10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Italy

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10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Italy

Tags :

Category : Europe , Italy

Lagos – that’s lakes in Italian – have been drawing tourists since the heyday of the Roman Empire. They still are. There’s a good reason for this. These lakes, many of them in alpine regions in northern Italy, are the stuff picture postcards are made of. They’re indisputably scenic, casting spells over visitors so come back. An overview of the most beautiful lakes in Italy:

10. Lake Bolsena

Lake Bolsena

 

As you stand on the hills overlooking Lake Bolsena, it’s almost as if you can see forever. Perhaps not, but you will get a scenic eyeful of this central Italy lake. This large lake is home to several islands, the largest of which is Bisentia, with its Etruscan ruins and pretty churches. If you wander the beaches you’ll find black volcanic sand – the lake sits in a volcanic crater. Lake Bolsena is a good place to fish, swim or watch birds, including egrets and gray herons. The lake also makes a good stopping point if you’re driving between Rome and Tuscany.

9. Lake Ledro

Lake Ledro

 

Lake Ledro isn’t the biggest lake you’ll find in Italy, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in scenic beauty. This alpine lake in the Trentino region is surrounded by forests, with crystalline waters making it one of the cleanest in Trentino. The water is warm enough in the summer for swimming and sail boating. Mountain bikers will likely find it challenging to ride around the lake’s perimeters. The lake is best known for archaeological finds, including Bronze Age dwellings, that showed up when the water level was lowered to build a hydroelectric dam.

8. Lake Lugano

Lake Lugano

 

Lake Lugano is sandwiched between Italy and Switzerland, which makes it doubly pretty. With the Alps running down to the shore, the lake draws tourists like honey does bears. The glacial lake is elongated with arms in several places, adding to its allure. Lake Lugano is very scenic, no matter what direction you’re viewing it from. You can go for a boat ride on the lake or take a funicular ride up a mountain for more panoramic views. Lake Lugano is a good place to go fishing or you could look for fossils on Monte San Giorgio.

7. Lake Trasimeno

Lake Trasimeno

 

Lake Trasimeno in Central Italy has a few things in common with Utah’s Great Salt Lake. Both let water in but not out. Both are saline, though Lake Trasimeno not as much as Salt Lake. This Umbria lake is shallow (about 5 meters or 16 feet deep) and muddy. Hannibal defeated the Roman army here in 217 BC, and the lake’s numerous fortifications attest to its strategic position and turbulent past. A fish festival draws tourists in September who come to see fish cooked in a large frying pan that handles two tons of fish per hour. Farmland, including vineyards and olive groves, surround Lake Trasimeno, giving it a scenic bucolic atmosphere.

6. Lake Bracciano

Lake Bracciano

 

Lake Bracciano is a magnet for water sports enthusiasts. It’s a great place to scuba dive, fish, canoe, wind surf, sunbathe or swim. Sail boats are allowed, but may carry no more than four people. Lake Bracciano is surrounded by a park that also offers a variety of outdoor activities. Because of its proximity to the Italian capital, the lake makes a great day trip from Rome. The lake was formed by volcanic action, with lake waters providing a reservoir for Rome’s drinking water. If you get tired of the outdoors, take a gander through the charming village of Bracciano with its old castle.

5. Lake Iseo

Lake Iseo

 

Northern Italy is a popular place to visit medieval towns, a visit to Lake Iseo can provide a welcome break. Surrounded by vineyards and forest, Lake Iseo is considered a hidden gem among Italian lakes. For one thing, it’s a lot quieter since it’s not on a heavily trod tourist path, though it is just as pretty as its bigger sisters, lakes Como and Garda. Take a boat ride to picturesque Monte Isola, the largest populated island in a southern European lake – no cars allowed, but you can ride a mule to the chapel.

4. Lake Orta

Lake Orta

 

Journalists, from Balzac and Browning to more modern writers, call Lake Orta bewitching and a secret gem among northern Italy’s lakes. The landscape is indeed beautiful, with the Isla San Guilio punctuating it like an exclamation mark. (San Guilio is the patron saint of the region.) The island is perfect for strolling, both leisurely and romantic, over the cobblestone streets. Be sure to visit the 12th century basilica or a colorful market. If it’s serenity you’re seeking, end your search at Lake Orta, a sea of tranquility nestled among the forests and mountains, about an hour’s drive from busy Milan.

3. Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore

 

Lake Maggiore is another lake claimed by two countries, Italy and Switzerland, since it forms a border between them. Italy’s second largest lake (Maggiore translates as “great lake”) is located on the south side of the Alps. It has a Mediterranean climate, making it possible to grow exotic plants. The lake is particularly pretty when blossoms are blooming on the hills. A good place to view this 64-km (40-mile) long lake and its islands is to take the Mottarone cable car up the mountains. You can also take a relaxing cruise on the lake or even bike around it.

2. Lake Garda

Lake Garda

 

Northern Italy’s Lake Garda, which was created by glacial action, is the largest lake in Italy. This picturesque lake, bounded by mountains, is a popular vacation destination. The lake contains several islands, including Isola del Garda where St. Francis of Assisi founded a monastery in 1220. The lake itself has a fjord-like quality; a ferry makes it fun to travel between the towns on the lake. Orange and lemon tree, and olive groves flank its shores, adding a nice scenic touch. The lake is popular with bikers, boaters, wind surfers and those who prefer to roam the quaint island villages.

1. Lake Como 

#1 of Lakes In Italy

If celebrity spotting is your passion, Lake Como is the place to go. Lake Como has been a tourist magnet starting with the Romans, who built the first villas on the lake. Many celebrities have holiday homes along the lake – who knows, perhaps you’ll see George Clooney out with his twins. But if the lake interests you more, you should know it’s one of the deepest in Europe, at 400 meters (1,300 feet). Travelers come here for its landscape, explore Villa Carlotta or take the tasting gelato in the town of Como. Ferry service links the villages along the lake.


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Beyond Rome: 8 Alternative Italian Cities

Tags :

Category : Italy , Visit Europe

When traveling to Italy, there are many great cities to choose from. Everyone knows about Rome, and many have seen its splendors through the eyes of Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Fashion lovers will find the catwalks and shops of Milan to be inspiring. Those who love romance often head for Venice. The architecture lovers head for Florence. But there is much more to Italy than these four famous Italian cities. Here’s a look at some of Italy’s lesser known cities.

8. Turin

Turin

 

A large city of about one million inhabitants, Turin is located in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy, a one-hour drive from the French border and slightly more than that from the Mediterranean. Turin was the first capital of modern Italy, and was the host of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. While it’s not a famous tourist destination like other Italian cities such as Venice or Rome, the setting is pleasant, with the Po River flowing through the city and surrounded by the Italian Alps off in the distance. The center is filled with posh 19th century cafes, arcaded mansions, debonair glittering restaurants, and grand churches.

