Abruzzo is located in central Italy and stretches from the heart of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea, on a mostly mountainous and wild terrain. In the mountains, tourist resorts and well-equipped facilities for skiing and winter sports rise among unpolluted peaks and rocky walls: among them are Pescasseroli, Rivisondoli and Roccaraso. The natural landscape of the high and steep peaks of the Gran Sasso, Laga Mountains, and Mount Majella slopes down to a wide range of hills, until it finally reaches the Adriatic coast. The route that spans from the Gran Sasso down to the sea crosses territories that are rich in history, traditions and art that never cease to surprise visitors. Narrow valleys and impressive, natural paths thrust their way into the mountains and hills, as does the amazing and fascinating Aterno Valley, crawling with ancient villages. Natural reserves, like the National Park of Abruzzo, the Park of Gran Sasso and the Laga Mountains, or that of Mount Majella, protect the typical vegetable and animal species of the area, including the golden eagle, the wolf and the Marsican brown bear. The Adriatic coast is characterized by long and sandy beaches to the north and pebbly beaches to the south. Also, the small villages of the hinterland, as well as the monasteries and castles of the region, are very charming and part of many touristic routes in this the "greenest region" in Italy. The provinces of the region are: L'Aquila (regional capital), Pescara, Teramo and Chieti.What to see
The most artistically important town in the region is L'Aquila. Unfortunately, the earthquake of April 6th, 2009 struck this city and the surrounding area, causing considerable damage to its precious artistic treasures. In the Province of Aquila, the famous Castello di Celano - today the home of the Museum of Archaeology and Sacred Art - and the remains of the ancient Roman city of Alba Fucens are just some of the numerous testimonies narrating the long and complex history of Abruzzo.What to do
The highest peaks of the Apennines and the renowned tourist resorts of Roccaraso, Rivisondoli, Pescasseroli and Campo Imperatore welcome ski, snowboard and snow rafting enthusiasts to modern facilities and a great number of slopes, while cross-country tracks transverse the amazing scenery of the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise. The Region also offers the possibility to practice many sports in contact with nature: walks and excursions by foot, mountain biking or trekking routes in protected areas and sites of enormous naturalistic value, such as the splendid Sagittario Gorge, Zompo lo Schioppo Falls, or Lakes Penne and Serranello, where it is possible to spot rare bird species.What to taste
Those who enjoy new and unique gastronomic experiences can drive from the Adriatic coast up to Peligna Valley, through olive groves and vineyards to reach the hinterland, where they can visit farms and taste wines, oil and delicious local products.
The maccheroni alla chitarra are highly-renowned (home-made pasta cut on a machine with thin steel blades), while scrippelle are thin strips of pasta eaten in soup, typical to Teramo. On the coast, most first courses are fish-based, often made with tomato to enchance the taste of "poor man's fish," often found on the shores of ancient fishing villages.
Among the desserts, often made with almonds and honey, we highlight nougat or torrone; confetti (typical sugared almonds similar to Jordan almonds, they are a specialty of Sulmona); cicerchiata, small balls of fried dough covered in honey; mostaccioli and bocconotto.
A typical meal in Abruzzo is accompanied by a selection of the best wines of the Region: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Sangiovese and Trebbiano d'Abruzzo. These are both national and international favorites, esteemed for the excellent production process, quality and price. Abruzzo also features a number of organic wineries in the zones of Chieti and Teramo
Also known as "Le Puglie" in the plural form, this region contains, in fact, many souls. The "heel of Italy's boot," Apulia is a charming region that can be visited all year round and is suspended among nature, history, tradition, tastes and spirituality. Apulia, the spur of the Italian Boot, is an enchanting region that spreads lengthwise along the sea - marvelous beaches that will delight every traveler, from the sandy Torre dell'Orso and Porto Cesario, to the rocky, boulder-encrusted Riviera of Otranto and Santa Maria di Leuca. At Santa Maria di Leuca the calm and crystalline waters of the Ionian Sea mix with those of the intense and azure Adriatic. Sea lovers have multiple options in Apulia, from Gallipoli, the "Gem of Salento," to Gargano, "Italy's Buttress," which protrudes out into the clear sea, where one finds the the beautiful Tremiti Islands. For who is interested in tradition and folk music, should attend the numerous festivals and fish sagre that in summertime run throughout the region. The provinces of Apulia are: Bari (regional capital), Brindisi, Foggia, Lecce and Taranto, Barletta-Andria-Trani.What to see
Apulia is a region that can satisfy any taste and interest, from its ancient history to the Medieval and Baroque epochs, from its castles that line the coast to the tiny, artistic borgoes where artisanl masterpieces come to life. The most devout - but not only - should not miss a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo (Foggia), to visit the places of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, the monastery of Capuchin friars of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Padre Pio died in 1968, and the new church designed by great architect Renzo Piano, open since 2004. For a full immersion in history and tradition, Alberobello is a must. The town of the trulli - ancient and peculiar stone houses with a conical roof, built without mortar- is so unique that it has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Besides its trulli, Apulia hosts another UNESCO site in the town of Andria, Castel del Monte, an unrivalled masterpiece of Medieval architecture commissioned by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in the 13th Century.What to do
he two seas of Apulia are ideal for an athletic vacation in nature. Opportunities abound for those who love the excitement of exploring the charming and mysterious environment of the sea. The crystal-clear waters of the Tremiti Islands paint an incredible seascape, animated by coves, caves and deep seabeds, and populated by lush vegetation and many species of fish. Santa Maria di Leuca, between the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea, is another unmissable destination. In some tracts, the seabeds are up to 90 meters deep and the life forms that colonize this part of the sea create a fascinating interplay of colors. Those who choose to have fun staying above water can windsurf or kitesurf in several different spots (and not only during the summer).What to taste
Apulian cuisine has always been defined as "poor" for its simple ingredients; yet, it satisfies any palate. Its basic elements are three: durum wheat, vegetables and olive oil, combined with meat and fish to create original dishes with genuine and unmistakable flavors. The hallmark of regional cooking is homemade pasta made with durum wheat or a mix of durum and soft wheat: from recchietelle (also called orecchiette) that, in its many versions, is a symbol of the region, to the famous strascinati, that once were the main course for the poorest families and are now ordered and served in the best restaurants. Among the quality products, awarded with the labels DOP (Denomination of Protected Origin) or RGI (Regional Geographical Indication), are Altamura bread, famous for its crispness; sweet and juicy Clementine Tangerines from the Gulf of Taranto; the Bella della Daunia, a type of olive cultivated in the area of Foggia since 1400, and the famous wines and extra-virgin olive oils, all with their very own characteristics according to production area.
Basilicata is embedded between Calabria and Apulia, in the south of Italy. One does not stumble across this region accidentally but chooses to visit it in search of a new experience, plunging into places where silence, colors, scents and flavors remove the visitor from the frenzy and stress of modern life and offer unique sensations. The woods and forests that cover the mountains are dotted with small and charming villages, some even at an altitude of 1000 mt, where pure air, genuine flavors and the beauties of nature are combined with historical vestiges satisfying every curiosity.What to see
Matera's Paleolithic setlements, the "Sassi," are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, along with Matera's numerous rupestrian churches. Taking a walk along the lanes of the Civita, the oldest part of the town, you enter the ancient urban area formed by a dense network of caves, dug out of the rock by shepherds to shelter their family and livestock. It is an ancient architectural work with no design, which gave rise to a real monumental work, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world. This place is so singular that is was chosen by the famous actor and director Mel Gibson as the setting for his movie "The Passion."What to do
Limpid and pure, roaring and swift, calm and warm: this is the sea that touches Basilicata. Streams and brooks flow down from the mountains, lakes are surrounded by lush vegetation, and the water basks in its thousands of blue shades. Vacationers can practice rafting or canyoning, canoeing or sailing, scuba diving or sport fishing. There are wonderful places to explore riding a horse or a mountain bike, or to simply take a walk along one of the many paths that climb up the mountains and lead to breathtakingly-beautiful views.What to taste
The most important product is certainly durum wheat homemade pasta, kneaded with ancient tools like the rasola, the cavarola (a blade and a small chopping board, respectively) and the maccarunara. Just the skill and mastery of the housewives is needed to make other types of pasta, like minuich and tria.
Following tradition, the people of Basilicata often eat lamb dishes, like cazmarr, a meat loaf made with offal (called gnumaredd in dialect) and cutturiddi, a sort of lamb stew. Another typical dish is lamb's head, which is baked and seasoned with oregano and pecorino. Lucanica is a famous meat dish; it is a sausage made with lean pork meat, prepared in many different ways, without additives.
Vegetables are widely used in Basilicata too, and offer a wide range of tasty dishes spiced with a hint of pepperoncino. We can mention vegetable calzone, ciammotta (fried potatoes, peppers and eggplants with tomato sauce), cialledda, with broad beans, potatoes and artichokes, and lampaggioni salad.
