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Travel & Holiday

Italy’s absolutely lovely!

We give you plenty of reasons to fall in love with Italy
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - July 27, 2011
By: Sheila Lim
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Italy’s absolutely lovely!

Italy is such a popular holiday destination because it’s a land of contrasts. Each city and region has a distinct character and attractiveness of its own.

All over Italy are charming towns and villages hugging the alpine lakes, nestled within the valleys or perched atop the hills and mountains. The floating city of Venice is the only one of its kind in the world. Milan is one of the top fashion capitals of the world. The lush rolling hills of Tuscany and Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, are the inspiration for a number of Hollywood movies.    

What’s more, this boot-shaped country is largely a peninsula and has an efficient rail and bus network, so travelling is a breeze and one doesn’t have to endure bum-busting journeys to get to the next hotspot.

Renaissance cities and medieval towns

Endless busloads of tourists pour into Rome, Florence and Venice every day. What keeps these legions of wide-eyed tourists coming are Italy’s magnificent art heritage and historical treasures.

The works of some of the world’s most famous artists – Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, Botticelli and Raphael – are part of the vast treasure trove of art that can be found throughout Italy. Their works not only adorn museums, but can be found almost everywhere you go.  The cathedrals, temples, buildings, piazzas, fountains, monuments and statues in many public areas are in themselves a feast for the eyes.

Picturesque & tranquil retreats

Tourists will be taken back in time when they visit enchanting coastal and medieval towns like Cinque Terre, Portofino, Positano, San Gimignano and Siena.

Cinque Terre, hailed as “a best-kept secret”, is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The most unique features of this place are the terraced vineyards that have been carved by its inhabitants over the centuries. They stretch over the entire face of the steep and rugged hillsides – right down to the sea! The villages here are connected by paths, trains and boats only, and stunning views of the sparkling turquoise sea can be enjoyed from numerous vantage points.

Like these coastal towns, the chic resort towns along the Italian Lakes, many of which are carved by glaciers and flanked by hills and mountains, are just as charming, picturesque and tranquil. 

Lake Como is famous for attracting the jetset. Lake Maggiore, the longest of all the Italian lakes, has three little islands (Isola Bella, Isola Pescatori and Isola Madre) right in the middle of it, Visitors can take a short boat ride to explore the exquisitely landscaped gardens, a baroque palace, eateries and shops on these islands.

Great diversity of landscapes, attractions & experiences

Besides its wonderfully preserved Renaissance cities and picturesque coastal and lakeside towns, other tourist meccas in this country include the soaring peaks and deep verdant valleys of the Dolomites, and the lush rolling hills and plains of Tuscany.

A stay in the Dolomites, a mountain range that’s easily accessible and only a few hours away from Venice, provides perfect respite from the madding crowd. As you take an excursion through the mountains, your eyes will be treated to the spectacular landscapes of forests, lakes, jagged peaks and glaciers along the way. You can also stop at a war museum to learn more about the history of the place and take a cable car ride to frolic atop the snow-covered peaks as well. The more intrepid can opt for hiking, mountain biking, mountain-climbing or paragliding activities, or go skiing during the winter months.   

Tuscany is known for its inspiring landscapes, rich artistic legacy, unique culinary tradition and fabulous wines. It’s also regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Its capital, Florence, receives an average of 10 million tourists a year! Six Tuscan localities – Florence, Pienza, Val d’Orcia, Siena, San Gimignano and the square of the Cathedral of Pisa – have been designated as World Heritage Sites.

Many more captivating tourist attractions beckon in the south of the Italian peninsula. They include Naples, Sorrento, Pompeii, the Amalfi coast, Isle of Capri, Sardinia and Sicily.

Whether you’re a culture vulture, galloping gourmet, nature lover, adventure hunter or fun-seeker, Italy is a holiday destination that you’ll truly adore.

 

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