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7 of the Best Shopping Vacation Spots you can Visit

Very few things in life are as satisfying as a vacation. Well deserved (or not), nothing quite beats packing your bags and being on your way to your holiday destination. The only thing that tops going on vacation, is shopping while on vacation. So if you always leave extra room in your luggage or are blessed enough to come back home with an extra bag- then here is a quick guide to the world’s seven best shopping vacation spots you can visit.

Plan Your Business Trip to Rome

Prior to planning your business trip to a foreign location, it is necessary to discover some of the business services that are available at the destination. As there are always a few services that most businessmen are in need of, most commercial and business hubs also try to cater to their corporate visitors accordingly.

Rome

Rome

To enjoy better convenience during your business trip, there are many business services in Rome that you should know about. Hiring these services during your business visit to Rome will not only save your time, but also provide you with ease of commute and communication:

Translation Services

Translation Services

Translation Services

The language barrier is one big reason why corporate visitors find it difficult to enjoy successful business dealings. Executives with no knowledge of Italian can now take assistance from companies like Agostini Associati and kwintessential who are giving their services for translation of the Italian language into whatever language you speak.

They have qualified experts who know around 100 languages fluently. They can translate a language face-to-face as an interpreter or can even help draft out multi or bilingual business contracts. These translators can also act as tour guides if you are visiting the city with a group of colleagues and have no understanding of the local language.

Apart from the language, these linguists also understand the culture prevalent in Rome.

Business Conferences

Rome is a favorable place for business meetings and conferences because of its attractions and numerous business venues. The world famous Roman attractions make international conferences popular and more interesting, because people often visit the city’s exotic attractions after the conference is over.

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

From educational to empowerment conferences and seminars, there’s a variety of international events that are reported every year in the city.

There are many halls and forums located in Rome to cater to these events. Rome’s history of conferences and meetings is evident when you see the Roman Forum. It has a huge hall which catered to many people in the past, when they attended political meetings.

Car Hiring Services

Europcar

Europcar

Executives often travel constantly, as soon as they land in Rome. From the airport to the hotel and from there to the meeting location, you can only make each stop on time if you either know the city in its entirety or if you hire a rental car along with a local driver. Car hiring services are cost effective  and in this way, you will get a guide who will assist you by picking you up at the right place and will drive you to your numerous destinations. You can get car hiring services in Rome through Easy Car, Europcar or Expedia.

Rome hosts several business conferences and meetings throughout the year. This is why this city offers convenient and affordable services to all its corporate guests so that they can tackle their business matters without any hassles.

The Best Restaurants to Dine in Rome While On Summer Holidays

Rome is one fabulous holiday destination for tourists from all around the world. As a holiday destination, the City of Rome is known for having some of the best attractions in Italy. The city is rich in history dating back from the Roman Empire days. One area where Rome scores a lot of point is in the dining area. While on your trip to the beautiful city, you get to be treated to the best dishes in Italy which will make you to fall in love with the city. In this piece, we’ll highlight some of the best restaurants in Rome where you can go grab a bite.

All’Oro

All'Oro

All’Oro

All’Oro started out as a tiny but supper busy gourmet restaurant which was then located in the Parioli district. In 2013, the owner (Chef Riccardo di Giacinto) opted to relocate to a luxury art hotel which is in close proximity to Piazza del Popolo. The chef is known for his rather inventive and playful tweaks which will introduce you to some of Roman’s traditional culinary.

Antico Arco

Antico Arco

Antico Arco

For almost 20 years, the restaurant has been serving both the locals and the international tourists. The contemporary restaurant is located on the Gianicolo hill just above Trastevere. For you to dine here, you need to book early enough lest you’ll miss out on the experience.

Glass Hostaria

Glass Hosteria –

Glass Hosteria –

One of the best restaurants found in Trastevere. The restaurant features Cristina Bowerman’s Michelin-starred culinary fiefdom. You get to feel the uniqueness of the hotel the moment you walk in. Every meal that is served in the restaurant is served on its own appropriate designer plate.

Green T

Green T

Green T

This Chinese restaurant offers visitors the best. The restaurant combines the best that Shanghai, New York and London has to offer to give you the best of the best. The restaurant has around five rooms which have all taken an antique Cantonese style giving the restaurant a unique feel.

If you do not find a good restaurant to dine in, you can always checkout some of the top hotels in Rome that offer accommodation and dishes.

The Summer Holidays Are Here: Romantic Places To Visit in Rome

Italy is known for a number of attractions that have put it in the global arena. Italy is perfect for any kind of trip whether you opt to go for a family, business or even a romantic trip. Couples can really have a good time while on their trip thanks to all the romantic hotels in Rome Italy and other attractions that are couple friendly. Therefore, if you are looking to go on a romantic trip with your special someone, you may want to consider the following destinations:

Campo de’ Fiori

Campo de' Fiori

Campo de’ Fiori

This boutique hotel is identified as a romantic refuge that is located at the heart of the centro storico.  With about 23 rooms that are well decorated to exude what love is all about, you get to experience the real feeling of being in love. The hotel blends the elements of Venice and Paris together with the eternal city which in return creates an intimate romantic refuge that you’ll live to remember.

Enjoy the breath-taking views from Gianicolo

Gianicolo

Gianicolo

The seven hills were very popular during the era of ancient Rome. People who have been here will tell you that you get the best view from Gianicolo which is strategically located above Trastevere. While here, you get to experience the best of Rome both underneath and in front of you.

Take a boat ride on the timber

Ponte Duca d'Aosta

Ponte Duca d’Aosta

Rome has plenty of attractions to see and one way to experience the romantic beauty is by taking a boat ride on the waters of the timber. You can start your tour from the Ponte Duca d’Aosta and go all the way to the Isola Tiberina. While on the tour, you should be able to see some of the city’s treasures such as the Gianicolo.

Villa Celimontana

Villa Celimontana

Villa Celimontana

Do you fancy some romantic open air live music with the love of your life? The Villa Celimontana is the place you need to be. During the summer, the venue normally plays host to a jazz festival that will entertain you and your spouse in many ways than you can imagine. Ensure you take part in the tango dance one of the sexiest dances that is normally enjoyed.