Calabria is at the toe of the boot, the extreme south of Italy - lapped by the splendid crystal blue Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas and separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina. The warm climate, the beautiful colors of the sea, rocky coasts that alternate with sandy beaches, a nature that is wild and mysterious, the strong and genuine flavors of local food and the vestiges of its ancient origins make Calabria a unique place that vacationers can enjoy in both winter and summer. The provinces of Calabria are: Catanzaro (regional capital), Reggio Calabria, Cosenza, Crotone and Vibo Valentia.What to see
Art lovers will not want to miss the occasion to see the famous Riace Bronzes, on display in the National Museum of Reggio Calabria. The bronzes are an important vestige of Magna Graecia, an epoch that shaped the history of this region significantly. These beautiful statues, representing two warrior heroes, are a rare example of classical Greek sculpture.What to do
When we speak about Calabria, we think of the sea and its marvelous beaches for basking and sun-bathing. Still, these clear waters in their thousand hues are also a natural gym where one can go windsurfing, kite-surfing or scuba-diving, to discover a wonderful seabed hosting brightly-colored corals and even intriguing wreckages from the Second World War. And why not try the emotion of flying over these breathtaking landscapes? Specialized instructors will take you through the clouds (firmly attached to a paraglider's saddle, no less) to show you the beauty of Calabria from an entirely different perspective!What to taste
Calabria is a land of strong and intense emotions; such is no less true when it comes to cuisine. Witness the famous Calabrian hot pepper (peperoncino), found in most Calabrian typical dishes. From toasted bread with n'duja sausage or sardines – called the "caviar of the poor" – to pork sausages, from pasta sauces to fish dishes.
The strong flavor of hot pepper contrasts with the sweet taste of the Tropea red onion, protected by the PGI quality mark. The onion is used for seasoning dishes as well as for curative purposes.
Some of the delicacies among Calabrian products and typical dishes that explorers of this amazing region must try include: extra-virgin olive oil, wines, bergamot liqueurs, liquorice, citron and herbs, honey and jams, special types of homemade pasta (strangugghj, fileja, maccaruni) that are still made today using the old methods. And if you visit the Region during the Christmas season, you'll taste a range of other goodies!
Campania is one of the regions of Southern Italy and stretches along the Tyrrhenian Sea, from the mouth of the Garigliano River to the Gulf of Policastro. The mild climate, the beauty of the coasts, the richness of its art and history, and the love for food make Campania the fascinating territory that it is. The journey begins with the sea, the region's uncontested queen, with its intense colors, its coasts that are crawling with bays, coves and rock faces. The waters here boast the islands in the Gulf of Naples, Capri and Ischia - true natural masterpieces. The provinces of Campania are: Naples (the regional capital), Caserta, Benevento, Avellino and Salerno.What to see
Naples strikes visitors for its liveliness, for the splendid colors of the sea, but also for its history that resurfaces from every corner of the old town center - the biggest in Europe, an authentic museum under the open sky. For the exceptionality of the finds and their excellent state of preservation, UNESCO protects the Archaeological Area of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which were destroyed by the Vesuvius eruption of 79 A.D. A unique and singular perspective is offered from the Amalfi Coast: bays, coves and picturesque small towns, which miraculously cling to the mountain. Sorrento, Amalfi, Ravello, Vietri sul Mare and Positano are some of the precious pearls that make up a "necklace" of small towns (12 altogether) on the coast.What to do
The Ravello Festival takes place every year amidst the enchanted scenery of the Amalfi Coast; it is an unmissable event for those who want to be won over by the magic of great music set in an incomparably-beautiful background. Visit Capri, the queen of social life and luxury, a meeting point for politicians, jet-setters and movie stars. A stroll through its famous piazzetta is a must if you want to revel in the heart of this charming and mysterious place. Many are the wonders of this island and there are many ways to admire them: renting the famous and comfy gozzi fishing boats, booking a helicopter tour that flies over the whole Bay of Naples and the areas of Herculaneum and Pompeii, or, for those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, booking a guided tour to explore the most beautiful places, learning about their particularities and curiositiesWhat to taste
Campania is cheerful and radiant, well-known for the typical products from the land. Thanks to the sun, this region can boast the juiciest and tastiest tomatoes in the world that flavor the many local dishes and, last but not least, the famous pizza and calzone. The pizza maker who invented a tri-color pizza with tomato, mozzarella cheese and basil in honor of Queen Margherita of Savoy, became a legend; this pizza still survives with the traditional name of pizza Margherita.
The liqueurs? Limoncello of Sorrento and Campanian wines, from Taurasi to Aglianico, Greco di Tufo, Asprino d'Aversa, Lacrima Christi, Fiano and Solopaca, perhaps enjoyed with a Neapolitan meal on a terrace overlooking the sea and a beautiful Neapolitan song playing in the background.
Emilia Romagna lies between the River Po to its north and the Apennine Mountains (to its south). It is one of the most fertile and productive regions of Italy, thanks to the mitigating effect that the Adriatic Sea has on the coastal climate. The diversity between the mountains and sea offers visitors to Emilia Romagna breathtaking views, in addition to beauty for both the eyes and spirit, with a mixture of the earthy colors, the aromas and the fresh sea air. Not to mention that Emilia Romagna is a hotbed for music, cinema and art appreciated nationally and internationally. Many who love the combination of sun, sea and entertainment choose the Romagna Riviera. It possesses the longest beach in Europe, and is where visitors flock to enjoy its sport offerings and leisure facilities. Towns such as Rimini, Riccione and Cattolica are highly-outfitted for touristic reception, emphasizing relaxation and fun. Further from the coast, the beautiful landscape of the Apennines, for instance, makes the region ideal for horseback riding or trekking in the area between Parma and Piacenza. Make a visit to the splendid parks and wonderful nature reserves. Emilia Romagna sits on the border with the third-smallest country in Europe, the Republic of San Marino. The provinces of the region are: Bologna (the region's capital), Ferrara, Forli-Cesena, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Ravenna, Reggio Emilia, and Rimini.What to see
Art, history and architecture are only some aspects in the wide range of features characterizing Emilia Romagna. Bologna is part trade show city and commerce, part grande dame of culture, art and cuisine, and in part college town with a rather alternative flair. In the province of Modena is Maranello, where sports car enthusiasts can visit the Ferrari MuseumWhat to do
For nature lovers, 2 national parks, 14 regional parks and 11 regional reserves offer sport and leisure to those who want to plunge into the green. The flora and fauna typical of the area can be enjoyed via trekking, kayaking and cycling in complete freedom. Horseback riders can follow itineraries on the Via Francigena in the areas of Piacenza and Parma, enjoying the many parks and following the myriad paths - even off the bridle-ways - that are scattered almost all over the region.What to taste
A journey in discovery of the roots of this region leads in many directions - one of these paths is the art of taste. The region is known for its bold and refined cuisine, from those of the countryside of Emilia to those of the Romagna coast, via the lagoon of the Comacchio Valleys, with its famous eels.
Discovering a region means tasting the results of its traditions, from the typical Erbazzone, a quiche with spinach, or the pisarei e faso, small dumplings with beans made in the area of Piacenza, to the tortelloni, agnolotti and all types of homemade pasta enhanced by their delicious fillings, herbs and flavors. We can stop in Bologna to try its mortadella, perhaps inside rolled or folded piadina bread. The unquestioned king of Parma, yet well-known and enjoyed all over the world, is of course Parma Ham (Prosciutto di Parma) that, together with the wonderful Grana and legendary Parmigiano cheeses, are the pride of this land's gourmet traditions.
This region is situated in Italy's northeast and borders Slovenia and Austria. Friuli Venezia Giulia overlooks the Adriatic Sea and is surrounded by high mountains, enclosing many different landscapes. The provinces of the region are: Trieste (regional capital), Gorizia, Pordenone, Udine.What to see
The mountain sceneries of the Eastern Dolomites are truly spectacular: the Carnia and the Julian Alps, in addition to the lakes, valleys and protected areas. One of the most glimmering jewels of the region is the ancient town of Aquileia, one of the most important towns of the Roman Empire. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is rich in vestiges: from the forum to the ruins of the river port and the basilica, it is also one of the most important examples of early Christian art. The Dolomites, another addition to the UNESCO World Heritage List, are a highly valuable natural monument and offer extremely charming sceneries and colors, both in winter and in summer: crystal-clear water stretches, snow-covered peaks and lush valleys.What to do
The several protected areas of the region reveal imposing and picturesque sceneries for hiking and walking nature routes, either trekking or mountain biking: the Cavanata Valley Reservation, also good for birdwatching; the Miraramare sea reserve, perfect for scuba diving; the Natural Park of the Dolomites, the realm of mountaineering and climbing, and the Carnic hills, ideal for horseback riding. There is also plenty of choice for golf courses all over the region, all amidst amazing landscapes. From the lagoon of Grado to Lignano Sabbiadoro, the sandy beaches and the limpid sea make it possible to spend relaxing holidays among exciting beach volleyball matches, water skiing, windsurfing, sailing, long bicycle rides and water games in amusing water parks. Then, you can enjoy the nightlife: clubs, pubs and restauraWhat to taste
The cooking traditions Friuli Venezia Giulia are influenced by the Slavic, central European and Venetian cultures. The cuisine relies on simple recipes and genuine ingredients: meat, dairy, sausages and legumes, used to create tasty specialties. Some typical dishes of the area are polenta, "porcina", a dish made with boiled pork meat and sausages served with sauerkrauts and mustard, and the several soups rich in vegetables and legumes. The most important typical product of the region is Prosciutto of San Daniele, well-known and exported worldwide, followed by Montasio cheese and Sauris smoked ham.
