bathe in the aroma of cliffside lemon groves, rosemary and sweet jasmine. Ah, la dolce vita.
How to Explore on Foot
Country Walkers offers multiple guided and self-guided walking tours in Italy including Sicily, Portofino and Cinque Terra, and the Amalfi Coast. For more than 38 years, Country Walkers has provided active, immersive, and unforgettable travel experiences on five continents. They offer two distinct ways to explore: scheduled, small-group Guided Walking Adventures and independent Self-Guided Walking Adventures. On tour, guests enjoy superb local cuisine, first-class guides, fine accommodations, and authentic cultural and natural encounters. Visit countrywalkers.com or call 800-234-6900 for more information.
How to Explore by Bike
If you prefer to stroll through Italy on two wheels, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations has several tours to choose from. Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast cycle tour takes you on coastal roads overlooking the Adriatic Sea to see a different side of Italy. VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations offer more than 55 deluxe, small-group bicycling, walking, and barge & sail vacations in 29 different countries and 10 U.S. states. They are the value leader in active biking vacations and have been rated among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for seven years. Each trip includes all accommodations, many meals, two expert local trip leaders, unique sightseeing and cultural activities, and full van support. Unlike other companies, VBT also includes round-trip international airfare from more than 30 U.S. cities and select Canadian cities for all overseas vacations. Visit vbt.com or call 800-245-3868 for more information.
How to Explore by Cruise
Sicilian Splendors and Tuscany & the Tyrrhenian Sea are just two of the many Italy itineraries Windstar Cruises offers that bring you closer to smaller ports and exclusive local experiences throughout the country. For anyone yearning for a more authentic and intimate travel experience, your ship has arrived. Windstar’s small, elegant ships take you off the beaten path and into unique ports-of-call and hidden harbors, to explore iconic destinations and exotic cultures. Visit windstarcruises.com or call 888-460-5098 for more information.For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Travel Collection and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.