As an Expat living in Italy it can be all too easy to fall into habits and routines that mean you end up living a very similar life to your life back home! This means that you might be missing out on some of the most magical things about your new home country.
There are so many wonderful things to do in Italy that it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to laying out the very best things to do; but the good news is that no matter what your tastes and interests there’s something just right for you.
Bicycle Tour Of The Tuscan Hills.
Tuscany, one of Italy’s most iconic regions, is the absolute epitome of what it is that makes Italy one of the world’s top tourist destinations. For Expats, the incredible thing about living full time in Italy is that you can take your time and really get to know the country without having to worry about strict itinerary and touring schedules.
This means that you can set aside a few days, or weeks, to get out on a bike and explore the amazing scenery of Tuscany. While you are travelling on your bike, in a group, with your partner, or even on your own, you can get right into the back roads which all the tourists miss!
Surrounded by incredible photo opportunities in the lovely weather you can really enjoy yourself while you tour the region by bike. There’s always restaurants and hotels nearby which you can relax in during the evening, or, if you prefer, you can even camp out under the stars.
Attend An Opera At The Roman Arena In Verona.
The magnificent ancient Roman Arena in Verona is the perfect backdrop for the incredible opera that is performed there. Italy has a wonderful tradition of opera music and when it’s performed in the ancient arena it’s an unforgettable event.
Verona puts on an Opera Festival each year between the 19th June and the 4th of September and hosts the stars of opera as well as up and coming artists who are just beginning to make their mark.
The Roman Arena is ideally located near the city center and so after the show you can walk through the evening streets, stop into a restaurant for a late dinner or pop into a bar for a nightcap.
Experience Siena’s Palio.
Each year, the city of Siena is the host of two spectacular horse races around the central piazza. The races are made up of 10 riders who represent the city’s wards, called ‘contrade’ in Italian, who dress in bright colors and are cheered on by their local supporters.
The race is fast paced and usually lasts less than a few minutes with riders often falling off their horses on the sharp turns! This means that rider less horses often cross the finish line to the whoops and hollers of the crowd.
The first Palio takes place on 2nd July and is known as the ‘Palio di Provenzano’; and is officially a celebration of the patron saint of Siena, the Madonna of Provenzano. The second Palio takes place on 16th August and is called the Palio dell’Assunta and celebrates the Assumption of Mary.
It’s a truly unique experience and as well as the races themselves you can enjoy wandering around the stalls and market places that surround the events.
Walk The Ancient Via Francigena Path In Tuscany.
Medieval Europe was crisscrossed with pilgrims’ paths and one of the most beloved is the Via Francigena. This ancient route leads from Canterbury in England to the holy city of Rome and has been in use for more than 1000 years. One of the most beautiful parts of the route leads through Tuscany where there are 15 stops that are dotted throughout through some of the best scenery in Europe.
There has never been a completely official route however over the years the pilgrims tended to follow similar routes. Slowly these routes became the standard way to go and so today, you can follow the Via Francigena through Tuscany with ease.
You don’t have to walk the whole route and instead you can just walk stretches of the 587 miles of Italian paths. Along the way there are plenty of places to eat or fill up your water bottles; and you can always find places to stay for the night; so you don’t need to bring an entire camping kit!
Tour Ancient Rome.
Rome, the eternal city, is one of the top attractions for tourists who can explore the ancient heritage of the city, visit some of the best art galleries in the world and see some of the most famous paintings and sculptures anywhere on earth.
While you are in Rome you must visit the Colosseum which used to be the venue for the huge Roman Games, which included chariot races, gladiator fights and other spectacles which enthralled the audiences.
The wonders of Rome are not limited to the surface though because under the city are some fascinating sites to see. For instance, the Capuchin Crypt is made up of several small chapels and is situated beneath the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, next to the Piazza Barberini.
The haunting crypt contains the skeletons of nearly 4000 people who are thought to be members of the Capuchin Friars that were buried there as a special honor. The Catholic church has said that the bones on display are not supposed to be frightening or macabre and should instead be understood as a reminder for how quickly life can pass us by.
While you are in Rome, don’t forget that it also has some of the best shopping districts and restaurants in the world so between your site seeing visits to the ancient heritage of the city you can also enjoy the best of the modern world as well!
Walk The Cinque Terre.
The Cinque Terre is made up of 5 small towns on the Italian Riviera that are nestled in the steep rocky slopes of the coast. The stunning little towns are made up of beautifully painted houses, charming fishing harbors and have plenty of hotels and restaurants for tourists.
