Italy is celebrated for its art and its
art of hospitality - warm and welcoming. Italy is one of
the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. A country
for all seasons. Spring comes early and autumn lingers long. In winter, the
Italian Alps offer superb scenery and skiing. Italy is definitely diverse,
its natural scenery ranging from the sunny southern Alpine slopes to
colourful Sicilian orange groves. Its historical background is just as
varied and preserved in colourful folklore festivals. Italy and its islands
can boast over 5000 miles of sunny shoreline with beautiful beaches and
ideal water temperatures. And culture is always in season. Tour historic
buildings and marvel at the world's greatest art treasures.
Florence lies on the River Arno and is the birthplace of
the Renaissance. Its entire centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t
miss: the Uffizi Gallery (closed Mondays) to see some of the greatest Old
Master paintings in the world; Michaelangelo’s statue of David; the uniquely
beautiful Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) over the River Arno; the Duomo
(cathedral), with its magnificent dome and amazing tiled floor; and the view
across the Arno over Florence from the famous Boboli Gardens (and while you
are there you can take in the Medici family’s Pitti Palace museum and
Pisa is most famous for its leaning campanile, the
much-photographed ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’, open again now that its lean has
been stabilised. It is 294 steps to the top. Don’t miss: the Piazza dei
Miracoli, where you will find the leaning tower, the Cathedral and
Baptistry, and many architectural and sculptural gems.
Siena: The red-brown stone of this medieval city throngs
around Italy's finest old square, the Piazza del Campo. Don’t miss: the
Duomo – surely the most unusual and beautiful interior of them all; the
Palazzo Publico (Town Hall), housing the Civic Museum showing many
masterpieces; and the view from the top of the Torre del Mangia, one of the
highest old bell towers in Italy. Do miss: the Palio, the ten-horse race
round the Campo on the weekends of 2nd July and 16th August. Apart from the
crowds, there is the issue of cruelty, with horses sometimes dying from
falls on the slippery surface and tight turns.
Lucca is famous for its intact Renaissance city walls.
Don’t miss: the walk round the walls (takes about an hour, or more if you
get on and off to see other sights); the Guinigi Tower, with a large tree
growing out of the top, can offer good views over the medieval city, but
gets crowded at times; try the Clock Tower in Via Fillungo, which is less
crowded and gives the best photo of the Guinigi Tower.
Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis and pilgrim
destination for hundreds of years, is a town in the province of Perugia
which is another UNESCO World Heritage Site for its magical historic
architecture. Don’t miss: the Basilica di San Francesco, which is actually
two churches, a plain Romanesque lower church in the spirit of St Francis,
and a Gothic upper church, full of marvellous art (guided tours lasting an
hour offered from 9am to 5pm except Sundays); and four km east of the town
are the caves where St Francis lived as a hermit in the early 13th century,
the Eremo delle Carceri, which you can walk to through the oak woods.
Verona, a city in northern Italy, capital of Verona
Province, in the Veneto Region, on the Adige River, is one of the most
popular tourist destinations in Italy. Don’t miss: Juliet’s Balcony (which
you can see for free) and her house and museum (for which you pay) – but
don’t forget Romeo and Juliet are fictional characters in Shakespeare’s
play! - ; the Roman amphitheatre, which still hosts performances in summer;
and the medieval Lamberti Tower which gives an excellent view over the town
from 84m up (lift 1 euro extra).