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Italy is one of those places that anyone would love to visit at some point in their life. It is both majestic and familiar, grand and at the same time welcoming. Italy has so many things to offer out there. Exotic sceneries, ancient cities steeped in history, the most beautiful villages, stunning architectural work, an immersive and exotic culture, tremendous artworks- Italy has all of it to offer! As far as geography is concerned, Italy ranks high in it too since it offers the gigantic Dolomite mountains in the north on one hand while the other hand holds the enthralling Puglia beaches. If you are excited and are thinking of planning your next trip to Italy, then read on to find out the best places that you can visit in the country.
Who can forget Rome when one is planning a trip to Italy? In the past the city used to be the capital of most of Europe; today, it is one of the most vibrant cities on the continent. The Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Forum, the Palantine Hill, and the Vatican City are but just a handful of the most famous attractions to go through in Rome- there are so many others. You will be enjoying the magnificence and grandeur of the Sistine Chapel at one moment and then be awestruck by the terrific works of Michelangelo in the next.
However, in between all of this, remember to take in as much of the city itself as you can. You should also spend your time doing menial things such as enjoying a gelato along the Spanish Steps, relaxing within the Borghese Gardens, enjoying leisure in the cafes of Rome and so much more. In short, once you visit Rome and look into the vastness you could explore, you'd simply wish that you could come to Rome again and again.
Florence is one of the most iconic cities from the past being one of the biggest centers for the Renaissance movement. Once you enter the city you will feel like you have entered into a giant museum steeped with artwork and culture here, there, everywhere. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the most remarkable structures in the world because of its gravity-defying immense dome. You could lose yourself entirely as you gaze at the numerous artworks displayed in the Uffizi Gallery and the Pitti Palace. You should also stroll through the Boboli Gardens where you could spend time exploring the artisans’ studios.
Just when you start thinking that Italy cannot get any better, it comes up with Venice- a city without any roadways but interconnected through a variety of canals! You won't find any bus on the streets blowing smoke into the environment since you have to traverse through the city in small boats called gondolas, directed by gondoliers and filling the "streets" with beautiful music!
St. Mark's Square could be regarded as the city center around which most of the top monuments would be found. The Doge's Palace is a terrific site, and just beside it stands the grandeur of Basilica of St. Mark- the tall Campanile overlooks the two structures.
Since Milan is one of the international entry points into Italy, a lot of tourists congregate in this city. Sadly, none of them make it a point in their itinerary to explore this magnificent city. Milan is one of the finest places to look into the long line of art history in Italy, with probably the biggest concentration of all kinds of artistic attractions in the country. Milan also boasts of another specialty on an international scale- fashion! If you are looking forwards to trendy, fashionable items and have a knack for shopping- Milan is probably one of the best places in the world for that.
So many luminaries have been born or worked in their life in Milan. The likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Toscanini, Verdi Enrico Caruso, and the more-recently-renowned Giorgio Armani have all lived or worked in Milan. One could only imagine the kind of artistic grandeur that this place can offer.
One of the most impressive churches in the world, the Il Duomo, is situated in Milan. It is an exceptional church that displays the flamboyant Gothic style of architecture. The world's most famous opera house, La Scala is also among the top attractions in Milan. You will also find Leonardo da Vinci's most renowned painting, The Last Supper, on the walls of one of the monasteries in Milan. And last but not least, a visit to the Quadrilatero is a must for the fashionista in you,
Any trip to Italy would be incomplete if you do not take a visit to the island of Sicily. The monuments, architecture, and natural structures in Sicily are so grand and magnificent that you'd be confused about which one to gaze at and which one could be overlooked. In fact, Sicily has earned the title of seven World Heritage Sites from UNESCO. Three among these are ancient ruin sites, two are architecturally brilliant structures and two of them are naturally occurring wonders. Notable places that you have to visit while in Sicily are Selinunte, for one of the largest Greek temples; Agrigento to witness one of the perfect-most Greek temples in the Valley of Temples; and the mosaics at Villa Romana de Casale covering 3,500 m2.
The only reason Puglia is not one of the best and most-visited destinations in Italy is its remote location. It is located towards the south-eastern corner of the country and narrowly stretches out into the Adriatic Sea. Though churches are a common sight in Italy, you have to visit the ones in this place since they are carved from golden limestone. Salento is located towards the far end at the tip of the stretch and boasts amazing rocky cliffs. You will find exclusive beaches hidden in the coves of the rocky cliffs for you to have a grand time. In fact, you will find some of the finest beaches in Italy in Salento.
The eastern shore of Puglia is taken care of by the Parco Naturale Regionale Costa Otranto. Otranto is a beautiful village and opens up into the beautiful, untouched beaches on Baia dei Turchi. There is a 15th-century castle in the region where you can witness the mountains of Albania over across the Adriatic Sea.
You should also go to Alberobello where you will find trulli villages- trulli is a tiny house with conical roofs and is now a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. You could also live in one of these little houses as you are exploring the region.
Amalfi Coast and Capri
If you want to look into one of the most visually stunning places and drive through one of the most scenic roads in the world, you have to come to Amalfi Coast. The Amalfi Peninsula is situated towards the southern side of Naples and juts out into the bright blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The entire city is built on steep slopes and you will be amazed to find that most of the "streets" in this amazing city are indeed an array of stairways going from here to there.
The city has a naturally calming effect because of its pristine beauty. You will find bright flowers blooming just about anywhere, the emerald waters of the sea washing the beaches below, and so on. The Southern coast features the Amalfi Drive. You could also go to Capri Island by taking a ferry ride to gaze into the brilliant Blue Grotto Sea cave.
Pisa and Lucca
Lucca and Pisa are two nearby towns and you should make sure that you visit both of them, even for half a day. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most iconic structures in the world and nearly everyone has heard about it. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site including the cathedral to which it serves as a campanile and Campo Santo. Lucca, on the other hand, is famous for the Campo dei Miracoli complex, which again, is another terrific Italian masterpiece.
The site of Leaning Tower of Pisa also holds a baptistery designed by Nicola Pisano and displays an intricately carved-out pulpit designated to be a masterpiece among all kinds of Romanesque sculptures. There is also a museum in the area which has a collection of some of the finest works in silver and gold from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period.
Pompeii and Herculaneum
The ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum give a terrific insight into how daily life was in the first century. Mt. Vesuvius, a nearby volcano, erupted in AD 79 and covered the city of Pompeii in a thick layer of ash. The entire city was submerged underneath 6 meters of ash and it was only in the 18th century that excavators started to fond the remains of the city. The ash had beautifully preserved the very day of the volcanic explosion and the buildings and public spaces from that time could be very easily observed.
In the case of the city of Herculaneum, instead of ash, Mt. Vesuvius erupted molten lava which engulfed the entire city. While the heavy ash crashed down into many of the buildings in Pompeii, the flowing lava encapsulated everything on its way and preserved them exactly as it is. This also includes wooden structures, organic matter, textile, food, and so on- namely, everything requires to paint a quaint picture of life in the first century A.D.
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