Alghero (scarabeo150)
Article Words : Sarah Baxter | 01 July

Italy... by low cost airline

The cheapest flights to Italy's coveted destinations - plus what to do there once you arrive...

Alghero

Who goes?: Ryanair from Stansted
Flight time:
2hrs 35mins
Airport: Fertilia – 10km away
What’s there?: Implausibly turquoise-blue waters lap the quaint, labyrinthine old town of this Sardinian port. Wander the narrow streets, admire the neoclassical cathedral, find a sun-kissed beach and gorge yourself on paella – the town was settled by Catalonians and has a distinctly Spanish air.
Further afield: Get tiddly in the surrounding vineyards after exploring the peculiar nuraghi. There are around 7,000 of these enigmatic stone towers (dating from 1800-500BC) scattered around the island.
Don’t leave without: Busing or boating to Grotta di Nettuno (Neptune’s Cave).

Ancona

Who goes?: Ryanair from Stansted
Flight time: 2hrs 25mins
Airport: Falconara – 10km away
What’s there?: Poor Ancona. Bombed, shaken and likened to ‘rotten cabbage’, it’s having a bad century. But it has an impressive setting on a crescent-shaped harbour and, although much of its medieval heritage has been lost, a few treats remain – try the walk up to the cathedral, the spruced-up Gothic Loggia dei Mercanti or the Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Marche with its stunning Etruscan bronzes.
Further afield: Ancona is a good place to leave the country – use it as the gateway to Greece, Croatia or Turkey.
Don’t leave without: Sampling a large bowl of stoccafisso all’anconetana, a casserole of dried cod, tomatoes, potatoes and marjoram.

Bologna

Who goes?: easyJet from Stansted. BA from Gatwick
Flight time: 2hrs 20mins
Airport: Guglielmo Marconi – 6.5km away
What’s there?: Red in brick and politics, Bologna is a handsome, lively city full of porticoed streets. Head to the Piazza Maggiore for a slice of the action, climb the Torre degli Asinelli, pop into the oldest university in Europe, but leave enough energy for drinking till the wee hours. That’s not to mention the museums, churches, theatres...
Further afield: Head 40km north-west to Modena, home to one of Italy’s greatest cathedrals, greatest singers (Pavarotti) and greatest cars (Ferrari).
Don’t leave without: Forgetting the diet – Bologna reputedly has the best food in Italy.

Brescia

Who goes?: Ryanair from Stansted
Flight time: 2hrs 20mins
Airport: Gabrielle D’Annunzio – 17km away
What’s there?: With 400 years of arms production behind it, and a frosty Fascist-era square, people tend to flit through Brescia. But before you leave, visit the impressive Roman remains (the Capitolium), the awesome historical museum (Santa Giulia) and the pretty Piazza della Loggia.
Further afield: Lake Garda is about 30km away; with its temperate air and borders of citrus groves, rugged cliffs and snow-topped peaks, it’s a tempting spot. Verona, around 80km from Brescia, is as romantic as you’d hope the home of Romeo and Juliet would be. In particular, don’t miss your chance to feel gladatorial in Verona’s near perfect 2,000-year-old Arena – or go in July or August (the opera season) for an unparalleled musical experience.
Don’t leave without: Marvelling at Brescia’s strangely shaped Duomo Vecchio, which sits on top of the remains of the old Roman baths.

Forli

Who goes?: Ryanair from Stansted
Flight time:
2hrs 10mins
Airport:
Ridolfi – 4km away
What’s there?: Severed by its ancient and more recent past, Forlì is part comely old town and part ‘Città del Duce’ – an area constructed by local boy Mussolini, with lots of overly grandiose flim-flam. The old town is worth a look, however – try the glorious Piazza Saffi and the arresting Basilica di San Mercuriale in particular.
Further afield: Travel 25km north east and you’ll find Ravenna, home of superlative Byzantine mosaics and the grave of Dante.
Don’t leave without: Blowing an old trumpet at the Romagnolo del Teatro museum, home to scores of musical knick-knacks.

