Oh, Italy…the epitome of romance, culinary perfection and architectural expertise. The birthplace of the Renaissance along with countless prolific artists and scholars whose influences extend into modern times. It’s no wonder why nearly 50 million travellers visit this romantic Mediterranean country every year (making it the 5th most visited country in the world).
But if you’ve never been to Italy you might be a little skeptical as to what all the fuss is about. Well don’t worry, I’ve broken it down for you so you’ll find out the 12 reasons why you should go to Italy…ASAP.
1. The centuries-old hilltop towns
All over the country, perched on top of hills and mountains, are sleepy little towns just waiting to be discovered, offering unforgettable views of Italy’s diverse landscapes. The view at the top is certainly worth the climb and will surely be topped off with a gelato, the perfect espresso, or a refill of your water-bottle from the town square fountain.
2. The essence of whole food eating
Italians don’t only make amazing food, it actually goes much deeper than that. At the heart of the magic is a daily battle to protect the quality of their world-famous products. The now worldwide organization known as Slow Food was founded in Italy’s hilly northern state of Piedmont, promoting the preservation of quality and tradition from farming to production.
3. The bell towers and their rooftop views
Name one Italian town or city that does not offer the thrill of climbing to the top of a clock or church tower for a bird’s eye view over terracotta tiles and narrow winding streets? The challenge may leave you out of breath, but the reward at the top is a memory you’ll cherish forever.
4. The table wine is to die for
An Italian dinner table is simply incomplete without a bottle of water, fresh bread and you got it, table wine! Few countries offer such a diverse range of local wines for daily, moderate consumption – all of which cost less than a bottle of San Pellegrino. No matter what your taste or how learned you are in the world of wine, Italy guarantees to offer the perfect local drop to accompany your midday or evening meal.
5. The palaces will transport you
Palaces stand surrounded by endless gardens, the ghosts of times past, just waiting for you to take a stroll through their echoing halls. Whether it’s the world-famous Venetian Palazzo Ducale, or the baroque Royal Palace of Caserta outside Naples, Italy’s palaces, in ruins or lovingly restored are a true source of inspiration.
6. The historical routes are everywhere
Few of us can really fathom the concept of life more than 2 thousand years ago, but when travelling through Italy, you’re bound to be tracing the routes of the Romans more often than you might think. From the Via Francigena to the streets of Pompeii, there is little more mind-blowing than following the arteries that formed western European society as we know it.
7. The hidden corners in busy cities
It’s not only the remote little towns that offer the element of discovery, far from the crowds and the hum of traffic. Be it Rome, Florence, or of course, the floating city of Venice, a picture-perfect moment is always hidden just around the corner.
8. The art is in the air…everywhere
There is no doubt that Italy is home to some of the world’s most famous works of art. From the mysterious pre-roman Etruscans, to the engineering feats of Brunelleschi and the musical wonders of Vivaldi, Italy is a cultural superpower. Of course, there’s also the portraits, fountains, theatres and religious temples. Italy is truly where art resides.
9. The beauty can be found anywhere
Everybody has heard of the stereotype that Italians are beautiful, but it’s not just a stereotype, it’s a way of life. Whatever your interpretation of beauty, la Bella Figura is representative not only of the immaculately dressed woman you’ll pass in Piazza del Duomo, it’s the well mannered little boy asking if he can pass you in a narrow alley, the professional and warm man serving your espresso at the bar and the expressive elderly woman chatting to her neighbour on the balcony across the street. Stay a while – it’s contagious.
10. The villas will romance you
Smaller than the Italian Royal Palace, but no less awe-inspiring, is the Italian villa. Whether surrounded by cypress trees at the end of a Tuscan lane or perched on the bank of Lake Maggiore, the Italian villa is a residence most of us can only dream of (except, of course, George Clooney). Don’t miss the endless and lovingly manicured gardens of the villas surrounding the northern Italian Lakes, where at the right time of the year, the perfect flowers and trees from every corner of the world stretch as far as the eye can see, in absolute perfection.
11. The language is charming
Everyone can put on an Italian accent while holding their thumb to their four fingertips and shaking their hand with the passion they see in the movies, but no-one, no, not even you, can do it like a real Italian. Italians sing when they speak, be it an angry opera baritone, or a soft soprano, every expression is simply music to the visitor’s ears. This alone is reason enough to visit Bella Italia, but the fact that Italians cannot speak without using their hands make it all the more engaging.
12. The brilliant colours extend from the highways to the hilltops
The perfect white-grey of David’s marble, the coloured houses of the Amalfi coast, Italy’s palette is diverse to say the least. From rustic Tuscan hues, to vibrant white snow and blue skies of the Dolomites, Italy’s landscapes are a feast for the eyes of bursting colours. No matter which direction you look, your view beckons you to paint, draw, photograph or simply take a visual snapshot to revisit time and time again while remembering your most recent, but never last, visit to Bella Italia.