Category Archives: Italy

Things to do in Italy; Italian attractions and the best places to visit in Italy.

Using Rome’s Airports

As the Italian capital has two airports, Rome Fiumicino and Rome Ciampino. it is advisable to check at which airport your flight will land, prior to booking your flights.

Rome Fiumicino, officially know as Leonardi Da Vinci, is the airport used by most national carriers, such as British Airways and Alitalia.

Rome Ciampino, it’s full name being Campino-G D Pastine, is mainly used by budget airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air, although it is also used as a military airport. Unusually, for an airport predominantly used by low cost carriers, it is closer to Rome city centre (16kms), that the main airport (it’s 31 kms from Fiumicino to the city centre).

I have used both Rome airports.

We landed at Fiumicino when we flew with Lufthansa from Edinburgh to Rome, via Frankfurt. We took the Leonardi express train into Rome Termini station. We decided to walk to our hotel, near the Trevi fountain, as we felt we’d like some exercise and we only had hand luggage. However, we did get pretty lost trying to find our hotel. I was beginning to wish that we had booked Rome airport transfers in order to have reached our hotel quickly, so that we could have a shower and go straight out to dinner, as opposed wandering around the streets of Rome wheeling our suitcases, feeling hot, sweaty and hungry.

When we flew with Ryanair we landed at Ciampino. The airport facilities were pretty basic, but that wasn’t an issue as our flight was so cheap, only costing around £30 return. In fact it cost almost as much to park the car at Edinburgh Airport, as one Ryanair return flight to Rome from Edinburgh. We picked up a hire car at Ciampino airport, as we were doing a road trip down to Puglia (the toe of Italy). When we were driving back to drop off the car at Ciampino before our return flight to Edinburgh, we could see the perimeter fence of the airport, but had difficulty finding the entrance to airport. It didn’t seem to be very well sign posted. It was an awful feeling that we might miss our flight home, despite thinking that we had left plenty of time to reach Ciampino airport to drop off our hire car, before catching the flight back to Edinburgh.

I came to the conclusion that if you are planning to stay in the city centre when visiting Rome, that it’s a good idea to pre-book an airport transfer to your hotel. That way you can make the most of your time in Rome, by walking out off the airport to a car waiting for you and be taken straight to your hotel. If there are more than two people in your party, then using a Rome airport transfer service can be cost effective, compared to using public transport.

Picking up a taxi at the airport can be a bit of a hit or a miss. You might be able to find a taxi quickly, but you may have to queue for some time.

Taking pubic transport into Rome from either airport could mean a bit of a wait for the next train or bus. Plus you still have to get to your hotel at the other end.

What to Do On Your Italian Royal Holiday Vacation Club Visit in Rome

Almost any travel guide, book, or Hollywood film about Rome will tell you that it’s a city full of unthinkable beauty. Full of jaw-dropping architectural feats, incredible visual art, and unparalleled cuisine, Rome is truly a city that has everything a seasoned, cosmopolitan traveler seeks in a European getaway. The only problem is, how do you figure out where to start? Which churches and museums are non-negotiable, and which restaurants do you hit up first? How do even begin to make your way through the dizzying maze of historical sights, art, and cultural attractions? By the end of your trip, you’ll know why the phrase “when in Rome” exists. With so much richness to enjoy, how can you possibly say no to anything? However, if you’re looking for aspects of the eternal city that are more unmissable than others, look no further. When you’re next in Rome, here are some of the most quintessentially Italian experiences you simply can’t deprive yourself of.

Head to the Colosseum

It might seem like an obvious choice, but there’s nothing obvious about the Roman Colosseum, one of the most impressive examples of historical architecture in the world. The Flavian Amphitheater, site of thousands of terrifying and bloody gladiatorial matches, has been standing strong since 80 AD. It’s been through tons of different uses, from a traditional theater to a hunting ground to a type of makeshift housing for vagrant Romans. Whatever you think you know about the Colosseum, throw it all out the window. It’s worth it to see the structure in full scale at least once in your lifetime whether you’re a history buff or a casual traveler. Royal Holiday’s Palazzo del Velabro Apartments are located only eight minutes away, which means you absolutely have no excuse not to go.

