Italy Travel Guide


Italy Adventure Travel Guide: Ideas and Inspiration

PureTravel Says: “Italy presents travellers with a host of incredible sights, many dating back to the start of Western civilization. The beauty and splendour of Italy knows no bounds, and the historical and cultural sites beckon those who love to learn more about our world. Travelling by train anywhere in the country is a simple task, and you can take in shopping and museums or participate in summer water sports. The route along the Amalfi Coast or touring Rome’s hub could be your opportunity to experience some of the most incredible sightseeing you’ve ever done.”

Holiday Highlights

Culture & History – Museums throughout Italy showcase incredible collections of artifacts, archaeological finds and famous artworks. Visit Galleria Borghese in Rome, or the La Torre di Pisa in Florence. Italy has remained the center of European life for centuries and all is there to view in the historic sites and displays. Ruins of ancient Rome are still silhouetted against the skyline at twilight and the Christian Rome life is visible to the naked eye.

Sightseeing – You’ve often heard about or seen pictures of the famous spots in Italy, revered by those who have already visited. There are too many to list, but a few of those you must see are the Pincio Gardens, Quirinal Hill and the Spanish Steps in Rome. In Florence you have to visit Michelangelo's "David," of course, and stop by Piazzale Michelangelo for some unbelievable sights. All through Italy, no matter your destination, there is sightseeing enough to keep you occupied for weeks and weeks.

Trekking – Along the coast and through the mountains of gorgeous Italy, the choice of adventures is entirely yours. Trekking this great country will show you the charm and beauty of this fabulous country, filled with history and incomparable sights. Take a pilgrimage route from Rome or hike Tuscany. The options are many and your enjoyment is guaranteed.

Cycling – Italy is a paradise for cycling, with safe roads and lovely views. Italians are gracious and respect the rider in all parts of the country, often calling out words of encouragement as you are touring. Pedalling the narrow streets of a tiny village, you will feel you are in some dream landscape. As you climb a pass in the mountains to the north, you will begin to believe you are on another planet. Try some remote secondary road between Milan and Lake Como. Cycling in Italy, among the rolling hills and vineyards, will win your heart.

Water Sports – With Italy surrounded on three sides with the azure seas, you can imagine that water sports are popular in all areas. Swimming and sailing, water polo and diving, rowing and motorboat racing all can be found at the seaside resorts. Play water basketball, invented by Italians, or water ski in the brilliant yet caressing sun. Beach holidays are wonderful in Italy.

Winter Sports – For the best in Italian winter sports you will go to the Italian Alps, with the major resorts and accommodating facilities. There the skiing will be challenging and exciting. Cross-country skiing is a favourite in Northern Italy, and in Central Italy you can find popular resorts such as Abetone and Campo Imperatore. But skiing isn’t everything. You will have plenty of opportunity to try your hand at ice hockey, figure skating or bobsledding.

Climbing – Rock climbing in Italy provides everything you’re looking for, from the big walls to navigating the pinnacles, from scaling the towers to one pitch climbs. Climbing the Italian landscapes highlights the sheer diversity of the landscapes, with you as a central part of it.

When to Go

The best time to travel to Italy is from April to June and in late September to October. At these times the temperatures are the mildest and there aren’t huge crowds. From June to the middle of September, the summer crowds can be busy. August is when the heat is intense and many Italians take a vacation for the entire month.

Top Tips

  • Wear comfortable shoes, as you will be doing a lot of walking on your holiday.
  • There aren’t many public toilets. You can find some in large railway stations. Sometimes you have to pay for their use. And carry some toilet paper with you, as many public toilets won’t have any available.
  • When traveling on the train, ensure you get your ticket stamped at a yellow machine along the track. If you fail to get it stamped, the conductor on the train can hand-stamp it for you if you explain the situation.
  • Making phone calls within Italy will require a telephone card, which can be purchased from a tobacco shop with sign of a white letter T on a black background.

Holidays In Focus

Culture and History

Rome is the best place to begin your cultural education. You can see many sides to this city, from ancient to medieval or from Christian to Renaissance. The Capitoline Museum in the Piazza del Campidoglio offers fragments from a gigantic sculpture of Constantine and artifacts range from those of the 1st century BC to the 17th century AD. The Keats-Shelley Memorial House is the apartment where the English poet, John Keats, spent the last months of his life. You can see memorabilia and paintings of Keats, Shelly or Byron. At Galleria Borghese you’ll discover several paintings by Caravaggio and some Bernini sculptures.

