Stylish, beautiful, romantic and sunny, Italy hits all the right buttons for a holiday destination. Brimming over with art treasures, culinary traditions, dramatic scenery and warm sunshine, Italy is the place to savour simple pleasures. Italians call it 'la dolce vita' or 'the sweet life' for a reason.
From the majestic rolling hills of Tuscany and Umbria in the north to the warm, golden sands and azure sea of Sardinia, Sicily and Puglia in the south, Italy's timeless, untouched landscapes provide a rich variety of scenic settings for your holiday.
Each region of Italy has its own unique charms and 'must do' experiences. Feel the thrill of trekking across volcanoes or discovering ancient, archaeological sites in Sicily. Unwind on the white, sandy beaches of Sardinia or Puglia. Sip delicious wine from the verdant slopes of Tuscany and Umbria. Ride a Vespa through the narrow streets of medieval hill towns or handsome cities. Pause for a generous scoop or two of cool gelato or cup of rich espresso coffee.
Above all, when in Italy, do as the Italians do. Take a break and simply unwind in the comfort of good company. Tuck into a freshly baked pizza or tasty bowl of pasta then drift into a welcome siesta.
When to go to Italy
If you are planning a villa holiday in Italy, why not go when the weather is at its best so that you enjoy your Italy villa with private pool to the full? The further south you go, the warmer the weather is and the longer the summers last.
By mid-May, most of Italy is warm enough for enjoying al fresco meals. With temperatures in the 20s, it is ideal for site seeing and admiring the countryside in full bloom. Further south in Sicily, Sardinia and Puglia, the temperature is higher still. By June, all of Italy is beautifully warm and sunny.
July and August are Italy's hottest months with temperatures in the upper 20s to 30s. Be sure to have a villa with a pool or beach nearby for cooling off during the day.
By the end of September temperatures are starting to cool in Tuscany and Umbria. Further south, the warm, summer weather continues right through October. It is still warm enough to swim in the sea in Sicily in early November!
How to get to Italy
Many airlines fly direct to Italy from regional and London airports, so you have a good choice. Check prices and timings carefully before you book to ensure you have the best value, the most convenient and the flights which coincide with our standard tenancy times. You should aim to arrive at your villa in the afternoon of your first day and leave in the morning on your final day.
For villas with a private pool in Umbria and for a villa holiday in Tuscany, check flights to Rome, Pisa, Florence and Bologna. Sardinia has three airports in Olbia, Alghero and Cagliari. Fly to Catania or Palermo in Sicily. For villa holidays in Puglia, the airports are Bari and Brindisi.
Which region of Italy is best for you?
Puglia is the sunny, southern heel of Italy's boot. It is the land of beautiful beaches, delicious food, white towns and ancient olive groves stretching into the distance. It is such a heavenly setting for a laid-back holiday.
Fly to the bustling coastal cities of Bari or Brindisi for our villas nearby or up to the hill town of Ostuni, nestled in the green hills of the Valle D'Itria. Our other villas are scattered through Salento, southern Puglia, by the villages of Casarano, Grottaglie, Castro and Santa Maria di Leuca at the southernmost tip. Here the land is flatter, punctuated by untouched olive groves and vineyards.
Visit Lecce, one of the loveliest cities in Italy, situated in the heart of Salento. Its historic centre overflows in ornate baroque architecture, Roman ruins, pretty boutiques and elegant piazzas.
Spend hot, summer days at the beach for sand castles and cooling dips in the sea. You can easily reach both the Adriatic and Ionian coasts wherever you are in Salento. Find quiet coves or family friendly, sandy stretches such as the Alimini Lakes or Torre dell'Orso.
Do as the locals do and head out in the evening for a scenic stroll, drink or meal together by the sea. Be sure to try fresh sea urchins, a local speciality best served with a glass of Salento’s Primitivo wine. For lively nightlife, check out the coastal bars and clubs by Otranto or Gallipoli.
Choose a holiday villa in Sicily for an unforgettable break. The largest and most diverse island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has a distinctive style with so much to offer holidaymakers of all ages.
Firstly, the climate is idyllic. Sicily is blessed with warm sunshine for most of the year so ideal for those escaping colder climes. Secondly, there is always a beach nearby for a refreshing sea swim. Beach lovers have a choice of sandy stretches to more intimate coves reached only by boat. Some are bubbling with life, beach bars and watersports while others are hidden in dunes on the edge of nature reserves rich in wildlife, such as Lo Zingaro in the west or Vendicari in the east of the island.
Thirdly, the landscape is stunning and varied. Scenic olive groves, vineyards and salt pans cover vast stretches. Then there are the incredible mountain ranges and active volcanoes to explore. They are seriously impressive. Vast Mount Etna dominates the north east of the island and its lava flows regularly light up the night sky. Trek across its surrounding parkland or ski if there is snow! Take a boat to the Aeolian islands for the active volcanoes of Stromboli and Vulcano then bathe in therapeutic, thermal mud baths and springs.
Lastly, Italy's colourful past has left its indelible mark on Sicily. Explore its fascinating history woven into the landscape, buildings and cuisine. The beautiful city of Syracuse is a great place to soak it all up. Here you find a treasure trove of artefacts and buildings, as well as fine dining, arty boutiques and beautiful beaches. From the majestic Greek temples of Agrigento to the Roman ruins of Selinunte and chic Taormina, you can visit a different and fascinating site every day of the year in Sicily.
Choose Sardinia for your villa holiday and it won't be the last, such is the island’s allure.
For beach lovers it is a paradise. Spend your days luxuriating on white sandy beaches and taking dips in its turquoise waters.
