Enjoy a bit of “la dolce vita” as you explore the best of Italy — on a budget. Visit Renaissance cities, chill in coastal villages and savor the fruits of the wine regions. Plan an Italian vacation that won’t break the bank.

1. Flit about in Florence

As the home of Renaissance art and architecture, Florence is a must for culture lovers. A vacation to the Tuscan capital should include visits to the Uffizi Museum on a guided tour to see masterpieces by Renaissance artists Raphael, Caravaggio, and Botticelli. Then visit the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s David. Did you know there are two replica David statues outdoors in Florence? For awe-inspiring architecture, add a tour of the Duomo to your list. Climb to the top of the dome for incredible views over the city. Stroll the streets on a walking tour and be sure to enjoy a gelato — traditional Italian ice cream is one of life’s most affordable foodie pleasures.

2. Amble through Apulia

Located in the heel of Italy, Apulia, or Puglia as it’s also known, combines ancient culture with delicious food and beach bliss. Do some cave exploration on a boat tour of the Adriatic coastline of Polignano a Mare. See the town of Lecce on a fun rickshaw tour, and get to know Bari’s traditional areas and French district on a walking tour.  Foodies will delight in savoring street eats on a segway tour. The village of Alberobello houses ancient “trulli” domes houses, which you can explore on a walking tour of this UNESCO site. This corner of Italy is a true hidden gem, making it a more affordable place for a vacation .

3. See the sights of Sicily

Young woman hiking alone on Etna volcano

What makes Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, such an excellent choice for an affordable Italian vacation? Simple, the sheer variety of things to do. Whatever your budget and your interest, you’ll be delighted. Spend time relaxing on the gorgeous beaches in the south-east of the island. If you’re feeling adventurous, hike up Mount Etna, an active volcano. Food lovers can indulge in Sicily’s rich culture, from enjoying traditional street food in Catania and Palermo to tasting wine in a mountain village. Travelers interested in ancient history are in for a treat, as Sicily boasts Roman and Greek architectural ruins. Explore the Valley of the Temples on an e-scooter tour.

4. Taste Tuscany’s delights

Tuscany is known for its excellent food and wine, most famous is probably the wines from the Chianti region. Discover the Medieval hilltop towns of Siena and San Gimignano, full of history. Known as a fantastic wine region, enjoy wine tasting and a cellar tour or a starlit dinner in the Chianti vineyards for a romantic evening. A tour of Pisa, with its famous leaning tower, should be on every trip to Tuscany. To really get away from it all, go on a horseback ride through the Tuscan countryside. Ride through vineyards and olive groves and enjoy nature all around you.

5. Voyage to Venice

Nothing beats seeing the canals of  Venice. While the tourist crowds usually jostle for space with the pigeons on St. Mark’s Square, you’ll probably be able to stroll around with ease if you visit now. This magical city brims with culture, so be sure to visit St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace to learn about the Venetian Empire. Get up close and learn about Venice’s fascinating art of glass blowing in a private lesson and create your own piece. Or tour the island of Burano with its brightly colored houses and see how local lacework is made by hand. As always, food is on top of the list. Visit the famous Rialto Market to taste street food and see the delicious seasonal produce. Stock up on fruit, cheeses, and baked goods for a perfect, and cheap, picnic.

6. Marvel at Matera

Young elegant woman tourist in historical Matera town in Italy taking photos with smartphone

Famous for its homes and churches carved into caves, it’s no wonder the southern Italian city of Matera was chosen as a setting for a James Bond film. Follow in 007’s footsteps as you take a walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or opt for a fun tuk-tuk tour along the narrow stone streets. Shop local and stock up on excellent olive oil during a tasting of this liquid gold, or learn how to bake traditional bread.

7. Check out Cinque Terre

View of street life of Vernazza from the train station.

The perfect place to visit if you’re after an active break, Cinque Terre is located on Italy’s northwestern coastline. Explore the cliffside coastal villages with its colorful houses and pretty little harbors on a hiking tour. Or see things from a different angle on a paddle board. Staying on the water, a sunset boat tour ticks the box for romance. After all the activity, delicious Italian fare is on the menu. Join a street food tour, taste the local wines, or learn to make pesto, a local delicacy.

From exploring new places to rediscovering charming regions, an Italian vacation has never been more appealing than right now.

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