Italia! Immerse yourself in ancient history, see some of the most renowned art and culture anywhere, and experience food like nowhere else. From legendary cities such as Rome and Milan to small towns like Nocelle, Italy is steeped in the traditions of the past while living comfortably in the present. And each of the country’s regions is distinct, with its own customs, foods and attractions. With so much to see and do, it wasn’t easy coming up with a top 5 list, but here’s as good a place to start as any: our choices for the top 5 places to see in Italy.
Tuscany’s capital city, Florence, is the birthplace of the Renaissance, where the Uffizi Gallery hosts a breathtaking collection of Renaissance art. The region counts numerous richly rewarding cities, including the unforgettable coastal town of Viareggio, which hosts a famous carnival parade every February. Lucca, on the other hand, is home to amazing bakeries that offer local delicacies like candied chestnuts and fennel cookies. This city also hosts its annual Summer Festival – which this year will feature Neil Young and other international artists.
Though part of Tuscany, Pisa deserves its own mention. You simply can’t come to the region and not visit the iconic leaning tower named after this city. Truly a must-see experience, but be sure give yourself time. There are many who simply see it, check it off their list and move on; but there is countless space to sit on the long lawns, lots of top-notch people-watching to do, not to mention a tower to marvel at, and last but not least, the nearby Piazza del Duomo, one of the finest architectural structures in the world, which would make the trip complete.
Milan is Italy’s second-largest city and one of the fashion and design capitals of the world. Its comprehensive public transit system, and a downloadable visitors’ guide, make it fairly easy to explore. The city’s famous Gothic cathedral, the Duomo di Milano is the fifth largest church in the world, the second largest in Italy, and features an enormous pigeon-populated piazza. Next to the Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, home to world-renowned Italian labels such as Prada and Valentino. Even if shopping isn’t your thing, this mall’s architecture, cafes and people-watching opportunities make it a must-see.
Up for a little adventure? You can reach this distinctive region of Southern Italy through the Naples International Airport. From there, either rent a car through Avis or Hertz and drive along the mountain coastal road or take a boat to the coastal town of Positano, immortalized in a Steinbeck story and in songs by Drake and Jay-Z, where colourful lounge chairs line the sun-soaked beach. The town of Nocelle is accessible only by mountainside paths from Positano, but it’s worth it for Il Ristoro de Gli Dei, set in a cave overlooking the valley. Ask for the specialty, lemon pizza. Not far, the Path of the Gods offers a spectacular hike overlooking the sea.
It’s the capital city of Italy, but it’s so much more. With a history spanning more than 2,500 years, Rome is one of the most famous cities in the history of the world and one of the birthplaces of Western Civilization. Rome’s centre is so historic that it’s been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its many must-see destinations – such as Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum – are among the world’s most popular tourist sites, seeing millions of awe-struck visitors a year. For history and culture, Rome is tough to beat. In fact, there’s so much to Rome, we’ll need to leave it for our next post.
What are you planning to see or do on your trip to Italy? Let us know in the comments below!