Genoa

Who goes?: Ryanair from Stansted. BA from Gatwick
Flight time: 2hrs 10mins
Airport: Cristoforo Colombo – 6.5km away
What’s there?: It may be a little rough around the edges, but the home of Columbus is still fascinating – and it’s going to be European Capital of Culture in 2004. The flamboyant, striped Cattedrale di San Lorenzo is a must-see, as well as a stroll down Via Garibaldi, a gorgeous avenue lined with 16th century mansions and the city’s best museums.
Further afield: Roughly 80km south east along the coast are the picturesque and precariously perched ‘five lands’ that make up Cinque Terre. Each village is a cluster of steep lanes clinging to the cliffs on a ripple of terraces, surrounded by the region’s best vineyards.
Don’t leave without: Braving the tangle of atmospheric streets that make up Genoa’s old town.

Milan

Who goes?: Ryanair flies to Orio al Serio (in Bergamo) from Stansted and Luton, as does bmibaby from East Midlands and Cardiff, and FlyBE from Birmingham and Southampton. easyJet flies to Linate airport from Stansted. BA goes to Malpensa airport from Birmingham, Manchester and Heathrow, and to Linate from Heathrow; Alitalia goes to Linate and Malpensa from Heathrow.
Flight time: 2hrs
Airports: Linate – 8km away, Malpensa – 53km, Orio al Serio – 50km
What’s there?: Well-tailored Milan’s designer reputation shouldn’t deter those with lower credit limits. Its gargantuan cathedral boasts no less than 135 spires and a view of the Alps on a clear day, while the Pinacoteca di Brera is home to a formidable art collection. Tortured shopaholics should head to the swanky Via Monte Napoleone and gaze longingly through the shop windows.
Further afield: Bergamo, 50km away, is a breath of fresh mountain air. Some low-cost flights to ‘Milan’ land here, but that’s no inconvenience – Bergamo’s old town is a charming cobbled affair worthy of a visit.
Don’t leave without: A last supper – Da Vinci’s famous painting of this memorable meal hangs in the Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Naples

Who goes?: easyJet from Stansted. BA from Gatwick
Flight time: 3hrs
Airport: Capodichino – 8km away
What’s there?: The delicate may wilt on arrival in untidy, frenetic Naples, but this energy is part of the charm. For sights try the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (a repository of ancient Roman treasures), the religiously significant Capella di San Gennaro and the Capella di San Severo (which houses the gruesome evidence of an 18th century alchemist’s human experiments). However, the atmosphere is the main attraction of this beautiful, interesting, dishevelled city.
Further afield: Petrified by the eruption that destroyed it, Pompeii (25km away) is a remarkable insight into ancient Roman life – visit the forum, the arena and even the brothel.

Don’t leave without: Ordering a slice of pizza in its spiritual home.

Pescara

Who goes?: Ryanair from Stansted
Flight time: 2hrs 20mins
Airport: Pasquale Liberi – 6km away
What’s there?: The main draw here is the 16km of Adriatic beaches, but these are mostly lined with hotels. However, it’s a good place to eat fish, indulge in a bit of café culture (Piazza Rinascita is best) or, come July, enjoy some jazz at the annual festival.
Further afield: The wild countryside of the Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo (inland from Pescara) is a pleasant place for a walk and, if you’re lucky, some wildlife spotting – the Marsican brown bear and Apennine wolf lurk here somewhere.
Don’t leave without: Waving goodbye as you sail over to the Dalmatian coast.

Pisa

Who goes?: Ryanair from Stansted, mytravelite from Birmingham and bmibaby from East Midlands. BA from Gatwick
Flight time: 2hrs 20mins
Airport: Galileo Galilei – 7.5km away.
What’s there?: Sitting on the River Arno, Pisa is a pleasure to wander round. But the real gem is the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles). Here you’ll find the huge bronze doors of the Duomo, the curious but graceful Baptistry and the Camposanto, arguably the most beautiful cemetery in the world.
Further afield: Florence, 50km inland, needs little introduction, crammed as it is with some of the country’s most important works of art (visit the Uffizi and the Bargello at least), plus amazing architecture and one of the world’s most famous bridges, the Ponte Vecchio.
Don’t leave without: Wondering how on earth the infamous leaning tower is still standing (and taking a comedy photo).

