How to See Italy in a Unique and Sustainable Way
Italy, Italy, Italy… where do I even begin? It’s the country of a thousand different itineraries, a million different experiences. Home to breathtaking mountain ranges such as the Dolomites (one of my all-time favorite places on Earth), stunning sea-side destinations, glittering cosmopolitan cities, and so much more. A hub of unparalleled art and fashion and food.
I know what you’re thinking: times are crazy, so maybe getaways aren’t at the top of your to-do list right now. But as the world starts to open up again, they might be soon.
When that happens for you, give Italy some serious consideration. Officials here have been handling everything remarkably well lately and tourism has begun to restart, with many careful considerations and stringent SOPs in place.
Take the train
If all of us left our personal cars parked in our garages and took the train everywhere, just imagine how drastically we could reduce the environmental impact. Of course, that could only happen if train travel was actually possible all over.
Luckily, Italy has a rather extensive and efficient railway network. Over 1,000 km of high-speed trains have been fully operational since 2010. How fast are we talking? Well, you can travel from Milan to Rome in just a little over three hours (and there are four Milan-Rome trains every hour!). Furthermore, in just four hours and 33 minutes, you can get all the way to Naples from Milan.
Moreover, if you’re like us, with a penchant for smaller cities and towns (or areas that are less visited), have no fear. These are quite well connected with regional and local trains as well. Trust me, some of the stops will make you gape in awe. This is perhaps the most cheap and eco-conscious way to discover gems as you traverse the country.
Bike in bliss
If you want to take that sustainability quotient even further up a notch, get out that bike. There are lots of bicycle tracks throughout the country, along with all the resources to go with it: tours, route information, athletic associations and social clubs, guides, and even travel assistance for cycling tourists. Oh, there are even bike hotels… and you can take your bike on the train!
One of my most memorable Italian getaways has been to Val D’Aosta, where I biked to my heart’s content. Trust me, if you’re into mountain biking and want to get that adrenaline rush from crazy downhills, this is something you need to do. The mountain bike routes and various cycling tours will keep you busy (and fit!) throughout your time here.
In Italy, you also have all sorts of terrains and weather conditions to choose from. If mountain biking isn’t for you, there are many flat, coastal and lake areas as well. Need a bit of inspiration? Well, exploring Sicily on bike is absolutely wonderful, cycling in Tuscany is amazing for amateurs and professionals alike with a plethora of itineraries to choose from, and discovering Trentino on a racing bike will be an adventure you will never forget.
Traveling outside the high season is always a good idea for Italy, and I’ll adhere to this in the future as well. We know how overburdened some places were before the pandemic, such as Rome and Florence, and we all have a responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
You see, a huge part of sustainable travel is making sure you’re not adding to the burden of historic and cultural places that are already at breaking point. So along with going to less-frequented places, visiting during less-touristy months is also a good idea. Strictly avoid the end of the summer and the winter holidays.
As with everything in life, a bit of preparation can go a long way. Plan your journey beforehand, keep a sustainability-driven mindset throughout, and try to immerse in responsible and slow travel.
For more trips ideas and information, click here, and here, and here.
And that’s it for now, Rebels. Let me know what you think of Italy!
Ayesha R Siddiqi
Can’t wait to explore Italy — it sounds fantastic!