Italy is la dolce vita.

Ahh Italy. We’re fairly certain you already know exactly why this boot-shaped country is heaven in disguise: The food. The culture. The history. The art. The romance. The scenery.

But our favourite memories from Italy are well beyond the reaches of the Colosseum or the canals of Venice.

They’re in the dappled chestnut groves of Emilia Romagna, the rustic villages our feet carried us through on our Via Matildica hike, where salt of the earth people welcomed us with chestnuts, truffles, and delicious meals, and in the medieval porticoes of rust-red Bologna.

They’re in the soaring mountain peaks of South Tyrol and the Dolomites, where alpine lakes dance with rainbows and quaint huts always have a spot by the fire and a hearty hiking meal.

Let’s just say we totally get why Robert Browning once wrote, “open my heart and you will see, graved inside of it, Italy.”

Your Italy and our Italia are not the same thing. Italy is a soft drug peddled in predictable packages, such as hills in the sunset, olive groves, lemon trees, white wine, and raven-haired girls. Italia, on the other hand, is a maze. It’s alluring, but complicated. It’s the kind of place that can have you fuming and then purring in the space of a hundred meters, or in the course of ten minutes. Italy is the only workshop in the world that can turn out both Botticellis and Berlusconis.

Let’s face it, we’ve all dreamt of spending a summer in Italy at some point in time.

There’s the pizza and pasta, the promise of golden Tuscan valleys and rich-bodied wines, the ancient history and the romantic cities; a list of attractions that seems endless.

Do you choose to tread the footsteps of the ancient Romans, or gaze breathlessly at the Sistine Chapel and da Vinci’s The Last Supper? Explore dreamy waterways in Venice or hike through colourful villages in the Cinque Terre? Sip Aperol Spritz in the sun or enjoy the citrusy tang of Limoncello in Sorrento?

But Italy isn’t just colourful medieval streets and culture vulture highlights, oh no. The north is also home to stunning alpine ranges and glacial lakes, mountain huts and epic road trip opportunities.

There’s also that beautifully quintessential Italian way of life. A life where food is family, days are punctuated by coffee stops and flakey brioche, and taking time to enjoy the sweet and simple things is at the core of everyone’s being here.

A trip to Italy really is la dolce vita.


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