If you are travelling to Italy in 2019, here are a few ideas of the moment. Places where you can savour the rich culture of the peninsula and immerse yourself in the area’s natural beauty. Buon viaggio!
Italy has so much to offer the visitor in the way of art that people often don’t realise just how varied its landscapes are. So why not spend your holiday exploring some of Italy’s natural parks? It’s a perfect way to enjoy the changing scenery and appreciate its unique environmental heritage.
If it’s a culture-trip you’re after, you’ll be interested to know that this year marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death. What better excuse to admire his works and awe at his futuristic inventions in his hometown Vinci? Alternatively head to Matera, a remarkable and quite otherworldly town chosen as European Capital of Culture for 2019.
Best places to visit in Italy in 2019
Matera, Capital of Culture 2019
Matera is the main city of the remote southern region of Basilicata, and a hot spot this year in Italy. Perched on the edge of a deep ravine, and surrounded by an arid lunar landscape, in the last few years it has been put firmly on the tourist map and its popularity is only going to increase, with its role as European Capital of Culture for 2019 (see full program on the official site).
The town is well-known for its ‘sassi’, ancient caves excavated inside the rocky hill where the inhabitants of Matera used to live until the 1950s. Today some have been converted into accommodation for the more intrepid tourists.
Matera is an unforgettable sight. In 1993 the town was made a UNESCO World Heritage site, for being “the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region”. A visit takes in the ancient dwellings and the ‘chiese rupestri‘ (rock-cut churches) and the old part of town, the upper district, with some beautiful churches and museums where you can immerse yourself in its history and rich traditions.
You can enjoy a private Tour of the Matera Sassi with a local guide, to explore and marvel at the labyrinth of caves and rock-hewn churches. Or join a Matera Walking Tour that gives an introduction to this extraordinary town.
Vinci and Leonardo’s top sites in Italy
This year, Italy and Europe celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, and you could do worse than spending your holidays celebrating his genius.
You should start in Vinci, a hilltop town in central Tuscany where the Leonardo was born in 1452. Here you can explore the fascinating museum dedicated to his many-sided inventions and the house he was born in. Get tickets here.
Viator offers various Tours dedicated to Leonardo, including a full day Tour of his hometown Vinci.
Check out our detailed Leonardo itinerary in Florence & Tuscany.
Then it’s time to head to Milan where you can see the world-famous Last Supper fresco at the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent. You can join this popular Milan Walking Tour that includes the tickets to see the Last Supper and skip the line.
Leonardo worked for Ludovico Sforza in Milan for many years, and among his many projects, he planned the colossal equestrian statue, that was never finished. It would have been destined for Palazzo Sforzesco, and today you can admire the reconstruction of this legendary statue outside Milan’s ippodromo. Unfortunately, you can’t browse his manuscripts guarded in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, but in the Museo della Scienza e Tecnologia in Milan you can see models of his machines that have been built from his designs.
The last stop is Rome, at the Pinacoteca Vaticana. Here you can feast your eyes on one of Leonardo’s astonishing paintings, “San Girolamo Penitente”, which perfectly represents his mature style and mood.
Get off the beaten track! Check out these 3 Small towns in Italy you’ve never heard of.
Explore one of Italy’s Natural Parks
When people think of Italy, people often imagine art cities like Rome, Florence and Venice. But the country also has a diverse range of landscapes and some very beautiful and dramatic national parks.
The Gran Paradiso in Val d’Aosta and Piedmont is Italy’s foremost national Park, created in 1922 from former hunting grounds belonging to the House of Savoy, that ruled over the unified Italy until 1946. It’s mainly a summer destination loved by hikers and walkers that can enjoy its unspoiled mountain scenery, plunging waterfalls, endless valleys and rare wildlife.
Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio – Italy’s largest national park is the gateway from Lombardy to the breathtaking Dolomites, stretching into Trentino Alto Adige. The tallest mountain measures 3,900 meters. You find forests, glaciers, stunning mountain lakes. See more on the official site.
The Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise is one of Europe’s most important nature reserves. It has a rich landscape of high peaks, thick forests, rivers and lakes, and it’s home to hundreds of species of birds, including the golden eagle, various mammals and reptiles. With its vast and extensive network of paths, hiking and trekking opportunities abound. Check out details on the official site.
Disclaimer: Our site contains affiliate links, and when you book one of the sponsored tours or hotels, we get a small percentage, at no additional cost to you! This helps keep the site going, thank you 🙂