Italy dips down out of Europe and into the Mediterranean like a lady’s leg firmly planted in a sleek stiletto, so it’s hardly surprising that Italians are known for their impeccable style and fashionable dress sense. They’re also known for once having an empire that stretched across the globe, and for having the most spectacular churches, frescos, sculptures and Renaissance paintings in all of Europe.
The Italy of today is littered with the relics of more than 3,000 years of history, and an atmosphere that ranges from the Armani-wearing, scooter-driving, espresso-drinking buzz of its cities to the quiet, pastoral existence of its hillside olive farms and seaside fishing villages. Italy is also home to more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country on earth, with an incredible 47 sites of global historical significance dotted around the country.
Italy’s cities reveal awe-inspiring architecture from the curved arches of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence to the crumbling magnificence of the Colosseum in Rome. Home of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Arpeggio and Botticelli, Italy’s artworks are a visual delight to all visitors. Explore the canals of Venice by gondola, or indulge in the wonderful shopping in the fashion capital of Milan. In the Bay of Naples, explore the ruins of Pompeii and Herculean, destroyed by Mount Vesuvius, which can be seen standing sentinel over the city. Further South still is the Island of Sicily with fabulous real Italian beach resorts, the medieval hilltop town of Tzarina and ancient Greek and Roman amphitheaters, with Mount Etna, towering above.
Nestled on the outskirts of Rome is the independent Vatican City, the seat of the Pope and home to the famous St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. The influence of the Holy Catholic Church on the people of Italy is still evident today in a series of holy festivals, carnivals, and parades involving young and old alike in almost every city, town, and village.
How you explore Italy is up to you. One of the best ways is by an escorted tour, or for the more adventurous, let Millington Travel book you a multi center trip using Italy’s fine rail network.
Millington Travel’s top ten places to experience in Italy
- Vatican City – The seat of the Pope and heart of the Roman Catholic religion. The Sistine Chapel is a stunning marvel.
- Pompeii & Herculaneum – Buried in the ash from the eruption of Mt Vesuvius, these towns are remarkably well preserved.
- Cinque Terre – Way off the beaten track, the five fishing villages of this dramatic coastline are largely untouched by mass tourism due to their remoteness.
- Tuscany & Umbria – Rolling hills covered in vineyards, dotted with medieval towns such as Siena, San Gimignano, Perugia & Assisi – all beautiful and unique.
- Florence – Magical & romantic. Birthplace of the Renaissance.
- Taormina – A medieval gem sitting atop a hill on the Sicilian coast. High-class boutique hotels hide in the narrow streets. Sip a glass of wine while taking in views of Mount Etna.
- Portofino. On the Tuscan coast, if you could design a pretty fishing village, it would look like Portofino. A haven for big yachts and the jet-set.
- The Italian Lakes – Garda, Como & Maggiore. The air is fresh the scenery stunning, the towns historic. Sip wine in one of the squares and take it all in.
- Rome – The nations stunning capital, with famous sights including the majestic Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.
- Sorrento, Naples & Capri – The Neapolitan Riviera has it all. A vibrant city, blending into stunning coastal resorts and beautiful islands perfect for a day-trip.
When to go?
The best time of year to visit Italy is during the summer months when most of the country can be enjoyed like a fine Italian wine – slowly. A trip to the rolling hills of Tuscany is in order to sample some fine wine and olive oil as well as plenty of old styles Italian cuisine while taking in the scenery of cypress trees, lush vines, and olive groves. But if you’ve got a skiing holiday in mind, head to the Italian Alps and visit the resorts of Courmayeur and Brevil Cervinia with world class skiing.