Italy is a place of a splendid mix of history, art, architecture, mouth-watering gourmet experience, sports, fashion, and natural beauty at its peak. It is the land of Ceaser, Michelangelo, Galileo, Fellini, Garibaldi, and Versace. Italy has been wooing foreign tourists with its rich cultural heritage, aesthetic beauty, and diverse offerings catering to tourists of all tastes and expectations.
Italy sightseeing is an all-season affair with a great climate blessing the place around the year. During summers, the endless miles of beaches from Sardinia to Portofino become international playgrounds and tourists throng the place. Autumn is the harvest time and the aroma of wines, grapes and olives are mind-blowing. Spring season is the most preferred of all and the natural beauty of the place is at its very best especially in the countryside in Tuscany and Umbria.
One of the greatest wonders of the world- the leaning tower of Pisa is a rich reminder of the country’s rich cultural heritage. Ancient Rome with its great cathedrals and churches (the Forum and Colosseum), and the Vatican (St. Peter’s Cathedral and the Vatican Museums) are a tourist’s delight and are thronged by visitors all around the year. Italy is filled with extraordinary museums, monuments, and works of art all offering a great enchanting historical and cultural extravaganza for visitors. The festivals and feasts which keep the place abuzz with activity are also added to the indomitable spirit of Italy and showcase the culture and traditions from centuries. Tourists have a great time experiencing the visual treat offered by these great events.
Italy is a place to pamper yourself with some great food. Outdoor, indoor, traditional, nouvelle cuisine, chic, and simple, Italy has all to satisfy the taste buds of connoisseurs. Some of the best pizzas are available in Italy and will leave you with one of the most wonderful gourmet experiences of your lifetime.
Italy is the place to be in to enjoy the finer things in life, be it food, clothing, visual delight, or the sheer ambiance of the place. The treasure of Italian art is a treat to be experienced and marveled at. The sparkling designer brands, the fashion circle, the famous monuments, the great people, and the wonderfully exciting and buzzing country life all add to the charm of the place and make Italy one of the most frequently loved tourist destinations of the world.
Italy is a shopper’s delight. Some of the world’s best brands and very exclusive and chic boutiques and fashion houses have their wares displayed in Italy. The place offers some of the designer’s labels at a premium as well as street markets that offer traditional wares at rock-bottom prices.
Some of the Top Attraction of Rome are:
The Spanish Steps, the city’s most popular meeting place.
The Spanish Steps, named after the nearby residence of the Spanish Ambassador to the Vatican, is the city’s most popular rendezvous for young Romans and foreigners alike.
The steps ascend in three majestic tiers to the 16th-century French church of Trinita dei Monti. In the summer, they become a catwalk for a fashion show on which top designers present their newest “made-in-Italy” collections.
The glittering 5th-century Santa Maria Maggiore
According to a 13th-century legend, Santa Maria Maggiore, the largest and most splendid of all the churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built in the 4th century by Pope Liberius after a vision from the Virgin Mary. In fact, it almost certainly dates from 420 and was completed soon afterward by Pope Sixtus III.
Glittering mosaics enhance the perfect proportions of the interior. Above the 40 ancient Ionic columns of the triple nave, a mosaic frieze portrays Old Testament scenes leading to the coming of Christ.
The Coliseum, ancient Rome’s spectacular arena.
This is a very symbol of the city’s eternity. Built in AD72-80 by the slaves and prisoners, the four-tiered elliptical amphitheater seated some 50,000 spectators on stone benches, according to social status.
The gladiators were originally criminals, war captives, and slaves; later, free men entered the “profession”, tempted by wealth and fame. Contrary to popular belief, there is little historical evidence to support the image of the Coliseum as the place where Christians were fed to the lions.
The Pantheon: It is ancient Rome’s best-preserved monument.
The magnificent Pantheon in the nearby Piazza Della Rotonda is ancient Rome’s best-preserved monument. This “Temple of All the Gods” was saved for posterity when it was converted into a church in the 7th century. The original Pantheon, built on this site in 27BC by Marcus Agrippa (son-in-law of Augustus), burned down.
