Art & Culture

UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES


Italy is the country with the largest number of UNESCO heritage sites. 51 incredible sites, including natural parks, monuments and cathedrals.

Everything started in 1979, when Val Camonica, one of the largest valleys of the central Alps, in eastern Lombardy, was included in the UNESCO exclusive list, followed, in 1980 by The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan, one of the greatest masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. In those years, the historic centre of Florence, with its fourteenth-century walls enclosing treasures of inestimable value as Giotto’s Bell Tower, Brunelleschi’s Dome and the works of art of the Uffizi Gallery, was included in the World heritage Site list, followed, ten years later, by the historic centre of Rome, with its many monuments, and the historic centre of Naples, the largest in Europe with its 1,700 hectares. Both are symbols of the Italian creative genius.

Since that moment many other incredible Italian sites become UNESCO world heritage, Su Nuraxi, a nuragic town in Sardinia, the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi, Siena, the Certosa di Padula, the Cinque Terre in Liguria and the Amalfi Coast.

The long list does not just include art and culture, but also the Po Delta, the Dolomite Mountains and Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe.

And also, Pompei and Ercolano and the Valley of the Temples.

The Last Italian site, at least for now, was included in 2015, with the creation of the “Arab-Norman itinerary of Palermo, Cefalu and Monreale”.

CITIES OF ART


Italian cities of art are characterised by centuries of history. Reading a book is not enough, you just have to take your backpack, wear comfortable shoes and get ready to live an incredible adventure.

Turin will give you the chance to learn more about nineteenth-century history. We recommend taking a walk from Porta Nuova to Piazza San Carlo, and then reach Carignano Palace, the seat of Italy’s first parliament.

If you are visiting Venice, do not miss Piazza San Marco to discover the secrets of this incredible city through the golden mosaics of the Basilica.

In Rome, a short walk will offer you the opportunity to dive into the past. From the Coliseum and the Imperial Forums, symbols of the power of the Italian capital city, you will reach the squares of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. And you will end up face to face with the Mouth of Truth, located in the portico of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.

The walls of ancient buildings and picturesque churches will tell memorable stories, able to survive the test of time, just like the mosaics of the Mausoleum of Galla Placida in Ravenna and those of the Cathedral of Cefalu.

In Verona you will see the Arena, the Casa dei Mercanti, Palazzo Maffei and Torre dei Lamberti, and you will also breath the atmosphere of Shakespeare’s tragedies, when admiring Juliet balcony.

The red bricks that characterise Ferrara will lead you to the Estense Castle, the perfect synthesis between a medieval fortress and a Renaissance palace.

In Naples you will see the Gothic Basilica of Santa Chiara and the Baroque Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro.

For a time travel you will not need a time machine!

SMALL TOWNS


We recommend you to take a tour of the most charming Italian towns, to admire local monuments and abandoned castles, take long walks along ancient paths and take a break to taste incredible local specialties served by typical taverns.

The only advice is to take your time to visit these lovely, small towns. Why? Each single town, located by the sea or at the foot of a mountain preserves old traditions and an incredible artistic heritage. You can not even imagine how lovely they are.

If you are looking for some relax, just spend a few days in Civita di Bagnoregio. Located in an isolated position, the town is inhabited only by a dozen people. The silence of its unique landscape dominating the Tiber will help you to get sound sleep.

Vernazza, overlooking one of the bays of the Cinque Terre, will help you relax with its lovely colours.

If you are looking for the tranquillity of a small island, without straying too far from the mainland, Monte Isola is the right place for you. Overlooking Lake Iseo, it is the largest lake island in Europe.

In summer, Castellabate offers you the chance to relax while sunbathing and swimming in the crystal clear waters of its marine protected area.

If you suffer from slow metabolism, just enjoy a tasty snack in Cefalù, such as a granita or an ice-cream, while strolling through the old town to admire the Cathedral, built by Roger II.

Erice, also known as the “town in the clouds”, will offer you the chance to taste delicious almond pastries.

As they say, a little bit of sugar helps the pill go down!

ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARKS


Italy is characterised by indestructible signs of great ancient civilizations. You will admire the splendour of a glorious past offered by its archaeological parks which, from North to South, enliven the cultural life of Italian cities. These timeless places will give you the chance to walk along the same trails travelled by the Greeks and the Romans centuries ago. It will be like taking a dip back into the past.