Strudels and fruit cakes are delicious as well. The tasty traditional dishes of the area are accompanied by a rich production of high-quality red and white wines, like Refosco, Terrano, Malvasia, Tocai and Rebula. Friuli Venezia Giulia is also renowned for its distillates, including traditional and flavored grappas.
Latium (Lazio in Italian) is a region of central Italy, bordered by Tuscany, Umbria, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania and the Tyrrhenian Sea. It comprises 5 provinces: Rome, Viterbo, Latina, Frosinone and Rieti. Regional capital is Rome. The name of the region also survives in the tribal designation of the ancient population of Latins, from whom the Romans originated. Latium has great importance for history, art, architecture, archaeology, religion, and culture in general. The immense patrimony of the city of Rome forms only a part of the treasures spread over the hundreds of towns, villages, abbeys, churches, monuments, and other sites of the regionWhat to see
In the environs of Rome, the Castelli Romani are a big attraction to those who love cheerful trips to the country to find a cool refuge in hot summer nights. Ostia, on the contrary, besides being a well-known sea resort on Lazio's coast, encloses the ruins of Ostia Antica (ancient Ostia), the best example of a Roman town that we can still observe today. Approximately 25 miles from Rome, the town of Tivoli demands a visit, given that it hosts two ancient, lavish estates: Hadrian's Villa and Villa d'Este, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Other of Lazio's provinces worth mentioning offer delightful surprises. An important community since Antiquity, Rieti is rich in traces from the Roman and Medieval (when it was a free Comune and then Papal Residence) Ages. Latina, rather, boasts glorious beaches lapped by the Tyrrhennian Sea, along with suggestive old villages and the National Park of Circeo. Plenty of green, verdant land and enchanting Medieval towns characterize Tuscia and its Provincial Capital, Viterbo, oases for relaxation and delicious cuisine, as well as Etruscan heritage and the Via Francigena. Not as well-known, despite the many beauties of the terrain, Ciociaria treats visitors to gorgeous landscapes and evocative places plunged in both natural and historic environments.What to do
n addition to its remarkable cultural heritage, Lazio also possesses fantastic natural monuments - specifically, its parks and natural reserves - the Riserva Montagne della Duchessa, the Circeo National Park, the Castelli Romani Regional Natural Park, the natural monument of the Garden of Ninfa and the Regional Natural Park of Appia Antica. These itineraries through nature take travelers on a discovery of these parks, where birdwatchers can admire many bird species year-round. In the Regional Natural Park of Bracciano-Martignano, the two homonymous lakes are an attraction for sailors and canoeists, while for those who prefer the sea, the Pontine Archipelago offers scuba-divers the opportunity to explore its beautiful seabeds, rich in flora and fauna. The spas are a prime attraction for those seeking out health and beauty treatments and relaxation; Fiuggi, Tivoli, and Viterbo, just to mention a few of, combine the ancient charm of their origins and wellness with well-equipped, state-of-the-art facilities. Those who prefer the mountains, besides visiting the well-known ski resorts of Terminillo, you can take trekking, cycle tourism, mountain biking, hiking, climbing and walking excursions among the Region's peaks like the Riserva Montagne della Duchessa in Borgorose.What to taste
Making up the pride of Lazio are Roman artichokes, that can be tasted at several different sagre or dedicated fairs; porchetta (delicious roasted pork), particularly that of the Roman Castles; the black olives of Gaeta; the olive-oil of Sabina and the chestnuts of the Cimini Mountains. In Lazio, several quality wines accompany the tasty traditional dishes. Some of these wines are Aprilia, Aleatico di Gradoli, the wines of the Castelli Romani and of the Albani Hills, and the Montefiascone Est!Est!!Est!!!, which is named after a very old story. The story goes that an abbot, during his travels, gave a servant the task of marking all the inns with the best wines by writing the word "Est" on the walls of the buildings. At the inns of Montefiascone, the servant, impressed by the wine, wrote Est ,Est, Est, (three times) to highlight the excellent quality of the drink
Rome today is one of the most important tourist destinations of the world, due to its immense heritage of archaeological and artistic treasures, as well as for its unique traditions and the beauty of its views and its "villas" (parks). Among the most interesting resources, plenty of museums (Musei Capitolini, the Vatican Museums, Galleria Borghese, and a great many others), churches, historical buildings, the monuments and ruins such as the Roman Forum or the Catacombs. Among its hundreds of churches, Rome contains the five Major Basilicas of the Catholic church: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran, Rome's cathedral), Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano (St. Peter's Basilica), Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura (St. Paul Outside the Walls), Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major), and Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura (St. Lawrence Outside the Walls). The Bishop of Rome is the Pope Benedetto XVI, in his pastoral activity strictly applicable to the city, he is assisted by a vicar (usually a cardinal). Rome has an airport formally named Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport - FCO, but more commonly known as Fiumicino. The Ciampino Airport, a joint civilian and military airport Southeast of the citycentre, serves as a popular alternative to Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport. A subway system operates in Rome called the "Metropolitana" or Rome Metro which was opened in 1955. There are 2 lines (A & B) and a third under construction. (Today 35 km) Rome also has a comprehensive bus system. The web site of the public transportation company (ATAC) allows to calculate the path with buses and subways. Chronic congestion caused by cars during the 1970s and 80s lead to the banning of traffic in certain parts of the city (Zona verde o blu).Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel:
The tour begins by coach passing through Piazza della Repubblica with the Fountain of the Nayads and following the ancient Aurelian walls which once surrounded the ancient city. On route you will see the famous Borghese park and the northern gate of the ancient city leading into Piazza del Popolo where you will see an Egyptian obelisk dating back to the time of Ramses II. Eventually upon arrival at the Vatican Walls your guide will then lead you into the Vatican Museums* taking the beautiful Spiral staircase and continuing through the Gallery of the Tapestries and the Gallery of the Geographical Maps before arriving in the famous Sistine Chapel with its magnificent fresco of the Last Judgement by Michelangelo. Return in the vicinity of your Hotel.Imperial Rome:
Arriving by coach at Piazza Venezia with its impressive monument dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II and the unknown soldier you then continue by foot to the famous Piazza del Campidiglio designed by Michelangelo from where you will have a fantastic view of the Roman Forum. Our coach will then continue by the Circus Maximus and the Pyramid of Caius Cestius before arriving at the Basilica of St Paul outside the walls* (visit inside). The tour will be completed with a stop at the imposing Colosseum. Return in the vicinity of your Hotel. * Entrance to the Basilicas requires appropriate attire (no shorts, miniskirts or uncovered shoulders). It is also advisable to wear comfortable shoes for visits.Renaissance of Rome:
Crossing Piazza della Repubblica with the fountain of the Nayads, our local guide will take you on a pleasant stroll through the historical centre, where you can admire the Trevi Fountain, the Colonna of Marco Aurelio, Palazzo di Montecitorio, designed by Bernini, the Pantheon (visit inside), Palazzo Madama - seat of the senate, and Piazza Navona. Passing alongside Castel S. Angelo our coach will take you to the Basilica of St Peter*, (visit inside except when there are religious celebrations) where you can admire one of Michelangelo''s magnificant works of art - "La Pietà". Return in the vicinity of your Hotel.Christian Rome:
The first stop will be on the Esquiline Hill where our guide will show you the treasures of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, then continuing by coach to stop at the Holy Staircase, the Lateran Palace and the Basilica of San Giovanni*, the cathedral of Rome (visit inside). Then proceeding along the Ancient Appian Way, you will pass by the Chapel of "Domine Quo Vadis" before arriving at the Catacombs, the ancient underground cemeteries and first hiding places for the Christians. A visit will be made to either the Catacombs of S. Callisto, Santa Domitilla or San Sebastiano depending upon seasonal conditions. The tour will end with a spectatular view of the Baths of Emperor Caracalla. Return in the vicinity of your Hotel.
