Discover the beauty of Italy together through this blog. To many travelers all over around the world, Italy is a land of timeless beauty, rich history, and culinary excellence.
Top 1 - The beauty of Italy: Colosseum
This huge amphitheater, the largest of its kind ever built by the Roman Empire and the largest of their constructions to survive, remained a model for sports facilities right up to modern times. Built by Vespasian in 72 CE and enlarged by the addition of a fourth story by his son, Titus, it was a venue for public spectacles and shows - even mock sea battles.
Top 1. Colosseum
The wooden floor covered two additional underground stories with tunnels, rooms, cells, and passages that provided space. It was 83 by 48 meters and accommodated gladiators, workers, wild animals, and storage.
Today, the structure stands in stark contrast to the modern development that surrounds it and is a prominent reminder of ancient times and the extensive history of Rome.
Top 2 - The beauty of Italy: Florence Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore
Regarded as one of the finest cathedrals in the world, the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, dominates the Florence skyline. They built the cathedral between the 13th and 15th centuries. Filippo Brunelleschi completed the most famous piece, the extraordinary dome, in 1434.
The cathedral's bell tower stands close beside the cathedral in Piazza del Duomo, covered in the same patterned marble typical of Tuscan Romanesque architecture.
Marvel at the architectural masterpiece of Florence Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, a stunning cathedral that's a true symbol of Florence's rich history and culture. When planning your Italian journey, considering options like mini bus hire Rome and minibus hire Italy can provide a convenient means to explore this beautiful city and its iconic landmarks.
With the freedom and flexibility offered by these transportation choices, you can easily make your way from Rome to Florence, immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Duomo and the enchanting ambiance of this historic Italian city, ensuring an unforgettable and seamless travel experience.
Top 2. Florence Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore
Designed by Giotto, the campanile stands 82 meters tall, and you can climb the 414 steps up to a viewing platform with fantastic views of the city and the dome.
Opposite the Duomo is a magnificent baptistery, famed for its bronze paneled doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti.To see the original, exquisitely crafted panels, visit the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, the cathedral museum.
Top 3 - The beauty of Italy: The Grand Canal in Venice
A gondola ride through the canals of Venice is a tradition that travelers have been enjoying for centuries. Venice is a city of islands, and the canals have long been the city's main streets, connected by a labyrinth of narrow passageways.
The Grand Canal is the largest and most famous of these waterways, cutting a wide S-shaped route through the city. Along its sides are the grandest of the palaces once owned by the wealthiest and most powerful families of the Venetian Republic. The best way to see many of the grand palaces, whose fronts face the water, is from a Vaporetto ride along the Grand Canal.
Be sure your gondola ride - and your sightseeing explorations on foot - include some of the more atmospheric smaller canals, lined by old buildings that have remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years.
Top 4 - The beauty of Italy: Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa (La Torre Pendente) is just one of many attractions in the city of Pisa, one whose world fame comes not from the considerable elegance of its design, but from a flaw. Work began on the tower in the 1100s, and the sinking, which led to the lean, began by the time the tower reached the third story.
It leaned more and more over the centuries, and before restoration work in the 1990s, people predicted it would topple over by the year 2000. Today, visitors can climb up the stairs of the tower for a fabulous view over the city.
The Leaning Tower stands on the Piazza dei Miracoli, a setting it shares with the beautiful Romanesque Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and a round freestanding baptistery. Each of these features outstanding works of medieval stone carving.
Top 5 - The beauty of Italy: Vatican City: Basilica of St. Peter, Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums
The Vatican is home to some of the world's most priceless art and art collections. The centerpiece is the great Basilica of St. Peter, with the tomb of St. Peter and one of Michelangelo's most poignant works, the Pieta.
Outside is St. Peter's Square, where the Pope addresses followers. Michelangelo covered the walls and ceilings of the Sistine Chapel with frescoes, and other major artists have works in the Vatican Palace, including Raphael.
More art fills the Vatican Museums, a group of individual collections, including sacred art, Etruscan antiquities, sculptures, maps, papal carriages, even vintage cars.
Top 6 - The beauty of Italy: The Uffizi Gallery in Florence
In addition to being one of the world's foremost art museums, the Uffizi is a one-stop history of Italian Renaissance art. Although it contains works by some of the great masters of western art, its greatest treasure is its collection of paintings that show step-by-step the evolution in painting that occurred here from the 14th to the 16th centuries.
