The best places to visit in 2024


30 January 2024
Written by
The Italy Insider

According to The Italy Insider editors


As we venture towards a new page, a new year, this sense of newness encourages us to travel somewhere new and exciting. Yes, many humans are habitual creatures and love to stay in the comfort zone, perhaps returning to a meaningful place, savouring your favourite dish – but there’s so much to discover in our country that’s off the tourism radar, but worth visiting for a variety of reasons: different angles, different landscapes and different cultures. From alpine landscapes to cities of culinary excellence and coastal gems, these are the best destinations to visit in Italy in 2024 according to our editors.

Val Senales, alto adige

Winter landscape in Val Senales

According to scientists, simply five minutes of silence a day would be enough to improve our psychophysical well-being. This doesn’t necessarily mean closing oneself in a soundproof room and isolating from the world but managing to disconnect from the daily mental clutter that overwhelms our senses. Silence can be achieved anywhere, but there are places where the context facilitates it, and the practice is more spontaneous. In Certosa, a village of 300 inhabitants built on the ruins of a medieval abbey, silence is a vocation, inherited from the monks who lived there until the late 18th century following the rule of “ora et labora” (pray and work).

Where to Eat

At this point, something should have already changed within you. But you can go further by going up to the Bella Vista Mountain hut in the Gruppo di Tessa Natural Park. On the fourth night, sleep in the customs house on the border with Austria: inside, a bed, a table, and a stove; outside, an incredible starry sky just for you. Surely you will have had time to think, observe, breathe, and understand why they say silence is golden. WEBSITE

Where to Sleep

Via Monachorum is a three-hour walking path marked by plaques with philosophical quotes, and a three-night program at the Goldene Rose Hotel: herbal teas (the Certosini’s one is excellent!), blazing fireplaces, saunas and massages with glacier water-based products, outdoor meditation, a handwritten menu inspired by the monks’ cuisine with eel (they had a fish farm next to the convent), garden beetroot and lamb to remind that transhumance is still practiced in these parts. WEBSITE

Words: Sara Magro, Editor-in-Chief

Murano, Veneto

Murano


If you fear that Venice is too crowded for your taste (and also for the city’s health), consider Murano as a lagoon destination. Certainly, it doesn’t compare in terms of monuments and cultural reserves, but this small island in the Northern Lagoon has always been an important production center with a very special history, especially linked to an industry born five hundred years ago, holding a world record for originality, craftsmanship, and amazement. You have likely heard of Murano glass, showcased in splendid vases, sculptures, and wonderful chandeliers. Today, the island has lost its production primacy (prices and know-how are now in a much broader market), and the 15 still-active furnaces on the island are focusing on the art and cultural value of this tradition. Here, prominent artists like Ai Weiwei and Livio Seguso work, and this is where multimillionaires order chandeliers for their sumptuous homes.

Today, the island, with its canals, art galleries, and workshops of young artisans, is becoming a destination in its own right, as evidenced by the two four-star hotels opened in recent years and projects for three more high-level structures, including a Langham. A new art destination, with the advantage of proximity to Venice, reachable by vaporetto (30 minutes and €7.50 to get to Piazza San Marco).

WHERE TO EAT

Trattoria ai Piantaleoni. Typical lagoon cuisine, such as the unmissable bean cream with shrimp, tuna cut, and polenta, tiramisu. Riva Longa 25.

WHERE TO SLEEP

Hyatt Centric. In front of a vaporetto stop, it is part of an old bead factory. Modern interiors, spacious rooms (many are on two floors). WEBSITE

Top Tip

The OroVetro furnace is a driving force in the renaissance of Murano. They excel in chandeliers (they have just delivered a 7-meter one to Los Angeles), and their glassblowers are sought after by artists for the precision of their work. The novelty is that they are now open to the public with events to explain how the furnace works, live creation of works, and workshops. WEBSITE

Words: Sara Magro, Editor-in-Chief

Bologna, Emilia Romagna

Bologna

A city known by many names: La Rossa, La Dotta… but the one we all know Bologna for is ‘La Grassa’ or the fat one, for its hearty, filling cuisine. Its region is known for many delicacies such as parmigiano reggiano, balsamic vinegar, tortellini in brodo, fettuccine al ragù, lasagna alla bolognese and many, many more. But the city itself is worth visiting for its architectural beauty and originality – did you know that the city is lined with over 40km of porticoes? Also, its largest church (fourth largest in Italy), the Basilica di San Petronio, is built partly in brick and partly in marble as it was left incomplete since the 14th century.

