“From the dome of St. Peter’s one can see every notable object in Rome… He can see a panorama that is varied, extensive, beautiful to the eye, and more illustrious in history than any other in Europe.” -Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad, 1869
The Great Love Affair with Italy
Out of the twenty-six countries I traveled in Europe, one country in particular captured my heart: Italy. My love might have something to do with the music in the language, the depth of the history, the variety of the wines, and the authenticity of the people, but I know for sure that I love Italy because of the places I visited.
Upon first glance, each of the 10 places I have listed below are gorgeous. But it’s different after you stay at that place and let the setting grow into your senses — that is when I fully knew I loved Italy. Each of these places are ones, that if you have the opportunity to visit and travel Italy, you must see. And if you can, stay a while…
10 Places to Visit in Italy
Everyone knows Rome for its history, but the city itself is like no other in the world for its combination of old and new, wrought together in stunning beauty. Personal favorites include Castel Sant’Angelo, the Pantheon, and the Vatican, but the espresso shops anywhere are must-dos in order to watch and really see it all blend together. For more on Rome through my lens, click here.
When I stepped out from Santa Lucia station for the first time, I was not prepared for Venice. The city, the buildings, the architecture, and the water as it reflects and connects and binds–I’d never imagined any place like it. For even though I’d heard of Venice and seen movies and photographs, I hadn’t felt it for myself. The experience is one you’ll never forget. Fore more on Venice through my lens, click here.
My family and I spent weeks in the Maremma, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, playing and walking along its edge, and looking back toward the mountains and hill-towns of Tuscany. October is the perfect month here, when the women beat the olive trees with long sticks and gather the olives on white sheets. The wine and cheese and olives, and sand and sun and sea, are the perfect combination — so much that I think it is heaven. For more on the Maremma, click here.
4. Amalfi Coast
Photographs do not do a favor for the Amalfi Coast, which juts out below Naples (Napoli) south of Rome. I fell in love with the lemon trees, the steep cliffs and houses which cling to them, the artfully tiled churches, and the blue, blue, blue sea. For more, click here.
5. Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre means the Five Lands, and dates far back into antiquity. It is in the northern Italian Riviera, and the charm and views are stunning. For more, click here.
Florence, Siena, Montapulciano, Montalcino, and more, Tuscany sits in the middle of the calf of Italy’s boot. Come looking for art, Renaissance, wine, cheese, and inspiration. Tuscany is a must, especially in the autumn during the harvests. For more, click here.
If you’re looking for authenticity and the chance to taste great wines, the Veneto is for you. The region extends north and west from Venice, to the Alps and Lake Garda. I recommend staying at a bed and breakfast situated on a working vineyard. For more, click here.
In the winter, the Dolomites, or the Italian Alps, are the place to be, especially for skiing. I recommend staying in a village, one especially where you can walk to the store, and enjoy the local flavor, the woodworking, and the friendliness. For more, click here.
This village is tucked into the northernmost niche of Italy as it juts toward Switzerland. It is known for its forests and woodworking, for the grottos and grappa, and for my family,memories like no other, as we stood alongside locals in their tiny church for Christmas mass. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. For more, click here.
10. Praiano – Positano – Path of the Gods
Positano, Praiano, and the Path of the Gods sit high above the Mediterranean along the Amalfi Coast — and were one of the places which, if I close my eyes, I can still see the turquoise of the water against the onyx black of the mountains jutting straight up out of the sea. If you can, walk the trail that is called The Path of the Gods. It takes hours, and is far longer and harder than I imagined possible, but is one of the experiences I count as golden from my lifetime. For more, click here.
How to Find Where to Stay in Italy:
To close, my favorite site to find places to stay in Italy:
We stayed with the wonderful folks at Trust and Travel at various places on their list in the Maremma and in the Veneto. I highly recommend them. (A warning, though: once you visit their website, you’ll never want to leave.) Their real places are even more beautiful than the photographs on their website.
Enjoy your Italian travels!