To travel to Italy is to live the real life experience of delving into a novel – full of the rustic splendors of Rome, the quaint buildings that line the streets of Venice and the bustling noise of Florence. Coupled with the warmth and friendliness of Italians and excellent service in all avenues, Italy is the ideal get-away haven.
Whether you want to dine on delicious pasta, drift along a canal, hit the beach or marvel at beautiful cities, Italy has plenty to offer.
- Visit the Amalfi Coast, one of the most beautiful parts of the country and Unesco-listed as an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape.
- Venice is utterly unique – splash out for a gondola ride or an elegant water taxi to drift along its canals.
- Italy has myriad islands but some of its most sought after are Sardinia and Sicily.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day – nor should it be seen in one, so allow some time to explore the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican – this is the stuff of legend.
When to visit
Italy enjoys a Mediterranean climate, which means hot, dry summers and cool, rainy winters. Climate varies considerably down the country – the south never gets too cold in the winter and can reach 32C regularly in the summer, while in the north winter gets very cold and summers can be hot and humid. The climate is milder on both counts in the centre of the country.
Areas of Italy
Italy’s early history was intertwined with that of the ancient Roman Empire that endured from 753BC when according to legend, the city was founded by Romulus. The mighty empire lasted until 476AD when Rome fell to the Goths. The country was later dominated by the Roman Catholic church and the emergence of the merchant-based “city states” during the medieval centuries. This was followed by the cultural Renaissance period with its focus on arts and science between the 14th and 16th centuries. The Republic of Italy was only formed in 1849 and the country was one of the six original founders of the European Economic Community, which later became the European Union, in 1957.
Attractions of ITALY
The Eternal City is packed with some of the world’s most iconic sights including the Roman ruins of the Colosseum and Forum as well as Vatican City – home to the domed St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel containing Michelangelo’s legendary frescoes. The narrow alleys and charming piazzas of Rome’s old city make it a great place to explore on foot with the baroque splendour of the Trevi Fountain, which featured in the classic Italian movie La Dolce Vita, at the centre. Rome is built on a series of hills so it’s worth heading for these heights to get panoramic views of the skyline dominated by St Peter’s.
The Tuscan capital was the home to the Renaissance in the 15th century when a group of writers, artists and scientists led this cultural revolution. Florence’s most compelling sights include the Duomo cathedral with its red-tiled dome, the medieval stone bridge Ponte Vecchio and the 13th century Palazzo Vecchio or town hall. It’s a haven for art lovers with Michelangelo’s David statue housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia and the Uffizi Gallery most famous for being the home of Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” painting as well as many other Renaissance masterpieces. Florence is also famous for its fashion designers including Gucci and Roberto Cavalli.
The northern city is very much at the heartbeat of modern Italy with its financial district and rich industrial history – it is also a major hub for fashion and design. Milan may lack the historic and scenic pleasures of other Italian cities but its gothic cathedral, the Duomo, is one of the most imposing buildings in the country with its 135 spires dominating the skyline. Culture and art is alive and well in Milan with the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent housing Leonardo da Vinci’s famous The Last Supper mural and the 18th century La Scala opera house being one of the most iconic performing venues in Italy. Milan is also home to two of football’s most famous clubs and rivals: AC Milan and Internazionale. Both teams play in the city’s San Siro stadium.
The northeastern city’s canals and historic architecture make Venice another of Italy’s classic attractions and a must-see experience. Venice is built on more than 100 small islands linked by 170 canals spread across a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. The Grand Canal offers one of the best views in the world with its Renaissance and Gothic palaces, as well as the central point of the city, Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square), with its massive clock tower and Doge’s Palace. Venice also hosts a series of world-renowned festivals throughout the year. Taking a classic gondola ride may seem a bit of a cliché – but it’s got to be done.
This gorgeous group of grand lakes in northern Italy, which includes Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, has been attracting famous visitors for centuries including literary legends such as Lord Byron and Goethe. This natural beauty is matched by historic villages, stunning castles and monasteries, as well as sprawling villas and pristine gardens. There are plenty of activities in this region for the energetic traveller too, such as swimming, canoeing, rock-climbing, mountain biking and horse-riding. The lakes are also located close to the metropolis of Milan with its shopping, museums and art galleries. The region’s top-quality restaurants are renowned for their fish dishes including whitefish, trout and white bass caught by local fishermen.
This former Roman city in the Campania region of southern Italy near Naples is famous for being buried in volcanic ash and pumice stone when the nearby volcano Vesuvius erupted with cataclysmic results in 79AD. The fact that Pompeii was buried rather than being destroyed means that much of the ancient city is remarkably well preserved and gives visitors the chance to walk the streets, wander into the tiny houses and see the temples and amphitheatres of a genuine Roman settlement. This makes Pompeii one of the most fascinating archaeological attractions in the world and a must-see for anybody interested in Roman history.