While the country of Italy is like one big tourist attraction in itself, there are several gems that just need to visited to feel the rhythm and pulse of this pulsating country. Italy comes in 5th in terms of number of tourists it gets every year making it a big tourist destination for travellers all around the world. Brimming with riches, there are over 44 World Heritage Sites located in the country, some of which are entire cities or regions. So pack our bags to explore the famed marvels of Rome or find that much needed romance in the teal blue canals of Venice by following the best travel tip that came from ancient Rome- ‘Carpe Diem’ (Seize the Day)!!!
Roman Colosseum: Considered to be the largest and the most famous amphitheaters of the Roman world, the Colosseum is an iconic sight of Italy. Nicknamed the Colosseum due to the colossal Nero statue that stood before it, the place is nearly 2000 years old and was used for spectacles and games for over 500 years. This is the place where the gladiators fought, animals were condemned and prisoners were sentenced. Though ravaged by man and nature both since quite few centuries, the place still holds a fascinating history within its walls. The majestic walls give the reflection of what the life in its prime had been in the noisy, anarchic and bustling heart of Roman Empire.
Leaning Tower of Pisa: Built over a period of 177 years, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most remarkable medieval European architectural structures of Italy. It was soon after the construction of the tower that it began to tilt which accounted for the place being closed off several times in the recent years for the fears that it would just topple off. However, the place I again open for those who wish to experience the history by climbing its 296 steps. This free standing structure is in fact a bell tower for the adjacent cathedral known worldwide for its unintended tilt to one side. Standing at a height of 55.86 m from ground on low side and 56.67 m from the high side, the place is the drowning glory of the country.
Pompeii: One of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy, Pompeii is the true reflection of people living back in 8th Century B.C. Buried under the ashes and lava from the erupting volcano of Versuvius, the place is a marvel to explore. Still preserved in its original state from that fateful day, the place is frozen in time complete with tables and jars and paintings to people going about their normal routine. Located right in the vicinity of the menacing Versuvius, the place has several frescoes of interest that make the place an interesting visit for tourists all over the world. Located right next to this famous town are some other equally fascinating relics such as Herculanem, Stabie and Pompei with a single ‘I’.
Venice: Popularly called as the ‘City of Water’, the labyrinth of canals located in venice make this place a crowning jewel in the tourist map of Italy. With the romantic charms of gondolas and Italian architecture jostling for space, the celebrated hallows of this city is full of myriad attractions that are sure to capture your heart and imagination both. The magic of Saint Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace are the most striking monuments of the city’s skyline playing an apt companion to the charms of 150 water canals criss- crossing the city. The place is everything your romantic heart could ever dream of.
Vatican Museum: One of the best things about visiting Rome is that you can visit two countries on your vacation within the cost of one and without even leaving the city limits of Rome. Spend a day in the Vatican City viewing some of the best masterpieces of the world in the Vatican Museum. Located within the labyrinth of the museum maze are revered treasures of artistic worlds of Egypt, Etruria and Near East with sculptures that even the ancient Romans considered to be ancient. Then there are those paintings that are considered to be the most famous of their counterparts. Take your time going over these masterpieces and you are going to end up with an experience of a lifetime.
Spanish Steps: The Spanish steps and the Piazza of Rome are considered to be an incredibly romantic place to spend an evening with your loved one. This long grand staircase of Rome connects two main piazzes of the city- Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Trinita dei Monti. Serving a grand backdrop for many shows and events throughout the year, the place plays host to a popular fashion show in summer, a nativity scene in Christmas and some extraordinary floral displays in spring. Several other places of interest are located right in the vicinity of the base of these steps including a fountain right in the centre of the piazza and the house where popular English poet John Keats died.
Cinque Terre National Park: Meaning ‘five lands’ in Italian, this place consists of five different villages though of collectively and visited together though each of them still retains a unique personality. Part of the charm of this place lies in its lack of modern development. Providing a breath-taking view of the Mediterranean Sea, the place offers a charming laid back tourist destination to those who like to hike and enjoy their natural surroundings to the fullest.
