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5 Reasons Why You Should Travel To Italy
Ancient Rome Colosseum
Which Italian city would you rather visit?
From the strong charactered people, the rich history and the food to die for, Italy is a famous destination for many travellers around the world. I cannot even think where to begin when describing Italy. I moved here in September 2013 and fell in love with everything about this country. There is something about Italy that puts a spell on you, it's a place that you cannot help but love.
What comes to mind when you think of Italy? Love, pizza, pasta, canals, art, beauty, ancient rome colosseum? When you travel to a country you always have an impression of that place in your mind, good or bad. Whether it's from things you have heard or seen, that place has a certain reputation.
Arriving in Milan in September was my first time setting foot on Italian soil. Though Milan is quite a touristy city, it still holds so much Italian culture and history. Italy has so much character and charisma about it and so many aspects about it draws me here (along with the millions of other travellers that travel from all corners of the world to get a taste of this magical experience that Italy holds), and I am going to share with you my top 5.
There is something about Italians that brings the words "class" and "character" to mind. I think it is the combination of the beautiful language (that just rolls of the tongue and sounds amazing no matter what you are saying), the extremely strong sense of character, and the dashingly good sense of style and poise that Italians nearly always carry with them.
Something I have found whilst living in Milan is that everyone has their own sense of style and that people are very accepting of it. Being a fashion capital I was expecting all people to dress in a certain way, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is a mix of everything, which I love because it gives you the freedom to really express yourself. Both Italian men and woman, I have found, dress themselves very impressively, that even their causal wear is elegant and screams class. Even the men know how to dress to impress, leaving you often wondering if some of them are gay, but no just Italian.
I find that your everyday Italian, are very expressive people, not only through words but also through gestures. I love going through markets and seeing how Italians fight for the attention of customers by shouting very loudly and also singing at times. Once I spent a good hour and a bit just walking through aimlessly, not even looking at many stalls, just soaking up the atmosphere. Italians use their gestures a lot when speaking, which actually helps immensely when you are a foreigner trying to learn the language. In your average Italian phrasebook you can often find a page just on Italian gestures.
Another thing that is worth noting is that Italians are generally a beautiful race. When I first got here I found myself walking down the street and doing about 10 double takes on people, because I was thrown off with how good looking they were. Now being here a couple of months I am used to walking past beautifully looking people, its like walking artwork. Me and my friends always joke that women are allowed to be picky with guys here because your average guy is what I would usually call out of my liege.
Not only do they have great fashion sense and good looks on their sides, I find that Italians have a way of holding themselves, with total confidence. I admire this entirely, as confidence is the ultimate accessory you can carry. Being here I have found myself slowly adapting to this way and find it uplifting and empowering, though it takes a bit of practice. Before I was at the stage when I caught someones eye on the street I would instantly drop my gaze and cower.
The Italian boot lies in Southern Europe, and is/was the home to many famous faces, The Pope, Leonardo Da Vinci, Christopher Columbus, Federico Fellini, Enzo Ferrari, Donatella and Gianni Versace and many more. Italy's population is around 61 million people and is well known for its architecture (The Colosseum Rome and The Leaning Tower Of Pisa being just a couple of prime examples) and food (home of Pizza and pasta). Italy has acquired the nickname "Bel Paese", which means beautiful country.
Roma (Rome), is the capital of Italy and being Italy's largest city, it is home to 3.57 million people. Rome was founded in 753BC and was run by the Roman Empire. In 395AD the Roman Empire collapsed and Italy was split into many separate kingdoms and city states. In 1861 Italy came together to become one nation (including the islands of Sicily and Sardegna). There is a huge list of things to see in Rome, the Colosseum being just one of the most popular places to see in Rome.
The Italian flag itself is made up of three colours, green, white and red, and these colours are the representation of 3 virtues, hope (green), faith (white), and charity (red).
There are so many beautiful and breathtaking places to visit in Italy. Just traveling around Italy itself, you can tell that the history is rich. For me I'm not usually a huge historic person but in Italy I constantly find myself looking to find more information. Coming from the other side of the world, where the culture and historic events are so different, I found Italy and Europe in general very fascinating. It always amazes me how a lot of the buildings you walk past, even the not so well known ones, have such a intriguing story behind them. There is something about it that leaves you wanting to get immersed in the culture.
