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Adventure

7 Unique, Active Adventures in Italy

Italy is about food, wine, laughter, and discovery.  When you’re ready to work off some of those exquisite pasta dishes, there is plenty of adventure waiting.  Italy is one of the best places to immerse yourself in nature and feel fully alive.  Savor the food and wine, and then go adventuring in the mountains, the sea, or the cities.

1. Get Into the Water!

There are beautiful places to snorkel and scuba dive in Italy, so take to the water.  The Aeolian Islands off Sicily are a UNESCO protected area with pristine waters. A sea cave, the Grotto Azzurra of Taormina, is just a short boat ride from the shore. Baia, a sunken city south of Rome, is astonishing.  Ancient buildings and statues, pillars, mosaic floors, and villas are submerged in what was the Vegas of Rome.  (You can also see Baia’s ruins from a glass-bottom boat.) The entire Cilento Peninsula, just south of Positano, is filled with peaceful coves and grottos. From Capri, head to the uncrowded island of Procida and dive from Lingua beach.

2. Wind-Surfing and Kite-Surfing

Beautiful Lake Garda has prime wind-surfing. The wind that’s called Pelér blows from north to south early in the morning.  Ora  blows from south to north in the early afternoon until evening. Head to the northern part of the lake for the best windsurfing—windsurf centers dot the coastline, you just have to choose one. Porto Pollo is a lovely spot, it’s not crowded, and there are plenty of lifeguards.  Sardinia has extraordinary windsurfing and kitesurfing—enjoy!

3. Glide Above Italy

Italy from the air is a glory.  Imagine hang-gliding over the lush, rolling hills of Umbria.  Travel to Castelluccio, the highest village in the Apennines, and take off from there.  It’s a favored spot and has hang gliding schools that cater to beginners and the experienced. In Spring, carpets of wildflowers below are a vision. Paraglide over Cinque Terre in tandem, and land gently on the beach at Monterosso. In Tuscany, take off from Lucca or Pisa.  Veneto has a world of options—fly over Lake Garda or soar above the pink-and-white Dolomites from Cortina d’Ampezzo.

4. Rent a Bicycle

Cycle the sunny hills of Tuscany and be amazed by the beauty, or take a wine tour on wheels.  No ancient city is easy to navigate by car—rent a bike and visit the country’s many UNESCO world-heritage centers.  Consider riding the bike path along the Adige River in Veneto.  Rome is ideal to explore on a bike.  Breeze by the Colosseum, wave at the Parthenon, or be amazed at the Pantheon.  It’s the experience of a lifetime!

5. Mountain Biking in Abruzzo and Molise

The most extreme mountain biking in Italy is in the Dolomites, but the paths are very steep and only for people in exceptionally good shape. For easier trails, fewer people, and views of wildlife, head for the Apennine Mountains.  Explore the lesser-traveled region of Molise and neighboring Abruzzo.  Still rustic, these two regions in central Italy are a glimpse into another side of Italy.  Abruzzo has some of Italy’s wildest terrain—Molise is about as wild, but even smaller.  Bike Abruzzo National Park or take the shepherd paths in Molise.

6. Explore the Caves in Le Marche

Some of the finest adventures in Italy are in Le Marche. But, the most unique feature is The Grotte di Frasassi. A network of underground caverns, stalactites hang strangely from above, and stalagmites grow from the floor in oddball formations. It is so huge that one of the underground caverns could fit the 5th largest church in the world, the Duomo de Milano, inside it. The Grotta di Monte Cucco is one of the world’s deepest cave systems, and you can also explore that. Check the Grotte di Frasassi’s website and take a virtual tour before you go.  This was surely a place that ancient people explored with wonder, too.

7. Go Hiking in the Dolomites

Choose a nearby small town as your base, and get into the Majestic Dolomites. Hike, ski, heli-ski, snowboard, parasail, kayak or go mountain biking. Here, you can fulfill just about any adventure fantasy you have. There are endless trails, guides and teachers, and extraordinary beauty that are rarely seen by visitors.

Whether you tour wineries on a bike, dive through undersea ruins, or glide above snowy peaks, your Italy vacation is sheer pleasure.  Get into local food and wine, and then fall into the adventurous nature of Italy.