Being in social isolation doesn't stop us dreaming of all the places we'd like to visit; in fact now we've got even more time to daydream. Escape on a virtual vacation to bring a little piece of Italy to your living room.

The delicate folds of fabric captured in a Bernini marble, the way the afternoon light settles on a field of Tuscan wheat, or the semicharred crust of a Neapolitan pizza – these are things that must be enjoyed firsthand. But until the world begins traveling again, dive into the best films, books, and virtual experiences or try your hand at cooking up some excitement for your next trip in your very own kitchen.

hills in Chianti
La Bottega di Volpaia, Chianti ©Susan Wright/Lonely Planet

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Best Movies

Call Me By Your Name (2017): A coming-of-age romance set in a 17th-century villa in Lombardy, Italy.
Roman Holiday (1953): Aubrey Hepburn plays a sheltered princess who escapes the confines of her embassy in Rome and falls in love with an American reporter played by Gregory Peck.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003): A life turned upside down gets reoriented when a divorcee buys a villa in Tuscany on a whim.

Still from the movie "Life is Beautiful" © Allstar Picture Library Limited / Alamy Stock Photo

Life Is Beautiful (1997)
: A Jewish Italian bookshop owner uses humor and wit to shield his family from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp.
The Italian Job (1969): Michael Cane leads a crew who plan to steal a gold shipment in Turin by causing a traffic jam.

Cinema Paradiso (1988)
: A filmmaker recounts his childhood in Sicily and the movie-house projectionist that nurtured a love of cinema in the young boy.
The Godfather (1972): A classic mob story detailing the transition of power in the Corleone family from aging patriarch to a his reluctant son.
Gladiator (2000): Set in ancient Rome and tells the story of a disgraced general who becomes a common gladiator.


Rock/pop chartbreaker

Classical Italy

Best Books

Social Realism:
Cosima - Grazia Deledda: A fictionalized memoir of the writer coming of age and into her own in rural Sardinia. Deledda became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926.
My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante: The first in a 4-part series that follows the lives of two precocious girls as they grow into adulthood amid the violence of their home in a poor neighborhood near Naples.
Persecution - Alessandro Piperno: Set in Rome, the novel follows the life of an esteemed oncologist who is accused of child molestation.

Italian Classics:
Metamorphoses - Ovid: Chronicles civilization from its mythological beginnings to the reign of Julius Caesar
The Decameron - Boccaccio: A collection of novellas set during the Black Death in Florence in the 14th century.
The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli: A manual for diabolical types, while also serving as a warning against "Machiavellian" authority.

Best Podcasts

The Bittersweet Life: A podcast about Italy from two American expats living in Rome

Gola: A culinary historian and food journalist talk about Italian food and its connection to history, society and culture.

Ciao Bella: Travel journalist Erica Firpo interviews chefs, artists, designers and more about modern life in Italy

Learn the Local Language

  • Buongiorno - Good day/hello
  • Ciao - Hello/goodbye (informal)
  • Grazie - Thanks
  • Parla inglese? - Do you speak English?
  • Mi scusi, non capisco - Sorry, I don't understand.

Italian language resources
Duolingo: specializes in bite-size, quick lessons 
Lonely Planet Italian phrasebook: a handy tool filled with popular slang and vocabulary


One of the world's most revered cuisines, Italian food captures a number of regional styles, flavors and traditions. Many of the most common dishes center around pasta in its various forms. Try making Italian tagliatelle al ragu at home.

Best Videos


The perfect palate-cleanser on a warm summer evening, the negroni is a quenching blend of bitterness, sweetness and dryness all in one.

Cultural Highlights


Sistine Chapel

Epic Landscapes

Italian Dolomites

Cinque Terre

Shop Online

Do some online browsing with these Italian shops who ship internationally (please note there may be some delays or restrictions due to COVID-19).

Amatruda - a 500-year-old shop specializing in handcrafted paper

Emilio Pucci - An international fashion brand based out of Florence

Salvatore Ferragamo - Luxury goods headquartered in Florence

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Why I want travellers to return to Italy when this is over
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A time warp driving adventure in northern Italy

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