Italy definitely is one of the best places to visit in the world. There are various reasons to visit Italy. It has a plethora of allures for its visitors, from culinary delights to cultural experiences, from various stunning vistas to architectural wonders.
The blog shares 22 reasons to visit Italy:
Centro Storico, Rome
A place to be explored in a leisurely manner, Centro Storico is one of the best attractions in Rome. This historic center is a lively piazza, a stunning Baroque fountain, restaurants, chic bars, cafes, an old statue, Renaissance palazzi and much more. Explore the artistic churches, monuments and museums. The streets and blind alleys hum with footsteps.
Pantheon, Chiesa del Gesu, Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Piazza Navona, Museo Mazionale Romano, Cheisa di Sant’Agostino are the star attractions here. Savor the picture perfect beauty of this place on-foot. Right northwards of Piazza Venezia, it is placed in the heart of Rome.
Featuring Baroque structures of the 17th century, Lecce also houses some of the most wonderful churches in Italy. Lying in the sunny south side of the country, it was termed as ‘the most beautiful city in Italy’ by the 18th century traveler Thomas Ashe. This is a bustling city with a relaxed atmosphere. Some of the delights here include refined Puglian cafes and some classy boutiques. Do not miss getting your hands on papier-mâché delights.
Lecce lies close to the Adriatic and Ionian Seas and thus a day’s trip can easily be planned to the Salento peninsular region. It is also termed as the ‘Florence of the south’. Piazza del Duomo, The Church of Saints Niccolo’ and Cataldo, The Basilica di Santa Croce, Statue of Saint Oronzo and Il Castello di Carlo V are some of the main attractions here.
Sicily’s Greek Ruins
From expansive ancient theatres to the world’s best-preserved ancient Greek temples, Sicily’s Greek ruins are a show of power and grandeur. Each site has a story to tell. These wonderful sights are placed all along the sunny landscape of Sicily and are intriguing attractions. This archaeological site has massive, Greek remains along with a major section of the Roman quarter, from 4th century B.C. to 5th century A.D.
Ancient Greek theater of Taormina, Greek temple and ancient theater of Segesta, Roman mosaics at Piazza Armerina, Temples of Selinunte, Archaeological museum of Syracuse, the remains of Akragas, Mozia – a Cathaginian island and Palermo’s Regional Archaeological Museum are some of the prime attractions here, which you must visit. Get an insight into ancient architecture of the Greeks.
The wines of Italy are known for being best quality. When you visit Italy, there truly is nothing like savoring local varieties of Italian wines as you hit the wine bars, locally known as enoteca. Cold meats and regional cheese offer a good company to you. Cities like Florence, Milan, Rome, Verona, Venice and Amalfi have some of the best wine bars in Italy. Pick your favorite from the vast variety offered to you. If you are not going to taste wine here, you are going to miss all the fun.
Italian wines vary from crisp and dry to smooth and fruity and then to sparkling and sweet. There are white wines and red wines. Frascati, Orvieto, Verdicchi, Amarone, Barbera, Lambrusco, Chardonnay are some of the popular wines in Italy. Wine bars in Italy are quite popular, absolutely hip and happening, ideal for spending the night away.
Housing a group of a monument that is a World Heritage Site, Urbino is termed as an ‘ideal city’ and the art capital. It was known to be established by the legendry Renaissance figure, Federico da Montefeltro. It is one of the most popular provincial cities in Italy. If you wish to get a clear insight into the rich cultural past of Italy, visiting this place is a must. This hill town has various historical sights, delights of Renaissance art and other architectural gems. It is also a popular university town.
Roam around on the narrow streets of Urbino. Urbino Cathedral, Raphael’s House, Palazzo Ducale, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, Casa Natale di Raffaello, Casa della Poesia, Museo Diocesano Albani and Oratorio di San Giovanni are some of the popular attractions here. This wonderful place can be explored easily in a day or two. If you are visiting in the August month, attend Rossini Opera Festival.
Lovingly referred to as the ‘City of Mosaics’, Ravenna has stunning Byzantine mosaic art in the churches of San Vitale and Sant’Apollinare Nuovo. The early Christian Monuments of Ravenna are known to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The number of such sites is 8. The city was the proud capital of Europe around 15000 years ago. There also are some wonderful Roman architectures.
