Bel Paese travel guides for Italy suggestions Italian vacations attractions
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  • Colosseum Rome Colosseo Roma Lazio region Italy.jpg
  • Duomo di firenze Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore Firenze Florence.jpg
  • Canali di Venezia Channels in Venice romantic gondola ride.jpg
  • Piazza dei Miracoli plaza Torre di Pisa Torre pendente Leaning tower of Pisa cathedral
  • Cinque Terre five lands five villages italian Riviera boghi in Liguria mar Mediterraneo
  • Amalfi town italy village coastal town Costiera amalfitana Amalfi coast Campania region
  • borgo di Positano village Amalfi Coast Costa d’Amalfi Costiera Amalfitana mare Salerno
  • Tropea Vibo Valentia calabria region beach village in Italy.jpg
  • Matera charming town panoramic view Basilicata region Italy.jpg
  • eruzione vulcano Etna crater mount Volcano Sicily Mongibello monte siciliano montagna


Italy is the home to many of the world's greatest works of art, architecture and gastronomy, Italy elates, inspires and moves like no other.. 
In few places do art and life intermingle so effortlessly. This may be the land of Dante, Titian and Verdi, but it's also the home of Prada, Massimo Bottura and Renzo Piano. Beauty, style and flair furnish every aspect of daily life, from those immaculately knotted ties and seamless espressos to the flirtatious smiles of striking strangers.
It might look like a boot, but food-obsessed Italy feels more like a decadently stuffed Christmas stocking. From delicate tagliatelle al ragù (pasta ribbons in a meat-based sauce) to velvety cannoli (crisp pastry shells filled with sweet ricotta), every bite can feel like a revelation.
Italy's fortes extend beyond its galleries, wardrobes and dining rooms.
The country is one of nature's masterpieces, with extraordinary natural diversity matched by few. From the north's icy Alps and glacial lakes to the south's fiery craters and turquoise grottoes, this is a place for doing as well as seeing....

Ask an Italian where they would most like to live, and the odds are that they will say “right here”. Indeed, if you travel to Italy, you’ll discover that it really does have it all. The country has one of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes in Europe, the world’s greatest hoard of art treasures, a relatively benign climate and a delicious and authentic national cuisine....

Bell'Italia! Italy has Europe's richest, craziest culture.
After all, this nation is the cradle of European civilization established by the Roman Empire and carried on by the Roman Catholic Church.
As you explore Italy, you'll stand face-to-face with some of the world's most iconic images from this 2,000-year history: Rome's ancient Colosseum and playful Trevi Fountain, Pisa's Leaning Tower, Florence's Renaissance masterpieces (Michelangelo's David and Botticelli's Venus), and the island city of elegant decay Venice.

Italy Italian Italia is a large country in Southern Europe.
It is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites art and monuments are everywhere around the country.
It is also famous worldwide for its cuisine, its fashion, beautiful coasts, lakes and mountains Alps and Appennines.

Italy is a country in Southern Europe. Together with Greece, it is acknowledged as the birthplace of Western culture.
Italy is also home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world.
High art and monuments are to be found everywhere around the country.
It is also famous worldwide for its delicious cuisine, its trendy fashion industry, luxury sports cars and motorcycles, diverse regional cultures and dialects, as well as for its beautiful coast, alpine lakes and mountain ranges (the Alps and Apennines).
No wonder it is often nicknamed the Bel Paese (the Beautiful Country).
Two independent mini-states are surrounded entirely by Italy: San Marino and Vatican City.
While technically not part of the European Union, both of these states are also part of the Schengen Area and the European Monetary Union (EMU).
Apart from different police uniforms, there is no evident transition from these states and Italy's territory, and the currency is the same.
Italian is also the official language in San Marino and is commonly spoken in Vatican City whose official language is Latin.

North - The North of Italy is the country's most populated and developed portion. Cities like Turin, Milan, Bologna, Verona and Venice share the region's visitors with beautiful landscapes like the Lake Como area, impressive mountains such as the Dolomites and the Italian Alps and first-class ski resorts like Cortina d'Ampezzo and others.

Northwest - Piedmont (Piemonte), Liguria (home of the Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre), Lombardy (Lombardia),Valle d'Aosta
Northeast - Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto
Central Italy breathes history and art. Rome boasts the remaining wonders of the Roman Empire and some of the world's best known landmarks such as the Colosseum. Florence, cradle of the Renaissance, is Tuscany's top attraction, whereas nearby cities like Siena, Pisa and Lucca have much to offer to those looking for the country's rich history and cultural heritage.

