As a unified state, the Kingdom of Italy only emerged in the second half of the 19th century, a fusion of the Latin (Roman) region and the more rural south. The name Italy can be traced back to ancient times, but was originally used by Greek settlers to refer to the southernmost part of the peninsula only. Its heritage is culturally rich, from the rise of the Etruscan, Hellenic, and Roman civilizations in ancient times to the key role Italy placed in the European Renaissance of the late Middle Ages; influential artists Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo left a legacy that continues to attract millions of visitors even today.
Over centuries, Italy has inspired artists, poets, writers and architects: for those looking for more contemporary inspiration, the country is home to some of the most inspiring fashion designers and popular cuisines in the world. With a landscape and a climate like Italy’s, it’s not that hard to see why. Explore this Mediterranean country for yourself and let the muse take you.
Most beautiful places in Italy
The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s top tourist destinations and is home to some of the country’s wealthiest, glitziest resorts, including the glorious island of Capri.
The Aeolian Islands are a rugged collection of small, volcanic islands clustered between Naples and Sicily; the largest, Lipari is known for its pumice stone quarry, while Stromboli will strike a chord with Bergman aficionados.
The Italian Lakes region encompasses the lakes Maggiore, Como, Garda and Orta. The area has been popular for over a century, with elegant spa towns and fin de siècle hotels making the perfect out-of-season retreat. Other towns, such as Torbole, fill up with water sports enthusiasts come high season.
Urbino was once the home of three Renaissance greats – the artists Botticelli, Piero della Francesca and Raphael. A World Heritage Site today, it’s not far from the popular resort of Rimini and affords glorious views from its hilltop location.
The Dolomite Mountains form the Italian range of the Alps. They are a popular skiing destination in winter and for hiking in summer.
The canals of Venice have long been synonymous with romance, and Venice attracts millions of tourists every year who travel to this ‘city of love’ for the unique architecture, the atmospheric passageways, the canals and the gondolas. As such, there’s no off-season in Venice: book a hotel well in advance to be sure of a room.
With its many antiquities, including the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Castel Sant’Angelo, the ancient city of Rome is one of Italy’s perennial tourist attractions.
Around 2.5 million tourists each year visit Pompeii near Naples. They come to see the spooky remains of the 1,700 year-old Roman city that was preserved in volcanic ash after the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is why most people visit this medieval center of commerce in northern Tuscany; it took more than a century to finish, having begun to sink into its poorly laid foundations shortly after construction began in 1173. It’s possible today to climb the 296 steps to the top of the tower.
Florence is like one vast outdoor museum, so numerous are its artistic and architectural treasures, which are scattered across galleries, churches and museums; Michelangelo’s David continues to leave onlookers in awe 500 years after it was commissioned, while the Uffizi gallery is home to one of the greatest collection of paintings in the world. The city’s beautiful cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore boasts one of the largest domes ever built.
Many visitors come to Tuscany for its beautiful landscape and stunning, well-preserved historic towns, such as Siena, which has managed to retain most of the masterpieces of art and architecture produced in the region’s medieval heyday.
In addition, cities such as Naples, Milan, Genoa, and Bologna are all fascinating settlements with a rich history, wonderful architecture and plenty of shopping and dining possibilities.
Getting to and around Italy
Most visitors from the U.S. and Canada arrive in Italy by plane, and there are numerous airports, including Venice, Rome, Naples, and Milan, that offer international connections. The best prices can be found by taking a little time to google flights to find the best deals. If arriving from other countries in Europe or wishing to tour the region, the state-owned Italian train network Trenitalia is remarkably comprehensive and very reasonably-priced. Hiring a car is also an option for those wishing to see the more remote parts of the country.
Guest post by Aimee Claire. Thank you so much for contributing to Of Revolt, Aimee!