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“Italy has it all for a holiday destination, that’s why it’s surprising that it’s not one of the most popular golf destinations in Europe. Swide.com reveals some hidden gems.

Royal Golf and Country Club

A host to the Italian Open is located near Turin in Piedmont. Designed in 1971 by Robert Trent Jones Sr, it is set neatly into the undulating landscape of La Mandria National Park. The course itself presents a strategic challenge with its innovative use of bunkers and water hazards. Piedmont offers some of the best cuisine in all of Italy and the home of Slow Food and Braollo can offer you a culinary experience to rival anything you experience on the course.

> http://www.royalparkgolf.it/en

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Biella

Known locally as ‘Le Betulle’ the John Morrison-designed course at Valcarozza was built in the 50′s and is set in the slopes of the Sera Moraine. A 73 par course at altitude along the Biellese Alps it is a stunning backdrop to one of the more testing rounds in Italy. Not only will you have the cuisine of Liguria to distract you but the area is renowned for its history and culture. Picture Medieval monasteries set in bleak wintery landscapes, stunning architecture and Unesco sites abound. Play in Autumn to coincide with the season of truffles and mushrooms.

> www.golfclubbiella.it/home_EN.ashx

Villa d’Este

A very challenging par 69 course designed by Peter Gannon. The setting is stunning, set amongst the Como hills with panoramic views of lake Montorfano. Clean Alpine air and lush greenery provide respite from the intense summer heat. A prestigious club in the heart of one of Italy’s most historically prosperous regions.

> www.villadeste.com/en/99/golf-club-villa-d-este.aspx

Is Arenas

A beautiful combination of sand, forest and water provide almost the perfect golfing experience. Situated on the West coast of the beautiful island of Sardinia you will avoid the visiting hordes even in peak season. Designed by golf course architects Von Hagge, Smelek and Baril it is well integrated into a landscape that is as yet still untouched and undiscovered. A serene vacation on the Mediterranean with perfect links golf could be paradise on earth.

> www.isarenas.it

Pevero

Commissioned by the Aga Kahn the course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr and opened in 1972. It has been one of Italy’s best-kept golf secrets for over 40 years where Italy’s jet-set anchored their yachts and enjoyed La Bella Vita. The Mistral – the northern wind which shaped the rocks of the area adds another dimension to play on the Par 72 course.

Milano Golf Club

Milan’s most prestigious golf club and one with quite a bit of history to boast about the Milano Golf Club for many is the rightful home of golf in Italy. The course is a bit flat but very pleasantly wooded it is the perfect place to do business just outside Italy’s centre of commerce and industry.

> www.golfclubmilano.com/intro/

Is Molas

Another of Sardinia’s hidden gems the microclimate means it is perfect for golf the whole year round. The largest and oldest course on the island it is somewhat American in style, but the surrounding countryside and the history and food of the Sardinian island are anything but.

Terme di Saturnia

Set in the exquisite environs of Tuscany, close to the sea the site ha a long history and association with the Romans who believed it to be the birthplace of Saturn. The whole area is dotted with natural hot springs so after wearing yourself out on the course relax in the splendour of the natural spas as the Romans did. Relaxing, that is, not golfing. More than a golfing experience, a vacation to really rest and replenish.

> www.termedisaturnia.it/en/

Lido di Venezia

The exclusivity of Italian golf is physical here as you need to take a boat to the Lido di Venezia to play the 18 hole golf course. A sandbar situated within site of the city of Venice was supposed to have been constructed in the 1930′s at the request of Henry Ford who wanted to play golf while visiting Venice. One of the most incredible cities in the world also hosts an excellent course within touching distance. Just make sure your balls don’t end up in Piazza di San Marco.

> www.circologolfvenezia.it

Roma Aquasanta

Once Rome was instated as the capital city of Italy in 1871 it was not long before the city realised it needed a world-class golf course for the world’s business tycoons to make deal on. Roma Aquasanta duly obliged anfd the course was built in 1903. Built on beautiful agricultural land the course was, until recently, self-sustaining with the income brought by hay and grazing. The setting, slightly hilly, allows a view of the Claudian aqueduct, the Roman Castles, the crest of Appia Antica, and the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella.  It was also possible to get a glimpse of the facade of San Giovanni and farther away, the dome of Saint Peter’s.

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Source: Hugo Mc Cafferty/ www.swide.com