Liguria is a coastal region of north-western Italy, the third smallest of the Italian regions. Its capital is Genova. It is a popular region with tourists for its beautiful beaches, picturesque little towns, and food. Liguria borders France to the west, Piedmont to the north, and Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany to the east. It lies on the Ligurian Sea. Liguria is a narrow strip of land, enclosed between the sea and the Alps and the Apennines mountains, it is a winding arched extension from Ventimiglia to La Spezia and is one of the smallest regions in Italy. The coastline is 315 km long. Except for the Portovenere and Portofino promontories, it is generally not very jagged, and is often high and compact. At the mouths of the biggest watercourses there are small beaches, but there are no deep bays and natural harbours except for those of Genova and La Spezia. The regional capital is Genova. In the parts of Liguria, there are also numerous historical treasures. An intact and luxuriant Mediterranean vegetation exists in the mountain regions of Portofino and Cinqueterre. On the other hand Portovenere is a small jewel on the Mediterranean coast. San Remo is one of Italy's most famous bathing resorts and the place where the annual Italian pop music festival takes place. The beautiful Benedict monastery S. Fruttuoso merits special attention. And needless to say there are many other important historical monuments to be explored. Liguria is were pesto is originally from, one of the most popular sauces in Italian cuisine. Seafood is a major staple of Ligurian cuisine, as the ocean has been part of the region's culture since it's beginning. Another important aspect of the culture there is the beach. Tourists have been flocking to the Italian Riviera for decades to experience its calm, deep blue water.What to see
If you visit Genoa, you absolutely must stop at the Aquarium, one of the most complete and technologically-advanced marine life centers in Europe. The Aquarium was designed by famous Italian architect Renzo Piano and even its external look is a wonder to behold. Inside, the Aquarium houses an entire marine world, in enormous and varied pools behind large windows: dolphins, seals, sharks and colorful fishes of all shapes and sizes create a breath-taking view for both grown-ups and children. Cinque Terre, in addition to Porto Venere and the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto are another UNESCO Site in Liguria. Those who visit these places will hardly forget the charm and atmosphere of the five seaside towns of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. 18 km (11.2 mi) of coast enclose and guard a little paradise: the rocks just a short drop from a limpid sea and the colors and scents of the earth combine harmoniously with the typical buildings hugging the coast in order to create a unique scenery. Portovenere, an ancient fishing town whose colorful buildings, one next to the other, mix their iridescent colors with the deep blue of the sea, is the start of an archipelago of sorts that ends with the above-mentioned islands.What to do
Anytime one mentions the Italian Riviera, they are talking about Liguria: 186 miles of coast on a splendid sea, the most important feature of this region. The very sea offers a thousand ways to vacation in Liguria, a region that boasts some of the most beautiful marine life reserves in Italy: the Cinque Terre, Portofino, Berteggi, Gallinara and the famous Sanctuary of Cetaceans.What to taste
When we speak about Ligurian food, we immediately think of the famous pesto, a tasty sauce made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan, pecorino and extra-virgin olive oil, used to flavor trenette (pasta) or ravioli with borage leaves. Liguria is also a region of vineyards and olive groves that produce excellent extra-virgin olive oils and quality wines, like Ormeasco and Rossese from Dolceacqua, Vermentino, Ciliegiolo and Bianchetta from Genoa, Albarola, and Pollera Nera from the Riviera di Levante, and Pigato from Salea d'Albenga.
Lombardia, Lombardy, is one of the largest regions in Italy and is situated in the north of the peninsula, bordering Switzerland. Its territory stretches from the Alps to the lowland of the Po Valley, creating a wide range of landscapes. The scenery of the Alps is particularly charming, with Valchiavenna, Valtelline and Camonica Valley. Winter sports lovers will find modern equipments and facilities in Lombardy, like the popular resorts of Tonale, Bormio, Livigno and Madesimo. Another typical landscape of the region is offered by the tracts of hills, like the area of Franciacorta, famous for its vineyards and wine production. Then, the charm of the great lakes. The east side of Lake Garda, with Sirmione and other renowned towns, is a very attractive tourist resort; Lake Como and Lake Maggiore are extremely beautiful as well, surrounded by aristocratic villas, parks and picturesque small towns. The region is also characterized by the great flat tracts of the lowland of the Po Valley, dotted with water stretches and cultivated with rice-fields: this is the typical landscape of Lomellina, the folkloristic land of rice weeders. There are thousands of other distinctive aspects in this region. Lombardy, aided by its geographic position and fertile soil, is a particularly rich land, where nature, history, art and culture are harmoniously combined with innovation, technology, fashion, entertainment and modernity. The provinces of the region are: Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Lecco, Lodi, Mantua, Milan (regional capital), Monza and Brianza, Pavia, Sondrio, Varese.What to see
The most important period of major development was the Renaissance, which in Milan coincided with the period of the "Seigniory"; during this period the Castello Sforzesco and the Torre del Filarete were built, with Parco Sempione at the back, right in the heart of the city within view of the Cathedral, that great symbol of the Milan's power at the time of the Signorie, and a great example of the Gothic style. Hidden further away is Santa Maria delle Grazie, a church which contains the signatures of Bramante (in the church and old sacristy) and of Leonardo da Vinci: the refectory of the convent annexed to the church contains his famous masterpiece L'Ultima Cena (The Last Supper). n Brescia, of particular interest is the Saint Salvatore Monastery, while the craft and tradition of violin-making, most famously seen in the work of Stradivarius, lives on in Cremona. Pavia is the "City of 100 Towers," the Visconti Castle, and a renowned University.What to do
The mountain peaks welcome ski and snowboard enthusiasts to internationally-famous ski destinations, like the Camonica Valley and Valtellina, with their popular resorts of Livigno, Bormio, Aprica and hundreds of kilometers of slopes to match every ability level. In summertime, the mountains offer the excitement of scaling the Adamello and other ranges, as well as possibilities for rafting, trekking and mountain biking, while the Stelvio Glacier offers skiers the challenge and adventure of its slopes, even in the warmest months. The mountains of Lombardy are also a good place for a relaxing holiday, thanks to the various spas rich in therapeutic thermal waters - for example the Boario and Bormio Spas, surrounded by a beautiful park. Lake Garda, just like Lakes Como and Iseo, ensures a restful and entertaining holiday, with the chance to sail, windsurf, water ski, canoe, cycle, trek, boat and take excursions to the surrounding areas.What to taste
The typical food of Lombardy ranges from the delicious saffron risotto to cotoletta milanese, from the egg soup of Pavia to pork and cabbage cassoeula , from Valtelline pizzoccheri and bresaola to the raw salami of Varzi and fresh water fish, the famous dried and grilled lake whitefish. The culinary tradition blends two different traditions: Pavese and Lodigiana. Recipes include frog's omelette, saffron risotto, pumpkin risotto, cabbage soup, Casoeola, Busecca, mixed stews and the famous Cotoletta alla Milanese. Among the most famous and tasty types of cheese of the region are gorgonzola blue cheese, named after a small town, mascarpone, lodigiano, grana, robiola and bel paese. Milanese panettone is renowned worldwide, and so are amaretti di Saronno, sbrisolona crumbly cake of Mantua and the nougat of Cremona. Wines Grumello, Inferno and Sassella della Valtellina are very famous, just like the wines and the spumante produced in Franciacorta, Bonarda and Barbera of Pavia.
The territory is mainly made of hills and mountains and encloses the Adriatic side of the Umbria-Marche Appennine, yet has low and sandy beaches. For example, the long golden and fine sandy beach surrounded by crystal-clear water of Senigallia, which offers lidos and pleasant walks by the shore, especially at sunset. Some other beautiful sea resorts are Gabicce mare, Pesaro, Fano, Civitanova Marche and San Benedetto del Tronto, the perfect places for those who want to relax and find relief in one of the many lidos that have been fashionable since the nineteenth century for the upper-class. For those who love extreme nature, on the other hand, the Conero riviera offers amazing views and wild strips of land, sometimes reachable only by sea or through narrow paths carved out of the green Mediterranean scrub. The nature of Marche is protected in the National and regional parks of the area, some WWF reserves; the Monti Sibillini and the Monti della Laga National Parks are a peerless spectacle for trekking enthusiasts. You cannot miss the Frasassi Caves, a destination for tourists coming from all over Europe and a very interesting site for speleologists because of the karst phenomena that originated these splendid caves, some of them occupied by man since prehistory. The countless orchards and vineyards of the hills of Piceno and of Esino Valley surround ancient and warm farmhouses where you can discover the simple taste of genuine food. Manor houses and old farms are now used as holiday farms and still tell the history of the past. The provinces of the region are: Ancona (regional capital), Ascoli Piceno, Fermo, Macerata, Pesaro and Urbino.What to see
For religious tourism, the Sanctuary of Maria di Loreto is an important stop, as it is considered one of the major pilgrimage destinations in Catholicism. If you love classical music, Pesaro hosts two weeks of complete immersion into the music of Gioacchino Rossini (a native of Pesaro) every August.What to do
The sea and the mountains of this region are a perfect combination for those who love to move freely and plunge into both the limpid waters of the sea and the greenery of its nature reserves. These reserves occupy a large part of the area designated as a protected area. The Marches, similar to the Monti Sibillini National Park, the Gran Sasso and the Monti della Laga National Parks, regional parks and natural reserves, offers astonishing landscapes with important flora and fauna. Here you can enjoy birdwatching and catch glimpses of golden eagles, peregrine falcons and eagle owls, while trekking enthusiasts can take long walks through the woods and forests. There again, take the chance to go horseback riding, canoeing and mountain biking. You can also cycle along pleasant routes to discover natural, historical and cultural wonders, as well as the typical food specialties of the region.What to taste
The typical rustic tastes of the hinterland can be identified in meat dishes like roast suckling-pig and marinated lamb, as well as in dishes created around truffles - particularly those from Acqualagna and Sant'Agata Feltria - and mushrooms. Among the first courses we find pasta: tagliatelle, strozzapreti ("priest stranglers") and the traditional vincisgrassi, forerunner of lasagne throughout the Italian peninsula. Food is accompanied by the wines of Ascoli Piceno: the white Falerio dei Colli Ascolani, the red Rosso Piceno and Rosso Piceno Superiore and, finally sweet wine stored in wooden casks, and with a Mediterranean hint of the aniseed-flavored liqueurs, Anisette and Mistrà.