The towns are connected by roads, boat routes and hiking trails. One of the best ways you can explore this region is to walk between the towns so you can see the countryside, vineyards hugging the slopes and the incredible sea views at your own leisure. The routes are packed with stunning photo opportunities and if you buy some food from one of the local markets or delicatessens you can have a picnic on your way as well.
During the evenings you can stay in a hotel or rent a private room and enjoy the Dolce Vita of the night life in these picturesque towns, while enjoying some of the best seafood and regional cuisine in Italy.
Visit The Uffizi Gallery In Florence.
The incredible Uffizi Gallery is located next to the Piazza della Signoria in Florence and represents the very pinnacle of the Renaissance, containing one of the largest collections of paintings and sculptures of that epic era.
Following the demise of the House of Medici, the family’s huge art collections were donated to the gallery by the last Medici heiress. This was an unusual occurrence during the time and made the Uffizi one of the first modern style museums in the world. The gallery first opened to the public in 1765 and it has grown to be one of the most visited galleries in the country.
You’re unlikely to be able to see the entire gallery in one trip but as an Expat you have a major advantage over the other tourists because you can break up your viewing of the gallery into several visits. While you’re in Florence, you can also experience the incredible Renaissance era architecture that pervades the town and explore the shops, markets and restaurants in the evenings.
Visit The Valley Of Temples And The Acropolis In Sicily.
One of the best kept secrets in Italy is the Valley of Temples, and is one of Sicily’s most interesting cultural attractions; that is ironically not located in a valley, but instead on a high ridge outside of Agrigento. For history buffs and culture vultures the site is a must see and if you want to find out all about the history of the place you can hire a tour guide to lead you around the archeological sites.
The Valley contains the ruins of seven ancient temples that were all built in the Greek Doric style. The seven temples were mostly built in the 5th Century BC, and are called:
Temple of Concordia.
Temple of Juno.
Temple of Hercules.
Temple of Zeus.
Temple of Castor and Pollux.
Temple of Hephaestus.
Temple of Asclepius.
The Valley of the Temples is also home to the tomb of Theron; which is a huge pyramidal structure and was built to commemorate the many Roman troops who were killed during the Second Punic War.
As well as the stunning archeological remains you can also experience the incredible scenery of Sicily and savor the unique culinary heritage of the island while you are staying there.
Take A Boat Trip On The Amalfi Coast.
One of the most enjoyable things that you can do in Italy is to take a boat ride on the beautiful Amalfi Coast. Located in the Gulf of Salerno, on the Southern coast of Italy, you can arrange a day-long boat trip where you’ll sail along the Sorrento Coast.
During your boat trip you can visit the Bay of Leranto which is famous for its thriving marine life; and according to legends is the home of the Sirens who tried to bewitch Ulysses in Homer’s masterpiece, the Odyssey.
Later, the boat will take you to the Li Galli islands where you can relax and enjoy an on board lunch and some local wines. You’ll also have the opportunity to swim in the warm, clear waters before visiting Amalfi itself. You’ll have a few hours to explore before getting back on board the ship to return, visiting the charming bays of Nerano and Crapallo for a quick swim on your way back!
Wine Tour Of Tuscany.
Tuscany is Italy’s favorite region and is best known for its stunning landscapes and medieval hilltop towns, rolling countryside with cypress trees and small traditional farms.
The culinary heritage of Tuscany is second to none but so are its winemaking traditions. The Tuscan landscape is dotted with vineyards, many of which are family run businesses that have been in continuous operation for hundreds of years!
There are several ways that you can take a wine tour of Tuscany. You can go on a coach trip, with a group and guide who will tell you all about the history and quirks of each wine and vineyard. Alternatively, if you want a more luxurious experience, you can go on wine tours where you travel by helicopter between the vineyards! This lets you truly appreciate the scenery of the region in between vineyards and you’ll also be able to visit more places in a single day.
Some of the most famous wines of the region are the Montepulciano wines but don’t be fooled into thinking that the smaller, less well known vintages of wine aren’t superb as well!
Italy Is A Travellers Paradise.
When you are living in Italy you have a unique opportunity to get to know the country and do things which you wouldn’t have enough time for as a tourist on a fleeting visit.
There’s so much to do and experience in Italy, so why not set aside a few weeks to explore the country as often as you can to get as much from your stay as possible?