Italy offers a vast array of architectural and historical delights and cultural experiences. It is also home to countless quality restaurants and cafés. Italians are a gregarious bunch and they’ll always warm to a traveller who at least attempts a little of the language. Make the smile of an Italian even broader by trying out some of the local lingo on one of our city breaks in Italy.
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Just journeying along the Amalfi Coast is a magical experience in itself. It’s an extra bonus that you can stop off at wonderful towns like Positano, Ravello and Sorrento. While Sorrento is unashamedly a popular tourist destination, it also has much to offer the discerning traveller. Located only a short distance from the famed Isle of Capri, it was home to people as diverse as Emperor Tiberius and actress Gracie Fields.
Naples is a short train journey form Sorrento and its distinctive character is largely due to its prominent and proud working-class composition. Its enthralling, sprawling street markets are always worth a visit, as are the city’s pizzerias, particularly since Naples is the place where Pizza was created.
Within easy reach of Naples are the Roman settlements of Pompeii and Herculaneum. While the former is the more famous, with its villas, temples, amphitheatres, fora and more, the latter is also well worth a visit as it features several extremely well-preserved Roman elements.
Of course, the shadow of Vesuvius can’t be ignored, particularly when you have the opportunity to witness first-hand the devastation it wreaked upon Pompeii and Herculaneum. Happily, there are no signs of imminent eruption and a visit to the rim of the volcano is a must-do experience.
Rome, the capital of Italy, lies roughly in the middle of the country and is a city where you can truly lose yourself among its historic buildings and statues. They seem to be almost casually placed around the city. Here you can walk among the ruins of the Roman Forum, witness the expansive Pantheon and dine at night with the majestic Colosseum lit up and in clear view as you feast.
Why not throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain for luck, walk along the Apian Way or sit on the steps of the Piazza Venezia that marks the end of Via del Corso, Rome’s main street? Via del Corso is where you will find all the shops you need and some of the finest fashions around.
Rome is abundant with fine restaurants, as well as al fresco eateries serving delicious street food. Sometimes there’s nothing better than tucking into a ciabatta roll filled with olive oil-cooked courgettes and mouth-wateringly melted mozzarella cheese.
Vatican City, a country within a city is, of course, a world-wide pilgrimage site for thousands of Catholics. For anyone else, the allure of St Peter’s Square is still a compelling one, as is the chance to see the Pope appear at his balcony. The Vatican Museums provide all the information you could possibly want about this tiny country. You’ll also find the Sistine Chapel in this city-state, which features what is probably the most famous painted ceiling on the planet.
One of the fashion capitals of the world, up there with London, New York and Paris, Milan is a magnet for clothes horses and anyone who just appreciates alta moda. It’s not all about material goods however, because Milan is also home to Duomo di Milano, an extraordinary gothic cathedral that overlooks the main city square. This ostensibly 14th-century edifice is festooned with almost 3,200 statues, nearly 100 gargoyles and over 130 spires. The most famous statue of the bunch is the Little Madonna, which is covered with almost 4,000 sheets of gold leaf.