Friday, July 11, 2008

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Richness Of Italy

Very few places in the world offer the richness of Italy. From the emergence of the mighty Roman Empire to the bustling tourist trade of modern day Venice, Italy has always been at the heart of European civilization. This alone makes it a must see on any European vacation and you can see why even a short visit to Italy will make you wanting to come back year after year. So let's explore how you can have a lot of Italian fun in just a short time. This is the two city tour if Italy that is a great way to go for your first time in the country. The two cities? Venice and Rome. Why these two? The reason is that both offer something totally unique from other cities in Europe and both have an important place in Italian history. First is Venice. There is nothing more stunning than getting off the train at the Venice station and hearing a unique sound that cannot be heard in any other major city. There's the bustle of people moving and talking but wait, there are no cars. No engines, no horns or screeching tires, just water and stone. Everyone knows Venice is a city build on the water but the experience of being in a place where no cars can be heard is truly special. The warm waters of the Mediterranean lap against the sidewalk giving the city a perpetual peaceful feeling that is very relaxing. This is why Venice is a good place to start your fun Italian vacation. You've probably been running around Europe from one great city to the next a when you get to Venice, you can slow down and let the waters calm you. Once you take in the atmosphere, the city is yours to explore. With it's relatively small size, you can walk most places in a short time. Or if you want to explore the water a little more, you can take a water taxi or a gondola and ride the canals. The center of activity is usually San Marco square where the pigeons hang out by the hundreds and if the water is high, you can walk on it via the duckboards that are put out. The architecture of a place like San Marco dates back to the Middle Ages when Venice was the trading center of Europe. The designs are intricate and exquisite and those who are art lovers will find hundreds of pieces to gaze at. The real fun in Venice and in Italy as a whole is the food. Venice has so many little restaurants and cafes that you can eat to your heart's content for days and never get bored. The Italian style sandwich called panini, is a wonderful lunch and has so many different variations that each place has their own special recipe. So eat up, see the sites and hop back on the train for a trip to the eternal city, Rome. Like in the days of the gladiators, Rome is center of the European cultural universe. The city on seven hills is one of the oldest in Western Europe and is a glory to behold. You could spend your entire vacation in Rome and not see the entire place.

So much of the beauty of the city is hidden away from tourist traps in the little alleys and squares where Romans keep to themselves but welcome visitors who happen to find their way there. The best way to orient yourself to a city the size of Rome is to take a bus tour when you first arrive. The tour will show you the major sites and when you're on it, take notes so you can go back and visit the places you have seen. Major sites like the Colloseum, the Forum. Trevi Fountain, and others can been visited while walking. After your bus tour, take a walk around the old city then make your way out on the following days. You can explore the ancient underground in the catacombs where very old Romans are buried or see the great aqueducts built during the Roman Empire. Take a day to see Vatican City where the Pope lives when he's not out on tour. There is more are in the few square blocks that you can possible take and you'll be dizzy after you've walked it's long halls. The end is worth while though as the Sistine Chapel awaits after a long tour. Truly Michaelangelo's greatest paintings cover the chapel ceiling and wall. Sports, food, shopping, whatever you desire, Rome offers it. Like the saying goes "When in Rome, do as the Romans," and I hope your fun Italian vacation allows you to immerse yourself in Italian culture and be Italian, if only for a short time.