With its endless summers, laidback lifestyle and world-famous cuisine, Italy is one of the globe’s most-loved countries. Located at the heart of Europe, its iconic boot shape jutting into the azure waters of the Mediterranean, visitors flock from far and wide to experience Italy’s distinct culture, so beautifully depicted in films, books, and artwork. The country’s turbulent history, alongside its proximity to a range of different European countries, means that Italy’s culture is somewhat of a patchwork, each region stitched together by a shared passion for food, art, and community; the towns which speckle the Dolomites, at the northern end of Italy, are a world away from those of the country’s southernmost coastal regions.
If you’re dreaming of visiting this beautiful country, here are 10 reasons why should definitely add a trip to Italy to the top of your bucket list. Alternatively, if you a dreaming to return someday soon, a reminder of all the most beautiful things that Italy holds.
It would be impossible not to mention Italy’s thriving food culture, which is celebrated globally as being one of the most delicious cuisines in the world. Although each region offers distinctly different tastes and flavours, Italy’s secret lies within the fresh, high-quality local ingredients used to make each dish. Founders of pizza, pasta, and ice cream, a trip to Italy is a foodie’s dream, guaranteed to spoil your tastebuds. Wash your meals down with a glass of local wine or prosecco, or with a bright, tangy Aperol Spritz. In Italy, food is a love language.
Stretching across a distance of almost 1,500km, Italy is one of the biggest countries in Europe, with one end bordering the Austrian and Swiss Alps, and the other just a short boat ride from northern Africa. Despite this enormous geographical range, Italy’s climate is famously warm, with dry, hot summers that form the perfect backdrop for lazy beach days. Up in the mountains, the winters are often cold and bright, attracting keen skiers and thrill-seeking snowboarders to Italy’s well-renowned ski resorts.
THE BREATHTAKING SCENERY
Italy’s landscape is decidedly varied, from its swelling mountain ranges to its glittering, tropical seas, each region entirely unique in its scenery. In the north, Friuli’s spectacular Dolomites wind down into the tranquil Venetian lagoon; the centre of Italy is dominated by the Apennine mountain range, each side of the peninsula framed by the lapping waves of the Mediterranean. Further south, in Campania and Sicily, two volcanoes can be admired from nearby towns and cities. Whether you’re an adventurous traveller, or prefer to lounge by the sea, Italy’s beautiful landscape appeals to everyone.
Among its rows of elegant, rust-coloured houses, Italy’s shady, cobbled streets are home to some of the world’s most impressive cultural sites and monuments. Each city boasts a number of architectural masterpieces, which will leave visitors spellbound. From Rome’s imposing Colosseum and Florence’s striking cathedral, to Venice’s narrow canals and Pisa’s leaning tower, Italian architecture is second to none. Grab an ice cream from the nearest gelateria and stop to admire the intricate details of these Italian monuments.
With its rich, creamy cappuccinos and short, punchy espressos, Italy’s coffee scene is unparalleled. You won’t find any fancy flavoured lattes or artfully-decorated flat whites in a traditional Italian bar – the taste of their coffee speaks for itself! Whilst it is impossible to find bad coffee anywhere in Italy, the northern city of Trieste is often praised as being the country’s coffee capital, with long-standing traditions that can still be found within the city’s old-fashioned coffee houses today. In fact, Italy’s first Starbucks wasn’t opened until 2018, when they introduced their Starbucks Roastery to Milan; now, there are only a small handful of these cafes spattered across Italy.
Art seeps into every aspect of Italian life, defining a large part of the country’s culture and intertwining with its history. Some of the world’s greatest and most celebrated artists were born and raised in Italy, including Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Caravaggio, and many others. Budding artists should make sure to pay a visit to Florence, which is home to a number of the largest and most highly-regarded galleries and museums worldwide; it is here, between the elegant, frescoed walls of these impressive buildings, that you can admire pieces such as Michelangelo’s David, and Da Vinci’s Battle of Anghiari.
Italy’s rich and somewhat turbulent history threads itself through all aspects of modern Italian culture. Although Italy as we know it today did not exist as a unified country until the 1860s, each state told its own unique story. Perhaps most famous for its historical roots is the capital city of Rome, which is said to have been founded around 753 BC; the city’s imposing, impossibly striking buildings are laden with history and culture.
THE KIND, WELCOMING PEOPLE
Italians are often portrayed as being loud, outgoing, and perpetually friendly; whilst this stereotype is, of course, not true of everyone, Italians are, by nature, some of the warmest and most welcoming people in the world. Wandering the streets of any town or city, you will watch as passers-by greet each other heartily, baristas ushering you to a table before chatting to you about your day. Visitors are often made to feel like locals, making it all the more difficult to leave when the time finally comes. Italian friendliness makes it incredibly easy to feel at home in this beautiful country.
Even to those who do not understand a word, the Italian language is melodious and song-like, soothing in its musicality. Sitting in a restaurant, or wandering the characteristically quaint streets, the sound of this language floating around you seems to perfectly mirror the elegance of the architecture, and the warm-hearted nature of Italy’s people. Although each region speaks a distinctly different dialect, the ebb and flow of the words are similar in their lyricism. The Italian language is also said to be one of the easiest in the world to learn, so budding linguists should make sure to bring a phrasebook.
THE SLOW PACE OF LIFE
The world-famous concept of La dolce vita seems to resonate throughout Italy: a sense of calm and contentment that can’t often be found among its other European neighbours. The pace of life in Italy tends to be slow, relaxed, and unhurried, growing only slower as you travel further south through the country. Picture yourself sitting at a bar in a picturesque town square, with a cappuccino and a good book on the table in front of you. In Italy, the stresses of daily life are suspended at your first sip of coffee.
Thank you Abi for this wonderfully nostalgic post capturing the beauty of Italy. We have been instantly taken back to European summers filled with all things la dolce vita! Isabelle x