Category Archives: Italy

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

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 Sant’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 Sant’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

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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.

Rome Week on Europe a la Carte

It’s Rome Week on Europe a la Carte from 30 May to 5 June 2011.  It’s the Italian capital of Rome in the spotlight. You’ll find lots of ideas for things to do in Rome on Europe a la Carte.

The Colosseum in Rome by melenama

On the Europe a la Carte Blog

Read the comments below for readers’ tips on things to do in Rome. Comments are now closed.

On the Europe a la Carte facebook page

If you click “Like” on the Europe a la Carte facebook page, you can post a link to your favourite blog post, photo or video about Rome.

Spanish Steps by christine zenino

Flickr

I’ll be favouriting some of the Rome photos on Flickr that you highlight.

Trevi Fountain by cfwee

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What’s your dream Europe trip?

In a dream world, right now I’d ignore my emails, pack a weekend bag and skip to the airport. My dream Europe trip? If money wasn’t an issue, a little bit of this:

Sipping cocktails in a London hotel (and perhaps playing tourists for a couple of days), before getting a taxi to the airport and hopping on a plane to Northern Italy. The catching a train through the countryside. Hopping on an off trains as I see fit. Parma, Verona, Milan. Maybe visiting my ol’ friend Florence for the day. Stopping in little hotels, just because they’re pretty, trying little trattoria’s for lunch. That’ll keep me happy for about a week. Trains are so cheap in Italy that I’ll be able to keep on the move.

Europe trip

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Then hopping over to the West of Sicily on the ferry (for such a small Island there’s an awful lot that I haven’t explored), Off I go to eat arancina and drink unusual spirits. There’s plenty of exploring to be done, most of it best done by car – those little villages all need visiting (in my imaginary dream holiday, I can also drive). Seafood will definitely have to be eaten by the sea.

Then? A short flight to Croatia, to go and play on my very own private island. There are so many dotted around the place, and not at all expensive. Some for playing on for the day, some with lighthouses that your can rent out. I’ve never been to Croatia, so I’ll walk around, taking lots of photos. I’m not really a beach dweller, and get bored after an hour or so. I need some thing to do, and Croatia seems like the perfect place to keep me busy.

Europe trip

Rovinj, Croatia

Oh, what’s that? It’s nearly time to come home? I don’t really want to, so I’m going to fly back to Paris instead. I’ve been to Paris a couple of times, but the catacombs were being restored after (terrible) vandalism, and I didn’t get to go. I’ve also never been to the Sacre Coure, and despite visiting the Louvre, I want to see some of the art inside too.

Europe trip

Pyramids at the Louvre, Paris

Obviously I’ll eat all the cake too. And maybe stay at One by The Five Hotel Paris.

Oh, it really is time to come home now? Oh, that’s sad. Can I go first class on the Eurostar? Actually, it’s my Holiday, so I’m allowed on the Orient Express. That’ll do nicely for my dream Europe trip.

For more travel inspiration read the Europe a la Carte Dream European Travel Itinerary, compiled as part of the Blog’s 4th birthday celebrations.