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Helsinki

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Manchester

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Moscow

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Florence

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Chisinau

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Krakow

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Kiev

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Santiago

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Vladivostok

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TownHouse 70

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-25%

367273

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Hotel Chelsea

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-12%

129114

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San Carlo

-49%

18393

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Hotel Azalea

-7%

7671

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NH Collection Torino Piazza Carlina

★★★★

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Hotel Dogana Vecchia

★★★

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Grand Hotel Sitea

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Principi di Piemonte

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Allegroitalia Golden Palace

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Hotel Dei Pittori

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Artua' & Solferino

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Hotel Roma e Rocca Cavour

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Hotel Alpi Resort

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Hotel Dora

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Hotel Antico Distretto

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Turin Palace Hotel

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Hotel Nizza

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Best Western Plus Hotel Genova

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7. Parma 

Parma

 

One of Italy’s most prosperous cities, Parma has given its name to a ham and cheese and a number of world-famous culinary dishes. The term Parmesan is synonymous with excellent food. Though tourists may come to eat, they will stay for the sights as well. Highlights include the Museo Glauco Lombardi, Piazza Duomo, and world famous opera house, Teatro Regio. An annual Verdi festival celebrates the operas created by one of Parma’s most famous residents. The Palazzo Della Pallota is one of the region’s finest, and is named after the sixteenth-century game of Pelota. The city is easy to reach, and is only an hour ride from Bologna.

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Eilat

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Cagliari

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Budapest

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London

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Berlin

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Brindisi

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Catania

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Dusseldorf

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Nuremberg

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Valencia

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Madrid

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Barcelona

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Krakow

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Sofia

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Porto

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Edinburgh

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Munich

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Riga

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Stockholm

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Moscow

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Dublin

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Luxembourg

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Brussels

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Lviv

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Kharkiv

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Odessa

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Helsinki

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BAK

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Agadir

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6. Rimini 

Rimini

 

Though most people come to Rimini to enjoy the modern beach resort town, this is one of Italy’s oldest settlements, with confirmed evidence of prehistoric inhabitants. Besides the beaches Rimini also offers fabulous food. Roman Emperors share the name with many of the sightseeing highlights here, such as the Tiberius bridge and Augustus Arch. Most people miss an old town here, however, and spend their days on the sand beaches along the coast.

 

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Origin Departure date Return date Find Ticket

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Krasnodar

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Ekaterinburg

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Ufa

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Kazan

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Omsk

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Samara

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Perm

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Minsk

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Yerevan

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Belgrade

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Riga

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Vilnius

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Krakow

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Hotel Memory

★★★

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6454

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Hotel Bengasi

★★★

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4827

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Hotel Villa Caterina

★★★

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2724

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Hotel Alibi

★★★

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3121

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Hotel Happy

★★★

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2724

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Hotel Sovrana

★★★★

-6%

4240

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Hotel Jolie

★★★

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4527

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Hotel Rosabianca

★★★★

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6243

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Hotel Luxor

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8169

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Hotel Villa Luigia

★★★

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7664

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Erbavoglio Hotel

★★★★

-7%

9083

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Hotel Britannia

★★★

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3230

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Hotel President

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10995

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Hotel King

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5145

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National Hotel

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126109

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Hotel Corallo Rimini

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6257

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4035

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4538

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Hotel La Gradisca

★★★★

-10%

3330

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Hotel Kennedy

★★★

-10%

8980

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5. Mantua

Mantua

 

Mantua (Mantova) is a city in Lombardy, situated between Milan and Venice. Because of the power and influence of Gonzaga’s dynasty, which used to own the city for over 400 years, Mantua was one of the most important cultural cities in the Renaissance and it still maintains a lot of the buildings that made it famous during that period. It was also the city where the composer Claudio Monteverdi premiered his opera L’Orfeo in 1607, the earliest surviving opera that is still regularly performed today.

 

4. Trieste

Trieste

 

Located on the Adriatic and almost entirely surrounded by Slovenia, Trieste is a city that is both geographically and historically isolated from the rest of the Italian peninsula. From the 1300s, Trieste has faced east, becoming a free port under Austrian rule and became prosperous under the 18th- and 19th-century Habsburgs. Today, Trieste is often forgotten by tourists coming to Italy but it is a very charming city, with a quiet, almost Eastern European atmosphere, several cafes, some stunning architecture and a beautiful sea view.

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Origin Departure date Return date Find Ticket

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03.12.2017

13.12.2017

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Barcelona

27.02.2018

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Saint Petersburg

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Moscow

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Kiev

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Manchester

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Seville

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Cagliari

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Vilnius

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Syktyvkar

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3. Ragusa 

Ragusa

Ragusa was a single city until a large earthquake in the late seventeenth century destroyed most of the town. When it came time to rebuild, the two main socioeconomic groups split, with the nobles staying in the old town location, known as Ragusa Ibla and the working class moved to a new place, known as Ragusa Superior. A beautiful arched bridge, known as Ponte Vecchio, spans the river dividing these two portions of Ragusa. Today Ragusa Ibla is a spectacular mix of narrow streets, steep winding steps, old churches, and fantastic views.

2. Perugia 

Perugia

 

The Umbrian city of Perugia is known for many things, including a prestigious university, chocolate-making, medieval art, and a jazz festival. An underground tour in the old town offers a chance to explore tunnels that were once a part of Perugia’s fortress walls. Architecture buffs can marvel at the 3rd Century BC Etruscan gate, called Porta Marzia. The Medieval Fontana Maggiore, created as a piece to celebrate the town’s independence, has an interesting combination of art images including biblical scenes, the zodiac, prophets and saints.

1. Urbino

#1 of Italian Cities

 

For those who want to see real-live Cinderella castles, Urbino is a must-see city in the region of Le Marche. The Duke of Urbino, a scholar and military man of the fifteenth century, was the commissioner of the Palazzo Ducale, one of the largest examples of renaissance-style castles in Italy. It was changed into a palace later on. Urbino is mainly known for this landmark, but the narrow, hilly medieval streets lead to a picturesque town that is worth seeing in its own right.


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8 Most Beautiful Churches in Rome

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Category : Italy , Rome

Rome, the eternal city, also is eternally Catholic. It is home to the pope, though technically the head of the church resides in Vatican City, which is a tiny, separate country surrounded by Rome. Travelers, however, don’t need to be Catholic to admire the fabulous art and architecture these centuries-old churches contain. Attending mass at one of these churches in Rome can be both a cultural experience for non-Catholics and a religious experience for Catholics and will provide a new perspective on what makes Rome tick.

8. Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo

Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo

 

Of all the churches in Rome, the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is said to contain the best examples of works by Renaissance artists, including Raphael, Bernini and Caravaggio. The church was constructed in 1099 to combat residents’ beliefs that the ghost of Nero was haunting the area near the north gate to Rome because evil-looking crows lived in a tree; the tree was chopped down and the church built. The church has several chapels, all of which contain work by leading artists of the day.

7. Santa Maria in Trastevere

Santa Maria in Trastevere

 

Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches in Rome, with most historians believing it was first built about 350. The church has impressive mosaics from the 12th and 13th centuries; it has been enlarged and restored over the years. The church was destroyed when Rome was sacked in 410, but was rebuilt. The head of St. Apolonia is kept as a relic as is a section of the Holy Sponge. One legend associated with the church is that oil flowed from the earth the day Christ was born; Santa Maria in Trastevere was later built on that site.

6. Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

 

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, a church operated by the Dominicans, stands on the site that was once a temple to the Egyptian goddess Isis, though at the time it was thought to be to the Greco-Roman goddess Minerva. Built in 1370, it is located about a block from the Pantheon. Considered a minor basilica, the church is said to be the only remaining example of an original Gothic church in Rome. It contains a statue by Michelangelo as well as impressive 15th century frescoes.

5. Pantheon

Pantheon

 

The Pantheon is one of the few major religious structures in Rome that didn’t start out as a Catholic church. This most influential building in ancient Rome was, instead, a temple to Rome’s pagan gods. It was built by the Emperor Hadrian about 118 to replace a pantheon that was destroyed by fire in 80. It turned into a Catholic church in the early 7th century. The Pantheon is most noticed for its architecture, especially the dome that is supported by arches. Two kings and Raphael, a Renaissance artist, are buried here.

4. Basilica of San Clemente

Basilica of San Clemente

 

The Basilica of San Clemente is named after St. Clement, who was the third pope after St. Peter. Located just a few blocks from the Coliseum, the present church is built over four layers of buildings, including other churches, beginning with a Christian home that was destroyed in 64 during a fire most closely associated with the Emperor Nero. At one time, the church was a pagan temple; it also has been both an Augustinian and Dominican facility, and today is operated by Irish Dominicans. The church is noted for its fabulous frescoes and mosaics.

3. San Giovanni in Laterano

San Giovanni in Laterano

 

San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran) is one of four major basilicas in Rome. Dedicated to John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, it is the home cathedral for both the archbishop of Rome and the pope. It is known as “the cathedral of Rome and of the world.’ It is believed to be the first Catholic church built in Rome. Its exterior doesn’t seem as ornate as other churches, but step inside, and wow! It is very ornate, with wall decorations, columns, mosaics and paintings; even the candlesticks bear images of the prophets.

2. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

 

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major) is considered one of the most important Catholic churches in Rome, which is to say, a crown jewel. The church contains an impressive array of artifacts and art that represent Rome’s Christian art civilization. Pilgrims from throughout the world come here to pay homage to the basilica, where every stained glass window, column or fresco has a religious history. Travelers who are in Rome on August 5 may want to attend the Miracle of the Snows celebration when thousands of white petals are dropped from the ceiling.

1. St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica

 

It may not be the oldest Catholic church in Rome, but St. Peter’s Basilica is definitely the most famous, perhaps in all the world. The basilica is built on the site where the first pope, St. Peter, is believed to have been crucified. The present basilica took more than 150 years to build, but the wait was worth it. Works by such famous Renaissance artists as Michelangelo, who also designed the dome, can be found throughout its ornate interior. The basilica and its associated chapels and museums are to be savored, not rushed through in a blur.


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10 Best Places to Visit in Sicily

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Category : Italy , Sicily

The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily lies at the toe of Italy’s “boot,” separated from the mainland by the narrow Strait of Messina. Home to Europe’s tallest active volcano, Sicily is a mountainous island with rugged landscapes tamed by centuries of cultivation and deforestation. The range of cultures that have dominated the island over its long history have left their mark as well, and while rumbling Mount Etna remains a strong tourist draw, many visitors come to Sicily to explore its diverse array of archeological wonders. The outlying Aeolian Islands are also popular places to visit in Sicily. With its unique cuisine, temperate climate and sandy beaches, a vacation in sunny Sicily is always memorable.

10. Monreale

Monreale

 

Monreale is a small town located near the city of Palermo, the capital of Sicily. The city sits atop a hill overlooking the Golden Shell, a valley known for its olive, orange and almond trees. The city’s star attraction, however, is the magnificent Cathedral of Monreale, a stunning example of Norman architecture. Although the church has a rather unimpressive façade, the interiors are breathtaking. The Italian cloisters are famed for both their size and incredible detail, but it’s the mosaics covering the walls that make this cathedral so special. Almost every square inch of the interiors gleams spectacular mosaic images set against a gold background.

9. Erice 

Erice
Situated on the summit of Mount Erice, the town of Erice overlooks the city of Trapani nearly a half mile below, making a visit to Erice worthwhile for the views alone. Reached by cable cars from Trapani, the historic city also offers visitors to Sicily a break from the hot summer sun as temperatures tend to be cool and crisp here year round. The town’s main attractions are two medieval castles, one built by Arabs, the other by Britons. The Norman castle was built atop an ancient Temple of Venus.

8. Doric Temple of Segesta

Doric Temple of Segesta

 

Located in the northwestern part of Sicily, Segesta was one of the major cities of the Elymians, an indigenous population of Sicily who also founded Erice. The Doric temple that lies just outside the ancient site is well preserved. It was built in the late 5th century BC and has 6×14 Doric columns. Several things suggest that the temple was never actually finished. The Doric columns have not been fluted as they normally would have been and the temple also seems to have lacked a roof over the main chamber. The setting of the Temple, perched on a hill, is simply beautiful with views that stretch right down to the sea.

7. Villa Romana del Casale

Villa Romana del Casale
Located on the outskirts of the town of Piazza Armerina in southern central Sicily, th e Villa Romana del Casale is one of the island’s must-see attractions. The 4th-century Roman villa features one of the largest and best-preserved collections of ancient mosaics in the world. Each of the main rooms in the villa has a mosaic floor decorated in a specific theme, including a hedonistic mosaic in the main bedroom. The mosaic depicting the Olympic games is the most famous as it features the first image of women wearing what are known today as bikinis.

