Italy has it all: ancient sites, glamourous piazzas, gastronomic delights, dazzling fashion, art and culture. Let the "Eternal Seductress" inspire and enchant you to embrace la dolce vita! Loosely translated that means the good life, full of pleasure and indulgence and was depicted in the 1960 comedy-drama film by same name, written and directed by critically acclaimed Frederico Fellini.
Where to go
In stylish Milan, ascend the Duomo, see Da Vinci's Last Supper, and shop for designer fashion. In romantic Venice, visit the Piazza San Marco, the Basilica di San Marco, and the Accademia. See Giotto's frescoes at Padua, and the pretty cities of Verona and Vicenza.
Florence offers the iconic Duomo dome, the world's greatest collection of Renaissance art at the Uffizi, and the nearby Leaning Tower of Pisa. Experience horse races at Siena, pristine beaches at Elba, vineyards at Chianti, and the Tuscan hill-towns of San Gimignano, Montalcino, and Montepulciano.
Wander the Centro Storico in Rome, and the incredible Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Explore the ancient Pantheon and Colosseum, and the gardens of the Villa d'Este at Tivoli.
Stopover at the picturesque villages of Cinque Terre, the medieval streets of Genoa, and the elegant glamour of San Remo. Go hiking in the Dolomites, skiing in the Canazei, and see the preserved "Ice Man" at Bolzano. Eat Parma ham and Parmesan cheese in gastronomic Bologna. Experience Ravenna's mosaics, the Grotta Gigante cave, and the buzzing nightlife of Rimini.
See the stunning Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi, the glorious Duomo of Orvieto, and the charming villages of Valle di Spoleto and Valnerina. Visit artistic Urbino, drive to Sarnano, and hike in Abruzzo. Behold the opulent architecture of Lecce, the sunny resorts of Vieste, and the bizarre conical buildings of Puglia.
Tour the Greek ruins of Sicily, Mount Etna volcano, and the lava coastlines of the Aeolian Islands. Sunbathe on the beaches of Sardinia, and see the prehistoric relics of Su Nuraxi. Eat Neapolitan pizza in Naples, explore the Roman ruins of Pompeii, and visit the beautiful islands of Capri and Ischia. Relax at the resorts of Sorrento and the incredibly gorgeous Amalfi Coast.
Domestic flights link major cities, at competitive prices if booked early. Otherwise, the Italian train system is probably the best way of getting around, and inexpensive compared to most of Europe.
If driving, roads are well-maintained and car-rental easy; however, driving in cities can be a nightmare for the uninitiated. Prices also aren't cheap, once you include tolls and petrol. You have to be comfortable with driving fast as you’ll be on the road with Ferraris and Lamborghinis and Maseratis.
Local buses complement the train system and link towns and villages to the cities; often bus terminals are next to the train stations. Ferries go to all the islands, though regular services decrease outside of summer. Or do it like the locals do, and hop on a bicycle, scooter or motorbike, especially in the smaller towns.
Do's and Don'ts
Do wear stylish clothing to blend in. Italians take pride in their appearance.
Do wear comfortable shoes, as you'll be walking a lot.
Don’t be surprised that many shops close for a two-hour break after lunch.
Don't tempt theft - especially in Rome, Venice, and Florence, there are lots of pickpocket gangs that prey on careless tourists.
Did you know…?
Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country - 49 and counting. There are too many to list, but the most iconic include the Colosseum at Rome, Venice and its lagoon, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the ruins of Pompeii, and the geological wonders of the Dolomites.
Italy's national dish is probably pasta, though the fork-twirling, tomato-and-spaghetti stereotype is a fairly recent invention. Tomato sauces were revolutionary when introduced in the 18th century; before that, pasta was eaten dry and with the fingers! Today there are more than 500 types of pasta, with an average consumption of 25 kilograms per person per year.
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