What makes Italy such a great holiday destination?

Amanda Angus / 25 March 2015 ( 09 February 2017 )

Saga's speciality holiday creator for Italy talks to Saga Magazine about why the nation is such an alluring holiday destination



Discover more about Italy and what it has to offer Find out more here.

Meet Jennifer – Our specialty holiday creator for Italy…

Living in Italy...

I lived in Italy for ten years, in Turin, close to the French border, surrounded by the mountains which go up into the Alps. 

One of the things I miss the most is the food, proper pizza, good pasta! What I love is that the cooking in Italy is regional. 

In Milan they grow rice, so that’s a big speciality, in the north-west they create amazing fresh egg pasta, but generally there’s more of a country-wide emphasis on seasonal produce, which means everything is so fresh and healthy. 

We used to do that here many years ago, and now we’re trying to get back to it, but Italy does it so well. 

They eat a much wider range of vegetables; that’s why the Mediterranean diet is so widely regarded to be one of the healthiest; it’s not just the lovely olive oil, which is good for you, it’s also the variety of fresh foods you can get so cheaply. 

People go to markets; every village has a market come by once a week, and that’s when everyone goes to get their fruit and vegetables. 

It’s all displayed so beautifully. We do take guests through markets sometimes as part of an excursion because it’s such an appealing experience.

Everything you want from a holiday

I think Italy as a destination continues to be so popular because the country offers everything that anyone could want in a holiday. 

The weather is glorious, we all love Italian food – there are so many dishes that we all make at home which are traditional Italian cooking, we’ve adopted them as our own. 

There are beautiful places to explore with history, culture, traditions in abundance. You don’t have to go very far to see wonderful monuments, great art. You can go to Rome and think, Julius Caesar was here, the Romans would have walked through here, it’s just breathtaking. 

It’s also a stylish place, and we all aspire to that effortless way of dressing. 

Discover historic cities and exquisite scenery on an exciting tour of Italy Find out more here.

An affinity for the British

I think British people and Italian people have an affinity – we have quite opposite natures in many ways, they’re relaxed and laid back and we’re well known for rushing around a bit more, but it’s as though our differences complement each other, and as a people, we just seem to get on.

Whenever I go anywhere in Italy, I think ‘this is where I like best’ but just recently I’ve been very drawn to Sicily. I love the history of the place, which has had so many influences, the Normans, the Saracens, the Arabs, the Romans, yet it’s so much their own. 

It’s fascinating, it very definitely has its own character, it hasn’t just been absorbed into Italy. The baroque architecture is stunning. I find the whole place very appealing. 

The interior of the island is very easy on the eye, with mountains, rolling countryside criss-crossed by dry-stone walls, it’s very open. Then the further west you go, there are vineyards and olive groves, so there are fabulous contrasts. 

And of course Etna – there you are, in Europe and you can see a live volcano erupting, it’s just incredible.

The green countryside

I also love the green countryside and striking cypress trees of Tuscany – here we’ve got the Hotel Franceschi and the Grand Hotel Royal and I love how well these two hotels really sum up how diverse our range in Italy is. 

We’ve got the contrast of Hotel Franceschi, a tiny hotel in a very rural, quiet village, tucked away in the Tuscan hills, and then there’s the majestic Grand Hotel Royal on the seafront at Viareggio, with its long promenade and boutique shops – Chanel, Louis Vuitton. 

So from a very homely place to the very grand, they couldn’t be more different, and yet there’s a theme running through them both, as there is with all of our products. 

Where we’ve been working with these hoteliers for several years, I’ve noticed that they really like our customers, they have a real affection for them because Saga customers are traditionally very loyal, and that appeals to the Italian nature – once they know you, they’ll do anything for you, which is in turn, why our customers keep going back. 

I think people are often pleasantly surprised by the welcome they’ll get in the hotels – of course they’re expecting something nice and polite, but they really are welcomed like friends, especially in the family-run hotels. 

They treat you as one of their own, which is why I think people return again and again, it’s like visiting family. And of course it helps that we make sure there’s something for all tastes and pockets!

Your holiday is covered from the moment you take out Saga's Travel Insurance Find out more here.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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