Sicily can be scorching in the summer months, so September, when temperatures drop to around 22-25C, is a very sensible time to go. The island has a proud culinary heritage, heavily shaped by mainland Italy, Greece, North Africa and the Middle East, with arancine (stuffed rice balls, coated in breadcrumbs) and caponata (an aubergine-based stew) among the classics. There’s no better way to discover Sicilian food culture than by strolling through the rambunctious markets of the capital, Palermo, and taking part in a cooking class – which you can do on Culture Trip’s 10-day Sicily adventure. The trip also includes a visit to Syracuse, a city renowned for its ancient Greek and Roman ruins, and an atmospheric old town on the island of Ortigia, characterised by ornate, honey-coloured baroque architecture.
Home to iconic landmarks including the Colosseum, the Parthenon and the Trevi Fountain, Rome deserves a place on every traveller’s bucket list. Florence, meanwhile, brims with resplendent Renaissance architecture and art, and Milan flies the flag as Italy’s fashion capital – also boasting a majestic, Gothic-style cathedral. Culture Trip’s 10-day Northern Italy adventure takes in the best of all three cities, including a cycling tour of Rome, dinner at the excellent Ristorante Al 34, a walking tour of Florence and a gastronomic journey through Milan, with an opportunity to try mondeghili (Milanese meatballs) and melanzane parmigiana (aubergine baked with cheese and tomatoes), among numerous other specialities. September, when the dense summer crowds have dissipated and the weather is still pleasant enough to dine outside, is an opportune time to go.
Whether floating down the Bosphorus between two continents and admiring dazzling structures such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace, or wandering between the stalls of the Grand Bazaar in search of sumptuous street food and aromatic herbs and spices, Istanbul is a true feast for the senses. It’s where you’ll start off on this 12-day ultimate Turkey adventure, absorbing the city’s blend of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and modern Turkish influences, before venturing inland to the capital, Ankara, and through the heart of the spectacular Cappadocia region. You’ll end up by the coast in Antalya, Turkey’s premier beach destination, which, in September, is one of the most reliably sunny spots in Europe, with temperatures hovering around 25C on average.