Tour the Mercatos

Italy is known for its vibrant culture and out-of-this-world cuisine. Whether you want to try your hand at making a meal out of freshly-caught fish, flavorful cured meat, and an assortment of local wines and cheeses, head to the Mercato di Campagna Amica to taste and smell the local wares. It’s more than just food at the Mercato: Depending on where you’re shopping, you can find anything from handcrafted goods to pickled delicacies to freshly-picked flowers on the streets of Rome.

Check Out the Vatican

It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic or even religious. The Vatican, home of the Pope himself and located in a special enclave of Rome known as “Vatican City,” isn’t just the home of Catholic worship. It’s one of the world’s best and most exclusive art museums. Even if you aren’t an art lover, it’s worth heading to Vatican City to catch a glimpse of Michelangelo’s incredible, gigantic mural on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Once you see it, you’ll want to keep staring forever. If you’re a fan of completely awe-inspiring sights that have the power to change your life and the way you think about art, the Vatican is where it’s at. From the centrally located Palazzo del Velabro, you can get there in about nine minutes. Once you’re done, make your way over to the Galleria Borghese for some classic works by Titian, Bernini, and more.

Don’t Miss the Baths

After a long day of sightseeing, you might be thinking about taking a long, relaxing bath. But that’s not the kind of bath we’re talking about. The Baths of Carcella are ancient ruins located in the heart of Rome. Once used as a public bathing area, the baths are now gigantic, hulking ruins that tower above everything around them. Fans of architecture will notice the clear influence of the baths on modern structures like New York’s Grand Central Terminal. The baths are even used every so often as a living set by modern Roman theater groups and opera companies.

Do a Dining Tour

It wouldn’t be a Roman holiday without lots and lots of pasta, gelato, and wine. Luckily, when you’re in Rome you don’t have to travel far for an extraordinary sampling of any of these. Our advice? Start at Trattoria Monti and work your way down. Spanco is your spot for high-end pizza, and Santo Palato will give you the perfect pasta fix. Head to Litro for a glass of wine, Supplizio for breaded and fried delights, and to Pasticceria Regoli to end the night in style with a wild strawberry tart or a maritozzi, the Italian version of a cream puff. Remember: A day spent eating is never a waste.

For more information please visit:

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Visiting Florence in Spring

Spring is one of the best times of year to visit the Italian city of Florence. Below are some ideas for things to do in Florence this Spring.

If you are in Florence on Easter Sunday, you can watch Scoppio del Carro (explosion of the cart). This origin of this tradition dates from the First Crusade when a resident of Florence was the first person to climb the walls of Jerusalem. in recognition of his fearless act, he was gifted three flints from the Church of Holy Sepulchre. When he returned to Florence, he began to use the flints to light a holy fire at Easter. Now on Easter Sunday, a 500 year old cart filled with fireworks, is drawn by white oxen from Porta al Prato to Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square). A long ignition wire is lit at the Cathedral altar, which triggers the twenty minute firework display on the cart

I recommend a walk up to Piazzele Michelangelo, for some wonderful views along the River Arno.

There’s a Gelato (Ice Cream) Festival in Piazzale Michelangelo from 21 – 25 April 2017.

The Iris Garden flanks the eastern side of Piazzale Michelangelo. The Iris Garden is only open for a few weeks in Spring. It’s home to more than 2,500 varieties of iris.

photo by Living in Florence, Italy by Melinda Gall0

The Rose Garden is on western side of Piazzale Michelangelo. it is open all year from 9am to dusk. it was created in 1865 by local architect Guiseppe Poggi.

photo by ilaria

Spring is great time for a stroll around Boboli Gardens, which is adorned with sculptures mainly dating from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Palazzo Pitti is adjacent to the Boboli Gardens, it was originally home of the grand dukes of Tuscany. It is now the largest museum complex in Florence.

The Florence Bike Festival runs from 21 – 23 April 2017, with most events taking place in Parco delle Cascine. The festival is for all age groups and abilities. On Sunday 22 April, there’s the non-competitive Sunrise Bike Ride. It starts at 6am, lasting for one hour along a easy route.

As you’d expect, there is plenty to see on the arts front in Florence this Spring.  The G7 of Art is an exhibition of the work of seven international artists, including British sculptor Louise Giblin and Japanese artist Yasumichi Nakagawa. It’s on until !7 April in the crypt at Bascilica di Santa Croce.

