Italy top 10: where my clients went in 2013

Next summer’s Italy itineraries are already in full swing here at Italy Beyond the Obvious (currently: Puglia, the Dolomites, Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast and Liguria) but this is the time of year when I crunch the numbers and take stock of where my clients went in 2013. This year’s Italy Top 10 list is, like last year’s list, based on hotel nights per trip.


Tuscany Italy Val D'Orcia

Photo by Sanjay Jhawar

1. Tuscany and Florence: 29%

From the famous cities of Pisa and Lucca and Siena to the gorgeous UNESCO countryside in the Val D’Orcia, I’m always thrilled when people want to dedicate a chunk of time to Tuscany. This year, I booked villas and farmhouses or agriturismi, had several travelers attend Siena’s Palio horse races, and organized many cooking classes, shopping trips, wine excursions, hikes and bike rides.


2. Naples and the Amalfi Coast: 21%

It seemed like more travelers than usual wanted to stay in the top hotels of the Amalfi Coast, but many also wanted to get off the beaten track, so I sent people further down the coast to visit places many travelers just don’t have time to visit. Itineraries that included the island of Capri were similar: people wanted high-end hotels but daily itineraries centered more around the town of Anacapri rather than the much busier town of Capri. I was excited that several trips spent a chunk of time in Naples, too. It’s not a city that everyone loves, but it’s one of my favorites.


Amalfi Coast Caruso


3. Rome: 19%

This year seemed to be the year of Rome for families, which translated into kid-friendly Vatican and Colosseum tours, gelato stops, and suggestions for where to eat dinner early so the kids didn’t have to stay up until 10 pm. Rome is about sights but it’s also about having a strategy so the kids – and everyone – don’t get too tired. And it’s also, always, about food. While it’s easy to find a bad meal in Rome, it’s also easy, with a little planning, to have every bite be fantastic.


4. Venice: 8%

I guess it’s no surprise that Italy’s “big three” are all in my top 4. Venice is a place people usually spend 2-3 days, so it doesn’t get allocated the week-long stays that Tuscany or the Amalfi Coast do, but it’s always part of the conversation.


5. Liguria: 6%

Liguria itineraries included the towns of Camogli, Portofino, Genova, La Spezia, Sestri Levante, Porto Venere, Palmaria island and of course the Cinque Terre. These travelers did quite a bit of hiking, took seaside walks, enjoyed gorgeous views, ate lots of great food, explored small coastal towns and took boat rides for a different view of the coast.

Genoa Genova Italy

Photo by Sanjay Jhawar

6. Dolomites: 5%

Family-friendly, and wonderful for hiking or biking or skiing just experiencing a culture completely different from anywhere else in Italy, the Dolomites is a winner every time. I always warn people that if they do fewer than about 4 days in the Dolomites, they will leave feeling like they didn’t have enough time.


7. Umbria: 3%

Umbria plannng this year included day trips to Orvieto from Rome, hiking in the gorgeous Sibillini park, visits to Assisi, Perugia, Spoleto, Gubbio, Montefalco, and Lake Trasimeno. Lots of great food, wine, and scenery!


8. The Lakes: 3%

By “lakes”, I’m including Lakes Como and Maggiore and Lake Garda. In my experience people spend about 3 days at one of the lakes, or visit as a day trip from somewhere else like Milan. The Lakes, as you can imagine, include lake and mountain scenery, boat rides, and lots of small lakeside towns with promenades, like the town of Bardolino on the shores of Lake Garda.

Parma Parmesan factory


9. Emilia-Romagna: 3%

In the “foodie” region of Italy, travelers toured parmesan cheese factories, tasted balsamic vinegar, spent time in the lovely towns of Parma, Bologna, and Modena, and even test drove Ferraris (one with the kids in the back!)


10. Milan: 2%

While I had one client who spent an entire week in Milan, in my experience people usually just fly in or out of Milan and spend a day exploring. One day is enough time to climb to the top of the Duomo, walk through the Galleria to Piazza La Scala, and visit the Last Supper, then head to the Navigli district for gelato or aperitivi or dinner.


Photos are property of Italy Beyond the Obvious  or IBtO clients and may not be used without permission 

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Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 in Planning Your Italy Trip | 5 Comments


  1. Jesper
    December 24, 2013

    Last year I spend my summer in Umbria. This is one of the most beautiful and impressive landscape I have ever seen. It was one of my favorite holidays. Umbria are not filled with tourist and the atmosphere is just calm and relaxing. The locales are open and really friendly.

  2. lori mccartin
    January 29, 2014

    we are travelling to italy for 12 days in August. Mom dad, son and wife. Looking for 2 bedroom, 2 bath apt or hotles.

    Plane to arrive in Rome, depart Milan and visit various cities, including Venice, naples and Florence.

    What can you offer us?

    Thanks, Lori

    • Madeline
      February 3, 2014

      hi Lori, I sent you an email…. would love to plan your trip for you!

  3. Silvia N.
    April 9, 2014

    Me and my husband were in Milan for work in may last year and decided to visit Venice. We booked a private car with MJ Service – please let me suggest Mr. Mauro who helped us every way possible, company website is here: – and reached Venice in 3 hours. Our plan was to stay for just one day but we couldn’t leave: we fell in love with city and … each other once again! So we spent there 2 days (your stats sound right) and it was unforgettable, I can’t explain the feeling of being in the middle of water streets where everything was just: ahw! We’ll get back, for sure 🙂

  4. Xristina
    December 22, 2015

    Car: Driving will cut down on your travel time in beeetwn cities. There are two cons that I can think of. One is that gas is expensive. The other one is that you will never be able to park anywhere. There are some toll roads. I have more knowledge about the south of Italy. Down there driving is a contact sport. Train: Train tickets are fairly inexpensive. Don’t let them sell you extras. I paid for bicycle passes on the train when I wasn’t traveling with a bicycle. Traveling by train takes longer. One nice thing is that you can catch an overnight train. You go to sleep in Venice and wake up in Rome. There were times when I took the train and I had to stand in the aisle or even beeetwn cars (inside). Usually I was able to sit. People travel with luggage all the time.I don’t know about the Italy Rail Pass but I think it sounds like a waste of money if you’re only gonna be there for ten days.


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