Ah Italy...Puglia, the Amalfi coast, Sicily, Palermo, Sardinia, Rome, so many places and sites that make this country one of the most beautiful and interesting in Europe.
And that's quite normal, since this country, beyond being a dream destination just a stone's throw from the UK, also has a cuisine that everyone loves, between pizzas, Milanese escalope and carbonara pasta.
Italian tourism produced a turnover of £150 billion or 9.7% of GDP in 2008. 1,006,000 jobs were then devoted to tourism, representing 4.4% of Italian employees. Go around Italy and visit Lake Maggiore, Villa Borghese, Lombardy, or the Venetian Bridge of Sighs.
But in the face of this wealth, we can sometimes be a little lost, on a national scale. Here is our small selection, not exhaustive, of the must-see monuments in Italy, here we go!
Sightseeing In Northen Italy
Northern Italy is a rich, very rich region, with many monuments to visit, whatever the city in which you drop your luggage. This wealth, which can sometimes be confusing, is, in fact, a very good way to discover a country like Italy, between tradition and modernity.
Piazza Maggiore in Bologna
In Bologna, Piazza Maggiore offers a superb entrance to the city, supported by an Italian atmosphere, as you might picture it from films.
The same is true for the port of Genoa which, a few kilometres away, and with a completely different character (and a completely different city), offers a panorama of this maritime region, a thousand miles from our British concerns.
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But as it was nicknamed "The Great Square", Bologna's Piazza Maggiore, developed in the 13th century, became the city's main building, around which everything was played out. Refurbished in the 16th century at the request of the Pope and Cardinal Charles Borromeo, it is nowadays an essential monument in Italy!
The Venetian Doge's Palace
How can we talk about northern Italy without talking about Venice, and the famous Doge's Palace in Venice! While the entrance is a little expensive (£15 for adults, and £8 for children under 14 years old), it is on the sublime San Marco square that you can admire the Grand Council Hall, whose paintings by the Italian masters Titian and Veronese will delight both amateurs and novices. It is here that we will find the bridge of sighs!
The National Film Museum of Turin
Let us leave here the 16th century, and take an interest in a city that is more obscure to the general public and less prone to mass tourism, but no less interesting, because it is directly accessible by train from France: Turin.
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The Cathedral of Siena
Here again, we notice that Northern Italy was transformed in the 16th century, by the will of the Pope and Cardinal Charles Borromeo, with this magnificent cathedral, a Gothic architectural wonder and a 13th-century Tuscan novel.
As it overlooks the entire city, its dome can be seen at first glance. Inside, one remains amazed by its pavement entirely made of figurative marble inlays.
This work took more than six centuries to complete and shows an image of Italian art as we imagine it: fine and sumptuous. Also known as Santa Maria Assunta, the Cathedral of Siena also shows many major historical symbols, such as the She-wolf and the twins Senius and Aschinus (the sons of Remus, and founders of the city of Siena itself).
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The Dome of Milan
More famously, we can also look at the Duomo, the famous monument that sits on the eponymous square in Milan, and which, when you climb atop of, offers a wonderful view of the whole city of Milan.
Florence, too, has its own dome, which is also the largest dome ever created by mankind. The latter also contains the largest fresco painted in the world, two good reasons to visit all this!
So, if you wanted to go to Northern Italy, you have understood that you will not be disappointed! Faced with such beauty, abundance and historical interest, this part of the country will never cease to amaze, evolve and entertain us, for our greatest pleasure! It remains to be seen what the rest of Italy has in store for us.
Sightseeing In Central Italy
The ruins of Pompeii
When you go down a little bit south in the country, you should not fail to see monuments likely to sharpen your curiosity. Starting with Pompeii, made infamous by its volcano. Indeed, after the eruption of Vesuvius in 79, the city was destroyed, and the ruins became a true historical wonder.
The Tower of Pisa
Among the wonders, let us also mention the Colosseum of Rome, built under the Roman Empire, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered as one of the wonders of the world.
But speaking of wonder, the Tower of Pisa is also a notable monument in the centre of the country, conducive to the most incongruous photos, thanks to its leaning aspect. In addition, its Romanesque architecture and the view from the summit are worth a visit!
The Vatican Museums
This group of museums (twelve in total, i. e. five galleries and 1400 rooms!) located in Rome constitutes one of the largest art collections in the world, including those assembled by the various Popes throughout history.
For £15 (or £20 if you want a queue cutter) it is, therefore, possible to enjoy this huge collection, but be careful, do not hesitate to split your visit in two or to devote yourself to the greatest art first!
The Sansevero Chapel in Naples
Finally, halfway between central and southern Italy, Naples and its Sansevero Chapel are worth mentioning. Visitable for £5 for adults, this chapel, built in the 16th century, is a jewel of history and art. The statues are not to be missed under any pretext, just to be cultivated while enjoying the beauty of the place. So, ready for a little Neapolitan trip?
The centre of Italy, therefore, seems to be a place where monuments meet and contribute to making the region as rich as it is interesting. Faced with so much beauty and points of interest, it would be almost worth getting lost in! The centre is as rich as it is beautiful, but what about the rest of the country, especially the south? That's what we're going to see right now!
Sightseeing In Southern Italy
The region of Apulia
Finally, this short journey could not stop without mentioning southern Italy, between the beautiful fleshy orange trees, Sicily and the Puglia region. It is in Puglia that you can find the trullis, traditional houses of the region, with a picturesque charm that is no longer to be proven. The best place to enjoy it will then be Alberobello!
The Valley of Sicilian Temples
Sicily, an integral part of Italy, is not to be outdone when it comes to offering us beautiful monuments. Indeed, let us mention for example the valley of temples which, in the Province of Agrigento, will allow us to enjoy very well preserved Greek temples, as well as a superb panorama on the sea and on the surroundings of the region.
The Greek Theatre of Taormina
Still, in Sicily, the ancient Greek theatre of Taormina is worth a visit for many reasons, starting with the setting, directly overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, where Etna and the Sicilian coast meet. A real pleasure for the eyes, a stone's throw from this 3rd century BC theatre.
It is, therefore, a rich and diverse country that we have discovered here, in a few lines. Italy is a country in Europe where flavours, warmth and openness are perfectly combined, and where monuments all oscillate between historical tradition and modernity of thought, where tourism does not erase anything that has happened. A trip to Italy is therefore like a candy store: you want to come back, again and again!