Postcards from Italy
THE BLOG OF CIU TRAVEL

Trip Inspiration: Venice to Zermatt in Ten Days

If you’ve been to Italy a few times and already visited the A-list destinations like Florence, Venice, and Rome—or if you are looking forward to your first jaunt but want to steer clear of the tour bus set—we have some delightfully quirky itineraries up our sleeve that offer all the photo ops, great food and wine, and cultural treasures for which the Bel Paese is known, with the added perk of fewer crowds, as well as that elusive sense of discovery that is sometime hard to come by in our heavily-traveled world.

DSC_0221(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

Here is the first of our Trip Inspiration series, meant to inspire your sense of curiosity and adventure, or simply to highlight the fact that Italy (and Switzerland) offer much more than the blockbuster sights. Check back in the future for more Trip Inspiration travelogues and photos to bookmark for future holidays!

IMG_9797Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

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Unsung Cilento

There are a number of destinations in Italy that are beginning to heave under the weight of their tourist influx, and the world (or, at least, the travel press) always seems eager to offer up “the next ...” options. Twenty years ago, Umbria was the next Tuscany; ten years ago, Puglia was the next Sardinia; and just recently, Treviso was posited as the new Venice.

Clearly, none of these substitutions satisfy: Tuscany is the cradle of the Renaissance whereas Umbria is a land of contemplative hill towns and Romanesque beauty; Sardinia is beloved primarily for its pristine coastline where Puglia delights with Baroque architecture and fairytale-like trulli villages; Treviso is lovely, but let’s face it...Venice is Venice.

One destination that has been creeping onto the radar as a possible “next Amalfi Coast” is Cilento, the area at the very southern reaches of the region of Campania stretching from below Salerno to the border with Basilicata. To the west, it is lined by the pebbly beaches and craggy cliffs of the Tyrrenian Sea, and to the east, by the steep peaks of the Alburni Mountains; these two geographic barriers kept the area isolated and pristine for centuries, and much of this stretch of coastline is now part of the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Morning walking(Photo by Irene Grassi via Flickr)

Though it would be naive to propose Cilento as a substitute to the Amalfi Coast, it is an area worth exploring. Home to one of Italy’s most spectacular archaeological sites, delightfully authentic villages and coastal towns, traditional buffalo farms where true Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP is produced, one of the most scenic parks in Italy, Cilento is still far enough off the tourist track to lend the thrill of discovery while close enough to the Amalfi Coast to merit a side trip for a day or two.

Here are some of the highlights of the yet-to-be-discovered Cilento:

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Three Great Fall Destinations in Italy

Though most travelers take their big trips during the summer months, by far the best season to visit Italy is after the high season heat and crowds have peaked, pushing your dates into the autumn months from late September through October.

Though the weather can be slightly unpredictable the closer you get to November, overall you’ll still find balmy temperatures, long hours of daylight, and delightfully crisp evenings during most of the season, perfect for both city and country touring. In addition, as the summer season draws to a close and the academic year begins, the tourist crowds thin dramatically and hot spots like Florence and Venice become a bit less claustrophobic, especially toward the end of October.

via-tornabuoni-florence-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

Destinations that have a very distinct high season (the Amalfi Coast and the Salento peninsula in Puglia, for example) offer more advantageous rates for hotels and other services like private boat tours once October begins, and you have the added benefit of crisp days for stunning photo ops...without the hordes of tourists ruining your shot.

Finally, fall in Italy is paradise for gourmands, with the vendemmia (grape harvest) happening in wine countries from the Alpine foothill to the southern islands, and food festivals galore.

Untitled(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

If all of this sounds appealing, then start planning now for your fall trip to Italy. There are countless destinations that are perfect for a fall trip, but here are three of our favorites to consider for an autumn jaunt to the Bel Paese.

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The Hip Hideout of Andermatt

Home to glorious Alpine vistas, four famous mountain passes, 85 ski runs, a golf course, over 300 miles of hiking and biking trails, and one of Switzerland’s premier 5-star hotels, Andermatt is the Swiss hot spot you may not know you were missing.

This idyllic village in the Ursern Valley not far from the Swiss/Italian border has long been considered the crossroads of Switzerland, linking north-south passes with east-west passes and traversed by four rivers. Today, this picturesque Alpine village is at the center of attention for more than just its location, as it has become a luxury destination for those in the know who want to avoid the crowds of more famous mountain resorts.

AndermattPhoto by CIU Travel via Flickr

If you’re looking for a chic Alpine bolthole that has unforgettable scenery and world-class cuisine, Andermatt and the surrounding area may be the perfect fit.

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The Breathtaking Wine Country of Lavaux

Rising steeply above the waters of Lake Geneva (or Lac Léman, as it is known in French), the lush terraced vineyards of Lavaux are one of the most stunning landscapes in Switzerland and a paradise for both oenophiles and photographers. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 for both its unique topography and its deeply rooted history of wine making, this 2,000-acre stretch of land lines almost 20 miles of lake shore and is the epicenter of wine production in the canton of Vaud. If you are exploring the area around Lake Geneva, consider a jaunt through this magnificent wine country as a treat to both your eyes and palate.

lavauxPhoto via Flickr by harmishhk

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