Molise is situated in south-central Italy and lies between the Apennine ridge and the Adriatic Sea. Nature, history, art, age-old traditions and good food are the treasures of this still largely-undiscovered region. Visiting Molise, you get that Eureka feeling of discovery, starting with its mainly mountainous and hilly layout, scored by the characteristic tratturi, the historic trails of seasonal migration of people and livestock that join the pastures of Abruzzo to those of Apulia. The National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise reveals unexpected and magnificent landscapes, while the many nature reserves protect the vegetable and animal species representative of this area. Nature un-spoiled frames the two most important ski resorts in the region: Campitello Matese and Capracotta. The region comprises the provinces of Campobasso (regional capital) and Isernia.What to see
Your journey of discovery starts in Campobasso, a town steeped in history and culture, and dominated by the imposing Castello Monforte. Particularly significant is the Provincial Samnite Museum, with its displays featuring valuable exhibits from the civilizations that lived here, precious vestiges of the peoples that inhabited the territory from proto-history to the Samnite period. The historic town of Isernia boasts a 13th-Century fountain and ancient prehistoric site just outside the developed areas. It is worth visiting the two small towns that even today hand down valuable artisanal activities: Agnone, specializing in the manufacture of bells for the world's most significant churches, and Scapoli, the town renowned for bagpipes, with a museum devoted entirely to this ancient musical instrument.What to do
From the peaks of the Apennines to the coast, the uncontaminated natural environment of Molise is a perfect place to relax, play sport and go on excursions to the region's most typical destinations. Nature lovers can go walking or trekking in several protected areas: in the typical Apennine landscape of the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise, or in a diverse environment like that of the WWF Reserve in Guardaregia-Campochiaro, through woods, streams, gorges and falls. Many hilly areas can be reached by mountain bike, but you can also take the scenic cycle routes along the coast.What to taste
this agricultural land, regional food is based on locally-grown produce and sheep farming, and is also influenced by the nearby regions. There are many typical dishes in Molise: from maccheroni alla chitarra to pallotte (round balls) of egg and cheese, pasta and beans, polenta, lamb and roast turcinelli (lamb offal). Among the area's best products , the extra-virgin olive oil, Isernia truffle and durum wheat pasta stand out. There are several types of salame, including saggicciotti, liver sausage, ventricina salame and pampanera, oven-dried bacon with chilli pepper. Dairy products are extremely popular in this region, in particular the caciocavallo and stracciata cheeses of Agnone and Alto Molise, fior di latte cow's milk mozzarella from Boiano, buffalo mozzarella from Venafro and pecorino sheep's cheese from Matese. Scamorza cheese and burrino, a butter-filled cheese, are produced everywhere in Molise.
Piedmont is in Italy's northwest and borders Switzerland and France. True to the meaning of its name (foot of the mountain), Piedmont is a land of mountains. It is surrounded on three sides by the Alps, with the highest peaks and largest glaciers in Italy. Monviso, the Piedmont side of Monte Rosa and the other spectacular mountains in the region, create incredibly beautiful landscapes, and ski resorts abound. Lake Maggiore is the most sought-after tourist resort, including Stresa and the Borromean Islands, charming as they are with their ancient villas surrounded by beautiful lawns and gardens. The region's provinces are: Turin (regional capital), Alessandria, Asti, Biella, Cuneo, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola and Vercelli.What to see
The first stop in exploration of this region should be Turin, with its Egyptian Museum, one of the largest in the world; the Shroud of Turin, one of the most precious relics in Christianity; the famous Mole Antonelliana dominating the city skyline and housing the National Cinema Museum; and finally, the Automobile Museum. The Reggia di Venaria Palace is a splendid and extremely charming architectural structure, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the other Residences of the Royal House of Savoy. The Piedmont shore of Lake Maggiore is filled with famous resorts, such as Arona with its 17th-Century colossal statue of Saint Carlo, Stresa and the Borromean Islands, with accommodation facilities, villas and gardens. The ski resort of Sestriere - Via Lattea is one of the most important winter sports complexes in Europe. Many reserves and nature reserves dot the region, for example the Gran Paradiso National Park with its glaciers, natural lakes and protected flora and fauna.What to do
Rich in natural resources and landscapes, Piedmont offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy sport, to unwind and to be entertained, mixing leisure and culture. Against the unique setting of the Alps, internationally renowned locations such as Sestriere, Val di Susa and others offer a wide range of slope categories suitable for all kinds of sporting activity: from steep downhill skiing to cross-country skiing and ice-skating to snowboarding. Meanwhile those who love the thrill of adventure can climb the rocky mountains or raft on rushing rivers. In summer, the mountains and valleys offer trekking routes at different levels of difficulty, including some tracts on the Via Alpina with paths and well-equipped mountain shelters, from Monviso to the mountains around Verbania. You can choose from many more outdoor activities: cycling along the River Po and around Vercelli; mountain biking along the banks of the River Sesia; playing golf on one of the area's various courses; and sailing, windsurfing and canoeing on the shores of Lake Maggiore.What to taste
The most typical specialties of the regional cuisine are fondue and bagna cauda: two warm and out-of-this-world dips that celebrate the Alba white truffle and raw vegetables. Some of the many excellent dishes include the great mixed fry, braised beef in Barolo wine, civet of hare and a wide array of cheeses: toma, robiola, bruss from the Langhe, gorgonzola from Novara, and sernium from Biella. The typical desserts of the region can be found everywhere: the chocolates of Turin (unforgettable are the exquisite gianduiotti chocolates made with hazelnuts from Langhe and Monferrato), Novara biscuits, the bicciolani of Vercelli, the crumiri of Casale, the Cuneo chocolate sweets with rum and candied chestnuts, nougat from Alba, the baci di dama cookies of Alessandria and Asti, and the amaretti almond cookies from Novi. Finally, some internationally-renowned products like breadsticks and vermouth are from Turin. And Piedmont produces some of the finest red wines in Italy: Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Ghemme, Nebbiolo, Freisa, Grignolino, Barbera, and Dolcetto.
