Written by Julia Silk,
Last Modified: 13th September 2023

As we reach the end of the summer season, how did Italy’s tourist trade do in the summer of 2023? Where did the tourists go and what did they most appreciate? We’ve crunched the numbers…

Tourists have always loved Italy for its artistic richness, historic architecture, beautiful landscape and excellent food and wine. It’s a wonderous place, able to trigger many emotions. When you see how passionate the Italians are about their cultural events, and recipes handed down through generations, you can’t help but feel love for the place.

As you sip your cappuccino and watch the world go by, your heart is already planning when you can return. There are so many amazing places to see, from Roman ruins to medieval villages, sandy beaches to snow-capped mountains.

Tourists at a café in Rome, Italy. Image: Kirk Fisher, Shutterstock

Holidays in your own Italian home

It makes sense to have your own place here, especially if you’re as fond of it as I am!

While tourism in some countries is based largely around summer on the beach, Italy has something to offer tourists all year round. Whether it’s skiing and hiking in the mountains, visiting a festival or UNESCO site, or simply relaxing on the terrace of your own Italian villa, when you own a property in Italy you can enjoy many interesting holidays. Italy’s excellent transport links, make it so easy to visit every corner of this amazing country.

Find homes in Italy via our property portal.

Where in Italy are tourists visiting in 2023?

The most popular summer destinations are still the Italian lakes, the seaside, and mountain resorts. This is what emerges from the data published by the Ministry of Tourism. Owning a holiday home in one of these locations can also offer great opportunities to rent your holiday home to tourists that love Italy just as much as you do.

Italy’s Lakes

In August, the Lakes (Lacuale), that are most popular. Lake Garda and Lake Como immediately spring to mind, as they are both so well set up for tourists. They boast clean mountain air, blue waters and charming villages. Other beautiful lakes include, Lake Maggiore, Lake Iseo, Lake Orta, Lake Trasimeno, Lake Bolsena, and Lake Idro, to name just a few.

Four new blue flags have been awarded to municipalities with lakes this year, totalling 21 Blue Flags at Italian Lakes. Including Sirmione in Lombardy and Verbania in Piemonte.

The seaside

Summer tourists also love the seaside (balneare). This year, 226 Italian locations, with a total of 458 beaches, have been awarded a blue flag. That is 16 more than last year. Four of the new locations are in the region of Puglia, which has been working hard to improve its offering to tourists. This brings the total number of blue flags in Puglia to 22, making it second only to Liguria with 34.

Other top seaside locations include the coast of Maremma in Tuscany, Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, plus the islands of Sardinia, Sicily and Ischia.


Those who want to escape the intense heat of August head to the mountains (montano). Trentino-Alto Adige is a popular destination for hiking in summer. It has an excellent reputation for quality service and accommodation. There are many wonderful ski resorts across the Italian Alps, but bear in mind that Italy has mountains from tip to toe.

Cities of Art

Once the extreme summer heat is over, the majority of visitors head to the Cities of Art (Città d’arte). This year accommodation at these cities have recorded an online booking rate higher than Greece, France and Spain.

The top ten cities for tourist numbers are consistently Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples, Pisa, Milan, Verona, Turin, Genoa and Siena. Following on in the rankings, tourists also love, Syracuse, Palermo, Ferrara, Trieste, Parma, Mantua, Bergamo, Ravenna, Sorrento and Mantua.

The most visited city is undoubtedly Rome, whose historical sites include the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill,Pantheon and Castel Sant’Angelo. While visitor numbers at seaside resorts may get less in the autumn, the number of visitors to Rome increase as it gets cooler. Certainly, temperatures are more comfortable for walking around in October, but can you beat the atmosphere of the Spanish Steps on a warm summer night?

St. Peter’s cathedral over bridge and river in Rome at spring day, Italy

A growing holiday rental market

If you plan to rent your holiday home to tourists, it is reassuring to see high tourist figures. The growth in arrivals in Italy had already begun in 2022, but in the first four months of this year the number of visitors increased significantly.

In the first four months of 2023 the overnight stays of “non-residents” in Italian accommodation facilities amounted to 12.7 million. Compared to the same period of the previous year this was an increase of 43%, double that of Spain (+25%) and France (+23%).

In the month of August, Italy (43.3%) maintained its position as the second favourite destination, after Greece, and ahead of Spain (42.8%) and France (30.6%), according to booking rates of the accommodation facilities on online platforms.

By 2027 it is predicted that 80% of holiday rentals will be booked online. Popular websites for holiday accommodation in Italy are Booking.com, Airbnb, Rentalia, Vrbo, and Tripadvisor. By looking through these websites you can get a good idea what the holiday rental market is like in your chosen location.

Tourists at Lake Orta in February

Where are the tourists coming from?

Most Google searches for “travel in Italy” came from Germany, followed by, in order, the United Kingdom, France, USA, Spain, Poland, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and Canada.

The Americans are certainly back. The Bank of Italy, in the first quarter of 2023, confirmed that spending was mainly driven by the Americans, British and French. Italian Minister for Tourism, Daniela Santanchè, has said, “Airline bookings have increased by 18% compared to 2022, a testimony to the constant and growing interest in Italy”. She added, “Foreigners, above all the Americans and the British, drive the flow (+25% overall) and particularly appreciate the quality hospitality, which proves to be the flagship of our nation.”

Other non-European travellers include Indians, South Koreans, Japanese and Argentines. Finally, it must be said that the number of national tourists also increased in early 2023. In fact, about five million Italians chose Italy as their holiday destination.

While the year started well, some Italians have chosen to fly to cheaper countries in August. Traditionally Northern Italians pour down to Puglia for the Ferragosta holidays in mid-August. But this year, following loss of earnings during the pandemic and the rising cost of electricity etc, hotels have needed to pass on some of that extra expense to their guests. Some hotels in Italy have increased prices by over 12%.

Traveling alone or in company, Italy impresses


Is Italy too expensive?

CNN recently accused Italy of a “shameful rip-off of tourists”, quoting a handful of cases where people had been charged high prices, particularly for sunbeds and drinks. It happens in tourist hotspots the world over, particularly where you get a lot of wealthy visitors.

One street back, or one town over you’ll probably find a better service at a lower price.

The only solution is for everyone to stay alert, ask for the price before sitting down, and not to feel embarrassed to walk away if you consider the price higher than you are prepared to pay. One street back, or one town over you’ll probably find a better service at a lower price. There are plenty of free beaches. Pick up an umbrella from a shop and put down your towel.

euros in a wallet

Would you consider putting your home on the Italian rental market to earn a little extra cash?

Before we moved to Italy, we were under the impression it would be an expensive country to holiday in and therefore also to buy property. However, although there are luxury holidays and high-end properties for sale, those with a modest budget can still have a great holiday and an even better lifestyle.

Using budget airlines out of the summer season, and staying in the less touristy areas, you can enjoy a more authentic Italian experience, living like a local. There are free concerts and festivals in the piazzas, and a small gelato or coffee can cost under €2. Plus, there are still properties for sale under €150,000. 

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