Italy, that exquisite morsel of Mediterranean decadence situated in Southern Europe is every art lover’s dream destination. And we’re not just talking about paintings and sculptures, of which Italy has more than its share. No – we’re talking about the whole fantastic country, which in itself is a work of art. Take the Cinque Terre for example; those exquisite, colorful buildings sitting on the high cliffs make a picture that words cannot describe. Italy is the land of dreams, the land of wines, the land of art, and the art of impeccable leather. Come, let us discover Italy together.
Florence, the glorious birthplace of Da Vinci, is also the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Exploring Florence can feel like you’re exploring an enormous art museum – the visual feast simply doesn’t end. The Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is topped by a massive dome which simply defies gravity. The enormous marble-inlaid bell tower was made by Renaissance sculptor Giotto. The lovely bronze doors were made by Ghiberti. Every church in Florence is decorated with art masterpieces.
The public plazas are scattered with incredible sculptures and fountains, and the many museums literally burst at the seams with paintings and sculptures. Don’t miss a visit to the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace. Be sure to stroll through the Boboli Gardens to check out the artisans’ studios and workshops of the Oltrarno. Florence is also the seat of fine leather craftsmanship. When someone talks of Italian leather handbags or belts, they’re talking of Florentine leather. Exploring Florence on foot is one of the most wonderful things to do in Italy.
2. Italian Lake District
The Italian Lake District occupies a large stretch of mountainous Northern Italy and is popular for its mountain-water-lush greenery combination. Garda is the largest lake and is simply stunning. Lake Como is a beauteous spot, where the Richie Riches of our world construct exclusive villas. Lake Maggiore is yet another popular resort spot among tourists. The great thing about traveling to Italy is that you don’t need to apply for an Italian visa. Apply for and obtain a Schengen visa and you can travel to all parts of Italy without a murmur.
3. Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre, or ‘Five Lands’ comprises is quaint villages and some of the world’s most dramatically-exquisite landscapes. Steep cliff-sides angle up, breaking into green wine terraces with multi-colored homes and buildings nestled between them. There are complex hiking trails all over the cliffs that offer some of the most stunning coastal views in all of Italy. The five villages of Cinque Terre are connected by the Blue Trail.
Milan is today one of Europe’s wealthiest cities, even it was nearly destroyed during WWII. Milan is the center of global fashion, after Paris. It is also a historically-important city. Check out the La Scala Opera House and one of the world’s largest gothic cathedrals, the Castello Sforzesco. Visit Milan to feast your eyes on Leonardo da Vinci’s painting that started off the whole ‘Christ was married’ hullabaloo, The Last Supper.
5. The Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast’s extraordinary beauty makes it a top tourist destination in Italy. Feast your eyes on the Amalfi Coast’s glittering bays, gardens, craggy cliffs, colorful villas and blissful architecture. Positano is a beautiful city with pebbled beaches, scenic mountains and pretty pastel-colored homes. The towns of Amalfi and Ravello famed for their works of art, lovely villas, piazzas and unequalled beauty.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and home to every great Mediterranean civilization. Rich in art, history, great wines and home to Europe’s tallest active volcano, Mount Etna, Sicily has much to offer. It’s a picturesque island, with a whole bunch of pretty isles scattered around it. You’ll explore Palermo’s Baroque churches, Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples, the many Sicilian monasteries and other wonders in awe.
Venice is built up on a lagoon whose waters are supplied by the surrounding Adriatic Sea. Venice is an archipelago of 118 islands, each one of which is connected by scenic bridges and canals. The Grand Canal divides Venice into two sections; on each side are picturesque waterways on which wooden gondolas ferry people to and fro from historic monument to museum to romantic outdoor café over the water. Don’t miss seeing Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica, Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge.
Tuscany is like a marvelous poem of intense beauty, with its olive groves, rolling hills, vineyards and cypress trees. People visit Tuscany to taste wine in Chianti, explore Renaissance art in Florence and explore hill towns such as San Gimignano. Siena, a medieval city, is rich in history and lovely works of art. Elba, the island where napoleon was exiled to, is also in the Tuscany region, as is Pisa, of the famous Leaning Tower.
Rome, the capital city is of great historic importance. It is home to some of the most fabulous works of art and of the great Vatican City. For over 2,500 years, Rome has reigned as the world’s center for culture, power and religion. Check out the incredible cathedrals, plazas and buildings that are prime examples of Renaissance architecture. Don’t miss a visit to the Colosseum, the largest amphitheater ever built. The recently- unearthed city of Pompeii was buried under volcanic ash for almost 1,700 years. The ruins offer important insights as to the ancient Roman world.
Capital of the Campania region in Southern Italy, Naples is a treasure trove of art works and historic sites. Modern-day Naples is a famous haunt for shopping, nightlife and food! Neapolitan pizza is one of the best you’ll ever taste as is the parmigiana. Neapolitan restaurants take great pride in serving only fresh, locally grown food.
Italy is a feast for the eyes, the mind, the soul and yes, the body. If Rome brings ancient history to life and literally takes you back in time, Tuscany soothes your soul with its lush beauty. While the Amalfi Coast puts the sparkle in your eyes with its incredible coastal beauty, Florence makes your heart beat faster with its unbelievable art and art history. In short, no part of Italy will leave you unimpressed. Milan with its incredible fashion pulls thousands of high-end shoppers to its shores each year. No matter where you are in Italy, there’s something that begs to be looked at, worn or tasted.
This article on Italy was contributed by our “Guest Blogger” Neha Singh. A Mass Comm postgraduate, Neha describes herself as a person having a naturally artistic take on everything about life. This is quite evident in her writings as well. An avid trekker, explorer and a true foodie; Neha finds happiness in small endeavours of life and loves to pen them down as a cherished memory. A firm believer that “we have just one life to live and so much to do”, Neha lives every moment to the fullest.