Offering a rich, mouth-watering mixture of art, cuisine, history, fashion, culture and a glittering coastline, people find it hard to resist Italy’s many charms, and more than 52 million tourists made their way to its shores last year - making it the fifth most visited country on the planet.
With such an embarrassment of riches, it’s perhaps easy to see why golf has been somewhat overlooked in the past in favour of other, more popular, pursuits and attractions. But things are changing.
Boosted by the country being chosen to host the 2022 Ryder Cup for the first time in its history and with Italy Golf & More – the first pan-Italian international promotional project for golf – launched 18 months ago, Italy is fast establishing itself among Europe’s top destinations for a golfing break, with the number of international green fees booked having risen by around 25 per cent in the last two years.
The likes of Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto and Sicily have all seen international numbers rise in the last 12 months, while the number of foreign golfers playing rounds in the regions of Trentino Alto Adige and Friuli Venezia Giulia has almost doubled during the same period.
Rome and the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, only 10 miles from the capital, will be the focus of attention in five years’ time when Europe and America’s best players gather to compete for the Ryder Cup, an event that will undoubtedly raise Italy’s standing in the golf world.
But, with the opportunity to play golf in a temperate climate all-year round at a fantastically diverse selection of courses and regions from north to south, coupled with myriad delights away from the course for people of all ages, there’s so much for golfers to enjoy with ‘La Dolce Vita’ experience before then.
Home to no fewer than 141 18-hole golf courses – many designed by golf legends – Italy offers exceptional value, with average green fee rates that hover around the €50 per round mark and it is proving particularly popular with players from the UK, Germany, Switzerland, France and Scandinavia.
Researching a golf break to Italy has never been easier thanks to the launch earlier this year of Italy Golf & More’s new website www.italygolfandmore.com, which features extensive details on the country’s golf courses and regions and is a one-stop shop to discovering the many delights of Italian golf.
As well as providing easy access and comprehensive information about Italy’s golfing venues, the site – which is available in both English and Italian – offers the chance to learn more about the many historic, cultural and gastronomic attractions of each featured region. And booking an Italian golfing getaway couldn’t be easier, with Italy Golf & More having partnered with a number of leading tour operators including Golf Breaks, YourGolfTravel.com and Golf Escapes.
Italy Golf & More is a collaboration between 12 private sector partner regions, the Italian Golf Federation and the Ministry of Tourism (MIBACT), who have come together to embark on a seven-figure investment to increase awareness, and future golf tourism traffic, from key European markets to Italy.
The partner regions consist of Friuli Venezia Giulia – the leading partner region of the project – Lombardy, Piedmont, Lazio, Veneto, Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Puglia, Sicily, Sardinia, Marche and Umbria – who together boast 119 of Italy’s golf courses – with six further regions falling under the investment of the Italian Golf Federation.
With 20 airports in the UK operating regular flights to all over Italy, the country has never been so accessible, and when you consider the variety of activities that are available away from the course, the only question is why you haven’t booked a golf break to Italy before.
From sun-kissed beaches, dramatic natural scenery and breathtaking lakes to jaw-dropping art and history, mouth-watering gastronomy and culture and top-class other sporting action, the country has it all. So the next time you visit, just remember to take your golf clubs. www.italygolfandmore.com
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