Of all the countries in the world, there is perhaps none more magical than Italy. This dream destination is blanketed in a rainbow of colors; from lush vineyards and snowcappedmountains to golden sands and deep blue seas. Replete with celebrated monuments, medieval churches and Renaissance palaces, Italian cities are veritable living museums. If time permits, visit Rome, Venice and Florence… but don’t miss out on the seaside pleasures that coastal Italy provides.
Rome, “The Eternal City”
The capital of Italy, Rome is at once a mecca of ancient history and a lively, modern metropolis. The city’s magnificent sites are seemingly infinite and include the Coliseum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the legendary Trevi Fountain. Explore the centro storico or historic center, a patchwork of medieval streets not far from the elegant avenues of haute couture. After a day of touring, do as the Romans do. Sip some vino or espresso by moonlight at a sidewalk café and watch the world go by.
Venice is one of Italy’s most beautiful and romantic cities. Built upon 117 bodies of land, its more than 400 bridges and 150 canals are its “streets”. The Grand Canal is the main thoroughfare and cuts through the center of the city. Hugged by gorgeous buildings and peppered with colorful boats, it’s a popular waterway for gondola tours. Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) is the main square of Venice, lined with chic cafés and trendy boutiques. Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Cathedral) is a stunning example of Byzantine architecture and sits on the east end of the square.
The Fascination of Florence
Florence is a grand showcase of Renaissance architecture and art. Marvel at the majesty of the Romanesque Baptistery, Gothic Duomo and Renaissance basilicas. Witness, first-hand, the works of Michelangelo, Botticelli and Da Vinci at formidable galleries such as the Uffizi, Pitti and Accademia. Performing arts are as plentiful. Concerts, theater, opera and ballet flourish. The capital of Tuscany, this stylish city is also a fashionista’s paradise and home to the likes of Gucci and Ferragamo. When the shops close, it’s time to mangia! Savor a simple Tuscan meal of polenta with sausage at a trattoria or go gourmet at an upscale eatery. Don’t forget the Chianti; you’re in the land where the grape is grown!
The Sparkling Amalfi Coast
A mountainous stretch of coastline wedged between the blue of the sky and sea; a string of charming towns, ancient fishing villages and secluded bays, this is the Amalfi Coast. Just south of Naples, the main town is, of course, Amalfi, an ideal base for exploring the area’s scenic beauty. From here you can tour Ravello, famous for its classical music concerts as well as its colorful gardens perched high in the mountains above the sea; and Positano, a swanky resort town with exclusive restaurants and designer boutiques. To see and be seen among the world’s elite, head for the glitzy Isle of Capri, a short ferry or hydrofoil ride from the mainland.
Italian Riviera, A Timeless Classic
The rustic and elegant, the provincial and chic, the small-town and cosmopolitan… all collide here in a sun-drenched blend that defines the Italian Riviera. There’s the glamour of the chichi resorts at San Remo and Portofino, the tranquil beauty and outdoor adventures of the Cinque Terre and the history and architectural charm of Genoa, Italy’s principal seaport and perhaps the Mediterranean’s most beautiful. Mellowed by the balmy breezes blowing off the sea, you can bask in the sun, explore the picturesque fishing villages and pamper yourself at one of the many luxury resorts that dot this ruggedly wondrous landscape.
In Italy, ciao (pronounced “chow”), is used to mean not only “goodbye,” but more often, “hello.” Once you discover la bella Italia, your first trip will not be your last. This Dream Vacation will make you want to return again and again. Hopefully, you’ll find yourself saying ciao! many times over.Author: Lisa Codianne Fowler, Grand Getaways Lisa Codianne Fowler is an award-winning travel journalist, travel video host and travel radio co-host. She’s covered cities from St. Petersburg, Russia to St. Petersburg, Florida; ridden bum boats in Singapore and swum with sharks in Tahiti. An active Grand Getaways member, she has contributed feature articles from destinations across the globe.