13 April 2014

Top 10 things to do in Lake Garda

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Narrowing it down to 10 was difficult but here are the top 10 things to do in Lake Garda by Holiday Homes in Italy:

1. Take the ferry - the best way to see Garda is to go from town to town on the ferry. The coastal road is beautiful but the traffic can be intense in high season, so jumping on a ferry is a great escape offering unobstructed and fantastic views of most of the lakeside towns, many of which are simply not possible in a car.

2. Try water sports - For the water sports fanatics or even beginners looking to take lessons, Riva in the north offers some of the best windsurfing activities on the lake of Garda. You can also rent sailboats, kayaks and canoes. Neighbouring Torbole also offers a great selection of activities to keep you busy!

3. Have a beach day - People don’t naturally think of Lake Garda as beach destination but the Lake is very clean and perfect for swimming. There are beaches in all of the towns around the lake, some with pebbles, others with cute platforms or jetties and many offering a wealth of water sport activities. The beauty of the beaches here is the scenery; calm, clear waters and a backdrop of mountains or hills with Mediterranean foliage, lemon trees and olive groves. If you want something more lively and cool, Garda is setting the trend with beach clubs like Coco Beach.

4. Visit the wineries – Bardolino in the south is vineyard territory and perfect for an afternoon visit, where you can taste the delicious local red wines in many of the 50+ vineyards in the area. There is even a wine museum. The town also houses a number of artisan shops and some pretty churches and historic remains.

5. Wander in the serene gardens and parks – Como may steal the limelight with its gardens but Garda is sadly often overlooked and underrated. It offers some fabulous gardens in and around the lake, perfect for a relaxing stroll. The beautiful botanical gardens in Gardone Riveria offer over 2000 species of plants from all over the world; the public gardens in Riva are delightful and the gardens on Isola Garda are stunning. Parco Giardino Sigurta close to Peschiera is considered to be in the top five in the world and if you are looking for bigger expanse of space, Parco Natura Viva, which is east of Lazise, offers a 40 hectare park with plenty to do for the family. Spoilt for choice!

6. Go Biking! Lake Garda is a paradise for cyclists. You can rent bikes in most of the resorts and ride along the cycle paths around the lake or cycle in the countryside villages to the south of the lake. A fabulous way to explore the area! For the more adventurous, you could hire mountain bikes and attempt the mountains to the north of the lake.

7. Relax in a square – whether you are in the centre of Salo’, Riva or Limone, you will find the perfect square to relax in and watch the world go by. This is classic Italy; grab a cappucchino, gelato or aperitivo (the locals love a ‘Spritz’, which is made from Prosecco, sparkling water and Aperol) and soak up the atmosphere. Fantastico!

8. Visit Sirmione in the south. A difficult choice just to choose one as we love Riva, Garda, Limone and so many more but Simione is wonderful. It has been favoured by artists and poets over the centuries for its sheer beauty and offers a medieval centre, dominated by a large castle. The town is also known for its thermal bath resorts.

9. Visit Verona – we wouldn’t normally suggest leaving your holiday destination to venture further afield but the beautiful City of Verona, with its magnificent Roman ruins and medieval and Renaissance buildings is literally on its doorstep. The Roman amphitheatre is the third largest building of its type and the best preserved and boasts the City’s culture status with plays and grand operatic performances under the stars. It's also a great City for some retail therapy...

10. Visit Gardaland for the kids! This is as far removed from traditional Italy as you can get but Gardaland is the largest amusement park in Italy. For a day away from the scenery and a great number of rides, you can’t beat this park. There's a free shuttle bus from the Pescheria train station as well as a Gardaland bus running from quite a few of the towns around the lake.

Self-catering accommodation in Lake Garda

It's not in the top 10 but we think taking a holiday rental in Lake Garda will make your stay even more perfect; space, privacy and the ability to try both restaurants and relax with some home cooked food from the local markets or simply having a capucchino or breakfast on your own terrace or balcony - fantastico! Holiday Homes in Italy offer a wide range of apartment and villa rentals in Lake Garda:

View holiday apartments in Lake Garda

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View all holiday rentals in Lake Garda 

12 April 2014

Holiday rentals in Lake Maggiore – majestic and breathtaking

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Holiday rentals in Lake Maggiore – majestic and breathtaking

Maggiore, Como and Garda are the three most famous lakes and have been popular with International visitors for centuries. Renaissance villas, castles and beautiful gardens are a reminder of the times when the lakes were the playground of the European elite.

