Where to go on holiday in Italy: 4 Slow ideas
weekend nelle langhe

I’m always looking for something unusual. I create personalized tours for my clients where the common thread is the local experience. I live in Piedmont, but over time I have built a network of friends/colleagues who have the same way of thinking about travel.

Holidays in Italy are a mine of sensations, opportunities for recreation and culture. The country has a network of wonderful itineraries. A heritage of art that make it an open-air museum. And then what? Wine and food without equal in the world, which besides being unique always tell the story of the places we meet. Word of gourmand.

And so in this year where the invitation is to stay in Italy and discover our beauties, I felt the need to illustrate some of them choosing among the less known ones, where it is easier to live a slow holiday in harmony with the place and the people met.


Piedmont as a destination for relaxation, food & wine and culture

Holidays in Italy

1. Piedmont - Turin and surroundings

Con SLowdays al parco della Burcina
  • Turin will amaze you. Great city but with an easy and squared architecture. Forget Fiat’s Turin, which grew up a bit unregulated. Today Turin is an elegant city that has opened up more and more to tourism and offers countless opportunities to spend one or more very interesting days. A walk in Via Roma and Via Po, with historic shops and cafes, protected by long arcades. The Mole Antonelliana with the Cinema Museum. The famous Egyptian Museum that conquers young and old with its halls. I also recommend the Church of San Lorenzo to discover its secret!

In the evening a walk along the Lungo Po, at the Murazzi and maybe a good beer at Open Baladin. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to sleep.

I recommend a “special” guided tour: get to know Turin through its historical food, for example (breadsticks, gianduiotti, bicerin…).

  • From Turin you can head to the Ricetto di Candelo: find yourself immersed in medieval life. An incredible jump into the past! I recommend a guided tour to learn more about the customs and traditions of the time and project them into the buildings you will visit.
  • Still in the north of Turin you will find Lake Maggiore. Stresa and the islands of the lake are well known and very popular. My advice? Lose yourself in the gardens of Villa Taranto. In any season you’ll find flowery and well-kept expanses. The history of the Villa is very interesting!
  • If you’re not from the area, maybe you don’t know the Burcina Park. The expanses of rhododendrons that colour the hill. Wanted by the visionary founder of the Piacenza family. A trip to the company store in Piacenza could give you a few moments of shopping!
  • If you love bucolic landscapes, if you have already heard of Via Francigena, it could be very satisfying and relaxing to visit the small town of Novalesa. A stop for lunch in a trattoria in the village will certainly be a nice prize for the palate.
  • I can only conclude with Lake Orta. A day strolling around the town, a quick transfer by boat to visit the Island of San Giulio and learn about the stories of the monastery.

2. Piedmont - Alba and Alta Langa

Roero trekking

We at SlowDays love the Langhe (we live there!) and can therefore advise and guide you in choosing a holiday in these fantastic places.

  • Alba, capital of the Langhe. You can’t miss a holiday in these areas. Visit the Saturday market, a showcase of small producers of fruit, vegetables, hazelnuts, cheese. Sitting in Via Maestra (it’s called Via Vittorio Emanuele but nobody calls it that way) to taste an aperitif, mostly a glass of excellent wine. Have dinner in one of the trattorias or in a starred restaurant. Go shopping in one of the many shops that overlook the main streets. Have a day in a beautiful SPA. Stroll or rent an e-bike to explore the hills.
  • Barbararesco and Barolo. Joined by their famous wines and the Bar to Bar path for those who love walking.
  • The castles of the Langhe: Many, majestic and scenic! The Castle of Grinzane, the Castle of Serralunga, the Castle of Barolo. A walk or a ride in the Langhe are the ideal way to get to know them!
  • The Langhe benches are now 100! It’s hard to see them all but they are once again a beautiful game of discovery that accompanies the walks and rides.
  • The Alta Langa and its wonderful and open landscapes. A visit to Bossolasco, the land of roses. The discovery of the world of bees. The taste of sheep’s cheese illustrated by those who produce it.
  • An Enogastronomic Tour in the Langhe will introduce you to the excellence of this territory!

