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Italy

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Table of contents

Things to do and See in Italy

Rome


Rome is the capital of Italy and the country’s largest city. It was once the political, religious, and commercial center of the Old Roman Empire. This city was founded in 753 B.C., so it's a great city to go for a walk in.

The city was home to some of the worlds most famous painters like Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Raphael to name but a few. Tourism is the cities number one industry and it’s blessed with a warm Mediterranean climate, so it’s nice to go anytime of the year. There are so many historical buildings to see and look at. We have listed a few of the major attractions to see.
 


Colosseum


The Colosseum is arguably ancient Rome’s most famous building, which was constructed over 900 years ago, was the center of most of the events which occurred in Rome. This huge building with an arch reaching 48m (157ft) into the air and measuring 190m by 155m could once seat over 50,000 people, who use to watch gladiator's fight each other or wild animals as a form of entertainment. The Colosseum is the main tourist attraction in Rome and is definitely worth a look. Admission is €9, but subject to change. For more information on the Colosseum go to www.the-colosseum.net

 


Spanish Steps


Located in the heart of Rome, this vibrant and elegant square is surrounded by 18th-century buildings. The steps consist of twelve flights of varying width, which descend to the scenic Franciscan Church of Trinita dei Monti.
 


Trevi Fountain

Located in the heart of Rome’s centro storico (historic centre), the Trevi Fountain derives its name from its position at the intersection of three roads (tre vie). According to legend, anyone who throws a coin into the water is guaranteed to return to the Eternal City. There has been a source of water at this site for over a thousand years, although it was not until 1485 that Pope Nicholas V commissioned Gianlorenzo Bernini to create the actual fountain. Today it’s considered the most famous and photographed fountain in Rome. Admission is free into the area.

 


Pantheon – Roman Temple


Built by Hadrian between AD119 and AD128, as a temple to the gods, the Pantheon was converted to a Christian church in AD608. It’s one of the most famous of the Roman monuments and one of the world’s architectural wonders. The Pantheon features an interior of gorgeous marble and contains the tombs of Raphael and King Victor Emanuel. Admission is free to get inside.

 


The Vatican City


For all the information on its history and what to see at the Vatican, please click on the link below.

Please Click here for the Vatican City Section

 

 

 

 

Milan


Milan is a beautiful city, but three times in its history, the city had to rebuild after conquest by foreign invaders. Founded in the seventh century BC by Celts, was first sacked by the Goths in the 600s (AD), then by Barbarossa in 1157 and finally by the Allies in World War II, when over a quarter of the city was flattened. One of the cities most important paintings Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ survived a direct hit in World War II.

Today, Milan is the fashion and commercial centre of the world, which plays host to two annual fashion shows. For those who know their fashions this city is home to Valentino, Versace and Armani. It’s an amazing city and there are so many things to do and see. Also, if you are a football fan the city has two of the best teams in the world in Inter Milan and AC Milan, which play at the San Siro Stadium.

 


Duomo (Cathedral)


At the heart of the city, Milan’s Duomo is the world’s largest Gothic cathedral, which opened in 1386. As most of Milan was bombed during World War II, this Cathedral didn’t receive any damage. There is also a statue that has been up since 1774 of the Virgin, the ‘Madonnina’, which stands at 108.5m (119ft) above the city and the statue is lit at night. Admission is free to get into the cathedral and is defiantly recommended.

 


San Siro Stadium

The San Siro was built in 1925 and it’s an 85,000 seat stadium that is the home to AC Milan and Inter Milan, which are two of the best teams in the Europe and who are constantly at the top of the Italian league and playing in Europe year after year. For more information on the San Siro Stadium go to www.sansiro.net or www.acmilan.com or www.inter.it 

 


Santa Maria delle Grazie


The Last Supper (Il Cenacolo) is one of the most famous paintings in the world. Lodovico Sforza commissioned Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece (1495-97) for the refectory adjoining the Dominican church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The painting depicts the moment of Christ’s revelation of the betrayal. The 12 apostles are grouped into threes, Christ at the centre, Judas (described by Vasari as a ‘study in perfidy’) to the right, his hand frozen on the bag of silver on the table. The positions of the figures are thought to relate to the signs of the Zodiac.

Over the years, paint flaked off because Leonardo applied it directly to dry plaster (fresco secco) instead of bonding the pigments with wet plaster (buon fresco). Controversy rages over the recent removal of layers of corrective over painting in the 18th and 19th centuries. Despite deterioration, the painting is lucky to have survived (a bomb destroyed the refectory roof in 1943) and the experience of seeing it for the very first time is quite amazing. Admission is €9, but prices are subject to change.

