Italy

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Location

 

Italy is a country in southern Europe. It comprises a boot-shaped peninsula and two large islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia, and shares its northern alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent countries of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italian territory.
Italian is the language of the majority of the population but there are minorities speaking German, French, Slovene and Ladino.
There is a great deal of variety in the landscape in Italy, although it is characterized predominantly by two mountain chains: the Alps and the Apennines. The former extends over 600 miles from east to west. It consists of great massifs in the western sector, with peaks rising to over 14,000 feet, including Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc), Monte Rosa and Cervino (the Matterhorn). The chain is lower in the eastern sector, although the mountains, the Dolomites, are still of extraordinary beauty, unusally bare of forestation.
Rome the capital city of Italy.

 

Attractions

The Riviera
This narrow strip of coastline is divided into two sections: the Riviera di Ponente (to the west), from Ventimiglia to Genoa, and the Riviera di Levante (to the east), from Genoa to La Spezia. The former includes wide sandy beaches and the rather commercial seaside resorts of San Remo and Bordighera, while the latter boasts small bays backed by rocky cliffs and more exclusive retreats such as Portofino and Cinque Terre.
Portofino is the best known, with its small picturesque harbor full of sleek yachts, its luxury clothes shops, its romantic villas owned by the rich and famous perched on the hillside and the Castello di San Giorgio, sitting high up on a promontory with magnificent views of the Portofino harbor and bay.
The beach at Santa Margherita Ligure, just 5km (3 miles) south of Portofino, is an excellent place to swim, with magical views of the surrounding cliffs and villas from the warm and crystal-clear aquamarine water.
Nearby Rapallo, 8km (5 miles) south of Portofino, is less fashionable and subsequently less expensive. At the southern tip of the Riviera di Levante lie Cinque Terre, a series of five picturesque fishing villages linked by scenic mountainside paths and surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Here one finds the region’s least exploited beaches.

 

Venice
Venice is unique and we mean totally unique!  A pedestrian city on a very human scale, cars are almost nonexistent and beguiling narrow paths take the place of ugly city roads. The harmonious architecture seems to have sprung uniformly from somewhere between the 12th and 16th centuries and its secretive walls and enticing balconies sparkle with flashes of water glimpsed through cracks and windows. Dark paths suddenly emerge into the clear, bright daylight of a church-filled square or cross the city’s myriad of canals by way of numerous and wonderful little bridges. The atmosphere is magical, and inexplicably festive.

The city is built on 117 small islands and is linked to the mainland service town of Mestre by a road and rail causeway. The Grand Canal winds itself around the city, emerging at the unforgettable vista of Piazza San Marco. The Bridge of Sighs links the palace to the gloomy old prisons and the bobbing gondolas are overlooked by the stunning Santa Maria della Salute, San Giorgio Maggiore and del Redentore churches.

Pompeii
Pompeii was discovered in 1748 and excavations continue to this day.Pompeii is accessible from Naples, and was the thriving resort town for wealthy Romans buried under ash and mud during the devastating eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD. The ruins provide a fascinating insight into how the ancient Romans lived and include impressive temples, a forum, one of the largest known Roman amphitheatres and luxurious houses with frescoes.

Assisi
Assisi is perched halfway up Mount Subasio, On entering Assisi you can not miss the shimmering white marble buildings they are magnificent. The city is dominated by the massive 14th-century Rocca Maggiore – a hill fortress offering fabulous views over the valley and nearby Perugia. The town’s many churches include Santa Maria Maggiore, San Pietro, St Clare and the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso The Gran Paradiso National Park in northwestern Italy was the first national park established in Italy and is an oasis of larch woods and firs, wide alpine prairies, rocks and glaciers. The park was originally the hunting grounds of the ruling House of Savoy who donated the first 5000 acres to the people in 1919. The park covers 173,000 acres of perennially snow-capped mountain peaks, tiny glacial lakes, wooded slopes and vast flowering meadows.

The Island of Capri
The enchanting island of Capri overs the stunning Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius, it has always been one of the favorite resting places for the privileged. Once home to the Roman Emperor Tiberius, today Capri offers a perfect get-away-from-it-all holiday destination. Check out the island’s magical Blue Grotto. The strange and unique refraction of light causes the water in the grotto to glow an ethereal blue. While away some hours in the charming towns of Capri and Anacapri. Check out the ruins of Emperor Tiberius’s villa east of Capri town.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa – Pisa
No visit to Italy is complete without a trip to see the celebrated Leaning Tower of Pisa. Construction of the tower began in 1173 but had to be interrupted because the ground was giving way which lead to its famous tilt. The original architect ran off with his money when he saw it beginning to lean and others had to finish it off.

Ravenna
Situated halfway between Venice and Ancona, Ravenna is one of the outstanding smaller sites of the Western world. No other city can compete with its wealth of Byzantine architecture or its unique mosaics, ecclesiastical treasures, Dante’s tomb, and Theodoric’s tomb.

Rome
Rome the capital city of Italy.  It is located on the Tiber and Aniene rivers, near the Mediterranean Sea, The Vatican City, a sovereign enclave within Rome, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and the home of the Pope.

Rome is the largest city in Italy and its municipality is one of the largest in Europe with an area of 1290 square kilometers. (It could easily encircle the other nine Italian largest cities)

Rome means history. – Etruscan tombs, – Republican meeting rooms, – Imperial temples, – early Christian churches, medieval bell towers, Renaissance palaces and baroque basilicas. In this city a the concentration of history, legend and monuments coexists with an equally phenomenal concentration of people busily going about their everyday life. You must not miss a visit to Rome, you will find it amazing. Remember all roads lead to Rome!

Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel

Art, History and the Religion of Rome in one day! A trip to Rome is incomplete without visiting the Vatican Museum and learning about Christian Rome.

Walking tour
Why not try a walking tour of the city. There are many to choose from each with a different theme, you will learn an abundance of information in a very short time.

Florence
The city is of Florence is one of Italy’s most atmospheric, retaining a strong resemblance to the small late-medieval centre that contributed so much to the cultural and political development of Europe.
Visit the striking buildings, formidable galleries and treasure-crammed churches.
For eye-watering attractions you won’t need to venture far from Florence’s medieval core, a Renaissance wonderland containing the graceful span of Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo’s skyscraping dome, the gilded splendour of Basilica di San Lorenzo and the well-hung Uffizi gallery.

 

How to get there

BY AIR;

Italy has quite a few airports.
Rome has two main Airports which are Rome Ciampino and Rome Fiumicino (also known as Leonardo Da Vinci Airport).
Most tourists would be using Rome Fiumicino airport as it is known for being a hub for international and domestic flights including charter traffic.

BY ROAD;

Driving is undoubtedly one of the best – and most adventurous – ways of discovering Italy.

Roads are generally crowded and rush hours in towns and cities should be avoided, particularly in and around Rome.

BY RAIL;

The Italian rail system provides an inexpensive way to travel around Italy. Rail travel enables one to leisurely view the country’s scenic beauty, cities and small villages and to meet many of the local people.

BY SEA;

If you live in the UK or Ireland and want to drive to Italy despite the distance , you will need to take a Ferry. UK drivers can travel to any continental port, and Irish drivers will find it quicker to go via France or Spain, despite the initial longer crossing

BY BUS/COACH;

Comfortable buses with luggage compartments operate on many regional, national, and international routes.

 

Festivals

There are many local events and festivals here`s just a few;

The Palio in Siena
Il Palio is held twice yearly in July and August in the historic city of Siena. The festival is held in honour of the Virgin Mary and dates from the Middle Ages and involves a series of colourful pageants, a wild horse race around the town’s main square Il Campo, and of course lots of eating, drinking and partying in the streets!.

Agrigento, Sicily
Almond Blossom Festival (February)
Arezzo, Tuscany
Joust of the Saracen (September)
Naples, Campania
Festival of San Gennaro (September)
Palermo, Sicily

Feast of Santa Rosalia (July)

Pisa, Tuscany
Maritime Republic Regatta (Check annual schedule)
Rome, Latium
Festa De Noiantri (July)
Sansepolcro, Tuscany
Crossbow Palio (September )
Sassari, Sardinia
Sardinian Cavalcade (Next to last Sunday in May)
Siena, Tuscany
Palio (July  and August)
Venice, Veneto
Carnival (Februry/ March))

 

Eating  Dining  Shopping

Pasta plays a substantial part in Italian recipes, but nearly all regions have developed their own special dishes.

     Tuscany: Food:

  • Bistecca alla fiorentina (thick T-bone steak grilled over charcoal, sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper and olive oil),
  • Minestrone alla fiorentina (tasty vegetable soup with slices of country bread),
  • Pappardelle alla lepre (pasta with hare sauce),
  • Tortina di carciofi (baked artichoke pie),
  • Cinghiale di maremma (wild boar from Maremma region near Grosseto) and dishes of ham, sausages and steaks.
  • Panforte di Siena (confection of honey, candied fruits, almonds and cloves),
  • Castagnaccio (chestnut cake with nuts and sultanas)
  • Ricciarelli (delicate biscuit of honey and almonds from Siena).

 

      Rome: Food:

  • Abbacchio (suckling lamb in white wine flavored with rosemary),
  • Cannelloni (pasta stuffed with meat, calves’ brains, spinach, egg and cheese),
  • Broccoli romani (broccoli in white wine),
  • Salsa romana (sweet-sour brown sauce with raisins, chestnut and lentil purée served with game)
  • Gnocchi alla romana (semolina dumplings).
  • Rome’s cheeses the best include mozzarella, caciotta romana (semi-hard, sweet sheep cheese),
  • Pecorino (hard, sharp sheep’s milk cheese)
  • Gorgonzol

 

Wines

Italy has over 20 major wine regions, from Valle d’Aosta on the French border to Sardinia and Sicily in the south.
Wines are named after grape varieties or after their village or area of origin.

 

Shopping

Visit the main shopping areas in each city for the fashion/designer stores and wander down the small streets for the speciality shops.

 

History

Italy has shaped the cultural and social development of the whole Mediterranean area, deeply influencing European culture as well. Important cultures and civilizations have existed there since prehistoric times. After Magna Garcia, the Etruscan civilization and especially the Roman Republic and Empire that dominated this part of the world for many centuries, Italy was central to European philosophy, science and art during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Modern Italy became a nation-state on March 17, 1861, when most of the states of the peninsula were united under king Victor Emmanuel II of the Savoy dynasty, which ruled over Piedmont. The architects of Italian unification were Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, the Chief Minister of Victor Emmanuel, and Giuseppe Garibaldi, a general and national hero. Rome itself remained for a decade under the Papacy, and became part of the Kingdom of Italy only on September 20, 1870, the final date of Italian unification. The Vatican is now an independent enclave surrounded by Italy, as is San Marino.

 

Useful telephone numbers

Emergency Number – Police  Tel: 113
Airport Information Venice Marco Polo Airport -Telephone: (0)4 1260 6111
Train station:

Tourist Office: Tel +39 06 49711

Holiday rents online:

National Transport Line

24 hour medical service; Tel 118

 

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