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Italy Luxury Travel Guide: Start Planning Your Vacation in "The Boot"

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Italy Luxury Travel Guide: Start Planning Your Vacation in

Room view from Monastero Santa Rosa on Italy's Amalfi Coast.

©Karen Tina Harrison

Thinking about Italy?:

Italy is a time-honored luxury travel destination, promising enchantment to luxury travelers of all stripes. What makes Italy such a tried-and-true luxury travel destination?

Why Vacation in Italy?:

So many good reasons...
  • Italy is beautiful. Everywhere you turn, there's a breathtaking panorama. Have your camera ready for Italy's sights: grapevine-covered, rolling hills; majestic Alps; storybook lakes; picture-perfect cliff villages; yacht-swarmed Mediterranean beaches

  • Italy is versatile. Italy offers big cities, old towns, and lovely villages; 5,000 miles of coastline; and soaring Alpine peaks

  • Italy stirs the soul. Its romance and poetry are matchless. For centuries, visitors have fallen in love with (and in) Italy's castles, villas, and Renaissance town squares

  • Italy intrigues the mind with its classical, art-loving, culture. Italy is the birthplace of European languages, of Baroque music and architecture, of opera, and of naturalistic sculpture and painting. To really know the West's cultural legacy, you must get to know Italy and take in its intoxicating museums and enthralling Roman ruins. (To get to know the mysterious, artistic Etruscan culture conquered by the Romans, you can visit Tarquinia near Rome and its vast Necropoli, or Cities of the Dead

  • Italy's food deli that delights the palate. Italian cucina is the world's best-loved restaurant cuisine, and Italian wine is justly celebrated. SOme towns, like Bologna and Torino, seem to exist for dining pleasure. Everything simply tastes better in Italy

  • Italy improves the wardrobe. The national sport is shopping, and every gathering of Italians is a trend parade. Luxury travelers come to shop in Italy for the latest, hard-to-find designs from Armani, Gucci, Prada, Versace, and many other Italian style icons

Italy Luxury Travel Basics:

  • Location: In Western Europe, on the Mediterranean
  • Flying time: Eight to nine hours from JFK
  • Gateway cities for US travelers: Rome, Milan, Venice
  • Language: Italian; hospitality personnel speak English
  • Currency: Euro
  • Visa? Not required for US citizens
  • Climate: Sunny and Mediterranean in the South; Alpine in the North; rainy in Venice. Rome has very hot, humid summers.
  • Getting Around: Best by Italian trains, fast and scenic
  • Cruises: Italy is Europe's cruise hub. with 43 port cities. Itineraries may cover Italy's coast; the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Capri, Corsica, Malta; France and Spain to the west; or Greece and/or Turkey to the east
  • Dress code: Designer-oriented. Bring showy sunglasses
  • Safety issues: Common sense rules. Keep your cash and valuables where no one can get at them

Italy's Major Luxury Travel Destinations:

Travelers to Italy often combine city visits with regional visits. Italy's big cities are thrilling. But 80% of Italians live in the smaller cities, local towns, and villages, where luxury travelers encounter Italian charm and hospitality.

Italy's Most-Visited Cities:
  • Rome: The long-powerful Imperial city, today a wonder of sightseeing
  • Florence: Italy's treasure house of art, with lovely Tuscan surroundings and fantastic chow
  • Venice: The fabled, romantic city-state built atop water. To Venice partisans, Piazza San Marco is the center of the world
  • Milan: Italy's northern powerhouse, Milan is Italy's business and fashion capital, with incredible shopping, La Scala Opera House, and Il Duomo, the world's biggest Gothic cathedral

Italy's Most-Visited Regions:

  • The Italian Riviera: Near Monaco and France, famed for Portofino and Christopher Columbus's Genoa
  • Tuscany: A forested, aristocratic region that tempts visitors with Florence, Siena, Chianti wine, and relaxed villa rentals
  • The Italian Alps: Renowned for skiing and jet-set hobnobbing
  • Lake Como: A storybook lake that was a getaway of Roman emperors
  • Sicily: The ancestral home of many Italian-Americans is now a luxury travel magnet
  • Torino, Italy's royal city in the Alps, is becoming known as a hip, food-loving, cultural magnet for young travelers

Some of Italy's Top Luxury Hotels:

Give these Italy-Set Films "the Boot":

Italia itself is a main character in these marvelous movies.

  • La Dolce Vita (1960, madcap Rome as seen by director Federico Fellini)
  • Death in Venice (1971 drama directed by Luchino Visconti, an Italian count)
  • Don't Look Now (Nicholas Roeg's 1973 Venice chiller; Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie)
  • A Room With a View (1986 charmer about young Brits on an 1890s Grand Tour of Italy)
  • The Comfort of Strangers (1991, decadent Venice, by mystery master Paul Schrader)
  • Farinelli (1994, about a castrato eunuch singer who was an 18th-century rock star)
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999 crime story starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Italy)
  • I Am Love (2010 drama unmasking Milan's fashion set), with an unforgettable performance by Tilda Swinton

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