 


Museo Poldi-Pezzoli (Poldi-Pezzoli Museum)


The Poldi-Pezzoli Museum’s varied and often exquisite collection of art, furnishings and historic arms was put together by the 19th-century aristocrat, Gian Giocomo Poldi Pezzoli (1802-79). Milan’s favorite painting (after The Last Supper), Antonio Pollaiolo’s Portrait of a Lady, hangs here. Admission is €7, but prices are subject to change. For more information on Poldi-Pezzoli Museumgo to www.museopoldipezzoli.it  

 


Corso Buenos Aires

On the north side of the city, this is Milan’s Oxford Street, where you can find anything and everything. On a warm summer’s day the street will be packed with people.

 

 

 

 

Venice


Venice, the city has over 116 islands connected by 409 bridges and it’s where canals replace streets and the city doesn’t need much introduction. It is without a doubt one of the most-visited cities in the world. Famous for its buildings, museums, churches, the canals and tiny alleys truly make it a unique city.

As there is so much water and so little land that space is at a premium everywhere in Venice, especially on its cemetery island, San Michele. Here, you can only be buried for 10 years until they dig you up, send you to the mainland or to a crematorium, and the next person goes in the grave for his / her 10-year stint six feet under.

Venice is a city that has been dying on its feet for years, sinking inexorably into the lagoon that, ironically, for centuries was its natural protection against potential invaders. In 2003, work on the long delayed ‘Moses’ flood gates, designed to control water flow between the Gulf of Venice and the lagoon, finally began. Environmentalists have complained that the 78 hollow sea gates may irrevocably alter the ecological balance of the lagoon, but the city’s citizens are more concerned about the flooding. In the past Venice was an exotic melting pot of East and West, where traders and travelers, including Marco Polo, breezed in and out, peddling their silk and spices. Venice under the Doges was a land of unimaginable wealth and riches that were spent wisely in crafting some of Europe’s most memorable buildings, from the imposing Doges’ Palace itself through to the grand architecture of St Mark’s Square, famously described by Napoleon as the ‘drawing room of Europe’. If you are looking for more on the city of Venice go to www.venetia.it 


Gondola Ride


Gondola rides are a must for every tourist visiting Venice. However, there are two main guidelines that one should keep in mind: if you find it too expensive, don’t go through with it, and if you think the price isn’t too steep, make sure you understood what the gondolier said.

Venice has official rates for gondola rides, and the standard cost is €62 for a 50-minute ride. Exceeding that time will merit €31 per 25 minutes. At night, especially after 8pm, prices can reach €77.50 for 50 minutes. A gondola can carry up to six people.

To avoid inconvenience, make sure that you and the gondolier have agreed on a rate before you enjoy your ride. You may end up remembering your gondola ride for the wrong reasons.

 


St. Mark’s Square


St Mark’s Square was memorably described by Napoleon as the ‘drawing room of Europe’. St. Mark's basilica majestically symbolizes the lagoon and enshrines the city's history as an old maritime power.  The basilica, which was consecrated in 1094, is the third church to be built on the site since the body of St Mark, the city’s patron saint, was reputedly brought here to be buried in AD 828.

The exotic Byzantine architecture of the basilica reflects the Venetian lagoon’s strong trading links with the Orient and the exterior is decorated with marble brought back after the Venetian conquest of Constantinople in 1204. The five vaulted domes which form the roof are set in the shape of a Greek cross. The interior is just as magnificent, which are lit by the expanse of golden mosaics, houses many of Venice’s greatest treasures. Admission into the church is free, but €3 into the gallery. For more information go to www.basilicasanmarco.it

 


Bridge of Sighs


The Bridge of Sighs is one of many bridges in Venice built in the 17th century. The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. It was designed by Antoni Contino, whose uncle Antonio da Ponte had designed the Rialto Bridge. 

The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge name, given by Lord Byron in the 19th century, comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice out the window before being taken down to their cells. In reality, the days of inquisitions and summary executions were over by the time the bridge was built, and the cells under the palace roof were occupied mostly by small-time criminals.

 


Palazzo Ducale (Doges’ Palace)

This building dates back to 1365 when it was built and the Doges’ Palace was once home to the elected leader of Venice. Its arguably Venice’s most popular tourist attraction as the building has Islamic and Gothic styles to it, which give it that historical importance. Inside the building it has more of a Renaissance feeling when it received a refurbishment in the 16th century. Admission into the building is €10.50, but prices are subject to change.

