Travel to Italy to experience the vita all Italiana, or ‘Italian life’ with its rich artistic heritage, vibrant culture and delicious national cuisine. As home to some of western civilisation’s most admired works of art and architecture, a trip to Italy is sure to ignite your senses and stir your soul.
Italy is situated in southern Europe and shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. Its boot-shaped mainland is instantly recognisable, but there are also several islands within the territory of Italy, such as Sicily, Sardinia, Ischia and Capri. A package trip to Italy is sure to be a cultural awakening as the country is home to more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country on earth, with a staggering total of 55, and counting! From the Colosseum of Rome to the ashes of Pompeii in Naples, Italy’s historic sights are just one part of its attraction as a travel destination.
Italy is known for its food-obsessed national culture. Every meal is an extravaganza of mouth-watering flavours and a passionate cooking heritage. From Neapolitan pizza to creamy gelato and the divine simplicity of the best pasta dishes on earth, travelling to Italy is a pilgrimage for foodies.
Once you’ve strolled through the eternal streets of Rome, checked out stylish Milian, seen the Renaissance masterpieces of Florence and got in touch with your inner romantic in Venice, Italy’s gorgeous natural landscapes tempt you to explore further. As well as an array of sun-drenched beaches and rustic coastal villages, you’ll also find snow-capped mountains, turquoise grottoes and glistening freshwater lakes. There’s so much more to Italy than its most famous cities, so let a tour of Italy reveal the charms of this beautiful country or bel paese as the locals say!
History of Italy
The country’s rich history is a huge attraction for those planning a holiday to Italy. With such a vibrant heritage influenced by civilisations such as the Phonecians, Greek, Romans and Byzantines, it’s little wonder that Italy is sometimes called the ‘Cradle of Civilization’. The Colosseum and Pantheon in Rome or the Temple of Valleys in Sicily are just a few of the relics of Italy’s vast history.
Of course, the most famous period in Italian history is the Renaissance of the 14th-century, credited with propelling western Europe into modernity. This marked a rebirth of ancient arts, language, philosophy, politics and literature and was a period that gave rise to the genius of great Italian’s such as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, Titian and Copernicus. Even today, a trip to Italy is incomplete without contemplating the visual storytelling of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in Rome or viewing Da Vinci’s legendary Last Supper in Milan.
Three distinct periods can be seen as the defining moments in Italy’s vast and complex history. First was the Roman Empire, with Rome as the centre of power and influence over a vast, continent-spanning empire. The Renaissance, which flourished between the 14th and 17th-centuries marked another pivotal time in Italian history and shaped the nation as one of great artistic and cultural innovation. Lastly, the Reunification or Risorgimento of the late 1800s saw the coming together of Italy’s kingdoms, culminating in the unified Kingdom of Italy in 1871, with Rome as its capital.
The 20th-century in Italy saw the rise of far-right politics and Mussolini’s fascist party. Finally, the Republic of Italy came into existence in 1946.
Nature in Italy
Italy is home to a range of spectacular landscapes, from the snowy peaks of Mont Blanc in the Alps, the highest point in western Europe, to the glistening turquoise waters of the Adriatic coast. From Sicily to Sardinia and Tuscany to Calabria, an organised tour of Italy is the best way to experience the grandeur of its remarkable natural landscapes.
Italy’s freshwater lakes, such as glacial Lake Maggiore, stylish Lake Como and breathtaking Lake Garda are some of the most popular holiday destinations to visit in Italy. On the other hand, for a more rustic getaway Tuscany’s rolling countryside, characterised by the gorgeous Val d’Orcia, is a sight to behold. Vibrant hills of green and gold and patchwork vineyards dotted with characterful farmhouses are popular settings for agriturismo holidays. Whilst exploring the region of Tuscany, visitors can make a stop a the Saturnia Thermal Baths, a beautiful natural hot spring with therapeutic properties, just one of the many natural wonders of this blessed region.
On the island of Sicily you’ll find natural attractions as captivating as the Scala dei Turchi, a sparkling white marl cliff face, shaped by centuries of natural wind and sea erosion, and towering Mount Etna, Italy’s most active volcano. Another island delight is the Blue Grotto of Capri, on the island of the same name. This must-see natural wonder is a sea cave, filled with bright-blue water, a unique result of light refraction.
Boasting generally warm, sunny summers and mild winters, if you travel to Italy you’ll surely be blown away by the diversity and natural beauty of its landscapes.
Culture in Italy
All who travel to Italy are captivated by its vibrant national culture. Said to be the birthplace of Western civilisation, this cultural powerhouse is sure to amaze you with its arts, cuisine, music and customs.
Aside from the brilliant art, literature and philosophy of the Italian Renaissance, Italian culture has the family unit at its heart. Family gatherings are frequent and encompass the entire extended family circle, not just the nuclear family. Of course, food is sure to be part of these traditional family gatherings.
More than just a source of nourishment, food is a pillar of the national identity and a source of passion, creativity and joy in Italy. Italian food is revered throughout the world, and if you travel to Italy, you’ll find that each region has its own subtle style of ‘Italian cuisine’. Wine is another great passion in Italy, which is home to some of the most famous vineyards in the world. An Italian meal is almost always accompanied by good wine.
When it comes to religion, the Roman Catholic faith is the most important in Italy, and the country is famously home to the Vatican City, the residence of the Pope. Many Italians identify with Roman Catholicism to some degree and most of the national holidays and festivals are connected with Christianity.
Lastly, aside from food, art and religion, one of Italy’s most famous exports is its style. Italian fashion houses such as Prada, Armani and Versace are credited with creating some of the most sought clothing designs in the world.
A holiday to Italy is sure to be an unforgettable experience, filled with mouth-watering cuisine, legendary landmarks and plenty of beautiful Mediterranean sunshine.