Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category


Monday, November 19th, 2007

Venice, the “water city”, is one of the most picturesque cities in the world. The main city is divided into sestieri (six administrative districts). The word sestieri stands for “one-sixth”. The six districts are San Marco, Castello, Cannaregio, S.Croce, S.Polo and Dorsoduro.

Waterways in Venice

Waterways in Venice act as more than a novelty; these are the equivalent of roads of any other city. The city is criss-crossed by 411 bridges and 150 canals, including the world famous Grand Canal, which is a massive 3800 meter long waterway. The city also bears 118 small islands, which serve as the foundation of this wondrous destination for tourists from all over the world. The waterways can be navigated using water-buses (economical public conveyance) or private water-taxis (more expensive but private conveyance). For tourists with a big budget, the romantic gondolas hold the greatest appeal. These are long intricately decorated boats, especially created for couples looking for a romantic getaway.

Gondola, Venice, Italy

Gondola, the mark of Venice

The Gondola is the symbol of Venice to the rest of the world. The Gondola is 11 meters long and weights 600 kg but still can be maneuvered very comfortably with a single oar and by only one person, called the gondolier in Venice. The Gondola is also one of a kind in its construction technique; it is asymmetric and so while on the move it is always tilted to one side. Its flat bottom allows it to sail on even the few centimeters deep lagoons. Eight different kinds of wood are used in its construction and it consists of nearly 280 different parts. The only metal elements in a gondola are the typical “iron part”, located at the prow and “curly part”, which is located at the stern.

Sightseeing in Venice

Castello is the largest district in the city, which includes the island of San Pietro di Castello, connected to the city with a long bridge, which used to be a nucleus of religion in the past. The most ancient cathedral of Venice is located in this area. Arsenale, the ages old shipyard (which boasts of a splendid entrance portal surrounded by two enormous lions) of the Serenissima is also located within this district. The district also hosts the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, one of the most gorgeous examples of Venetian architecture dating back to the time of the renaissance. The awe-inspiring gothic-renaissance basilica located in Campo dei SS. Giovanni e Paolo attracts tourists by its ageless splendor. Barbaria delle Tole region in the district holds the convent of San Francesco della Vigna, which is a gothic building with three cloisters located in the working-class area of the city. The Church of San Giorgio dei Greci located in the Riva degli Schiavoni serves as a tribute to the Greek-orthodox community in the city. The extremely popular Venice art festival takes place at Giardini, accessible through Via Garibaldi, which is located just beside Arsenale.

What to buy

Venice is well known for its local arts and crafts that have been created here for centuries and are almost impossible to find elsewhere – Venetian glassware, the cartapesta (papier-mâché) Carnevale masks, and the delicate lace clothing from Burano – to name a few. Custom made masks are also available. Besides in many shops, customers get to see artisans creating and painting the masks in front of the prospective buyers themselves.


Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Calabria is a region in the southern part of Italy. With only 9 percent of flat land, most of Calabria is comprised of hills and mountains. Unlike many places that are frequented by tourists, Calabria does not possess a multitude of historic and constructed tourist attractions. Calabria does not have the many tourist spots that the whole of Italy has. Though, there are also ancient bridges, churches, and castles what Calabria boasts for is the pure and real beauty of the place and its dwellers.

While all the bigger cities and provinces in Italy have updated to the modern civilization, Calabria with remnants of the magnificent ancient civilization still offer the old warm captivating appeal to the gallant sightseer. The unpolluted air and clean water are such a sight to behold for anyone who visits Calabria. Aside form the coastline and mountains that primarily draw tourists in Calabria, the warm and cordial character evident to Calabrians add to the real beauty of the place.

Scilla, Calabria, Italy

Where to go in Calabria

  1. Reggio Calabria, popular for its extraordinary scenic sight of botanical gardens between floral and plant inspired structures and awesome beaches. The area is also famous for its 3000 year history of the ancient Aragonian Castle and the noble National Museum of Magna Grecia.
  2. Scilla, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, the location of some tales of Homer has a rich history of significant religious traditions. It is also considered as the “Pearl of the Violet Coast.”
  3. Tropea, on the Tyrrhenian seashore, is a really nice town, popularly known for its sweet red onions.
  4. Capo Vaticano is a very prominent, inviting, and wide bathing place near Tropea. The wide beaches are perfect for those who love to spend summer seaside pleasure.
  5. Pizzo Calabro, situated on the coast of Tyrrhenian Sea is popularly known for its ice cream called “Tartufo”. Piazza Republica is also a worth visiting place in Pizzo.

How can you reach Calabria?

