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Italy, surrounded by the sea, located South of Europe with an uncanny resemblance to a lady’s boot and home to three notably popular P-items, pizza, pasta and people, it is precisely these associations that draw steady flows of tourism throughout the twelve months of the year.

As one of the biggest drivers in the Italian economy, recorded by the World Travel & Tourism Council in 2017, travel and tourism contributed a total of 13% directly towards the country’s GDP and is predicted to rise by a steady 1.8% across 2018.

With elysian paradise beaches and crystalline coasts jotted all across the country, sweltering summer sunshine peaking up to forty degrees, ripe with historical textures, art and culture, it is no wonder Italy ranks 6th most visited and aspirational vacation and travel destination at present not only to tourists but locals too! If you are drafting up a holiday plan to Italy this summer, here is how to vacation like an Italian to fully embrace and be engulfed by the ethereal splendour of this magnificent country.

Che si fa? Mare, lago o montagna?

Summertime in Italy is simple, il mare, il lago o la montagna, translating into ‘the beach’, ‘the lake’ o‘the mountains.’As temperatures soar and climax in August, this becomes the month Italians are typically faced with frayed options of choosing where to abscond the heat wave - to leave town to swim in sparkling, warm and clear waters soaking in vitamin D or to decamp to a cooler retreat with the marshy green lands.

Home to some of the world’s most exhilarating beaches with a seemingly endless stretch of clear emerald sea, lapping waves along thin and crisp sun-bleached sand, Sardinia, Sicily, the Cinque Terre in Liguria, the Riviera Romagnola in Emilia Romagna, the Amalfi Coast in Campania, and Puglia are classic summertime destinations for Italians to relax and unwind according to Fabio from Stay Ciao. Whilst most jump on a plane to the Maldives or the Caribbean to capture and bathe in the idyllic beauty, most Italians, especially the younger generation stay in Italy to enjoy the summer.

Why? Up until today and originally from Puglia himself, Fabio with his unwavering fawning for Salento and the Porto Cesareo area outlines how these two summertime hotspot locations were once exclusive to the natives of Puglia, unknown to the world and even to the locals however things have dramatically changed over the past 15 years as Italians have since discovered the undisputable and alluring beauty of the beaches beneath their feet, on home soil.

If slipping into a light-fabric, string-pieced clothing called a bikini, displaying your anatomy to rays of golden sunshine to get as brown as a berry is not something you enjoy doing, an alternative escape from the scorching heat for Italians is spending time in the mountains, camping in the Italian alps.

Many of our close friends of Italian nationality have expressed their preference towards the lush verdant slopes to the beaches as it allows them to be surrounded in a sheet of tranquillity, cooing away from the commotions of the tourist trails. Some popular activities and destinations recommended include camping in Madonna di Campiglio in Trentino, mountain hikes around Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites, exploring Cervinia a ski paradise, the Mount Rosa in the Valle d’Aosta or the Friuli Venezia Giulia overseeing sharp peak mountains and home to a land of vineyards.

Despite being uncharted and lesser-known as a Summer hotspot, lakes in Italy carry a stark beauty that is simply breath-taking. The likes of lakes in Italy including Lake Garda in Lombardy, the largest lake in Italy charmed in ultimate luxury, Lake Maggoire in Piedmont, bordering Italy and Switzerland surrounded in a landform of snow-festooned mountains, Lake Bolsena in Tuscany, holding ground to the volcanic dregs with clean and clear water perfect for swimming and fishing and lastly Lake Como, one of Italy’s most exquisite locations attracting attention from celebrities and VIPs.

Learn the local produce

Beyond its touristic appeal, Italy is home to culinary expertise for a number of globally renown dishes and farms vegetation such as rice for risotto and grape for crisp and clean wines so one other way to vacation like an Italian is to engage with the local produce by visiting the local players at the farms.

From understanding the truffle trade or attending the annual truffle fairs in the Langhe, Molise or Le Marche to harvesting grapes and wine-tasting classes in Chianti, these activities have become increasingly popular amongst the locals as well as tourists as it is understood these experiences enables maximum exposure to the local and daily stream of activities by being hands-on in the fields to then catering and serving the produce as a palette of meals allowing you to sample fresh, authentic and top-class Italian food, not to mention a bank of knowledge into the cultural depths of Italy.

Travel with la mia famiglia

Italians tend to be very family orientated, with a very close-knitted relationship with family so what better way to immerse yourself into the undiscovered corners of Italy than with an Italian family?

Having previously travelled with one of our friend’s family with member numbers of 15, the experience was definitely more special and intimate as they were able to offer personal insight into the various towns and villages as well as pinpoint tucked away hidden gems usually overlooked when exploring with a group of tourists. Italians are renewed for their warm hospitality and being an amico to one member of the family automatically grants you friendship with the remainder of the family. Bravo!

Two kisses and a talk, please

Italians are mellow, good-natured and never in a rush so take time to stop, admire the view and engage in conversation with the locals, the most organic method of learning. Being on holiday is about detaching yourself from the norm of daily life back at home so relax, smile, be polite and greet people with two kisses, one on each cheek. Dinner may be pushed back by an hour but invaluable conversations about the novelty topics such as the latest marine-protection campaign spreading wide and far or the new method of making the best cup of cappuccino using dairy-free milk will certainly make it worthwhile.