Asked to think of Italy and you might conjure up ideas of long, leisurely lunches with endless glasses of fine wine and fantastic food. It’s true that Italians are world famous for how long they spend over the midday meal that sees the rest of the world wolfing down a sandwich at our desks, too busy to take a break from our hectic lifestyles.
And though a leisurely pace is characteristic of the Italian way of life, anyone who has ever travelled to Italy will realise that the locals are equally capable of being chaotic and frenzied. Rome especially, as well as being an epicentre of culture, art and history, is an often terrifying menagerie of speeding scooters, cars blasting their horns and hearty Italians screaming at each other about anything and everything.
Though the energy and vitality of Italy are part of the countries endless charm, if your desire is to experience the quieter side to Italy and to enjoy a few leisurely lunches of your own, this guide is intended to help you discover a relaxing Italy.
Abandon the City
Any city in the world is a bustling environment, and whether you’re travelling in Europe, Asia or the Americas, you’d be hard pushed to find a quiet shady spot to relax and unwind in the city centre. Italy provides no exception, and with its cities characteristically made up of small, winding, cobbled streets and alleyways, exploring somewhere like Rome or Venice is often a bewildering and chaotic experience.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Any Italian will tell you that if they have the chance, they’ll abandon the bustling cities in the summer months for some relaxation in the countryside. Lake Garda in Northern Italy is a popular destination for Italian and international travellers alike, attracted by the cooler climate, outstanding beauty of the natural landscape and even the possibility of bumping into George Clooney who owns a house (more of a castle really) nearby. Despite the popularity of the area with travellers, the quaint towns which line the shores of the lake maintain a tranquil and peaceful feel even during high season and make the perfect spot for a relaxing getaway.
When you’re determined that your holiday should proceed at a leisurely pace, there is no better substitute than setting that pace yourself. Cycling holidays in Italy, like those offered by Saddle Skedaddle, are a great way of exploring Italy at your own speed. Better still, opt for a self-guided tour that leaves the pace entirely up to you. Choosing to cycle means that you’ll experience the tranquillity of Italy’s quiet roads, discover breath taking views and scenery and get the chance to explore places off the beaten track that travellers rarely get to see.
Travel outside of the summer
Italy is a beautiful country to explore, whatever the weather, and nobody would suggest that you should avoid travelling to Italy during the summer months. However, if you’re set on heading to Italy for your next holiday and you enjoy a more relaxed pace, travelling outside of high season will guarantee that your holiday is leisurely and relaxing.
Rome is especially wonderful during the autumn months, when the city relaxes after the intensity of summer. Visit the Villa Borghese to admire the coppery autumn colours of the changing leaves and wander the quietened streets, taking the time to admire all of the amazing sites that are congested with tourists during the summer months.
British Airways offer flights to Rome from London-Gatwick from as little as £39 one-way and accommodation outside of the high season will be considerably cheaper. In fact, you’re search for a laid back holiday will often save you a considerable amount of money.
Italy’s wonderfully rich culture can still be enjoyed outside of the peak season or by choosing to visit a destination outside of the country’s vibrant cities, satisfying travellers in search of the relaxing and peaceful side to Italian life. Following these few pieces of simple advice will ensure that you make the most of your time in Italy, at your own relaxed pace.