When it comes to the best golf courses in the world, Italy isn’t the first country to spring to mind, but maybe it should be. With the 12-month countdown to the first-ever Ryder Cup in Italy, the Italian golf scene is finally enjoying the recognition it deserves among the world’s leading – and most beautiful – golfing destinations.
From coastal courses to those nestled among rolling hills or overlooked by historic castles, Italy is home to more than 400 golf courses, including almost 150 championship options. That means there’s countless options to combine the finest fairways with the country’s iconic culture, cuisine, countryside, and coastline.
Just imagine on-site resort-style accommodation, spa and wellness facilities, and historic estates, contemporary hotels and authentic guest houses and villas located near the country’s most sought-after courses. For the avid swinger, all the options are available for an unforgettable getaway – and not just for golfers, but for their friends and families too.
To support the rapid growth in sports and event travel, golf tourism initiative Italy Golf & More is a comprehensive resource promoting Italy’s golf offering region-by-region, as well as nearby scenic and cultural attractions, wellness activities, and local foodie favourites.
Offering 14 golf courses for players of all skill levels, Lazio is home to the impeccably groomed Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, home of the 2023 Ryder Cup between 29 September and 1 October 2023, which will see the 6037-metre par-72 course take its place among the world’s most elite. Just 17 kilometres from Rome and covering an area of 110 hectares, the championship course is overlooked by the castle of Duke Francesco Cesi and renowned for its high degree of technical difficulty and ancient oak, walnut, and wild pine trees.
The 5864-metre par-70 Fiuggi Golf Club is one of the most scenic in Italy thanks to its panoramic views and undulating green slopes. The Country Club Castel Gondolfo boasts a historic 17th century mansion as its golf club, overlooking a challenging course situated in the crater of an extinct volcano. A frightening 93 bunkers and picturesque 100-year-old olive trees grow proudly alongside its 5871-metre par-72 course, and the on-site restaurant has earned a stellar reputation for serving delectable regional cuisine. Founded in 1903, the 5854-metre par-71 Circolo del Golf di Roma Acquasanta is Italy’s oldest golf course in ancient Rome’s Appian Way Park. Traversed by a Roman aqueduct, the views from the greens stretch all the way to the Vatican.
With 25 golf courses across the region, Emilia Romagna is a dream destination for those keen to combine their tee time with down time to discover the area’s attractions. From prosciutto and parmesan in foodie haven Parma, to historic castles and fortresses in Piacenza, Fontanellato, Colorno and Torrechiara or the UNESCO World Heritage towns of Modena, Ravenna and Ferrara, there’s no shortage of cultural experiences for golf down days.
Popular courses include the region’s oldest golf course, Golf Club Bologna, Golf Del Ducato in Parma, which also serves up a superb Parmigiano Reggiano in its club restaurant, Adriatic Golf Club Cervia with its stunning seaside location, and The Salsomaggiore Golf & Thermae. The latter is home to a par-72 5761-metre course which lies in a lush valley alongside famous spa town, Salsomaggiore Terme. Golfers will enjoy magnificent countryside views – as well as a well-deserved soak in the clubhouse pool, or local thermal baths, after the 18th hole. Continuing the golf spa travel trend, Golf Club Le Fonti invites players to combine a round with a stay at the nearby Castel San Pietro Spa Centre or Salute Piu Health Village to enjoy a raft of treatments to nurture physical and mental wellbeing ready to tee off on the 6480-metre par-72 course.
FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA
With six 18-hole golf courses to choose from and spectacular scenery ranging from the mountains to the sea, Friuli Venezia – sandwiched between Austria and Slovenia – is a golfer’s delight. Located moments from the Slovenian border with sweeping (sometimes distracting) water views, Trieste Golf Club is a 5,810-metre par 70 course surrounded by towering trees. Gulf winds and narrow holes with traps and roughs add to the challenge. Enjoying a convenient location as part of the Tenuta Primero tourism development overlooking Grado Lagoon, the Grado Golf Club combines the 5746-metre par 72 golf course with easy access to the luxe marina, the delightful on-site Casone restaurant, and brilliant bird-watching courtesy of the herons, swans and flamingoes inhabiting the lovely lagoon.
Situated amidst the panoramic vines of the Collio hills, the 5460-metre par 71 Castello di Spessa Golf Course and Country Club is home to an iconic 13th century castle where golfers can relax and stay after a day on the fairways in unique accommodation featuring eclectic antique furniture, vineyard views, a cellar door, golf academy and a choice of bars and restaurants dishing up local delicacies. Fancy a day away from the greens? Hire a bike and enjoy the Collio region’s many scenic trails.
