Nature

MOUNTAINS


Italy’s artistic heritage consists mainly of its historical centres, churches and museums, but we should not forget its charming mountains. In Italy mountains are characterised by a majestic architecture, spires and pinnacles, made of stone and beautifully arranged.

Impressive rock cathedrals, wild peaks and enchanting woods occupy one third of the Italian territory with the majestic Alps to the north and, along the peninsula, the rounded peaks of the Apennines. Among the highest peaks of the Alps there are Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa to the west and the Sella and Marmolada to the east. With its 2,914 metres, the Gran Sasso is the highest mountain of the Apennines, followed by Monte Amaro and Monte Velino.

Mont Blanc, with its vertical walls, the extensive massif of Monte Rosa, Corno Grande of the Gran Sasso are just some of the works of art sculpted by nature.

Climbers will walk wide aisles whose arches support the vault of heaven. They will not breathe the intense scent of the incense, but the crisp air of high altitudes. They will not be walking on hard marble floors, but along paths covered with edelweiss. They will stop for a moment to admire the frescoes on the rock walls and, at dusk, they will be amazed by at the many pieces making up the mosaic of the pinkish Dolomites. They will bow down before snow altars and, when they will reach the peak, they will feel closer to God.

The human hand, however, was able to add to these places some traces worthy of memory as the monument to the fallen of the First World War on Monte Grappa, near the Venetian Alps. Among the famous tombs, we find the tomb of Ettore Viola, the source of inspiration for the character of Hector Moretti in “Farewell to Arms” by Hemingway.

LAKES


When tourists discover the surreal beauty of an Italian lake, they want to bring the colours and scents of that stretch of water with them. A picture or a postcard are simply not enough. They want more: they want to learn more about their history and grab their essence. Only in this way the memory of that lake will be indelible.

In the Upper Val d’Ega, in the province of Bolzano, there is Lake Carezza. Not everyone knows that the locals call it the “Rainbow lake”. According to legend, here a water nymph was attracted by an evil sorcerer with a rainbow.
In Lake Orta, one of the major pre-alpine lakes, there is the island of San Giulio, named after the warrior preacher who, according to the legends passed down from father to son, defeated the dragons infesting those waters.

Lake Como, the deepest lake in Italy, inspired the opening words of “I Promessi Sposi” by Manzoni.

The castles of Sirmione, Malcesine, Lazise, Torri del Benaco and Padenghe, with their many stories of knights and damsels, are reflected by the waters of Lake Garda.

The bell tower of a church dating back to the fourteenth century, emerges from Lake Resia, the largest lake in the province of Bolzano. In winter, when the lake freezes, you can walk to the bell tower. Some say that, on really cold nights, you can hear the bells ringing.

Lake Trasimeno, the largest lake in central Italy, is associated with the story of the tragic love between Trasimeno, son of God Tirreno, and the nymph Agilla.

In Trentino Alto Adige, Lake Tovel is also known as the “red lake”, since, until 1964 its waters turned purple due to the presence of an algae called “Tovellia sanguinea”.

Among coastal lakes, we should mention Lake Lesina, in Puglia, with its salty waters and Lake Varano.

Do not settle for a picture. Steal stories!

NATIONAL PARKS/NATURE RESERVES


Italian landscapes are a source of inspiration for poets, writers and directors. Matteo Garrone, with one of his last movies, “Tale of Tales”, has shown the world some paradisiacal places of this amazing country. These enchanting places are part of areas protected by specific standards and rules. The beautiful country has one hundred forty-six nature reserves and twenty-four national parks.

Do not settle for a movie. Here are some useful tips to discover the most beautiful destinations.

The first national park established in Italy, Gran Paradiso is located between the Valle d’Aosta and Piedmont. Here, surrounded by woods and alpine meadows, visitors can see chamois and ibex running free.

The Cinque Terre National Park, near the Ligurian Riviera, offers trekking lovers the opportunity to discover rocky cliffs overlooking the sea and secret trails protected by stone walls. Here you will hear gulls sing and, if you are lucky, you will have the privilege to admire the flight of the raven and the peregrine falcon.

At Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, the third largest park in Italy, you will go in search of the Apollo butterfly, famous for its white wings with small black and red spots.

Pollino National Park is located between Basilicata and Calabria. During breaks, just look up and maybe you will see the majestic golden eagle, the lord of this land.

Among nature reserves, we should mention Vivara Island in the Gulf of Naples, between Ischia and Procida, inhabited only by animals that chose it as a natural habitat.

