Italy is a country that is steeped in history, and dotted with some of the most stunning and dynamic cities on the planet. To see as much of its beauty as possible, try Italy tours that expose you to several cities within a single vacation. Three of the most beloved are Rome, Florence and Venice. While each offers its own set of attractions to visitors, they share in the grandeur and beauty that the country is famous for.
Step into history with a tour of the Colosseum, a significant structure that has been standing for nearly 2,000 years. Originally commissioned as a gift to the Roman people by Emperor Vespasian, it was officially named the Flavian Amphitheater when it opened.
For centuries, it was actively used for games and spectacles, including gladiator combat and wild animal shows. While the ravages of time and builders hunting for materials have done away with two-thirds of the structure, the remaining parts of the Colosseum are a popular destination for tourists, and a small link to antiquity.
After a long day strolling through ancient ruins, you’ve probably worked up quite an appetite. Why not stop and enjoy some of Rome’s world-famous cuisine? While many of the country’s dishes have been exported and enjoy a worldwide audience, there is nothing quite like eating truly authentic Italian food.
Start your meal with bruschetta, a lightly toasted bread rubbed with garlic and topped with peppers, tomatoes and oil. As an entree, enjoy some pasta, the dish for which the area is widely-known and celebrated. Choose among a bevy of delicious sauces, including carbornara (eggs, pecorino cheese and bacon), amatriciana (pork cheek, pecornio and tomato) and alfredo (parmesan cheese and butter). Finish your meal with a crostata di ricotta, one of Rome’s best-loved regional desserts. This rich cheesecake is made with ricotta, flavored with oranges or lemons, and finished with Marsala.
What better activity after a filling meal than a leisurely walk? Loosen your belt and stroll over to the Trevi Fountain; the largest fountain of its kind in the city, and one of the most admired across the world. It features stunning iconography, including a 16-foot tall statue of Ocean, the divine personification of the sea. His beard is said to represent wisdom.
Before leaving the Trevi Fountain, don’t forget to toss your coin into the fountain! Legend has it, this coin toss will ensure that the traveler will someday return to the city.
A couple hundred miles north and inland of Rome lies Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region. As a worldwide center of art, history, and fashion, it has a wide appeal to guests of all sorts. It’s not surprising to learn that Florence attracts about 2 million visitors annually.
The history of Florentine art is, in large part, the history of Western art itself. Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael all lived in and were heavily influenced by the city’s aesthetic, and collectively contributed some of the greatest and most important works of art in the world.
Their works can be found at museums all around the city, such as the Uffizi, one of the world’s most prominent galleries. 10 of the 15 most visited museums in Italy can be found within Florence’s city limits, making Florence the prime destination in the world of Italian art.
Florence isn’t just famed for the sort of art that hangs on walls in museums. It’s also well-known for the kind of art that hangs off of shoulders in fashion shows. By the year 1300, it was a major producer of textiles for Europe, and the rich families of the Renaissance would purchase their finest clothing there. That heritage continues to this very day, as major fashion lines such as Chanel and Prada have large offices and stores in the city, making it one of the best areas in the world to shop for high-end clothes.
Continue north to reach Venice, the capital of Italy’s Veneto region. A uniquely built city, it is actually an archipelago comprising over 100 islands formed by 177 canals, traversed by more than 400 bridges. Despite this unique layout, the city has managed to fully modernize, making visiting an experience you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the world.
Unsurprisingly, Venice has become well-known for its water vehicles, including one in particular: the Gondola. A flat-bottomed rowing boat, it is well-suited to navigating the lagoon, and was for many years the primary mode of transport around the city.
Today, they delight visitors, who are ferried in them by professional row men known as gondoliers. A highly skilled profession, entrance into the controlling union requires training, apprenticeship, a major comprehensive exam, and a practical skills assessment to determine that the applicant will be able to handle the tight waterways. This high barrier of entry means that no matter who it is that is rowing your gondola, you can feel safe and remain focused on taking in all of the beautiful architecture that you see.
No matter what cities in the country you visit, Italy vacations are uniquely breathtaking. Between the food, the culture and the history, there is something that is sure to delight any sort of traveler.