GENERAL OVERVIEW OF ITALY So many famous icons inspire pilgrimages from all over the world. The Vatican, Trevi Fountain, the Colluseum, Florence’s architecture, the canals of Venice, Michaelangelo, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa come immediately to mind. Ideal weather conditions give rise to a rich agriculture that contributes significantly to Italy’s sumptuous cuisine.
ROME The cultural roots of Italy lie in Roman civilization; once the capital of one of the largest empires, Rome’s spectacular scenery centers around aesthetically dynamic bridges over the Tiber River. Landmarks such as the Collosseum, the ruins of the Roman Forum and the Vatican throb with tourists. Although streets are congested, the plethora of shops and cafés bustle along on a positive and congenial note.
FLORENCE The masterpiece of the Renaissance, Florence is a living tribute to the creative era between the 13th and 16th centuries that produced some of the world’s greatest artists. A respect for art allows outdoor statues to remain unharmed. High qualityhand made leather goods and jewellery items fill the fabulous stores and narrow decorative streets attract strollers intent on the enjoyment of life.
VENICE Because there isn’t an airport on Venice, other ways to get to the sprawling archipelago of 120 islands include the bus & train. If you’re driving, a large parkade will store your vehicle for the duration of your stay, when boat transport is the only way. 310,000 people live amongst distinctive architecture in a city that produced artists like Titian and Tintoretto. Splendid hand blown Murano glass is a best buy in this expensive city.
PISA A popular day trip from Florence, Pisa’s famous leaning tower and surrounding buildings that form the Field of Miracles are from the 16th and 17th centuries. Tourists are no longer allowed to climb the stairs to the top of the prized national icon whose adjoining streets are lined with vendors sellings souvenirs dedicated to the monument.
PORTOFINO A colorful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Portofino is often a port of call for Mediterranean cruise ships. Although maintaining a simple Maritime lifestyle, the town has become an exclusive haunt for the rich & famous. It’s a shopper’s paradise with locally crafted items taking their place beside the area’s more natural bounty of olives, oil, excellent balsamic vinegar and fine wines from the rich growing region that surrounds Portofino.
GETTING AROUND ITALY All roads lead to Rome, and many of those roads now come with a toll. Roadside services are adequate. Bus tours are well organized as is the affordable rail system. Passes are good for the bus, subway and ferry boats. (Since the ferry boats run like buses.) Traditional gondola rides are available, but hugely expensive! Info centers and currency exchange booths are easily found all over Italy.