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italy gems

Are These the Gems of Italy for 2024?

Posted on 3 Jul 2024

What are the things that get us through a hard week? A long day in the office? A rainy afternoon when you want to be out at the park? Daydreaming about Italy. At least, that does it for us. 

This little boot-shaped European country has held a special place in many hearts for thousands of years. Today, it’s frequented by travellers and explorers looking to find something. An experience only they can create... by finally taking that step and booking that flight.  

We adore Italy. We want the icy freshness of a gelato on a balmy July evening as we navigate the cobblestone streets under the yawning shadow of a cathedral built a thousand years ago. We want the undeniable pull of the shimmering Adriatic water convincing us that a dip in the ocean is the only way to end the perfect day. And Italy can give us all that, and so much more. 

But with so many cities and villages, civitas and towns, where should you go first? It’s the kind of country where you could throw a dart at a map of Italy and anywhere it lands would be divine. But to help narrow it down, we’re going to focus in on a few places we think are top of the list for a holiday to Italy in 2024. 

Coming up in this blog: 


“The shame of Italy”. That’s what Matera was once called. But when you overlook the labyrinth city below you, we’re certain you’ll be confused as to why it could ever have been considered shameful. Italy's south holds many gems. And, for many, it’s remained a region of Italy unexplored – something we think needs to be corrected immediately.  

Your average person won’t have heard of Matera, but you may have seen it in movies like The Passion of the Christ (2004), Ben Hur (2016), and James Bond's No Time To Die (2021). She was influenced over the millennia by various civilizations, including the Greeks and the Roman Empire, so it’s no surprise that Matera has an eclectic look about her. The city flourished during the medieval period as a hub of culture, trade, and art. But today her historic centre is characterized by medieval churches and narrow winding streets weaving around cliffs and stone-carved dwellings. 

Read more about Matera here.

Featured tour: 6-day Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast & Irresistible Italy tour

matera italy

Polignano a Mare 

Tucked away on Italy’s southern Adriatic coast is a pebbled beach town known as Polignano a Mare. One look at the old town and you know this place has a very ancient history. The white-washed old town is perched on a rocky spur with an enviable view of the glistening ocean and, as you wander the shops and restaurants, seek out those incredible viewpoints. Gaze down at the tiny beach below. Watch people bathe on the rocky beach and swim in the cool waters. Marvel at the brave ones who disappear for a moment into the sea caves and consider going down for an exploration yourself.  

Featured tour: 6-day Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast & Irresistible Italy tour

polignano a mare italy


What’s that phrase? An oldie but a goldie? That’s Venice, through and through. Year after year, it’s easy to recommend Venice as a top destination and we have absolutely no shame in jumping on that band wagon.  

Venice is the kind of place that truly takes you away. A winding, watery labyrinth of weathered beauty, history etched into every morsel. During the day, it’s easy to become enthralled by its energy and swept away by the endless things to do. Whether you travel to engage with history, loosen the wallet a little, or simply enjoy a sweet treat with an even sweeter view, Venice is the place. 

But for those who make the ingenious decision to stay overnight in Venice, you see her other side too. That somewhat ghostly side. Because, at night, Venice becomes haunted with the whispers of her past but there’s something strangely alluring about it all. It’s not scary, as it might sound. Instead, it’s comforting to know that the history that gets made here remains and you’re now a part of it.  

Featured tour: 4-day Italian Dreams: Garda & Venice tour

Venice italy


The masterpiece of Italy. That’s what we’re calling her anyway. How could we not when Florence is the home to many known masterpieces of the world – from Renaissance art to awe-inspiring architecture? 

Florence’s lively and bustling spirit ensures you’ll come alive when you visit. It’s the kind of place one comes to feast. To feast on world-class art and gourmet Italian delicacies. To feast on unfathomable architecture that towers over you and to savour the aftertaste of a day spent in one of the most memorable places in the world. We think so, at least. 

Top tip: if you’re staying overnight and it’s a clear night, head up to the Piazzale Michelangelo viewpoint for sunset. It can get rather crowded but there are often pockets of quiet among the fray, including some beautiful gardens.  

Featured tour: 4-day Tuscan Trails: Florence & Cinque Terre tour

Florence Italy


Imagine this. 1290. In a small city perched upon a rocky mountain, a cathedral is built. Her facade is made of mosaics so that she glistens in the sunlight, almost blinding you with her beauty. Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? Like a jewel dropped into the earth, winking at you from a distance. 

But the Duomo di Orvieto is still there to this day. And all around her are wine-soaked streets lined with shops, not to mention all the restaurants and cafes waiting to treat you to local Umbrian delicacies. Maybe you’ll sample the fragrant zing of tartufo (truffles) which can be found on everything from tagliolini to crostini.  

Featured tour: 6-day Venice, Garda & Romantic Northern Italy tour

Orvieto Italy


If you’re visiting Orvieto on your own, perhaps an Italian self-drive (sounds like bliss), then make sure you pop into Bagnoregio. This commune truly is something spectacular. To see a hilltop town or village among Italy’s incredible landscape isn’t uncommon, but there’s something singular about Bagnoregio.  

Teetering atop its most perfect hill, overlooking a vast canyon, this tiny civita is a winding miracle of cobbled lanes, ivy-crawled stone walls, and tiled roofs. It was founded by the Etruscans more than 2,500 years ago and is only accessible by a stomach-dropping foot bridge. 

Once on the other side, you’ll be immediately overcome by the presence of Bagnoregio. For a small place, she packs a big punch. 

Bagnoregio is a photographer’s dream. Really, it’s a dream place for anyone with an appreciation of beauty, history, and of discovering the kind of place that makes you reconsider city life. 

Pro tip: Look for the tunnels that honeycomb beneath the city, many of which date back to Etruscan times.   

Bagnoregio Italy

So, are these the must-visit gems in Italy for 2024? We’ll leave that up to you. Whether a more frequented destination like Venice or somewhere a little lesser known like Orvieto, we’re certain each of these places will ignite the curiosity of the traveller inside you.  

And one thing we love about Italy is that its ‘summer’ tends to last a lot longer than you might think. Look beyond the peak months and consider what a nice shoulder-season visit might do for your soul. Meandering down the quieter alleyways on an evening in Venice, canal-side with a gelato in hand and the buzz of limoncello still thrumming in your veins might just be what the travel-doctor ordered.

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