Residenza Torre Colonna

Residenza Torre Colonna

Residenza Torre Colonna

Dubbed as a medieval tower, the hotel is located in Rome’s archeological area adding to its attractions. Once you get into the hotel, the hotel transforms from its medieval outside look to a much more contemporary interior that will captivate you and your spouse. The hotel has about 5 guestrooms that feature free Wi-Fi, bold colours and are spacious.

It is by only booking flights to Rome that you can be able to have a glimpse of what the city has to offer. Ensure that you book your flight early enough because during the summers, the city experiences a surge of tourists who come to marvel at the city’s attractions. Treat your spouse to a one in a lifetime experience by visiting this awesome city.

Italy’s Finest Destination This Summer

There is no better time to visit Italy than doing it during the summers. As one of Europe’s finest destination, Italy has everything you can ever ask for in a tourist attraction destination. There are plenty of great places to visit in Italy and a whole load of activities to take participate in so as to make your trip a successful one.  During the summer holidays, most people both the locals and international tourists make their way into some of the major cities in Italy to enjoy the beautiful scenes, take a journey through the history and share it the rich culture that the country has to offer. It is no wonder why when an Italian is asked about that one place in the world they’d live and the answer you’ll get is most likely to be,” right here”. If you have plans of going on a trip this summer, make Italy top of your priority list. Start by visiting these stunning destinations;

Naples

Naples

Naples

Labelled as one of the busiest metropolitan cities in Italy, Naples has a lot to offer its visitors than you can ever imagine. The city is the capital of Campania region which is found in the southern part of Italy. The city is known best for its historic sites, the vibrant atmosphere especially during summer, great art work, lively nightlife and its world class restaurants.

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii is a very famous Roman city that plays host to thousands of tourists throughout the year. It is rated as one of the best destinations in Italy because of the rich history behind it. For nearly 1700 years, the city was buried by volcanic ash from Mt.Vesuvius. If you want to familiarize yourself with the Roman ancient world, you must make Pompeii your first stop point.

Venice

Venice

Venice

If you leave Italy without having been to Venice then you can count your trip as being incomplete. Whichever way you look at it, Venice remains as one of the best places to visit in Italy. The fact that the city is uniquely built atop a lagoon that is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea; you can understand why the locals here welcome thousands of tourist if not millions every year.

Tuscany

Tuscany

Tuscany

Tuscany is a very famous region in Italy that normally conjures images of amazing cypress trees, vineyards, olive groves and its rolling hills. Make sure that on your visit to Tuscany you’ve tasted wine which is one of the many pleasure activities to take part in.

Rome

Rome

Rome

Everyone who has ever been to Rome can attest to the fact that the city has it all. This vast and complex city will keep your eyes glued to the stunning features that are well elaborated throughout the city.

Do not wait until it is too late before booking cheap flights to the beautiful land of Italy. Start making plans today and prepare yourself for an awesome experience, one that you’ll live to remember for the rest of your life.

Top Places to Visit in Rome for the summers

If you’ve never been to Rome then you must have seen it in movie and know that the city is historically packed. Besides the history, the City of Rome is also filled with monumental spectacles which are all appealing to the eye. A visit to Rome will show you just how the past has managed to thrust through the walls of the present to give Rome one beautiful spectacle that will remain in your memories forever. If you are still wondering what to do in Rome whether you are on a family trip or travelling alone, ensure that you visit these stunning locations:

The Vatican

The Vatican

The Vatican

The Vatican is rich in history and is rated among the top places to visit not only in Rome but Europe as a whole. This is the location where Emperor Nero martyred Christian faithful including Apostle Peter. His tomb still lies beneath the Basilica di San Pietro. In addition to this make sure that you also visit the Vatican Museums to have a look at some antiques.

Colosseum

Colosseum

Colosseum

The Colosseum is rated as both a sports arena and a circus. As one of Rome’s most popular classical ruins, you cannot afford to miss it. Explore the underfloor passageways which have all been included in the visitor’s route and get to experience the great feeling of being a gladiator. Inaugurated way back in 80 AD, the massive arena plays host to up to 50,000 people.

Trastevere

Trastevere

Trastevere

This visual charmer will make you feel right at home even for the sensitive souls. On your visit, you should be prepared to meet the trasteverini; a group of people who are considered to be ever-diminishing. If you are looking to live out your fantasy, then you need to pay a visit to this awesome location.

Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill

This location is known for its great views and tranquillity. In order to make the most of your trip here, you need to consider starting your hillside exploration at the Museo Palatino. From there you can then head to the ruins where you’ll get to catch some of the top attractions such as the Emperor Domitian’s epic Domus Flavia otherwise known as the Imperial Palace.

Visit the Borghese Gallery

Visit the Borghese Gallery

Visit the Borghese Gallery

Rated as one of the world’s great art collection, the Borghese Gallery was put together by Cardinal Scipione Borghese who assembled it in the 17th century. If you want to visit the gallery you need to book a tour because only those who have done so can be allowed to explore the gallery. During the summer holiday, people normally come in numbers so it is best if book early enough.

During the summer the Rome weather is normally perfect for exploring the city that is filled with loads of amazing sights to see. This is probably the best time to make your way to the city and have a look at some of the best features that the City of Rome has in store for you.

10 Most Famous and Best Places to Visit in Italy

Italy, for a number of reasons, is Southern Europe’s one of the most popular travel destinations. Boot-shaped, Italy holds within its boundaries hundreds of tourist attractions, including exotic landscapes, treasures of art, fashion as well as top notch cuisine. Within Italy, you will find a thousand things to do and see and explore that you will constantly run out of time and still not be able to do the half of those things. This being said, you should also know that Italy happens to have the biggest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You will find mastery of art in architecture as well as monuments in every nook and corner of this country. However, to narrow some down for your convenience, following are the top Italy tourist attractions:

10. Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

If we transport to the ancient Italy, Roman Forum will be the spot where all the life of the city would be found. Center of city life, this ancient site was used for various rituals, festivities, celebrations as well as funerals. Until around 7th century B.C., this area was a green marshland. However, around 8th Century B.C., the green of the area was gone and it became more of a wasteland. Today, if you travel to Italy you will find a whole map of this place, which will guide you through the arches and structure and eventually lead you to Palatine Hill top, from where you can have an exotic view of the whole city.