  • The speedy way to reach Calabria is by air travel. There are 3 airports: Tito Minniti in Reggio Calabria, S. Anna in Crotone, and Lamezia Terme Airport.
  • Intercity and Espresso trains interconnecting Calabria to the main towns of northern Italy are making travel to and from Calabria a lot easier than it was years ago.
  • Others travel to Calabria by ship and ferry boats from Sicily to Reggio Calabria.
  • Traveling by car is also an option for travel because of the motorways that runs within the whole province from north to south.

A trip to Calabria will not only provide the chance to see amazing sights of nature. Like other tourists that continuously return to Calabria after the first visit, you will not only see but also feel the Calabrian experience.

Rome – The Eternal City

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

About the city…

Rome, a breathtaking city with a certain air of timelessness about itself, is the capital of Italy and the most populated commune in the country. Mythology tells us that Rome gets its name from its founders, Romulus and Remus though archaeological evidence suggests that the city grew from pastoral settlements on the palatine hill. The Leonardo da Vinci Airport or the Rome-Fiumicino International Airport is well connected to different parts of the globe by most of the major air carriers.

When to visit Rome…

The tourist season in Rome begins at Easter and continues up to October, spring and autumn being the peak periods when tourists pour in from various parts of the world. The numerous outdoor festivities and the light traffic on the roads made possible by the residents abandoning the city to enjoy the mountains and beaches in summers also makes it an ideal time to visit this beautiful city. Some restaurants and shops close in the month of august and Christmas time witnesses a mild winter and a few fun activities.

Some must see places in Rome

The Roman Colosseum

Concrete Roman Colosseum

Also known as the Flavius Amphitheatre, The Colosseum of Rome is one of the most imposing structures that stand witness to the innumerable bloody fights that were fought on its opening ceremony and the gladiatorial combats which the people thronged to see, a major form of entertainment those times. The arena has a capacity of 70,000 spectators. Built out of slabs of travertine stone, the original structure consisted of 4 storeys. What stands today is a skeletal remains of the original splendor. The tiers are angled in such a way that a spectator, wherever he’s seated gets a clear view.

The Pantheon

Coming from two Greek words, “pan” and “teon” meaning everything divine, it is one of the oldest works of art existing. It is the best preserved monument having the biggest brick dome in the history of architecture. It was built between 25 and 27 BC and later rebuilt in 80 AD, after a fire. The present day structure was built by Emperor Hadrian after the original was hit by lightening and caught fire again, after lot of modifications and restructuring. As Michelangelo put it, the Pantheon is indeed a work of angels, not men.

St Peter’s Square – The Colonnades

The ornately decorated Basilica beneath the dome architectured by Michelangelo attracts many pilgrims of the Roman Catholic faith. It has taken more than 100 years to build and all the great designers of yore had a part to play.

The Roman Forum

It is situated between the Colosseum and the Piazza Venezia. A magnificent view of the Forum can be obtained from the terrace of Campidoglio. The imposing ruins of Basilica Emelia, the Cura, which was once upon a time the seat of the senate is also visible from the terrace. The forum was a place of celebrations during Caesar’s time and a symbol of The Empire in the imperial times.

Here’s the place for all you travel enthusiasts to come, visit Rome and experience and enjoy the enriching flavor of one of the oldest cities in the world.

A Historic Journey to Milan

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Milan is a wonderful city in Italy that boasts of many diverse attractions and will suit people with different tastes. In this city, you can find modern art and some very amazing architectural delights. In fact, anyone that is interested in art and culture must make Milan one of their tourist destinations as there is awesome art and plenty of culture to view as well. Be sure to check out the National Museum of Science and Technology that enjoys the enviable reputation of being among the foremost scientific as well as technical museums in the world.

You can also take in a stretch of water in the center of Milan and when you enter Brera you will almost feel like you are in Paris and not Milan because of the high fashion you will get to see. For sure, you will not be able to resist the apparel displayed out in the open air that is exquisite pieces begging you to dip into your wallet and make a purchase.

Castello Sforzesco, Milan

If you have time to spare, you can take in the excellent parks with meadows and more that are situated close to Castello Sforzesco. And, of course you must take a nibble of the excellent multi-cuisine that is freely available in Milan that encompasses culinary fare from diverse parts of the world including African, Indian, Middle Eastern as well as Japanese, to name a few. However, you will also relish the indigenous food of Milan and your visit to Milan would lack certainly lack in flavor if you did not try out the fare of the local eateries. Of special interest would be the Negroni that is an aperitif that you can sample along with snacks, and other worthwhile dishes include Risotto alla Milanese as well as Cassouella.

There is perhaps no better place to pick up on fashion trends and clothing than Milan and you should take the time to visit the Fashion Quadrilatero where you will see the best in Italian and other fashion with the entire world famous fashion brands being readily available.

Without a doubt, a visit to Milan will convince you that you have come to an enchanting and exciting city where you can view a great number of places of historical importance though art as embodied in the work “Last Supper” that is the work of Leonardo da Vinci really stands out.