Lake Maggiore is the second largest lake which winds majestically between Lombardy and Piedmont.  This area benefits from being within easy reach of three airports; Bergamo, Milan Malpensa and Milan Linate.

Good food, a relaxed lifestyle and warm summers make it a destination that’s perfect for a lake holiday in Italy. There are a number of lovely resorts along the lake, such as Stresa, Verbania, Ghiffa and Baveno, which have breathtaking views and are surrounded by lush gardens and tree lined roads.

Stresa is a lovely town with beautiful villas, gardens, cobbled streets and old squares. From the town you can take a cable car up to Monte Mottarone where at 4,000 ft you can enjoy views of the Alps. From the hillside villages of the lake, many properties benefit from jaw-dropping views over the lake and of the Borromeo Islands which are also magnificent.

There is a wealth of activities on offer on the lake from golf to tennis, boating and fishing. The lake also offers easy access to the many beautiful cities in northern Italy, such as Milan, Bergamo, and Turin, where there is no shortage of culture, history and designer shops!

Holiday rentals in Maggiore

Holiday Homes in Italy offers a range of property available around the lake from wonderful period holiday villas in Maggiore to brand new apartments in Maggiore.  Here are a couple of options in our Maggiore holiday rentals portfolio:

Villa Stresa -  This beautiful villa is situated on sloping terraces facing the lake that offer splendid views from every angle, even at night. The well-tended garden is filled with flowers and trees and has numerous places for guests to sit and relax around the breathtaking pool.

Maggiore vista apartment - These lovely apartments all have gardens or balconies with views of the lake and the surrounding landscape. The residence, surrounded by nature, has a pool and paddling pool as well as offering access to a private beach!

View all self-catering accommodation in Lake Maggiore

1 April 2014

Todi – a gem of a town for vacations in Umbria

Todi in Umbria has been on the vacation radar for some years now and in spite of its International visitors, it still retains its elegance and traditional Umbrian heritage.  Although it’s a lively town with plenty on offer for the holidaymaker, it simply doesn’t feel too commercial and stays true to its roots as a picturesque and medieval Umbrian hill town.

The town's biggest asset is the balance between a gentle, olive-growing, wine-, mushroom- and truffle-producing countryside and a rich architectural heritage.  It rose to its prominence back in the 1990s, especially in the US where it was classed as the world’s most liveable town by Kentucky University, which sealed its fate on the holiday landscape.

The town

Todi has one finest piazzas in Italy which looks out on a rolling landscape familiar from Italian Renaissance paintings, with beautiful palaces and churches, enclosed by Roman and mediaeval city walls.  The Santa Maria della Consolazione church dates back to the 16th century and is visible for miles around.  There are many bars and restaurants all showcasing the fabulous rustic Umbrian cuisine as well as a good selection of local shops.  If you are looking for art, antiques or hand-made traditional products then this is the place to come.

By night, Todi stands proud at the top of the hill and you almost feel like you are on the set of an Italian movie – could it possibly be this perfect? It comes as no surprise that it has long attracted Italian film stars, writers and artists as a location for inspiration.

During the summer, the town is awash with art exhibits, drama, opera, classical music, and performances, many of which are outside or take place in the magnificent piazza.

Getting around

Todi is a great strategic base to explore the region; from here you can easily take a day trip to neighbouring Assisi, Montefalco, Orvieto, Perugia to name a few. For those looking for the coast, even though Umbria is a land-locked region, it offers one of Italy’s largest and well-known lakes; Lake Trasimeno. The lake offers beaches and a wide range of water sports.

How to get there

Perugia is the local airport within an hour’s drive of Todi but for International flights, Rome is also easily accessible and a pleasant drive through Lazio into Umbria.

