The current BBC2 series of Italy Unpacked is stopping by some of our favourite spots in Italy, feeding both body and soul.
From the Sassi of Matera in the Basilicata region to the never-ending olive groves of Puglia and the discovery of baroque treasures at every twist and turn in the city of Lecce (episode 1), this is a world far removed from the bustling tourist-filled streets of Rome, Florence and Venice. In Matera’s Sassi district, cave dwelling takes on a whole new meaning and life in a trullo in Puglia never looked so good.
Episode 2 (20 February) calls in at the astonishing Grotte di Frasassi in Le Marche (www.frasassi.com), where the largest cave is big enough to house Milan Cathedral, and Umbria.
From there, the duo continue their journey further north (episode 3, 27 February) to the much underrated Veneto region, forgoing a stay in Venice and instead making tracks for the lesser known cities of Padua and Vicenza. Palladian villas, Giotto frescos and the world’s oldest university botanical garden are just some of the highlights of these two art-rich cities, with the added bonus of an opportunity to experience an opera performance at Verona’s Arena.
A 7-night ExpertoItaly Cities of the Veneto trip includes stays in Padua and Vicenza and a boat tour of the Palladian villas along the Brenta.
Extend your stay with a few days at a riverbank idyll in Valeggio sul Mincio.