9. Manarola

Manarola

Manarola

Situated by the Italian Riveria, Manarola happens to be among Cinque Terre’s oldest of the towns. One major attraction people find in Cinque Terre is that it is, even in today’s century pretty much secluded from the modern development. The villages here are interconnected through wild paths, boats as well as trains. There is no way for the cars to reach the city from the outskirts and well, the whole area is made within the mountain itself, giving off a grand view of the Mediterranean Sea.

8. Italian Lake District

Italian Lake District

Italian Lake District

Stretching across the outskirts of Northern Italy, Italian Lake District offers breathtaking natural views. Another attraction of this district is that the lake that goes within it has flat land at southern end and mountains on the northern end. These mountainous lakes go further deep within the Alps and have been source of tourist attraction for hundreds of years. The land around these lakes has pleasant weathers as well as exotic scenery, everything that is just perfect for a getaway. If you are further looking for lesser-populated area, then Maggiore to the west has several secluded family resorts.

7. Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

Europe’s widest as well as longest staircase, Spanish Steps have been drawing tourists to Italy for years. It is among the top most famous places in Italy. At the foot of this staircase lies the Barcaccia fountain, and on the top of the stairs stands the tall and mighty Trinità dëi Monti church. However, the most famous spot among the tourists lies between these two landmarks, in the middle of the staircase, you get to sit down, relax and watch the city go about in front of you.

6. Pompei

Pompei

Pompei

One of Italy’s most memorable historical events was the volcano Vesuvuis eruption in 79 AD. This eruption led to total destruction of the nearby town names as Pompei, and turned into the land of soil and ash. However, this horrible led to the preservation of the city as it was. Everything was somehow frozen in time and today; it provides the historians and tourists with a great insight into the way these people lived more than two thousand years ago!

5. San Gimignano

San Gimignano

San Gimignano

Also called the “Medieval Manhattan”, San Gimignano is Tuscany’s village that has gained fame for the “fourteen stone towers”. When San Gimignano was at the very height of power and wealth, around seventy towers were constructed around it in order to protect it against the enemy. After the plague of 1348, the city was deserted and so were its high towers.

4. Capuchin Crypt

Capuchin Crypt

Capuchin Crypt

While many will find it hauntingly disturbing, Capuchin Crypt located beneath Our Lady of the Conception of Capuchins is said to be something that celebrates the religious order of the friars. It was the friars who carefully arranged the bones of the dead into proper frames and displays at various spots across the crypt, including at the Crypt of the Resurrection and Crypt of the Skulls. If you take a look at the history, you will realize that it is not actually a story of massacre, but a tale of death and resurrection.

3. Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo happens to be among Europe’s greats of the medieval squares. It is also the major public space of Siena, Tuscany. The place is famous all across the world for its architecture and beauty. The Pallazo Pubblico, along with its mighty tower surrounds the piazza, which is shell-shaped. A horse race is held here twice a year, which involves circling of the Piazza del Campo thrice.

2. Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Who hasn’t heard about the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa! This unusual building, which looks like it will fall any moment, took more than 150 to complete. Its construction started in 1173, and soon after that the building started sinking because of its poor foundation. For a century it was forsaken and then the construction began again, finally coming to and end in around second half of fourteenth century. It has a total of 269 steps.

1. Colosseum

Colosseum

Colosseum

If you have been to Italy and haven’t been to The Colosseum in Rome, you haven’t done justice to the country, and yourself. Colosseum was the biggest as well as the most famous amphitheater of the ancient Rome and was built by the orders of emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty. The coliseum has a 50,000 seating capacity and has more than eighty entrances. In case of rain and scorching sun, the spectators were covered through the sails named as velarium. The Colosseum of Rome is no doubt one of the most famous places to visit in Italy.

Top Ski Resorts in Italy

During the winter, Italy offers many amazing opportunities for skiing and enjoying the winter sports. These resorts also provide wonderful hiking opportunities during the summer.  Italy’s high attitude is what makes it possible for these activities to take place. If you are into skiing or hiking, Italy is the place to be for your winter or summer vacation. These resorts below provide you with the best services that will make you remember your holiday trip to the Italian Republic.

Cervinia

Cervinia

Cervinia

In Italian, Cervinia means Matterhorn. Though not visually attractive, it is a purpose built resort which surely delivers. It is very popular amongst visitors because of its altitude at 2,050m in the village and 3,883m at the top. The resort boasts of having one of the finest snow covers in the entire Europe. While at the resort you can stay at Hotel des Guides, eat on the mountain at Chalet Etoile or at the resort and party at The Dragon pub during the weekends.

Cortina d’ Ampezzo for Skiing and Winter Sports

Cortina d' Ampezzo for Skiing and Winter Sports

Cortina d’ Ampezzo for Skiing and Winter Sports

The Cortina d’ Ampezzo is located in the Veneto Region north Italy in the Italian Dolomites. Situated just 451 km from Milan-Mapensa Airport, the Cortina d’ Ampezzo is one of Italy’s exclusive resorts. Over the years, it has come to be known as the mother ship of luxury. The resort offers skiing opportunities for every level of skier. Coupled with the best ski schools, you are likely to improve your skills in an instant. The area is well equipped with luxury houses and chalets, restaurants, family run fare and high end shopping malls. The area can be accessed using a combination of trains and buses from Venice or Innsbruck.

Ski Piemonte

Ski Piemonte

Ski Piemonte

The resort is located in the northwest region of Italy and was home to the 2006 Winter Olympics games. Among many other things the resort offers skiing and mountain sports opportunities for the visitors. Beginners can have a lot of fun provided by the ample skiing space and also enjoy great cultural and gastronomic traditions.