Lazio (the region around Rome), Marche, Tuscany (Toscana), and Umbria, Italy's green heart.
Southern Italy - Bustling Naples, the dramatic ruins of Pompeii, the romantic Amalfi Coast and laidback Apulia, as well as up-and-coming agritourism help making Italy's less visited region a great place to explore.

Abruzzo, Apulia (Puglia), Basilicata, Calabria, Campania and Molise
Italian islands - Sardinia (Sardegna) and Sicily (Sicilia), the large island located to the south of the Italian peninsula (the "ball" to Italy's "boot") also Capri, Ischia, Elba, Procida, Aeolian Islands, Aegadian Islands, Tremiti and Pantelleria..

There are hundreds of Italian cities. Here are nine of its most famous:

Rome (Roma) — the capital, both of Italy and, in the past, of the Roman Empire until 285 AD.

Bologna — one of the world's great university cities that is filled with history, culture, technology and food.

Florence (Firenze) — the Renaissance city known for its architecture and art that had a major impact throughout the world.

Genoa (Genova) — an important medieval maritime republic; its port brings in tourism and trade, along with art and architecture.

Milan (Milano) — one of the main fashion cities of the world, but also Italy's most important centre of trade and business.

Naples (Napoli) — one of the oldest cities of the Western world, with a historic city centre that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is also the birth-place of pizza.

Pisa — one of the medieval maritime republics, it is home to the unmistakable image of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Turin (Torino) — a well-known industrial and historical city, first capital of Italy and home of FIAT. The city's also renowned for its large amount of baroque buildings.

Venice (Venezia) — one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, known for its history, art, and of course its world famous canals.

Venice (Venezia) Dreamy island city, powerful in medieval times; famous for St. Mark's Basilica, the Grand Canal, and singing gondoliers.

Cinque Terre Five idyllic Riviera hamlets along a rugged coastline (and part of a national park), connected by scenic hiking trails and dotted with beaches.

Florence The cradle of the Renaissance, with the world-class Uffizi Gallery, Brunelleschi's dome-topped Duomo, Michelangelo's David, and Italy's best gelato.

Siena Florence's smaller and (some say) more appealing rival, with its magnificent Il Campo square, striking striped cathedral, and medieval pageantry.

Rome Italy's capital, the sprawling Eternal City, studded with Roman ruins (Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon), romantic floodlit-fountain squares, and home to Vatican City and the astonishing Sistine Chapel.

Milan Powerhouse city of commerce and fashion, with the prestigious La Scala opera house, Leonardo's The Last Supper, and three airports.

Tuscany region - Picturesque, wine-soaked villages of Italy's heartland, including mellow Montepulciano, Renaissance Pienza, and Brunello-fueled Montalcino.

Assisi St. Francis' hometown, perched on a hilltop, with a divinely Giotto-decorated basilica.

Orvieto and Civita More hill-town adventures, featuring Orvieto's classic views, Classico wine, and ornate cathedral plus pint-sized, hilltop village of Civita di Bagnoregio.

Naples Gritty, in-love-with-life port city featuring vibrant street life and a top archaeological museum starring the treasures from ancient Pompeii.

Amalfi Coast and Paestum String of seafront villages including hilly Positano and workaday Amalfi — tied together by a scenic mountainous coastal road. Farther south is Paestum, with its well-preserved ancient Greek temples.

Pompeii and Nearby Famous ruins of the ancient towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, with their nemesis, Mount Vesuvius, looming on the horizon.

Italian Lakes Two relaxing lakes, each with low-key resort towns and a mountainous backdrop: Lake Como, with quaint Varenna and upscale Bellagio; and Lake Maggiore, with straightforward Stresa, manicured islands, and elegant villas.

Near Venice Several interesting towns: Padua (with Giotto's gloriously frescoed Scrovegni Chapel), Vicenza (Palladian architecture), and Verona (Roman amphitheater plus Romeo and Juliet sights).

Dolomites Italy's might alps, featuring Bolzano (home of Ötzi the Iceman), the charming village of Castelrotto, and Alpe di Siusi (alpine meadows laced with lifts and hiking trails).

Riviera Towns More Italian Riviera fun, including the coastal towns of Levanto, double-beached Sestri Levante, the larger Santa Margherita Ligure, gem-like Portofino, and to the south, resorty Porto Venere.

Pisa and Lucca Two classic towns: Pisa, with its iconic Leaning Tower and surrounding Field of Miracles, and Lucca, with an inviting old center, encircled by a wide medieval wall you can stroll or bike.

