Italy seems to be on everyone’s Bucket List. There’s just something about it that makes everyone want to go there. Whether it’s the food and wine, history, fashion, scenery or all of the above, Italy is a popular destination year round. These are just a small handful of the things you’ll come across on your visit, if it’s your first time or your 20th time!
The Cathedrals: Regardless of your religion, the cathedrals around Italy are a thing of beauty that you really can’t miss (and not just because of their giant size and opulent appearance on the outside). The Duomo di Milano in Milan is the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It’s located at the Piazza del Duomo and is a giant among anything else you’ll see in the city. Heading up to the top, you see the intricate details and wonder just how long it took them to build it (answer: nearly six centuries!). Also worth a visit is the cathedral in Florence, Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. This cathedral was completed in 1436 and its brick dome is the largest brick dome in the world. The buildings are also part of the Historic Centre of Florence, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. And while it isn’t actually a cathedral, St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is visited by over 4 million people each year, making it one of the most visited spots in the world.
The Duomo di Milano towers over
the city of Milan in Northern Italy
The Food: Let’s just be honest, one of the biggest perks about a vacation to Italy is the food! From the homemade pasta dishes around the country, to the fresh seafood from the islands, it’s hard not to want to visit just for a culinary feast. The best thing about the culinary masterpieces in Italy (from rustic to 5-star) is the history behind the food. You’ll find something different in each region of the country, creating the same recipes century after century. One of the best things about the food here is how simple it all is, with each dish typically having just four to eight ingredients. The best places you can go are the little restaurants not found in the guidebooks. If you walk far enough away from the tourist attractions of the city you’re visiting, you’re bound to find a place visited by locals that will make your trip much more special.
When visiting a country like Italy,
only the freshest ingredients will do!
The Wine: Yes, this could technically be added in with the food. But when you visit someplace like Italy, it really should be looked at separately, if for nothing else then the numerous vineyards and wine tasting opportunities throughout the country (a vacation in and of itself for many people each year). Italy is only second to France in wine production, but they come in first in wine consumption! Grapes are grown all over the country, making it easy to find a vineyard to visit for some wine tasting. Tuscany in the north is one of the more popular regions that people visit, but heading south you’ll find fantastic wines in Abruzzo and Puglia and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.
The History: Some of the most beautiful structures ever built can be found around Italy. They’re also some of the oldest structures. From the Colosseum in Rome to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you can’t go far in the country without finding history that dates back hundreds (sometimes thousands) of years. Two of the most intriguing cities that are a must to visit are Herculean and Pompeii. Frozen in time due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, the area was undiscovered for nearly 1700 years. Open to the public for about 250 years now, it’s one of the most popular destinations in Italy, attracting upwards of 2.6 million tourists a year. Of course one of the more popular destinations for many American’s is Rome. In Rome you’ll find the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi fountain and the Spanish Steps (to name a few).
The famous Colosseum in Rome
Italy has a number of islands surrounding the country, some so small less than 1000 people live there, and some bigger than several U.S. states. The more well-known islands include: Sicily, Sardinia, Capri, Stromboli and Elba. While an island like Capri offers visitors a luxurious escape, Sicily and Sardinia (the two largest in Italy and the Mediterranean) offer visitors a look into the past, with some landmarks that date back to the 1100’s. Both islands have fantastic beaches, food and history with a culture that’s all their own and very much worth a visit.