From the lakes to the mountains and the cities to the sea, Italy offers an immense variety of landscapes and experiences for travelers to enjoy. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-packed vacation or tranquil retreat, a vibrant city experience or cultural immersion, this is your guide to some elevated unique and lesser-known experiences in the bel paese.

shutterstockeditorial308431820.jpg
Put on your walking shoes for a truffle hunt in the forests of Piedmont © Maurizio Milanesio / Shutterstock

Food & Drink

Italy is well known for its cuisine and artisanal food traditions, and visitors can get an insider look at how some of the finest food products are sourced or created. Put on your walking shoes for a truffle hunt in the forests of Piedmont. Following specially trained truffle-hunting dogs, you’ll follow in the footsteps of those who have done this for centuries.

For oenophiles, visit the wineries of Tuscany for a wine tasting straight from the barrel. If you’re looking for a more hands-on experience, take a guided tour of Venice’s Rialto Market and pick up some fresh-from-the-lagoon fish and vegetables for a cooking class.

Make it happen: Lufthansa flights to Turin, Florence and Venice are the perfect way to reach the best of Italy’s famous food and drink scene.

Herculaneum-Photo-by-Katryna-Snow1.jpg
For an elevated walk through history, explore the ancient streets of Herculaneum touring villas and Roman baths, admiring frescoes and mosaics © Katryna Snow / Lonely Planet

History

Every corner of Italy has a rich and complex history, and depending on your interests you can explore sites from the Romans to the Renaissance. For a special experience in one of the world’s most famous museums, consider taking a private after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums, or even register for a tour following the Vatican’s Key Master as they unlock the galleries of the museum in the morning.

If you love Roman history, the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum, near Naples, is not to be missed. The eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD (the same eruption that destroyed Pompeii) covered the city in meters of mud, preserving the city as it was. For an elevated experience, tour with an archaeologist as they bring the city to life while you walk through the ancient streets touring villas and Roman baths, admiring frescoes and mosaics.

Make it happen: Flights to Rome and Naples offer easy access to the best of Italy’s historic treasures.

Via-ferrata-in-the-Dolomites-Photo-by-Katryna-Snow.jpg
Via ferrata climbing routes in the Italian Dolomites vary from beginner to advanced © Katryna Snow / Lonely Planet

Excitement

If you’re looking for activities to get the adrenaline flowing, Italy has plenty of high-end options. The central Italian region of Emilia-Romagna is home to sports car manufacturers Lamborghini, Maserati and Ferrari, and visitors looking for speed can test drive the cars on the track or the streets of Maranello.

Perhaps heights is what you’re after, and a helicopter tour over Sicily’s Mount Etna will fit the bill. See the recent lava flows and historic craters of Europe’s largest active volcano from the air.

In search of a terrestrial mountain adventure instead? Take a guided hike on a via ferrata in the Italian Dolomites. These climbing routes vary from beginner to advanced, and hikers use a harness to clip into steel cables, rungs, and ladders as they ascend the peaks for sweeping views.

Make it happen: Lufthansa offers flights to Bologna, in the heart of Emilia Romagna. Mount Etna is best reached via flights into Catania. The Dolomites are a bit more off the beaten track, but can be reached via transfers from Verona and Venice.

Opera-in-Veronas-Roman-Arena-Photo-by-Katryna-Snow1.jpg
One of the most stunning places to watch a performance is in Verona's 1st century AD Roman Arena © Katryna Snow / Lonely Planet

Culture

Opera originated in Italy over 400 years ago and is a thriving art form today. One of the most stunning places to watch a performance is in Verona’s 1st century AD Roman Arena. The summer opera season allows spectators to sit under the stars in the open-air arena, one of the largest from the Roman Empire.

For a more hand-on experience, head to the Venetian island of Murano. For more than 700 years the island has been home to the city’s historic glassmakers, and visitors can sign up for their own glassblowing experience, creating a small glass piece to bring home.

Make it happen: Flights into Verona and Venice will put you right in the middle of these cultural hotspots.

Corricella-on-the-island-of-Procida-Photo-by-Katryna-Snow.jpg
Coricella, on the island of Procida is a lovely alternative to nearby Capri © Katryna Snow / Lonely Planet

Relaxation

For the ultimate relaxation, head to the ocean, lakes or mountains. Looking for a seaside escape? Head to the islands of Ischia and Procida in the bay of Naples. A lovely alternative to nearby Capri, Ischia boasts luxurious hotels and thermal springs, seaside restaurants and sandy beaches. Neighboring Procida, Italy’s capital of culture in 2022, is home to the picturesque pastel-hued harbor of Corricella and black sandy beaches. Both islands are connected by ferry and can be visited in tandem.