Where to eat

One of the latest openings on the scene in Bologna is Allegra; a fun, trendy new outlet that serves breakfast through to dinner, natural coffees & wines in a casual environment. Expect perfect, creative laminated croissants that are almost too perfect to dig into and a savoury menu for tapas-style, seasonal dishes. WEBSITE

Where to Sleep

Casa Conoscenti is situated within the historic Palazzo Conoscenti, a historic residence dating back to the 14th century and a rare example of a private dwelling with ogival arches. Only three rooms, designed with a minimal, modern approach using rigorously made-in-Italy furnishings. One room in particular, Galleria, features exquisite 19th-century frescoes across the walls. Next door is i Conoscenti, an exceptional restaurant that takes you on a cross-country journey from Puglia to Bologna. WEBSITE

Top Tip

Bologna is clearly famous for its traditional cuisine, but one thing you mustn’t leave without trying is the Dolce Certosino, o Pan Spaziale. This cake-like dessert is usually a festive tradition, similar to the Panettone, and is made with honey, almonds, candied orange and flour. Also known as Pan Speziale, the recipe dates back to the medieval times when it was baked by the pharmacists (or “speziali”). One place well known for this delicacy is l’Antica Salsamenteria Tamburini. WEBSITE

Words: Lucrezia Worthington, Digital Editor

Lucca, Toscana

Lucca

The beating heart of this charming city is enclosed within beautifully preserved 16th century walls that represent its long history. But Lucca is peculiar, in fact – this was the first year I visited it and it baffles me how nobody talks about this city more. It has the largest concentration of aristocratic villas dotted around the outskirts of Lucca’s centre- many still belonging to the same family after five centuries such as Villa Grabau and Villa Torrigiani. Villa Reale, on the other hand, is significantly important as it belonged to Napoleon’s sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi.

Where to eat

Ristorante Il Giglio is the perfect example of young talents. It was taken over in 2013 by three chefs, Lorenzo, Stefano and Benedetto, who, through passion and innovation, brought a fresher look and feel to fine dining. Interiors are just as glamorous as the menu and attention to detail is immaculate, from the freshly baked sourdough served with local olive oil, through the menu, until the post-desert mignon pastries. Also, if you’re looking for a cheeky drink before hand, head to their younger brother Gigliola for a glass of natural wine. WEBSITE

Where to sleep

Located only fifteen minutes from the centre of Lucca is Tenuta di Tramonte, a place that radiates warmth with the welcome of Lorenzo and Laurence (and their little Ludovico). Within the estate, Villa Volpi houses seven, tastefully decorated, en-suite rooms each with a beautiful view of the rolling hills. Currently on a b&b basis but from 2024, there will be a chef onsite to prepare lunches and dinners upon request. WEBSITE

Top Tip

Wine production is Lucca is understated compared to its neighbouring territories such as Chianti or Montepulciano – however, on the outskirts of the city at the feet of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines lies Tenuta di Valgiano, a biodynamic winery managed by the most awesome lady Laura. Walk among the vineyards, visit the cellars and taste the fantastic labels (4 in total) paired with Parmigiano and honey made onsite. WEBSITE

Words: Lucrezia Worthington, Digital Editor

Cagliari, Sardegna

Poetto Beach, Cagliari

Nestled on the southern coast, Cagliari boasts a rich heritage shaped by ancient civilizations, including Phoenicians, Romans, and Byzantines. The city’s crown jewel, the historic district of Castello, is a medieval quarter crowned by a hilltop citadel, offering panoramic views of the Gulf of Cagliari. Narrow streets lead to landmarks like the Cathedral of Santa Maria and the National Archaeological Museum, housing artefacts from Sardinia’s diverse past. Cagliari’s waterfront dazzles with the Poetto Beach whereas crafts lovers will adore the Villanova district. For the ultimate, fresh seafood a trip to San Benedetto market, one of the largest indoor markets in Europe, is a must – even to just admire the rows and rows of freshly caught fish.