Passo Tonale

Passo Tonale

Passo Tonale

The Passo Tonale is a very beautiful village located at the western end of the Val di Sole. The resort provides a snowsure skiing experience starting in the late October to early May.  The village is best suited for intermediate skiers and families. There are many lavish places to stay while in Passo Tonale; one of them is at the Hotel Sport Vittoria. This four star hotel is located at the center of the resort near a lift. If you are party person, the resort usually comes to life during the weekends and the El Bait offers the best option.

Sestriere 

Sestriere

Sestriere

This particular resort is located on the border of France and Italy. The resort was home to the men’s downhill races during the 2006 Winter Olympics games. What is appealing about this resort is that you are given an opportunity to ski in France at Montgenevre. The nearest airport is known as Turin. To get to the resort, you will need a take a 2 hour bus drive.

Top attractions in Rome

The city of Rome is blessed with many fascinating sights ranging from beautiful ancient ruins to ultramodern monuments, palaces, graceful fountains and museums. The long history of Rome as one of the greatest world civilizations is what attracts people to this beautiful country. Due to the fact that the Eternal City has many attractive sights, exhausting everything while on a one day trip may seem impossible. For thus reasons, this piece will highlight some of the top attraction sites in Rome so as to make your trip worthwhile.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

Any gladiator fan must have heard about the Colosseum. Throughout the entire Roman Empire, the Colosseum was the most popular building. It hosted thousands of spectators who came to see the games which featured gladiators and wild animals. The Flavian Amphitheatre is located at the center of the city of Rome therefore it can hardly be missed. Its construction started in 72 AD by Emperor Vespasian and was completed by his son Titus in 80 AD.

St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica doubles up as both a center of Catholic world and also acts as a major tourist attraction. The largest church in the world was built where Peter; the first catholic pope was crucified and buried. It is this rich history that normally attracts Christians especially Catholics to the Eternal City. The construction of the building started in 1506 and was completed in 1615. The church is located with the Vatican City.

Pantheon

Pantheon

Pantheon

The Pantheon was built by Emperor Hadrian in the 126 AD. It ranks as one of the best preserved buildings in Rome. Initially, it was built as a temple for the pagan gods. The building has an immense dome which for 13 years stood out as one of the largest domes in the world.  The building has been used throughout its entire history and it was even used as a Roman Catholic Church which was dedicated to St. Mary and the Martyrs. It is located at the Regione IX Circus Flaminius.

The Vatican City

The Vatican City

The Vatican City

The Vatican City otherwise known as the ‘Holy See’ or the’ Apostolic Palace’ is the world’s smallest state. The landlocked sovereign city-state is an ecclesiastical state ruled by the Pope. The city boasts of having many cultural sites such as the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel. All these sites feature a number of the world’s most popular paintings and sculptures which are worth a visit.

The Circus Maximus   

The Circus Maximus

The Circus Maximus

The beautiful arena was specially built to support the famous chariot races. The arena has a seating capacity of over 150,000 people and ranks as the largest stadium in ancient Rome. The mass entertainment venue is located at the Regione XI Circus Maximus between the Aventine hills and the Palatine hills and was built in the Old Kingdom era.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

The fountana del Trevi is located in Trevi district in Rome. The famous fountain was designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi but was completed by Pietro Bracci in 1762. It features a mythological sculptural composition of Neptune, two Tritons and god of the sea.

Things to do and see in Italy

Italy’s rich history is what normally attracts people to this beautiful country. Besides the history, there are many other appealing things that are on offer such as art, the hospitality of its people, Italian cousin and many more. When in Italy, you can never fall short of a place to visit. Some of the world’s well-known attraction sites in Italy include; the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Canal of Venice, the Sistine Chapel in Vatican and the Colosseum.
Things to do in Italy
There are many activities that an individual can engage in while in Italy. Besides from just touring this wonderful country, you can choose to go hiking or decide to ski during the winter season. Italy has hosted a number of winter games hence if you are into such games; Italy is the place to be.
Things to see in Italy
a) The Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast

The coastline is located along the Sorrentine Peninsula and spreads over 50 km area. Before attaining its current, the area was prone to foreigners’ attacks, landslides and inevitable earthquakes. Currently, the coast has transformed to become one of the most popular destinations for tourists. The coast attracts celebrities and is also suitable for romantic gateways. Throughout the entire coast, the most popular resort is Sorrento. The most appropriate time to visit the Amalfi Coast is during spring and autumn. The main reason given for this is that during summer, the place is usually overcrowded and everything is closed during winter.
b) San Gimignano

San Gimignano

San Gimignano

The village otherwise known as the medieval Manhatten is located in Tuscany and is famously known for the 14 stone towers. The powerful and wealthy village boasts of having more than 70 towers which were all built to protect the village against its enemies. Most of the medieval towers have been preserved and now act attractive sceneries.
c) Paestum

Paestum

Paestum


The famous ancient Greek town of Paestum ranks amongst the top places to go pay a visit when in Italy. The town was originally supposed to act as a Greek colony and dates back to the sixth century BC. Some of the most appealing features include; the Greek temples and loads of other ancient ruins. All the history of this town makes the Paestum a wonder to explore.
d) The Marmore’s Falls

The Marmore's Falls

The Marmore’s Falls

The Valnerina area found in the region of Umbria is probably one of the most fascinating areas in the whole of Italy. This region has the so called ‘Water’s Park’ with an untouched nature and a massive waterfall with water falling from over 165 meters. Exploring the Marmore’s fall and the surrounding parks is what normally attracts people to this beautiful region.

e) Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo

Pizza del Campo is highly rated and stands among Europe’s greatest medieval squares. The square is well known for its beauty and architectural integrity. Some of the popular buildings within the Piazza del Campo include; the Palazzo Pubblico with its famous tower and a number of palazzo signorili. The Piazza del Campo hosts a twice per year horse race which is always a beauty to watch.

