Italy is the kind of destination that travelers return to over and over. They come for overwhelming art and architecture that influenced Western civilization, and stunning historical ruins—as well as for some of the world's best food and wine. Also beckoning irresistibly are Italy's sun-kissed olive groves and vineyards, the sparkling waters of Lake Como and the Mediterranean, and atmospheric monasteries, castles, and farmhouses. And if you seek vibrant cities with renowned museums, restaurants, and shopping opportunities, Rome, Florence, and Milan await.
One of the most beautiful places in Italy is the Cinque Terre. The name Cinque Terre actually means “The Five Lands”. It is so called because Cinque Terre is a collection of five extremely beautiful villages that are part of Italian Riviera. The five villages are Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, Manarola, Corniglia and Riomaggiore.
The Cinque Terre has a strong historical background which dates as far back as the 11th century. People who love hiking have to visit Cinque Terre at least once. There are trails that connect all five villages and also present scenic views of the Mediterranean Sea and the beautiful hillsides. There are all kinds of trails, for beginners and for those tourists who love to challenge themselves and try some of the more difficult trails.
You would find plenty of beaches, vineyards and side trails that would take you to unique places along the way. Hiking through the trails in Cinque Terre is extremely fun and allows you to see plenty of beautiful sights along the way.
As an attractive and permanently-fashionable destination, Taormina is known as a delightful but expensive place to stay. Many of the town's hotels and restaurants are in the upper price-bracket. However, one of the town's principal attractions the view is free to enjoy, and visiting for a day trip or careful planning can make Taormina accessible to all.
Below the town are excellent beaches where you can swim in the clear sea water. Although Taormina can be visited all year, spring and fall are the best times. July and August are hot and crowded.
Today, Taormina lives on tourism. Visitors flock from all over the world to see its Greek-Roman theatre, to amble along its perfectly preserved Mediaeval streets, to admire its dramatic views of Mount Etna and to immerse themselves in the archetypal Mediterranean atmosphere. The main attraction is, without doubt, the theatre. The theatre is carved out of the hillside and the magnificent views give a complete panorama of southern Calabria, the Sicilian coastline and snow-capped Etna. Despite its name, the existing remains are almost entirely Roman.
The Museo Civico, the city museum of Siena is situated at the heart of the city, in the first floor of the city hall known as Palazzo Pubblico in the main square of Piazza del Campo. Palazzo Pubblico is still used for its original function, for the municipal offices of Siena.
The entrance on the right side leads to the offices and from the main entrance on the left side you enter into the courtyard called the Cortile del Podestà. From there, you find access to the city museum and to the tower, Torre del Mangia, from where you can admire a splendid view over the roofs of the city after climbing over 400 steps. At the end of the courtyard, you will find the ticket office to the museum, beside the entrance to the city theatre.
The classical collections conserve masterpieces of Greek and Roman art; there is also an important collection of Egyptian antiquities, one of the most important of Europe. On the ground floor they are exposed important archaeological finds relating the entire Province. On the upper floor of the Palace of Jurists, there are many paintings on canvas and wood together with frescoes that exhaustively illustrate the pictorial art of Belluno from the fifteenth to the twentieth century.
Pompeii is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, and with good reason. Although much of the city was destroyed by the nearby volcano, it was also largely preserved by being buried under more than 60 feet of ash and pumice, sealing history away until it was discovered in the mid-1700s.
The city of Pompeii dates back to the 8th century B.C.E. when it was initially founded, and the archaeological site (which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site) reveals its many treasures to visitors to this day. The many preserved frescoes are of particular interest, although the massive influx of tourists every year has caused some level of deterioration at the site.
The organization which runs Pompeii now actively encourages people to visit the other nearby sites which were also preserved by the same volcanic blast – among them Herculaneum and Stabiae – in order to lessen the pressure on Pompeii itself.
Visiting Pompeii is an amazing experience. It doesn't take much imagination to picture the Roman town living around you. The presence of Vesuvius - appearing at the end of a street or over a ruined wall - is a constant reminder of the disaster which had the perverse effect of preserving much of the ancient city's fabric. The ruins are fascinating, mesmerising and poignant at the same time.
The emperors of Rome built this large amphitheatre for gladiatorial shows and hunts of wild animals which became the symbol of the Eternal City.
In 80 A.D. there was a magnificent inauguration with games that lasted one hundred days during which five thousand beasts were killed. The shows were free of charge and the seats were assigned according to the class of spectators.
The Colosseum was built primarily to entertain the masses in brutal and barbaric games. Some were beast on beast combat to the death. Others were people fighting animals to the death, while the most popular was the human on human combat. Gladiators were slaves, often captured in war, that were trained in special schools to fight each other to the death.
The Canal Grande snakes through the city of Venice in a large S shape, traveling from the Saint Mark Basin on one end to a lagoon near the Santa Lucia rail station on the other. This ancient waterway measures 3,800 meters (2.36 miles) long and ranges from 30 to 90 meters wide.
It is believed that the Grand Canal follows the course of an ancient river. One of the first settlements in the area grew along the canal around the area of the current Rialto Bridge.
By the tenth century, it was a center for trade and a safe, ship-accessible port. Because of this, some of the earliest houses along the canal belonged to merchants who did their business on the seas.
Forum is a Latin word meaning open space or market place. A Forum was the public space in the middle of a Roman city. Typical Ancient Roman forums might be surrounded by temples, shops, and basilicas. There were several forums in Rome, the most notable being the world famous Roman Forum. The inclusion of the Senate House made the Roman Forum the most important of all the Forums. The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about life in Ancient Rome including the Roman Forum.
