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Broad appeal, but especially for Centric-Venturers, Mid-Venturers and Centric-Authentics

Did You Know…?

  • Two independent countries lie within Italy’s borders: San Marino and Vatican City.
  • Marco Polo did not bring pasta to Italy; the Italians had already thought of it.
  • Turin was Italy’s first capital (1861), followed by Florence (1865) and Rome (1871).
  • Italy is home to about one in 20 of the world’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Leonardo da Vinci considered himself an engineer.

The boot of Europe

Italy, a relatively small peninsula in southern Europe, was the heart of one of the world’s greatest empires — and later nurtured one of the most important developments in modern times, the reopening of the western mind known as the Renaissance. These events produced for our enrichment a vast collection of artifacts, ancient structures, paintings, sculptures — the things historians and artists want to preserve and tourists want to see.

It is no wonder that, as the seat for the Roman Empire and the birthplace of the Renaissance, Italy produced a vast array of important artifacts, buildings and works of fine art. It is something of a wonder, though, that so much survived. Relying on UNESCO statistics, Italy claims it has two-thirds of the world’s historical artistic heritage.

So, art and history lovers can choose a region to visit based on any factor — local food or wine, the terrain, the climate, etc. — knowing there will be treasures no matter where they go.

Nevertheless, most travelers on a first visit want to see the city the caesars built, the city where Michelangelo launched his career and the city where gondolas aren’t just for show — so they choose a route that encompasses Rome, Florence, perhaps some Tuscan countryside and Venice.  That leaves much rich fodder for later trips, either in the south (such as the Amalfi Coast and sunny Sicily) and north (sophisticated Milan or Turin, plus the Alps and the northern lakes).

As if that were not enough, Italy gets an extra popularity boost because it is a beautiful country with lakes, rolling hills, mountains — good for boating, hiking, skiing and a wide range of other outdoor pursuits. Besides, the food is good; aficionados come to Italy for cooking classes or simply to wine and dine their way around the country.

The prices give some pause when North America’s dollars are weak. The prices pinch, but tourists can be remarkably resilient.

All personality types appreciate Italy, a country that presents so many faces that every traveler can find something to enjoy. Besides, Italians are welcoming and the country offers good weather most of the year.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Go to Venice for Carnival. Celebrants dress up in Commedia dell’Arte style, and concerts and all kinds of festivities abound.
  • Jump on a mountain bike and take to the hills and mountains of northern Italy — or wherever the mood strikes and the temperatures are cool enough for comfort.
  • Overnight at a holiday farm in one of Italy’s national parks. The experience is essentially a sojourn at a working farm with some features added, like a restaurant, to accommodate tourists. Alternatively, stay at a mountain hut for better access to hiking trails or mountain climbing.
  • Hiking is the most common outdoor pursuit in Italy’s parks, but depending on the park, you can go caving, canoeing, diving, horseback riding — or pursue a raft of other interests.
  • Visit Pompeii, or what one can see of the city that was famously destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79. Yes, you will see some of the erotic scenes on house walls so this is probably not a trip for the kids, but you also will get new insights into the life of a first century resident of today’s Italy.
  • Go rock climbing in the Dolomites.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Ski the Alps, or take a guided snowshoe tour in the Dolomites. Spend evenings with pasta and good local wine in laid-back restaurants.
  • Take a wine tour through some of Italy’s premier vineyards south of Florence. Indeed, sample the local wines in every region.
  • Hone your skills in the kitchen. Sign on for a cooking tour of Italy. Women-only options are available, too.
  • Attend one or more out-of-the-ordinary festivals: Ivrea Carnival in Ivrea which wraps up with three afternoons of orange-tossing battles or the Festival of the Betrayed Spouse in Rocca Canterano which celebrates the victims of spousal betrayal.
  • From Venice, visit some of its nearby islands. Burano is noted for its colorful low houses, doors and windows, and Murano is known as the island of glassworks (since 1291). You will want to buy Venetian glass before leaving town, too.
  • From Genoa, Naples and a number of other ports, take a ferry to Sardinia or Sicily to take in the points of historical and cultural interest on either island.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Book time at a spa and be part of a time-honored tradition. From the era of the Romans, thermal waters and baths have been a feature of local life.
  • Take a cruise on one of the lakes of the north (Como, Garda or Maggiore); in summertime, look for the option of a nighttime cruise and dining or dancing or both.
  • Travel back in time. Attend the reenactment, on the first weekend of July, of a 1499 battle between Florence and Venice in the small town of Mignano, and sample foods based on recipes from the same Renaissance time period.
  • Go to the opera at Verona’s colosseum. The seats are hard but think of the experience as a way to connect with the ancient Romans.
  • Arrange to see Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” which was painted on what was literally a lunchroom wall in the Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.
  • Play golf against the backdrop of your choice: a lake, the mountains, the sea or one of Italy’s famed art cities.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Italian Government Tourist Board at and choose your language if necessary.