Easter in Italy: Lake Garda

The idyllic marine sanctuary that is Lake Garda is one of the most popular destinations for tourists wanting to relax in incredible natural surroundings. Situated between the Alps and the Po valley, this area is home to a number of fabulous lakes. The Garda coast boasts more than 30 miles of beach, medieval villages and hamlets, historic architectural sites of interest and more wildlife than you could shake a stick at.

Lake Garda  Italy

Lake Garda Italy

March is the low season in Lake Garda, meaning you can enjoy your holiday in peace and at a cheaper cost. Whilst the water may not be bathing temperature there is a lot to make the most of, from the incredible food to the fabulous sights and spas found around Lake Garda.

Sights

Being a haven of natural beauty, there is an abundance of things to see and do. There are a number of national parks and botanical gardens that you can visit as well as picturesque islands to explore. Where to visit vastly depends on where you’re staying so be sure to speak with the staff at your hotel to find out the most about local attractions.

One place you simply must visit is Bellagio on Lake Como. Often referred to as the most beautiful town in Italy, this small town of cobbled streets is rich with lime trees, promenades, wonderful restaurants and breathtaking views.

If you’re after a resort holiday, head to the south of Lake Garda near Sirmione for the ultimate luxury experience.

Sport fanatics

To call Lake Garda a sporting paradise would be an understatement. The lakes make an incredible backdrop for participating in all kinds of sport, from mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, paragliding, jet skiing, windsurfing, tennis, sailing and, believe it or not, skiing. Which activities are available will largely depend on the weather, so be sure to investigate before travelling.

The Dolomite Mountains are great for skiing during the winter months and offer incredible views of Lake Garda. If you’re a ski fanatic this opportunity shouldn’t be passed up.

For the kids

While a relaxing holiday may be on the cards, the kids will no doubt want some high-octane entertainment to keep them interested. There are a number of theme parks you can take young travellers to, the most notable being the originally-titled Gardaland.

Getting there

Getting to Lake Garda is probably one of the most difficult things about the holiday. Flying directly there isn’t possible, so you’ll have to fly to one of the six airports that serve the lakes. Train holidays to Lake Garda offer the best experience, as you can travel in luxury as you make your way through France and Italy.

Best 10 Affordable Tourist Spots in Incredible Italy

Everyone must see fascinating Italy at least once in their lives. The most famous hot spots are also the most affordable. Take out the camera, put on your walking shoes and read on as we embark on a mini trip through the beautiful Italy.

1. Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius

The only mainland volcano in Europe, it is famous for its 79 SD eruption which buried the city of Pompeii. It is still considered an active volcano, but nothing more than steam rises up from its crater. There are guided trails that help the tourists explore the mountain.

2. The Island of Capri

Island of Capri

Also known as the Pearl of the Mediterranean, Capri is found on the south side of Gulf of Naples. Its most famous sea cave is called the Blue Grotto, due to its intense color and its clear waters. Find a nice little villa and just relax on the Island of Capri.

3. Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

This landmark needs no introduction; found in the center of the capital, Fontana di Trevi is a place where folks gather, relax and get to meet other people. Make a wish, throw a penny in the fountain and make your wish come true. Did you know that at the end of each day up to $3,500 are gathered from the water and donated to charity?

4. Piazza dei Miracoli

Piazza dei Miracoli

While in Pisa, drop by this UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Piazza dei Miracoli – it is a must see for every self-respecting tourist of Italy. Its name translates to the Square of Miracles and it was given by Italian poet Gabriele d’Annunzio.

5. Pompeii

Pompeii

Near the city of Naples, in 1748, the city of Pompeii was discovered – it had been lost for almost 1700 years. The city was formed in 8-9 century BC and in 89 AD Mount Vesuvius erupted and burning lava and ashes swallowed the city. A Pompeii travel guide will give you more information about this tragedy and about the people who once lived near the famous volcano.

6. Peggy Guggenheim Museum

Peggy Guggenheim Museum

A modern art museum in Venice, it was initially made of American heiress, Peggy Guggenheim’s personal collection. Be sure to get there by water, as the streets can be quite confusing in Venice.

7. Vatican City

Vatican City

The center of Catholicism, the Vatican City is the only Papal state and the home of Pope Benedict the XVI. It is a sovereign state inside Rome and its official population is 800 people. You can tour Vatican City in one day, just be sure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

8. Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel

Found inside the Pope’s residence in Vatican City, the Chapel is where the cardinals would gather to elect the new pope. Its most famous trait? The huge ceiling fresco painted by Michelangelo depicting the creation of Earth. Pause for a second and take in its glory!

9. The Colosseum

The Colosseum

The Colosseum dates back from 70-80 AD and it is the largest structure built during the time the Roman Empire was at its peak. This iconic symbol of Imperial Rome seats 50,000 spectators and it used to host battles between the gladiators and re-enact dramas based on classical mythology. Walk inside the colosseum and step through a time portal back during the times when Rome was the greatest empire in the world.

10. The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning in at 13 feet (4.1 m), the Tower of Pisa is one of the most famous structures in the world and it has free admission. Be sure to check ahead and make reservations if you want to climb the spiral stairs to the top.

The magic of the Italian Lakes

The Italian Lakes are more beautiful than they have any right to be.  Glacial activities have carved out a stunning landscape, but unrivalled beauty is only one of the reasons for their continuing popularity.

Bellagio on Lake Como, from Wikipedia

Lake Garda

The largest of the lakes and probably the busiest, you can spend many happy days crossing and recrossing the lake to explore the small towns around the shoreline.  We spent two quite different holidays there, one based at Bardolino at the southern end of the lake, and one at Torbole in the north.  Our small son delighted in the hydrofoils, constantly zipping across the water, and by the end of the holiday knew the names of every one.

He was also a huge fan of the green dragon, Prezzemolo (Parsley) at nearby Gardaland.  A theme park for all ages, with pirates, performing sealions, parade and good humour, it was a definite favourite.  Lake Garda is very family friendly, with plenty of campsites as well as hotels.  A tabletop pinball game, available at many of the restaurants, provided lots of amusement.