Baptistry of Neon, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Arian Baptistry, Archiepiscopal Chapel, Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Mausoleum of Theodoric, Basilica of San Vitale and Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe are the popular sights here. The elaborate mosaics of Raveena have been done in a very careful manner and are eye-catching. The city is also known for its great music, sumptuous food, wonderful restaurants and lively night life.
One of the must-visit places in Italy, Amalfi Coast is a delightful example of a Mediterranean landscape. It looks like the mountains and the buildings are taking a plunge into the sea. It also is one of top spots for hiking in Italy. The stunning sights include verdant jungles, shining bays, enigmatic caverns, lofty peaks, and scenic towns. Lying southwards of Naples, the coast along with 3 island outposts of Procida, Capri and Ischia are major crowd pullers here.
Things that must not be missed here include tour of the Villa Cimbrone, Museo Correale (Neapolitan arts housed in an 18th-century villa), the Sant’Antonino Festival, Sagra del Tonno, a visit to Africana Club, exploring Duomo and indulging in shopping at Antonello della Mura. Spring is the best season to visit Amalfi Coast. The place is quite popular amongst honeymooning couples.
Piazza San Marco, Venice
Often known as St Mark’s Square in English, Piazza San Marco is one of the most outstanding urban spaces in Europe. Raised in the 9th century in the form of a small square sprinkled with trees, it has the most unusual cathedral of Italy. The square is surrounded by stunning state buildings, campanile and a basilica. It is in the league of Times Square in New York and Trafalgar Square in London.
Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica), Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), Campanile, Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower), Piazzetta (a spacious promenade), Procuratie and Ala Napoleonica, Museo Correr and Museo del Risorgimento, Libreria Sansoviniana (Library), Giardinetti Reale and the Church of San Moisè are the main attractions here.
One of the most magnificent buildings in Italy, Duomo in Orvieto is an amalgam of Gothic and Romanesque styles of architecture. This stunning structure was constructed way back in the year 1290 in the place to ruined churches which existed on that site. A stunning Italian Gothic masterpiece, it is one of the top three cathedrals in Central Italy. The inside of the Duomo are equally enchanting.
The circular beautifully carved Rose window, the mosaics, and the bas reliefs are the highlights of the architecture of the Duomo in Orvieto. The mosaics were done during whole of the last half of the 14th century and still look quite fresh. A visit to this site is quite enriching.
Pizza in the Naples town
Eating pizza in Italy is a treat but relishing pizza in the home town of Naples is purely orgasmic. Margherita is the specialty and must not be missed. Pizzas here are baked in traditional domed, wood-fueled brick ovens, built in an identical design that was used even several hundred years ago. The makers are here are quite particular about their pizzas, be it the dough, the topping and even the size.
Neapolitan pizza can be one of the best food items that one can have in Italy. Da Michele, Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente, Brandi, Di Matteo, Pizzeria Trianon da Ciro, Sorbillo, Da Ettore, Lombardi, La Notizia, and Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba are some of the best Pizzerias in Naples, that one can visit. An annual Pizza Festival is also celebrated here in September.
The Lakes of Italy
If you wish to escaper the crowd, the captivating Italian lakes, surrounded by beautiful scenery, are ideal for you. There are over 1500 lakes in Italy and the largest ones are found in the northern side of the country. If you are one of those who is not really into art and history, the lake banks offer you a peaceful site, away from the regular crowd.
Some of the most popular Italian lakes are Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano, Lake Bolsena, Lake Como, Lake Orta, Lake Iseo and Lake Garda, with each lake having its own specialty. Take a stroll on the banks and indulge in fun activities. Admire the mountains in the backdrop. Go for a motor boat ride.
A beautiful mountainous Mediterranean island in Tuscany, Elba is known for its pristine beaches and hiking experiences. It is the biggest island of the Tuscan Archipelago and the place of exile of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814. Marvelous scenery, clean beaches, glistening waters and good swimming condition are the main charmers here. The seas around this island have one of the best marine parks of Europe. Hop into a boat for discovering hundreds of bays and creeks.
