Summer is not really the ideal time to get up close and personal with Italy's greatest charms. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, people flock here in the summer. Popular cities like Rome, Florence and Venice are packed with crowds that would rival Disney World. Paired with the scorching Mediterranean sunshine, the whole experience is more sweaty and agonizing than trip of a lifetime.
This doesn't mean you should completely rule out Italy for your summer vacation though. Many people go out of their way to avoid Italy during these hot crowded months, but there are actually some really great less-popular corners of the country that you can enjoy while the rest of the world waits 8 hours to get into Vatican City.
Most visitors will be flocking to the sunny hillsides of Tuscany and Umbria, so consider heading north to the Piedmont region instead. The area, which borders Switzerland, is known for its green river valleys, its stunning alpine views and its delicious wine and cheeses. The local cuisine can definitely hold its own against its southern neighbors.
Most tourists take the train from Milan to Florence and completely miss out on one of Italy's most interesting small cities. It's a city full of amazing culture, elegant covered archways and the oldest university in the Western world, founded in1088. As the center of the Emilia-Romagna region (home of balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese), it's also one of Italy's culinary capitals.
If it's sparkling Mediterranean water you're craving, head south to the region of Calabria, locally known as the "Caribbean of Europe." While areas like the Amalfi coast will be packed with holiday-makers, the beaches of Calabria, just a small waterway away from Sicily, are relatively unknown. Small resort villages like Praia A Mare and Isca Marina cater to relaxed beach goers.
If the idea of packed and smelly summertime Venice is a turnoff, you may want to consider nearby Trieste. Perched on the Slovenian border and overlooking the Adriatic, Trieste is full of history and Roman ruins. It's culturally unique due to its position(it was once part of the Austrian empire) with a very different cuisine and style of architecture from much of Italy.
Italy is a huge country, with twenty diverse regions each offering a unique experience. So go to Rome, go to Florence and then look beyond these major cities to fully enjoy everything a visit to Italy should be.
Do you have any suggestions for visiting Italy in the summer?