Destination guide: spring

26 March 2023
Written by
The Italy Insider

Our favourite destinations this season

Ah Spring! That beautiful time of year in which the flowers begin to bloom and the climate becomes warmer. A time to wake up to the sound of birds chirping merrily and the energy of people as they thrive under the vitamin D. It’s a time in which sunsets are later and meals can be enjoyed in the pleasure of the outdoors. On The Italy Insider we have gathered together our favourite destinations for you to visit in Spring, with a mini guide on what to do there, where to eat and where to stay.  

PORTOFINO, liguria

Portofino is a charming village along the Italian Riviera among shimmering waters and picturesque, painted buildings. A bay nestled between the Regional Park of Portofino and the Tyrrhenian sea, comprised of historical castles, extraordinary viewpoints and exquisite Ligurian cuisine.


Visit Baia Cannone, a charming bay dominated by two scenic, colourful villas. There’s a pebbly beach from where you can enter the beautiful, emerald coloured waters and spend the day lounging by the sea. If you would like a nature-infused experience, you could take a day trip to La Portofinese, an agricultural farm where you can enjoy a glass of wine with sweeping views. Finally, a trip to Portofino wouldn’t be complete without a boat trip. Set sail to discover Camogli and San Fruttuoso, two exquisite locations where you can spend the day among beauty and sunshine.


Enjoy a romantic dinner at DaV Mare at Splendido Mare, a Belmond hotel, situated in La Piazzetta. Savour the iconic dishes of the Cerea brothers and Chef Davide Galbiati from the Paccheri alla Vittorio, incredibly manticati to the trofie al pesto. WEBSITE



Stay at Splendido and wake up to the most enchanting views of the village. Dip in their iconic swimmingpool, enjoy an aperitif at La Terrazza at sunset. WEBSITE


A charming guesthouse strategically situated in the beating heart of the village: La Piazzetta. Immerse yourselves in the daily lives of the locals, sip your morning coffee on the balcony as you watch the village come to life from the early hours of the morning until the late hours of the evening. WEBSITE

Baia Cannone. Ph. Courtesy of Belmond
Paccheri alla Vittorio. Ph. Credits Marco Valmarana

LECCE, puglia

Lecce is a major attraction for culture-seeking visitors, viewed as a true open-air museum. The historic centre is rich in sumptuous baroque architecture that dates back to the seventeenth century – not to mention the thriving culinary scene of Puglia where the majority of the flavours are closely tied to what the land produces: fresh olive oil, mediterranean caught fish, homegrown vegetables and fresh herbs.


Begin with tasting Lecce and the specialties of the Salento: the caffè leccese is your cold coffee with fresh almond milk (in Italy, almonds are mainly produced in Sicily and Puglia!) as well as the Pasticciotto Leccese, a pastry filled with crema pasticciera infused with vanilla and lemon aromas (our favourite pasticceria’s are Pasticceria Natale or Pasticceria Aldemorisco or Alvino). For that quick bite to eat, a Rustico Leccese is a great idea, a puff pastry filled with tomato, mozzarella and besciamella. Last (but certainly not least) La Puccia, naturally leavened semolina soft bread baked on stone that you can fill with your chosen fillings in many places.


Enjoy stellar cuisine at Bro’s, the first restaurant to have received a Michelin star in Salento. Opened in 2016 with Floriano Pellegrino and Isabella Potì as the masterminds behind the concept and the menu. Embark on a journey of either a 20 or 25 course tasting menu and allow the flavours of the south to carry you away. WEBSITE



Overlooking the cavea of the Roman Theater, in the ancient heart of the city, Palazzo Luce was conceived as an art hub, product of Anna Maria Enselmi’s desire to create the perfect place for her collection of design and contemporary art. The ancient building in which it resides collides in synergy with the most current, contemporary elements with unique pieces by world renowned artists, architects and designers such as Gio Ponti, Ettore Sottsass, Martino Gamper and Antonio Marras to name a few. There are seven suites housed inside Palazzo Luce, each with its own personality and differ entirely from each other: the only fil rouge is the immaculate attention to detail and meticulous selection of the furnishings. Other than the rooms, Palazzo Luce features a rooftop terrace, a ground floor secluded garden, a library, a pilates suite, a breakfast garden, a bar and a very own living room – just to make you feel even more at home. WEBSITE

