We created these pages to help you really Discover Italy. Journalists Donald Strachan, Steve Keenan, Jasmine Boni-Ball, Sara Sherwood, Sabrin Hasbun, Alicia Peacock, Chloë Sibley— who visit several times every year — have gathered a rich crop of local stories and written destination guides to help you make the most of your vacation. As they say in Italy, “Buon viaggio!”
As the capital of the Renaissance, Florence is not only home to some of the best museums in Italy; some of the city’s finest masterpieces are housed in its many, many churches. We all know the spectacular Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore — let’s face it, the city’s romantic skyline wouldn’t be the same without Brunelleschi’s Dome — but there are also plenty of unassuming or relatively unknown churches worth discovering in Florence. Not only are these great places to uncover the city’s true pulse — many are still active places of worship — but they also afford us the privilege of witnessing great works of art in situ.
Did you know that each capital atop the columns that line the arcade of the Ducal Palace tells a story? Each one is carved with a different narrative scene from court life, some romantic, some tragic. If you are staying in one of our villas near Venice or Verona look out for these extra special details in the Piazza San Marco and get to know the iconic Basilica on a more intimate level.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco ─ it is probably up there on most people’s lists of the best things to do in Venice beyond Saint Mark’s Square. It’s also one of 7 Scuole Grandi in Venice, each a monumental feat of art and architecture, each an important relic from the Venetian Republic’s hey-day. But what are the Scuole of Venice and what makes them so unique to the city?
Venice is one of those truly rare cities where famous masterpieces can still be witnessed in situ. You can experience the work of great masters without stepping foot in a museum, whether the paintings of Tintoretto in the marvellously ostentatious Scuola Grande di San Rocco or the altarpieces of Bellini in San Zaccaria. However, for a city bursting at the seams with monumental art and architecture, there are still countless museums worth dedicating your time to. Many of these museums are housed in old extravagant palazzi or ex-scuole so often you’ll find the surroundings rival the works of art themselves.
Venice is one of those rare cities where many famous altarpieces and Renaissance paintings can still be appreciated in situ. The city’s many churches — from the iconic and ceremonial to the entirely unassuming and underrated — are the keepers of great, sacred and sometimes secret masterpieces.
Pisa is renowned for its leaning tower, marble cathedrals and historic piazzas — so the city’s more naturalistic components often become overlooked. Orto Botanico di Pisa, or simply Pisa’s botanical garden, can be found in the city’s centre next to the beloved Piazza dei Cavalieri. From the history to museum, read on to discover one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe.
This world-renowned institution has helped define Venice’s reputation as one of the leading cities for contemporary art and culture in Europe. The Venice Biennale runs from May to November each year and alternates between art and architecture exhibitions. This guide offers advice on how best to maximise your time between the Arsenale, Giardini and outlying pavilions, a brief history and our favourite time to visit.
Italy boasts one of the richest artistic legacies in the Western world, producing a wealth of canonical artists, architects and intellectuals, but for those whose interests extend far beyond the canons of Art History, Italy also has a thriving contemporary scene. From Venice and Milan in the north to the central cities of Florence and Rome, this comprehensive guide offers some of the top museum and gallery highlights in Italy.
While no trip to Venice is complete without a tour of Piazza San Marco ー from the campanile to the Basilica and Palazzo Ducale ー it's perhaps the city’s greatest tragedy that many of its visitors do not venture beyond the iconic square. From our favourite month to visit, to overlooked architectural jewels, this alternative guide will help you to navigate the city like a true Venetian.
Florence is known as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, so if you’re in the city it is essential to discover its art. Florence offers everything for both art and history enthusiasts alike — from grand statues to paintings so detailed they tell stories. Some masterpieces can only be found in Florence, so make sure to not miss out on this important part of Italian culture.
Music is an international language and essential pastime for many people across the world. Melodies can bring people together and lyrics can paint emotions you didn’t even realise you had. Live music is special in this sense; entertaining groups of people as well as touching each individual differently. Experience live music in a historic Tuscan setting at any of these music venues in Siena.
Italy is a country of art — visit any museum from Turin to Palermo and you are bound to find some of the greatest masterpieces of all time. Italy is also a country of naturalistic wonders — undulating hills lined with olive groves and vineyards, rocky cliffs and quiet coves on the Medietterranean Sea, and emerald lakes at the foothills of the Alps. Take a closer look at the link between nature and art: we’ve collected a list of our favourite open-air museums and art gardens where you can spend the day enjoying the best of both worlds.
There is no better way to discover a city if not by foot. On this walking tour of Florence, we suggest an itinerary off the beaten path surrounding the theme of love. Enjoy a romantic day with your dear ones, or simply experience the city through another lens. Our curated Itinerary: Love & Lust, will reveal the romantic, as well as the more mundane and mischievous side of the city.
Pisa — the first thing that comes to mind is the Leaning Tower and Piazza dei Miracoli. While no trip to Pisa is complete without a visit to these two historical attractions, this city along the river Arno, has many other hidden gems worth a visit. From our favourite month to visit, to the best places to enjoy an aperitif or meal, our insider's guide will help you plunge yourself into the spirit of this radiant Italian city.
“Il Campo” is one of Italy’s most beautiful squares. Students, schoolchildren, picnickers, tourists and Sienese relax in its burnt-sienna glow, as Gothic shadows move slowly across the paving stones. The Campo is also the epicentre of this city's sights: art, architecture and more.
In Tuscany, even the not-so-famous artworks are masterpieces in their own right. Here, Dr. David Saunders from the British Museum picks five of his personal, less-known favourites from five Tuscan cities: Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia and Siena.
Everything you have heard about the Uffizi is true: this Florence museum is the planet’s greatest collection of Renaissance art. There’s so much inside, it’s impossible to see everything on a single trip. Fancy some insider knowledge before you go, including how to skip the epic line outside?
Gary Arndt has visited over 330 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, on travels that have taken him all over the world. In an interview with TN&M, he selects his favourites from among Tuscany's seven sites, and explains what he loves best about them.
Like all self-respecting Renaissance bigwigs, Florence’s Medici family kept a place or two in the country. Being the Medici, however, they built more and grander villas than anyone else. Our short guide covers the best of them — including some grisly history.
It is no secret that Florence is a city that will steal your heart. From the beloved Piazza della Signoria to Santa Croce, the historic centre is hardly short of romance and wonder. However, it is in Oltrarno, south of the River Arno, where authentic Florence truly comes into its own. Treasured by Florentines, this is the district of artisans, antique dealers, Piazza Santo Spirito and historic palaces like the Palazzo Pitti.
If anyone knows how to celebrate Easter in style, it is the Italians. The Florentines especially have mastered marking the occasion with spectacular impact. Every year on Easter Sunday the city turns out for a very special celebration, the Scoppio del Carro, or the “Explosion of the Cart,” which dates back over 350 years.
Tuscany is not only the birthplace of opera, it is one of the best places in Europe to experience the art form. Over 400 years later, we are still gathering to delight in masterpieces each summer. The breathtaking backdrop of serene lakes, medieval piazzas and Tuscan cathedrals only adds further to the magic. Head below for our round-up of the best and most beautiful summertime venues to experience opera in Tuscany.