Italy is one of only a few countries I’ve returned to multiple times, an honor also bestowed upon Thailand, Israel and India. As is the case with the other countries on this list, I consider Italy to be one of my favorite places in the world. I am, of course, not unique in this regard, although I would like to believe the photographic evidence I’ve gathered RE: Italy’s awesomeness is more compelling than most.
Then again, if you don’t already want to visit Italy to some degree, I’m not sure I can help you. With majestic landscapes, world-class food and wine, three millennia of history and some of the sexiest, most stylish people on the planet, Italy’s a place everyone needs to travel at least once.
Whether you’ve been there zero times or zillions of times, I know you’ll enjoy these amazing photos of Italy, coupled with ideas on things to do in each of the country’s incredible regions.
Have an Aperitivo in Milan
Milan isn’t known as one of the most exciting Italian cities for travelers, but I happen to enjoy it, at least in small doses. Since you will likely use Milan as your port of entry into Italy, I recommend giving the city a full 24 hours to win you over. Think of it as an aperitivo, which is Italian for “Happy Hour.”
I mean this literally and figuratively – you definitely need to treat yourself to a local cocktail, be it a Campari soda or an aperol spritz, preferably amid the Colonne di San Lorenzo Roman ruins. Other famous Milan attractions include its duomo (cathedral) and Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele. Milan is close to Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s also home to a notorious nude beach.
Chill Out – and Pig Out – in Bologna
From Milan, the next logical step in your Italy journey is to head slightly south. You will almost certainly hit Tuscan hotspots like Florence and Pisa, although my favorite spot in north-central Italy sounds even more like lunch than the home of the leaning tower (which, incidentally, is the only thing in said city): Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna.
In addition to the fact that Bologna is arguably home to the best food in Italy, its small size and student-y vibe makes it a great place to chill out. In fact, Bologna might be the only place in Italy where you’re truly immune to chaos.
Go Back in Time in Rome
Rome is in my top three cities in the world, and although I enjoy famous Rome attractions like the Colosseum, Spanish Steps and Vatican City, there’s something more ethereal about the aptly-named “Eternal City” that keeps me coming back time after time.
The contrast between ancient and modern in Rome creates an electricity, and not just when you attend a techno party at a 2,500-year-old bath house or shop for a smartphone along a street dozens of emperors have walked on.
Rub Elbows with the Mafia in Naples
I should state first and foremost that I did not encounter the mafia or any semblance of it in Naples. Instead, I found an ancient city comparable to that of Rome, creepy crypts housing the bones of plague victims, a ticking-time bomb of a volcano and the best pizza I’ve ever tasted, the pasta up in Bologna notwithstanding.
My favorite thing about Naples is that you can think of its not simply as a destination in and of itself, but as a gateway to many others, such as the islands of Ischia and Capri, the Amalfi Coast and the ruins of Pompeii.
Escape the Crowds in Puglia
Just as Naples is not actually home to the mob, Puglia is not crowd-free. It is, however, largely free of foreigners (at least for the moment), which makes its chalky limestone cliffs, pristine waters and ancient fortresses all the easier to explore.
(Well, unless you’re trying to get somewhere on time, enjoy good service in a restaurant or speak English.)
See Venice Before It Sinks
If you were reading Leave Your Daily Hell back when I visited Venice, you probably remember that I didn’t like it very much. If you read between the lines of my whiny article, however, you also probably realized that I was still very impressed by Venice, aesthetically speaking, in spite of its being utterly infested with tourists.
And I mean, Venice will likely be underwater by the time you’re six feet under the ground – you might as well go ASAP!
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