Rome

Who goes?: Ryanair flies to Ciampino airport from Stansted, as does easyJet. BA flies to Fiumicino airport from Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Gatwick, Alitalia flies from Heathrow and Gatwick
Flight time: 2hrs 40mins
Airports: Ciampino – 19km away, Fiumicino – 32km.
What’s there?: Where to start? You probably won’t want to miss the Colosseum, the crumbling Forum, the mighty Basilica di San Pietro, the Trevi Fountain (of ‘three coins’ fame), the luxurious Piazza Navona and the sweeping Spanish Steps. However, don’t fret about seeing everything – you won’t, but every street in the Eternal City has something to offer.
Further afield: If the hustle and history gets a bit much, head to the beach. The nicest nearby spot is the coastline around Terracina, about 80km south.
Don’t leave without: Getting neck-ache in the Michelangelo-decorated Cappella Sistina.

Treviso

Who goes?: Ryanair from Stansted
Flight time: 1hr 50mins
Airport: San Angelo – 6.5km away
What’s there?: Treviso’s balconied streets and willow-dripped waterways have their own unique feel and, unlike those of Venice, are not swarming with O Sole Mio-singing tourists. Although hit by a bomb in 1944, much of the centre has been restored, including the domed Cattedrale di San Pietro (which contains Titian’s Annuciation), the grand main street (Calmaggiore) and the 16th century city walls.
Further afield: The western Dolomites are less than two-hours drive north of Treviso. Use the picturesque town of Belluno as a base for roaming the area.
Don’t leave without: Eating your greens – there are quality control measures for the local salad vegetable, radicchio trevignana.

Trieste

Who goes?: Ryanair from Stansted
Flight time: 2hrs
Airport: Ronchi dei Legionari – 35km away
What’s there?: Barely still in Italy, Trieste is a noticeable mixture of its surrounding cultures (goulash sits next to pasta on the menus here). The city is sandwiched between limestone cliffs and a busy harbour, with an assortment of modern and historical architecture sitting in the middle. Stroll around the ramparts of the Castello di San Giusto, take a peek in the cathedral and dally in the Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia, the Venice-esque square by the waterfront.
Further afield: Slovenia – hop over the border and explore this stunning country. Ljubljana, the capital, is only 165km away (three hours by train), so this is the cunning way to get a cheap break there – no low-cost airlines fly to Slovenia itself.
Don’t leave without: Gasping at the vast, 100m-high hollows of the Grotta Gigante.

Turin

Who goes?: Ryanair from Stansted. BA from Birmingham
Flight time: 2hrs
Airport: Caselle – 16km away
What’s there?: Turin is a surprisingly elegant city, with many broad boulevards and stylish squares (try porticoed Piazza San Carlo for some classy café culture), as well as a striking position at the foot of the Alps. Museum lovers are spoilt – there are great displays of contemporary art, plus the unique Museo del Cinema, while footie fans have Juventus and Torino to keep them entertained. Visit the Duomo, but be aware that the city’s eponymous shroud is rarely on display.
Further afield: Turin is an easy access point for winter fun on the slopes, although the nearby resorts are rather over-developed. The idyllic-sounding Gran Paradiso National Park, north of Turin, is indeed rather special with rugged peaks, dramatic valleys and fast-flowing rivers.
Don’t leave without: Ascending the Mole Antonelliana for incredible 360° views.

Venice

Who goes?: easyJet flies to Marco Polo airport from Bristol, East Midlands and Stansted. BA goes from Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Gatwick, and Alitalia goes from Gatwick
Flight time: 2hrs 5mins
Airport: Marco Polo – 7km away
What’s there?: With its improbable watery situation (118 islands floating together), lack of cars and fairytale buildings, Venice seems a little unreal. From the dazzling facade of the Basilica di San Marco to the candy-box prettiness of the Palazzo Ducale, the Piazza San Marco is the obvious starting point, followed by a jaunt along the canals (gondolas for a treat, vaporettos on a budget), a visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia (home of the city’s most important art) and a trip to the thronging Rialto bridge.
Further afield: For a bit of dry land, head to Padua, about 40km away, for some impressive frescoes by Giotto and a coffee in the temple-esque Caffè Pedrocchi.
Don’t leave without: Getting lost in the quieter streets and discovering, by luck or judgement, the less-lauded treasures of Venice.