A voyage over an emerald sea, past characteristic coves and beaches of snowwhite sand … this is Sardinia, an island that strikes its visitors with natural contrasts, the lights and colors of a region that boasts old traditions and a wild and pure nature. Situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia is a mainly mountainous region, without high peaks, with a vast and charming, yet bittersweet, natural environment. In fact, the presence of man does not seem to affect this territory; great surfaces still preserve their natural composition, luxuriant woods with even millenary trees, small desert areas and marshes inhabited by deer, wild horses and rapacious birds. The sea reigns over this region with its colors that migrate into the coves, along the coasts, towards the beaches and the most popular resorts. An example is the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) with Porto Cervo set as its gemstone and uniting the history and culture of ancient traditions with a joyful and colourful nightlife. Porto Cervo was named after its enchanting cove that resembles the antlers of a deer; the Old Port is considered the best-equipped touristic port in the Mediterranean Sea. Porto Rotondo is also a famous location; it overlooks the wide Gulf of Cugnana and is full of villas and piazzas swathed by such a splendid natural environment as this. The provinces of the region are: Cagliari (regional capital), Carbonia-Iglesias, Nuoro, Olbia-Tempio, Oristano, Medio Campidano, Sassari and Ogliastra.What to see
It is not easy to make a list of all the amazing beauties of Sardinia. Places like San Teodoro, Santa Teresa di Gallura, Poltu Quatu, and Baia Sardinia are only some of the charming locations that deserve a visit. Visiting the Maddalena Archipelago and its "seven sisters," the main islands of the archipelago, and sailing along the coast of the Maddalena National Park with its lively seabeds, perfect for scuba-diving lovers, is an incredible experience. Caprera, the second biggest Island after Maddalena, is full of pastures and pinewoods, and shows its visitors the places where Garibaldi lived, with a house museum in the typical Mediterranean vegetation, which guards the memorabilia of the "hero of two worlds," as well as his and his family's grave. Sailing from Caprera to the Bocche di Bonifacio, you will be struck by the beauty of Budelli Island, wild and uninhabited, with its enchanting Rosa beach, a natural masterpiece named for the pink hues of its special corals and shells.What to do
Stintino offers endless possibilities for a leisurely vacation: golfing, boat excursions and scuba diving, relaxing strolls, cycling and horseback riding, as well as exploring the hinterland to admire the typical Mediterranean vegetation or ancient archaeological finds, such as the Nuragic constructions near Porto Torres.What to taste
Sardinian food satisfies the most demanding palates with its simple and natural ingredients, and with its delicious recipes made with the delicate and strong local products. The main ingredient is wheat, used to make the famous pane carasau, but also the well-known malloreddus, culurgiones and fregola. You cannot leave the island without tasting the savory porceddu, a grilled suckling pig which is served on cork trays and covered in myrtle branches. As for fish, the lobster of Alghero, the bottarga of Cabras and Carloforte tuna fish are excellent. Other exclusive fish dishes are clam soup and spaghetti with sea urchins. Sausages and cheeses are some of the tastiest local products, and Sardinian pecorino is certainly the most renowned. And to drink? Accompany your meals with excellent wines, such as Vermentino di Gallura or Cannonau. Myrtle liqueur (Mirto) is delicious as well.
Sicily is the largest of the Italian islands, separated from the Continent by the Strait of Messina and surrounded by the Ionian, the Tyrrhenian and the Mediterranean Seas. It is one of the pearls of Southern Italy and can be discovered, understood and experienced through a series of itineraries dedicated to areas of interest ranging from nature to history and traditions. Nature seems to have endowed all its wonders to this land: mountains, hills and above all the sea, with its incredible colors, its crystal-clear water and the beauty of its seabeds, in no way inferior to those of other seas. Here, the Mediterranean Sea, with its many little islands scattered around the coasts of Sicily - The Aeolians, Egadi and Pelagie Islands, Pantelleria and Ustica - offers unique and the intense sceneries, scents and flavors of uncontaminated nature. Last but not least, its great volcanoes are symbols of the irresistible beauty and vitality of this incredibly charming region. Fascination for this region grows with treasured archaeological sites that tell the story of the ancient origins of Trinacria (ancient name for Sicily). The provinces of the region are: Palermo (regional capital), Agrigento, Catania, Caltanissetta, Enna, Messina, Ragusa, Siracusa and Trapani.What to see
Etna, the greatest active volcano in Europe, is on Sicily's eastern coast and is one of the fundamental stops for those wanting to discover this region. Its spectacular eruptions have created unique landscapes over the centuries. Visitors interested in breathtaking landscapes can choose from among the protected reserves in Etna's natural parks. The Madonie and the Nebrodi parks, as well as the volcanic paradise of Pantelleria, are sprinkled with enchanting oases like that of "Pertusa di Notaro" ("Cold Cavity"), a grotto noted for the extremely fresh air that passes through i), and dammusi, the old stone houses typical of the island. Another world treasure certified by UNESCO is the archeological area of Agrigento, one of the most important towns of Magna Graecia. The famous Valley of the Temples - surrounded by green olive groves, almond trees, citrus orchards and vineyards that stretch out to the sea with all its imposing and elegant monuments - fantastically evokes an atmosphere of 2500 years ago, when the ancient Akagras Agrigentum was a center of power and learning. On Sicily's southeastern coast stands Syracuse, joint UNESCO World Heritage Site with the Necropolis of Pantalica since 2005. This ancient Greek colony fronts an evocative natural port that is blocked on its east by Ortygia, the oldest urban center here. Every corner and cranny of the city offers precious archaeological testimonies that recall the splendor of Magna Graecia. Sicily is rich in UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Two other must-sees are the Late Baroque cities of the Noto Valley, and the Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina. "If someone should spend just one day in Sicily and ask: What should I visit? I would answer without hesitating... Taormina... This small village is only a landscape, yet a landscape where you can find everything to seduce your eyes, your spirit, your imagination." This is how the famous French writer Guy de Maupassant described Taormina, hitting on the essence of this little jewel midway between Messina and Catania.What to do
The undisputed ruler of this ancient and beautiful land is undoubtedly the sea, that can be enjoyed in so many different ways: relaxing on one of the many coastal beaches, exploring the wonderful seabeds, or windsurfing and kitesurfing with the waves and the wind. Here, the power of the sea, together with that of the wind, allows for the opportunity to feel the thrill of "running" or even "flying" over the crystal-clear waters of the coasts of San Vito lo Capo, Mondello, Cefalù, Marina di Ragusa, Taormina, the Aeolian Islands, Pantelleria, Lampedusa, and Ustica, just some of the many places where one can practice these sports year-round. Those wanting to travel even further back in time will be content to see the Greek Temples of Selinunte and Syracuse, as well as those of Agrigento and of Imera. Not to be forgotten is the Greco-Roman theatre of Taormina and the cathedrals left by the Normans, especially the Martorana, San Giovanni degli Eremiti and San Cataldo Churches. If it's customs and traditions you're looking for, a visit to Acireale is practically obligatory; there one can see the Opera of Marionettes and the story of Orlando Furioso. There is plenty of choice for those who enjoy festivals and cultural events, too.What to taste
The exuberance and warmth of the island of Sicily is evident in its food as well, which tells of Sicilians' passion and care for good food and genuine flavors. A wide array of appetizers to whet your appetite, from rice croquettes to cazzilli and crispeddi of Catania, before tasting rich first courses and fish or meat dishes. And finally, one should not pass up the famous Sicilian pastries, mainly prepared with ricotta cheese and almond paste. Many Sicilian products are protected by DOP and IGT quality marks, making Sicily one of the core diets of Mediterranean; it is famous the world over for the genuineness of its ingredients. Extra-virgin olive oil, juicy red oranges and the sweet grapes of Canicattì, Pachino tomatoes and Pantelleria capers, prickly pears and the olives of Nocellara del Belice are some of the excellent products that distinguish Sicilian food. Yet, we cannot forget the most famous cheeses, like Ragusano and pecorino, or tasty sausages, like Sant'Angelo salami, or the different types of crispy bread, like the loaves of Dittaino.
Tuscany is located in central Italy and stretches from the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its landscape, artistic heritage and stand-out cities - first among them Florence - make Tuscany an unquestioned protagonist of international tourism. In this region, nature has many different facets, starting from the coast that alternates long and sandy beaches, like the Versilia beach, with rocky cliffs and steep headlands. The islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation, a crystal-clear sea and rich seabeds, are peerless. Medieval villages, historical towns, castles and defense systems, country churches (the so-called pievi) and beautiful abbeys, like the one of Sant'Antimo, are scattered all over the territory and their profiles stand out in the landscapes of the Crete Senesi, Orcia Valley, Garfagnana, Chianti and the Maremma. Finally, Tuscany is full of spas: Montecatini, Saturnia, Montepulciano, Monsummano and Bagno Vignoni, which offer relaxing holidays thanks to their thermal waters and well-equipped facilities for all types of treatments. The provinces of the region are: Florence (regional capital), Arezzo, Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena.What to see
Tuscany hosts innumerable astounding localities, many of which are also named UNESCO World Heritage Sites; of course, one must begin with Florence. Famous all over the world, the ancient Signoria dei Medici is the preeminent cradle of culture and art. It is a true museum under the sky containing countless monuments, including the Duomo, with Giotto's Bell Tower; Santa Maria Novella; Palazzo Vecchio; and the Uffizi Gallery, with all its unique masterpieces. The charm of Florence is also evident along the Arno River, on the picturesque Ponte Vecchio, and in the workshops of artisans that liven up the lanes of the old town. Another extraordinary destination is Siena, with its Medieval town center– itself included on the UNESCO World Heritage List – and culminating with the evocative Piazza del Campo, also theatre for the famous Palio. Pisa gathers its main monuments in Piazza dei Miracoli, among which is the Leaning Tower that makes up part of an incredibly-valuable artistic area that is protected by UNESCO as well. Pienza is the "ideal Renaissance town" that was wanted and created by Pope Pius II. The spectacular arrangement of the spaces and the richness of the buildings make this town an artistic treasure (an additional UNESCO insertion). San Gimignano stands out among the small towns of the region, a Medieval town characterized by its towers and "tower homes" (another site recognized by UNESCO). Of countless other Tuscan particularities, the Orcia Valley (UNESCO) deserves to be mentioned for the beauty of its fields and landscapes that have inspired many Renaissance artists.What to do
uscany offers a wide range of vacation proposals to satisfy all demands: "active" holidays, relaxing stays and special routes that combine nature, art and history. The coast, with its alternating sandy beaches and rocky areas, along with the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, offer possibilities for both relaxation and physical activity, e.g. water sports: from sailing and windsurfing to canoeing and scuba diving along its beautiful seabeds. Plenty of food-and-wine itineraries along the wine routes include stops at wineries and farms for tasting very high-caliber wines and the genuine typical products.What to taste
The origins of Tuscan food are rather rustic, as we can see from its basic ingredients: bread, even stale bread, spelt, legumes and vegetables. Some typical appetizers are crostini (toasted bread) topped by spreads like cream of chicken liver and spleen, panzanella, and salame, including finocchiona, a fennel-flavored salame. The typical first course is soup, like the famous ribollita or bean soup, spelt soup, pici (a type of spaghetti from the area of Siena), or pappardelle with hare. A famous fish dish is cacciucco soup, followed by mullets and the stockfish stew of Livorno. Among meat dishes, the bistecca fiorentina (grilled T-bone steak) is the most popular; guinea-fowl meat, pork and game are quite common as well. The typical desserts are castagnaccio (chestnut cake), buccellato (anise cake) and cantucci. Wine production here is excellent for both variety and quality: Tuscany produces the finest wines in Italy, from Chianti to Vino Nobile Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Vernaccia di San Gimignano and many more. Vin Santo, a sweet and liqueur-like wine, is paired with cantucci (almond cookies, or what Americans refer to as biscotti).