Vacation rentals in Todi

In terms of vacation rentals in Umbria, the standard is high and most villas and apartments tend to be restored to the highest standard, whilst preserving their traditional features. You will find a number of beautiful self-catering villas and apartments in Todi, mostly located outside the walls in the serene rolling Umbrian countryside. These holiday rentals in Umbria provide a perfect base for a vacation and offer terraces and pools with countryside views to relax and soak up the rustic charm of the region.

Holiday Homes in Italy offers a number of holiday rentals in and around Todi, which are popular with UK and US visitors. Take a look at our Todi portfolio:

Todi Apartment - quaint 2 bed apartment with pool

Villa Countryside - superb 3 bed villa with pool

Villa Todi - beautiful 3 bed villa with pool

Casal Todi - great 4 bed villa with pool

Villa Rosa Umbria - Large 5 bed villa with pool

Il Sogno - a beautiful 6 bed villa in Todi

We also offer a wide range of villas and apartments in Umbria. For a full list of holiday rentals in Umbria, view our portfolio.

30 March 2014

Great new self-catering apartments with pool in Taormina

Holiday Homes in Italy is pleased to include the Renato apartments in its 2014 Sicily holiday rentals collection.  These holidays apartments in Taormina are located just a 15 minute walk from the hustle and bustle of the centre and are located on a hill with wonderful sea views.  From the typical Sicilian property, it is also possible to walk to the well-known beauty spot of Isola Bella Bay, where there is a great beach and a good selection of restaurants if you are looking to eat on the coast.

The Taormina apartments comprise of the following:

Renato Suite - Sleeps 2 with a terrace facing the sea

Renato Apartment - sleeps 4 with a terrace facing the sea

Renato Panoramic – a combination of the above two apartments, sleeping up to 6 guests

The holiday property in Taormina also benefits from a beautiful swimming pool surrounded by a large garden with palm trees and exotic plants, the perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon or a morning dip before heading down to the coast.


Taormina is Sicily’s most popular and fashionable resort with amazing views encompassing southern Calabria, the Sicilian coastline and snow-capped Etna. If you are looking for a relaxing holiday in a lovely town, this could be the place for you.  The squares are surrounded by elegant open-air coffee shops and you will be spoilt for choice in the many trattorie, ristoranti and pizzerie many of which are dotted along quaint streets. Taormina still manages to retain most of its small-town charm and offers a wealth of impressive buildings and history.

From the centre, you can easily reach the beach by a cable that is located about 100 metres from the Porta Messina – taking you straight to Mazzaro beach and Via Nazionale. The coastline is unquestionably appealing with a mixture of grottoes and rocky groves and Italian lido’s, which are fully equipped to provide a perfect and comfortable day at the beach. Just a short distance south of Taormina, you will find the sands of Giardini-Naxos, which are more spacious and great for swimming.

All in all, Taormina is quite simply a fabulous resort; beautiful scenery, great atmosphere, fantastic selection of shops and restaurants, excellent coastline – the list is endless! For more information on Taormina, take a look at our Taormina blog.

More holiday rentals in Taormina

Holiday Homes in Italy offer a range of self-catering accommodation in and around Taormina (including nearby Catania), click here for a complete selection of apartments and villas in Taormina

23 March 2014

La Pelosa beach in Stintino (Sardinia) voted top 3 beach in Italy

La Pelosa beach in wonderful Stintino on the northern coastline of Sardinia has been voted the third best beach in Italy by TripAdvisor in the 2014 Traveller’s Choice.

It’s not hard to see why; soft and golden sand, crystal blue sea and a fantastic beautiful landscape.  It is very difficult to describe the beauty of this area but the unspoilt and ruggedness on offer is simply stunning and delivers a perfect destination for those wanting to get away from it all.

In terms of accommodation, Holiday Homes in Italy is pleased to offer Villa Stintino in its 2014 Sardinia villa portfolio. This great holiday villa in Sardinia is perfect for a family or group holiday and offers 5 bedrooms, sleeping up to 11 guests. It is the perfect villa for those wanting space, views and a great swimming pool.

