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How to enjoy your stay as a tourist to Italy: Most outstanding Touristic sites to visit

By Chantal

As a tourist in Italy, there’s such a broad spectrum of enjoyable activities to do, places to go, sights to see, and dishes to try. In fact, Italy remains a major center of human history and is highly populated with more World heritage sites than every other country in the World. You can be sure of where exactly to go if you want to experience new things, see amazing sites, and enjoy the rich culture of Italy, expressed through their style of living. Italy has a rich distribution of hotels which will also enable you enjoy your stay in absolute comfort.

Italy’s breathtaking sites

You can never lack where to go in Italy as a tourist given the vast number of touristic sites and destinations. We will be listing the best places to visit in Italy and explaining what makes them special to you as a tourist. First let’s look at one of the most famous.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum is actually one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world and definitely where to go in Italy. It was declared a World heritage site in 1980, has the capacity to hold 50,000 spectators (40,000 seated and another 10,000 standing), and it also is the largest Amphitheater in the entire Roman Empire. Its construction spanned between 72 and 80AD by the Flavian emperors, from where it derives its original name: Flavian Amphitheater. Its name Colosseum comes from the massive Colossus of Nero statue which once stood nearby. The Colosseum was inaugurated by the Emperor Titus during a celebration lasting a full 100 days. There were executions, dramatic plays, animal hunts and all sorts of gladiator battles.

Over time, due to misuse during the middle ages, the neglected structure suffered loss. Being used for diverse purposes by different groups of people, stones from same structure carried off to be used in the construction of other buildings, until it was converted into a Christian shrine due to the many martyrs whose lives were taken there. The Colosseum is situated in downtown Rome. On a tourist visit, this would be one of the best places to visit in Italy, as it centers the civilization of its time.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Still wondering where to go in Italy? Located in the city of Florence (Tuscany), this particular bridge became famous as the only one not destroyed during the occupation of Italy during World War II. The bridge was not destroyed reportedly because of Hitler’s orders. Originally, the bridge connected the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palzzo Pitti over the river Arno and is also surrounded by jewelry and gold shops which greatly increase the prestige of the bridge.

Pantheon

Michelangelo described the Pantheon 14 centuries after its construction as an "Angelic and non-human design". Its major highlights include the gigantic dome, the upper eye, gigantic size of the place, and the harmony of the whole structure. It was originally a Roman temple, dedicated to all the gods of Rome but presently serves as a church. The original age of the Pantheon is unknown and the original building was burned by fire, and then rebuilt, and then struck by lightning which resulted in another fire, burning down the building again. It was lastly rebuilt in 120 AD by Emperor Hadrian. The Pantheon was forever changed during the time of Pope Urban VIII, who melted down every piece of bronze on the ceiling, causing an outrage among a great number of Roman citizens. It’s quite a sight and would easily fall among the best places to visit in Italy for any tourist.

Florence Cathedral

Also called the Cathedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore or in English "Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower", this towering cathedral complex, made up of three gigantic structures is numbered among the numerous UNESCO world Heritage sites for which Italy is popular for. The construction lasted well over 100 years as around the beginning of the 15th century, after 100 years of construction, the structure was still missing its designed dome. It was really a mega project and an example of the grand architectural expertise of Italy. Among cathedrals, this is where to go in Italy to begin seeing the best of the Italy tourist places.

This cathedral is the main church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Florence which already tells us the relevance of this particular structure to Roman Catholic Christian tourists.

Castel Sant'Angelo

Located in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy, the cylindrical building is from the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, the burial place of all the emperors, until around the beginning of the 14th century when the structure was converted into a fortress by the pope. It was the refuge of Pope Clement VII during the siege of Charles V's Landsknechte and during the Sack of Rome in 1527. Later on, an exquisite apartment was built to ensure that the pope had a comfortable place to stay in the event of another siege. The building was actually once the tallest in Rome and was also used as a prison, where the prisoners of the papal state were kept.

Arch of Constantine

Among the Italy tourist places, this structure gains its popularity from the Emperor Constantine, also called Constantine the Great. The emperor is popular for his political transformation of the Roman Empire, support for Christianity, and founding of Constantinople, the modern day Istanbul. The Triumphal Arch of Constantine is located on a road once used to celebrate war victories. Its towers are 21 meters high, 26 meters wide, and over 7 meters thick. It was built in 315AD to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the reign of Constantine and his victory over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312AD.

Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II

Also known as Altare della Patria, it is a monument built to honor Victor Emmanuel, the first king of the unified Italy, located in Rome, Italy. It is situated between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill. The Vittoriano features many stairways, fountains, Corinthian columns, a sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas. The structure is 135m wide and 70m high. If the quadrigae and winged victories are included, the height reaches 81 m and it has a total area of 17,000 square metres.

The base of the structure hosts the museum of Italian Unification. In 2007, a panoramic lift was added to the structure, to enable visitors ride up to the roof for a 360-degree view of Rome. I know you would want to see that!

Trevi Fountain

The Trevi fountain sources from a spring discovered supposedly by a virgin around 19BC. The water was guided by an aqueduct some 22km and served Romans for over 400 years. Finally, as was the custom of the day, it ended up being a fountain, so beautifully sculpted. It was designed and worked on for over 30 years by Nicola Salvi, but on his demise due to poor health, it was later on completed by Pietro Bracci.

The design features at the top, the papal shield standing between two winged figures playing trumpets. There are also sculptures representing the four annual seasons and the cyclical nature of time. On either side of the main figure, there are two structures that depict the story of King Agrippa’s soldiers discovering the spring with a dowsing rod and King Agrippa ordering the construction of the aqueduct. Two other large statues tell of the benefits of this water: good health (the snake, which was associated with Asclepius, the god of medicine), as well as the arrival of material goods (the cornucopia). I recommend this place to be on your list of where to go in Italy.

Moses (Michelangelo)

This is a sculpted statue by Michelangelo which is supposed to represent the biblical recorded Moses, but turns out to be rather confusing due to a mistranslation of a text of scripture resulting in a horned statue of a man. Aside from the misconception, the sculpted work is very skillfully done. It was originally designed for the tomb of pope Julius II in Peter’s Basilica but was finally set in the minor church of San Pietro in Vincoli after the pope’s death.

Villa Borghese

Located in northern Rome, it is a secluded and very historical park, housing some of the best galleries in Rome. The origin of the park dates back to pope Paul V who gave this part of the city to his nephew after making him a cardinal. If you are a lover of art, this is definitely one of the best places to visit in Italy. You will enjoy the stunning display of art in the Galleria Borghese which is based in a 17th century casino.

Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples)

Absolutely amazing place, of all Italy tourist places, the Valley of the Temples, located in the city of Agrigento ruined walls alongside five Doric temples from the ancient Greek city of Akragas. Situated on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the fabulous buildings, some of which date from the 6th Century BC, seem as if they were put on a movie set.

The Archaeological Park is large and it is divided into two zones (East and West). It also has an engaging museum along with other buildings from the middle ages worth visiting. Because of its monumental beauty, the site was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and is visited by many people annually. It would be preferable to go there in the morning hours, and if in summer, go with sunscreen. If you have this place on your list of where to go in Italy, then springtime would be the best time to travel to Italy. It is easy to get carried away by the grandiosity of the ruins.

Capitoline Museums

First thing of note is the amazing view at the tabularium during the sunset. It’s truly special. This is also the main museum of the city of Rome. Paintings, coins, bronzes, and archaeological artifacts are only a few of the things you will see. The Capitoline Museums are in the Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo in the Piazza del Campidoglio. In the year 1471, Pope Sixtus IV donated a large collection of bronzes from the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran including the famous Capitoline Wolf, which is now a symbol of the city and was placed in the courtyard of the palace of the Conservatives, making it the world's oldest public museum. The collection grew thanks to the donations of several popes including Pius V and Paul III who wanted to purge the Vatican of its pagan sculptures. The Palazzo Nuovo was added to the museum in 1654.

Tiber River

The Tiber River is one of the longest rivers in Italy, over 400 km and passing through several major cities of Italy, such as Rome, which it crosses from the North to the South. In the time of the Roman Empire, it was a major means of transportation and communication. If you will include this attraction in your schedule, then one good way of exploring it is a boat line that has six stopping points, starting from the Duca D'Aosta Bridge near to the Olympic Stadium and Tiber Island, located in the very historic center of the capital.

Should you make it a date also, then the best time to travel to Italy would be during the spring and summer, when the area is full of lively terraces where you can take a drink in the evening while relaxing. The area also begins to develop quite an atmosphere of charm as evening falls and the lights along the banks begin coming on one after another, till the place looks very romantic, inviting you to take an evening stroll.

Mount Etna

This particular active volcano is one of those that will give you an opportunity to enjoy the contrast between snow and lava. Finding maps of the area may not be easy, so you may want to go with a guide. Several agencies exist which will provide a guide who knows the area properly and who will ensure that you don’t get lost on the mountain. An example of one such agencies is Etna-Excursion.

