Italian summers are synonymous with fashionable coastlines, lakeside retreats, flavoursome insalatas, enduring heat and endless gelatos. As the mercury rises and seasonal events begin to take place, such as the famous Palio races in Siena and Verona opera season, the locals begin to prepare for their August exodus. Escaping the stifling heat of the city, August is the month to head for the coasts and mountains, attend a local festival and admire the fireworks of the ‘Ferragosto’ national holiday, on the15th August. If you’re hoping to join in with the national celebrations and enjoy some Italian summer fun, it’s worth booking in advance to guarantee your place in the sun — alongside the charismatic Italians, plus world’s rich and famous.
Whilst it is world-renowned for spectacular art and history — Italy is home to the most UNESCO-listed sites in the world and offers a plethora of cultural city attractions for visitors to treasure — it also boasts incredible natural scenery, grand lakeside villas and colourful coastal towns far beyond its cities’ walls. Quite in addition to its exceptionally rich heritage —one blessed with artistic beauty and impressive architecture, including Medieval frescoes, Renaissance architecture, Baroque paintings and Roman relics — Italy has a stunning natural landscape to more than match its coveted city treasures.
A nation oozing with culture is the perfect destination for the enlightened traveller seeking a little summer solace, and our collection of palatial villas and classic hotels will leave you dreaming of drinking grappa or sipping a Limoncello in typical Italian style. Why not adopt the lifestyle of a fashionista, take some time to enjoy a little ‘dolce far niente’ (the sweetness of doing nothing), or simply embrace ‘La Dolce Vita’? Whether you head for the mountains or bathe beside the sea, our impressive Italian hideaways are truly ‘bella’.
Our Top Summer Stays in Italy
The country’s majestic mountains, shimmering lakes and pretty coastlines offer plenty to admire — along with plenty of heat relief — to engage even the most ardent city fan and aesthete. Join the cultured residents who make their annual summer escape from Italy’s larger cities, to the cooler rural attractions of Lake Como and Lake Garda. Discover the mountainous and dramatic scenery surrounding Lake Como, or lazily admire the landscaped islands of Isola Bella and Isola Madre, with their grand villas and enchanting gardens. Alternatively, you may wish to join the glitterati along the sparkling Portofino or Amalfi coasts — indulging in a little beach time and sea attraction. Or, head for Puglia with its idyllic rolling countryside and savour a smorgasbord of rustic treats along the way.
Mountains and Lakes
What better way to experience the beauty of northern Italy, than by embarking upon a classic Ferrari driving tour? Depart the ever-so-stylish fashion city of Milan and drive your way to the elegant coasts of Lake Garda and Lake Como whilst seated in a quintessential red Ferrari 458 Spider. By combining a thrilling driving adventure, within an iconic Italian car, couples can stylishly traverse the sweeping Italian roads — stopping to indulge with a delectable lunch in Bellagio — before arriving at your lakeside hideaway. By expertly melding vineyard visits with a romantic finale in Venice, this Ferrari journey is surely fit for the Gods. Alternatively, for couples wishing to spend a little more time relaxing by Lake Como, the latest edition to its illustrious shoreline, Il Sereno, adds a contemporary edge to lakeside luxury. With state-of-the-art facilities, a signature spa and signature restaurant, it proves an inspiring base for immersing in the serenity of the region and indulging with fine wines, delicious cuisine, lake cruises and cooking classes.
For those seeking more classic Italian luxury, the magnificent Villa d’Este is a lakeside landmark in its own right. Set within twenty-five acres of Renaissance gardens, a short stroll away from Cerbobbia, this former grand 16th century private palazzo is a resplendent member of ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’ boasting magnificent interiors, silk furnishings and grand marble bathrooms. A sublime estate in which to relax, guests can also enjoy visiting museums and playing golf nearby — quite in addition to the watersports and scenic plane rides across the lake.