I cannot deny that Italian cooking is one of my most favourite aspects about Italy. After living in England for 7 months and getting canteen type food every day, coming to Italy was like a dream. The street where I live in Milan, holds a market every week. So every thursday is the day when we stock up of fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh cheeses, meat, you name it. Italians know the meaning of fresh and good quality food, and I always joke that if I didn't do pilates and watch what I eat every now and then I would become a barrel sized figure.
Coming from England where they put butter, ketchup and mayo on everything, to Italy where its all about the oil was a pleasant surprise. At first I found it shocking to see that the family didn't have a bottle of ketchup or mayo in there kitchen, nor did they need it. Everyday Italian food is so good that you don't need to mask the taste by piling on the sauces. Though it is very common to top off your favourite dish with some olive oil and possibly even a sprinkle of parmesan (on one of your favourite italian pasta recipes).
It did take me a week or so to get used to the taste of olive oil (as it is a key ingredient to many italian food recipes) because before now, I was never used to adding olive oil to so many dishes, apart from in the pan when your cooking. Just the other week I was sitting in the kitchen when the mum of the family (I work as an Au Pair) came in and pulled out this massive container full of the best olive oil (Im guessing around 5-7 litres), to top up the empty bottle sitting on the kitchen bench. I don't know why but something about this amused me, it was then that I truly realised Italians love for olive oil.
Pizza is probably the most famous dish in Italy. It was invited in 1860 in Napoli/Naples, and from then onwards has been a dish that is served all around the world. Another type of Pizza that is famous is called "Calzone", this is just a folded up pizza with the ingredients inside. My first day in Italy I did 3 things, ate my first Italian Calzone, had a Gelato (ice cream) and brought my first old styled bicycle. Though it was a good start to my Italian experience. I have made it my goal to learn how to cook some Italian dishes, something to bring home with me, because if I came home not being able to cook something, I think my family would be rather disappointed.
Some of the other famous Italian foods include:
• Pesto: thick green sauce with olives, herbs and olive oil, pine kernels and parmiggiano cheese. Healthy and mmmmh!
• Gelato: The best ice-cream you will ever taste.
• Lasagna: layered pasta dish with tomato, mozzarella cheese and mince meat filling.
• Mozzarella: Italian cheese balls, originally made from buffalo milk, perfect to eat by itself or on tomato's topped with olive oil (of corse).
• Pasta: You will be astonished with the amounts of different types of pasta you can purchase. Common dishes include spaghetti with tomato sauce, risotto, or just plain pasta with olive oil, oh and don't forget the parmesan.
Italian cuisines leaves you watering at the mouth and give you the urge to try more, even when just having a simple plate of pasta, there is something different about it. It leaves you wanting to pick up a book of Italian food recipes to learn some great italian pasta recipes or more.
The Colosseum Rome, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pantheon, St Peter's of Rome, Piazza of San Marco, Doge's Palace, Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo Di Milano (Milan Cathedral), are just some of the many famous pieces of architecture dotted around Italy.
Italy is known for its very broad and diverse architectural style and also its considerable architectural achievements (such as the construction of arches, domes and similar structure during ancient Roman times).
When traveling around Italy you simply cannot help but to stop and marvel at the architectural beauty. I once found this old church that was crumbling slightly at the sides, even though it was breaking there was still a sense of beauty about it. You could see the hours and hours of work that was put into it, work that had lasted its way through history.
One of the most famous architectural creations in Italy is the ancient Rome Colosseum. Popular on the list of places to visit in rome, the Colosseum Rome used to be a huge public entertainment centre. We now go to the Cinema, but back then they used to go to watch people being killed and beat up by fellow gladiators or animals such as lions. Back then this was their form of entertainment. The Colosseum is made up of concrete and faced with stone. The Romans were well known for being great builders, and built things that lasted. The ancient Rome Colosseum could seat up to 45,000 spectators! and if you didn't mind standing then it could hold up to 70,000 spectators! You can seed why this one of the top things to see in rome.
