I’ve finally put together my Italy travel bucket list with all the main places I’d like to visit in 2020. Read on, you may find some good inspo for your upcoming travels in Italy!
After a rough start of the year, I’ve finally found the time to sit at my desk and write down all the main places I’d like to explore in Italy during 2020. The destinations on my list for this year are a mixture of culture, adventure, and special events. Of course, these plans are not set in stone and I’m sure there will be many changes along the way, but the point of these wishlists is to lay your dreams all out there, right? Let’s just see how things will turn out this year!
So, here’s my 2020 Italy travel wishlist (in no particular order):
Confession: I’ve never set foot in Sardinia. I know, being Italian, this is pretty unacceptable since Sardinia is one of our top beach destinations. And the funny thing is that my first visit will be right in the middle of the winter season! I’m going there in February to attend the Carnival celebrations of Mamoiada, a small town in the center of Sardinia, where ancient traditions and mysterious masks take central stage during the Carnival season.
I will take this opportunity to visit also Orgosolo, a hilltop village filled with incredible murals, and Cagliari, the island’s main town.
Val d’Arda is a picturesque valley located on the eastern side of Piacenza, in the Emilia Romagna region. It’s crossed by the Arda stream and dotted with old castles and pretty medieval villages, such as Castell’Arquato, Vigoleno, and Gropparello. Some of them even served as locations for the 1980s movie Lady Hawke!
While touring the Val d’Arda, I’m planning to visit also Chiaravalle, with its splendid Cistercian Abbey that dates back to the 12th century and used to be a major stop-over for pilgrims traveling to Rome along the Via Francigena.
I’ve been meaning to return to Parma for so long but never made proper plans. This year, though, Parma is the Italian Capital of Culture, so I don’t have any more excuses to postpone my visit. The slogan chosen to promote its cultural and artistic treasures is “La cultura batte il tempo” (culture beats time), and I can’t wait to see what they’ve organized.
While in town, I would like to visit also the Reggia di Colorno, a palace that is said to resemble the grandeur of Versailles and test my sense of direction in the Masone Labyrinth, a huge bamboo labyrinth that spreads over 7 hectares!
My quest for unexplored Italian gems will hopefully bring me also to Lunigiana, a stretch of land at the border between Liguria and Tuscany that hardly sees any tourists. It’s renowned for its cuisine and the beautiful landscape that offers splendid panoramic views.
I’m sure this trip will be a great opportunity to explore a more genuine and authentic side of Tuscany. Also, after a failed attempt last year, I hope this will be the chance to visit Eva and Chris of Shabby Sheep Design, who call Lunigiana their home since 2005.
More Tuscany travels
In early spring I’m planning to return to Val d’Elsa to visit the lovely Steph and Roger at Villa San Michele and explore more of this beautiful corner of Tuscany.
Then in June, I will try to attend a match of Calcio Storico Fiorentino (Florentine historical football), a popular ball game that originated in the Renaissance and mixes modern sports like football, rugby, and wrestling (yep, it’s that intense).
You see, I have this thing for underestimated destinations and when I went to Molise to explore its undiscovered potential last year, well, apparently I was right. Last week the New York Times praised its glory and I’m really happy to see that the region is finally starting to get the attention it deserves.
This year I will return to Molise to attend a festival called “I Misteri”, one of the region’s most important events, which takes place in Campobasso on the day of the Corpus Domini (this year it will be on June 14th). To put it simply, it’s a spectacular parade that stages the 13 mysteries of the Bible and entails wearing caps with devil’s horns, seeing people floating in the air – surely something I want to see!
The Ionian Coast of Calabria
In the summer I’m planning to get my dose of sea and sun in Calabria. After spending 5 unforgettable days along the Tyrrhenian coast a couple of years ago, now I’d like to explore the Ionian side of the region.
I’ve been hearing a lot about this unspoiled stretch of coast and I can’t wait to see places like the sugar-white sand beach of Sant’ Andrea Apostolo dello Jonio, the bustling coastal town of Soverato and the ancient hamlets of Stilo and Badolato.
Mount Etna and the Circumetnea train line
I have this urge to return to Sicily at least once a year, the island is in my blood (my father is from there). In 2020 I would like to explore more the area of Mount Etna, which, for those who don’t know, is Europe’s highest active volcano!
There are a couple of options to do that, the most obvious being a guided tour that takes you to the top Mount Etna. I also read about the Circumetnea, a historic train line that has been connecting Catania with the villages around Mount Etna for over 130 years. I’ve seen some pictures and I’m sure this would be a fantastic experience.
