Italy — New Travel Landscape Leads to Rediscoveries

To feast your eyes on art created by Italy’s master painters is to succumb to a beauty so enrapturing it leaves you breathless. That same feeling is evoked when one travels through the country that has given birth to these masterpieces—the landscapes, the scents, the sounds, the tastes, the people, the countless hidden gems… it’s all so intoxicating. Now more than ever, in an age when travel has hit the pause button due to COVID, Italy is the ideal place to recommend to clients nostalgic for those trips where lifetime memories are born—when it’s safe, and when they’re ready to once again travel.

Street art, Bologna.

Explore Little Bologna
In today’s travel landscape, travelers are longing to explore less-widely-known paths that lead to magical discoveries, such as the Bolognina (Little Bologna) neighborhood. This lively, eclectic quartieri brims over with urban art, a melting pot vibe—think African, Chinese, and Persian restaurants—and genuine local culture. As one of the city’s most important neighborhoods for street art, recommend clients grab a map and start exploring by foot or bike. Along the way, they’ll also want to stop at the Ustica Memorial Museum, commemorating the 81 victims of the Ustica disaster; the Bologna Shoah Memorial, inviting passers-by to contemplate the tragedy of the Holocaust; and Mercato Albani, originally opened in 1934 and now an intimate food court, offering bars, cafes, and wine shops.

Boccadasse vicoli, Genoa (photo credit: A.Falcone).

Genoa: The Beat of the Sea
With its ancient fishermen villages, secluded beaches and seductive cliffs, travelers visiting the port city of Genoa will find themselves taking a few steps back in time. They’ll be mesmerized by such places as Boccadasse, known for its pastel-colored buildings embracing a little bay, steep stone staircases, narrow lanes and inviting terraces made for sitting back and taking in the panorama. Tell clients not to leave without grabbing a paper bag of fried anchovies that they can eat while sitting on the beach. Other gems? Vernazzola to catch the sunrise, and the city’s promenade, Corso Italia, the place for a Sunday stroll. 

Matera’s culinary delights.

A Taste of Matera
European Capital of Culture. Cave dwellings carved into the mountainside. Delightful culinary treats. To say that Matera will enchant is to put it mildly. Here, it’s a must to wander around the Sassi districts, where cave dwellings topple one over another, and narrow streets lead to lost alleys, forgotten courtyards, silent stairways and timeless squares. Sasso Barisano, to the northwest, is largely made up of palaces and traditional houses, while Sasso Caveoso, to the south, is where one finds cave houses mostly. And for those who want a taste of regional cuisine and wine, this ‘city of stone’ offers up the famed Matera bread, exceptional cheeses, and Crapiata, Matera’s traditional mixed legume soup.

Fontana Pretoria, Palermo.

Palermo: Danisinni’s Cultural Revolution
Where once the neighborhood of Danisinni was given only a sideways glance, this district of Palermo has undergone a cultural revolution, and rightly so as it’s located near the city’s historical center, and a few steps from the Norman Palace and the Palatine Chapel. The revolution has spawned out-of-the-box experiences that bring the whole community and visitors together: a productive farm in the heart of the neighborhood; recreational, artistic and cultural activities carried out with local and international artists; and local cuisine created by the neighborhood’s families. Here, artists will feel an unmistakable hipster vibe.

Sala Camino, All’Oro, Rome.

Fashionable Rome
In Rome, among its baroque palaces, churches and monuments, there are art galleries, gourmet restaurants, fashion boutiques and delicious cafes, and among this treasure trove of delights you’ll find Tridente, the three streets that fan out from Piazza del Popolo and one of the city’s most fashionable areas. Here, a garden delight awaits in Villa Medici; one can hang with the ghosts of 18th-century intellectuals and artists at Caffe Greco; and Imago at the top of the Hotel Hassler awaits for an unforgettable dinner. And for shopaholics? Via di Monserrato is the place to be with such artisanal boutiques as the Maison Halaby.

Basilica della Salute, Venice (photo credit: Gerhard Bögner).

Venice: An Art Treasure
The city’s arts district, Dorsoduro, will leave art aficionados swooning. It’s home to an envious array of great museums, galleries and churches, some of which can be found along the Dorsoduro Museum Mile. Made up of the Gallerie dell’accademia, the Galleria di Palazzo Cini, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and the Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana, it’s a unique cultural itinerary spanning eight centuries of art. For more art discoveries, recommend clients take a peek inside the district’s churches, which hold many of the most significant works of art by Venetian masters from the 16th to the 18th centuries—the Church of San Sebastiano is known as “the temple” of Paolo Caliari, a.k.a. Veronese. Without question, travelers must visit the Basilica della Salute, where, on Nov. 21, they can join in on the Festa della Salute festivities. And when the sun begins to melt into the city’s famed canals, art hounds can head to the bars and restaurants in Campo Santa Margherita.

To learn more, visit the Italian National Tourist Board at italia.it or contact its U.S.  offices: newyork@enit.it; losangeles@enit.it