The Gustav Klimt Experience runs until 1 May 2017 at the Church of San Stefano al Ponte.

The poet Dante Aligheri, known simply as Dante, was born in Florence in 1265. If you are interested in literature, and are looking for some respite from the Tuscan sunshine, you could visit Dante’s House, which is now a museum. You could also visit Santa Maria del Cerchi church, where Dante first saw, and fell in love with, his muse Beatrice, when he was only nine years old.

If you are in the mood for dance, the Florence Tango Festival runs from 29 April to 1 May 2017.

A boat trip on River Arno is one of the best ways to see Florence at sunset.

To savour the delights of Spring in Florence, you’ll need a good hotel in Florence as a base.  The Brunelleschi is a beautiful boutique hotel, located in the city centre. The hotel is named after Filippo Brunelleschi, a local designer and architect regarded as one of the fathers of the Renaissance, who designed the dome of Florence Cathedral. The hotel’s Pagliazzi Tower Suite has views of the Cathedral.

The Balcony Suite offer views over the rooftops toward the Palazzo Vecchio.

I’d love to sit in my hotel room and be able to see Florentine landmarks.

The Hotel Brunelleschi even has its own private museum, where exhibits unearthed during renovation work are on display.

I hope that I have inspired you to visit Florence in Spring.

Why You Should Go to Italy for an Adventure Holiday

Sun-drenched coastlines, gorgeous food and abundance of bubbly Prosecco, there’s a million reasons why you should head to Italy on holiday. Not only is it one of the most diverse European countries to visit, there’s so much to see and do that, you’ll never tire of the wonderful Italian lifestyle when you head there on an adventure holiday.

Walking

lake garda

From bustling Rome to cultural Florence and chilled out Tuscany, there’s so many Italian experiences to enjoy that whatever type of holiday you’re looking for, Italy won’t disappoint. Head to the Amalfi coast to experience a combination of the best off the beaten track walking Italy has to offer and indulge in all the finer things in life. Be sure to make a promise to yourself to visit picturesque Lake Garda. You can walk the stunning coastal ‘path of the gods’ to Positano and explore the 2000 year old history of Pompeii. If you’re looking for a faster paced city adventure why not hire a Vespa and zip through the streets of Roma for a thrill, then spend your afternoon ambling through the cobbled streets trying to find your way back.

Volcanoes

mount-etna

Head to Sicily to experience one of Italy’s highest volcanoes at Mount Etna. Whilst there in Northern Sicily you can explore some picturesque authentic Italian villages and even witness the volcanic activity of Stromboli. Take a dip in the thermal springs or delight in walking along the black sandy coast and taking in all the dramatic scenery against then backdrop of the beautiful cobalt sea.

Culture

sicily

If you want to experience some true Italian culture the island of Sicily is home to many Baroque towns and has an incredibly diverse history. Whilst there you can admire the work of the Greek, nomadic and roman civilisations all in one go. Visit some of the ancient temples like the Valley of the Temples and be sure to go on a boat tour to see some of the best swimming spots where you can jump off the boat and freshen up.

Italy is a great choice for an adventure holiday for those who want to combine exciting adventures with sightseeing and enjoying delicious cuisine. The wonderful diversity of Italy means that you can fill your days with adrenaline fuelled walks and day trips in the sun then spend your evenings drinking fine wine and eating delicious pasta. Take a look at the amazing adventure holiday to Italy with Exodus today and kick start your Italian adventure.

Top 10 Historic Buildings in Rome

Rome is a city packed full of attractions, with more sites and museums than you can shake a gladiator’s trident at. So, if you were interested in visiting them with your Rome city card and getting to know their history, which would be the best places to visit?

Castel Santâ Angelo

Rome Castel Sant Angelo

The history of this building began around 130AD when it was first constructed as a mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Hadrian and his family. Since then, it has been a castle, a fortress and in its latest incarnation, a museum. Once the tallest building in Rome, the Mausoleum of Hadrian, or the Castel Santa Angelo, as it is commonly known, is worth visiting as much for the sights it boasts as for its own beauty. Getting to the top and enjoying the view of the Roman skyline, especially with Vatican City just a stone’s throw away, is an experience not to be missed.