You must also visit the Napoleonic Museum and the Vatican Museum on your trip. The Colosseum and the Pantheon, as well as the Roman Forum go without saying. In Florence, see how the Medici's lived by touring the Palazzo Pitti. See the incredible leaning tower of the La Torre di Pisa and climb to the top for an aerial view. Its 294 steps to the top and you are allowed only 30 minutes each visit. The Baptistery in Florence is also a place you must see, with descriptive artwork praised by Michelangelo. Climb the Campanile for a panoramic view of Florence.

Sightseeing

Incredible sightseeing awaits you in Italy. There is probably no other country in the world so filled with such sights and sounds as that of this lovely country. In Rome the Arch of Constantine commemorates the Battle of the Milvian Bridge and you can see where the ancient temple of Jupiter stood on Capitoline Hill. Walk to the top when on the Janiculum Walk so you can see the lovely views of the Alban Hills.

At Pincio Gardens you will also find unbelievable vistas of Rome, especially at sunset. On Quirinal Hill, the highest of hills in Rome, you can discover St. Peter's dome in the distance. In Via del Corso you will see the famous street where in the 19th century numerous cafés, boutiques, and bookstores thrived. Now you can visit the present-day shops and cafés.

Don’t pass up a chance to see Michelangelo's "David" in Florence, or the inspiration of the Neptune Fountain, surrounded by delightful sculptures. Ponte Vecchio was built in 972 AD and is lined by the best goldsmiths and jewellers in Florence. You will have the opportunity to pick up some wonderful souvenirs and trinkets at Mercato Nuovo (New Market) and also see this fascinating market that has been in operation since the sixteenth century.

Trekking

Among the places that are popular trekking on an Italian holiday are the Valcamonica, where you can view incredible rock art, and along a pilgrimage trail called La Via Francigena. Hike the Cinque Terre or around the Ligurian Mountains for a terrific wandering journey. Tour the Amalfi coast and don’t miss the Island of Capri. See the rock carvings by trekking the Val Camonica in the Cal Camonica valley. Through small villages with narrow streets, past women draped with shawls and old men whittling on the stoops, you will see the best that Italy has to offer.

Cycling

You can first take part in some spectator sports by watching the Giro d'Italia, a famous long distance bicycle race. But you want to cycle this lovely country yourself, cycle through Imperia and see breathtaking views with rich natural sites to see along the way. Bike the Ligurian Alps and perhaps catch a glimpse of some alpine hares or a golden eagle. In Lombardy, one of the largest areas in Italy, you will not only see wonderful hilly sections of the country, but also enjoy the lakes in the foothills of the Alps. Sleepy villages in the Veneto highlight the age-old tradition of cycling. One of the smallest regions of Italy can offer immense pleasure in your biking adventure as you cycle past plains, beaches and lagoons so you’ll find that Friuli-Venezia Giulia is magical in its wonders.

Probably the most fascinating area to travel is Tuscany. Moving along from the Tyrrhenian coast through the wooded slopes of the Apennine Mountains, you will be able to observe workers in the fields, thick forests and historic villages. If cycling is your passion then Italy will charm you with its incredible history and landscapes.

Water Sports

With over 5,000 miles of coastline, Italy has become one of Europe’s best summer holiday destinations. Facilities can be found to make your holiday more enjoyable, like deckchairs being made available for a small charge. You’ll find whatever you desire at the major resorts. There’s a large 219-mile stretch from France to Tuscany, which is known as the Italian Riviera, and the Adriatic or Amalfi coasts are also top choices. Surf in Mauro or go diving along the coast of Tuscany or Liguria. Rivers in northern Italy offer some great fishing. You can go sailing on any of the lakes throughout the country, such as Como, Lugano, Maggiore or Garda.

