Things to do in Florence
Visit The Uffizi
Galleria degli Uffizi is one of the oldest and finest museums in the world, housing a vast collection of art ranging from the Middle Ages to the Modern Period. Embark on a guided tour of the galleries with an art historian for a short course in Renaissance art or join a tactile tour for a hands-on experience into the art of sculpture. No matter the choice, remember to book in advance.
Secret Gardens Of Florence
Escape the hot and sunny days of the city and wonder around the famous Boboli Gardens. Admire this outdoor museum and walk around its grand avenues flanked by imposing statues to enjoy panoramic views of Florence. For an off the beaten path experience, stroll the romantic Torrigiani Gardens. Abundant with exotic sculptures and ancient cedars, vegetables gardens and restored greenhouses, the estate is perfect for a lazy wander.
Discover one of Florence's largest and important architectural monuments, the Palazzo Pitti. Guided by an art historian, take the 3-hour tour and learn about the rich story and the opulent lifestyle of the Medici family, one of the most powerful families in Europe. Admire the Palatine Gallery with its ample Renaissance and Baroque art collection or peek in the Costume Gallery for an encounter with the elegant history of Italian fashion.
Visit San Miniato al Monte
Visit San Miniato al Monte, a basilica built between the 11th and 13th centuries, which sits at one of the highest points in Florence, meaning from the entrance you can enjoy a fantastic view of the city's skyline and see sights such as the Duomo and the Palazzo Vecchio. Admire the green and white marble façade, the marble pavement and beautiful frescoes which decorate the inside of the church.
Things to do in Venice
Visit Doge's Palace
Visit one of the most famous landmarks in Venice - the beautiful Doge's Palace - and learn about the complex history of the doges (dukes) who ruled the city. Take a guided tour around this beautiful Venetian palace with a local historian and admire its grand halls abundant with Renaissance art works. Finish the fascinating tour in the inquisition chambers and the prison cells, where the infamous Casanova was imprisoned.
Venice By Boat
Board a small boat to explore the narrow canals of Venice and learn how to navigate the intricate water system. With the help of local guide, discover the lesser known canals, listen to old tales of the city and admire the beautiful Sestieri (Venetian neighbourhoods). Join the Grand Canal and cruise past pretty palazzos and elegant churches - including Scalzi and Santa Maria della Salute - that are beautiful beyond words.
Saint Mark's Square
Piazza San Marco - in the heart of Venice - is the perfect place to begin a tour of the charming city. Visit the famous Basilica San Marco and captivating Correr Museum, cruise along small streets hugging the canal and sip a Bellini in one of the many terraces that occupy the square. Indulge in plenty of sublime gelatos and do some window shopping (or actual shopping) in the Italian designer boutiques.
Tour of Murano & Burano
Take a tour of the island of Murano, home to Venice's glass factories and artisans, with an expert in glass production as your guide. You can see glass artisans at work in the factories and learn how their craft has developed and what makes it so unique. Then visit nearby Burano to admire the colourful houses before going on to visit Torcello and its seventh century basilica.
The Best of Italy
Italy is easily one of our favourite countries in Europe (if not the world), and it’s not hard to see why. Whether you want to soak up the culture and discover hidden treasures, relax on the coast or just over-indulge in food and wine, read on to discover some of our recommendations for what to do in Italy…
Boat Trips around Capri
While nothing beats a traditional passagiatta or wandering around the streets at sunset marvelling at the sites of Capri or Anacapri, a boat trip gives a sense of the dramatic nature of the island and allows visits to parts of the island not accessible by land. Plus, you'll feel impossibly glamorous while doing it.
As you skirt the dramatic coastline, rocks jutting boldly from the glorious blue water, you see Capri from a completely different perspective. And what a photogenic perspective it is. Explore shimmering caves and hidden coves, including the Blue Grotto, as well as the Faraglioni rocks and dozens of other bays, inlets and promontories. A boat trip also offers the chance to explore the island away from the crowds. And while you'll doubtless spend most of your boat trip around Capri scraping your jaw off the floor at all the spectacular scenery, it also offers the opportunity for fishing, swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing.
For the ultimate in romance, take an evening trip on a high-powered speed boat to the Italian Riviera and one of the excellent shorefront seafood restaurants. Or sail through the gigantic natural archway of the Faraglioni rocks near the ancient Roman harbour. The middle of the day tends to be the busiest for boat tripping around Capri so to avoid the crowds, go either early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
The Maddalena Archipelago
From Sardinia you can rent an inflatable rib and head over to the beautiful Maddalena Archipelago where the uninhabited islands have pink sand beaches, and the clear is among the clearest in the world.