Before moving abroad for work, traveling in my own backyard was something that literally horrified me. There, I’ve said it. But now that I’m back, searching for hidden treasures near home has become one of my favorite pasts-times and I can’t believe I’ve ignored little gems like Pavia, Vigevano and Oltrepò Pavese for so long.
In 2020 I intend to learn more about Lomellina, the region in the south-western side of Lombardy where I grew up and currently live. It’s an area devoted to agriculture and rice production, rich in history and ancient towns, where it is still possible to admire beautiful medieval castles and abbeys.
I first heard about Romagna Toscana at TTG travel fair in Rimini last year and I’ve been really curious to visit this region ever since. It’s a hilly territory that extends along the border between Emilia Romagna and Tuscany and is said to be a treasure trove of historical attractions, natural beauties, and gastronomic delights.
Romagna Toscana is particularly rich in thermal waters that can be enjoyed in places like Castrocaro Terme and Bagno di Romagna. I’ve also read that this region is home to the smallest volcano in the world, Mount Busca!
This trip was already on my travel wishlist for 2018 and I’m determined to make it happen this year. It’s a huge fortified structure – one of the biggest in Europe – that sits on the crest of a mountain in Piedmont and features a spectacular covered staircase with 4,000 steps. It’s pretty clear why it’s often dubbed the “Great Wall of Italy”, right?
The main reason why I keep postponing the visit is that I don’t feel fit enough for such an adventure – the “Royal Walk” tour is basically 7 hours of trekking up and down the site.
There are quite a few things that I’d like to see in the sunny region of Campania this year. First of all, I would love to visit the Royal Palace of Caserta and return to Pompeii and Ercolano, because it’s been way too long since my last (and only) visit.
Then I’d like to take a journey through the province of Avellino, which is supposed to be really beautiful under both a naturalistic and historical point of view. Savignano Irpino, for example, is listed among the most beautiful villages of Italy, while the town of Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi is home to the fascinating Abbey of Goleto.
What I have in mind for Genoa is not a simple visit to the city center. I want to see also the colorful fishing village of Boccadasse, take a walk along the fabulous sea-front promenade of Nervi and travel on the little Casella Train that rides along a scenic railroad between Genoa and the town of Casella in the Scrivia Valley.
It would be great if I could make this all happen on the same dates of the so-called “Rolli Days” when Genoa opens its 42 beautiful Palazzi dei Rolli to the public. These are a group of prestigious palaces from the 16th and 17th centuries that were listed in the citizen registers (called “rolli”) and used to host illustrious guests on a State visit.
I’ve never really thought of Monza as a destination to explore, besides some visits to the racing track for the F1 rehearsals in my teenage years (I’ve always been a big fan of Michael Schumacher). But Monza has now made it to my travel wishlist mainly for two reasons. First of all, I’ve learned that its Cathedral Museum is home to the “Iron Crown”, forged with one of the nails used for Jesus Crucifixion and used for the coronation of Napoleon and other big names in European monarchy.
And then, did you know that Monza is home to one of Europe’s largest urban parks? Yep, and what’s more, its grandiose Villa Reale has a splendid rose garden that I can’t wait to see in fool bloom next spring.
The list of things I want to see and do in Turin is growing week after week, I can’t wait to organize my trip there. I’m really looking forward to returning to some classics like the Egyptian Museum, the Mole Antonelliana, and Palazzo Reale. But this time I also want to learn more about iconic local brands, such as the Lavazza Coffee Museum (I’m a sucker for coffee), the Car Museum (Turin has a long tradition in the car manufacturing sector) and Casa Martini. Oh, and if time allows, I wouldn’t mind a quick stop at the Juventus Museum!
I will try to visit also the Reggia di Venaria, a former royal residence of the House of Savoy, and Saint Michael’s Abbey, an ancient religious complex at the top of Mount Pirchiriano, about 40 km from Turin, which inspired Umberto Eco to write “The Name of the Rose”.
The Centovalli train line
Centovalli is a train route that connects Domodossola, the capital of the Ossola valley in Piedmont, to the Swiss town of Locarno. It doesn’t sound that exciting, right? Well, in reality, this is usually listed as one of the most scenic train routes in Italy, because it passes through the marvelous landscape of the Vigezzo Valley.
This one was already on my wishlist back in 2018 and hopefully, I’ll be able to take a trip there in October to admire the spectacle of the autumn colors.
And now it’s your turn, what’s on your travel wishlist for 2020? Let me know in the comments below!
A super hug from Italy,