It’s confirmed: travellers love Italy more than anywhere else in the world. Readers of ‘Condé Nast Traveller’ voted Italy ‘Favourite Country’ in the luxury magazine’s prestigious awards.

The awards ceremony was held at London’s British Museum on 6 September. Italy won the award for ‘Favourite Country’, beating many other European and worldwide destinations. The runner-ups were France, the US and Spain.

According to ‘Condé Nast Traveller’ the reasons Italy won a place in readers’ affections are because “it has the best climate of any country in the world, and also the finest restaurants and the friendliest people. Voters also felt Italy “deserves top marks for culture.”

But on a night where the Italian tourism industry felt on top of the world, Italy scooped up even more gongs. La bella Italia won the first prize in the ‘Top 100 Best of the Best’ category as best overall holiday experience, in what the Italian State Tourist Board in London hailed as “an incredible achievement”.

Cannolo Siciliano Bonajuto
Sicilian Cannoli

Sicily was voted ‘Favourite Island’, beating exotic destinations such as Bali, the Maldives, as well as the Greek and Spanish Islands. The magazine said that Sicily scored “well across the board as a good all-rounder, and [is] particularly popular for its restaurants and hospitality.”

The Italian hospitality industry also took first prize with the Hotel Splendido in Portofino, Genoa in the category ‘Best Overseas Leisure Hotel’ in Europe, Asia Minor and Russia. Set on a verdant hillside overlooking the harbour of Portofino in the Ligurian Riviera, ‘Condé Nast Traveller’ readers singled out the glamorous hotel in for “its celestial location”.

There were strong showings from Rome and Florence, which took fifth and sixth place respectively in the category ‘Favourite Overseas Cities’.

The UK’s leading Italian specialist Citalia was placed in third position for ‘Favourite Specialist Tour Operators’, and Sicily specialist operator Think Sicily came second in the ‘Favourite Villa Rental Companies’ category.

Amalfi
Amalfi Coast

A company with Italian roots, Silversea Cruises, also won the top prize for ‘Best Small Ship Cruise Line’. Although headquartered in Monaco, Silversea Cruises is owned and operated by one family, the Lefebvres of Rome, and markets itself as having “a true Italian passion for embracing the best of life.” Readers rated the company for its “itinerary and variety of attractions, as well as for facilities and activities.”

American-owned Venice Simplon-Orient-Express won in the ‘Best Specialist Train Operator’ but Italy no doubt had a part to play given that among the company’s routes are train services from London to Venice and Rome.

Now in its 15th edition the annual Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Awards is among the most important in the travel press. The readers of ‘Condé Nast Traveller’, which has a circulation of 83,000, vote for winners. Readers fill in a questionnaire on their holiday preferences and experiences. The data is collated and analysed by an independent company, and then the winning lists are compiled.

Colosseum Rome
Colosseum, Rome

Given suggestions that ‘la dolce vita’ is dead in the English-speaking press this year, Italy’s victory at the Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Awards reveals that visitors still love her climate, culture, food and people. Figures for tourist spending are also up according to a report by the Bank of Italy. Foreign visitors in Italy spent €1,647 million in June compared to €1,432 million for the same month in 2011.

Positive publicity and news for the tourist sector – a key driver of the Italian economy – is particularly welcome at a time when Italy is in the throes of cuts in services, the result of austerity measures instigated to cope with the ongoing economic crisis in Europe.

Città d'Arte - Italia

Italian hotels are responding to the crisis by lowering their rates by as much as one third this autumn according to travel website Trip Advisor. In an effort to reduce overheads and lure eco-conscious guests more than half of the hoteliers surveyed are going green by using energy-saving light bulbs, composting leftover food products and installing adjustable thermostats in guest rooms. Such savvy measures on top of Italy’s natural charms will hopefully see the country do well in next year’s Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Awards too.


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