 


Campo San Giacomo dell’Orlo


One of the oldest and liveliest squares in Venice, as you can people watch or check out one of there many restaurants.

 


Fondamenta della Misericordia


Located in Cannaregio, which is a quiet promenade perfect for watching the sunset.

 

 

 

 


Pisa

 

Pisa was once a busy port city, and once had one of the best universities in Italy. Today, Pisa's only known for one thing: the Leaning Tower, which is listed as one of the wonders of the world.


Leaning Tower of Pisa


Constructed in 1174, at a time when the Pisans were enjoying an era of military success, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, located in Pisa’s Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) is famous not only because of its striking beauty but also because of its awkward geometry. It served as the bell tower and as a result of the poor swampy soil beneath, has leaned almost since construction first started. Under normal circumstances, the tower would have fallen long ago. However, to the fact that its construction was often interrupted by war and its limestone is unusually flexible, the tower still stands today, with one side five meters (16ft) closer to the ground than it ought to be. For more information on the Leaning Tower of Pisa go to  www.torre.duomo.pisa.it

 

 

 

 

Florence


Florence is often called the cradle of the Renaissance, and was home to Michelangelo, Medici, and Dante. Florence is thought as of being one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. A visit to Florence (Firenze) is a must for any art lover. UNESCO estimates that 60% of the world’s most important artworks are in Italy, with over half of them located in Florence. If you like looking at art work Uffizi Gallery houses the most important art collections in Italy. The Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 8:30am to 10 p.m., Sunday to 8 p.m.

The Italians are quite open-minded and the fact they have loads of stark naked 15th century marble sculptures around is no surprise. The most famous one is Michelangelo’s marble carving of David. If you do go to Florence we recommend you check out Duomo. This cathedral is the fourth-largest cathedral in the world, as it took 150 years to build it and its 155m long.



Galleria degli Uffizi (Uffizi Gallery)


This Gallery has the most important art collection in Italy and one of the richest in the world and every year it attracts millions of people inside its doors.  Its art collection includes masterpieces such as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation, Michelangelo’s Holy Family, Titian’s Urbino Venus and Caravaggio’s Young Bacchus. If you don’t have much time make sure to view the rooms 7 through to 18, as it has some of the most important pieces. Admission is €9.50, but subject to change. For more information go to www.uffizi.firenze.it

 


Galleria dell’Accademia (Accademia Gallery)

Located near the university this gallery is famous for its masterpiece of Michelangelo’s David. The statue was carved in 1502 and is the museums pride and joy. One other piece to see is Michelangelo’s unfinished Slaves, which is also popular. Admission is €9.50, but subject to change. For more information go to www.sbas.firenze.it/accademia 

 


Ponte Vecchio (Vecchio Bridge)

This beautiful 14th century bridge is actually paved with gold and has been at the centre of the city for so many years that its one of the most important attractions in the city.

 

 

 

 

 

The Rest of the Italy


Sicily (Sicilia)


This island is 4km off the coast of Italy has a reputation as where the Italian Mafia started and it’s partly true. For most of its history it has been invaded by Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, the Germans (and the Allies) during World War II. Because of constantly being invaded it has created a unity among its residents at this where the Mafia history is believed to have come from. The island itself has some beautiful beaches and scenery and is becoming a popular tourist destination.

 


The Italian Riviera


This is the Italians summer playground, as it has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Genoa, which is the biggest city and a short drive from Milan, attracts millions of people every year for its beautiful scenery.

 


Naples


This is the countries third biggest city and its famous for the place pizza was invented. The city itself is beautiful as its set on the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvuis its truly one of the most beautiful cities in the country. One of the biggest tourist things in the city is Pompeii, which is located 22km south of the city.

This was the resort town for the wealthy Romans, which was buried alive when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD. Admission is €9 to visit it, but prices are subject to change. It’s an interesting place and shows how the ancient Romans live, so it’s definitely recommended.

 

 

Verona

This was the location for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and its known as Italy's romantic city. The Casa di Giuletta is a Gothic house from the 13th century and this is the location of the famous balcony from the play. To add to Shakespeare's novel the Verona in Love Festival is held on Valentine's Day and it attracts thousands to the city.

Another tourist attraction in the city is the Anfiteatro Arena, which is the second largest preserved amphitheatre (the other one being the Colosseum in Rome) that is still intact and used as the annual opera festival.

 

 

 

 

 



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