Here, you will see the first experiments with perspective, as well as some of the early portraits as painters moved beyond religious art, and some of the first use of naturalistic and scenic backgrounds in religious art.
Be sure to see the Uffizi's most famous work: Botticelli's Birth of Venus.
Top 7 - The beauty of Italy: Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is a lovely coastal region with steep hills and sheer cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean. Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are five picturesque villages that can be reached by several means. Walking paths connect them, and a railroad tunnels through the headlands to emerge at each town. A scenic narrow road runs high on the hillside above.
Hiking between the villages is one of the most popular things to do as it gives travelers the chance to enjoy the landscape. The small towns have maintained a feel of old-world fishing villages and offer a sense of remoteness even in the face of modern tourism.
If you are coming from Florence or Milan, several transportation options are available.
Top 8 - The beauty of Italy: Lake Como
Lake Como is one of Italy's most scenic areas, surrounded by mountains and lined by small picturesque towns. The lake has been a haunt of the wealthy since Roman times, with many opulent villas and palaces along its wooded shores. Villa Balbianello and Villa Carlotta are the best-known villas, both surrounded by gardens open to the public.
The mild climate that makes the lake shore ideal for gardens is also a draw for tourists, with characteristics similar to that of the Mediterranean. Along with the resort towns around the lake, there's an 11th-century abbey.
Como is a small city at the foot of the lake, important since Roman times. It is a short train ride from Milan. Excursions around the lake on regularly scheduled steamers make visiting lakeside attractions easy.
Top 9 - The beauty of Italy: Pantheon
The Pantheon, an exceptionally well preserved remnant from Roman times, reveals the incredible architectural achievements of the Roman Empire.
The building, dedicated to the planetary gods, has precise proportions. The height is equal to the diameter. A single beam of light enters the room from the top of the dome, representing the firmament and the sun.
Early Christian kings forbade the use of a pagan temple as a church, so it became disused. Later, the Pope consecrated it in 609 CE. The Pantheon is the final resting place of Italian Kings, the Renaissance painter Raphael, and other great Italians.
Top 10 - The beauty of Italy: Verona's Roman Arena and Historic Center
Arena di Verona is a well-preserved Roman amphitheater and a World Heritage Site. Verona has preserved many monuments from different periods. The Castelvecchio is a palace and defensive fortress overlooking the Ponte Scaligero. The old center has Romanesque churches, Venetian Gothic buildings, and stone gates. Juliet's Balcony is a tourist attraction built in the 1930s.
Top 11 - The beauty of Italy: Trevi Fountain, Rome
Immortalized in films from La Dolce Vita to Roman Holiday, The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Three Coins in a Fountain, Trevi Fountain is a beloved icon that's a traditional stop on any visit to Rome. A coin tossed over the left shoulder (with the right hand) is supposed to guarantee a return trip.
The origins of the tradition are not clear, but the fountain itself began as a public water source, connected to an aqueduct built in the first century BC. By 1629, Pope Urban VIII wanted a more attractive fountain and asked Bernini to design the revisions. When the Pope died, so did Bernini's plan, and the present design of Neptune, horses, and shells was completed in 1751 by Nicolò Salvi.
Top 12 - The beauty of Italy: Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a stunning stretch of coastline along the Sorrentine Peninsula, south of Naples and Sorrento. Hillside towns are built precariously along the steep mountainsides that cascade down to the sea.
The main towns along here are Positano and Amalfi, with its colorfully domed cathedral. You can tour the coast by road, or hop between towns by boat for different perspectives of the dramatic and almost vertical shore.
While walking paths stretch all along the coast, the most breathtaking scenery for walkers is the Sentiero degli Dei, Footpath of the Gods, at the western end from Positano.
Top 13 - The beauty of Italy: St. Mark's Basilica
St. Mark's Basilica is an important tourist site in Venice. Its ornate Byzantine-inspired façade and domes overlook St. Mark's Square. The building is a work of art, with a mix of architectural styles influenced by the Byzantine Empire.
Highlights of the vast interior are the brilliant mosaics that line its domes and vaults, and the high altar covered in gold and jewels. The Treasury contains more glittering gold and jewels.
For an unforgettable view of St. Mark's Square, the tall campanile and the clock tower, climb to the porch to stand among the iconic horses.
Next to the basilica is the Doge's Palace, also filled with priceless masterpieces of Italian art.
Top 14 - The beauty of Italy: Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius
The still smoking volcano of Mt. Vesuvius looks down on the remains of the city it destroyed in AD 79. The eruption preserved the city's art treasures: frescoes, mosaics, and sculptures encased in the cooling lava.
