Picture me – as a young, enthusiastic nerdy kid growing up in 90’s London, I am fascinated with technology and discovering new things. I was always keen to experience more whatever it was. I still remember so vividly, the first time I laid hands and eyes on the classroom globe, it was exciting to see the amazing scale of the Earth.
Even though I grew up in this megacity my world still seemed like a small place – journeys in the backseat of my Dad’s Capri, my sister and I would pass time by taking guesses at where we were being taken – the cinema? The zoo? The fairground? With all our most-desired destinations exhausted we moved onto the comparatively mundane options – the supermarket? Nan’s house? The post office? I must say we really did live in a small world not able to imagine lands much further than the places we were already familiar with, the ones we didn’t get to choose.
The day came that I discovered the country shaped like a boot, once I saw it I really couldn’t unsee it and I wanted to know more about it.
As most of you will know, that country was in fact Italy – best known for it’s designer clothes, renaissance art masterpieces and pasta varieties that twist our tongues as much as the way we eat them, it has been a hugely popular travel destination for decades.
And there’s a genuine reason why Italy is so popular with people from all over the world, because it is a country that is renowned for so many things! Art! Fashion! Architecture! Design! Food! The list really goes on.
Also worth mentioning is how Mother nature has created so many marvels on this land for us to enjoy and experience – Italy is home to several gorgeous lakes such as Como and Garda, the magnificently sharpened Dolomite mountains in the north of the country, Mount Blanc standing tall amongst the Alps on it’s western border with France and literally hundreds of square miles of exquisite, green countryside with undulating vineyards dotted around the country.
There are many things to simply ‘look at’ and enjoy in Italy but for those that seek genuine thrills and excitement from their holiday I have put together a list of outdoor activities that should be added to your bucket list without hesitation!
They say you’ve never really seen Italy until you have ventured into the Dolomite mountain range. Also known as the ‘Pale mountains’ due to their light greyish-white colour, archaeological finds of marine fossils suggest the mountains were once underwater leaving mystical ideas of what can be found there. Since 2009 the area was given UNESCO World Heritage status not only for it’s natural beauty but because of the history hidden there. A great example of this is the existence of the indigenous Ladin people, with their own language, they have a lot of history of living in the area through the ages and can still be found living there today, offering an intriguing look into an age-old lifestyle with preserved villages and museums.
There is much more to experience there than the mountains themselves, the vast mountainous area is home to beautiful, forested woodland (which looks like another world in the autumn) and stunning pale blue lakes such as Lake Sorapis and Lake Karersee.
Whether you decide to hike with a group or are a seasoned climber that wants to decide on their own routes there is lots of information available explaining the different routes and advice on how to make the most of your trip.
Top Day Hikes in Italian Dolomites
Official Dolomites website
From as little as 9€/10$/£7.50 per day, you can hire a scooter and head away from the cities flooded with tourists, into the tranquil countryside where the air is cleaner, the views naturally spectacular and the roads full of twists and turns.
Of course, you will need an appropriate license but everything else including a helmet and gloves are provided.
I can highly recommend Florence Station Rental for the lowest rates, professional service and the ability to book without a credit card!
On the subject of where to ride, there is a large range of wine regions that are just begging to be explored! Personally I fell in love with the nature situated north of Florence, I personally recommend that you take the scooter ride of your life on the staggering SP503 road from Mugello Circuit to Firenzuola!
Florence Station Rental
For a truly unforgettable experience of a lifetime in Italy did you know that you can skydive from over 14,000 feet over the picturesque Amalfi coast? Travelling towards Earth at more than 100mph without any need for an engine it really is one of the biggest thrills you can have in life, and it’s really not as expensive or dangerous as you might think!
With prices from €199/$220/£170 per person you are buying an experience that will be remembered for a lifetime, if you wish to pay a bit more you can take home photos and a video of your skydive!
If the thought of jumping from a plane is not quite your cup of tea and you would like a more peaceful flight through the clouds, maybe a hot air balloon ride over the incredibly scenic landscapes is the experience for you.
Ballooning in Italy has gained a lot of popularity in the last 20 years, this has resulted in many new flight routes being created that offer a unique perspective of the country from a unique mode of transport. No previous experience or knowledge is required to ride in a hot air balloon and it is a very safe way to journey through the skies.
Some of the more popular areas to take a balloon ride are
Over the snowcapped mountains in the Aosta Valley, close to Turin
Over the green, rolling hills of Tuscany in the famed Chianti region
Over the gorgeous Umbrian countryside, with reach to Assisi and Perugia
Prices vary from €199/$220/£170 to €293/$326/£250 per person and group sizes are often at a maximum of 5-6. If you would like a more luxurious experience and not have to share the balloon with anyone else but the pilot, prices for private tours (which often include longer flight times and distances) start from €1250/$1390/£1065.
There is also a brilliant balloon festival in the Dolomites mountains that starts every year from the first week of January.
You can find more specific details of upcoming events here.
Balloon Adventures Italy
Celebrate Christmas Midnight Mass with Pope Francis at ST. Peter's Basilica after enjoying a semi-private 2 - 3 hour tour (max 10 people) of the Vatican Museums including the Raphael Rooms and The Sistine Chapel ending with a privileged entrance to St.Peter's Basilica.