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E x pl or i ng It a ly D e s i g n e d By : As h l e y S ch ol l

Get Ready to Pack your Bags

Italy

Designed by: Ashley Scholl


Rome Capital

Rome

But there’s more to Rome than history, fine art and great food. Rome is Italy’s capital and largest city, and while history reverberates all around, modern life is lived to the full. Rome is Italy’s political and religious heartbeat and the twin presence of government and Church dominates the city. Many city-centre palazzi house government offices while over in the Vatican the dome of St Peter’s Basilica serves to remind everyone of the pope’s presence.

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Pantheon, Church in Rome, Italy

Historical Legacies

Rome has been at the centre of world events, first, as caput mundi (capital of the world), the fearsome hub of the Roman Empire, then for centuries as the seat of papal power. It was a city that counted and this is writ large on its historic streets - martial ruins recall ancient glories, stately palazzi evoke Renaissance intrigue, towering basilicas testify to artistic genius and papal ambition. Elsewhere, underground temples, buried houses and roadside shrinestell of past lives and local beliefs.


History, human genius and the hot midday sun have conspired to make Rome one of the world’s most seductive and thrilling cities.

Artistic Grandeur

With an artistic heritage dating back to Etruscan times, Rome is one of the world’s great art cities. Throughout history, it has played a starring role in the major upheavals of Western art and the results are there for all to see – amazing classical statues, stunning Renaissance frescoes, breathtaking baroque churches. Walk around the centre and even without trying you’ll come across masterpieces by the greats of the artistic pantheon – sculptures by Michelangelo, paintings by Caravaggio, frescoes by Raphael, fountains by Bernini. In Rome, art is not locked away from view, it’s quite literally all around you.

Roman Feasting

A trip to Rome is as much about lapping up the lifestyle as it is gorging on art and historic sights. And there’s no better way of getting into the local spirit of things than by eating and drinking well. Food and wine are central to Roman social life and the hundreds of pizzerias, trattorias, restaurants and gelaterie that crowd the city centre do as much business catering to locals as to tourists and out-of-towners. Do as the Romans do, says the proverb, and there’s nothing more Roman than enjoying a tasty wood-fired pizza in a packed pizzeria or dining al fresco on a glorious city-centre piazza.

Why I love Rome

Even after more than a decade of living in Rome, the city continues to amaze me. I still get a buzz every time I see the Colosseum and I still find it thrilling to visit places I read about as a school kid. But as much as the history, what I love is the way the city embraces the present, the way designer bars occupy 15th-century palazzi and neighbourhood markets take over beautiful historic piazzas. I also enjoy a good meal in a Roman trattoria, especially if accompanied by a bit of political banter and a bottle of local wine.

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The Colosseum is probably the most impressive building of the Roman Empire. Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, of the era.

The Flavian Amphitheater

Emperor Vespasian, founder of the Flavian Dynasty, started construction of the Colosseum in 72 AD. It was completed in 80 AD, the year after Vespasian’s death. The huge amphitheater was built on the site of an artificial lake, part of Nero’s huge park in the center of Rome which also included the Golden House (Domus Aurea) and the nearby Colossus statue. This giant statue of Nero gave the building its current name. The elliptical building is immense, measuring 188m by 156m and reaching a height of more than 48 meters (159 ft). The magnificent structure was clad in marble and 160 larger-than-life statues graced the arches on the upper floors. The Colosseum could accommodate some 55,000 spectators who entered the building through no less than 80 entrances. Above the ground are four stories, the upper story contained seating for lower classes and women. The lowest story was preserved for prominent citizens. Below the ground were rooms with mechanical devices and cages containing wild animals. The cages could be hoisted, enabling the animals to appear in the middle of the arena.

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Colosseum, Center of Rome

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A Powerhouse

From the look of it, you’d think Venice spent all its time primping. Bask in the glory of Grand Canal palaces, but make no mistake: this city’s a powerhouse. You may have heard that Venice is an engineering marvel, with marble churches built atop ancient posts driven deep into the barene (mud banks) – but the truth is that this city is built on sheer nerve. Reasonable people might blanch at water approaching their doorsteps and flee at the first sign of acqua alta (high tide). But reason can’t compare to Venetian resolve. Instead of bailing out, Venetians have flooded the world with voluptuous Venetian-red paintings and wines, music, Marco Polo spice-route flavours, and bohemian-chic fashion. And they’re not done yet.

Admirers from all over the World

But don’t go expecting to have the city to yourself. Even in the footstomping chill of January, Venice has its admirers. The upside is that you’ll keep fascinating company here. More accessible than ever and surprisingly affordable given its singularity, Venice remains a self-selecting city: it takes a certain imagination to forgo the convenience of cars and highways for slow boats and crooked calli. Sculptors, harpsichordists, sushi chefs and dreamers passing as accountants might end up bumping elbows over heaping plates of risotto di seppie (squid risotto) along scuffed wooden tables in authentic osterie (pub-restaurants). Judging by the crowd, you might think the Art Biennale must be happening – but no, that’s just an average Wednesday night in Venice.

