Italy: Main Sights
Way more than just good spaghetti bolognese.
Rome is nicknamed “the Eternal City” for good reason. Even those of us who have been taking holidays in Rome for years keep finding new treasures to discover. The host of incredible archaeological sites include such famous buildings as the Colosseum and the Pantheon – remarkably complete after nearly 2000 years. St. Peter’s Basilica is one of Italy’s grandest and most outlandish churches (climb its dome for the best views of Rome) and the Sistine Chapel contains spectacular frescos painted by Michelangelo.
The romance of a holiday in Venice speaks for itself, with its unique network of canals and astoundingly beautiful architecture – none more astounding than the lavish medieval Ducal Palace. Venice is also home to another of Italy’s great churches, the Byzantine-style St. Mark’s Basilica. Gondola tours of Venice are touristy but a great way to see the city.
Famed as much for its plentiful villas as for the beautiful scenery, Lake Como is not the largest of Italy’s inland lakes, but it is certainly the one with the most glamorous reputation. People have been taking holidays on Lake Como for centuries; indeed, the first holiday villas on Lake Como were built by Pliny the Younger in the 1st century AD. People continue to flock to this beautiful part of Lombardy (one of Italy’s northernmost counties). Family holidays on Lake Como are extremely popular, and it continues to be one of the most attractive spots for a romantic break in Italy too.
TUSCANY & UMBRIA
Tuscany, which, along with neighbouring Umbria, is famous for its idyllic, sylvan countryside. Consider taking a wine tour of Tuscany and Umbria if you’re not hiring a car, as some of the more rural parts are hard to reach by public transport. Art lovers will want to visit Florence, Tuscany’s largest city, to see the Uffizi and Accademia Galleries, which contain some of the finest (and best-known) pieces of Renaissance art in the world. Visit Florence Cathedral to see its impressive Gothic façade and huge, iconic dome. Other top places to see in Tuscany include the medieval city of Siena; the pilgrimage town of Assisi; and Pisa, with its famous leaning tower.
THE AMALFI COAST
Amalfi is an uncommonly beautiful seaside town, perched on the hills overlooking the Mediterranean sea on Italy’s southwest coast,. You can find some great deals on villa rental in Amalfi if you book early. Near Amalfi, are the haunting ruins of Pompeii, which was destroyed by volcano in 79 AD. Much of the city has been excavated, including casts of victims who became fossilised by volcanic ash. Tours of Pompeii are widely available; you can also visit Pompeii by train.
Just off the southernmost tip of the Italian peninsula is this dusty, sun-baked island, where you can find great beach resort holiday deals here in the summer, as well as more secluded retreats in the off-season. If you’re not content just to soak up the sun, you could also visit Mount Etna, Europe’s only active volcano.