6. Syracuse

Syracuse

 

Also known as Siracusa, Syracuse was once considered the most important city of the ancient Western world. The 2,700-year-old city is mentioned in the Bible, in the writings of Cicero and in the myths and legends of many civilizations. The oldest part of Syracuse is situated offshore on the island of Ortiga and is filled with historic temples, churches and important archeological sites, including a necropolis that dates back from 1270 B.C. Theatrical productions are still staged at the 5th-centry Greek Theatre, which boasts one of the largest seating areas ever built by the ancient Greeks.

5. Palermo 

Palermo

 

Sicily’s bustling capital city, Palermo has a history that dates back 2,700 years. Founded by the Phoenicians, the city reached its cultural peak during its Arab occupation when Palermo was called the “city of delights” for its beautiful gardens and architecture. Today, the city is known more for its boisterous street markets than for its cultural attractions, although there are first-class museums and historic churches in Palermo well worth exploring. The top attraction is the Catacombe dei Cappuccini, an underground maze of open crypts beneath the Capuchin monastery. Some of the 8,000 mummified human remains are extraordinarily well-preserved but creepy.

4. Aeolian Islands

Aeolian Islands

 

Located off the northern shore of Sicily, the Aeolian Islands attract around 200,000 visitors each year. The seven islands that make up the archipelago are the result of volcanic and seismic activity, and climbing the active volcanoes on the islands of Stomboli and Vulcano attract adventurous travelers from around the world. Most visitors, however, come to the Aeolians for their picturesque white-washed villages and luxury resorts. With steaming fumaroles located on most of the isles, relaxing in a percolating pool of mud or lazing in bubbling thermal waters are popular activities as well.

3. Taormina

Taormina

 

Perched on a cliff near Mount Etna on the island’s eastern shoreline, Taormina has long been a popular place to visit in Sicily. Well-heeled travelers have been including the resort town on their itineraries since the 19th century. There are scenic beaches near the city to enjoy too, and as they’re only accessible by an aerial tramway, traveling to them is half the fun. The Teatro Greco is Taormina’s most popular attraction. While the architecture of the amphitheater is Roman, its layout indicates that it was built upon an older Greek theater. Although the original seats have been replaced, much of the 2nd-century theater remains intact.

2. Mount Etna

Mount Etna

 

One of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mount Etna stands around 3,300 meters (11,000 feet) tall, towering over the east coast of Sicily. Most of the volcano’s eruptions occur at the summit, continually adding to or subtracting from the mountain’s height. During the winter, visitors come to Etna to ski on its snowy slopes. In warm-weather months, adventurous travelers make their way to Rifugio Sapienza, a popular departure point for climbs up the mountain. Accessible by private car, the ski station Piano Provenzana on Etna’s less active northern slopes has tour operators who drive visitors up to the Volcanic Observatory station or up to the main crater.

1. Valley of the Temples

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Sicily

 

The city of Agrigento on the southern coast of Sicily was a city of great importance in Ancient Greece, and it’s the archaeological remnants of its gloried past that make the town a popular travel destination. Just outside the city lies the Valley of the Temples where a series of 5th-century Doric temples stand on a ridge facing the sea. Of these, the temples attributed to the goddesses Concordia and Juno Lacinia in the eastern section are the best-preserved. The western section features the unfinished Temple of Zeus, the largest Doric temple ever unearthed.


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10 Most Beautiful Italian Islands

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Category : Europe , Italy

Most people think of the boot-shaped mainland when considering vacation destinations in Italy, but there are more than 80 picturesque islands within Italy’s borders to explore and enjoy as well. From the 17 islands that make up the city of Venice to the beautiful Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily, Italy’s islands are as diverse in landscape, culture and climate as the nation’s mainland. Whether in search of Italy’s rich past or on the hunt for a beach with powder-soft sand and clear water, Italian islands have something special to offer every visitor looking for a taste of la dolce vita.

10. Procida

Procida

 

The smallest of the three most popular islands in the Bay of Naples, Procida doesn’t have the same number of attractions as Capri and Ishia, but it’s also far less crowded than its larger neighbors. It’s the ideal destination for those seeking a laid-back seaside vacation. Towns like the main port Marina Grande and Chiaiolella have basic accommodations, restaurants serve simple meals of fresh fish or rabbit and sandy beaches offer sunbathing and swimming. The Church of San Michele, with its painted domes depicting Saint Michael battling invasive Turks, offers a break from the sun as well as a glimpse of Procida’s history.

Where to stay?

9. Panarea 

Panarea

 

The smallest of the Aeolian Islands located north of Sicily, Panarea is the darling of celebrities and jet-setters from all over the world. With a population of around 200, the largely undeveloped island has only a few hotels and rentals, which helps keep the island free of summer crowds. There are no cars on Panarea; locals and tourists motor about on golf carts and electric-powered bikes. Most food is imported and expensive. In the evening, lamps and lanterns light up the night. Upscale visitors come to Panarea to swim, dive and sunbathe in privacy and to enjoy lazy strolls through the island’s postcard-perfect villages.

Where to stay?

8. Ischia

Ischia

 

Ischia is the largest of the islands that dot the Bay of Naples on Italy’s western coast. Sandy beaches and natural hot springs make the island a popular travel destination for weekend getaways for residents of Naples and for packaged European tours. Most of the island is mountainous, dominated by the 789 meter (2,589 foot) tall volcanic Mount Epomeo. Ischia has many attractions worth visiting, including the Giardini Ravino, a botanical garden located at Forio d’Ischia known for its extensive collection of cacti and succulents, the Castello Aragonese, a medieval castle built by Alfonso D’Aragnona, and the Guervera Tower, a 15th century fortress that’s become a symbol for the island.

Where to stay?

7. La Maddalena

La Maddalena

 

Located off the northeast coast of the island of Sardinia, La Maddalena is the largest isle in the La Maddalena Archipelago. Linked to its neighboring island of Caprera by a long causeway, the island can be reached by boat or by the ferries that run from Sardinia throughout the day and night. The pink-toned granite rock quarried near the town of La Maddalena, some of which was used in the construction of the Statue of Liberty, makes the village glow at sunset. The town is known for its smoldering nightlife too. A road circling the island brings visitors to La Maddalena’s most popular beaches, Bassa Trinita and Spalmatore, and passes by several abandoned military forts.

Where to stay?

6. Lampedusa

Lampedusa

 

Located closer to Tunisia than it is to Italy, Lampedusa is home to one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Rabbit Beach. Situated on an islet on Lampedusa’s southern coast, the heart-shaped beach can be reached by wading through the crystal-clear shallows. The protected island is one of the few spots in the Mediterranean where loggerhead sea turtles can safely lay their eggs. Conditions for snorkeling and diving are ideal on Lampedusa, and a tour by boat is the best way to find the perfect undersea location. One popular diving spot is around the submerged statue of Madonna del Mare where divers can encounter octopus, groupers and sargo fish.