Bringing golf and nature together, the 5664-metre par-70 Circolo Golf & Tennis Rapallo, on the riviera in Liguria, is situated within a gorgeous park, with incredible views of the ancient Monastery of Valle Christi from the 7th hole. Perfectly located to enjoy the delights of the seaside resort of Rapallo, beyond the green, visitors can enjoy a sublime 8-kilometre waterfront promenade, the Passeggiata dei Baci, all the way to picture-perfect Positano.
Soon to host major events including the Italian Capitals of Culture for 2023, Bergamo and Brescia, as well as the 2026 Winter Olympics, Lombardy is known for its rich cultural landscape, serene lakes – including Lake Como and Lake Maggiore – natural beauty and glorious golf courses, ensuring there is plenty to offer sports fans and their companions. Among the numerous courses with exceptional views which are close to towns beloved for their fantastic food and wine scene – top choices include the Club House of Milan, which is immersed in the majestic wood of Reale Park in Monza, Franciacorta Golf Club, in the heart of sparkling wine country amongst villages and vineyards with 27 holes to play as well as tennis courts, pools and wellness facilities, or the prestigious Monticello Golf Club, home to two 18-hole championship courses and six-time host of the Italian Open.
Ranked second throughout Italy in golf course numbers and home to five of Italy Top 4 Golf magazine’s Top 10 golf courses, Piemonte is the spot for mountainous scenery, courses set amidst the UNESCO World Heritage-listed hills of Monferrato, Langhe and Roero, and Europe’s highest golf course, Sestrieres. Enjoying a sunny outlook in the hills above Stresa, Golf Des Iles Borromees combines a technical course with views from Lake Maggiore to the Swiss alps. World famous for its culinary scene, non-golfers will enjoy sailing local lakes, wine and truffle-tasting and hopping from one hilltop village to another.
A long-time magnet for travellers, the idyllic island of Sardinia enjoys a mild climate, warm hospitality, entrenched ancient traditions and striking landscapes, making it a favourite for players keen to combine their passion for golf with an iconic Italian holiday. The 27-hole Is Molas Golf Club in Santa Margherita di Pula offers splendid gardens and sea views from a location just minutes from pristine beaches and the rustic town of Pula, while the Is Arenas Golf & Country Club enjoys a prime position in a lush palm-fringed resort overlooking the sea near Oristano.
Wine lovers, foodies and golfers can indulge all their passions in Sicily, where the 5870-metre Il Picciolo in Castiglione di Sicilia features 18 holes carved into volcanic rocks with views of majestic Mount Etna. Unwind after a round at the adjacent resort complex featuring a luxury spa, sauna, steam bath and treatment rooms – or sign up for a traditional cooking class in the nearby villages. Among Europe’s best golf destinations, The Verdura Resort in Sciacca offers two highly technical courses, unrivalled Mediterranean views and an on-site spa, bar, and restaurants.
With its mild weather and painting-worthy scenery, Tuscany is a popular choice for visitors, including golfers. Le Pavoniere Golf and Country Club and Royal Golf La Bagnaia are among the country’s most elite fairways, while those looking for a well-rounded wellness journey may prefer Terme di Saturnia Spa and Golf, a complete health retreat offering world-class cuisine and indulgent spa treatments between rounds.
Offering greens on the slopes of imposing Antognolla Castle, the 6112-metre par-71 Antognolla Golf Club is home tp one of Italy’s most picturesque – and technically complex courses. Lying north of the university town of Perugia, the course is part of an exclusive resort and close to nearby attractions including Gubbio, Assisi and Lake Trasimeno.
Once hailed as the ‘Best Undiscovered Golf Destination in the World’, Veneto is the region where Italian legends Matteo Manessero and Guido Migliozzi first began competing, and one of Italy’s most diverse regions, boasting nine UNESCO World Heritage sites and cities renowned for the arts, including Venice, Verona, Vicenza, Treviso, and Padua. Pre- and post-golfing activities abound, from golden sandy beaches and thermal resorts to mountain activities in the Dolomites or the gastronomic delights of the Prosecco Hills around Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.
Veneto’s golf offering centres around four distinctive areas. Venice Garden is home to 27-holes with views to die for at the Arnold Palmer-designed Ca’ Della Nave Golf Club. In Veneto Hills, Marco Croze’s parkland Golf Club Frassanelle and Golf Montecchia feature 27 holes in the shadows of the Euganean Hills, while the 27-hole Golf Club Padova has been awarded as the number one course in the region. In the Dolomites, the incredibly photogenic Golf Club Colli Berici enjoys unrivalled views over Vicenzia, while the 6067-metre Asiago Golf Club boasts one of the most beautiful mountain greens in Italy plus an on-site luxury hotel and spa. The prestigious Golf Club Verona is situated amongst vineyards and framed by the hills of Custoza, ensuring there’s plenty to explore after tackling the challenging course.