Two cities in the north and south of Italy will have renewed interest for visitors in 2019.
Milan will be the centre of celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death, while the southern town of Matera becomes a European Capital of Culture.
Da Vinci’s anniversary will be marked by a major nine-month series of events beginning in May. The artist lived in Milan for about 20 years and produced his most important works there.
The Milano e Leonardo programme will launch on May 2 with the reopening of the Sala delle Asse in Castello Sforzesco after a long period of restoration of the murals.
A multimedia path will guide visitors around Leonardo’s Milan, depicting the city as it would have been between 1482 and 1512. The itinerary will include geo-referenced visual mapping of what is still preserved.
Another key exhibition in Milan will present Da Vinci’s 16th-century Last Supper on tapestry – normally housed in the Vatican Museum – following its restoration.
Southern Italy will also be in the spotlight when Matera becomes one of two capitals of culture. The town is famous for its sassi – caves that were once homes and have now been converted into hotels, bars and restaurants.
Matera was granted Unesco World Heritage Site status in 1993 and begins its Capital of Culture year with an opening ceremony on January 19.
Four major exhibitions will take place, including the first significant investigation into the history of rock architecture, SubCulture; which will examine how this type of dwelling has been used since Palaeolithic times plus its future usage.
New visitor itineraries include a tour of the southern region’s main cave housing and rock worship sites, a literary trail and a trail of Middle Age and Baroque art and architecture found nearby.
A spokesperson for Enit, the Italian tourist board, said the country’s wider 2019 focus was “slow tourism”.
“It can mean eating the local food in the place of origin, visiting a spa or yoga retreat, trekking or walking in the woods,” she said.
Enit will open new tourist offices in Dubai and Munich in the coming months, taking its presence to 31 locations worldwide.