Trentino Alto Adige is situated in the very north of Italy bordering Austria and Switzerland, and is best known for the beauty of its peaks. Its territory stretches from the Adamello-Brenta range and the peaks of Ortles and Cevedale to the most striking mountains in Europe: the Dolomites of the Fassa Valley, Brenta, the Gardena and Fiemme Valleys and Pale di San Martino. This setting encloses an extraordinary variety of landscapes: magnificent snow-capped mountaintops, woods, wide valleys, streams, lakes, the enchanting play of light between the spires of the Dolomites, typical villages with soaring bell towers, and the myriad shades of unadulterated nature. Hundreds of miles of ski slopes make this region a cutting-edge tourist destination - Madonna di Campiglio, Canazei, Moena, San Martino di Castrozza are the best known resorts, popular in both winter and summer for their natural surroundings, sport activities, and fun. The landscape of Lake Garda is particularly picturesque; it narrows in Trentino, appearing as a fiord between the high mountains. A number of spa towns offer treatments and therapies, of which Merano, Lèvico Terme, Peio, Rabbi and Comano Terme are the most famouWhat to see
The most striking natural feature has to be the Dolomites, the very essence of the region. The Dolomites are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and offer an unforgettable experience for ski and winter sports lovers. Moreover, this region is the keeper of incredible artistic treasures, monuments and architectural works that combine Gothic from Austria with that of the Italian Renaissance. The route to discover this region starts in Trento, known as the meeting place of the Ecumenical Council (1545-1563); the city boasts a Lombard Romanesque cathedral and the Buonconsiglio Castle. The second stop is Bolzano, the "Gateway to the Dolomites" and symbol of the fusion of Latin and Germanic cultures, as can be seen in the Gothic cathedral. Other important places are Rovereto, with its museums, castles, the St. Colombiano Hermitage, the great "bell of peace" and the MART Museum, the new modern art hub, and Riva del Garda, with the Pretorio Palace and its austere yet elegant 13th-Century fortress, the Rocca. Numerous sanctuaries also sprinkle the landscape, including the Montagnaga di Pinè and Madonna del Monte di Rovereto. The castles of the region are exceptionally enchanting – a visit to the Castles of Tirolo, Roncolo and Appiano is a must. Finally, take a moment at Beseno Castle so that you can admire the breathtaking views.What to do
Trentino Alto Adige, set against the backdrop of the most beautiful mountains in Europe, offers exciting and fun vacation options for enjoying the peaks and their ever-changing aspects throughout the seasons. The snow-white scenery of the Dolomites is the ideal destination for those who love skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, climbing, snowshoeing and trekking at all levels. This region boasts internationally-famous ski resorts, such as Madonna di Campiglio, Gardena Valley, with its well-known resorts of Selva Val Gardena, Ortisei and Santa Cristina. Then Fassa Valley with Canazei and Moena, the Marmolada range, and San Martino di Castrozza all make for a magical terrain of innumerable linked slopes on one circuit for hundreds of kilometres, surrounded by magnificent peaks and enchanting landscapes.What to taste
The traditional food of Trentino Alto Adige is based on simple yet tasty dishes, made with the products of local agriculture and farming. The region's most celebrated specialty is the Tyrol smoked ham known as Speck. For salami, kaminwurz is very tasty; with typical cheeses represented by grana trentin, toma di montagna and casolet cheeses. Everyone knows polenta, served as a first course and prepared with corn meal or buckwheat, and served with a meat, cheese or mushroom sauce. Other first courses are barley soup, pasta and beans, mushroom soup and the most popular, brò brusà, a simple yet tasty local soup. As for main courses, the specialties of the region are: rabbit with grappa, goulash, roe deer with polenta, trout in every possible way, and lucanica, a pork sausage. The queen of local food is the Val di Non apple, used to prepare the famous strudel and fruit tarts. Trentino Alto Adige also boasts a remarkable production of prized wines, including Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot, Chardonnay, and the area's excellent spumante.
Everchanging, untouched landscapes in the green of winding valleys make Umbria a region that will never fail to amaze. This region comprises mainly hills, mountains, hollows and plains and extends along the Tiber's central basin. At the heart of the boot, it is the only region with no coastline. It includes Lake Trasimeno, central Italy's largest lake. The area still has the remains of Etruscan settlements, particularly around Castiglione del Lago, where the loveliness of the natural landscape combines with the romanticism and stillness of the lake. Moving on from the two lakes, we come to the Cascate delle Marmore waterfalls near Terni, some of the most beautiful in Europe The provinces of the region are Perugia (regional capital) and Terni.What to see
The charm of Umbria derives from its fusion of art, nature, peace and calm, the inspirations behind its various localities that comprise Renaissance masterpieces and small Medieval towns embedded in the hills. Gubbio is one of these, the oldest village in Umbria that reached its full splendor in the Middle Ages; the Cathedral; the Consul's Palace, symbol of the town; and the Ducal Palace are just some of the attractions that testify to Gubbio's status as a jewel of Umbria. Gubbio not only attracts visitors with its art, but also with its spectacular traditional festivals like the Corsa dei Ceri (Candle Race) and the Palio Balestra (a Medieval crossbow contest on horseback). The former takes place in honor of the Patron Saint, the latter in memory of its ancient past. Another of the countless charming Umbrian cities is Orvieto, with its famous Duomo, one of the masterpieces of Italian Gothic art, and St. Patrick's Well, a 62-meter-deep (203 feet) feat of engineering characterized by two spiral staircases that wind around the well (yet never meet), with 248 steps down to the water. Then Spoleto, a picturesque town that boasts a thousand-year-old history, still preserves images from the past in its Medieval and Renaissance architecture. Its stone lanes and its most famous monuments are the setting for international cultural events, such as the Festival of the Two Worlds, a wonderful occasion for enjoying a high-quality artistic atmosphere. Between art and spirituality, a visit to the Medieval town of Assisi is essential; a UNESCO World Heritage Site,its represents "a series of masterpieces of man's creative spirit." Everything revolves around its most renowned citizen, St. Francis, Patron Saint of Italy: from the Basilica, which is dedicated to the Saint and contains his tomb, to the hermitage (Eremo delle Carceri), a few kilometers outside the town walls, where St. Francis used to retreat in prayer.What to do
Set like a gem in the heart of Italy, Umbria is perfect for those who love nature and want to discover its woods, castles, sanctuaries and, why not, Assisi and Spello, right up to the slopes of Mount Subasio. Near Terni, the Cascate delle Marmore waterfalls attract visitors from every part of Europe, not only for the splendor of their waters but also for the possiblities to canoe and kayak, and for the child-friendly itineraries that include exciting tours through the Umbrian terrain. Another charming route in timeless places is that of faith and spirituality, following in the footprints of the region's most celebrated citizens, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare, and St. Benedict of Norcia. Walking along the Via Francigena of St. Francis, you will see boundless landscapes through an intimate perspective, and enjoy the company of other pilgrims at the same time. Along the way are various places to stay and to eat. Another possible itinerary is through the famous "wine trails" that will satisfy all five senses by way of nature, taste, history and traditions. Besides the obvious wine tasting, one can take part in food and wine traditions and admire the old crafts of ceramics, glass and wood - typical artisan goods with ancient origins. Visiting oil presses will give vacationers the opportunity to appreciate the olive oil culture of this region, the pride of all the grove cultivators and oil presses producing Umbrian quality olive oil.What to taste
Umbria, a small region with great tastes, satisfies all palates: the best dish for meat lovers is pork, masterfully treated by Umbrian butchers who turn the meat into delicacies like sausages, tasty hams and salami, like those of Norcia, to eat with unsalted bread that brings out the taste. The best of Umbria's cheeses are mature pecorino sheep's cheese and fresh or ripe goat's milk cheese. The lentils of Castelluccio di Norcia, a tasty ingredient for soups, main courses or side dishes, were awarded the PGI mark by the European Union (Protected Geographical Indication). This rich array of dishes goes hand-in-hand with the genuine quality of the products, including the truffle, the most precious of all. The most common variety is the black truffle, very popular with pasta or with game, especially in the area of Norcia and Spoleto, but more valuable white truffles can be found as well, particularly in the Tiberina Valley, Orvieto and Gubbio. Everything is seasoned with the golden and fruity olive oil produced in this region, which enhances any dish without upstaging the flavor; Umbrian oil of high quality is awarded with a PDO quality mark (Protected Designation of Origin). For dessert, you must try the typical Umbrian cake, panpepato, and other regional desserts made according to centuries-old recipes. Finally, Umbria is particularly suitable for wine growing, and its mild climate gives this land top-quality white and red wines, including, among the many well-known labels, Assisi Grechetto and Sagrantino di Montefalco.