Italy is a long country which means that there are different climates throughout the year, and each part is very different, giving you the best of everything. You find the even in Autumn, in the south of Italy people are still making trips to the beach, whilst in the north its a little bit colder, and the winter coats are beginning to appear (many families in the north of Italy have holiday homes in Switzerland, or make trips there to enjoy the mountains). The considerable climate difference between the north and south is astonishing, especially in the winter months where in Milan it could be around -2°C and snowing, in Rome 8°C and then in Palermo maybe like 20°C.
Cities like Venice in the summer are hot and humid, and then it goes into winter and is still not too cold, though rainfall can be quite common. If you head down to the toe of the boot, in places like Sicily, you find the summers give you that Mediterranean experience, which are usually hot and dry, being a prime spot for tourists to work on their tans (don't forget your sunscreen though, otherwise you will turn the colour of a cherry tomato). Winters down south are not that cold and usually sit not that far below 10°C. Heading back up north to the top of the boot, during the winter months you will get more of that wintery experience, with cities such as Milan having chances of snow.
I think for me, the weather is ideal because its a lot like home (apart from its the opposite in New Zealand, where the south is colder than the north). I like that in a couple of hours (with the plane) you can go from sunbathing on the costs of sicily to the northern part of Italy where its a bit cooler. Italy also has the advantage of being on the boarders of Switzerland, giving you the chance to hit the slopes in the winter.
These are just 5 of the amazing things that Italy is home of, the list is endless, but reading about it only gives you so much insight, to get the true feeling of it, you need to come here yourself. Be sure pick up your very own Italian travel guide and to book your next flight to Italy, trust me you won't be disappointed.
My Picks For The Best Places To Visit In Italy
Sicily: for it's rich culture, AMAZING seafood and beautiful scenery
Genova: for it's quaint and colourful buildings nested along a beautiful Mediterranean seascape
Venice: for a taste of something unique in its city layout and architecture
Florence: for it's art, museums and culture
Milan: for it's bustling city life, interesting architecture and chic fashion styles
Canne: for a taste of the riviera and beaches
My favourite so far has to be Sicily!
If you have the opportunity.... GO TO SICILY!!!! It's amazing!
Trips To Italy
When I am looking at travel in Italy I like to use several resources.
Where to find ideas for trips to Italy:
- Skyscanner phone app to find cheap flights.
- http://www.travbuddy.com a place to read about fellow travellers adventures.
- Facebook pages like mine https://www.facebook.com/KiwiTravelerakaCassidydt with tips and reports about where travellers like me have been and what we loved!
- Amazon books like Lovely Planet Guide - these are a MUST have! The one below is a fabulous resource. You can even find out where to buy tickets for your trip to italy and accommodation to the point where sometimes the cost of the book can be covered in your first travel booking courtesy of what you'll read inside it.
- https://www.couchsurfing.org - read about what the residents of certain cities tell you about their home.
- Tickets and holidays - for great value holiday and airfare deals see Expedia.com
Lonely Planet Italy's Best Trips (Travel Guide)
38 amazing road trips inside…
Inspirational Trip Ideas. 2-day escapes to week-long adventures
See it Like a Local. Packed with regional trips and exciting detours
Road Trips Made Easy. Maps, detailed directions and expert advice
For a little bit of a giggle...
Top Tips From An Expert Traveller
Lonely Planet Italy
Lonely Planet's #1 selling European country guide!
Visitors to Italy are bombarded by sights, scenes and flavors – palaces and museums overflowing with art, Renaissance gardens, gourmet food markets. Come enjoy the vita bella (beautiful life).
This full-color guide with 3D illustrations of major highlights and insightful features on seasonal and regional food and outdoor activities is essential for those wanting to see the best Italy has to offer!
15 authors, 13 volcanoes, 7600km of coastline and hundreds of Renaissance masterpieces
Inspirational photos, pull-out city map, 3D plans of iconic sights, comprehensive planning tools, special Eat & Drink Like a Local feature and in-depth background.