Italy: the Mediterranean Land of Romance
Home to the greatest number of UNESCO sites, vacation hotspot Italy has also endowed an astonishing number of cultural riches on the world, not to mention an internationally beloved cuisine. It’s no wonder why the tourism industry is so popular and why millions a year book flights to il bel paese.
Bequeathed to Florence by the last surviving member of the Medici family, the Uffizi Gallery was one of the world’s first modern museums. A treasure trove of Renaissance art by masters like Botticelli, Giotto, Da Vinci and Michelangelo, it houses one of Italy’s most important art collections.
Rebuilt twice due to fire, Venice’s Teatro La Fenice (The Phoenix, fittingly) is one of Europe’s most famous opera houses. Verdi premiered both Rigoletto and La Traviata here, and international greats like Stravinsky have composed for the house.
Buried under a layer of lapilli (burnt fragments of pumice stone) when Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, Pompeii is a fascinating freeze-frame of ancient life. Poking around through homes and businesses (including a brothel) seized in a moment in time two thousand years ago is a truly haunting experience.
Michelangelo’s masterpieces, Creation and The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel, are the pièce de résistance of any Vatican tour. Visitors also like to soak up the atmosphere in the very spot where new popes are selected.
Famous Italian cuisine
Being famous for inventing pizza is no small accolade. The folks at the most renowned pizzeria in Napoli, Da Michele, haven’t let it go to their heads though. Serving two simple varieties, this is a no-frills establishment where the only thing that matters is taste.
Where better to enjoy a selection of cheeses and meats than in Parma, the birthplace of Parmigiano-Reggiano and prosciutto? Osteria dei Mascalzoni is a cozy place that serves up regional specialties in traditional Italian style.