BEACHES


Dream bays, hidden and romantic coves and caves characterise the coast of Italy. Colourful sea beds, fine and white sand beaches and the intense scents of Mediterranean vegetation make these places unique. many stretches of coast were awarded the prestigious “Bandiera Blu” for their crystal clear waters and their lovely beaches, including Rena Bianca in Sardinia, Roccella Jonica in Calabria, and Polignano a Mare in Puglia.

If you want to escape summer heat, remember that Italy has 7,500 km of coastline.

In Campania you will be spoiled for choice. In Forio di Ischia you can relax on Citara beach, while waiting for the green flash at sunset. The sand of Maronti beach is hot that you can cook eggs, after wrapping them in aluminium foil.

On the Amalfi Coast do not miss Erchie beach, dominated by two promontories.

In Sardinia, Cala Mariolu, characterised by white and pink pebbles known as “snowflakes”, you will have the chance to take relaxing and rejuvenating walks.

In Sicily, in San Vito Lo Capo, while diving into crystal clear waters, you will see on one side the mountain, while on the other a quaint fishing village with white little houses.

If you want to show off enviable tan, the Scala dei Turchi near Porto Empedocle is your destination.

Italy’s beaches attract tourists from all over the world.

MARINE PROTECTED AREAS


Picturesque stretches of shoreline, sea beds to be explored and coasts to be preserved: Italy has twenty-seven marine protected areas, to which we must add the Cetacean Sanctuary, between the seas of Liguria, Tuscany, Corsica and northern Sardinia. Baia and Gaiola’s underwater archaeological parks, preserving the Imperial Villa of the Gulf of Pozzuoli and the Villa Pausilypon the Gulf of Naples, should also be included in the list.

Campania and Sicily are the Italian regions with the largest number of protected marine areas.

In the area of Capo Gallo and Isola delle Femmine, in Sicily, you can discover sea beds characterised by a wide variety of plant and animal species such as red algae, brown algae, crabs, limpets, sea bass and mullets.

Always in Sicily, the sea of Ustica was the first to be included in the list of marine protected areas in Italy. The extraordinary biodiversity of underwater caves, caves and shallow waters, makes these places a real paradise for divers. Here you can admire sea urchins, the rainbow wrasse, tapered body and pointed nose fish species.

The deep blue of the sea that bathes the islands of Levanzo, Marettimo and Favignana will leave you speechless. Under these waters diving enthusiasts will discover extensive seagrass meadows.

Among marine protected areas, there is also the Isola dei Conigli (the Island of Rabbits), about 30 metres from Lampedusa. This is one of the few Italian sites where Caretta Caretta turtles lay their eggs.

But there is also the Kingdom of Neptune, with Ischia, Procida and Vivara in Campania. Here you will have the chance to watch dolphins swim.

In Sardinia, in the area between Punta Giglio and Capo Caccia, do not miss Nereus and Neptune’s underwater caves.

ISLANDS


The perfect combination of history and nature makes Italian islands the perfect destination for a beach holiday without forgetting art and culture. Chosen by ancient civilizations as safe harbours, the islands of Italy still preserve traces of past glories.

Sicily, Sardinia, the Tuscan and the Campanian Archipelago: Italy’s islands are jewels of inestimable value.

After a day at the beach, kissed by the sun, or the relaxing treatments offered by the many thermal centres, you will also have time to take a dip into history!

The Island of Elba is famous not just for its beautiful beaches and its clean sea, but also for its rich deposits of iron, which favoured the emergence of the Etruscan civilization.

In Ischia, known for its thermal waters, you can see the “Dawn of Ancient Greece” in Punta Chiarito, a Greek town, and at the Museum of Villa Arbusto in Lacco Ameno. You will be dumbstruck before the glass case that preserves Nestor’s Cup, one of the oldest examples of writing in the Western Mediterranean.

Capri is an incredible place, not just for its Blue Grotto and its Faraglioni, but also for its Roman ruins. Villa Jovis, on Mount Tiberius, became the palace of the emperor Tiberius in the first century. A.D.

In Favignana, one of the Egadi Islands, you will see traces of ancient settlements dating back to the Paleolithic into Faraglione and Pozzo caves, in San Nicola. If you love Greek history, do not miss the Archaeological Museum housed in the Castle of Lipari, one of the Aeolian Islands.

In Lampedusa, whose old port attracted Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, you can sunbathe on the beach characterised by fine and white sand located in front of the Island of Rabbits.

In Caprera, one of the islands of the Maddalena archipelago, you can visit the “white house”, Garibaldi’s grave.