Where to Eat

Sa Schironara is a place rich in traditional atmosphere, where you can taste the traditional, roasted Sardinian suckling pig.

Where to Sleep

Casa Clàt offers 9 suites, a restaurant, and a lounge bar on Viale Regina Margherita, between the Bastion of Saint Remy and the Marina. A design project that gives new life to the ancient Palazzo Frau, created by artists and designers inspired by the sea. The hotel has a garden, an open-air lounge with a corner dedicated to the best raw seafood on the island. WEBSITE

Top Tip

Near the San Benedetto market there are many grocery stores, bakeries, and pastry shops. If you’re looking for something delicious to take home as a souvenir, then you’ll undoubtedly find something at Lo Squisito, filled with local delicacies.

Words: Teresa Cremona, Director

Mantova, Lombardia

Courtesy Palazzo Te, Mantova

Mantova unfolds as a testament to urban, architectural, and artistic achievement in the Renaissance era, gaining the UNESCO World heritage title in 2008. Steeped in Gonzaga dynasty history, its Palazzo Ducale showcases opulent rooms, including the famed Camera degli Sposi painted by Andrea Mantegna – a must visit alongside central Piazza delle Erbe with its iconic Torre dell’Orologio, and nearby Rotonda di San Lorenzo. Beyond the historic centre, the majestic 16th century Palazzo Te, designed by Giulio Romano, is worth the short drive for its stunning frescoed rooms.

Where to eat

Antica Osteria Ai Ranari is a traditional trattoria with a welcoming atmosphere and a centuries-old history that has maintained constant quality over time, becoming one of the most reliable addresses in the city. WEBSITE

Where to sleep

In Mantova, there’s a beautiful frescoed, two-roomed apartment a short distance from the Duomo. The spacious accommodation is situated within a 17th century, historical palazzo with a minimal, design approach to interiors – all the while preserving the detailed hand-painted walls, rustic wooden doors and antique fireplace. Home cooks will love the fully equipped kitchen and there’s Wi-Fi installed for those who may need to work from home. Finally, there’s private parking for those with a car. WEBSITE

Top Tip

From September 4th to 8th, 2024 Mantova will host the Literary Festival. Since 1997, it has been one of Italy’s most anticipated cultural events, featuring five days of meetings with authors, readings, guided tours, shows, and concerts with artists from around the world who gather in Mantova to experience an unforgettable festive atmosphere.

Words: Teresa Cremona, Director

Trieste, Friuli Venezia Giulia

View of the Canal Grande at sunset in Trieste, Italy

A city with «many beauties» to quote Umberto Saba, the most Triestine of poets. Discover its many multis (multicultural, multireligious, multiethnic), but also its contradictory soul. Radiant and welcoming with the sun-lit gulf, “cantankerous” when the bora rages. A city of sea and Karst, sails, and stone. A gaze to the East and one to the West, enough to inspire authors of yesterday and today (discover them in the city’s bookstores). Its literary vein is now celebrated in a dedicated temple: the Literature Museum (LeTs), opening its doors in spring. Where? In Piazza Attilio Hortis, on the ground floor of Palazzo Biserini.

Where to eat & sleep

At the Grand Hotel Duchi d’Aosta, with the 2-Michelin-starred Harry’s Piccolo by Matteo Metullio and Davide De Prà. WEBSITE

Top Tip

Visit the seaside village of Muggia arriving by sea with the Delfino Verde speedboat. WEBSITE

Words: Micaela Zucconi, Contributor

oplontis, campania

Three kilometres from Pompeii, Oplontis emerges from the ashes of the 79 AD eruption, revealing a trove of monumental structures among anonymous buildings. Most notably, Villa Poppea, a luxurious residential complex from the 1st century BC, expanded in the early Imperial era, stands as a Unesco-listed testament to ancient opulence. Nearby, in Castellammare di Stabbia is the Museo Archeologico di Stabia Libero D’Orsi opened in 2020 at the Bourbon Quisisana Palace. It’s an extraordinary journey to discover frescoes, stuccoes, sculptures, terracottas, tableware, bronze, and iron objects, prestigious artefacts from the Stabian territory, some never before exhibited in Italy.

