Italy is one of Europe’s most popular travelling destinations, for many reasons. Steeped in history, art and romance, and with a ridiculously tempting array of fresh pasta, pizza and ice cream on every corner, there are many reasons to head to this boot-shaped beauty of a country. Not least, because they know how to party. Here are all the hot spots you need to know for your next backpacking Italy trip.
Everyone knows Rome is the Holy Grail for history lovers, with its majestic remains of the Roman Empire everywhere you look: the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Roman Forum, not to mention the ornate Trevi Fountain and the ever-popular Spanish Steps. But at night this ancient city comes alive.
Organised bar crawls are frowned upon here, but if you’re staying in a hostel (I recommend The Yellow near the Termini train station), keep your ears open and you may find a group ready to hit the underground party scene on the down-low.
Be prepared to have spirits poured down your throat as you enter its bars, then cram yourself into a pumping, body-to-body packed club and get sweaty until the early hours.
Rimini is one of the best party places in Italy. This town is like a mini Ibiza. Every night there’s a different bar or club to check out and bar crawls are very much encouraged. Fortunately, this seaside town doesn’t get too overcrowded as it’s not on the radar of most international tourists.
The hostel where you’re staying (such as the awesome Sunflower Beach Backpacker Hostel) will likely have a party concierge, who will promote and organise tickets and transportation to the coolest club nights.
Don’t miss the superclubs just outside of town. The stunning Baia Imperiale, with its Grecian columns and swimming pools, and the glass-roofed pyramid and labyrinthine rooms of Cocorico, which attracts some of the world’s top DJs. When I was there, I ended up dancing on stage with Paul van Dyk and his crew – an incredible experience.
Florence is one of the art capitals of the world. Its famous Uffizi Gallery is stuffed to the brim with works from many of Italy’s greats. You can admire Michelangelo’s famously muscular David statue or have your portrait drawn by one of the talented street artists. As well as art, Florence is a fan of the good old-fashioned open air party.
Clubs open seasonally so ask around and you’ll be sure to find a pop-up street party, riverside bar, park festival or even a multi-floored outdoor bar where you can dance under the stars.
Enjoy the city views from the exclusive Flo Lounge Bar near Piazzale Michelangelo. A top tip from locals is to avoid the queues and arrive early to take advantage of the buffet and happy hour. Stay at the popular Plus Florence hostel and you can have a lazy day by the pool the next day to soothe your hangover after dancing all night.
A university town, Bologna is rich in history and notable for its attractive russet-coloured buildings. Be sure to take a walking tour of the city to find out more. Also, check out the nightlife, featuring diverse DJ sets playing everything from punk rock to avant garde electronic, techno, hip-hop, indie rock and more.
Giardini Margherita (Margherita Gardens) is Bologna’s biggest park and also home to a brilliant little nightclub, open in the summer months, with great tunes and a friendly crowd.
Milan will bring out the fashionista in you. Hang out among the beautiful people, hit the shops and grab yourself some genuine Italian labels. If you fancy wearing your new designer gear on a night out to remember, you will need to do some homework as Milan’s hottest dance spots are notoriously underground.
Why not befriend some locals over a tasty aperitivo buffet in your local bar and see if you can bag an invitation to see and be seen at one of the most desirable nightclubs. Once you’ve chosen your destination it’s time to get dressed up to compete with those stylish Italians, pour yourself a shot of Sambucca and head to the dance floor.
Then when you’re done showing off your best moves, grab some midnight munchies from the nearest takeaway van. No cheap greasy kebabs or burgers and chips here, but instead you can buy freshly-prepared panini: this is Italy after all.
Next up, discover the ultimate backpacking Portugal itinerary.