Blue Ponti

LAGO MAGGIORE, lombardia

The shores of Lake Maggiore feature some of the most breathtaking gardens in the world, with thousands of coloured flowers that enhance the magnificence of noble villas and castles that are scattered throughout the Lake – not to mention the numerous islands that are worth the visit in themselves. This is the lesser known to Lake Como yet still holds precious gems worth discovering. And live it slow – because a trip to the lake is synonymous to a relaxing escape.


On Isola Bella you must visit Palazzo Borromeo, a 17th century architectural masterpiece. It’s 80-metre-long façade dominates the lake and inside you can walk among the sumptuously decorated and furnished rooms where, in 1797, even Napoleon Bonaparte stayed. It also houses paintings and tapestries by great artists including those of Pieter Mulier, known as il Tempesta. Make sure you stroll around the botanical gardens which host an incredible variety of exotic plants. Furthermore, you mustn’t miss L’eremo di Santa Caterina dal Sasso, a Dominican monastery dating back to the 12th century perched above the shore, nestled frantically among the rocks. In Pallanza, you can walk through one of the most enchanting botanical gardens in Italy at Villa Taranto whereas just opposite Cannero Riviera you can admire medieval towers and walls that seem as though they are floating on the water. These are the Castelli di Cannero, remains of ancient fortifications built on three islets dating back to the 11th century.


La Tavola Restaurant, located inside Il Porticciolo hotel in Laveno Mombello is a Michelin starred restaurant guided by chef Riccardo Bassetti. It is situated along the shores of the Lago Maggiore in a way that it underlines the harmony between nature & kitchen; a sort of ‘lake to table’ philosophy in which the cuisine is characterised by the use of locally sourced products and the best fish from the lake. There are two tasting menus in which the chef evokes his journey through techniques acquired from his international experiences and reinterpreted once returned to his home country. WEBSITE


Villa Maria

Located on the shores of the lake, Villa Maria is a family run hotel offering both rooms and apartments overlooking the lake. Bright rooms with balconies where you can enjoy a coffee or read a book in the peaceful atmosphere of the surroundings. The apartments are one bed or two bed with kitchens and a modern approach to design : both with ample outdoor balconies. WEBSITE

Baveno, Lago Maggiore
Lago Maggiore

PALERMO, sicilia

This Sicilian capital must be visited during Spring, as temperatures become too hot during summer. Palermo is a gem, located along the coast and filled with historical sites such as the Cathedral, a UNESCO world heritage site. 


Visit Casa Professa, one of the most beautiful churches in Italy, is worth a visit. It is a Baroque masterpiece with sumptuous decorations covering the entire church and one of the symbols of the city. 


You should definitely stop by the Charleston restaurant, located along Mondello beach and housed in a beautiful Art Nouveau villa. Here you can enjoy a fine seafood meal while gazing at the blue-tinged Tyrrhenian Sea. WEBSITE



Villa Igiea is the best suggestion we can give. It was acquired by the Rocco Forte Hotels in 2019 and it is located inside a palace that dates back to the 19th century. Following restorations, its heritage has been preserved whilst combining refreshing, contemporary elements. The rooms and suites have been furnished with classic antiques and fabrics whereas the restaurant, Florio, is located in an elegant white and green 16th century hall. WEBSITE

Florio, Villa Igiea
Donna Franca Suite. Villa Igiea


Located on the border between Tuscany and Umbria, this charming village is immersed in the countryside surrounded by unspoilt valleys. It is also renowned for the cultivation of saffron and, of course, for being the birthplace of one of the most important painters from the renaissance era: Pietro Vannucci, also known as ‘Il Perugino’, Raffaello’s teacher. 

Città della Pieve Umbria
Città della Pieve


One of the most beautiful spots in Città della Pieve is the Oratorio di Santa Maria dei Bianchi, a church that’s contains L’adorazione dei Magi di Città della Pieve, a fresco by Pietro Perugino dating back to the 16th Century.