The hands of time have stopped at 79 AD in the ancient towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, hidden by layers of lava and ash. But for that brutal tragedy there is also a bright sight: the items unearthed during excavations allow us to reconstruct customs and habits of the area better than a chronicler of the time would do. Among the many treasures discovered, the frescoes of the Villa dei Misteri depicting oriental rites are particularly interesting.

The archaeological site of Paestum, in the province of Salerno, give you the chance to admire the ruins of the three majestic Doric style temples, known as the “Basilica”, the “Temple of Neptune” and the “Temple of Ceres.”

Then you will reach Sicily to visit the Valley of the Temples, the largest archaeological park in the world with its 1,300 hectares. But this is not its only record. The Temple of Concord, dating back to the fifth century B.C., is perhaps the best-preserved temple of the Western world. We suggest you to visit this site in February, when the whole valley turns pink and white for the early flowering of almond trees.

You will take incredible pictures of the ruins of the Teatro Antico in Taormina, the second largest theatre after that in Siracusa, and you will admire the ruins of the Temple of Segesta, one of the favorite destinations for those who took the Grand Tour.

PLACES OF INTEREST – CASTLES, MUSEUMS, THEATRES


There are many castles, towers and fortresses built in Italy already in the Middle Ages. Perched on rocky spurs, surrounded by breath-taking landscapes or dominating distant islands, Italian castles are defensive architectural jewels characterised by crenellated walls, drawbridges, bastions, loopholes and walkways.

We suggest you to visit Malcesine Castello Scaligero, on the shores of Lake Garda, and Miramare Castle, surrounded by the Adriatic Sea, in the Gulf of Trieste. In Naples, you will be amazed by Castel dell’Ovo, one of the oldest castles of the city.

The Aragonese Castle in Ischia, connected to the town via a stone bridge, is a fairy tale place. In the evening, in the magical atmosphere of the Assumption Cathedral, whose ceiling was destroyed by the British cannons in 1809, you will admire the sky and its shooting stars.

The exhibition halls of the many museums hide the incredible works of art by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and many other Italian artists. The Italian museums are among the most visited in the world. The Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, the Egyptian Museum in Turin, the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, the Vatican Museum and the Archaeological Museum of Naples preserve a cultural heritage of inestimable value. Among the most famous works you will see Michelangelo’s David, on display at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, and the Riace Bronzes, on display at the National Museum of Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria.

The majestic Italian theatres will offer you the hear the music of Rossini, Puccini, Donizetti and Verdi. The operas of great composers are staged at Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, La Fenice in Venice, Teatro San Carlo in Naples and Teatro Massimo in Palermo.

Hearing Violetta singing “Croce e delizia” from La Traviata will be simply magical!

ITINERARIES – ITALIAN LITERATURE AND MOVIES


Many dream of walking through the pages of a book or through the frames of a movie. But only few people really do it.
In Italy your journey will start in Florence to visit Dante’s house, the father of the Italian language. The birth place of the poet who described the Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise in detail, is located on Via Santa Margherita de’ Cerchi.

Those of you who want to discover the secrets of the Middle Ages like real detectives will cross the majestic gate of the Sacra di San Michele, an abbey of Val di Susa in Piedmont. Through the refectory and the library, you follow the clues just as Adso and William of Baskerville, and for you the best-selling novel by Umberto Eco will have no secrets. Maybe, if you are lucky, you will also discover the Name of the Rose.

Others will take their courage in both hands and will visit places in Turin where director Dario Argento gave shape to his nightmares. Do not miss Villa Scott, a beautiful example of Art Deco where some scenes from the movie “Profondo rosso” were filmed.

In Turin adventure lovers can also walk by Emilio Salgari’s house, the writer who, with his inexhaustible imagination, gave us the chance to travel the world with Corsaro Nero and then traced the route to Malaysia in search of Mompracem Tigers.

If you love poetry, Recanati is the right destination for you. You can spend hours on the “Ermo Colle” hoping to find the Infinite that inspired Leopardi.

At “Vittoriale degli italiani”, the last residence of Gabriele d’Annunzio, located in Gardone Riviera on the shores of Lake Garda, book lovers can admire the 33,000 volumes preserved in the library.

In Bagheria (Baarìa), in Sicily, you can walk through the alleys of the town where the famous movie by Giuseppe Tornatore was filmed. If you love Andrea Camilleri and his novels, in Porto Empedocle you can discover all the places of the famous Inspector Montalbano.

In Italy written words are not just words. They are alive and give shape to many incredible places!