Its epic history is reflected in more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country, including the ruins of Pompeii and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Its cities—among them Rome, Naples, Milan, Florence, Turin, and Venice—showcase some of the globe’s finest architecture. Treasures abound in legendary museums displaying Italy’s monumental influence in artistic heritage. In Florence alone, you can marvel at Botticelli’s Birth of Venus at the Uffizi Gallery, or Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria Dell’Accademia. Explore Italy’s spiritual character with visits to the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, or the Basilica San Marco in Venice. Indulge in the soul-satisfying culinary creations like linguine allo scoglio and farfalle al salmon. Be sure to leave room for unforgettable desserts like tiramisu, gelato, and cannoli! Visit Italy and enjoy la dolce vita, "the sweet life"!
Italy is home to more UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites than another other country in the world (49 to be exact)! In fact, it has such a valuable, rich cultural heritage that it can be hard to wrap your head around. Instead of trying, we'll list some of our favorite cultural attractions for you to consider visiting: Pisa's Piazza del Duomo (home to the Leaning Tower), Milan's Santa Maria delle Grazie Church (home to Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper), Florence's Uffizi Gallery, the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, the Guggenheim Museum in Venice, the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, Sicily's Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, and the city centers of Urbino, Rome, Verona, Florence, San Gimignano and Siena. And while it's technically not part of Italy, the Vatican Museums house some of the world's most precious artistic treasures.
While Italy's cuisine is universally-loved, it's worth exploring the country's different regional dishes, gastronomic products and wines. Tuscany is home to internationally-renowned wines, olive oils, delicious cheese, truffles, tasty bean dishes and Florentine steak. Emilia-Romagna is famed for its parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar and meat products like prosciutto, pancetta and mortadella. Sicily, also a major wine producer, is known for its seafood dishes. The Veneto produces sparkling wines, polenta and risotto, and in the south, Neapolitans feast on pizza, mozzarella di bufala and limoncello.
Roughly the same size as a combined Georgia and Florida, Italy is often geographically (and culturally) divided between the north and south. Its northern territories border Slovenia, Austria, France and Switzerland, while the majority of the country lies on its peninsula. The two large Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia, as well as many smaller islands, also form part of Italy.
Italy is home to spectacular lakes, rolling acres of wine country, active volcanos, turquoise coastline and scenic mountain ranges. Its largest cities are Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin and Palermo, while its most visited destinations are Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan.
There's a good reason why Rome, Italy's capital city, only has two metro lines; every time they try to make another one, they discover a new ancient ruin or artifact! Having served as the capital of both the Roman Empire and of Christianity, Italy has played a major role in shaping the Western civilization that we know today. As evidenced by Rome's mighty empire; the powerful, constantly-feuding medieval maritime republics; and its place as the cradle of the Renaissance, Italy is a historical force to be reckoned with! Along Tuscany's coast visitors can still the ancient ruins and cemeteries of the Etruscans and those traveling to Sicily have some of the world's most impressive Greek temples at their fingertips.
The ruins of Pompeii offer vacationers an incredible view of what a Roman city would have looked like. Rome's Colosseum and Verona's Arena are two of the best Roman amphitheaters left in the world. You can stand where Julius Caesar stood in Rome's Forum. Medieval cities like San Gimignano remarkably still have several of their famed, original towers enact. Florence's architecture reveals the power of Renaissance banking families, and picturesque Venice still maintains an eternal timelessness found nowhere else.