Equally alluring and famous for its beauty is Lake Garda. The privately-owned Villa Cortine Palace cuts a particularly striking lakeside pose and is well-known as a famously romantic retreat that serenades its guests with fragrant gardens and classical grandeur. The original villa is awash with beautiful paintings, frescoes and sumptuous furnishings. Similarly, Grand Hotel A Villa Feltrinelli shares classic appeal, yet is a superb 21st century reincarnation of a most enviable private home. With a glamorous octagonal bar, ornate interiors and exquisite antiques, the thirteen sumptuous suites and Michelin-starred cuisine promises couples a most decadent stay. Should you crave a little opera, or ballet, to add further magic to your stay, the nearby city of Verona plays host to its world-famous Opera Festival between June and August. Opening this year with Nabucco, on the 23rd June 2017, the Arena Di Verona is the biggest open-air theatre in the world, with the boutique Palazzo Victoria, located in the heart of Verona, perfectly situated to complement the occasion. Staying beside one of the celebrated Italian Lakes, and combining it with a sophisticated stay in Verona, is undoubtedly a romantic experience to treasure.
South of the picturesque Lake District, the pretty coastal fishing villages, such as Portofino, on the Ligurian Coast, exude colour and charm. A firm favourite with the jet set, the Italian Riviera has pastel-coloured houses, thriving harbours and plethora of fabulous hotels, cafes and hotels to enjoy. Characterised by its crystalline green water and pine woods, it is also an ideal location for adventure-loving couples who wish to spend their leisure time hiking, boating and diving. An established luxury hotel with celebrity clientele, Belmond Hotel Splendido is an elegant residence overlooking Portofino harbour and its luxurious yachts. An idyllic example of Mediterranean bliss, the service here is as splendid as the location and the ambience is guaranteed to woo couples into celebrating ‘amore’.
Travelling further along the west coast, and holding similar allure, the iconic Amalfi Coast, in Capania, is home to the clifftop towns of Ravello and Positano. Boasting incredible sea views, Palazzo Avino is an historic villa perched high on the cliffs of Ravello proffering fresh seafood delights and Renaissance treasures — along with a modern art collection for sale within its bar! Overlooking the Bay of Salerno with heavenly views, and a divine spa, is Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa, a stunning 17th century former monastery. Exuding history and close to Amalfi, Ravello and Positano, this boutique sanctuary is a sophisticated haven providing a charismatic place to stay.
For couples seeking a rural beach escape, the Puglia region on the opposite coastline offers welcoming sands, with easily accessible countryside nearby. Masseria San Domenico, in Fasano, is a beautifully restored farmhouse, set amidst mature olive groves, with a seascape of the Adriatic Sea. Ideal for seclusion, this tranquil spot has elegant interiors, a private beach, 18-hole golf course, thalassotherapy centre and a restaurant serving Puglian specialities, accompanied by delicious local wines.
From its capital city of Florence, with its russet-coloured roofs, iconic dome and Renaissance splendours — a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tuscany holds timeless appeal for romance. With hearty culinary delights, plus the striking cities of Pisa and Arezzo, it is a captivating region and has been the cornerstone of Italy’s ‘dolce vita’ since the 1960s. Tucked away from Forte dei Marmi’s central piazza is the former holiday home, Hotel Byron — now a boutique retreat with manicured gardens, an outdoor pool and a public beach in front of the hotel. Guests staying here can indulge in delectable gourmet cuisine within its signature Michelin-starred restaurant, La Magnolia, and delight in the fascinating history of the property.
So, why not exchange the artful gallery interiors for the colourful Portofino coastline, swap the decorative fountains for expansive lakes, and enjoy alfresco performances within the Arena Di Verona Opera Festival in Verona — all whilst savouring delicious summer dishes such as ‘insalata di riso’ and enjoying evening visits to the local gelateria.
Summer in Italy is all about embracing the outdoors, spending time with loved ones, feasting and celebrating culture and traditions — Festa Italiana! So, pass on the pizza and take a lesson from the locals by enjoying their popular summer dishes — such as Caponata or Panzanella. Stroll the historic stone steps and breathe in the aromas of oregano, garlic and parmesan, taste cool antipasta, followed by creamy desserts, and visit an Italian market with its rich variety of summer peppers, eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes. Italy in summer offers a taste sensation for every palete and each region has its own distinct flavour.
For further inspiration or to book your luxury Italian summer escape, please call our Travel Experts..