Most destinations can hang their hat on one or two drawcards, whether it’s scenery, archaeology, art, history, shopping or food.
Italy can lay claim to all of the above. And an itinerary built around tasting, drinking, finding and making the dishes, wines and produce the country is famous for will also provide a sampler of all of Italy’s other charms.
Luxury travel specialists Abercrombie & Kent’s Tailor Made Italian itineraries are customisable and flexible, and all include the opportunity to discover the very best cuisine of the region they’re in, so they’re a perfect way to eat your way around Italy, with side dishes of scenery, history, archaeology, art and shopping.
Enjoy spectacular scenery, fine food and wine with A&K. Photo: Abercrombie & Kent
Italy’s “boot heel” is one of the best places to enjoy the fruits of the sea, connected as it is to the Adriatic and Ionian seas and enjoying the longest coastline of any Italian region.
Head to the island of Gallipoli, where you can choose your catch from the fish market and pair it with local wines.
Or do the same in Lecce, where you can be guided around the market by a host before returning to cook your selection.
Don’t miss the opportunity to stop in at a family-run dairy farm near Otranto to see how they make cheese, or sample olive oil from an ancient underground mill in the white city of Ostuni.
And a side dish: Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello to see the cone-shaped limestone dwellings known as the trulli.
The extraordinary beauty of the island of Sardinia is only matched by its wine and produce.
Cultivated over centuries, the white-skinned vermentino grapes of the island produce a famed dry and full-bodied white, and a visit to one of the island’s vineyards is a must.
If you’re visiting the Bronze Age ruins at Su Nuraxi di Barumini, you should also visit the busy bees at Isca e Muras, an artisanal small-scale honey producer, for a tasting paired with fruit and cheese. Then pop into a sheep farm and learn how soft ricotta and bitey pecorino is made.
And a side dish: Sail the crystalline waters of the Maddalena Archipelago National Park on a vintage sailboat, stopping to swim at white sandy beaches along the way.
Make food the focus on your Italian holiday. Photo: Abercrombie & Kent
Tuscany and Umbria
These two neighbouring regions of central Italy evoke images of hazy hilltop views, dreamy ancient villas and endless countryside.
They’re also a convenient way to explore a huge variety of Italian cuisine.
Hunt for black truffles, learn to make ricotta, do a cooking course at Michelin-starred restaurant Vespasia, e-bike through the Nera Valley to forage for edible wild plants to enjoy them over lunch at a farm and discover how to pick saffron.
And a side dish: Take a private hot air balloon ride over Tuscany as the sun rises before a lavish breakfast with a glass of Prosecco.
Bologna likes to call itself the culinary capital of Italy, and it presents plenty of evidence to support its claim.
At its medieval market you can sample regional delicacies from mortadella to artisanal chocolate to ciccioli (literally, “little fatties”, a type of pork scratching).
Elsewhere in the city, discover how those truly iconic Italian delicacies of Parmigiano-Reggiano and balsamic vinegar are made.
Then head further north to Verona, famous for its red wines, followed by Lake Como and Lake Maggiore. Here take a boat trip to the Borromean Archipelago for a stop on Isola dei Pescatori, where the cobblestone streets are lined with seafood restaurants.
And a side dish: Cruise Lake Como to Villa Balbianello, which you might recognise from movie blockbusters Casino Royale and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.
Abercrombie & Kent offers private tailor-made itineraries, small group journeys, luxury expedition cruises and even private jet tours to more than 30 countries.
Find your perfect itinerary at abercrombiekent.com.au or call 1300 851 800.