Italy – La Dolce Vita For Everyone

Italy, the land of diversity – from art to religion, history to food, romance to beaches, ski to cities and  wine to language – we think Italy might actually have it all, and certainly something for everyone, whatever their holidays needs – oh wait we forgot to mention, the cars, the shopping, the people, the scenery and the family values!

Rome

So without further ado, we unpick, in all its glory, the many reasons to visit Italy:

The Food

Italian Food

We had to start with the food – we think that when asked, many people will say, one of the things they love most about Italy, is its food. Pizza, pasta, seafood, cheese, antipasti, olives, bread, olive oil, tomatoes, basil, barbecued meat, risotto, gelato – to name just a few.

If you’ve ever eaten pizza or ice cream then you’ll already know of the joys of Italian food!

If you want to book a holiday based around food then Italy’s capital is the answer to your prayers! A favourite with politicians, celebs and socialites, and then anyone who happens upon its delicious dishes. Fortunato al Pantheon in the heart of Rome, serves classic Italian cuisine, with all the passion you’d hope for!

The Cities

SHORTBREAK TO VENICE ON A BUDGET

Italy is bursting to the brim with incredible cities to explore! The capital city of Rome is often number one on people’s lists for its history, but Florence and its beautiful art, Milan and its shopping, Naples and its pizza and of course, Venice the floating city like no other, are all must sees.

The Villages

Cinque Terre

Following on from the cities, Italian villages pretty much constitute art! Yes, many other European counties have sublimely picturesque villages but Italy wins hands-down. Colorful cliff-side towns like Cinque Terre  or the Almalfi coast’s, Positano, are like the stuff of oil paintings!

This year it has been announced that the number of tourists allowed to enter Cinque Terre will be limited in the summer, to prevent overcrowding and damage – so get in there quick!

The History

Birth place of the Romans, Italy’s history is infamous. When you think of Italy you think of ruins, and Rome still has many magnificent historical remains for visitors to explore, including the best-known Colosseum.

But the Forum is a must too, home to many great examples of historica temples, arches, and government buildings – it will have you believing you have traveled back 2000 years in time.

Could there be a better way to learn about history in Rome than taking a wander through the streets with a local? Take part in an Ancient Rome: Archaeological Discovery Tour, if you love history.

The Shopping

Milan Designer Shopping

Famous for its designer shopping, Italy is the homeland of many iconic fashion designers. Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Armani, Valentino, Cavalli and  Pucci, we could go on. Milan is often referred to as the fashion capital of the world, and it is easy to see why!

Want to grab a bargain? Wait till the end-of-season-sales – heavily restricted by the local government, they are on for just a few weeks each year in January and July.

The Strong Family Values

Ok so this is true of many countries, however, the Mediterranean is especially well-known for holding family values as a priority. Everywhere you go you will see families enjoying life together – multiple generations at the beach or eating out.

Italy is a great place for family holiday, children are so very welcome, restaurants think nothing of the kids eating a late dinner out with the rest of the family, children are celebrated.

The Fountains

Photo: Evan Blaser

The Italians love their fountains! Most town and village squares have one, not to mention the grand scale versions in the cities! Rome alone boasts 280 fountains, including the famous Trevi Fountain – which apparently makes three thousand Euros a day, from tourists throwing in coins, which is supposed to ensure you will return one day.

The Beaches

Sardinia Beach

Italy has some of the best beaches in Europe (Sardinia is famed for its white sand), but Italy doesn’t only have glorious beaches but also incredibly scenic coastlines – surrounded by water on all sides, it has a unique coastline with lots of nooks and crannies that create quiet swimming coves and picturesque cliff-top villages.

The Islands

Italy isn’t only made up of the giant foot-shaped mainland, it also has many islands to its name too, 450 of them to be precise!

Sicily is perhaps the most famous (the football and the bottom of the foot) but others that are more well-known include, Sardinia and Capri.

Capri is well-know for its caves, and visitors can enjoy a boat ride into the Blue Grotto, which is simply stunning!

Grotta Azzurra-1

The Lakes

Lake Como

Like islands, Italy also has a lot of lakes! over 1500 of them. There are five major lakes in the Italian “lake district”: Lakes Maggiore, Lugano, Como, Iseo and Garda. A holiday to the Italian lakes offers a real mix of pretty towns and villages along the water’s edge, mountainous backdrops and luxurious hotels.