Elba Island definitely is one of the 22 reasons to visit Italy. It has several pleasant surprises for its visitors including its villages at the hillside, its friendly locales, the cliffs, its pristine beaches, the food, the clean air and so on. Savor stunning sunset views. For adventure enthusiasts, there is hiking, scuba diving, sailing, and snorkeling. Villa della Linguella, Villa delle Grotte, Napoleonic Museum, San Giacomo Fort,Church of San Giacomo Apostolo and Sanctuary of the Madonna del Monserrato are some of the popular attractions here.
Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise
One of the most popular national parks in Italy, Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo is the second oldest national park here, known for being extremely rich ecologically. It offers exotic wildlife and offer wonderful walking trails. This national park is seen as an ideal for environmental safeguard and nature conservation. Chamois, Lynx, Deer, Bear, Wolf and Red deer can be spotted here.
Extending over 3 regions, Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo receives as many as 2 million tourists every year. Within the boundaries of the national park, there are a few small towns and villages, following the traditional ways of life. Spread in 440-sq-km protected area, it has a chequered history of hunting, bureaucratic interest, ski developers, and political advancements.
The Uffizi Gallery, Florence
One of the most famous attractions of Florence, the Uffizi Gallery boasts of being one of the most popular museums in the world. This art gallery has various exquisite masterpieces and artworks that mainly belong to the Renaissance period. Positioned in the heart of city, it has art works of legendary Italian artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Cimabue, Giotto, Raffaello, and Michelangelo. Most of the works belong from 12th to 17th centuries.
Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus; Fra Angelico, Coronation of the Virgin; Baccio Bandinelli, Laocoön and his Sons; Parmigianino, Madonna with the Long Neck; Raphael, Portrait of Pope Leo X with Two Cardinals; Unknown Tuscan Master, Head of Christ; Caravaggio, Medusa and Titian, Venus of Urbino are some of the popular art works at Uffizi Gallery. Frescoes on the gallery’s ceilings look wonderful.
If you are fed-up of staying in routine hotels, there is an interesting option for you. Opt for Agritirismo, special kind of rural retreats and farm stays. The experience is going to be extremely memorable. Such properties are dotted all over the countryside of Italy including Abruzzo, Apulia, Basilicata, Campania, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Marches, Piedmont, Sicily, Tuscany and Veneto.
Enjoy the light-hearted hospitality of the locals here. Some of the highlights of staying in an agriturismo are great wine, variety of landscapes of the Alps or the coast, organic food, distinctive architecture, and some local feel of music and culture. You might get to stay in a castle, a vineyard, an archaeological site, a medieval village or a dairy farm.
Pompeii and Herculaneum
Two of the best-preserved archeological sites in the country, Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed and simultaneously conserved by the eruption of Vesuvius. Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata is a group of UNESCO World Heritage Site. These two were prosperous Roman towns, which were consumed by the ashes after Vesuvius had erupted on 24 August AD 79. Today, it is one of the best attractions in the world.
Pompeii and Herculaneum, now are two popular excavated sites that were opened to the public from the mid-18th century. While Pompeii is a huge commercial town, Herculaneum appears like a preserved holiday retreat. While at the first site, the bodies have been preserved under the ash from thousands of years until excavation, at the second site only bones can be seen due to the extreme heat that burned the skin of the people.
Beaches in Sardinia
With an unspoilt coastline of 1800 km, Sardinia has some gorgeous beaches with gleaming azure blue seas in the Mediterranean. These beaches are an amalgam of peaceful ones and beaches bustling with touristy activities. The beaches of Sardinia offer entertainment as well as tranquility as per one’s preference.
While for peace lovers, there is Spiaggia di Piscinas, swimmers can head to Spiaggia Rena Bianca. If you are in love with white sands, there is Spiaggia della Pelosa for you. Similarly Is Aruttas is the best option for those who wish to stay away from touristy activity. La Maddalena offers you a chance of island hopping, and a group of family members can head to Chia. You can enjoy boat touring in Golfo di Orosei and hiking at Cala Goloritzè beach.
The Last Supper, Milan
If you visit Italy and do not see the magnum opus of Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, you have missed out on an important attraction. The most famous mural in Milan lies hidden on a wall of the refectory that is located beside Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie. The painting shows Jesus Christ sitting with his disciples and that moment where he reveals to others that one of them is going to betray him.
