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ITALY: replete with culture, good food and sun-worship
July 20, 2014, 2:51 pm
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Amongst other treasures, Italy gave the world opera, the piano and the artistic revolution that was the Renaissance. This cultured destination has produced some of the most famous works of art in history, as well as some of the most famous artists. Italy’s museums and galleries overflow with magnificent artworks and ancient treasures, including works by some of the best loved artists of all time, including the likes of Michelangelo, Botticelli and da Vinci.

Culture vultures should make time for at least one opera performance and at least one great art museum on any trip to Italy.

Milan: Incredible architecture, designer shopping and delicious cuisine of Italy’s most fashionable city. People watch from the upscale cafés of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, experience the view from the top of the Duomo, and spend an evening at one of the world’s most famous opera houses.

Venice: an immersed watery wonderland is billed as the most romantic city on earth. Take a ferry to the traditional glass and lace making islands of Murano and Burano to watch Venetian artisans at work.

CENTRO STORICO, ROME: There is so much to see in Rome that aimlessly wandering the city’s fantastic old centre can yield a surprise at every turn, whether it is an ancient statue, a marvelous Baroque fountain or a bustling piazza.

SICILY’S GREEK RUINS: The ancient theatres at Siracusa and Taormina are magnificent summer stages for Greek drama, while the temple complex at nearby Agrigento is one of the finest such sites outside Greece itself.

URBINO: This so-called ‘ideal city’ and art capital, created by Federico da Montefeltro, the ultimate Renaissance man, is one of the most memorable of all Italian provincial cities.

RAVENNA’S MOSAICS: Ravenna’s Byzantine mosaics – in the churches of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo and San Vitale – are a stunning testimony to the city’s ranking as the capital of Europe fifteen hundred years ago.

AMALFI COAST: Everyone should see the stunning Amalfi Coast at least once in their life.

PIAZZA SAN MARCO, VENICE: Crowded or not, this is one of Europe’s grandest urban spaces and home to Italy’s most exotic cathedral.

DUOMO, ORVIETO: One of the country’s finest – and best-sited – cathedrals, with a marvelous fresco cycle by Luca Signorelli.

DUOMO, FLORENCE: Florence’s cathedral dome is instantly recognizable – and is one of the world’s most significant engineering feats.

NEAPOLITAN PIZZA: You can eat pizza all over Italy, but nowhere is it quite as good as in its home town of Naples.

THE ITALIAN LAKES: If you can escape the hordes, this region is one of Italy’s most beguiling, with stunning scenery and plenty of activities.

THE LAST SUPPER, MILAN: Leonardo da Vinci’s mural for the refectory wall of Santa Maria delle Grazie is one of the world’s most resonant images.

THE UFFIZI, FLORENCE: One of Italy’s most celebrated collections of art, and Florence’s most essential attraction.

GIOTTO"S FRESCOES, PADUA: The artist’s frescoes in Padua’s Cappella degli Scrovegni constitute one of the great works of European art.

POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM: Probably the two best-preserved Roman sites in the country; destroyed and at the same time preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.

SARDINIA'S BEACHES: There are plenty of places to sun-worship in Italy, but Sardinia’s coastline ranks among one of the most beautiful.

HIKING IN THE DOLOMITES: The spiky landscape of the Dolomites is perfect hiking country, covered in dramatic long-distance trails.

BASILICA DI SAN FRANCESCO, ASSISI: The burial place of St. Francis and one of Italy’s greatest church buildings, with frescoes by Giotto and Simone Martini.

VATICAN MUSEUMS, ROME: The largest and richest collection of art and culture in the world. You should never miss it.

SICILY: Palermo's unrivalled display of Norman art and architecture, Aeolian Islands, an archipelago of seven islands with active volcanoes to climb; immemorial experience.

Gastronomy

Italy has always been a synonym for ‘good food’, offering an unmistakable explosion of flavors, scents, and aromas. With one of the world’s best loved cuisines, Italy is a perfect destination for foodies.

Pizza and pasta are adored the world over, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Italian cuisine. Also on offer are legendary cheeses, elegant pastries, famous cold meats, inspired salads, rich stews, herb-infused roasts, indulgent desserts and of course gelato, arguably the world’s finest ice cream. Whether you dine in Michelin-starred restaurants or rustic canteens, expect to be constantly surprised by the range and variety of fresh ingredients.

Every city, town and village has its own local delicacies, making every snack stop a gastronomic journey and every mealtime a feast. Food-inspired feste are lower-key, but no less enjoyable, usually celebrating the regional specialty with dancing, brass bands and noisy fireworks. There are literally hundreds of food festivals, sometimes advertised as 'sagre', and every region has them – look in the local papers or ask at the tourist office during summer and autumn.
 

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