The forum was initially a market-place in Rome and the site was also used for festivals and funerals. Justice was also administered here and it naturally became a place business, then for politics and popular assemblies, and later on for amusement. The Roman forum consisted of public buildings that were three times as long as they were broad. The Roman Forum was built by Romulus, and adorned with entrances on all sides, by Tarquinius Priscus.
The powerful Medici family created the Boboli Garden in the sixteenth century behind the Pitti Palace. The beautiful and varied Italianesque garden is home to a large number of statues and fountains and one of the largest and most elegant Italian style gardens, through several stages of enlargement and restructuring work carried out at different times.
The estate was obtained by the Medici family in 1549, when Eleonora di Toledo purchased the Palazzo Pitti. Her husband, duke Cosimo I, hired the most reputed landscape gardeners of his time to lay out the expansive garden on the sloping terrain behind the palace. The result was an elegant Italian Renaissance garden with geometric patterns.
The Roman Pantheon is the most preserved and influential building of ancient Rome. It is a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods of pagan Rome. As the brick stamps on the side of the building reveal it was built and dedicated between A.D 118 and 125. The most fascinating part of the Pantheon is its giant dome, with its famous hole in the top (The eye of the Pantheon).
The dome was the largest in the world for 1300 years and until today it remains the largest unsupported dome in the world. The diameter of the dome is 43.30 meters. The Pantheon now contains the tombs of the famous artist Raphael and of several Italian Kings and poets.
A lighting effect can be viewed on April 21 when the midday sun strikes a metal grille above the doorway, saturating the courtyard outside with light. The Romans celebrated April 21 as the founding date of the city, and the impressive sight of their Emperor standing at the entrance of the Pantheon surrounded by light coming from inside the pantheon might have been seen as something that, in effect, raised their emperor to the level of the gods and invited him in to join them.
Trip to Rome is incomplete without a visit to the Fontana di Trevi, or Trevi Fountain. Located in the Quirinale district of Rome, the Trevi Fountain is known as one of the most stunning fountains in the world. But there’s a lot more than just beauty behind this famous fountain.
The precise legend of the Trevi Fountain says you should stand with your back to the fountain and toss a coin over your left shoulder to guarantee a return trip to Rome. Originally, it was said that a thirst quenching glass of water from the Trevi Fountain would ensure good fortune and a fast return to the Eternal City. Over time the legend of the Trevi Fountain evolved to tossing a coin in to ensure a return to Rome.
In the Middle Ages public water fountains were purely functional. They supplied fresh drinking water from natural springs to the people in Rome, who would bring buckets to the fountains, and collect water to take home. The Trevi Fountain has become a symbol of the city of Rome, attracting the attention of many artists and filmmakers.
Palermo is Sicily's regional capital, a busy port city on the north-western coast of the island. In the Middle Ages, Palermo was one of Europe's leading cities. Palermo’s history has been anything but stable as the town passed from one dominating power to another with remarkable frequency.
Its strategic position in the middle of the Mediterranean brought wave upon wave of invaders including the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Saracen Arabs, the Normans, the Swabians, the French and the Spanish Bourbons just to name the most influential.
The result of this quilted history is evident today in the vast range of architectural styles, the intriguing fusion of ingredients used in many local dishes and in many place names which are obviously not of Italian origin.
The fine marble facade of cathedral is in the 'Pisan Romanesque' style that can also be seen in Lucca and other Tuscan cities. The bottom section has tall blind arcades with pastel-coloured marble inlay and three portals with bronze doors. Above this are four rows of open arcades with delicate columns and Moorish-inspired arches, rising to the top of a gable that is much taller than the cathedral roof.
It is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. Despite its proximity to the eye-catching and tourist-attracting Leaning Tower, the Duomo still dominates the monumental Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa.
Humans make mistakes, after all, no human is perfect. One mistake made in the 11th century resulted in a 14,500 ton leaning tower. This miscalculation would later become a symbol of civic pride, but tell that to the man who designed it.
The learning tower of Pisa, known as Torre Pendente di Pisa in Italian, is different than most medieval architecture. This particular section won't cover the highly advanced construction techniques that were used, it is important to mention how this tower's design is significant.
The foundation of the tower, only 3 meter deep, was built on a dense clay mixture and impacted the soil. As it turned out, the clay was not nearly as strong enough as required to hold the tower upright, and so the weight of the tower began to diffuse downward until it had found the weakest point.
The Sforzesco Castle is one of Milan's most important landmarks. It long served as a symbol of power for local and foreign rulers. At the start of the early twentieth century the castle was saved from demolition and now houses a number of civic museums.
The castle was built by the earlier Visconti dynasty, but became home to the ruling Sforza family in 1450. Stark and domineering, the castle is propped up with massive round battlements, and a stepped tower overlooks the central courtyard and gardens. Leonardo da Vinci helped design the defensive walls.
The Dolomites take their name from the French geologist Dieudonné Dolomieu, who discovered the properties of the dolomite, a hard, chalky rock that is rich in the mineral dolomite, highly present in this mountain system.
Italy's dramatic rocky rooftop, the Dolomites, offers some of the best mountain thrills in Europe. The bold, light-gray cliffs and spires flecked with snow, above green meadows and beneath a blue sky, offer a powerful, unique, and memorable mountain experience.
Visit the Museum of the Theatre that houses a rich collection of costumes and musical instruments, as well as a gallery of portraits and busts dedicated to the great Italian musicians as Giuseppe Verdi and Arturo Toscanini. You will also admire from the decorated boxes the beautiful room of the theatre with the valuable crystal chandelier and the stage.
Depending on the type of tour, your guide will take you on to the celebrated La Scala stage, into the famous royal box, into gold boxes and into the recently restored auditorium to uncover the hidden gems of La Scala, the prompter’s box, the impressive chandelier, the new fly tower, and other areas of interest.