St Peter’s Basilica

If you visit Rome, it would be unthinkable not to see St Peter’s Basilica, an enormous, majestic piece of Renaissance architecture. As the burial site for Saint Peter, one of Jesus Christ’s twelve apostles, it has great historical and religious significance.

Galeria Borghese

More than just an art gallery, this 17th century villa has housed many collections, from Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who first began collecting art and antiquities, to Prince Marcantonio IV Borghese, responsible for the now famous Villa Borghese gardens.

The Coliseum

The largest and most iconic amphitheatre in the world, this famed Roman site for gladiatorial contests and spectacles needs no introduction.

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Rome Vatican

An absolute must among the things to see in Rome. Every room and hallway in the museums is a masterpiece of design, and packed full of vital works, particularly of Renaissance art. Michelangelo’s decorations on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel provide the climax of the visit.

The Capitoline Museums

A collection of buildings rather than a single one, the plans for The Capitoline Museums were originally conceived by Michelangelo himself. The complex is comprised of three main buildings: the Palazo Senatorio (built in the 12th Century but later modified in line with Michelangelo’s plans), the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo. Unified by the glorious Piaza del Campidoglio, the museums have a number of artistic and archaeological exhibits, making this a must-see for history buffs.

The Pantheon

An almost 2,000 year-old temple with massive classic columns and the famous coffered dome, this was in fact the third attempt after the previous two Pantheons had burnt down. One of the primary Rome attractions.

Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran

Dating back to the 4th century, this cathedral is of huge importance to Catholics as it is the oldest, highest-ranked Basilica in Rome and acts as the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope. Its long and rich history, as well as the adjacent Lateran Palace, merits exploration.

Roman Forum

For the true ancient ruin experience, nothing can beat the Roman Forum, situated right next to the Coliseum. It used to be the beating heart of ancient Rome, operating as the marketplace and venue for a host of public events.

Trevi Fountain

Finally, La Fontana di Trevi slips into the list because though it may just be a fountain, it is one of epic proportions and fame. It marks the terminal point of an important aqueduct that served ancient Rome, highlighting the historical and cultural importance of water to Roman civilisation.

Read more of our tips on what to do in Rome.

Visiting Tarquinia and Tuscania in the Lazio Region of Italy

Tarquinia and Tuscania are situated quite close to each other in the province of Viterbo in the Lazio region of Italy. They almost sound like twin towns. It wasn’t always so as in the Middle Ages Tarquinia was called Corneto. It was later renamed to reflect its ancient origins. The two towns are, however, quite different in almost every other way.

toscania

Tuscania by Alesso Rossini

Tuscania’s great attraction is a pair of Romanesque churches set in attractive countryside; visiting them both is an enjoyable stroll into the past, through hills and pleasant woods and fields. A fine rose window, remarkable carvings, huge open arcades, ancient stone pavements; these churches are full of atmosphere. I have no idea why such a small town needed two such massive churches; nor why they’re now so far out of the town centre.

toscania s pietro

San Pietro Toscania by mararie

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25 Places to See in Italy

While Rome, Venice and Florence are the big crowd pullers in Italy, there are plenty of other great destinations to visit. Here are our 25 travel tips on what to do in Italy.

Lake Iseo

Lake Iseo, lies between the better known Como and Garda lakes. There are many ways to make the most of Lake Iseo, such as walking a few kilometers up to see Pyramids of Zone (naturally-formed pillar formations), taking the ferry to the island in the lake, Monte Isola, visting the Palazzo Tadini art gallery in Lovere and sampling some Franciacorta, the locally produced sparkling wine.

what to do in Italy

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Pisa

Pisa is one of the first destinations that comes to mind when you are thinking about Italy. But Pisa features a lot more than just its extremely famous leaning tower. You can visit Palazzo Gambacorti, lots of churches including Santa Maria della Spina, explore the gardens (especially Giardino di Scotto), and stroll along the banks of the Arno River. You might also want to take a tour inside of University of Pisa, one of Italy’s oldest universities.

what to do in Italy

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10 Fascinating Rome Museums

The Italian capital of Rome offers some of the best museums in Europe; here are our tips for ten Rome museums.

MAXXI Museum (National Museum of the 21st Century Arts)

MAXXI Museum was opened in 2010 and it contains paintings, photography and architectural works from both international and Italian artists. It was designed by architect Zaha Hadid (who also designed Glasgow’s Riverside Museum).