If a freshwater excursion is desired, nothing beats the northern Italian Lake District, stretching from Milan to Verona. For a quintessential Italian experience rent a classic wooden boat on Lake Como and tour around the lake admiring the historic palazzi, sunning and swimming as you while away an afternoon.

For a mountain escape head to Alpe di Siusi, Europe’s largest high alpine meadow, tucked within the towering Dolomites. Stay in a luxury mountain chalet and enjoy scenic walks in the fields, or get around by horse-drawn carriage or e-bike. For a unique experience, indulge in a hay bath, a spa experience based on historic traditions, using dried hay and traditional herbs from the mountains.

Make it happen: Lufthansa flights into Naples, Verona, and Milan are the best route to the ultimate in relaxation.

shutterstock369505739.jpg
Shopaholics love the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan © patronestaff / Shutterstock

Shopping

From small boutiques to world-famous fashion houses, Milan is known as the capital of Italian fashion. For a day learning about the latest trends, accessing designer showrooms, and visiting local favorite brands, hire a personal shopper to guide you through the city.

In the market for leather goods? Florence is renowned for its centuries-old tradition of producing high-quality leather goods. Visit a leather atelier to order custom-made clothing or accessories or join a leather-making workshop where you can see behind the scenes of the craft and even make a leather piece of your own.

Make it happen: Discerning travelers can fly into both Milan and Florence via Lufthansa.

A-trullo-in-Alberobello-Photo-by-Katryna-Snow.jpg
Trulli are the picturesque circular stone buildings dotted across this region of Puglia © Katryna Snow / Lonely Planet

Lodging

Sometimes the unique Italian experience can actually be the lodging itself. The city of Matera, in the southern region of Basilicata, is the third-oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. For centuries locals lived in cave dwellings called sassi. Today many of these original cave homes have been converted to restaurants, apartments, and hotels, upgraded with modern amenities. To get a taste of the past and feel the uniqueness of this city, book a stay in a modernized cave hotel and stay right in the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

As an alternative, head to the nearby region of Puglia and book a stay in a trullo in the Valle d’Itria, a region in the hills near Bari. Trulli are the picturesque circular stone buildings dotted across this region, with a high concentration of them in the historic city of Alberobello. You can find accommodation in a trullo within Alberobello itself, or out in the rolling hills of the countryside.

Make it happen: Lufthansa flights to Bari and Brindisi will get you to this off-the-beaten path region of Italy.

Matera-Photo-by-Katryna-Snow.jpg
The city of Matera, in the southern region of Basilicata, is the third-oldest continuously inhabited city in the world © Katryna Snow / Lonely Planet

Italy is a land of immense natural beauty and amazing food, with a rich history, distinctive culture, and pride in local traditions. Regardless of your travel preferences and interests, Italy boasts an extensive list of unique, elevated, experiences and should be high on any discerning traveler’s list.

When you’re ready to Say Yes to the World, Lufthansa offers service to 19 Italian destinations. All these experiences – and more – are within an easy transfer from Bologna, Florence, Naples, Venice, Milan, Rome, Genoa, Turin, Verona, Trieste, Pisa, Bari, Catania, Cagliari, Palermo and Olbia. 

Sponsored by Lufthansa

As a travel entertainment and inspirational media outlet, we sometimes incorporate brand sponsors into our efforts. This activity is clearly labeled across our platforms.

This story was crafted collaboratively between Lufthansa and Lonely Planet. Both parties provided research and curated content to produce this story. We disclose when information isn’t ours.

With sponsored content, both Lonely Planet and our brand partners have specific responsibilities:

  • Brand partner

    Determines the concept, provides briefing, research material, and may provide feedback.

  • Lonely Planet

    We provide expertise, firsthand insights, and verify with third-party sources when needed.

Explore related stories

July 18, 2018: Balcony overlooking Lake Como in the Villa del Balbianello.
1150969103
alps, ambiente, architecture, balbianello, boat, building, church, coast, como, cottage, del, destination, europe, fai, fondo, garden, hill, holiday, house, italia, italy, lago, lake, lakeside, landmark, landscape, lenno, lombardia, lombardy, mansion, mountain, nature, nobody, north, palace, rock, romantic, scenery, shore, sky, summer, terrace, travel, vacation, view, villa, village, villas, water, waterfront

Destination Practicalities

A first-time guide to the Italian Lakes 

Jul 22, 2024 • 7 min read