6 places to escape the heat for English teachers in Italy
Posted on 19-09-2019 by Joseph Francis
English teachers in Italy get a whole load to look forward to. From Rome’s timeless ruins to Milan’s fashion-mad quarters, the pizza joints of Naples to the priceless artworks of Florence, there’s rarely a dull moment in these parts. But the summers in Italy can get scorching, especially in the cities. That’s why it helps to have a line up of spots to head to on your weekends away from the classroom; places where you can chill, relax, and enjoy soothing swims or milder temperatures…
Mountains soar skywards like the gnarled fingers of sleeping giants. The clouds are cut by jagged summits. There are forests of pine and fir dashing the lower valleys. Welcome to the Val Gardena – a bowl of the Dolomites that’s up there with the most breathtaking corners of northern Italy. Come the winter, the place transforms into a snow-dusted wonderland. It has hundreds of kilometers of marked ski runs that weave around the great Piz Boe mountain, linking up in a circuit known as the Sella Ronda. In spring and summer, Gardena becomes a hiking mecca. Trails of all difficulty levels weave out from little towns like Corvara, up past blooming meadows or to icy peaks that rise to over 3,300 meters.
Lake Garda is a long dash of water that ranges from the plains of Po to the start of the Dolomites. It’s among the largest and deepest lakes on earth, so there’s sure to be plenty of places to take a dip and cool off when the Italian heat cranks skywards. English teachers in Italy who have a penchant for sport should also love this corner of the country. There are cycle paths of all sorts – straight and on-road, rocky and mountainside – to get stuck into. The area around Arco to the north is famed for its challenging Via Ferrata (hiking routes that need clip-on harnesses and helmets). And then you’ve got all the watersports that take place on the lake itself, from waterskiing to windsurfing to SUP boarding.
One of the great things about joining the ranks of English teachers in Italy is having the time to explore this jewel of Europe like a real local. Part of that is dodging the destinations that fill the travel brochures and venturing to the spots that only the Italians know. Cue Lake Iseo. Tucked between Lake Garda in the west and Lake Como in the east, it’s nowhere near as popular as its compadres. Even in the summer, between May and August, you’re more likely to hear Italian being spoken on its little grassy lidos. And for cooling off? Well, there are pebble beaches all up the coast, poking straight onto the lakeside out of little Marone or dashing under the mountains by Riva di Solto. Lovere is one you won’t want to miss. It’s on the north end of the lake, and comes with a coveted I Borghi più Belli d’Italia rating, meaning it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in the region!
If, like a whole load of other English teachers in Italy, you’re based in the awesome capital of Rome, then you might need to get a little creative for when it comes to beating the heat. You could think of dropping into any number of the historic center’s myriad churches and chapels. Even on sunny days, they manage to stay cool, and come packed with priceless artworks to boot. However, locals will often head straight for the parklands of the Villa Borghese. One of the largest green spaces in the capital, it’s within easy walking distance of major sights like the Piazza del Popolo and the Vatican. Within, you’ll discover regimented rows of tall stone pines towering over babbling fountains. You can find your own little corner and watch the world go by with ease.
Cooling off and making for the sun-scorched isle of Sicily might not seem like they go together. However, this amazing place has loads of spots where you can lower the mercury count, even during the blazing summer months. Yep, soaring high overhead is the often-snow-capped peak of Mount Etna. At a whopping 3,350 meters up, the summit is always considerably cooler than the coast, and it tells tales of destructive eruptions throughout the ages. Then there are Sicily’s beaches. From vibrant Taormina to romantic Cefalu, they are gorgeous sweeps of beige sand washed by crystal-clear sea waters.
Tro…where? Yep, this is one off-the-beaten-track corner of the Italian coast. Known largely to locals who search for somewhere fringed by white sand and washed by cooling sea during the hottest months of the year, the clifftop town of Tropea rarely disappoints. It’s hailed as the Jewel of Calabria, thanks mainly to the resplendent runs of sugar powder that fringe the Med below the city itself. And when you finish a day of sunbathing and swimming? That town is calling out to be explored. It’s packed with centuries-old churches and comes lined with pastel-painted mansions with stunning views of the water.
Of course, this is just scratching the surface of awesome places to escape the heat for English teachers in Italy. There are oodles of options, both in the mountains and by the sea. If you can think of any, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Or, if you’re taken by the idea of living and working in Italy, be sure to check out our destinations page for extra info.