The painting was made between 1495 and 1498 and apart from using colors, the artist had also used silver and golden leaves to make his painting. The restoration work of painting was done for years and was finally completed in 1999. The ticket to view for Adult is 10 Euros. The painting can be viewed between 08:15 AM – 07:00 PM from Tuesday to Sunday. A small group of only 25 people can enter the room once at a time where this masterpiece is reserved. Special English-language guided tours are also offered.
Giotto’s Frescoes, Padua
The frescoes in the interiors of the Arena Chapel (Cappella Scrovegni) by artist Giotto in Padua is also one of the 22 reasons to visit Italy. Do not miss walking on the footsteps of this famous artist. The frescos at Cappella degli Scrovegni is one of the greatest works of European art. The artist painted the inner surface of the chapel. The theme of the paintings is Salvation with an emphasis on Virgin Mary.
Before visiting the chapel, making a reservation is essential, which can be done online. Visitors are allowed in small groups while others can wait in the waiting area. This is done for the protection of painting from humidity and temperature. If booking has been done online, one needs to pick the tickets an hour before the appointed time. 15 minutes are given to stay inside and enjoy the heavenly frescoes.
Hiking in the Dolomites
The Dolomites is a picturesque part of the Alps that has a spiky landscape and offers challenging hiking opportunities in Italy. There are a number of options for hiking in the Italian Dolomites such as day hike, overnight in a rifugio (mountain hut), Rifugio-to-rifugio (multiple day hike); Guided tours and Self-guided tours, short-day treks and long hikes. You can pick any option but be sure that you are physically fit. Val Gardena, Val Badla and Cortina D’Ampezzo are the three most popular valley to hike in the Dolomites.
The views from the top after hiking in the Dolomites is mesmerizing whether you are on a gondola or foot. During a number of trails you walk past a number of ruins and First World War objects. Do not forget to explore them. If you are hiking during the autumn season, you can visit the waterfall also to relish the cool air and the serenity. If you wish to make the most of your experience, start your hiking excursion early in the morning so that you can also explore farms, villages, pastures and churches.
Basilica di San Francesco, Assisi
One of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Assisi, Basilica di San Francesco is the burial site of St Francis. It is one of the most beautiful church buildings in Italy and has stunning frescoes by Simone Martini and Giotto. Divided into two parts, the church is easily visible from miles around. The upper church or the Basilica Superiore has Giotto’s frescoes, and the older lower church or the Basilica Inferiore, has frescoes by Cimabue, Pietro Lorenzetti and Simone Martini. The most prized possession in the upper church is a series of 28 frescoes showcasing the life of St Francis. These works are vibrant and still look fresh and gorgeous.
Basilica di San Francesco is not only a place of worship but is also quite popular amid art lovers. The tomb of the saint is kept in the small underground crypt. For tourists, there is an information office right opposite the entry gate of the lower church. Here, an hour-long English or Italian tour can be book, headed by Franciscan friar, a resident. This basilica is one of the most important Christian sacred site in Italy. In summers, while the upper church can be visited between 8.30 am – 6.50 pm, the lower and the tomb can be visited between 6 am – 6.50 pm. In winters, both the parts are open till 6 in the evening.
Vatican Museums, Rome
Located in Viale Vaticano, Rome, the Vatican Museums have the richest and the largest collection of art and culture around the world. Founded in the early 16th century by Pope Julius II, the museums were later inflated by succeeding pontiffs. The displays can be seen in 7 km of halls and corridors. Covering an area of 5.5 hectares, it also has 2 palaces namely Vatican palace and Belvedere Palace, which are joined by 2 galleries.
The galleries in the museums are Pinacoteca, Museo Chiaromonti & Braccio Nuovo, Museo Pio-Clementino, Museo Gregoriano Egizio, Museo Gregoriano Etrusco, Galleria delle Carte Geografiche, Stanze di Raffaello, and Sistine Chapel. These galleries are treasure houses of frescoes, old paintings, statues, sculptures, maps, Egyptian mummies, modern paintings, Etruscan bronzes to ancient busts, artefacts, and much more. Adults need to pay 16 Euros to enter the church. In the last sun of the month entry in the church is free. The timing of the Vatican museum is 9 am – 4 pm (Monday – Saturday), and 9 am -12.30 pm in the last Sun of month.
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