Best Resorts

The castello at Sirmione

Sirmione has distinctive castle walls and delicious icecream bars.  It’s also the place to go to for thermal spas.

Garda town nestles in a large sheltered bay with extensive lake front and pebble beach.  Tables are perfect for lakeside dining and sometimes there’s live music in the evenings.

Malcesine from Monte Baldo

Malcesine is a pretty medieval town with tiny harbour.  Castello Scaligero has winding battlements and a tower with great lake views.  For even better views take the cable car up Monte Baldo.  You can walk back down again or even take advantage of the mountain bike trails.

Torbole is the windsurfing capital of the lakes, and a good base for walking trips inland to spectacular Arco.

Spectacular Arco

Riva del Garda lies at the north west corner of Garda,  and has a moated castle and lovely lakeside walk.

Riva del Garda

Limone is arguably the prettiest spot on the lake and is named for its lemons.

Limone del Garda

Limone del Garda

Gardone is home to the smart set, and the slightly bizarre house and gardens at Il Vittoriale.

Lake Maggiore

The second largest and the mildest of the lakes, Maggiore is home to the famous Borromean Islands.  It is the longest and deepest of the lakes and the northern tip, with its fine towns Locarno and Ascona, lies in Switzerland.  Locarno has a large year round swimming Lido, or you can catch the funicular up to the pilgrimage church Madonna del Sasso.

An artist at work in Ascona- from Wikipedia

Stresa is the gateway to the Borromean Islands and the Grand Hotel was the setting for part of Ernest Hemingway’s novel “A Farewell to Arms”.  A 20 minute cable car ride climbs up Monte Mottarone for far-reaching views, stopping off at the Alpinia Botanic Gardens en route.

Grand Hotel, waterfront at Stresa

Isola Bella has one ot the most theatrical gardens you are ever likely to see.  The palazzo was begun construction in 1632 by Carlo 111 of the House of Borromeo, dedicated to his wife Isabella.  A major classical music festival takes place there each summer.

Amazingly lavish Isola Bella

Isola Pescatori (Fisherman’s Island) is the only one of the islands to be inhabited year round.  A narrow street runs through the centre,  cobbled paths leading down to the promenade which surrounds the island.  This is regularly flooded.

Isola Pescatori

Isola Madre  The largest of the islands, has a palazzo and 8 hectares of gardens in the “English style”.

Ferries run all around the lake at regular intervals.  In the Swiss north of the lake there are also the Brissago Islands, Isole Grande and Piccola.  Grande has a fine botanic garden and the author James Joyce once stayed there.

Lake Como   

The Bellagio peninsula, from Wikipedia

Bellagio has been celebrated as the most beautiful town in Italy, and it’s not hard to see why.  It’s setting, on a west facing peninsula in the centre of Lake Como, could not be more perfect.  Pastel colours decorate the buildings, which wind away from the lakeside, up narrow, stepped and cobbled streets.  Mediterranean blooms cascade from balconies.   Ferries dot the lake.

Plentiful ferries on Como, from Wikipedia

No surprise that celebrities like George Clooney own real estate nearby.  There are many fine villas and gardens you can stroll around, imagining yourself hosting cocktail parties.  In Bellagio itself, Villa Melzi is just a wander along the lake shore, fabulous in Spring with flower laden rhododendrons.  At the other end of town, Villa Serbelloni has an elevated position, and prices to match..  If you really have expensive tastes, Villa d’Este, in Cernobbio, is the place to stay.

Villa Carlotta looks out to Bellagio, by Wikipedia

But it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to enjoy the lake.  A gentle ferry ride across to Caddenabia brings you to the famous gardens of Villa Carlotta, while the peaceful towns of Mennagio and Varenna are just a short ride away.  The lake is well served with ferries so you have no excuse not to find a different view for every icecream.  The urge to shop is easily met in the city of Como at the foot of the lake, or you can head for cosmopolitan Lugano in Switzerland.  It’s just 40minutes from Mennagio, and has a wonderful waterside promenade with sculptures and a large park.

Transport links in this northern area of Italy make it very easy to get around and to have as busy or as laid back a holiday as you wish.  Milan Malpensa is the local airport.  There are many more beauty spots than I can include in this guide, so come along and find your own magic.

If you enjoyed this guide you might also like Top Ten things to do on the Amalfi Coast

 

Free things to do in Florence

Florence is one of the most popular destinations in Italy, since it has a large number of tourist attractions and places of great artistic and historical importance. Since it is a famous destinations there are a lot of flights to Florence Italy. It is a city made for walking, so to enjoy it for free, the best thing is to walk its streets and to appreciate its incredible buildings, monuments and beautiful places.

1. Santa Maria del Fiore

Santa Maria del Fiore

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore is the Cathedral (Duomo, in Italian) of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Florence. It is remarkable for its dome by Brunelleschi and it is considered one of the masterworks of the Gothic and early Renaissance Italian art. Symbol of the wealth and the power of the Tuscan capital during the thirteenth and fourteenth century, the Florentine Cathedral is one of the largest buildings in Christendom. Its name, which is translated as “Santa Maria of the Flowers” refers to the lily, symbol of Florence, or the ancient name of the town called Fiorenza. But on the other hand, a fifteenth century document states that the “flower” refers to Christ.

2. Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge in English) is a medieval bridge over the Arno River in Florence. It is believed that it was originally built as a wooden bridge by the Romans. After being destroyed by a flood in 1333 it was rebuilt, this time entirely of stone, in 1345. Its design is attributed to the Italian painter and architect Taddeo Gaddi. Once there you have to stay more than 2 days to visit the “Ponte Vechio”; it is very easy to find small hostels and cheap hotels in florence Italy.It is the oldest bridge in Europe built entirely of stone, segmented arched closed type. It has always contained different shops and a commercial activity on it (mainly jewelry). According to the legend, in the bridge the people were exempted from taxes and fees. The merchants were formerly allowed to show their merchandise on tables. It is further believed that the term “Bankruptcy” was originated in this bridge because when a seller could not pay his debts, his table was broken by the soldiers (bank+rotto, bankruptcy). Not having a table, the merchants could not sell their goods.

