By Helen Forbes
When you’re planning that dream holiday to Italy, the key is to research first and not try to do everything at once. There is so much to see while in the country, when it comes to travelling, Italy is best bitten off in small chunks. If you want to visit the countryside, take time to explore it properly by driving around one area and not overextending yourself when travelling. Italy lends itself quite well to a slow-paced ride through small villages and hamlets, stopping here and there as whimsy strikes. But, if you want to immerse in the art and history and love the hustle and bustle of a large city, you may want to explore the two cultural capitals of Rome and Florence. Here is just a taste of what you can encounter in these two very different, but equally impressive, destinations.
“All roads lead to Rome,” so the saying goes – and it is mostly true. As the capital city, and the largest in Italy, Rome requires some time for a proper exploration when you are travelling. Italy’s extensive history is on evident display everywhere here. Since its founding in 753BC, Rome has been inhabited since some 14,000 years ago. The centre of the ancient city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – with the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon and the arches, just to name a few attractions. There are also the markets, the museums and lesser-known sites like the catacombs and the “bone church”. Whatever you decide to focus on, be sure to give yourself ample time, as you could spend months in Rome and not truly see it all.
Often considered as the true heart of the Renaissance era, Florence is well worth an extended stay when you are travelling. Italy has plenty of art and fascinating historical locations, but none have the presence and beauty (and the sheer volume of priceless art) as Florence.
The historic centre of the city was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, and the Duomo, with its stunning artworks, doors and impressive views over the city, is a must-see. Then you must head over to the Ponte Vecchio, to marvel at the many tiny traditional jewellery shops that line the bridge. Spend a few hours in the Boboli Gardens and the Pitti Palace, then take a stroll up the hill to the Piazza Michelangelo, to watch the sunset reflect under the bridges of Florence as they cris-cross the Arno. In terms of art you are spoilt for choice, but don’t miss the famous statue of David and the stunning works of Renaissance artwork displayed in the city’s many museums.
Helen Forbes is from Essential Italy, a company specialising in Italian holiday villas, apartments and hotels. If you’re looking for the perfect villa for your vacation in Italy we can help. Our handpicked villas offer distinctive Italian qualities, great comfort and convenience.
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