Where to stay?

5. Lipari

Lipari

 

Lipari is the largest of the seven volcanic isles that make up the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily. Once famed for the black obsidian pulled from its volcanic earth, Lipari is best known today for its rugged landscape, pretty white-washed towns and crystal-clear blue water. Snorkeling, diving, boating and hiking are favorite activities on this scenic isle. Of the island’s tourist destinations, the Aeolian Archaeological Museum is a must-see attraction. The museum houses an amazing collection of artifacts from the nearby Contrada Diana necropolis, including thousands of sarcophagi perfectly preserved by volcanic ash from ancient eruptions.

Where to stay?

4. Elba

Elba

 

Part of the Tuscan Archipelago off Italy’s western coast, Elba is best known as a place of exile for Napoleon, and most people include a visit to his summer and winter homes while visiting the island. Italy’s third largest island boasts more than 150 beaches too, from wide stretches of sand to sheltered coves. The most popular beach destinations include the resort of Marina di Campo, the ultra-fine sand of Procchio and the dreamy blue waters of Fetovia. Hikes in the mountainous inland area are favorite activities too. Visitors have been known to come across gemstones, quartz and crystals on the slopes of mineral-rich Mount Capanne.

Where to stay?

3. Capri

Capri

 

Located in the Bay of Naples, Capri is an island rich in mythology and history. Sirens were said to have lured sailors to their death here with their sultry songs. The Roman emperor Tiberius lived here until his death in 37 A.D. Villa Jovis, the emperor’s imperial residence, is one of the island’s most popular attractions. Capri’s most famous natural attraction is the Blue Grotto, a waterfront cave that’s accessible by boat when the tide is right. The sunlight pouring in from the entrance turns the water a glowing turquoise blue. Riding the Seggiovia chair-lift in the city of Anacapri to the summit of Monte Solaro is a favorite activity too. The 15-minute trip offers spectacular views of the island and sea.

Where to stay?

2. Sardinia

Sardinia

 

Anchored between the Italian peninsula and North Africa’s coastline, Sardinia has been home to a succession of civilizations, many of which have left their mark on the second largest island in Italy. From stone structures built by the people known as nuraghi 3,000 years ago to medieval castles and churches, visitors interested in history, architecture and culture won’t be disappointed. Most travelers, however, come to Sardinia for its sunny and clean beaches, the most popular of which are in Costa Smeralda in the northeast region. Hiking, climbing and camping are favorite activities for visitors who want to escape crowded beaches and explore the island’s hilly inlands.

Where to stay?

1. Sicily

#1 of Italian Islands

 

The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is an autonomous region of Italy that also includes several islands and archipelagos. Sicily is separated from the mainland by the two-mile-wide Strait of Messina and is reached by boat, plane, hydrofoil or ferry. The island’s most striking geological feature is Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano, but the island’s beaches, seaside resorts and sunny, dry climate are Sicily’s biggest tourist attractions.

Where to stay?

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15 Breathtaking Places to Visit in Italy

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Category : Italy , Visit Europe

Italy is a gorgeous country with a long history, is rich in culture, fine food, and very open and friendly people. It should be on every bucket list for the beauty, arts, history, and cuisine it offers.  Italian food is absolutely delicious, and nobody does it like the Italians. 

It’s impossible to list all of the famous people that Italy has given us. There’s Christopher Columbus, Leonardo da Vinci, Florence Nightingale, Galileo, Sophia Loren, and that’s just to name a few. She offers you everything from extraordinary castles to stunning gardens and everything in between. This is a list of some of the most amazing places that Italy has to offer.

italy

1. Grotte di Castellana is one of the most magnificent caves on the entire planet and is based in the town of Puglia. They say it was over 90,000,000,000 years in the past that the cave began to form. You’ll be taken to that “make-believe” land inside this cave.

2. Castel Savoia is located at the foot of Ranzola Hill.This castle was Queen Margherita’s residence in the nineteenth century. The building has five towers, and a rich rock garden with different types of botanical species and rare, scented herbs.

3. Isola di Loreto is a castle sitting smack dab in the middle of Lake Iseo and is owned privately. This Gothic castle was built in 1910 by Vincenzo Richeri, a captain in the Royal Navy.  He surrounded the entire castle with gardens of fir trees and a marina. The castle, walls, and towers are made of stones, and the entire castle sits on a rock overlooking the lake. The only way to get there is by ferry. 

4. Cascate del Varone means Niagara Varone in English and is another stunning waterfall. The view is absolutely breathtaking with the thundering waterfall falling through the luxuriant green mountains.

5. Civita di Bagnoregio is a small village in the province of Viterbo, Lazio and is eminently known as Italia’s “Jewel on the Hill.”  It’s over 2,500 years old and sits atop a hill surrounded by other hills. This magical town is fairly isolated but sees a lot of summer tourists.

6. Castello di Petroia is now a hotel bought in 1909 by David Sagrini and managed by the family.  It was a formally a castle and was built during the Middle Ages close to Gubbio, Umbria.  It’s well worth spending one night here.

7. Cascate delle Marmore is a picture painted by nature and sits amid Terni, Umbria. This mystical painting consists of green grassy meadows, thick forests, and deep gorges, overflowing streams, and roaring waterfalls. There have been artists and poets seeking inspiration in this unbelievable place.

8. Isola Bellawhich means Beautiful Island, is in northern Italy in Lago Maggiore. A beautiful Borromeo Villa takes up the entire island along with its lush Italian gardens.  The gardens feature extremely rare plants and colorful flowers. Throughout the villa are priceless artworks. 

isola-bella

9. Ponte del Diavolo is known as The Bridge of the Devil associating it with folktales and myths.  It’s located in Tuscany and was built for Countess Mathilda of Canossa between1000-1600 AD. 

10. Erice Castle is also called the Castle of Venus which was dedicated by the Normans to Venus, the goddess. It stands upon Mount San Giuliano in Trapani, Sicily. This fortress was built in the 12th-Century and features two towers. It’s known to be one of the most treasured fortresses in all of the time.  

11. Ca’Sagredo Hotel is located right in Venice, which is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  This is considered a grand hotel and dates back to the 15th-Century. The hotel is recognized as a masterpiece of Venice.

12. Lago di Como is in Lombardy and is the third largest lake in Italy. There are magnificent villas and palaces surrounding the lake, and many artists get their inspiration here. The glamor of this lake and its surroundings is stunning.

13. Bosco Monumentale del Sasseto is located in the Lazio region. It sits at the base of the Tower Alfina castle. This forest is bursting with stately trees and trails going between rocks and huge boulders. Here there are birds singing, strangely twisted branches, little wildflowers, moss, and wild ferns. It truly is an enchanted forest.

