Italy, country of south-central Europe, occupying a peninsula that juts deep into the Mediterranean Sea. Italy comprises some of the most varied and scenic landscapes on Earth and is often described as a country shaped like a boot.
At its broad top stand the Alps, which are among the world’s most rugged mountains. Italy’s highest points are along Monte Rosa, which peaks in Switzerland, and along Mont Blanc, which peaks in France. The western Alps overlook a landscape of Alpine lakes and glacier-carved valleys that stretch down to the Po River and the Piedmont. Tuscany, to the south of the cisalpine region, is perhaps the country’s best-known region.
From the central Alps, running down the length of the country, radiates the tall Apennine Range, which widens near Rome to cover nearly the entire width of the Italian peninsula. South of Rome the Apennines narrow and are flanked by two wide coastal plains, one facing the Tyrrhenian Sea and the other the Adriatic Sea.
Much of the lower Apennine chain is near-wilderness, hosting a wide range of species rarely seen elsewhere in western Europe, such as wild boars, wolves, asps, and bears.
The southern Apennines are also tectonically unstable, with several active volcanoes, including Vesuvius, which from time to time belches ash and steam into the air above Naples and its island-strewn bay. At the bottom of the country, in the Mediterranean Sea, lie the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.
Looking for inspiration for what to see and do in Italy? Here is a list of Italy’s best-known attractions and must-see sights. Make sure you book tickets in advance if possible to avoid having to wait in a long line.
Ancient Rome's huge amphitheater, built by Emperor Vespasian in AD 80, held as many as 55,000 spectators. Deadly gladiatorial and wild animal fights were often held in the Colosseum but it was used for other events as well. A ticket to the Colosseum includes entrance to the adjacent Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, among Rome's top ancient sites. The Colosseum's top level and underground passages are open only on specially guided tours, also including general admission, such as the Dungeons and Upper Tiers Tour available through Select Italy or Dungeon, Third Level, and Arena Floor offered by The Roman Guy.
The Tuscany town of Pisa is most often visited by tourists wanting to see or climb the Leaning Tower, one of Italy's most well-known attractions. The ornate Romanesque tower is one of Europe's most famous towers. To get to the top, you'll have to climb almost 300 steps. Other monuments that should be visited along with the tower are the adjacent white marble cathedral for which the bell tower was built and the 12th-century Baptistery, the largest in Italy.
The Roman city of Pompeii was buried by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius volcano in 79 AD and now its ruins give a good look at what an ancient Roman city was like. The site includes villas, baths, shops, an arena, temples, and the Forum. There's a lot to see so plan to spend several hours. Select Italy offers a half-day guided tour, Totally Ruined: The Excavations at Pompeii. Pompeii can easily be visited as a day trip from Naples or from Sorrento and Amalfi Coast. The train station in Pompei (the modern city is spelled with one i) is a short walk from the excavations.
Florence's Cathedral, il Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore, tops the list of things to see in Florence and is probably the best known of Italy's cathedrals. When it was completed in 1436, it was the largest church in the world but today it's the third largest. It is best known for its dome, called Brunelleschi's Dome, with its stunning fresco. Visitors can climb the 436 stairs to the top of the dome (ticket required) for fantastic views of Florence.
Saint Mark's Square, or Piazza San Marco, is Venice's main meeting place and one of Italy's most famous squares. Lined with cafes, shops, and a number of museums, the square is home to two of Venice's top monuments, Saint Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace. Saint Mark's Square is the most popular area for tourists. Cafes around the square are expensive and sitting at a table outside will add on an additional service charge but if you plan to linger for a while and enjoy the ambiance, it might be worth it if your budget permits. In the evening, orchestras sometimes play at the cafes.
One of the world's most visited museums, with more than 6 million visitors in 2014, is the huge Vatican Museums complex that includes the famous Sistine Chapel. Although technically not in Italy but in Vatican City, it's the most visited museum by tourists when in Rome. The museum complex is huge and usually crowded. Expect to spend at least several hours and do a little research beforehand about what to see in the Vatican Museums so you can plan your route. Be sure to buy tickets in advance or book a tour so you don't waste time in the ticket line.
Lisa has been in love with travel since taking her first trip at age 16. She has a bachelors degree in Romance Languages and Education and speaks fluent Italian, as well as French and Spanish. She has more than 25 years experience in many areas of the travel business, including American Express Travel, On-site at Villanova University, Air Jamaica, Villa Vacations, corporate and leisure travel.
She started Lisa Bell Travel in October 2003 and has since been using her expertise to plan exciting and memorable trips for clients. Her experience, attention to detail, and knowledge are a few of the reasons that her business has been fueled by referrals.
She specializes in romantic escapes, honeymoons and anniversaries, as well as family travel. She has preferred relationships with many resort owners, managers and key contacts whom she can call for assistance. Lisa has traveled extensively worldwide including Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Bermuda, Canada, and the United States.
Lisa enjoys the excitement of visiting new places, speaking to the people she meets in each country she visits, and thinking of which clients would love going where she has just been! She will help plan your trip by listening to what you envision and using her professional expertise to make it happen.
Lisa is on a never ending quest to attain as much inside knowledge and expertise as possible to help guide you in planning your Dream Vacation and would be happy to plan your next Special Occasion Trip!
Copyright © 2022 Lisa Bell Travel | All Rights Reserved