To travel Italy is to relive history, enjoy varied and fantastic cuisine, sip superb full-bodied wines, shop in some of the world's most fashionable cities, and marvel at breathtakingly beautiful scenery. From the chic, Italian Riviera to fashionable Milan, from tranquil Tuscany to earthy and vibrant Sicily, Italy has something to offer even the most jaded traveler. The friendly, warm-spirited Italian people, the amazing treasure trove of Italian art, and the scrumptious and omnipresent food are just some of the reasons to consider Italy for your next destination.
Northern Italy contains most of the country's industry. Turin is known for its Fiat cars as well as its chocolate factories. Milan is Italy's - as well as one of the world's - fashion capitals. The wines of the north, particularly the Piedmont region surrounding Turin, are some of the best in the world. The full-bodied Barolo and Barbaresco are a delicious accompaniment to the rich northern Italian cuisine. Venice, in northeast Italy, is a favorite of romantics, art lovers, and architecture buffs. The gracious city with streets of water dates back to the 9th century, when the Doges of Venice controlled much of the Mediterranean. The intricate architecture, sweeping plazas, and omnipresent bridges combine to create a unique and enticing motif.
The rolling hills of Tuscany contain some of Italy's most beautiful countryside. They are also home to important Italian wines and wine districts, such as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Carmignano. Florence, in the heart of Tuscany, contains some of the world's most prized art treasures. Here, the canvases of Da Vinci, the sculpture of Michelangelo, and the brilliance of Botticelli compete for visitors' attention. The red brick roof of Florence's Cathedral is the city's landmark and is visible from all over town. This spectacular structure, designed by Brunelleschi, invites visitors to climb to the top for a bird's eye view of Florence and the surrounding Tuscan countryside. Outside of Florence, charming towns, such as Siena, San Gimignano, and Pisa, with its famous leaning tower, are fun to explore and are much more affordable places to stay and dine than Italy's big cities.
No travel Italy itinerary would be complete without a trip to Rome. The amazing remnants left by the Roman Empire, such as the famous Coliseum and the Forum, give visitors a sense of what life must have been like in those ancient times. Rome is also renowned for its shopping. Fashion, leather goods, shoes, and colorful regional pottery are all well made and worth considering. Rome abounds with churches, some dating back to the earliest days of Christianity. Vatican City, an independent entity surrounded by Rome, is the home of the Catholic Church as well as an astonishing art collection, library, and the magnificent St. Peter's Basilica.
The southern half of Italy is more rural and the atmosphere more carefree than in the northern parts of Italy. Here, the sun-soaked city of Naples invites visitors to sample its famed Neapolitan cuisine, full of red sauces, peppers, and indigenous black olives. Just outside of Naples lies Pompeii, the tragic ash-covered Roman town, frozen in time by the eruption of nearby Mt. Etna. Also not far from Naples is the legendary and glamorous Amalfi Coast, with its steep cliffs, luxury hotels, and picturesque towns offset by the sparkling Mediterranean waters.
Passionate Sicily lies just off "the boot" of Italy. Palermo, Sicily's capital city, offers visitors a scenic harbor, architecture dating back to the 12th century, and tempting outdoor trattorias, or sidewalk cafes. Located in the Abruzzo Region of Italy is the Gran Sasso, the highest peak in the Apennine Moutains. Small but interesting towns in this area include Valle San Giovanni and Frondarola.
How to Travel Italy
Italy is served by major international airports in Milan and Rome. In addition, smaller regional airports are scattered throughout Italy and can be reached by connecting flights in either of the two international gateways. Italy's train system is frequent and efficient and is a great way to see the Italian countryside while you get from one destination to the next. Accommodations in Italy tend to be smaller than Americans are used to at home. Private bathrooms are not a given in Italy. Often the facilities are located down the hall and shared by several rooms. Be sure to ask the set up when you make a reservation.