And, if you have had had your fill of art, culture and fashion there is still more to enthrall you in the form of skiing that is also quite popular here. There are many skiing vacations to take even for those who are beginners and even for experts as well as intermediate skiers. Skiing in the Alps on the Italian side is not only very exciting but the prices too are quite reasonable and you also won’t have to travel far to visit some of the other more well known skiing slopes of the world.

Relaxing Scenic Breaks in Naples

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Situated in the south of Italy, a trip to Naples is a welcome change from the rich and famous cities that you will find in the wealthier parts of Italy located in the north of the country. There are many that would not really speak any kind words when they discuss Naples thanks to the dubious reputation it enjoys as being a seamier city in Italy that boasts of high crime rates and where the people are very fanatical. Though a visit to Naples will certainly come with the risk of being mugged or encountering other seamier side of life, using proper sense of caution should see you safely through your visit without much mishap or other nasty occurrences.

You should really make it a point to give yourself the time to go out and seek out the city for all that it offers, because you will find more to interest you out on the streets than in the many museums. Still, you could have yourself photographed in Naples and a good location for that would be at the Galleria Umberto I.

Naples, Italy

A visit to Naples should also convince you that in spite of its rather unsavory reputation, it is still a very beautiful city with wonderful bay as well as great viewing opportunities such as taking in the sight of Capri and also the Ischia Islands.

When in Naples, you can take a slight excursion and make a trip to Pompeii as well as Herculaneum, which are a pair of cities that were once buried beneath a volcanic eruption around 79 AD.

There is also Naples’ old district to visit and here there is much of the city’s history embodied in the buildings that have somehow come through unscathed even in spite of blazes, wars and also earthquakes.

The origins of Naples can be traced back to its foundation by Greeks in the year 7 BC and the designs from those ancient times have survived till the present. And, to add to this marvelous atmosphere is the utter disregard that people show to rules as there is a complete absence of rules, sidewalks and also traffic signals and signs, and in spite of that, there is still a coming together of people and machines in some semblance of order that really defies all logic.

There are also many churches as well as religious buildings to see including the Cathedral of Naples, San Domenico Maggiore and San Pietro Martire to name a few. Add to that a number of castles, palaces and also museums and you will certainly get to see a lot of places while in Naples including Castel dell’Ovo, Castel Capuano, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte and Royal Palace and many more.

There is also a subterranean side to Naples where there exist some old reservoirs of the Greco-Romans on which the city had been built. Thus there are many kilometers of tunnels running beneath the city, which you might want to see by going to “Napoli Sotteranea”.

The Green Heart of Italy – Umbria

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

If you are interested in the center of Italy, you will find Umbria that is located between Tuscany and Le Marche to be especially appealing. The capital of Umbria is Perugia that was a city that owes its origins to the Etruscans. This is a region of Italy that does not have a lot of available space and in the confined spaces are found some of the best in Italian life, culture as well as history. As communications with the outside world improves, this region is becoming more popular to other visitors who are looking for art as well as culture, which are embodied well in the heritage of Umbria. A holiday here would provide peace as well as a chance to enjoy outdoor sports, all set in very appealing settings.

Umbria Italy

Here are hills where there are many oak evergreens, which is why this part of Italy has been called the ‘the green heart of Italy’. You will also find some very appealing wooded hills that lie between the Tiber Valley as well as the Tuscan towns of Arezzo and Cortona. There is also the Lake Trasimeno, which is the biggest expanse of water in Umbria and the place where Hannibal fought as well as vanquished the Romans way back in 217 B.C.

Towards the south of this lake there is a noticeable change in landscape with the hills and mountains giving way to undulating plains dotted with houses made of terracotta bricks. In the capital of Umbria, you will find the National Gallery of Umbria complete with a wonderfully rich collection of paintings that are the works of Renaissance artists including Duccio, Giotto, Fra Angelico as well as Gentile da Frabranio as well as Pinturicchio and Pierro della Francesca.

You can also visit the birthplace of ‘Il Perugino’ that lies in Citta della Pieve and another place worth visiting in Umbria would be Assisi where lies the Basilica of Saint Francis whose claim to fame is the wonderful set of frescoes by Giotto. If you are interested in sports, then you can visit Monte Cucco as well as Monte Vettore where are found excellent hang-gliding opportunities, and you will find at Gubbio the annual international Arab horse endurance riding event taking place.

There is also a good deal of excellent food as well as wine here in the Umbrian region with the truffles of Val Nerina and the fresh as well as smoked trout good examples of its culinary delights. There are also plenty of olives with the Umbrian olive oil enjoying good reputation given its low acidity as well as wonderful flavor. Also worth trying out is the Montefalco red wine and Grechetto white wine.

Umbrians are genial as well as hospitable and the population also holds a good many tourists with many of them enjoying the country life and settling in the old farmhouses.