Ah, there's music in the air and so much nostalgia in the heart…At least that's what many people say after visiting Italy. Nearly every corner of the country has a story of love, of war, of arts…And this last subject is what makes Italy one of the top tourist destinations on Earth. Its cultural legacy is nowhere else evinced as in its Etruscan, Latin, Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance heritage displaying at nearly every city in the country. This "boot" of Europe kicked boredom out to usher in stunning landscapes like the ones in Tuscany, or the ever graceful Renaissance architecture of Florence, Genoa, Pisa, Milan, and Venice. Of Rome, a whole chapter here would not do it justice. Still, it is indeed the cultural, political, and historical heart of this giant of music, immensely renowned gastronomy, and magnificent sites.
"All roads lead to Rome" is not a vain phrase; as the capital of, and largest city in Italy, Rome is a neurasthenic combination of traffic jams, glorious monuments, packed cafes, equally packed museums, splendid Renaissance palazzos and piazzas, and immense history. Its legacy has been such that no one can mention Europe without mentioning this vibrant city of endless attractions. On the one hand, is the Trevi Fountain where dipping a coin with your back to it would ensure you visit again; or the Coliseum, Rome's mightiest landmark and synonymous of its past glories; for the pious (and curious and art lovers, too) is The Vatican, where lines visiting the Sistine Chapel and pay homage to both Pope and Michelangelo could mean hours waiting in line. Rome has three monumental parks in greenery—the Villa Doria Pamphili, the Villa Alda, and the Villa Borghese, all adorned with attractive gardens surrounding graceful Renaissance villas.
There's something Machiavellian if you visit Italy without visiting its most guarded treasure. Florence is considered by many to be the most beautiful of Italian cities. While Rome has the luxury of size and vibrant life, Florence has kept its Renaissance elegance, which in itself has inspired the imagination of millions who are attracted to see this open-air museum of art and love. From any angle, the city's principal landmark, the Duomo of Brunelleschi, stands aside as the crowning triumph of artistry and engineering of the Renaissance period. And as if the city itself were not a museum, Florence is home to one of the world's most exclusive and renowned art galleries—the Uffizi. Florence also has one of Europe's most beautiful landscapes, Tuscany. Though dominated by Florence's sheer Renaissance grace, the region is itself composed of an immensely beautiful countryside like the sunflower fields of Maremma, the cultivated hills near Val d'Orcia and Sienna (another Renaissance jewel), and the myriad number of vineyards and groves that populate the surroundings.
What Florence is at the center of Italy, Milan is to its north. The economic and fashion powerhouse of the country, Milan stands as the stylish capital of Europe, always sparring about the title with Paris. The city's most renowned landmarks are its immense array of medieval and Renaissance palazzos and piazzas, public gardens, and museums, but by far, the most majestic are:
- The towering cathedral.
- The Sforza Castle and the nearby Porta Sempione, or Arch of Peace, Milan's rival to Paris' Arc de Triomphe.
- The Teatro All Scala, the world's famed opera house.
- It is a frivolous, exquisitely decorated shopping mall, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
The poetry of a gondola leisurely ferrying two lovers through the Grand Canal, surrounded by the imposing St. Mark's Cathedral and Dodge's Palace…Sigh…
Venice has been the subject of many literary works. Still, the city in itself is a work of art so cherished and so unique that very little could be said that cannot be experienced in the flesh. Built over a thousand years ago, Venice became a maritime power, and as such, riches and artists began pouring in to give the world what it is today—one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Its main sights are the many colorful medieval and Renaissance buildings flanking the city's waterways, but the most evocative are Piazza San Marco with the imposing St. Mark's Basilica; the Dodge's Palace right next door; The Grand Canal; Rialto Bridge; The Lido; Café Florian, the oldest functioning coffeehouse in the world; and of course, the mother of all festivities—Carnevale, where sumptuous masks and fastidiously decorated costumes wonder about the streets, inspiring so many. Venice is also hosting significant world events in the arts—the Venice Biennale and the Venice Film Festival, which awards its most prestigious award, the Winged Golden Lion, a city symbol. Venice is most fascinating, and no visit to Italy can end without first paying homage to this monument to beauty perched above the sea.
It is an ancient city that will surprise you. Its ideal location on the coast provides beautiful and unique views over Mount Vesuvius and Capri. It's here where you'll find the country's best pizza, pasta, and espresso, and most distinctive street markets.
The Tuscan city of Pisa is full of art, history, and culture. The most visited sites are the Leaning Tower, the Square Miracles, Piazza de Duomo, Cattedrale di Pisa.
From Pisa, you can visit Tuscany. This lovely place is full of picturesque cities, UNESCO heritage sites, passionate villages, panoramic natural landscapes, impressive beaches, and excellent museums.
It is the land of shining landscapes, cultural treasures, sparkling seas, restless mountains, and traditional flavors. Between Sicily's highlights is the Valley of Temples, Villa Romana del Casale, Gole de'll Alcantara's canyons, the Museum of Maioliche.
It is the place where art and knowledge meet. It is the capital city of culinary taste and quality. There are many touristic things to do in lovely Bologna, such as climbing the majestic Asinelli Tower or visiting the unfinished Basilica of San Petronio.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN ITALY
Hike the Cinque Terre: spectacular views, charming villages, wild open landscapes, and local experiences await you. Several trails are available to walk the five villages, but the most popular is the Sentiero Azzurro (the Blue Trail). However, if you are short on time, you can see the best of Cinque Terre in one full day.
Trip through Venice in a Gondola: sailing along a canal in the graceful curve of a gondola is one of the top things to do in Italy.
Marvel at the Coliseum: It is one of the most famous attractions in the world. The ruins of what was once a magnificent arena are one of the most significant historical relics of our time, and once it would have had a capacity of over 50,000 spectators.
Take a boat trip along the Amalfi Coast: boat trip along the shoreline will show you the beauty of many traditional Mediterranean villages.
Explore the Roman Forum: a rectangular forum envelope by the ruins of several important old government buildings at the center of Rome's city.
Eat pizza in Naples: Naples's main attraction is its delicious pizza. Don't miss it while you visit Italy.
Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa: It is a distinguished Arquitectura that you can climb to the viewing platform at the top, where you can look across all of Pisa when the tower is open.
Visit the Temples' Valley: The first thing to do while visiting Sicily is to stop by the temples' Valley, located in Agrigento.
Lake Como by Boat: The most beautiful lake in Italy's Lake District, Como is surrounded by precipitous mountain hills covered in lush greenery and dotted with compact towns and beautiful villas.
Tour the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore: Florence is one of the most romantic and artistic cities globally. Its ultimate glory is the majestic Duomo or the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.