Emperor Hadrian rebuilt it around AD125 but modestly left his predecessor’s name on the frieze above the portico, which is supported by 16 monolithic pink-and-grey granite columns.
The Pantheon’s true greatness is only fully appreciated once you step inside and look up into the magnificent coffered dome.
Flowers for sale in Campo de Fiori: The largest and most colorful open-air market.
The site of public executions during the 17th century, the Campo de Fiori, is now a bustling fruit, vegetable, and flower market, one of Rome’s liveliest and most authentic. A reminder of the square’s bloody past, however, is provided by the brooding statue of philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was burned alive during the Counter-Reformation in 1600.
The Vatican: The tiny sovereign papal state at the heart of the Roman Catholic world.
Constantine, the first Christian emperor, erected the original St Peter’s Basilica in 324 over an oratory on the presumed site of the tomb of the Apostle, who was martyred (with St Paul) in Rome in AD67. After it was sacked in 846 by Saracens, Pope Leo IV ordered massive walls to be built around the church, and the enclosed area was known as the Leonine City, and then Vatican City, after the Etruscan name of its location.
The Vatican became the main residence of the popes only after 1378 when the papacy was returned to Rome from exile in Avignon. It has been a sovereign state, independent of Italy since the Lateran Pact was signed with Mussolini in 1929. The pope is the supreme ruler of this tiny state, which is guarded by an elite corps of Swiss Guards, founded in 1506, who still wear the blue, scarlet, and orange uniforms said to have been designed by Michelangelo.
The Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michaelangelo: This is the highlight of the Vatican Museums.
Nothing can prepare you for the shock of the Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel), built for Sixtus IV in the 15th century, in this private papal chapel, where cardinals hold their conclaves to elect new popes, the glory of the Catholic Church achieves its finest artistic expression.
The chapel portrays the biblical story of man, in three parts: from Adam to Noah; the giving of the Law to Moses; and from the birth of Jesus to the last Judgment. Towards the center of the ceiling, you can make out the celebrated outstretched finger of the Creation of Adam, most overwhelming of all. On the chapel’s altar wall is Michelangelo’s tempestuous Last Judgment (restored in 1994), finished 25 years after the ceiling’s completion in 1512.
Villa d’Este in the Sabine Hills: This is one of Italy’s great gardens.
The Villa d’Este sprawls along the hillside. From its balconies, you can look down on its fabled gardens (the real reason for your visit), which fall away in a series of terraces, a paradise of dark cypresses, umbrella pines, fountains (estimated at 500), artificial grottoes, pools, and statues.
Trevi Fountain: Throw a coin into this baroque extravaganza to guarantee your return.
The trevi Fountain never fails to astonish. Nicola Salvi’s baroque extravaganza seems like a giant stage set, out of all proportion to its tiny piazza. The 18th-century fountain is, in fact, a triumphal arch and palace for the old Palazzo Poli which frames mythical creatures in a riot of rocks, fountains, and pools, all theatrically illuminated at night.
The centerpiece is the massive figure of Neptune, who rides on a seashell drawn by two winged sea horses led by tritons. The rearing horse symbolizes the sea’s turmoil, the calm steed its tranquility.
Do not forget to throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain before you leave, with your right hand over your left shoulder, to ensure a return to Rome.
The Roman Forum: Hub of the ancient city that ruled a vast empire.
With an exhilarating leap of the imagination, picture the hub of the great Imperial City, the first in Europe with a population of one million.
After the Barbarian invasion, the area was abandoned. Subsequent fire, earthquakes, floods, and plunder by Renaissance architects reduced the area to a muddy cow pasture until excavations in the 19th century once again brought many of the ancient edifices to light. Grass still grows between the cracked paving stones of the Via Sacra, poppies bloom among the piles of toppled marble, and tangles of red roses are entwined in the brick columns, softening the harshness of the ruins.