Several centuries of excavations have revealed the remains of houses, markets, baths, temples, theaters, streets, and human remains. Visitors can tour the site, walk along old streets scarred by chariot tracks, and see ancient Roman engineering.
Herculaneum is an excavated city near Pompeii, destroyed by the same eruption in 79 CE. It was buried in lava and ash that solidified and froze the town. Visits to Pompeii and Herculaneum can be combined in one day. A longer stay allows time to ascend Vesuvius.
Top 15 - The beauty of Italy: Roman Forum
To understand what the Roman Forum looked like and how it was used, you may need a little imagination or a good tour guide. Its historical significance as the heart of the Roman Empire is undeniable.
The Romans built temples first, followed by public buildings, and soon the area became Rome's governmental center. Commerce followed with the building of market halls that made the Forum the hub of public life for the city, and eventually the Roman Empire.
Today, only pillars, partial structures, and foundations of former temples, market halls, courts, and public buildings pay tribute to Ancient Rome, which survived here for a thousand years.
Top 16. Milan Duomo
Milan's Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente, "Il Duomo," is one of the world's largest churches. It showcases flamboyant Gothic style. The exterior has 2,245 marble statues and 135 carved stone pinnacles. Inside, fifty-two immense pillars support the soaring ceiling, and the walls are decorated by the world's largest stained-glass windows.
Highlights in the nave are the tomb of Gian Giacomo Medici and a 12th-century bronze candelabrum.
Below the high altar is the crypt and the octagonal chapel with the gold reliquary of San Carlo Borromeo. Under Piazza del Duomo, and reached by stairs near the entrance, are the foundations of a fourth-century baptistery and basilica.
An elevator will take you partway to the roof, where you can walk at a dizzying height among the carved stone pinnacles.
Top 17. The Valley of Temples in Agrigento, Sicily
UNESCO lists this complex of ancient Greek temples as a World Heritage Site. The temples are remarkably preserved. They have not been overlain by building in later eras. They preserve the landscape of the original community.
The highlight is Tempio di Concordia, one of the most perfect Doric temples surviving anywhere. Almost as large is the Tempio di Juno Lacinia. The columns of the largest, Temple of the Olympian Zeus, were toppled by an earthquake. UNESCO cites the Valley of Temples as "among the most extraordinary representations of Doric architecture in the world."
Top 18. Rialto Bridge, Venice
The Rialto Bridge is built on more than 10,000 wooden pilings. It is an icon of Venice and an essential link between two sides of the city. Until the Accademia Bridge was built in 1854 it was the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot. It is still the busiest.
The bridge's architect won the commission over Michelangelo and Palladio. The bridge has three walkways. The outer two are crowded with tourists. The central walk is lined by shops.
Venetians do their shopping at the other side of the Rialto Bridge, in the bustling food market in San Polo. On that side of the bridge, the canal is lined by restaurants. Smaller choices can be found in the neighborhood.
Top 19. Capri
The Blue Grotto is a popular spot in Italy. There are other reasons to visit the Isle of Capri. The steep rocky island juts from an intensely blue sea, its craggy cliffs softened by green pines and tropical plants.
Top 19. Capri
The Blue Grotto is one of the sea caves. Boat tour is the best way to see them. Faraglioni are the three signature rocks off the south coast. Several villas and gardens are open to tourists, and walking trails invite exploration.
From almost anywhere on the island, you can be certain of a good view. Villa San Michele has beautiful views. Gardens overlook Marina Grande. Bus or climb stairs to reach.
Top 20. San Vitale and Byzantine Mosaics, Ravenna
Emperor Honorius moved his court to Ravenna in 402 CE. Ravenna was the capital of the Western Roman Empire. Ravenna became a center for Byzantine mosaic art. Theodoric the Great continued the effort.
The results remain today almost as these emperors saw them, lining churches and monuments in extravagant splendor. The dome of San Vitale is decorated with tiny tesserae. It looks like a painter's fine brushstrokes. More line the walls and chapels, comprising the largest and best-preserved display outside of Constantinople.
Top 20. San Vitale and Byzantine Mosaics, Ravenna
The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia has tiny tesserae and an intense blue ceiling. The Neonian Baptistery has an intricate mosaic dome.
Italy weaves together history, culture, and natural wonders. Its diverse and captivating beauty is always ready to immerse you.
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