14. Venice, built on the water, is one of Italy’s most legendary cities. And, it’s famous for being one of the most romantic cities in the world. The romance begins with a ride in a gondola and continues with an espresso in one of their cafes. In the center of the city, there’s the Plazzo San Marco. Here are more artistic masterpieces per square km than anywhere else in the world. 

visit-venice

15. Verona is a lovely city made famous by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It’s Roman Arena is Italy’s third largest. The coastline here has five medieval villages that are brilliantly colored and are clinging to the cliffs.


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Eat like a Local in Rome

Category : Italy , Visit Europe

From your morning coffee all the way to gelato for dessert, you’ll have to try these amazing places just like the Romans. Check out this list so you can learn where the hot spots are to eat like a local in Rome!

Morning Coffee: Caffè Sant’Eustachio 

This place is perfect for any type of coffee lover. Whether you want a café normale (espresso) or a refreshing granita, this is the best place to go. Located around the corner from the Pantheon, this café has been in business for more than 70 years. It’s run by brothers Raimondo and Roberto Ricci, who hand pick the organic coffee beans.

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Lunch: La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali

Regulars here will tell you to always ask about the day’s specials for delicacies like homemade pasta with white-truffle ragu. If you’re not into the daily specials, they also serve reasonably priced, classic dishes such as gnocchi. This neighborhood favorite is conveniently located near the Forum and Colosseum, so head here for lunch after you’re done sightseeing!

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Pasta: Roma Sparita

This restaurant overlooks one of Trastevere’s pretty piazzas, and is always packed with Romans. Most tourists have not discovered it yet, making its name very appropriate. Its name “Roma Sparita” used to be a nickname for all of Trastevere meaning “disappeared” or “undiscovered” Rome. Roma Sparita serves delicious fritti, meat & fish, and pizza. However, it’s most famous for its traditional Roman dish of cacio e pepe, which is pasta with pecorino romano sheep cheese and black pepper.

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Pizza: Formula Uno

Of course, you can get delicious pizza at basically any pizzeria in Rome. However, you must go to San Lorenzo’s Formula Uno to eat top-notch pizza without other tourists crowding the restaurant. At Formula Uno, the crust is thin and crispy and the prices are excellent!

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Cucina Roma: Il Pommidoro

Located in San Lorenzo, Il Pommidoro has been run by the same family since it opened in 1926! They serve real Roman food, such as pasta carbonara for just €8. You won’t find such hearty local dishes anywhere else. Il Pommidoro is the place to go if you’re looking to try authentic cucina Roma.

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Gelato: Ciampini

Located halfway between Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps, Ciampini has tons of gelato flavors, from the classic ones to the exotic ones. Try rich dark chocolate, chestnut, and even peach-and-pinenut!

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The TOP 10 things to do in Florence, Italy

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Category : Italy , Visit Europe

Is there more magical and romantic piece on Earth than Tuscany? This part of Italy is definitely one of the places you need to visit. The capital of this Italian region is Florence. Famously dubbed as ” the Athens of Italy” because of its cultural and artistic importance to the country. The name, Florence, was given by Julius Ceasar and it means “the city of flowers”. This city is settled by the river Arno and spreads all the way to the Tyrrhenian sea. The heart of Tuscany, Firenza, is the city of wine, cheese, art and beautiful sunsets.

Remember the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”? Since I first saw this movie, I started dreaming of Florence. I imagined it sunny, warm and friendly, with amazing tastes and aromas. “I eat a hot grape from the market, and the violet sweetness breaks open in my mouth. It even smells purple.” That Diane Lane’s famous line from the movie was on my mind when I was driving through Tuscany. It really smelled purple. When I visited this glorious city, I realized I’m living my dream and that Tuscany is all I was dreaming about.

There are so many things to do in Florence starting from visiting famous art galleries and famous royal palaces, till the amazing food and wines you are going to taste here. There are some moments that you need to feel during your stay in Florence, like listening to Italian language spoken by real Italians, watching people on the streets trying to learn how to live like them, watch the sunset on Piazzale Michelangelo and spending the evening with your friends by the Arno river under the Ponte Vecchio.

These are just some basic things to do and see in Tuscany, and if you love art, wine, and delicious food, Florence is one of the top places to visit in Europe and one the most important historical destinations in Europe.

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence Italy

GALLERIA DEGLI UFFIZI

One of the places you need to see in Florence is Galleria Degli Uffizi, one of oldest and the most prestigious art museums in the world. Besides Galleria Degli Uffizi, another important gallery and museum are Galleria dell’Accademia. If you are planning to visit one of these galleries, book your tickets in advance. Otherwise, you will be standing in the row for a long, long time, especially during the spring and summer season and on weekends. Florence is the best city in Europe when it comes to art and art galleries. Here you can see paintings and sculptures by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Goya, Rubens, Velázquez, Rembrandt, El Greco and the other great masters.

TIP: You can skip the line at the Uffizi if you purchase the ticket before hand so you don’t have to wait for long. There are so many things to see in Florence after all!

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence Italy

VISIT PIAZZA DELLA SIGNORIA

If you are traveling as a part of a group or even when you are your own travel guide, the square is one of the first places you are going to visit. Piazza Della Signoria and the whole historical center of the city is under the protection of UNESCO. When you enter into the L-shaped square you will feel like you have entered into the museum. Where ever you look around you will see masterpieces of Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Francisco Goya, Diego Velazquez, Rembrandt, El Greco. On the Piazza del Signoria, around the Neptune’s fountain, there are numerous statues and pieces of art that together make the Loggia Dei Lanzi, adjoining the world famous Uffizi Gallery.

The main building in the square is Palazzo Vecchio. This palace was the home to Florentine rules and today it is the city hall. During the history, this building had changed its name many times – Palazzo del Popolo ( People’s Palace), Palazzo Dei Priori( Prior’s Palace), Palazzo Ducale ( Duke’s Palace). Today’s name, Palazzo Vecchio was given after the Medici family moved to their new palace, Palazzo Pitti, by the river Arno.

While you are enjoying the surroundings and the beauty of Palazzo Vecchio, you think you are looking at the best of Florence. But your adventure is just starting. Take a moment and enjoy listening to Italian music, practice it and live the moment. This square is always full of people, walking and enjoying the scenery.

ENJOY TUSCAN FOOD AND TAKE A COOKING CLASS!

Italy is one of the best travel destinations in the world when it comes to food. There are so many different dishes you need to taste. There are numerous variations of pizza, pasta, and lasagna that every tourist need to try. The most famous dishes of this region are Schiacciata, Cantucci, Zuppa di Fagioli, Panzanella, gelato, Ribollita, Pappardelle with cinghiale sauce, Olive Oil, Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, Lampredotto and so on!