Aosta Valley is the smallest region in Italy; in its northwest, it is located between France and Switzerland. At its core are its majestic peaks (the region is, after all, mostly mountainous). Here we can find the highest peaks in the Alps: Cervino, Monte Rosa, Gran Paradiso and the king of them all, Mont Blanc, which at 15,781 feet is the highest mountain in Europe, the roof of the old Continent. Those who are not familiar with mountaineering can use the comfortable, yet thrilling, cable car; catch it just a few miles from Courmayeur, one of the most important ski resorts in the world.What to see
When we think about the Aosta Valley, we immediately think of the ski slopes of Cervinia, Courmayeur and Pila, famous all over Europe and the destination for anyone who loves skiing, trekking, snowboarding and ice skating. This region offers amazing natural attractions, but other cultural and traditional treasures also abound.What to do
In any season of the year, visiting Monte Rosa, practicing sports on its slopes, or simply walking along the paths to reach the top, you will enjoy the enchanting and magical surroundings that are created by the interplay of light, colors and hues that cover your way. A number of sports can be enjoyed on Monte Rosa and in its valleys; the three valleys of Ayas, Gressoney and Valsesia are the hub of one of Italy's largest ski resorts. Cross-country skiing, mountain skiing and snowboarding can all be enjoyed in the coldest season, while climbing, rafting, canoeing, hiking and mountain biking are the options during the warmer months.What to taste
The regional food of the Aosta Valley is hearty, creative and composed of authentic flavors. Some regional specialties are carbonada, (stewed meat with wine, onions and spices), and mocetta (dried beef or ibex seasoned with mountain herbs).
Salami is another delicacy to taste, as is the wonderful Arnad lard, a type of Aosta Valley sausage cooked with boiled potatoes, lard, seasoning, and the reputed Bosses ham.
The cheeses are equally-excellent, including the renowned Fontina Dop, used for many recipes like fondue, which is served before or after the typical soup of the Aosta Valley (made with cabbage, Savoy cabbage, fontina cheese and stale rye bread).
Thanks to the region's microclimate, vines can bear fruit up to 3,937 feet in altitude, while the fruit trees bear such delicacies as walnuts, chestnuts, Rennet apples and the famous Martin pears.
More than 20 wines are designated as originating from "Aosta Valley - Vallée d'Aoste." Some examples are Arnad Montjovet, Enfer d'Arvier, Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle and Donnas. Complete your meal with the extraordinary herb liqueur "Genépy des Alpes," traditionally drunk from a wooden goblet.
Situated in Italy's northeast, Veneto extends from the Dolomites to the Adriatic Sea, by way of an expansive range of hills and a valley furrowed by rivers, canals and the Po River Delta. The typical scenery of Veneto's coast is the Venetian lagoon, and, right on this very lagoon stands perhaps the most unique city in the entire world - Venice, visited by millions of tourists every year. Yet all of the Veneto, a region with a thousand different faces, is the custodian of natural, artistic, and traditional treasures. Veneto expresses an extraordinary variety in its scenery: from the Dolomites, dipped in the crimson shades of the sunset, to the eastern shore of Lake Garda and Peschiera del Garda, Torri del Benaco and other tourist destinations. Long, sandy beaches alternate with well-known resorts such as Jesolo, Bibione, Cavallino and Caorle. The provinces of the region are: Venice (regional capital), Belluno, Padua, Rovigo, Treviso, Verona and Vicenza.What to see
Veneto is a region full of fascination and charm, with countless natural and artistic attractions, as well as a wide range of not-to-be-missed sights and localities. The first stop on your journey of discovery, naturally, should be Venice, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that also comprises its lagoon, islands and the Grand Canal, flanked by ancient, embellished buildings that recall the splendor of the ancient Maritime Republic. Venice, famous for its historic Carnival, Murano glass, and Burano lace, can be visited on foot, via small lanes (called calli) (and over numerous bridges) - or by boat - from steamboats to gondolas, carrying passengers along the canals to admire some of the most singularly special panoramas in the world. Piazza San Marco, with its Basilica flaunting Byzantine mosaics and domes; the Doge's Palace, the labyrinth of lanes dotted by shops and workshops; churches decorated with paintings, sculptures and frescoes; museums and even the most hidden piazzas, are all unforgettable. Another site on the UNESCO list is Verona's historic center, a unique blend of the Renaissance, Medieval and Roman architectonic styles. The city's most famous monuments are Juliet's romantic balcony, made famous by Shakespeare's tragedy, and the arena, which becomes a spectacular outdoor opera house during the summer. Nature is another one of the Veneto's excellencies: the Dolomites were recently added to the UNESCO World Heritage List due to their remarkable shape and the fascinating interplay of light between their peaks and pinnacles. This is the ideal world for ski enthusiasts: a huge area with miles of slopes and well-equipped resorts - first among them, the exclusive and elegant Cortina d'Ampezzo, the "pearl" of the Dolomites and one of the most famous mountain resorts in the world. Padua, the city of culture par excellence, offers its visitors many attractions, from the Basilica of St. Anthony, a destination for religious tourism, to the wonderful Scrovegni Chapel, a timeless masterpiece entirely frescoed by Giotto. Its 16th-Century Botanical Garden, rich in medicinal herbs, is also a World Heritage Site. The historic center of Vicenza, characterized by the classical style of architect Andrea Palladio, has also been granted UNESCO status, together with the marvelous stately homes he designed, including the stunning Villa Capra Valmarana and Villa Poiana, surrounded by great parks.What to do
Mountain, sea or hill, the Veneto region offers exciting vacations in natural surroundings, with the opportunities for sport, relaxation and enjoyable experiences. From the Dolomites to Lessinia, famous resorts like Cortina d'Ampezzo, Falcade, San Vito di Cadore and others offer peerless experiences for winter sports enthusiasts: adrenaline-fuelled slopes for skiing or snowboarding, snow-rafting, climbing, trekking at all levels, special courses for cross-country skiing, snowshoe walks and exciting dogsled racesWhat to taste
Although the cuisine does differ from one province to another, the food of the region is based on some common ingredients: rice, vegetables and especially polenta. Polenta, particularly loved by the natives of Veneto, is prepared and eaten with meat, fish or cheese. Beans from Lamon (province of Belluno) are a typical product of the area, as is asparagus from Bassano del Grappa, the celeriac of Verona and the red radicchio of Treviso, which has become a universal ingredient even outside Treviso. Another specialty of this province is the soapa calda, a warm soup with pigeon and chicken; in the nearby areas of the Alps you can also have mushrooms and roe deer, while the Asiago Plateau is well-known for its cheese. In the lagoon, on the other hand, it's seafood. Among the typical dishes of the area are risotto with scallops, scampi and cuttlefish, saor (sardines marinated with vinegar and onions), dried salt cod or Vicenza-style cod. Stewed eel (bisato) is a Venetian specialty. There are many typical desserts, including fritters, zaletti (polenta cookies), Carnival galani (pastries) and the pandoro from Verona that later became renowned nationally. Veneto also boasts an extensive and valued production of red and white wines, including Amarone di Valpolicella, Breganze Bianco, Bardolino and Soave, to mention but a few. Raisin wines are best represented by the Recioto di Soave; sparkling wines (spumante) are also a favorite , in particular Prosecco from Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. The production of grappa is remarkable in Bassano del Grappa and in Conegliano.
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