Volterra and San Gimignano Two hill towns in northern Tuscany: vibrant, refreshing Volterra and multi-towered, touristy San Gimignano.

Sorrento and Capri The seaside resort port of Sorrento, and just a short cruise away, the jet-set island getaway of Capri, with its eerie Blue Grotto.

Italian Cuisine
Italian food inside of Italy is different to what is called "Italian food" in America.
Italy's cuisine is truly one of the most diverse in the world and, in any region, or even city and village you go, there are different specialities.
For instance, it could be only misleading to say that Northern Italian cuisine is based on hearty, potato and rice-rich meals, Central Italian cuisine mainly on pastas, roasts and meat, and Southern Italian cuisine on vegetables, pizza, pasta and seafood: there are so many cross-influences that you'd only get confused trying to categorize.

History of Italy
The Pantheon, a huge Roman temple, which is a symbol of the Roman civilization in Italy.
Certainly, humans inhabited the Italian peninsula for at least 200,000 years; Neolithic civilisations flourished in prehistoric Italy but were either wiped out, or assimilated, around 2000 BC by a group of Indo-European tribes, which are collectively known as the Italic peoples.
These were more or less closely related to each other and comprised tribes such as the Latins, Etruscans, Umbrians, Samnites, Sicels, Ligures, Oscans, just to name a few...

Reach Italy By plane
Italy has a national airline, Alitalia based in Rome.
Italy is one of the main battlegrounds for European low cost airlines several routes to/from and within Italy are offered.
The larger airports are, of course, served by the major European airlines.
Intercontinental airlines mainly arrive in Rome and Milan, with Rome being the main international gateway into the country.
Most of mid-range international flights arrive to the following Italian cities:
Rome - with two airports: Fiumicino (FCO - Leonardo Da Vinci) and Ciampino (CIA) for budget airlines
Milan - with two airports: Malpensa (MXP) and Linate (LIN); in addition, Bergamo (BGY - Orio al Serio) is sometimes referred to as "Milan Bergamo"
Bologna (BLQ – Guglielmo Marconi)
Naples (NAP - Capodichino)
Pisa (PSA - Galileo Galilei)
Venice (VCE – Marco Polo); in addition, Treviso (TSF - Antonio Canova) is sometimes referred to as "Venice Treviso"
Turin (TRN – Sandro Pertini)
Palermo (PMO - Punta Raisi)
Catania (CTA - Vincenzo Bellini)
Bari (BRI - Palese)
Genoa (GOA - Cristoforo Colombo)

Reach Italy By train
Trains in Italy are generally good value, frequent but of mixed reliability.
There are different train types: high-speed trains (Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca, Eurostar Italia), Intercity, regional trains (Regionali, Regionali Veloci) and international trains (Eurocity, Euronight).
Trains are operated by Trenitalia, Trenord (at the North) and Italo operates some high speed routes.

From Austria via Vienna, Innsbruck and Villach
From France via Nice, Lyon, and Paris
From Germany via Munich
From Spain via Barcelona
From Switzerland via Basel, Geneva and Zurich
Direct connection by train with eastern Europe (Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia) no longer exists.

Reach Italy By car
In Northern and Central Italy there's a well-developed system of motorways (autostrade), while in the South it is a bit worse for quality and extent.
Every motorway is identified by an A followed by a number on a green backdrop.
Most motorways are toll roads.
Some have toll stations giving you access to a whole section (particularly the tangenziali of Naples, Rome, and Milan, for example), but generally, most have entrance and exit toll stations; on those motorways, you need to collect a ticket upon entrance and your toll amount will be calculated upon exit depending on the distance covered.

Italy borders on France, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia.
All borders are open (without passport/customs checks),except for the Swiss one, with customs checks and random passport checks.In the other borders cars can be stopped behind the border for random checks.

Reach Italy By bus
Eurolines has are regular buses between Ljubljana, Slovenian coastal towns and Istria (Croatia) and Trieste (Italy). These services are cheap and from Trieste onward connections with the rest of Italy are plentiful. There's also a bus that goes from Malmö, Sweden via Denmark, Germany and Switzerland to Italy.

Reach Italy By boat
See also Ferries in the Mediterranean There are several ferries departing from Greece, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia. Most of them arrive at Venice, Ancona, Bari and Brindisi.
Some regular ferry services connect the island of Corsica in France to Genoa, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Naples and North of Sardinia. Barcelona is connected to Civitavecchia and to Genoa.
Some regular ferry services connect Sicily and Naples to some North African harbours.
There is a hydrofoil service running from Pozzallo on the south-eastern coast of Sicily to Malta.

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