During the Second World War, unlike other bridges in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio was not destroyed by the Germans during their withdrawal on August the 4th, 1944. According to the tradition, this was due to a direct order from Hitler. However, their access was blocked because of the destruction of the buildings on both sides of the bridge.

3. Market of San Lorenzo

Market of San Lorenzo

It is the most important market in Florence and one of the favorite places for tourists to purchase souvenirs and products such as food, clothes, hats or bags from old straw. It is also known as the “Straw Market” and it is possible to bargain prices.

4. Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo is a famous square with a magnificent view of Florence and also it is a popular tourist destination in the neighborhood of Oltrarno. It was built and designed by the architect Giuseppe Poggi on a hillside in the south of the historic center in 1869.

The square is dedicated to the great Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo having copies of some of his works such as “the David” and “the four allegories of the Medici Chapel” of San Lorenzo. These copies are made in bronze, while the originals are in white marble.

You can access the square by car along the tree-lined avenue Miguel Ángel, which was built at the same time, or by walking down the stairs that going up the ramps of the monumental Piazza Poggi in the San Nicolas district.

5. Church of Santa Croce

Church of Santa Croce

Church of Santa Croce

This Catholic basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world.

Since its origin, the history of Santa Cruz is closely linked to the history of Florence. During the seventh century since it was founded, the basilica underwent several renovations and modernization projects acquiring it as new, therefore, some new symbolic connotations: Since its origins as a Franciscan church, it became a religious “municipality” for the major families and the Medicean Florence corporations; or from being a laboratory and an art studio it changed into a theological center; from a pantheon of the Italian glories it became a reference place in the political history of the pre-and post-unit Italy in the nineteenth century.

One curious detail is that in this church are the tombs of Miguel Angel and Galileo Galiei.

6.Basilica del Santo Spirito

Basilica del Santo Spirito

The basilica of Santo Spirito was designed in 1434 by Filippo Brunelleschi in its last artistic stage, but it was not built until 1444. The front door is not decorated and it is here where were provided the main ideas of Brunelleschi. This building represents a proposal even more modern than the one of San Lorenzo; it is more streamlined, by using a normalization of the architectural language.

7. Giardino di Boboli

Giardino di Boboli

The Boboli Gardens is a famous garden in the city of Florence. Located in the south side of the Arno River, after the Pitti Palace which was built by the Pitti family; who were rivals of the Medici, the noble family who controlled Florence.

The gardens of the Medici are located on an old quarry where was build a theater with tiers, in which it represented the first operas of the history. There are two main routes that lead the path:

– One straight where we can find a nymphaeum, the theater, the Neptune fountain and the statue of the goddess Fortuna

– Another in zig-zag in which we can find several caves. It was opened to the public in 1766. Several statues of different styles and periods are distributed in the garden.

8. Piazza della Signoria

Piazza della Signoria

The Piazza della Signoria is the central square of Florence. It is the seat of the civil power together with the “Palazzo Vecchio” and also it is the heart of the social city life. L-shaped, this square is located in the central medieval part of Florence in the south of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore or Duomo ;just a few meters away from the “Ponte Vecchio” and the Arno River.

9. Via Tornabuoni

Via Tornabuoni

The via Tornabuoni is a street in the center of Florence which runs from the Piazza Antinori to Ponte Santa Trinita and it is well known for the presence of many important fashion stores. The street has international high fashion boutiques such as Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Enrico Coveri, Roberto Cavalli and Emilio Pucci among others.

10. Piazza della Repubblica

Piazza della Repubblica

The Piazza della Repubblica is one of the most important squares of the city. It was built on the old Jewish ghetto of Florence. Here can be found the historic literary cafe called Rosse Giubbe where poets such as Giovanni Papini, Giuseppe Prezzolini, Eugenio Montale, Mario Luzi or Filippo Tommaso Marinetti met to discuss about literature. In order to visit all the above places you will need a car and since there are cheaps cars in every corner in florence car hire.

Top Ten things to do on the Amalfi Coast

Bay of Sorrento looking across to Vesuvius, by Ivan Grimm for Wikipedia

If you love variety and amazing scenery, the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy has to be the place for you.  With Rome as capital city, overflowing with history, and one of the world’s most romantic destinations in Venice, it’s easy to overlook Italy’s wonderfully dramatic coastline.  Yet I don’t know of anywhere else that offers, within a few square miles, a crazy cosmopolitan city, a volcano, one of the world’s most beautiful coastal drives, a bay dotted with island retreats, and the fascination of Pompeii.  With pasta, pizza and fabulous icecream as your daily diet, how can you go wrong?

1.  Base your stay in Sorrento

Piazza Tasso, Sorrento

Piazza Tasso, Sorrento

It’s as scenic as anywhere on the coast and has great transport links by road, rail and water.  There’s a range of hotels to suit every pocket, and endless dining options.  The old quarter is pleasant for evening strolling, and for relaxing after a busy day’s sightseeing.

2.  It wouldn’t be Amalfi without the Amalfi Coastal Drive

The lovely town of Amalfi, from Wikipedia

You might need to take your travel sickness pills before boarding the local SITA bus, but you shouldn’t miss this ride that stutters and jerks its way down the coast from Sorrento.  Sit on the right of the bus for the most stomache churning views of the 500 foot vertical drop, with the Med glinting far below.  I cannot imagine driving this stretch for a living.  I would never be able to take my gaze from the view.  Nor would I want to be a local in the Summer traffic, unless I had a boat!  Still, it’s a truly breathtaking experience, and one of the world’s great bus rides.

3.  Stop off at Positano

Positano's shingle beach

Positano’s shingle beach

Don’t make the mistake that I did.  The bus stops very conveniently at the top of the village, and you can wend your way down, lingering to browse in the expensive boutiques.  Down at beach level you look up again- and up!  It is a considerable climb back to the bus stop.  An alternative, if you’re not continuing down the coast, is to ferry back to Sorrento.

