Bella Italia, the home of great food, emotive music, dramatic art and a close rival to France as the home of romance, is a very popular tourist destination for all the above reasons.
Last year travellers arrived by road from France, Austria and Switzerland, by train from across Europe and by boat from many Mediterranean destinations but the majority arrived and departed by air with Italian airports seeing nearly 150m people pass through their doors.
Of those, nearly 60% arrived at the top five destinations which included Rome, Milan, Venice, Bergamo and Catania in Sicily. Rome’s main airport, Fiumicino, saw over a quarter of the country’s air traffic in 2011.
So why do over half of the visitors to Italy go to just those five destinations?
The answer lies in what they have to offer and here we give you a brief tour around their sights, sounds, tastes and more.
Rome Fiumicino AIrport
Rome, the eternal city and destination for over a quarter of Italy’s tourist business is a city surrounding a country and visitors can marvel at the sights from ancient Rome, one of the world’s greatest empires and still spend time in the Vatican, the home of the Pope and destination of choice to millions of the world’s Catholics each year. Religion apart, the Vatican has amazing architecture including the world famous Sistine Chapel in the Pope’s residence and the Basilica and Piazza of St Peter
Milan Malpensa Airport
Milan comes in second in the popularity stakes, surprising for what is essentially an industrial and commercial city but take into account Milan’s cathedral, the world’s best opera house in La Scala, top fashion design and the access to the ski resorts north of the city and it’s not hard to see why nearly thirty million travellers ventured through its two main airports.
Venice Marco Polo Airport
A list of most visited destinations in Italy wouldn’t be complete without Venice with its many highlights of which St Mark’s Square is a great starting point. The skyline of the city is unmistakable too from the water with the silhouette of the Doge’s Palace and the Campanile dominating the view. Taking a gondola ride is incredibly expensive – generally in the region of €100-200 but if it’s a once in a lifetime trip, especially with a loved one, then it’s a small price to pay.
Bergamo is the next most popular destination but sadly rarely for the beauty of this small town that nestles in the Italian Alps for it’s considered a third airport for Milan and also as a point of entry for skiers in the alps. Those that stay in the town are treated to unspoilt medieval and renaissance architecture and a peaceful way of life.
Sicily Catania Airport
Finally in the top five we reach Sicily, with Catania Airport helping eight million passengers each year. Sicily is quieter, rustic Italy, far from the industrial north and has a detectable Greek influence from centuries of occupation, millennia ago. Beautiful beaches combine with sleepy villages and great food to make it a perfectly rounded holiday experience.
So if you want to take the ‘someone special’ in your life ‘somewhere special’, join those who choose Italy, after all, 150m others can’t all be wrong.
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