There’s such a thing as a mountain view of a place, which can only be seen from that kind of height. A trip like this would not only give you enjoyable experiences, but also the necessary relaxation your body needs. Just beside the mountain, in the town of Taormirna, is the ancient theatre of Taormina, an interesting theatre that was actually carved into the mountain. Indeed an awesome sight to see. The best time to travel to Italy to visit this sight would actually be in winter so that you get to witness the striking contrast of snow and lava.

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum should definitely be on your list of Italy tourist places to visit. All kinds of political, economic and social events were held here; war victory celebrations, public events, etc. Located not very far from the Colosseum, it is one of the remains of the ancient Roman Social life. Its features include the Temple of Vesta, Trajan’s column, and the Mamertine Prison, which are simply unforgettable sights. The Roman Forum is now only a shadow of what it used to be.

Talking about Forums, the Trajan's Forum was the final Imperial forum built in ancient Rome. It is situated near the Piazza Venezia and the monument for Vittorio Emmanuel III. The order to build it was given by the Emperor Trajan and it is known for the great column built to commemorate his conquests in Dacia. The Romans had to demolish two hills nearby, to have the space to build the Forum, the Quirinale and the Campodoglio.

This Forum is near the other Forums and so, you can actually schedule a time to visit the most magnificent remains of the Roman Civilization at one time, as they are all closely located. The forum is a large open square lined with porticoes and we also have the Basilica Ulpia with its statue of the Emperor on his horse toward the bottom. The nighttime is better to visit this site because the place is lit up and gives a wonderful finishing touch. You will definitely like this one.

Bay of Orosei (Gulfo di Orosei)

This is definitely the best of the beach destinations in Italy. Water with color so clear and inviting that you just want to take a swim in it. The waters are sapphire blue, there are sandy beaches, pebble beaches, and the best thing of all is the secluded nature of the place.

The beaches are not readily accessed as one would have to go over uncharted terrain on long hikes, or go by boat ride. Aside from all these, several caves and small coves cover the entire area. One thing is sure, that you will definitely not be disappointed with this visit should you make it part of your Italy tourist places to visit.

Canals of Venice

If Venice is on your list of destinations, then the best time to travel to Italy would depend on what you prefer. Venice is literally founded in water, with several canals running through the city. The summer activities and the excitement which it imparts on these waters take away the calm and romantic scenario that the season of winter affords as there are fewer tourists.

At the end of the day, both times present pleasant sights as the boat riding through the canals give an unprecedented sensation each time you make it a date to get out of the bustle and hustle of the town for a gentle boat ride. The best time to travel to Italy in order to enjoy this feature in my recommendation would be the winter time towards the close of the year when the traffic of tourists is not much.

Pompeii Ruins

The Etruscans and the Greeks played a major role in the creation of the city of Pompeii, presently located in the region of Campania, in Italy. Specifically, it is situated at the foot of volcano Vesuvius. Interestingly, the city boasted a Hellenistic ambiance plus the decorative style of Pompeii which was something new and different at that time. Bigger houses were built and with the evolutionary construction of the Serino aqueduct, actual running water was introduced to the region. The city ruins show them installed not only inside the houses but also in the streets, which represented a major evolutionary breakthrough at that time. Really, this is one of the best places to visit in Italy.

Manarola

Interesting place located near Génova, Ligura in the north of Italy, Manarola is an integral part of the "Cinque Terre" national park. It is a small group of villages built on steep ravines and surrounded by incredible mountains by the sea. Being a farming region, there's an incredible variety of vineyards and olive groves. The famous lovers trail begins here and heads towards Riomaggiore; a paved trail which is at the edge of the coastal mountains and grants great views of the colorful villages cascading down the mountainside. Although the five villages are linked by a train route which practically wraps around the mountains, there is also a route by ferry interconnecting the place. The views from the ferry are just spectacular.

One can hardly ever be able to list all the best Italy tourist places worth visiting but we have tried to put together the best places to visit in Italy, so that you know exactly where and possibly when to visit this interesting town with breathtaking sites and places to visit. These sights are not all that Italy has to offer.

There is also the culture of the people, demonstrated in their local exotic foods, and their manner of life which you can’t fail to notice. It would be a futile attempt to begin giving a cross-section of all the numerous and variable hotels and motels in Italy, which give the best treatment you could possibly expect; ranging from 1 star to 7 star hotels in Italy, there will be a hotel for you! knowing the best time to travel to Italy will completely depend on what sights you prefer and how much distraction you can deal with. All in all, Italy awaits you.

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