Welcome all to the inaugural Italia! Travel Awards, wherein our team selects the very best places to visit, museums to view, beaches to relax on and much more. Discover the best of Italy right here… From cities, restaurants and beaches to holiday companies, hikes and hotels, we present the very, very best that Italy has to offer in 2016…
Best Attraction – The Palio, Piazza Del Campo, Siena
It’s the battle of the contrade on horseback. The ten wards of Siena compete in a series of totally frenetic races around the famous Piazza del Campo twice a year (on 2 July and 16 August), in an attempt to garner religious and local pride. The jockeys, dressed in their contrade colors, ride bareback, and it’s seriously dangerous. But what a spectacle! Though beware, many thousands of people crowd into the square and it can be a bit of a squeeze. Indeed, local residents often rent out the apartments surrounding the piazza so that visitors can appreciate the races without the threat of being trampled or squished by the throng.
Best Museum – Museo Dell’Opera Del Duomo, Florence
Inside this strikingly modern museum, you’ll explore the world’s largest collection of Florentine sculptures from the Medieval and Renaissance periods spread over 25 exhibition halls. Sounds overwhelming? Actually, thanks to the layout’s careful planning, it’s quite the opposite. The elegant design layers over itself, offering new perspectives on halls you’ve previously walked through, and varied lighting throughout the galleries is just one of the tricks employed to engage visitors. The original museum was founded in 1891, but its lack of exhibition space meant that its concept was always unfulfilled.” If you’re a lover of classic Italian art then this newly refurbished museum simply has to be visited.
Best Beach – Su Giudeu, Chia, Southern Sardinia
Enjoy a round of golf at the Chia golf course, and then what? Why not relax on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world? Around 50km west of the Sardinian capital of Cagliari you’ll find Su Giudeu (which is very close to Chia, see The Best of Sardinia’s Coast, page 42). Chilling out on a sun lounger not your thing? Then take to the ocean to enjoy one of the best surfing experiences on the island. Alternatively, give scuba diving a go – lessons are available if you’re not already qualified and reefs abound just waiting to be explored.
Best Overall Destination – Rome
Ah, the Eternal City… Some of you may consider it an obvious choice as our Best Overall Destination, but we stand by our decision: to view the recently renovated Trevi Fountain (go early in the morning to beat the crowds) or to stand within the Colloseum, Italy’s capital has so, so much to offer, and all of it memorable.
But there’s a lot to discover that’s well off the beaten tourist track, and the best way to find hidden destinations is to walk. And you can do so for hours, days even. Enjoy the street food, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the very best that Italy has to offer.