One of the founding members of the European Union, Italy is a significant player in European military, diplomatic and cultural affairs. There are 61 million people living in Italy and the economy is booming.
Geographically, Italy shares borders with Switzerland, France, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. The climate of Italy is typically mild. It is cool and rainy in the winter, with hot and dry summers. The coast of Italy rarely has freezing temperatures in the winter.
Italy has Europe's richest, craziest culture. After all, this nation is the cradle of European civilization — established by the Roman Empire and carried on by the Roman Catholic Church. If you explore Italy, you'll stand face-to-face with some of the world's most iconic images from this 2,000-year history: the Colosseum of Ancient Rome, the medieval Leaning Tower of Pisa, Michelangelo's David and Botticelli's Venus, the playful Baroque exuberance of the Trevi Fountain…and the elegant decay that surrounds the canals of Venice. Beyond these famous sights, though, Italy offers Europe's richest culture. Traditions still live within a country that is vibrant and fully modern. Go with an eye open to both the Italy of the past and of the present.
Venice is the place to be, with a gondola ride along the city's canals, along with a meal and wine in one of the charming restaurants. If skiing is your sport, the Selva di Val Gardena in the Italian Alps, is your perfect destination to brush up your skills. The beauty of Naples with its pretty bay has to be a dream waterside location, with amazing views of the city from the coastline. Try to experience everything Italy has to offer you.
And do not forget Italy is not only joy to see, but also to taste. With its rich cuisine, this beautiful Mediterranean land offers countless famous and traditional must-eat foods. A multitude of popular Italian delicacies and dishes, sweet and savory, await your discovery during your sojourns when you are in Italy. These traditional Italian dishes are deeply rooted in the Italian culture, and recipes are often passed down between generations and are cherished for their authentic origins. One of the best ways to get the true taste of these amazing dishes is directly from local chefs, who are passionate about cooking and sharing a slice of their culture with you.
Venice is a city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region. It is situated across a group of 117 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by bridges. These are located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon. The lagoon and a part of the city are listed as a World Heritage Site. Venice – the name conjure up images of canals, basilicas, grand piazzas, gondolas, and serenading gondoliers. And it is all this, plus much more. Of course, no visit would be complete without seeing magnificent St. Mark’s Basilica in St. Mark’s Square. You also won’t want to miss the Doge’s Palace, the haunting Bridge of Sighs, the Rialto Bridge, and the Basilica Santa Maria Della Salute. There are plenty of museums, churches, bridges, and cafés to explore if you have the time. If you decide to take a ride on a gondola or vaporetto, you might want to go to one of the back canals rather than the more-crowded Grand Canal. You can expect to see your gondolier in the iconic striped shirt and black pants, but, alas, not all will serenade you as you glide along.
Shoppers will want to look for some of Venice’s world-famous blown glass from the island of Murano and perhaps a Carnival mask. Burano lace is also popular, as is marbled paper. Look for your favorites as you take in the sights and window-shop.
Seafood is a mainstay in Venice. It can be prepared simply, with just olive oil, garlic, and herbs, or you can try more complicated dishes such as Baccala’ Mantecata, a Venetian specialty. Polenta is a well-liked dish, and you’ll also find rice dishes and, of course, pasta on your menu. To satisfy your sweet tooth, sample some tiramisu. For a traditional Venetian tipple, head to Harry’s Bar for a Bellini or Prosecco.
The charming town of Ravenna is well known for the marvelous mosiacs that adorn the 1,400-year-old Basilica di San Vitale, the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, plus five other buildings. These Byzantine and Christian mosaics are UNESCO listed, along with the structures which house them. A stroll through the town reveals quiet, historic buildings, peaceful churches, and an elegant ambience. Dante Alighieri, perhaps the most important poet of the Renaissance and the author of “The Divine Comedy,” is buried here in a simple mausoleum. Largely off the main tourist paths, this fascinating town is well worth a visit.
A fusion of old and new, Rimini rocks the beach scene while maintaining its historic feel dating back to Roman times. To that end, you’ll want to see the Arco d’Augusto or Arch of Augustus, a triumphal arch built in honor of Emperor Augustus. Also of note, the Ponte di Tiberio, Bridge of Tiberius, with five arches and, though it is centuries old, still open to traffic. Another aspect of this noteworthy town – it is the birth and burial place of director Federico Fellini, and there is a museum dedicated to him here.
Little San Marino has the distinction of being the oldest republic in the world, having been founded in 301 A.D. and still thriving as an independent country. Landlocked within Italy and only 24 square miles in area, this inviting town has much to offer visitors. The ancient defense towers and ramparts were restored in the 1940s by Twentieth Century Fox for the film Prince of Foxes. Stop by the Piazza della Liberta to witness the Changing of the Guard. If you would like to explore one of the churches, the Basilica of San Marino might be a good choice. And be sure to take in the view from the slopes of Mount Titano – it’s absolutely breathtaking!
Pesaro is a popular seaside resort on the Adriatic and the birthplace of Gioacchino Rossini, who composed the opera The Barber of Seville. As you ride through this little town, look for the Ducal Palace, the 5th century Basilica, and the giant, round, bronze sculpture by Arnaldo Pomodoro.
The little, walled, hilltop town of Urbino is home to a wealth of Renaissance art and architecture. In fact, it is so well preserved, the town has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1998. The grand Ducal Palace and impressive Cathedral are the main attractions, but there are many other striking buildings and squares as well. This is also the birthplace of the artist Raphael, and his home is now a little museum.
Ancona is an important sea port on the Adriatic. The town itself is set on a hill not far from the port. From Ancona, it’s an easy, scenic trip to Assisi and Perugia.
Assisi has long been associated with St. Francis, the patron saint of animals. This quiet, unassuming man has a grand basilica built here in his name, and his remains lie interred in a crypt within it. The Basilica of St. Clare is another not-to-be-missed site. Take time in this peaceful town on the slopes of Mount Subasio to enjoy the views over the surrounding countryside.
A lively university town and host of the annual Umbria Jazz Festival, Perugia is the capital of the Umbria region. A stop in the central square, Piazza IV Novembre, reveals the Fontana Maggiore, or Major Fountain, an exceptional work of sculpture featuring a wide variety of subjects, from religious to the zodiac. Other sights include the Palazzo dei Priori and the Duomo. Need another reason to visit? Perugia is also home to the annual Chocolate Festival, Eurochocolate, and the makers of Baci chocolates, Perugina.
Trieste is a city of contrasts, from the Archduke Ferdinand’s Castello di Miramare to the Museo della Risiera di San Sabba, a rice mill turned WWII concentration camp turned museum. You’ll also want to gaze over the water from the seafront Piazza Unità, and perhaps visit one of its churches, such as the Basilica di San Giusto or the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.
Note: To learn more about Italy, please visit here: Italian National Tourist Office