4.  Scale the heights at Ravello

Villa Cimbrone at Ravello- Andreas Wahra for Wikipedia

Amalfi is the starting point for a trip up to Ravello.  You can’t miss the distinctively patterned 13th century Duomo, but you might also like the Cloisters of Paradise, from which you can gain entrance to Amalfi’s Cathedral.  The gelato from harbourside Bar Flavio Gioia is said to be the best in town.

The bus ride to Ravello takes just 30 minutes but once there you’re in a different world.  The views from the gardens of Villa Cimbrone, with its “Terrace of the Infinite”, are simply stunning.  If you have the time, Ravello is a superb place to join a walking tour, the peace and quiet far removed from the bustle of the coast.  If food is more important, the Ristorante della Marra in the 12th century restored Palazzo is a fine choice.

5.  Dip your toe into history at Herculaneum

Mosaic of Neptune and Amphitrite, Herculaneum,

Mosaic of Neptune and Amphitrite, Herculaneum,

Not so well-known as Pompeii and with far fewer visitors, in Italian, “Ercolano” is a good place to get close to the history of the area.  The ruins are very well preserved and it’s possible to see Roman baths and fabulous mosaics.  The House of Neptune and Amphitrite (a sea goddess and the wife of Poseidon) has fine examples, while the Villa of the Papyri once luxuriously descended to the sea over 4 terraces.  The library of the villa contained many scrolls, now badly carbonised, but with modern technology restoration is only a matter of time.

The area surrounding the ruins is a little run down but don’t let this put you off.  The train from Sorrento stops at Ercolano Scavi and from there it’s downhill to the ticket office.  If you intend seeing Pompeii as well it will save money to buy a 5 site ticket, valid for 3 days.  The nearby tourist office also offers good value trips to Vesuvius. (see below)

6.  Sail to Capri

Capri from the summit, at Anacapri- for Wikipedia

There can’t be a more famous island in all the world than Grace Kelly’s Capri.  A 40 minute ferry ride from Sorrento brings you in sight of this idyll.  From the harbour a funicular travels up to Capri town, or if you’re fit you can climb the steps.  Onwards from here you’ll need to catch a bus, up to Anacapri, rattling along through steep narrow streets, your ears popping as you gain height.  The brave might like to take the chair lift from here to Monte Solaro.  At 589 metres, you can’t get much higher without flying, and the views are awesome.  In the foreground the Faraglioni Rocks nestle in the Bay of Naples.  Beyond on a clear day you can make out Vesuvius and the island of Ischia.

At shore level the tourist trap is the Blue Grotto.  The queues for the boat trip can be fearsome in July and August, for just a few minutes spent in the grotto itself.  I am assured that sunrise over Capri is a stunning sight, but you have to catch a very early morning ferry out of Naples to witness it.

7.  Eat pizza in Naples

Pizza margherita, Napoli

Naples gave birth to the pizza and to the actress, Sophia Loren.  The city crackles with life and is hot and noisy in Summer.  If you don’t get bowled over by a scooter here, you can survive anywhere in Italy.  In small doses it can be quite intriguing, and you should certainly make time for the Archaeological Museum.  The best frescoes from Pompeii and Herculaneum reside there, along with the Farnese Collection- impressive statuary excavated in Rome.  The waterfront is vast.

And the pizza?  Originally the food of the poor, the nearest you’ll come to an authentic pizza is at Da Michele on Via Sersale.  They only serve 2 types- pizza margherita and pizza marinara, and you have to wait in line for them- no reservations.  They’ve been making pizzas since 1870 so I reckon they know what they’re doing.

8.  Climb Vesuvius

Not an easy option, either in terms of accessibility or physical effort.  You need to be reasonably fit and to wear strong shoes as the last section is over rough gravel.  The Circumvesuviana Railway runs to both Pompeii and Ercolano (Herculaneum) and from either of these you can catch a bus to Vesuvius.  The service is infrequent so you may opt to take a taxi tour from Ercolano station.  In any case you will need to walk the last 800 metres up to the rim of the volcano.  Worthwhile?  Well, it’s not every day you can peer into an active volcano, is it?  If you’re more energetic still you can do a 6km walk from San Vitto to the summit, through the national park.

9.  Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

It’s possible to look down on Pompeii from the summit of Vesuvius.  What a terrifying place it must have been when the volcano decided to errupt.  Today it’s a setting that can still give you goosebumps, and one of those rare places where you can almost feel the rumble of chariot wheels.  It does repay the effort to get there early and walk to the farthest point before stopping to explore.  That way you can escape some of the crowds and let yourself absorb the atmosphere.

When Vesuvius erupted in 79AD Pompeii was buried in a wall of ash and soot, killing 20,000 people and preserving the city exactly as it stood.  It offers a fascinating glimpse into life in those times.  The site is easily reached in 40 minutes from Sorrento on the Circumvesuviana train.  Listen to the guides for a few minutes before agreeing to sign up for a tour- some accents are clearer than others.  Or you might want to purchase an audio guide and go at your own pace.

10.  Relax in a thermal spa on Ischia

Castello Aragonese, Ischia

If you’ve accomplished all the others you will have earned this one!  The springs on Ischia have a high mineral content due to its volcanic composition and are believed to be great for curing arthritis and many other ailments.  Not only that but it is a very beautiful island, certainly the equal of Capri, though it was swapped for that island by Augustus in 6AD.

Hydrofoils leave for Ischia from Naples and some call first at the island of Procida so make sure that you get off at Porto Ischia.  The Negombo Park complex has 12 thermal pools and a range of treatments, Mediterranean garden and beach access, and is not far from the port.

So there you are.  If you can’t fill a fortnight’s stay and have a wonderful time in the process, I’ll be really surprised.

If you enjoyed this guide, you might also like http://www.travelwkly.com/2012/04/the-magic-of-the-italian-lakes/

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