4 Places in Italy to Go in 2011

A month’s worth of 2011 is already behind us (honestly, where does the time go?), but most of the people who have plans to visit Italy this year haven’t yet boarded their flights – so I thought I’d take a moment to talk about four places in Italy you should consider visiting in 2011 that you might not have had on your radar already.

4 Places in Italy to Go in 2011

As I mentioned late last year, 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of Italian unification. Although there’s not the kind of fanfare about this anniversary as you might expect (given the fact that some government officials would prefer Italy not be a unified country to this day), the country’s original capital city of Turin has several exhibits and events planned throughout the year.

Even without any pomp or circumstance, Turin is a beautiful city worth visiting – it often gets overlooked by people flying into Milan who want to make a beeline for more famous destinations like Venice and who don’t look the other direction, but it’s an historic city in its own right. Home to the Shroud of Turin, the original FIAT factory, and one of the finest collections of Egyptian artifacts outside Egypt, Turin can be a good base of operations for a visit to the Piedmont region. You can make day trips into the countryside to enjoy some of the great food and wine the region has to offer, too.

I’ve been hooked on Naples since my first visit, and I encourage anyone to add it to their itinerary regardless of the year, but since Lonely Planet saw fit to add Naples to its list of 2011’s best budget-friendly destinations I thought I’d give it a special mention this year.

Yes, one of the many charms of Naples is how much less you’ll spend there than you will in some of Italy’s other big cities, especially when you consider what you get for your money. A huge single-serving pizza (made in the city where it was born) and a bottle of water can cost you under €5 even in the historic center, pretty and historic little boutique hotels have rooms for around €80 per night or less, and the country’s top archaeological museum costs only €6.50 to get in. There are a million more reasons why Naples is a fantastic addition to any Italy tour, but the money-saving opportunities alone should intrigue you enough to get you started.


Traveling foodies will likely already have Bologna on their must-see list, but in case you’re not among that crowd let me give you a couple reasons to consider a stop in the Emilia-Romagna capital this year.

The high-speed trains in Italy, the Alta Velocità, connect Bologna directly to Florence and Milan. The Milan-Bologna trip now takes just over an hour, and the Bologna-Florence trip is less than 40 minutes. What this means is that since Florence can get overcrowded and expensive in the high season, you can now choose to stay in Bologna instead and make Florence a day trip. It’s a great base for exploring the sights of the region, too, including Modena (where they make balsamic vinegar), Parma (where parmigiano-reggiano cheese comes from) and the factories of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, Maserati, and Ducati.

Pompeii is one of the most popular sights in Italy, so putting it on a list of what to see in 2011 might seem a little strange – chances are good you’ve got it on your itinerary already. Given the recent collapses at Pompeii, however, it seems prudent to not put off a visit to this stunning archaeological site any longer than absolutely necessary.

You can easily make a day trip to Pompeii from a base in Naples, Sorrento, Salerno, or even some of the towns on the Amalfi Coast. It’s possible to do a day trip from Rome as well, but it makes for an extremely long day (so be prepared for that). Personally, I found the nearby site at Herculaneum to be even more evocative – it’s smaller and better preserved, not to mention less crowded – but nothing quite matches the scope of Pompeii. The good news is that it’s easy to visit both Pompeii and Herculaneum in one day on a self-guided tour.

What places would you add to a list of suggestions for Italy in 2011? Leave your comments below!

photos, top to bottom, by: erinc salor, Bryce Edwards, Alessandro Capotondi, S J Pinkney

21 thoughts on “4 Places in Italy to Go in 2011

    • Jessica Post author

      If I say “it’s on my list” does that count? Nevermind, EVERYWHERE is on my list…

      In all seriousness – if you’re recommending Umbria as a 2011 destination (and I think you are!), tell us why. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who’ll take you up on the invitation this year. 😉

  • Dian

    I’ve been to Naples and Pompeii this early 2011! You are recommending some of the best places in the world, Jes… But try not to miss Capri as well… A very beautiful island with its famous Blue Grotto^^

  • Charles McCool

    I just happen to be planning a 2011 Italy trip and enjoyed your suggestions. I have not been to Turin and am considering a visit. Also looking at going to Genoa and Pisa, so I will be in that general area.

    • Dominic Magliocco

      Go south of Napoli Charles. Everyone looks north and forgets the beauty of Italys southern regions. The heel of Italy is beautiful and forgotten by tourists. My favourite place is Martina Franca. The coast is beautiful with many quiet out of the way places to visit. Make sure you try some of the local seafood dishes which are great… Sea urchin is a must.

  • Miranda Fitzgerald

    Hi Jessica,
    I just wanted to say that I am truly ASTOUNDED by the amount of information, obvious love and passion that has gone into this website. I have just spent the last couple of hours reading a number of amazing, informative articles and can’t WAIT for my trip to Italy, which I have been dreaming about since I was seven years old.
    Thankyou so much for helping make my dream come true.

    • Jessica Post author

      Miranda, you have completely made my day! What a sweet comment, thank you so much – and I’m happy to have helped get you closer to making your dream trip happen. I hope you’ll come back & visit the site to tell me how your trip was after you’re back home.

  • Andrew

    Yay for having Bologna in the list. That is truly my favorite place I have yet to spend time in in Italy. I studied italian there for a few weeks. It is such a great place to walk around and tons of students means it doesn’t feel so touristy.

    • Jessica Post author

      I loved Bologna’s energy – young & bustling without being touristy, I completely agree. And the food? Omigoodness… 🙂

  • Jordan

    I’ve a friend who lived in Bologna for a year. He never stops singing it’s praises, I still havent made it yet but it’s definitely on my list for 2011

  • Allex Reed

    Bergamo is one of only 4 towns in Italy with her ancient walls intact. From the high (pedestrian area) town with the old castle and university complex to the low town with great shops, wide streets and 15mins from Bergamo airport ( Ryanairs Italian hub). I’d have to rate it above Bologna (sorry)

  • rahadi

    i went to italy last year and i love rome, venice and bologna very much………absolutely want to visit it again……by the way why romantic movie usually use venice as a special place??

  • Lana

    Let me know the next time you go back to bella Napoli! I lived in there for over 5 years & in center….LOVE IT! I go back every year & miss it while I’m in the US… <3

  • Dave

    Jessica – how happy I am to have discovered your remarkable Web site! Your enthusiasm shines through every word, your tone is friendly and welcoming, your guidance most expert. Upcoming will be my 6th trip to Italy (thus my pouring over your Milan pages and having read elsewhere that a city bus tour for 60 euros includes lunch AND a stop to see The Last Supper) – but I wanted to comment on Umbria.
    I have been to and travelled within Umbria for 3 of my previous 5 trips, using Perugia as home base. For the towns I want to visit the city serves as a perfect day-trip train and bus hub (besides small airport which RyanAir now flies into). Thus trips to Gubbio, Spoleto, Spelo, Castello, Todi, Trentano, Montefalco, Urbino, Assisi, Orvieto and others is easy-peesy. Perugia itself has many attractions, including the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre and a wonderful archeological museum which includes stunning Etruscan jewellery.
    Each town has its unique treasures, whether architectural, historical, archeological or artistic – usually all of the above – worth researching before going. Even without research, as with every town in Italy it is more than half the adventure to just go, find the tourist office and consider what its staff suggests. My first two trips focused on Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples and Pompeii, but there is ‘something’ about Umbria’s small-town charms that draws me back repeatedly.
    Buon viaggio!

Comments are closed.