Where to Eat

Savour avant-garde cuisine at the 2-Michelin-star restaurant Piazzetta Milu. The tasting menu is constantly evolving (you cannot order à la carte), offering an emotional and playful journey that celebrates the Mediterranean, its raw materials, and the intertwined cultures within it. An intelligent and creative proposal by Chef Maicol Izzo. WEBSITE

Where to Sleep

With only six rooms, Laqua by the Sea in Meta di Sorrento, created by Antonino Cannavacciulo and his wife Cinzia, surprises, amazes, and captivates. Immersed in blue with a 180° view of the Gulf of Sorrento, the panorama is “aerial” – boundless sea on the horizon, the characteristic high cliff on the left, curving into a large bay, with the beach club and harbour below. WEBSITE

TOP TIP

Visit the Secret Cabinet at the MANN Archaeological Museum of Naples. The collection displays around 250 erotic-themed artefacts from the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum. In the past, the collection has been censored multiple times, separated from the rest of the exhibited works, and even bricked up. Finally opened to the public in 2000, with a complete rearrangement illustrating various aspects of sexuality in the ancient world. WEBSITE

Words: Teresa Cremona, Director

Cervo, Liguria

The village of Cervo

Cervo Ligure is an ancient seaside village surrounded by olive groves and small gardens fragrant with the Mediterranean. Milan and Turin are relatively close, but the feeling is that they are light-years away. It seems impossible, in fact, to find, just a couple of hours from the two great northern cities, a completely intact medieval town suspended between the blue sky and the sea. Cervo Ligure, a town on the Riviera di Ponente, is listed among the most beautiful villages in Italy. A “maze” of ancient buildings – reachable only on foot through staircases and typical caruggi (narrow lanes) – among which stand out Palazzo Morchio, Palazzo Viale, the Castle of Clavesana (home to the Ethnographic Museum), the Tower of Sant’Antonio, the oratory of Santa Caterina, and the church of San Giovanni Battista, also known as that of the Corallini because it was built with the earnings of local sailors who, aboard small sailboats, ventured to the coasts of Corsica, Sardinia, and Tunisia in search of the precious “red gold.” Look out from the square of this splendid Baroque building – or from the numerous other panoramic points – and let your gaze wander over the gulf below, the hills dotted with olive trees, creuzes, and Mediterranean vegetation, lingering on the steep cliffs kissed by crystalline waters: it’s not exactly paradise, but it’s pretty close!

Where to Eat

In a unique and spectacular position on one of the most beautiful cliffs of Cervo, Ristorante Porteghetto, open all year round, is located in the lower part of the Bristot terrace, which, instead, welcomes guests only from April to September. Chef Giorgio Porretta offers revisited local dishes, raw specialties, seafood, delightful desserts, and a wide selection of high-quality chocolates, accompanied by a rich wine list. WEBSITE

Where to Sleep

B&B Palazzo del Duca. Located in a beautiful 19th-century palace in the historic centre, it has an intimate and welcoming atmosphere, filled with furniture and other valuable objects from the past restored by Katia and Alessia, mother and daughter, who strongly wanted to bring this richly frescoed building back to life. For guests of the three rooms and the apartment with a kitchen, in the summer, breakfast is served on a terrace with a splendid view of the Gulf of Diano. Unmissable is the ancient viewpoint: only from here can you grasp the beauty of the medieval town of Cervo and its surroundings! WEBSITE

TOP TIP

Cervo is a cultural landmark on the Riviera dei Fiori: since 1964, in the months of July and August, it hosts the International Chamber Music Festival founded by the Hungarian musician and composer Sándor Végh. To discover the names of the great musicians who have played in front of the Church of the Corallini, you can visit the Memorabilia exhibition, set up inside the Romanesque oratory of Santa Caterina, or check the website where the concert dates for 2024 will soon be available. Among the literary figures who frequented Cervo were writers Henry Furst and his wife Orsola Nemi, who, in their home surrounded by olive trees, also hosted Maria Bellonci, the creator of the Strega Prize, the most coveted Italian literary award. To commemorate the friendship between Bellonci and her grandmother Orsola, Francesca Rotta Gentile conceived the event “Cervo ti Strega”: every year, in June and July, the winner and the other four finalists of the prestigious prize arrive in the village (dates for the 2024 edition to be determined).

Words: Paola Pardieri, Contributor



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