Amalfi Coast: Long popular with the rich and the famous, the pastel coloured houses of Amalfi Coast crawl up the hillsides making the place an Italian version of French Riviera. Stretching along the western coast of Italy, the coast has towns spilling right into the Tyrrhenian Sea with some going up the cliff having some killer views. Having featured in many movies, songs, poems and stories, the place is quite popular with the rich and wealthy though you can get some great deals in the off season.
Catacombs of the Capuchins: The Catacombs of Capuchins, located in Sicily, are one of the most macabre attractions of the Italian tourist map. Housing some well and some extremely well preserved corpses, the cemetery is an experience in itself with the array of mummified bodies laid on display dressed in their best clothes. It is said that initially people were buried in this place because they were found to be mysteriously well preserved in in this place. Later, people wished to be buried here and they were done so according to their vocation, status and gender. Oldest of all bodies at this place is that of Friar Silvestro da Gubbio dating all the way back to 1599. Last body to be laid to rest at this macabre place is that of a 2 year old girl named Rosalia Lombardo who died in 1920 of pneumonia. Laying there under a blanket and wearing a bow and serene expression, she is popularly known as the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in Sicily.
St Peter’s Basilica: Considered to be one of the most important Christian sites of the world, St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City has a long and illustrious history that few can rival. Having operated at the very heart of the Christianity for centuries, the place still retains its religious role while being frequented by tourists from all over the world. A masterpiece in itself, the place has beautiful interiors, several renaissance artistic gems and tombs of some of the most influential popes of the history. The place is also a part of the UNESCO world heritage site of the Roman city.
Ostia Antica: One of the hidden gems of the Italian tourist map, Ostia Antica is an extraordinary Roman site containing the ruins of the port town that were once the gateway to Rome. Located just half an hour away from central Rome by train, the place is a historical gem minus the maddening tourist crowd. Once a witness to the rise, dominance and eventually decline of the Roman empire, the place was slowly abandoned over the centuries. Once can explore the ruins of this ancient town that contain Baths of Neptune, a well preserved Roman theatre, military camp, ancient temples, forums and the Ostia Synagogue, considered to be the oldest synagogue site in Europe. Providing a peek into the lives of ancient Romans, the place gives you an in depth knowledge of the way these people lived.
Palazzo Pitti: Synonymous with the idea of wealth, luxury and status, the place is the home of one of the most notorious Italian families, the Medici. This ornate residential home houses several museums and the famous Palatine Gallery that contains the works of the best at masters from round the world including the Raphaels and the Rubens. Another attraction of this place is its majestic Boboli Gardens that have inspired many other European estates to emulate the same stunning, vast and tranquil surroundings.
Tuscany: Considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance movement, Tuscany is also the birthplace of some important names in Italian history- Michaelangelo, Botticelli, Dante, Galileo, and Da Vinci. The place is quite well known around the world for its artistic legacy, its history, traditions, landscapes and its impact on the high culture of Italy. Also known as ‘a nation within a nation’, the place has a strong cultural and linguistic identity of its own. With over seven World Heritage Sites located within its limits, the place is well frequented by millions of tourists from all over the world.
Pantheon: Located in the historical city of Rome, the Pantheon, as its name suggests , is a majestic Roman building still looking as it did thousands of years ago. Possibly one of the best preserved buildings of the era, the place has been in constant use since it was first built. Literally meaning ‘all the gods’, the place was originally built as a temple to all the seven gods of ancient Rome. A source of wonder since it was first erected; walking in this stunning architectural monument is an experience in itself. This is also the place where the famous painter Raphael along with the two Italian kings and a queen is buried. However, it is the feel of history enveloping you that makes you feel awed as you take steps down the hallways of the place.