I have always dreamt of learning how to cook like real Italian woman. Is there a better way to do it than taking a cooking class at the Tuscan farm or household. If you decide to take this class, you will be learning from Italian grandmas, the world greatest chefs and using the ingredients that are coming from the local market or from the gardens of the farm. After all, spending some time learning how to cook, eating amazing food and meeting new people is the best way to spend a pleasant afternoon in Tuscany.

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence Italy

GO TO A LOCAL MARKET

Going to a local market is the most amazing and fun thing you need to do during your travels. When you are planning your trip and thinking what to visit in Florence, do not forget to add Mercato Nuovo to your list. This market is also known as Loggia del’ Porcellino, because of a copy of a bronze wild boar by Pietro Tacca originally made in the sixteenth century. Why is this statue so important? Well, there is a popular tradition that rubbing the nose of it will bring you the fortune and you will come back to Florence. Another thing you need to do after rubbing the nose is to put a coin in the mouth of the boar and make a wish. If your coin tumbles through the grate whence the water flows, your wish will come true. The original of this statue you can find at Palazzo Pitti.

Besides doing this superstitious thing, here you can buy all sorts of goods, like clothing, shoes, jewelry, bags, food, fruit etc. This is the new market in the city and the old one, Mercato Vecchio, was located at today’s location of Piazza Della Republica.

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence Italy

VISIT DUOMO CATHEDRAL

Another thing you need to do or places to see in Florence is Duomo Cathedral. Florentine cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore or simply, Duomo – an absolute architectural masterpiece. The name “Duomo” comes from Latin expression “Duomos Dei”which means “the house of God”. Santa Maria del Fiore is the fifth largest cathedral in Europe, with the length of 153 meters. The construction began in 1296, but considering that building of the dome was so complex and hard to build, the cathedral was finally finished 173 years later, in 1436.

Duomo is one of the greatest tourist attractions and one of the most amazing places to visit in Europe. The fact that you are standing in front of the 800 years old building takes your breath away. Just imagine the scene of its constructions and think for a moment that this building is here in front of you today.

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence Italy

TAKE A WALK ALONG THE PONTE VECCHIO

When you think of Tuscany and what to see in Florence, the first place you think of is Ponto Vecchio. This bridge is one of the most photographed and one of the most picturesque places in Europe. The old bridge” was built in 1345, on the narrowest point of Arno river. If you decide to take a walk along this bridge you will have the opportunity to visit numerous shops here. It is considered that these shops were here since the bridge was constructed. The reason why so many shops are located here is very simple. If the shops were on the river, on “no man’s land”, the owners didn’t have to pay the taxes to the city and government. Today, here you can find shops owned by jewelers, art dealers, and souvenir sellers.

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence Italy

VISIT THE CHIANTI REGION

If you are wondering what is the best place to visit in Italy to taste the best wine in the world, visit the world famous region in Tuscany, the Chianti. You have probably heard of Chianti wine. Well, this is the place where it is made. Spend a day or maybe a week on the Tuscan estate, in vineyards, picking grapes and making wine in a traditional way. At the end of the day, take a glass of Chianti wine and enjoy the sunset. This region of Tuscany is the perfect choice for a holiday and romantic destinations in Europe.

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence Italy

VISIT PALAZZO PITTI

This enormous Renaissance palace is one of the best places to visit in Italy if you are history and art fun. The palace was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi or his student Luca Fancelli for the powerful and ambitious Florentine banker, Luca Pitti. He wanted to build a palace that will be more beautiful, bigger that the palace where lived the ruling family of Florence, the Medici family. He died in 1472 before the construction of the building was finished. In 1539, Medici family bought this palace. Since then, this palace was the residence of the Great Duke of Florence and Medici family.

This palace is located on the south side of the Arno river, near to Ponte Vecchio. Today, this is a huge art gallery that consists of 7 museums. There are 140 rooms open for visitors. Besides Uffizi Gallery and Galleria Della Accademia, here you can also see the masterpieces of the great artist like Titian, Raphael, and Rubens.

GO CYCLING AND EXPLORE THE CITY

Florence is not the big city. It plays an important part in the historic, artistic and cultural center of Italy, but the city is not that big itself. So, one of the best things to do in Florence, if you want to explore the city and see all these cute little streets is rent a bike! Renting bicycles in Florence is not that expensive and it is one of the best ways to explore the entire city, especially during spring and summer. This is also perhaps a cheaper alternative to travel around the area and see the best of the city on your own!

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence Italy

VISIT THE BASILICA DI SANTA CROCE

The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church in Florence and the biggest one in the world. This building is the pride of the city. Here are buried some of the most important Italians of all time, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, composer Rossini.

This basilica is also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell’Itale Glorie). Because of this, Basilica di Santa Croce is one of the most historically important and one of the best places to visit in Europe.

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence Italy

WATCH THE SUNSET AT PIAZZALE MICHELANGELO

For the end of the day spent in Florence, take a walk to Piazzale Michelangelo. On your way to this panorama point, you will enjoy the beautiful scenery full of Tuscan villas and vineyards. When you get to the Piazzale Michelangelo, you will be amazed. The view from here is one of the best in the world! You will see the whole city of Florence embraced by the red sky. If you are wondering what to see in Europe? This view is one of the things you need to! You will always remember that evening you spent watching the sunset and drinking wine with your friends.

Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There are so many things to do in Florence, art galleries and museums to visit and delicious dishes to taste. Millions of people come to Italy every year knowing exactly what they want to see in Italy. But what can you see in Florence? Well, this list consists of places to visit and things to do in this Italian city. These are just some of the amazing thing you can experience during your stay here. Florence is a perfect travel destination for a romantic or weekend getaway in Europe.


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Naturally Italy

Category : Europe , Italy

Do what locals do in Italy on a perfectly planned guided tour with Globus

From the vibrant Amalfi Coast to the verdant rolling hills of Tuscany, Italy’s diverse terrain encompasses medieval villages, lush forests, and breathtaking seascapes, all offering astounding opportunities like active exploration and peaceful respites. The remote sceneries of this country offer incredible diversity and a beauty that will take your breath away. Let us arrange your ideal Italy vacation with Globus, where guided tours allow you to explore these scenic landscapes with ease.

Capri

Capri has long been one of Europe’s most beloved escapes, appealing to Roman emperors and the glitterati alike. You’ll feel like a celebrity when you journey to the island by boat or helicopter, taking in the limestone sea stacks dominating the landscape. Travel by boat through the three-foot-high cave mouth into the spectacular Blue Grotto, a stunning display of sapphire-hued water surrounded by stone walls.