You can have your best time at Trattoria Bruno Coppetta, a traditional and ‘local’ restaurant with all your Umbrian specialties. Meat lovers will adore it: this Trattoria is also renowned for its exceptional grilled proposals. WEBSITE



Hotel Vannucci, located in the city centre is the sister property of the Hassler hotel in Rome, is the most charming place to stay. The rooms are refined with particular attention to design and the restaurant ‘Zafferano’ offers a cuisine that blends traditional flavours with a creative flair.  WEBSITE

PARMA, emilia romagna

Culture Capital for two years straight, Parma is a city worth exploring. It is the home of Parmigiano reggiano, Parma Ham and Culatello Salami, Giuseppe Verdi, Correggio and Parmigianino. From the sites to the cuisine, this city has a little something for everyone.


Parma offers to his visitors the Complesso Monumentale del Pilotta, an extraordinary complex built around 1580 and inspired by the Vatican Museums. It holds unique sites such as the Farnese Theatre from the 1600, the Palatina Library and, among the many masterpieces, works of Canova, Bernini and the famous “Scapiliata” of Leonardo Da Vinci. 


If you want to eat surrounded by history, Antica Corte Pallavicina is the right choice. It is located within a fortified castle dating back to the 14th century and it’s a starred restaurant that uses raw materials produced locally. It’s a wonderful combination of tradition and innovation. WEBSITE



Parma’s best sleeping spot is La Terrazza sul Duomo, a central b&b that overlooks the Duomo, the San Giovanni abbey and the Baptistery. There are only three rooms, each with a unique feel (and design). Enjoy breakfast on the rooftop terrace with the wonderful view. WEBSITE

LA TUSCIA, lazio

Tuscia is located in the region of Lazio. Vast stretches of countryside combined with many treasures to discover such as Civita di Bagnoregio to Tarquinia and Tuscania. For a walk in the park visit il Sacro Bosco di Bomarzo or. for a spa day explore the Terme dei Papi. Don’t forget to try the regional delicacies as well.

Civita di Bagnoregio
One of the rooms at Corte della Maestà


Here you can visit the Bosco di Bomarzo, also known as the park of the monsters, and it’s an intriguing natural park containing sculptures that date back to the 16th century.  


If you want to have some typical – but refined – dishes, you should reserve a table at La Parolina a Trevinano restaurant. It is a Michelin starred restaurant, headed by Iside de Cesare. The cuisine is a combination of local ingredients, making the most of what the region provides: from the Amiata mushrooms to the truffles of the Crete Senesi, from the asparagus of Canino to the hazelnuts of the Cimini Mountains, without forgetting the many fish products from the nearby lake of Bolsena and the Tyrrhenian Sea. WEBSITE



You’ll find a bit of your home at Corte della Maestà a Civita di Bagnoregio. A family run hotel known for its welcoming and tranquil atmosphere. More like a retreat with curious rooms furnished with objects and paintings belonging to the Crepet family. WEBSITE

AGRIGENTO, sicilia

Agrigento is a city on the southern coast of Sicily whose history is remarkable. It was the last of the major Greek colonies in Sicily to be founded and these influences have been preserved for centuries. One of the ‘must’ visits is The Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that represents the important heritage of the city. Visiting this in spring is the optimum period as the almond trees are blossoming and the heat is bearable. Perhaps during your visit make a pit-stop at Villa Athena for an aperitivo overlooking the valley.  


Located in Realmonte, the Scala dei Turchi is only a twenty minute drive away from Agrigento and it’s a site of rare beauty. Naturally shaped by the wind and the rainwater, this limestone and white marl rock formation is a fascinating cliff in the shape of a large stairway. Bring your camera because this place is truly worth photographing. 