Winter Sports

The Italian Alps are the perfect choice for skiing, snowboarding and various other winter sports. Anywhere you find skiing, you’ll also find other winter fun, like snowboarding, bobsledding and snowmobiling. If you head west of Turin, you’ll be able to experience the resorts of Sauze d’Oulx or Sestriere in the Piedmont region. In the eastern regions of Italy, you can visit the Dolomites, but continue east and you’ll find some great skiing destinations and the resorts of Madonna di Campiglio and Cortina D’Ampezzo.

Further north, the Aosta Valley will be the area to visit, where you can take one of the highest cable cars in all of Europe and see the Matterhorn, Monte Bianco and the Monte Rosa with a number of fabulous ski resorts. Don't miss Central Italy, Abetone in Tuscany and Campo Imperatore in Abruzzo.

Climbing

For the best in climbing, you can try out the Dolomites, with multi-day excursions, retracing the paths of the pioneers such as Buhl, Solda and Comici. You will experience the peaks of the Alps, the Lake Garda Range and the Brenta Range. The Brenta Range actually belongs to the Central Alps and is bounded on all sides by valleys. You can spend many summer days here climbing a number of fine routes, with various levels of difficulty. At the north edge of Lake Garda, you’ll find a quality rock climbing area with about thirty limestone crags. Another place of choice is Lake Como, which offers a range of climbing experiences. Try Muzzerone for some sea cliff climbing and exciting rock climbing near Naples.

Classic Itineraries

- Take a canal boat tour in Venice to discover the charm of the world’s most unique city.
- Visit the Pantheon in Rome and explore the history of this fabulous monument, saved from plunder and invasion through 20 centuries.
- See the Galleria dell'Accademia museum in Florence and view one of the most famous statues anywhere, Michelangelo's David, portraying the ancient hero who killed Goliath with a little slingshot.
- Tour the major cities of Italy by train, and see Rome, Milan, Florence and Venice in two or three weeks.
- Take a tour of museums in Tuscany, in popular cities like Florence, Siena, Arezzo, and Livorno.
- Cycle the Tyrrhenian Coast, which runs between Palermo and Milazzo and is punctuated with well-known tourist resorts which attract a steady stream of travellers all year round

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Italy has one of the most comprehensive UNESCO site listing, with 49 inclusions; four natural sites and 45 cultural sites;

Cultural Sites
- 18th-Century Royal Palace at Caserta
- Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy
- Archaeological Area and the Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia
- Archaeological Area of Agrigento
- Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata
- Assisi, the Basilica of San Francesco
- Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico) of Padua
- Castel del Monte
- Cathedral, Torre Civica and Piazza Grande at Modena
- Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie (includes the “Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci)
- Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park
- City of Verona
- City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto
- Costiera Amalfitana
- Crespi d'Adda
- Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna
- Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia
- Ferrara, City of the Renaissance
- Genoa: Le Strade Nuove
- Historic Centre of Florence
- Historic Centre of Naples
- Historic Centre of Rome
- Historic Centre of San Gimignano
- Historic Centre of Siena
- Historic Centre of the City of Pienza
- Historic Centre of Urbino
- Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto
- Longobards
- Mantua and Sabbioneta
- Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany
- Piazza del Duomo, Pisa
- Portovenere, Cinque Terre and Islands
- Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps
- Residences of the Royal House of Savoy
- Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/Bernina Landscapes
- Rock Drawings in Valcamonica
- Su Nuraxi di Barumini
- Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica
- The Trulli of Alberobello
- The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera
- Val d'Orcia
- Venice and its Lagoon
- Villa Adriana, Tivoli
- Villa d'Este, Tivoli
- Villa Romana del Casale

Natural Sites

- Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands)
- Monte San Giorgio
- Mount Etna
- The Dolomites

Sicily

The rugged island of Sicily lies on the very southern tip of Italy and makes up one of Italy's 20 regions. Located just 5km across from the region of Calabria on the mainland by the Straits of Messina, Sicily is hot and humid during the summer, making it the ideal spring and autumn (shoulder season) destination. Top cultural cities include;

- Palermo — the lively capital of Sicily, boasting plenty of cultural sights
- Agrigento — famed for its magnificent Valle dei Templi, aka Valley of Temples which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Catania — popular with travellers and a thriving university city, which has great nightlife and is often touted as the gateway to mighty Mount Etna

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By Julie Bowman

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