Things to do in Italy

Italy is renowned as a romantic country, from the beautiful women, charming men, the romance of Venice, the history of Rome. Beyond this is the wonderful, understated cuisine, from pizzas like you’ve never tasted before in Naples to creamy risottos or fresh pasta dishes with plump sweet tomatoes. The country is a feast for the taste buds as well as the eyes.
Posted on: June 01, 2012 by David Lewis
1. Float down the Grand Canal
There’s nothing more romantic than sipping champagne whilst laying back on the sumptuous cushions of a gondola bobbing along on Venice’s Grand Canal. If you can’t afford the gondola and crooning gondolier try a trip on the vaporetto which will show you all the sights from the water. Early morning or evening will give you the best views when the canal and Venice itself look every inch the cities of the Turner and Canaletto paintings.

2. Drink Chianti in Siena
Probably Italy’s most famous fine wine, the wine comes from the Chianti region and a wonderful place to enjoy it is in the square in Siena where the wicker wrapped bottle will help wash down plump olives, pungent cheese and crusty local bread. If you get the chance, visit the vineyards that make the wine. In Italy, they’re as famous and revered as Bordeaux is in France.

3. Sit on a Sicilian Beach
The warmest part of Italy and the Mediterranean’s biggest island, Sicily is just perfect for sitting on a golden sandy beach sipping a granita made from the juicy Sicilian lemons. The island itself is well worth exploring, especially Mount Etna, if you want a dramatic change from soaking up the sun.

4. Drive through Tuscany
This is the area of the country most popular with tourists after several travel autobiographies and novels were set here in the nineties. It’s a beautiful, unique and instantly recognisable landscape with rustic farmhouse accommodation set amongst sunburnt corn and black poplar trees.  The other benefit is that you are so close to the famous historical cities of Pisa and Venice as well as Montepulciano, home of another famous Italian wine.

5. Bus to Anacapri
If you like hair raising bus trips leading to a fantastic view then take the bus from from Marina Grande and Capri town. The route follows some very scary hairpin bends – not for the faint-hearted! French composer Claude Debussy was a regular visitor to Anacapri. He even named one of his preludes from the first book, No.5 "Les Collines d'Anacapri". Capri itself is a beautiful island, famed as the home of the singer Gracie Fields but it has many other attractions, the most famous of which is the Blue Grotto, a sea cave illuminated partly from underwater which makes the water glow a beautiful pale azure which is reflected in the air inside the cavern giving its name.

6. Walk the Seafront in Naples
Naples is a little way from the Amalfi Coast but is often grouped with it. Like the Amalfi, the waterfront at Naples gives a stunning view of the city, hugging the rocky cliffs of the coast. If you’re really lucky (or just really hungry) you could always pick up a famous Napolitano pizza and a bottle of wine to enjoy as you gaze out across the beautiful Bay of Naples.

7. See Ancient Rome in Rome
We must all have learned about Rome at school and having read about it in books and learned of the exploits of its leaders the time must be right to visit the ‘Eternal City’ here you can get a feel for the buildings described in the history books and marvel at how, 2,000 years on the old city is remarkably well preserved. Arguably the most successful civilisation, the Romans left their signature on much of today’s world and by visiting Rome you can see where it all began!

8. Trastevere
A village on the outskirts of Rome, Trastevere is full of narrow streets and beautiful renovated medieval buildings. It is home to many university campuses including some from the US and Canada. Its claim to fame is its connection to Hollywood as it is the birthplace of spaghetti western director, Sergio Leone who shared the same school class as film score writer Ennio Morricone. In ancient times, although it was so close to Rome, it was ruled by the Etruscans and the Romans wanted nothing to do with it!

9. Boboli Gardens
A bit of renaissance architecture and garden design here for these extensive and beautiful gardens were designed for Eleanora di Toledo, the wife of the infamous, Cosimo de Medici, head of the Medici family that ruled Florence during the renaissance. The gardens are home to many important sculptures from the time as well as having some Roman ruins.

10. Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa
We couldn’t leave Italy without a trip up its most famous building. It’s often said that Pisa would have been nothing without its famous leaning tower but despite the fame of the edifice, the town is a beautiful part of Tuscany. If you want to climb the tower and risk helping it topple to the ground you’d better book in advance as only a certain number of tourists are allowed in each day as it is still a little unstable. Don’t forget to do the silly thing everyone does and have a distance photo taken with your hands looking like you are pushing it back up!



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