Being located at the top of a hill, it offers fabulous views over the rugged Sardinian landscape and the pristine coastline. There is a small lake only 500m from the property but the all-important La Pelosa beach, which is now recognised as one of the best in the world, is a mere 1.8 miles away!

What more can you ask for in a holiday destination!

19 March 2014

New direct flights from the UK to Sicily!

Sicily is becoming more and more accessible, so there's no excuse to not travel over for holidays in 2014. Alitalia has recently announced that it will be expanding its flights from London Gatwick to Catania and Palermo starting on 31 March 2014.  There will be 3 new weekly flights in addition to the existing flights Alitalia operates to Sicily via Rome or Milan.

Return economy class fares to/from Catania and Palermo start from £130 on alitalia.com (all taxes, charges and baggage included).  For further details and schedules, please visit: www.alitalia.com  

For a wide range of self-catering accommodation in Sicily, please visit Holiday Homes in Italy.

13 March 2014

Our top 10 villas in Puglia

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At Holiday Homes in Italy, we absolutely adore Puglia! Its diverse and offers rustic landscapes and kilometres of amazing coastline; it boasts some of the cleanest beaches in Italy and shockingly still not on the main tourist trail.

In the north, there are sandy beaches and forests and in the South, the dry landscape is more reminiscent of Greece than Italy. The region is steeped in history and offers beautiful architecture and a raft of whitewashed towns and villages.

In terms of accommodation, Puglia is really setting the trend. Forget the dated properties often found in the north and think of a blend of modern with a myriad of features. If you are looking for a self-catering villa in Puglia, then you will be spoilt for choice. Holiday rentals in Puglia range from Trulli (cone roofed buildings dating to the middle ages) to Masserie (Puglian farmhouses), Lammie, (typically square buildings) and modern villas.

We offer so many beautiful villas in Puglia that we really were spoilt for choice but here are our top 10 villas with pools in Puglia:

1. Villa Santa Maria di Leuca 

An outstanding villa with a swimming pool built on a sheer drop over the sea, surrounded by a well looked after and blooming Mediterranean garden in the south of Puglia

2. Villa Puglia Sud

Perched on a small hill offering an idyllic view over the countryside and the sea, this small Villa features a swimming pool nestled in a garden of olive trees, where privacy, peace and quiet are assured.

3. Diane Villa

Outstanding large beautiful villa situated in one of the most charming seaside villages on the Apulian coast, near Ostuni.

4. Il Casale

Situated at the very bottom of the Salento peninsula on the Ionic shore, just a stone's throw away from spectacular sand beaches, Il Casale, a delightful and elegant accomodation, provides for a unique and memorable holiday.

5. Villa Baiaverde

Villa Baiaverde is a splendid brand new villa with a private pool (14x7m) situated in a sought after location with panoramic views of the sea. The villa, is surrounded by greenery and olive trees and offers a beautiful panoramic view of the sea.

6. Trullo Cedro

Trullo Cedro is a luxurious holiday home in Puglia. It has been carefully restored in classic Apulian style and offers a private infinity swimming pool with a 'beach effect'. It is located at the top of the beautiful hills of Ceglie in an idyllic location providing maximum privacy for its guests.

7. Lamia Bianca

This beautiful villa with swimming pool is set amongst 2 acres of olive grove and fruit trees near Alberobello. Surrounded by ancient drystone walls, the property is located in a serenely peaceful and relaxing setting to unwind and recharge the stresses of everyday life.

8. Masseria Otranto

This "masseria", a typical farmhouse of the Salento countryside, is located near Otranto, 2 kilometres from the sea. The building has been totally restored in keeping with the traditions of construction and landscape of this area, whilst internally there are all the comforts you would expect from an impressive villa

9. Trullo Castellana

Trullo Castellana represents the typical Apulian building, renowned throughout the world for its originality and creativity.  Set in an ideal geographical location, the trulli will guarantee you a holiday of peace and privacy.

10. Trullo Messapica

Trullo Massapica offers guests the opportunity to experience a truly and authentic holiday in Puglia, together with the luxury and comfort of a private pool.

View more of our villas in Puglia