Indulge in a luxury Italian hotel with Small Luxury Hotels of the World to experience Italy in style. Feast your eyes on art and elegant cities built around classical monuments, treat your palette to vibrant regional cuisines, and open your mind to an expressive and flamboyant culture.
We have over 50 hotels across Italy to guide your way from elegantly restored borgos, former 16th century monasteries, palazzos and neo-classical villas, all with something unique to offer. Some have kept the façade of history, but inside features chic modernist styles; others stay utterly true to their cultural roots offering guests a glimpse into a life once led.
City breaks in Italy
Medieval basilicas and Renaissance palazzi are your stage set on a luxury Italian hotel stay in Romeo and Juliet’s city, Verona. Develop your own take on Italian style in Milan’s exclusive Golden Square, cultivate a taste for Rinascimento masterpieces in cultured Florence, or swirl in candlelit palaces during Venice’s flirtatious carnival. Seek shade in Rome’s Borghese gardens for a taste of la dolce vita.
When to go
Italian cities are wonderful to visit any time of the year but tourism surges in months when there’s must-see events such as Venice’s masked Carnival, Milan’s fashion week and Lent season in Rome. The summer months are officially peak season, however, late Spring and early Autumn are considered the best times to go as the cities are less crowded, yet the weather still pleasantly warm which makes it ideal for sightseeing.
- Many forget that Venice has some wonderful beaches on The Lido, a seven-mile long sandbar in the Venice Lagoon. Just a 10 minute ride by waterbus from St Mark’s Square, The Lido Island plays host to the 68th Edition of the Venice Film Festival between 28 August and 8 September 2012.
- Rome is such an absorbing city that most visitors forget that it’s only a short hop to the beach. Jump on a train to Santa Marinella for a day at the seaside with delicious seafood.
- While Florence is known for masterpieces like Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Michelangelo’s David, a visit to The Leather School (Scuola del Cuoio) will prove that art here comes in many forms. Witness master craftsmen at work and learn the traditions of Florentine craftsmanship - don’t forget to place a custom order of your own!
Beach holidays in Italy
Begin on Sorrento’s seafront on the Amalfi Coast, then explore the peaceful grottos and tranquil marinas on the island of Capri. With Sicily’s opulent clifftop resort Taormina as your base, explore a rich history reflected in exciting Greek- and Arab-influenced cuisine, or glide down in a romantic cable car to Mazzarò’s pebble beach and luxuriate in its cobalt waters.
When to go
Summer is when the Italian islands come into to their own. Ischia, Capri, Sicily and Sardinia have a Mediterranean climate with long hot summers. Though come in winter and daytime temperatures will be around 10C and beaches pleasantly empty.
In spring and autumn, there are often events that locals would like to keep secret such as the concerts held in Villa Rufolo in Ravello, famous for having inspired Wagner for the setting of his Parsifal.
- For a secret beach on the not so secret Amalfi Coast, head to Regina Giovanna beach, about a 30 minute’s walk from Sorrento. It was where Queen Giovanna of Bulgaria used to sunbathe naked in the 1920s. Caves, boulders, lagoons and rock pools make it extra special.
- Every October more than two thousand sails meet in the Gulf of Trieste. The 16 nautical mile route is Europe’s biggest sailing event and the only regatta to set a single start line for so many yachts, barcolana.it
- Dive a classic convertible car round the hairpin bends of the Amalfi Coast. There are many places to rent in Sorrento from vintage Fiat 500s to Jaguars. And don’t miss an ice-cream at the Gelateria David in Sorrento with over 130 flavours.
Italian countryside retreats
Choose exclusive hotels in rural Tuscany for tastings at Chianti wineries between fragrant cypress trees and olive groves. The Alpine Italian Lakes have attracted aristocrats since Roman times. Connoisseurs still seek out their serene villages and opulent villas with sculpture-strewn gardens. In Puglia, taste salty spaghetti alle Vongole with fresh clams and see the unforgettable sea of grey conical roofs in Alberobello.
When to go
Peak season is July to August but a great time to explore the Italian countryside is April to June and September to October when the sun is out, but not oppressively hot.
Come in the winter months for mild temperatures without the summer crowds, cosy weekends away indulging in gourmet food and wine tasting, superb skiing in the Mont Blanc region of the Western Alps and cross-country skiing in the South Tyrol.
- An hour’s scenic drive south from Florence is the Chianti Classico region. Take a tour of the Castello di Verranzzano vineyard and its castle cellar and late-Renaissance gardens. Stay for lunch and finish with biscotti dipped in dessert wine, a speciality of the region.
- Tuscany may be known for its rolling hills, but it has almost 100 miles of coastline to the west. Castiglione della Pescaia has great sailing and windsurfing and good scuba diving is found further south in Monte Argentario’s coves and bays.
- Stay in Bologna and check out the new Casa Ferrari Museum based around in the house in which Enzo Ferrari was born in 1898 and used as his workshop. The stars of this exhibition are the cars themselves.
- The annual Festival Puccini is hosted in Tuscany in July and August. Created by Puccini himself since 1930, the event is held in an outdoor theatre close to Villa Mausoleo where the master’s remains lie. Operas performed this year include Tosca, La Boheme and Madame Butterfly.
Be Inspired itinerary: Amalfi Coast and beyond
This south western region of Italy with its long stretch of Mediterranean coast is home to some of the country’s most iconic attractions including Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii and the sought after islands of Capri and Ischia.
Day 1: Begin by immersing yourself in Naples, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the original home of the pizza. This is a living city of extremes and the Grand Hotel Parker’s is an oasis of sophistication overlooking the Bay of Naples to Capri. This grande dame has played host to the great and good since the 1870s and offers today’s guests one of the best restaurants in the city, a fabulous champagne bar and spa.
Day 2: Once you’ve explored Naples, head to the countryside of Campania to Aquapetra Resort & Spa. Set in an elegantly restored borgo, all you have to do is indulge with walking tours, wine and olive oil tasting and plenty of spa pampering!
Day 3: Contrast this rural idyll with few days on the enigmatic volcanic island of Ischia at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples. Stay at the San Montano Resort and Spa Ischia with its stunning views of Naples and kick back on beach.
Day 4: Sail the glorious Bay of Naples south to the chi-chi island of Capri, where the beautiful people flock in summer. Here you have a choice of the Hotel Punta Tragara, designed by the French architect Le Corbusier, and J.K. Place Capri, a dazzling white villa on the cliffs above Marina Grande where chic doesn’t even begin to describe the vibe.
Day 5: Your grand tour wouldn’t be complete without a taste of the Amalfi Coast. Check into the Grand Hotel Cocumella, a former 16th century Jesuit Monastery set in honey and lemon groves just outside Sorrento. Charter a boat tour of Naples bay from the fabulous beach club by the rocky shore. A little further up the Sorrentine coast lies Grand Hotel Angliolieri, an elegant villa offering a sophisticated culinary experience at its Michelin-starred L’Accanto restaurant.
Day 6: Spend you final days at the artfully modern Casa Angelina Lifestyle in Praiano, between Positano and Amalfi, where gleaming white décor is interspersed with whimsical pieces of art. Pick up a vintage car rental to take a final drive along the Amalfi Coast, and sail on the private boat for a day before heading back home to reality.
Book a luxury hotel in Italy with Small Luxury Hotels of the World to stay in grand palazzi with views over the Venetian Grand Canal that inspired Canaletto or the serene waters of Lake Garda. With a glass of Chianti Superiore in your hand, look down on rural landscapes dotted with villas and vineyards.