If it seems like every time you scroll through Instagram, someone you know is posting fabulous vacation photos from Italy, you’re not alone. There’s no doubt that revenge travel has taken the country by storm this year, with record numbers of visitors and many hotels and even attractions like the Colosseum sold out. Chalk it up to pent-up travel demand as well as the “White Lotus” effect.
The surge in tourism — coupled with news of visitors defacing monuments and a heat wave — have created summer headlines that might have you rethinking whether a trip to Italy is a good idea. However, take it from me (an American based in Rome) that fall is an excellent time to visit Italy. That’s when the heat and the crowds begin to subside, the cultural calendar fills up with exhibitions and events, and you’ll find lower rates at hotels and more availability for attractions and restaurants.
For travelers visiting Italy this year, there are plenty of new hotels, cultural attractions, infrastructure improvements, and tours to keep you busy throughout the autumn and well into winter.
Here are some of the most exciting new developments.
Buzzy new hotels and restaurants
Rome is seeing unprecedented growth in its hospitality sector, with exciting new hotels opening left and right — and several of them are part of loyalty programs like Marriott Bonvoy or IHG One Rewards.
The buzziest openings this summer are the Bulgari Hotel Rome and the Rome Edition. The former represents a homecoming for the jewelry brand born in the Eternal City. The latter brings Ian Schrager’s trendsetting Edition brand to Italy, complete with a signature restaurant by Paola Colucci of the beloved Roman restaurant Pianostrada.
IHG also has two new hotels in Rome: the wellness and sustainability-focused Six Senses Rome and the InterContinental Rome Ambasciatori Palace in a historic building on Via Veneto. Also, thanks to a recently completed renovation, Anantara Palazzo Naiadi Rome Hotel now has two fabulous restaurants: the fine dining restaurant INEO Restaurant and the trendy “SEEN by Olivier” Rooftop Bar.
The hottest new hotel in Milan is Portrait Milano Hotel – Lungarno Collection, the newest addition to the portfolio of luxury hotels by the Ferragamo family. Housed in a historic seminary in the heart of the Quadrilatero della Moda, it boasts a chic design by Michele Bonan and must-try cuisine by rising star chef Alberto Quadrio. No doubt, it will be the place to be for Milan Fashion Week in September.
The glamorous island of Capri also has a new gem: the highly anticipated Hotel La Palma, a member of the Oetker Collection known for glamorous hotels on the French Riviera, St. Barts and London. Run by chef Gennaro Esposito, the hotel’s restaurant and beach club are the places to see and be seen on Capri.
Related: The best hotels in Rome
Just a quick boat ride away, the glittering Amalfi Coast is more popular than ever. If you go, check out the new Anantara Convento di Amalfi Grand Hotel in a restored monastery on a cliff overlooking the center of town. Its lemon tree-filled gardens are a peaceful respite from the crowds. It’s worth staying at least a couple of nights so you can try the gourmet restaurant Dei Cappuccini as well as the pizzeria by Gino Sorbillo, who hails from one of Naples’ oldest pizza-making families.
If Puglia isn’t on your bucket list yet, it should be. On the heel of the boot and known for its pristine beaches, the region quiets down in the fall, giving way to warm autumn days spent exploring the countryside and charming small towns. In Lecce — sometimes called the Florence of the South for its beautiful baroque architecture — Palazzo Luce is an intimate hotel in a historic palazzo filled with blue chip art and design pieces.
If Tuscany is calling to you, consider staying at Borgo San Vincenzo, a countryside retreat in the picturesque Val d’Orcia surrounded by vineyards. Grab one of the property’s e-bikes to explore the bucolic landscape or head to Pienza, known as the ideal Renaissance city.
New cultural attractions
A host of new (or newly accessible) archeological sites, museums, hiking and biking trails, and other cultural attractions offer plenty of things to do on your next trip to Italy.
The journey to Pompeii is a lot easier thanks to the new high-speed train service connecting Rome to the ancient archeological site every Sunday, with increased service coming soon. When you get there, there’s even more to see. Archeologists recently uncovered a fresco depicting an ancient version of a pizza.
In Rome, the Sacred Area of Largo Argentina, where Julius Caesar was assassinated, finally opened to the public. Excavated in the 1920s, the site has long been visible just below street level. However, now visitors can actually descend into the site and get up and close to the ancient temples on raised walkways. A small museum displays archeological finds from the site as well as archival photographs of the excavations.
After much debate, the Pantheon finally started charging a 5 euros ($5.45) entry fee for tourists who want to visit. (Rome residents are exempt.) One of the most famous monuments in Rome’s historic center, the Pantheon, is one of the city’s best-preserved ancient monuments because it was turned into a church, which is the final resting place of Raphael.
There’s some exciting news for active travelers too. A new bike path called the Via Verde recently debuted on Abruzzo’s picturesque Costa dei Trabocchi, dotted with quaint fishing huts. The 26-mile path connects nine towns along the coast and has spurred economic development along the way, with cool new bars like Al Mure, where you can stop for Aperol Spritzes and sunset views.
Closed since 2012, Via dell’Amore, the Cinque Terre’s most scenic hiking path, has finally partially reopened for a trial period after more than a decade of restoration aimed at improving the path’s resiliency. For now, you have to book a timed group tour online for 5 euros ($5.45), which includes access to the Castle of Riomaggiore.
Keep an eye out for FAI Autumn Days, which will return in October. The twice-yearly event organized by the Fondo Ambiente Italiano (an organization dedicated to preserving Italy’s historic places) opens up incredible sites all over the country, from the historic villas of Lake Como to a midcentury typewriter shop in Venice.
In honor of the 70th anniversary of the film “Roman Holiday,” starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, Scooteroma has teamed up with Rome’s glamorous Hotel de la Ville to offer an exclusive Vespa tour that brings guests to the most iconic locations in the movie. Hotel guests can book the three-hour tour through the concierge.
If you want to extend your summer, consider joining Stellavision Travel’s Cheeky Sicilian Sailing trip from Sept. 23-30. The boutique travel company, which offers small group trips to Italy’s hard-to-reach destinations, has chartered two catamarans to sail around the unspoiled Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily, stopping to swim in pristine coves, hike volcanic mountains, savor granita and gourmet meals, plus plenty of other surprises.
Planning a trip to Italy? Check out these other TPG stories and travel tips:
- Key travel tips you need to know — whether you’re a beginner or expert traveler
- 9 tips for beginners visiting Italy for the first time
- 9 under-the-radar destinations in Italy you need to visit
- An overview of Italy’s best destinations for tourists
- Planning a trip to Italy? Here’s how to get there on points and miles
- The 18 best places to travel in 2023
- 8 of the best credit cards for general travel purchases