If you love active hikes, then Sardinia's mountainous interior will give you a vast expanse of forests and wilderness to explore. Then there are Sardinia's fascinating 'nuraghi' to discover, the Bronze Age stone dwellings scattered throughout the island.
The Costa Smerelda in northeast Sardinia is one of the best known and striking coastlines. The glamourous resort of Porto Cervo is a magnet for the gliterrati, drawn to its heavenly shores. Take a walk along the marina to admire yachts, shop in designer boutiques and dine in style.
Access the highlights of Sardinia when you stay in a luxury villa with a pool in the nearby resort of Baia Sardinia further along the coast. Enjoy an array of incredible beaches for beach activities, sun-bathing and water sports. Take a boat to the islands of la Maddalena for diving or snorkelling in its clear waters. Eat out at beachside restaurants and enjoy panoramic views across the sea.
Choose the south of the island for its inviting white beaches, coastal eateries and our villas in the scenic hills above Torre delle Stelle or Flumini. For city buzz, shops and restaurants don't miss a day in nearby Cagliari, Sardinia's magnificent capital city.
Tuscany has a timeless appeal as a holiday destination and a legion of fans. Once you taste Tuscany's delicious food and wine, explore its scenic landscapes and discover its artistic treasures you will no doubt rave about Tuscany too! Pick a few highlights and dive in.
When in Tuscany, don't miss a visit to the magnificent city of Florence. Follow in the steps of the Medici and stroll through its historic centre and galleries to admire the incredible Renaissance architecture and sculpture on display, from the Duomo to the Uffizi, then across the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge.
Of course, you must visit Pisa too, if only to see the famous leaning tower with your own eyes. For more Tuscan city wonders, head to elegant Siena and Arezzo, famous for their beautifully preserved central piazzas, ancient buildings and artworks. Here you find the perfect setting for a cooling drink or two at one of the many outside bars and restaurants.
The sublime surrounding countryside of Chianti (near Florence) and the Val D'Orcia (south of Siena), is straight out of a Leonardo da Vinci landscape. The hills of vineyards and olive groves with picturesque medieval hill-top villages and spa towns is a feast for the eyes. This is the place to try the local vino and relax in natural springs while admiring the view.
After site seeing, the beach beckons for fun in the sand and a refreshing dip in the sea. Our holiday homes near the beautiful city of Grossetto give you easy access to the Tuscan coastline for an array of inviting beaches and coastal eateries. For a real change of scene, head over to the island of Elba for crystal clear waters and laid-back charm.
You barely notice the difference when you cross the border from Tuscany to Umbria. The countryside in Umbria looks just as gorgeous. Its cities and hill towns are as impressive. What is different is Umbria's lack of international fame, its incredible areas of natural beauty and abundance of wildlife. Umbria is a dream setting if you love rural tranquillity and yearn for a slice of authentic Italy.
Stay in a villa near the enchanting hill town of Orvieto and you have the best of both worlds. Explore the area by car or bike and you are rewarded with stunning views of sublime rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves. Follow the cobbled streets of Orvieto's historic centre to find pretty shops, bars, restaurants and an imposing 14th century cathedral at its centre. Be sure to order a bottle of local Orvieto wine when you dine out here as it is delicious!
For national parkland, lakes and waterfalls, choose a villa near the handsome town of Terni. Situated on a river with the Parco Fluviale del Nera and Lago di Piediluco nearby, it is a fantastic, natural setting for exploring and unwinding. For a more cosmopolitan city experience, head to the capital of Perugia with its university scene, picturesque medieval historic centre and buzzing bars.
How is the food and wine in Italy?
Food shopping in Italy
Staying in a villa in Italy is an opportunity to eat and cook together at home in true Italian style. With a great variety of fresh produce and mouth-watering treats on offer in Italy, it is easy to knock up a delicious feast to enjoy on the terrace with a bottle or two of local vino. From sizzling barbecues and pizzas to sweet fruits and pastries, it is easy to prepare and it is appealing for all ages.
Head to your local supermarket to stock up on your family's favourite supplies or try smaller shops for local specialities. You find a 'salumeria' or delicatessen in every town and village, brimming with traditional cheeses and cured meats as well as artisan pasta, sauces, olive oil and bread. Some may even offer you a sample taste before you buy. If you are planning a day on the beach or exploring the countryside, be sure to stop at the salumeria for your picnic.
Your local 'pasticceria' is not to be missed. In fact it is a holiday pilgrimage in Italy! Home to exquisite fresh cakes and pastries, each one is hand-made and unique to each season, festival, region, town or village. In Sicily one of the many traditional cakes to try is ricotta stuffed 'cannoli' with pistachio while a 'bombolini' is the tastiest choice at carnival time in Tuscany. Take the plunge and order a tray of the most appealing pastries and cakes to share at home. You won't be disappointed!
Eating out in Italy
Eating out with friends and family is a key part of living 'la dolce vita'. Whether it is an informal pizza or more of a culinary feast, it is always delicious and made in traditional Italian style, with recipes passed down through generations.
The sweet smell of coffee fills the air from dawn to dusk in Italy. Follow the scent to your local bar and join the locals for a warming breakfast of cappuccino or espresso with a freshly baked pastry. In the early evening, try a tasty local tipple or 'aperitivo' while watching the world go by.
Restaurants range in style and price so there is always a place to suit your mood and occasion. Choose a pizzeria, trattoria or osteria for good value, traditional dishes while a ristorante is a more sophisticated option. Go for the places which are full of locals eating happily for the best quality produce and welcome. Buon appetito!