Waist deep in Google searches for Northern Italy?
Sweet, so glad you’re here.
Northern Italy is everything on the map above Rome. You should visit, ‘cause the cities are alluringly ancient and the villages are works of art.
We get that it’s overwhelming to digest, and you just want to know exactly what to do. You’re totally over barebones info you’re skimming on the web.
We’ll guess that Florence, Milan and Venice made most lists (they’re on ours, too) — but we know that you’re still not sure which ones are worth seeing.
Whatever you read next has to be The Guide To End All Googling.
Dreaming about an Italy trip in 2018 or beyond?
Behold our hot list of the best places to travel in Italy in 2018! These are the lesser-known spots that we’re lovin’ now.
1. Matera (Basilicata)
Matera is a wise addition to your Italy trip in 2018. After all, this might be the last year that it can truly be considered “off the beaten path” — it’s been named European Capital of Culture for 2019, which will no doubt hotfoot it right onto the world’s radar. Go anytime before then and you’ll have the caves to yourself. In drizzling winter or in peak season summer, this place is nothing short of impressive.
What’s so special about it? Two words: cave dwellings. This is one of the few places on the planet that has been continuously inhabited since Paleolithic times. Paleowhaaaat? Just means these digs are old! The Sassi is a district in Matera characterized by 1500 prehistoric cave dwellings that were home to its inhabitants for thousands of years, until as recently as the 1950s.
The caves lay abandoned for decades until a group dedicated to restoring them stepped in and began to clean them up. By 1993 they had been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Little by little boutique hotels, restaurants and bars started to open up right in the caves themselves. On our gorgeous Southern Italy tour, we bring guests to stay in one of the most enchanting of these hotels.
Matera only just started to become a real tourism destination in 2014 — a mere four years ago! That’s virtually unheard of in Italy, one of the most visited countries on earth and home to places like Venice, which are practically (and literally!) sinking under the weight of the visitors that tromp through every year. Now, we’re recommending it as one of the 5 Best Places to Travel in Italy in 2018!
Looking for what to do in Portofino? Get straight up advice from someone who lives in that neck of the yachts.
Portofino is a fab day trip from the Cinque Terre. You can easily hop on a train from any Cinque Terre village and head north. More insider train information in our guide here.
We’ve asked Portofino insider, and Italian Fix guest contributor, Kaitlin King to spill the fagioli. Kaitlin writes …
I first arrived in Portofino aboard a private, 5-story yacht sailing from Monaco. I ate at the finest restaurants, played in one-thousand-euro-a-day beach lounges, and popped champagne with celebrities. “Wouldn’t it be a dream to live here?” my travel companion sighed, dreamily. “Yes, it would.”
Today, I do live here — kind of. My small flat is just down the road. I get to Portofino by bike sharing, spend my days hiking, and splurge on 9-euro Aperol Spritz aperitivi so I can get the free snacks. Truth be told, I came to Portofino the first time as a tutor for a world-traveling European family. I lived the high life with them, enjoying a fairytale tourist experience. Then I fell in love with my waiter, returned after my tutoring gig was over, and today enjoy more of a local, Italian lifestyle.
Here’s a peek into the affordable side of this beautiful former fishing village, and the secret spots that both the posh and the proletariat frequent.