If you decide to take a holiday in Italy, make sure you do as the locals do and embrace the beautiful life or la dolce vita. Italy packs a lot of punch into its boot shaped peninsula, with thousands of years of history, culture, beautiful landscapes and delicious food; your senses will be overwhelmed with delight. Here is a small selection of impressive places that you should definitely include into your Italy travel plans.
On the North West coast of Italy about a 2 hour’s train ride from Pisa is the Cinque Terre, an area comprising of five tiny fishing villages lining the coast. The five towns: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso, sit on the edge of the cliffs with a winding walking path and train track linking them together. The area is a National Park as well as being a UNESCO World Heritage site. Each village has its own character, views of the ocean and great local wine, lemons and food. This is the perfect spot for a chilled out stay, or a break in between visiting cities.
Positano and the Amalfi Coast
Positano, nestled into the Amalfi Coast is just south of Sorrento built high into the cliffs. An incredibly steep town, the buildings and houses at the top are some 800 steps down to the beach below, but it’s worth the trek down. Looking up from the beach is an amazing sight, as the cliff is lined with white buildings, shops, houses, colourful roofs and blooming plants. Whilst on the Amalfi Coast, take a boat trip from Sorrento and ride out to the Isle of Capri, a spectacular island just off the mainland, with pretty villages and blue grottos in caves to discover. Also local to the Amalfi coast is limoncello, a delicious Italian lemon liqueur that is definitely worth a taste.
The eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD devastated the town of Pompeii, but has preserved an incredible relic of Roman life. You can walk around the town, which includes preserved houses, businesses, shops, kitchens and even a brothel. The volcano left a layer of pumice stone of the top of the town, keeping a lot of buildings intact. The town was lost until in 1594, when an architect found the ruins whilst digging a canal. Pompeii is an amazing day out, and is accessible via the Circumvesuviana train from Naples.
This is one epic city! Filled with historical relics, in Rome it feels like the ancient world meets the new. From the view at the Colosseum and the Forum, you can look out to a modern highway, apartment buildings, with renaissance architecture in between. Other famous sites to see are the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica. Rome is a huge city, but if you want to find a more of a village-like neighbourhood, head south of the Tiber River to Trastevere. At night this area comes alive with restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and live music in the squares. A tip worth remembering is that the restaurants down here are not only more authentic, they also are much cheaper than those closer to the city. During the day you can wander through the quieter medieval streets, but at night the area will come alive and other tourists will flock down.
Naples is a grand but also grimy city; however it is very quintessentially Italian. The streets are packed with scooters transporting whole families, tiny laneways offer pastry shops around their corners, and kids play soccer in the piazzas. In Naples though there is one thing that you absolutely must do: eat pizza. Being the birth place of this modern classic meal, make sure to check out the famous Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo on Via dei Tribunali and sample the margherita pizza.
Taking a tour of Italy will leave you charmed and inspired. Italians love life and live it to the full, and being packed with history and beautiful landscape, it’s an incredible pleasure to travel through their country.