A relative newcomer to the world of tourism, the Maddalena Archipelago really only arrived on the travel map after the closure of a huge NATO naval base there in 2008. Thanks to this lack of historic tourism, the Maddalena Archipelago remains a beautifully unspoilt and secluded corner of Italy. With seven large islands and fifty-five smaller islets dotted around, this is a wonderful spot for discovering hidden coves and perfectly pristine (and empty to boot) beaches. The water surrounding the islands is known for its clarity and purity, making the Maddalena Archipelago every snorkeller's paradise - perhaps even one of the best spots for it in Europe. It could be the Caribbean, apart from the water temperature which is fresh in spring and autumn and only really warm in the height of summer. That said it is hugely inviting, and you can snorkel in the crystal-clear waters and have a picnic lunch on a deserted beach.
Garibaldi lived out his days in exile on one of the archipelago’s larger islands, Caprera, after helping to reunify Italy, and he couldn't have picked a better spot to put his feet up. If you fancy a bit of historical learning amidst the obligatory sun-bathing and snorkelling, there remains a house-museum on Caprera.
Ski the Secret Dolomites
To many people the Dolomites are something of a secret anyway, but word is getting out about this staggeringly beautiful region, and its skiing (and eating) potential.
The obvious Dolomiti hotspots are Cortina, a favourite destination for weekending Milanese to wander the boutique-lined streets looking as glamorous as possible, and Arabba, a traditional village on the famous Sella Ronda ski network, but our personal favourite is the tiny and charming village of San Cassiano. The village is home to two of our favourite hotels, Hotel Ciasa Salares and the Hotel Rosa Alpina, and a number of excellent restaurants. There's also excellent access to the Dolomiti Superski area, comprising some 800 miles of slopes, including the Marmolada glacier, all creating a network that rivals that Troi Vallées in France.
We offer privately guided ski safaris and, if you’d like to try something different, we can arrange activities including snowmobile and snowshoeing excursions through the stunning scenery of the Dolomite landscape. Then, of course, there’s the excellent Italian food to enjoy.
Cooking Classes in Bologna
Impress your friends and family back home by mastering the art of pasta making and traditional Italian cooking in Italy's culinary heartland of Bologna.
The locals like to say that a Bolognese innkeeper caught a glimpse of Venus in her bedroom and dashed to his kitchen to create a dish inspired by her beauty, in the process contributing tortellini in brodo to the world. We're not sure how accurate that story is, but Bologna - the food capital of Italy, which is seriously saying something - is surely the best place to learn how to make it, along with rich ragùs, carnival sfrappole (sweet fried pastries), and all manner of other delectable dishes.
Meet and Greet Local Artisans in Puglia
Puglia is known for the many artisan traditions that are still practiced here and you can get involved by learning to create your own leather goods, like belts and purses, with the help of our favourite local leather craftswoman, Anna Maria. Or spend time with Giuseppina, a highly skilled ceramicist, who is known for her incredibly intricate paintings, and create your own tile in the 'Maiolica' style, typical of southern Italy.
An After Hours Visit to the Vatican
Enjoy a private out-of-hours tour of the Vatican Museums, one of the finest collections of art in the world, with an art historian. Take your time admiring the intricate details of the incredible artwork, such as Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, without the usual crowds, and benefit from the unparalleled knowledge of your guide as you learn about the stories and history behind the work.
Hidden Tour of Naples
Discover the many facets and intricacies of Neapolitan culture on an alternative tour around the city's old town with a local guide, Sophia, who will bring the city to life. Discover a few hidden gems, from secret courtyards and artisan workshops to the best street food, pastries and coffee around. You'll also get the inside track on the perfect lunch spot for sampling delicious local dishes after the tour.
Visit Perugia and Lake Trasimeno
Visit Umbria's hilltop capital, Perugia, and explore its cobbled streets and piazzas, such as the Piazza IV Novembre, the city's former political centre. Perugia was once part of the Etruscan kingdom before coming under Roman rule in 40 BC, so there is plenty of history to be discovered. From the city, head to nearby Lake Trasimeno, another underrated Italian gem with its small islets and waterside towns