It seems like the world more or less stopped in its tracks for much of the past two years, as the pandemic pumped the breaks on everything from travel to dining out. Italy is slowly coming out of its stupor, however, and 2022 is shaping up to be an exciting year to visit. Here are a few reasons why you should consider a trip to Italy in 2022:
The Neapolitan Renaissance
Naples is popping up increasingly on “best of” lists for the coming year, and the city is going through a bit of a Renaissance. Historic neighborhoods like Rione Sanità, once considered gritty and a bit dangerous, have become cultural and culinary hot spots, the city’s museums are offering a number of world-class exhibitions, the street art scene is considered one of the best in Italy, and a spectacular new archaeological site is slated to open this summer. Known as the Ipogeo dei Cristallini, this ancient Greek necropolis has colorful frescoes, trompe l’oeil paintings, and names of the buried scrawled on the walls in Greek, offering a glimpse of life (and death) in ancient Neapolis.
In addition, the nearby ruins of Pompeii have revealed a number of treasures during new excavations, the first major dig at the site in decades. Ancient frescoes, an intact chariot, and remains of residents and their horses are just some of the unearthed finds in the Regio V and Civita Giuliana areas now being explored.
While visiting Naples, be sure to pop over to the unassuming yet delightful island of Procida in the Bay of Naples. Long overshadowed by its chic neighbor Capri, this relaxed outpost was named the Italian Capital of Culture for 2022.
- Eating Your Way Through Naples and the Amalfi Coast
- Naples’ Christmas Street
- Something Old, Something New: Recent Discoveries in Pompeii
Rome’s Dolce Vita Eats and Sleeps
You may be surprised to hear that despite the pandemic and almost complete disappearance of international visitors to Rome just two years ago, Italy’s capital city has regrouped and is enjoying an explosion of hot new hotel and restaurant openings. Two hipster hospitality groups have opened trendy new digs in unsung residential areas—the British brand Hoxton in Parioli and the French Mama Shelter in Prati—and a number of luxury hotel names are also tossing their hat into the Roman ring with inaugurations this year, including EDITION, W Hotel, Six Senses, and InterContinental. For those who love a more boutique feel, the Maalot Roma became almost an instant favorite when it opened its doors in late 2021.
The food scene in the Eternal City is also buzzing right now, as old favorites find new shine with updated or expanded al fresco spaces and newcomers bring life to once-snubbed districts like Esquilino. Vegetarian-focused options sit side-by-side with temples to traditional offal-based Roman fare, fusion eateries pay homage to the increasingly international feel of the city, and the rooftop cocktail game is among the best in Italy. In short, now is the time to experience the Dolce Vita flair that Rome has been famous for since the 1950s.
Culture Vulture Florence
The cradle of the Renaissance is home to more than 70 museums and countless churches and chapels, so it would take a lifetime to see them all. Florence doesn’t rest on its laurels, however, and has taken advantage of the quiet last few years to renovate and reopen a number of exhibition spaces. Even if you’ve already visited the city’s A-list collections, now is a great time to stop by again. The Uffizi Gallery, for example, has restored and opened almost 20,000 additional square feet, including dozens of new halls. New rooms dedicated to 16th-century Florentine, Emilian, and Roman painting were unveiled last year, the Terrace of the Map Room has recently reopened after two decades, and the long-awaited reopening of the Vasari Corridor is slated for this summer.
Just across the Arno River, Pitti Palace has opened a number of rooms that were part of Cosimo III de’ Medici’s summer apartment and the 18th-century Palatine Chapel to house the Museum of Russian Icons, one of the most important collections of its kind in the world.
The spectacular Brancacci Chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine, on the other hand, is undergoing restoration work now and visitors will be able to get up close and personal with the 15th-century frescoes by Masolino, Masaccio, and Filippino Lippi via the specially-built scaffolding that will stay in place for the duration of the renovation. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for true art aficionados to stand nose-to-nose with some of the most important Renaissance frescoes in Florence.
- A Rainy-Day Florence Itinerary: Leon Battista Alberti
- Our Secret Florence
- A Michelangelo-Themed Walking Tour in Florence
Every Two Years in Venice
The most important event in contemporary art on the globe (often called the “Olympics of the Art World”), Venice’s Biennale takes place every odd-numbered year; the 2021 edition was postponed and is now set to run from April 23 until November 27, 2022. This is great news for art enthusiasts who will be able to see works by some of the world’s top artists under the artistic direction of Cecilia Alemani, the first Italian woman to direct the event.
The theme of this edition is “The Milk of Dreams” (the theme from 2019 was “May You Live in Interesting Times”, which seems somewhat ominous in retrospect) and both the UK and the US will be represented for the first time by Black women artists (Sonia Boyce and Simone Leigh, respectively), France will be represented by its first artist of Algerian descent (Zineb Sedira), and Albania will be represented posthumously by Lumturi Blloshmi, who had been chosen for the original exhibition date in 2019 but died in 2020 from complications due to COVID-19.
While in Venice, be sure to visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection to check out the much-anticipated Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity exhibition with works by Salvador Dalí, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, and other great Surrealist painters.
- 48 Hours: Venezia (Venice)
- The Sestieri of Venice: A Neighborhood Guide
- Everything You Need to Know about Venice’s Gondolas
Endless Skiing in the Dolomites
The skiing around Cortina has long been among the best in the world, but the new Skyline Lift that connects the Tofane (Son dei Prade) and 5 Torri (Bai de Dones) ski areas has dialed it up to 11. This new 3-mile gondola ride makes it possible to ski all the way from Cortina to Alpe di Siusi more than 25 miles away along what some think is the longest downhill-only, car- or bus-free route exclusively on pistes in the world.
The adventurous (and fit) can ski across a huge swathe of the Dolomites in a single day, crossing from the Veneto region into Trentino/Sudtirol and passing eight villages, four different ski areas, a World War I battlefront, and three different local languages.