Overview for Italy
Known as the “Eternal City’, Rome is vast, but most of the major sights are near the central railway station (Stazione Termini). Rome’s historic centre is very small.
Points of interest: the Colosseum; the famous Fontana di Trevi; Vatican City & Sistine Chapel (famous for Michelangelo’s frescoes on the barrel-vaulted ceiling); Piazza San Pietro and Basilica di San Pietro; and the Catacombe di San Callisto.
The best way to see and discover Venice is to walk. The city is built on 117 small islands, with 409 bridges and 150 canals. No cars are permitted on the island; transport is by vaporetto (small passenger boat/ferry). Canal Grande weaves 3.5 km through the city and a vaporetto is the only way to see the palazzi and buildings.
Piazza San Marco is a mecca for tourists and pigeons alike, surrounded by the basilica, the Procuratic Vecchie and Nuove and numerous cafes. The Palazzo Ducale (doges’ official residence) housed the government officials and prisons. The Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) is an enclosed bridge that was used by prisoners between the dungeons and palace.
The area is renowned for its fresh produce, wines (Chianti) and hill towns (San Gimignano, Volterra, Monte-Pulciano and Cortona where the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun’ was filmed. Tuscany offers a variety of walking and cycling experiences.
Florence, dubbed ‘cradle of the Renaissance’, is where you can view Michelangelo’s David (at Galleria dell’ Accademia), and walk across Ponte Vecchio (a bridge lined with shops of gold and silversmiths). Florence is easy to walk around, as most sites are within walking distance of each other. The pink, white and green marble façade of the duomo (Brunelleschi’s famous dome) dominates the skyline.
The best months to visit the city are May, June, September and October, allow 5 days to explore. Pisa can be visited in a day ex Florence by train. One of the main reasons to visit Pisa, is the Campo dei Miracoli square (aka Place of Miracles), set amongst sprawling lawns, and home to the duomo (cathedral), the baptistery and the Leaning Tower (The Torre di Pisa).
The coastline stretches for 50kms from Sorrento to Salerno. A narrow road winds it way along the cliffs, connecting the towns and blue waters. Positano is one of the most picturesque towns with its Moorish flavour.
Best time to visit is spring and autumn.