Italy is a stunning country that seamlessly mixes a coastal break with a city one. This is especially the case if you decide to use a rental vehicle, as that way you can go on daytrips to the beach or countryside whenever you want to escape the city.
I love the thought of spending the day relaxing on the beach, before heading back to my city-centre accommodation to get glammed up for some cocktails in a chic bar, followed by a meal at a top restaurant.If you also like the sound of this kind of break, below is a guide to Italy’s must-visit cities.
Milan is known for its class, sophistication and fashion, and while I think you can easily spend all of your holiday in Italy in the destination, I would also make sure you spare the time to visit the surrounding area. Get car hire in Milan and you can drive to the likes of Lake Como, which has long been a popular haunt among the rich and famous, and with good reason.
The surrounding wine hills also make for stunning scenery if you decide to go on a drive, so you are definitely spoilt for choice when choosing a daytrip. In Milan centre itself, however, even the most ardent art, cultural and historical fans will be satisfied with what’s on offer.
I might not be the most knowledgeable about art, but I definitely appreciate the fact that Milan is the home of several masterpieces, including The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci and Basket of Fruit by Caravaggio. There’s also an array of monuments, galleries and museums to visit when you decide to leave your car parked up and explore Milan by foot.
Another of Italy’s must-visit cities is Pisa, and I must admit the Leaning Tower is always the main attraction to pop into my head when I think of the destination. However, I was surprised to discover that just a short drive from the city centre is several seaside resorts.
Booking a break to Pisa means you can spend your mornings browsing its designer boutiques and cultural sites, before hopping behind the wheel and heading to the beach for a relaxing afternoon. Around 20 minutes from the city centre by car is Tirrenia, an elegant resort that is nestled in a beautiful pine forest.
Come here for a few hours, and you can relax with a good book on the stretch of sand, try your hand at sailing, ride a horse through the pine forest and play a round or two of golf.
My third and final must-see city of Italy is Rome. While the city needs no introduction, its churches and basilicas are some of the most famous in the world. The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the best-preserved and most important churches in the city and is set atop Esquiline Hill.
Dedicated to the Madonna, the basilica is also known as Our Lady of Snow as a result of a legend. According to the story, a wealthy Roman resident saw the Virgin Mary in a dream and she told him she would show him where to build a church. Despite the heat of August, snow appeared on the hill, which was seen as a miracle.
If, like me, you enjoy visiting different churches, make sure you also include St Peter in the Vatican and St Paul’s Outside the Walls.
Have you been to either of these cities? If so, leave your top tips below to help other holidaymakers enjoy their time there.