Rome museum

MAXXI Museum by mark hogan

Capitoline Museum

Capitoline Museum, founded in the late 1400s, famous for its Rome-related collections. Many of the early donations came from Popes, and it was opened to the public in 1734 by Pope Clement.

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Best of Rome Travel Tips

Rome is one of those very special cities with so much history and culture that you could easily spend weeks there and still feel you didn’t want to leave. Rome is included in our best European cities to visit post. Our top tips for what to do in Rome is a collation of  posts by the Europe a la Carte blogging team, with insider tips from local resident Kimberly Sullivan.

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Ten Things to do in Naples, Italy

Naples has an interesting history, a history that continues to this day. It is a city that lately has spent more time in the news for high unemployment and issues with the Camorra crime organization. Despite all this, it is a city rich in tradition and still a beautiful tourist attraction on the Italian coast.

Things to do Naples

Naples  by BellaBim

To allow you to start your sightseeing immediately, you could book at taxi in Naples from the airport straight to your hotel.

Visit the Archaeological Museum

Check out the Naples National Archaeological Museum for one of the greatest collections of Greek and Roman artifacts. The museum is, of course, also home to an amazing collection of artifacts from the city of Pompeii.

Admire the Architecture of Gallerie Umberto I

Take pictures of the interior of the Galleria Umberto I. The Galleria is a public shopping center in Naples, but it is not for the shopping you need to head to the Galleria. It’s the architecture, especially the glass dome. Whether or not you buy a single thing, head to the Galleria and crane your head upwards.

Things to do Naples

Photo by kalamita. More here.

Go Underground

Go spelunking. Kind of. Naples has a sort of mirror subterranean city. Guided tours are available and last about 60 minutes and cover several kilometers of tunnels, caves, and terrain, all the while discussing the history of the city.

Things to do Naples

Photo by Averain. More here.

Trek to the Summit of Mount Vesuvius

No trip to Naples would be complete without visiting Mt. Vesuvius. About ten kilometers from Naples, the volcano is of course best known for the eruption in 79 AD in which the entire city of Pompeii was destroyed. While Mt. Vesuvius is still an active volcano today, it has been designated a national park and visitors are welcome to hike to the summit. The views of Naples from Mt. Vesuvius are hard to beat.

Things to do Naples

Photo by Rick McCharles. More here.

Walk Around the Historic Centre

Visit the center of Naples which has been designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The center of the city offers nearly 2500 years of history and culture making it well worthy of the designation by UNESCO.

Things to do Naples

Photo by antmoose. More here.

See Opera at the Real Teatro di San Carlo

For another World Heritage site, check out the Real Teatro di San Carlo. The theater opened in 1757 and is still active today.  Try to catch an opera performance or a ballet if you get the chance. Be warned though, tickets are not cheap.

Things to do Naples

Visit Naples Cathedral

Visit the Duomo di Napoli, an important cathedral for Catholics in the area.  Completed in the 14th century, the cathedral is now the seat of the Archbishop of Naples. Inside you’ll find a variety of impressive art work, from frescoes to altarpieces.

Things to do Naples

Photo by Averain. More here.

Visit the Royal Palace

Wander through the 17th century Royal Palace of Naples (it’s another World Heritage site. You may be seeing a pattern here. The city has a lot to offer.). The Palace gives a glimpse into the royal past of the region.

Things to do Naples

Photo by Averain. More here.

Visit the Castel Nuovo

Explore the Castel Nuovo, a medieval castle in Naples that has seen plenty of changes over the centuries. The fortress cuts an imposing figure in the cityscape and offers some beautiful views of the bay. Some might find the tour of the castle itself a bit underwhelming (it helps to have an interest in the medieval history of the region), but the exterior and views of Naples should satisfy most critics in your group.

Things to do Naples

Photo by Chiara Marra. More here.

Eat Pizza in Its Birthplace

And finally, eat pizza. Lots of it. Search the city and find your favorite. Pizza is said to have originated in Naples, so explore and enjoy!

Things to do Naples

Photo by gsz. More here.

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Our Europe city guides cover these Italian cities:

More Things to Do in Italy

We’ve plenty more tips for things to do in Italy on Europe a la Carte.