To sleep in this area you can choose Alba, with many accommodations of all levels. You will be comfortable to walk around in the evening and reach several restaurants without needing a car. Or you can decide to stay in the hills, in farmhouses or small hotels, with the possibility of swimming pool and with a view of the Langhe guaranteed. The Alta Langa can be a very interesting choice if you love the quiet, cool summer evenings!

Tuscany you don't expect.

Holidays in Italy

3. Tuscany - Lucca and Garfagnana

  • Lucca, the city of 100 Churches. Lucca is really worth a day or more to visit. A city of about 90,000 inhabitants that retains a very Slow dimension, just the way we like it. The walk on the walls that surround it is absolutely not to be missed. They are not “just walls”, they are actually a walk of about 12km, planted with trees. Really nice experience to do. The city has many surprises in store for you: Piazza Grande, which houses the Palazzo Ducale, seat of the Province of Lucca; Via Fillungo, the main street that crosses the historic center of Lucca, home to shops and cafes; Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, the closed square and symbol of the city. Access is through four doors. Restaurants, shops and outdoor tables make it the living room of the city. And then Towers that can be visited and that allow you to see Lucca from above. And churches, many churches. I highly recommend a guided tour of even just half a day!
  • Castelnuovo in Garfagnana, centre and reference point of the area. Typical medieval town where the library, schools and the beautiful Vittorio Alfieri Theatre stand out. Remarkable is the beautiful bridge that connects the Castle to the village of Cellabarotti, now known as Ponte di Santa Lucia. A curiosity makes this small town very famous: its musical vocation! various events during the year that attract tourists and artists from all over the world. The central event of the country’s musical year is the Festival of the International Academy of Music of New York. Together with Burgos in Spain and St. Petersburg in Russia, Castelnuovo is one of the venues of the Festival. It is also an ideal starting point to explore the Orecchiella Park and the Apuan Alps Park.
  • Tour of the Marble Quarries of Vagli. In this case I am really short of words. The magnificence, grandeur and interest that a tour of this kind can arouse, you can only discover it by experiencing it. The three marble basins of the marble quarries of Torano, Fantiscritti and Colonnata can be visited along the route of the former Ferrovia Marmifera. A spectacular journey to discover the quarries, from which the marbles that contributed to the genius of the great sculptors of the past are extracted!
  • A walk along the paths of the Apennines. You can climb up to the ridge to have a beautiful view of the Garfagnana on one side and the Po Valley on the other. Along the ridge you reach a refuge where you can book lunch. The path also leads to the village of San Pellegrino, a small and welcoming mountain village.

To stay I suggest to stop in Castelnuovo but, if you want, you can also sleep in Lucca and combine day trips in Garfagnana. Holidays in Italy and especially in Tuscany will never have been so full of emotions!

The Seven Roman Hills. Because they're extraordinary!

Holidays in Italy

4. Latium - The Roman Castles

Lake of Nemi from Genzano

In this case I describe a tour that I have recently organized for some of our clients and that has been a great success!

  • Day 1: Accommodation in a small hotel in Grottaferrata. Stroll through the centre of Grottaferrata and visit the thousand-year-old Abbey of San Nilo (built in 1004), the only abbey in Italy where the Catholic-Byzantine rite is still practiced.
  • Day 2: We go to Frascati. Urban Trekking of the Tuscolane Villas: a route that crosses historical parks, with centuries-old plants, which already belonged to the noble Roman families who from 500 onwards built imposing villas in late Renaissance and Baroque style. A visit inside the Villa is worth the stop. I also recommend a walk in the historic center of Frascati to buy the “puppet with three breasts” sweet typical of Frascati (the third breast is for wine!). After Frascati, Castel Gandolfo, a visit to the centre and some photos of the beautiful volcanic lake Albano.
  • Day 3: Nemi. A nice trekking “the secret ways of water”, along the shores of Lake Nemi, a historical-archaeological and naturalistic route. The path in the forest of the Nemi basin, allows you to reach the underground tunnels (horizontal filter tunnels) built in Roman times and then harnessed in the aqueduct.

I hope I intrigued you with my descriptions. Holidays in Italy are not a fallback!

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