Located a mere thirty minutes drive away from the centre of Agrigento, Michelin starred restaurant Capitolo Primo is worth the trip. Chef Damiano Ferraro, together with his wife Adriana, opened up this gourmet kitchen (with rooms) that showcases the very best of Sicilian cuisine with, of course, a creative interpretation by the Chef.  WEBSITE



Our favourite place in Agrigento is Foresteria Planeta, a modern resort with a familiar feel surrounded by acres of countryside, vineyards and olive groves. The fourteen rooms, named after herbs, overlook both the sea and the countryside and are surrounded by a beautifully trimmed garden and the swimming pool. It also offers a stunning restaurant signed by Chef Angelo Pumilia. WEBSITE

La Valle dei Templi
La Scala dei Turchi

LAGO D’ORTA, piemonte

Located in the Piedmont region of Italy, Lake Orta is perhaps the underrated sister of Lake Como. Just as beautiful, and just as many things to visit. Its main village Orta San Giulio is dominated from behind by the Sacro Monte, with 20 chapels frescoed by Morazzone. In front, Isola di San Giulio with its 4th century Basilica. 


One of the must do’s besides pondering around the lake is to grab a boat and visit the Isola di San Giulio and its chapel. You can catch this motorboat (it costs €4,50 return) from Orta San Giulio and within 15 minutes you’ll be on the island.


Villa Crespi, which has recently been appointed three Michelin stars, is set out on the shores of the lake, is the perfect place for a romantic, gourmet dinner. The menu, curated by world renowned Michelin starred Chef Antonino Cannavacciuolo, features two tasting proposals and an “à la carte” in which the cuisine reflects the life journey of the Chef. Here you can expect simple flavours with complex techniques and creative presentation. WEBSITE



To complete your experience you should book your stay at Casa Fantini. All its 11 rooms overlook the lake to ensure that all guests could enjoy the beautiful view of the monastic island of San Giulio, the water, the mountains and the sky. The landscape is also present in the interiors, designed by Piero Lissoni, with a very linear, elegant façade and below a neat garden and swimming pool, that also faces the lake. WEBSITE

Lake Orta
Isola di San Giulio
Lake Orta
Casa Fantini

SIENA, toscana

Siena is seen as a work of art beautifully integrated with its surrounding landscapes, built around Piazza del Campo. It’s a mediaeval gem that preserves beautiful gothic buildings, churches and squares. Between the 12th and 15th century, Duccio as well as the brothers Lorenzetti and Simone Martini, created masterpieces that today are fundamental in Italian art.  


You definitely have to see La porta del Cielo, following the path under the vault of the Cathedral to enjoy one of the most breathtaking views over the city. 


Our advice is to try La Taverna del Capitano, nominated the best game restaurant in Siena. This is a typical tavern with authentic, rustic cuisine. Think pheasant, duck and hare as mains. The rooms have been carved out of a mediaeval building characterised by barrel vaults with red bricks and walls covered with paintings and photographs depicting the palio of the districts. WEBSITE



If you need a stay devoted to relaxation, Dievole Wine Resort in the Chianti Classico is a pleasant and welcoming hotel surrounded by a park with secular trees and rose gardens. Alongside the rooms, suites and apartments there is the Novecento restaurant, two swimming pools and a natural path lined with scattered vineyards, woods and olive groves. WEBSITE

Siena at Golden Hour

TERMOLI, molise

An old village, almost a fortified citadel built upon the spur of a rock surrounded by the sea and dominated by Castello Svevo. In the centre of the village you’ll find the splendid cathedral and small cobbled streets lined by picturesque little houses that once belonged to the fisherman. For many years the village was estranged to the new city however only recently has this treasure been recovered. 

Termoli Molise
Trabucco di Termoli


One thing you must do in Termoli is visit the MACTE museum, dedicated to Contemporary Art. It opened in 2019 and was born from the restructuring of an ancient local market.


If you’re in a fish mood, you should try the Ristorante Svevia, an elegant restaurant located in the heart of the historical quarter of Termoli facing the sea. The cuisine is fresh, fish-based with traditional regional dishes. WEBSITE



If your mind needs to stop and chill, you should stay at Locanda Alfieri. This Albergo Diffuso is located in an ancient village with modern rooms and a terrace overlooking the sea where one can eat, practise yoga or wind down in the hot tub. WEBSITE

Termoli. Ph. Credits Gabriella Marino
Termoli. Ph. Credits Gabriella Marino

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