Travel Tip: We recommend taking a chair lift up Monte Solaro for sweeping views of the Faraglioni rock formations that jut out of the sea. Or, for another easy form of transportation, take the funicular from the Marina Grande to the center of Capri, climbing uphill past fragrant lemon groves.

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Bassano del Grappa

The dramatic Dolomites mountain range, with its jagged peaks and green valleys, leads you to the picturesque town of Bassano del Grappa. As you cross the River Brenta via the city’s red-tiled covered bridge — designed in 1569 by architect Andrea Palladio — you’ll enter Veneto-style arcaded streets that open to piazzas encircled by churches, shops and cafés.

Tasty Tip: Sit down to a feast of local specialties like white asparagus pesto paired with grappa, a strong liqueur first produced in the area.

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Tuscany

Tuscany’s medieval towns captivate with panoramic views of rolling hills, streets reminiscent of a Renaissance painting and ancient churches and squares. Here, perched atop one of the region’s spectacular hills, you’ll discover the area’s winemaking history as you sip samples of Chianti at Verrazzano Castle, where ancient cellars date back to the 16th century. In nearby San Gimignano, view the remaining 13 of 72 towers built in the 14th century as you learn the history of these ancient Etruscan ruins.

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Cinque Terre

Discover the magic of Cinque Terre, a string of five medieval seaside villages nestled on the Italian Riviera and home to some of the country’s most glorious natural scenery. Pastel-coloured homes dot terraces built into steep mountains that plunge starkly into the azure sea. Soak up the sun as you swim, feast on fresh seafood and trek by foot to enjoy some of the most picturesque views in all of Italy.

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Top 10 Cities to Visit in Italy by Train

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Category : Italy , Visit Europe

Everyone loves Italy. And why not? It’s a country of great passions: food, wine, sculpture and painting to name a few. So how do you choose where to go? To help you plan your dream trip, here is a list of the top 10 cities to visit in Italy popular with Rail Europe’s travelers. You can easily travel between any of these fabulous locations by Trenitalia and Italo trains (the two railway companies in Italy). Warning: severe wanderlust ahead.

10. Ventimiglia

Many people hop between the French/Italian border towns of Nice and Ventimiglia with a train ticket. A trip so close, and made even easier with a France-Italy Rail Pass. You’ll find both French and Italian regional lines service Ventimiglia. More than a train hub, Ventimiglia has a stunning, quintessentially Italian medieval city center. As it always has, its classic architecture stands guard on a hilltop over the Gulf of Genoa, but now with the new city between them. Make sure you visit Ventimiglia’s famous Friday Outdoor Market!

9. Bologna

Why not visit the oldest university in Europe, the University of Bologna, founded in 1088? Naturally, there’s plenty to study: from medieval, renaissance and baroque monuments to modern day industrial marvels like Ducati (motorcycles) headquartered there. More high-speed thrills? Travel by train from Bologna to Verona in just under an hour.

8. Verona

What do you call a city dramatic enough to be the setting of three Shakespearean plays, and interesting enough to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site? This is Verona. Along the Adige River, this picture-perfect city of cobblestone streets lined with medieval buildings, Roman sites and churches is second to none for inspiration. Known for its pink buildings and Juliet balcony (yes, one of those plays was Romeo and Juliet), a visit to this city will immerse you in the classic Italian experience. Want more inspiration? Venice is one of the perfect destinations for it. Verona to Venice is about an hour by train.

7. La Spezia

Located on the Gulf of La Spezia, this port city is a bustling mix of old and new, and it’s also the gateway to the popular Cinque Terre region. This scenic waterfront is perfect for arrival by train from Verona (via Milan) with a Eurail Italy Pass. Today, this modern-day port stands in stunning contrast to the spectacle of its antiquity and charm. So much charm that many poets have found inspiration here, from Byron to Shelley to DH Lawrence. It is, in fact, referred to as “the Gulf of Poets.” What will it inspire in you?

6. Turin

Baroque architecture with the Alps as the ultimate photo backdrop. Site of the 2006 winter games. And, of course, the Shroud of Turin. The amazing city of Turin is the capital of Italy’s truffle region, and you can wash those delicacies down with some equally delicious and world-renowned wine. Turin Cathedral, home to the Shroud of Turin. (Please note that while The Museum of the Holy Shroud is open daily, the shroud is only displayed once every ten years.) Next stop? Milan. Aboard Trenitalia trains, Turin to Milan is just about an hour’s journey.

5. Milan

High style all around! The Italian center of finance, industry and commerce, as well as a global capital of fashion, industrial design and architecture. Milan is also the home of “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Don’t miss the spectacular Duomo, which took over 6 centuries to complete. (And don’t forget to get your Milano Card for easy transportation and discounts all over town.) Also, remember it’s just as easy to arrive from Paris to Milan by the high speed trains.

4. Naples

The birthplace of pizza has drawn many hungry visitors, including those hungry for culture: its historic center is the largest in Europe, covering over 4,000 acres and 27 centuries. It’s almost unreal how much this port city has to offer — including hydrofoils to the Isle of Capri and the Blue Grotto. Naples is a must-see for every history/arts/culinary/naval/political/cinema-buff — plus, it’s recently gotten more attention thanks to the popular novels written by the mysterious Italian author Elena Ferrante.

3. Venice

Venice, the land of gondola-filled canals, ancient trades and water taxis. Enjoy a Grand Canal boat tour and views that have remained basically unchanged for centuries. See how Venetian glass and Venetian paper is made. Shop on the Rialto and along the waterways to roving (and rowing) tenors, as well as the occasional accordion. There’s no place in the world quite like Venice!

2. Florence

Florence is Italian perfection: the Duomo, the Uffizi Museum Tour, crossing the Arno River on the Ponte Vecchio, the Pitti Palace… everything that makes Italy, Italy, is here in the appropriately titled “cradle of the Renaissance”– except you! You’re not here yet, and nothing makes it easier to get here than the train. On Italo trains, Venice to Florence is about a 2 hour trip, while Florence to Rome is an about 1 hour and 30 minutes of relaxing, stress-free enjoyment.

1. Rome

Well, the saying is “all roads lead to Rome”. Fortunately, so do the trains! All those “Roman ruins” around Europe, why not visit their birthplace? Classical architecture buffs will enjoy researching the arch, the dome, and the vault—all developed here. Of course, a Vatican Sistine Chapel Tour is guaranteed to provide a most divine experience. This is it, people. This is where the world changed. And when you visit, well, it can change your world too.

So where in Italy do you want to go? For how long? We’d love to know what you think about these top 10 cities to visit in Italy and whether you have one of your own!