The Cars 

If you think of a super fast sports car, the chances are it will be Italian. Italy kind of transformed car design into an art-form. The most famous being Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati, all of which have dedicated museums in Emilia-Romagna, the region of Italy which is known for its auto manufacturing.

Oh but we can’t talk about Italian cars without giving a special mention to the adorable Fiat 500.

Fiat 500

The Scooters

Naples scooter

However, while Italy is known for its high end cars, the streets are full of noisy little scooters, nipping around the back streets.

Hiring a scooter as a tourist is a wonderful way to see Italy on the the cheap, but it will also be the most incredible amount of fun! Blend in with the locals – couples whizzing around the bustling cities and towns carefree and in love!

The Walking

Italy is a great place for those who like to walk too. Venice is vehicle free, so the entire city must be done on foot, as is the the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site of Cinque Terre. But other than city and town walking, Italy offers wonderful dedicated walking holidays too, the Italian Dolomites are a Mecca for high level walkers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The Antipasti 

Antipasti

Ok, we may have already covered the topic of food in this blog, but Italians do it so well we had to do it in more detail!

Prosciutto, cured cheese, olives, marinated veggies, bruschetta, mozeralla – is your mouth watering yet? Antipasti is a selection of Italian starters, a great way to taste a little of everything, and each region has its own special variations and recipes!

The Pizza

Naples Pizza

Pizza was first created in Naples Italy, but let’s face it, it is now pretty much the national dish, and of course, available throughout the entire country – and near on every other country too. But you can’t go to Italy and not eat the pizza, traditionally baked in a wood fired oven with a thin dough base.

To fit in with the locals, you should eat it with a knife and fork – not in a giant slice by hand.

How about learning to make Pizza (and other traditional Italian dishes) with a pizza making class in Rome.

The Pasta

Pasta

You may think you know several types of pasta, but trust us… that will only be the tip of the iceberg.

There are over 300 types of pasta in Italy, each designed for a different dish, all pretty much the same ingredients but formed into wonderfully different shapes!

In Italy most of the pasta they eat is also handmade and made freshly for each meal – the many different sauces and recipes vary from family to family and are often kept a guarded secret.

The Wine

Italian Wine

You don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to know that Italy produces world-class wine, with some of the best vineyards in the industry! With both red and white wines coming in exceptional quality, the grapes, just like the fashion designers, are known the world over – Chianti, Pinot Grigio, Gavi, Asti, Soave, Barolo – any many more.

The Cheese

Whether you like it mild, stinky, gooey, sharp, blue, smoked or cured, worry-not, Italy has a cheese for you! Mozzerella for your pizza or Parmesan for your pasta – the Italians love cheese!

The Coffee

Italians take their coffee extremely seriously – in fact they frown upon tourists who have their coffee with milk at meal time!

Most famous is the Espresso, a small shot (about 25 to 30 mls) of black coffee, but have you heard of the ristretto? A favourite in Italy, it’s a smaller, condensed stronger version – no more than 20mls, this little shot packs a punch, both are enjoyed after a meal.

The Cappuccinno is enjoyed with milk, but shall only be drank in the morning, and never with food.

The Ice Cream

SESOME_TR_IceCreams_Image_Gelato.Italy

Called Gelato, it means ‘ice cold’. The Italian’s gelato seems super creamy, but is in fact lower in fat than ice cream. In Italy gelato bars line the street – with their glass counters you can pick from hundreds of flavors. The Italians enjoy gelato at any time of day, including served in brioche bread for breakfast! Mmmmmmm.

The Strangely Beautiful Ghost Towns

Italy's Ghost Towns
Ghost towns aren’t only found in horror movies or America’s wild west, they exist for real in Italy. Italy has a a surprisingly large number of ghost towns, nearly 20,000 in fact, which are totally or partly abandoned because the locals having fled. Some great examples can be found in the southern region of Basilicata.

The Language

Revered by many as the most flamboyant language in the world, it is loud and fast and at times very beautiful! The Italians are know to be passionate, speaking with their hands a lot. Famously in the book and movie, Eat, Pray, Love, the main Character Liz heads to Italy to learn the language.

 

Italians claim to have mastered living happily, they say by perfecting the perfect blend of food, family, and good humor. Their well-known phrase La Dolce Vita’ truly sums the country up!

‘La Dolce Vita’ means the good life, and we agree! All this and more is what you get when you go to Italy!