Venice

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Artistic Masterpieces

Venetian Influence

With the world’s most artistic masterpieces per square kilometre, you’d think the city would take it easy, maybe rest on its laurels. But Venice refuses to retire from the inspiration business. In narrow calli (alleyways), you’ll glimpse artisans hammering out shoes crested like lagoon birds, cooks whipping up four-star dishes on single-burner hotplates, and musicians lugging 18th-century cellos to riveting baroque concerts played with punk-rock bravado. As you can see, all those 19th-century Romantics got it wrong. Venice is not destined for genteel decay. Billionaire benefactors and cutting-edge biennales are filling up those ancient palazzi (palaces) with restored masterpieces and eyebrow-raising contemporary art and architecture, and back-alley galleries and artisan showrooms are springing up in their shadows. Your timing couldn’t be better: the people who made walking on water look easy are already well into their next act. But don’t go expecting to have the city to yourself. Even in the footstomping chill of January, Venice has its admirers. The upside is that you’ll keep fascinating company here. More accessible than ever and surprisingly affordable given its singularity, Venice remains a self-selecting city: it takes a certain imagination to forgo the convenience of cars and highways for slow boats and crooked calli. Sculptors, harpsichordists, sushi chefs and dreamers passing as accountants might end up bumping elbows over heaping plates of risotto di seppie (squid risotto) along scuffed wooden tables in authentic osterie (pub-restaurants). Judging by the crowd, you might think the Art Biennale must be happening – but no, that’s just an average Wednesday night in Venice.

From the look of it, you’d think Venice spent all its time primping. Bask in the glory of Grand Canal palaces, but make no mistake: this city’s a powerhouse. You may have heard that Venice is an engineering marvel, with marble churches built atop ancient posts driven deep into the barene (mud banks) – but the truth is that this city is built on sheer nerve. Reasonable people might blanch at water approaching their doorsteps and flee at the first sign of acqua alta (high tide). But reason can’t compare to Venetian resolve. Instead of bailing out, Venetians have flooded the world with voluptuous Venetian-red paintings and wines, music, Marco Polo spiceroute flavours, and bohemian-chic fashion. And they’re not done yet.

Churches of Venice

With over 200 churches in need of constant decoration and maintenance, and a high requirement for lavish funerary sculpture and comfortable religious quarters for the spoiled daughters of the nobility, Venice’s churches are oftentimes indistinguishable from its grandest palaces. They were engineered by some of the city’s most innovative architects and designers who had to devise ingenious methods in order to raise marble masterpieces from a marshy lagoon floor with millions of wooden pylons and cleverly reinforced crossbeams. Artists were granted extraordinary opportunities to create new artwork within, endowing Venetian churches with avant-garde Bellini altarpieces, soul-stirring Titian paintings and heart-lifting Veronese frescoes.

Under the Venetian Sunset, Venice

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And off in the far distance, the gold on the wings of the angel atop the bell tower of San Marco flashed in the sun, bathing the entire city in its glistening benediction.

The Grand Canal, Venice

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Venice by Boat Traffic never seemed so romantic as at sunset in Venice, when smooching echoes under the Bridge of Sighs from passing gondolas. Impossible though it seems, Venetians built their home on 117 small islands connected by some 400 bridges over 150 canals. But if floating marble palaces boggle the mind, consider what’s underneath them: an entire forest’s worth of wood pylons, rammed through the silt into the clay lagoon floor. Road rage is not an issue in a town with no actual roads, though boaters do sometimes call ‘Ooooooeeee!’ around blind corners to avoid collisions with rookie rowers. Without honking or gunning engines, you might not initially recognise the sounds of morning rush hour: footsteps rushing to catch the vaporetto (water bus) and oars gently slapping canal waters.

Gourmet Meals

There is something heartstopping about leaving the mainland behind you and crossing the Venetian lagoon towards this unlikely jewel in its marshy wilderness.

Surrounded by garden islands, a strong sea breeze wafts over the Venetian kitchen, with the occasional meaty dish from the mainland and local sides of rice and polenta. Early risers will notice Venetians risking faceplants in canals to grab radicchio trevisano (bitter red chicory) and prized Bassano del Grappa asparagus from market barges. And don’t be surprised if some Venetian dishes taste vaguely Turkish or Greek rather than Italian: with trade routes bringing imported tastes to the city for over a millennium, Venetian cuisine is a highly refined fusion of flavours, featuring signature dishes such as sarde in saor, in which salty sardines are combined with a tangy, sweet marinade of onion, pine nuts and sultanas. To find the best Venetian food, dodge restaurants immediately around San Marco, near the train station and along main thoroughfares and opt, instead, for modest osterie (taverns) in local campi (squares) and backstreets.

Historic Venice Not content with conquering the known world with its naval fleets, Venice dispatched intrepid explorers like Marco Polo to expand its trade horizons. When its maritime empire passed its high-water mark, Venice refused to concede defeat on the world stage. Instead the city itself became a stage, attracting global audiences with its vivid painting, baroque music, modern opera, independent thinkers, and parties without parallel. In its audacious 1000-year history, Venice has not only risen above sea level, but repeatedly risen to the occasion.Other cities have suburban sprawl; Venice has primordial monasteries floating in teal-blue waters. To the south, the seaward side of the lagoon is sheltered from the Adriatic by the narrow strip of the Lido, for centuries the beach and bastion of the city.

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Tuscany Why do I love Tuscany? Let me count the ways. I love the bejewelled artistic treasure chest that is Florence, the Gothic gem of Siena and the multiplicity of miraculously preserved medieval hill towns. I love the food, which is made with love and local produce, and I adore the sangioveseslanted local wines. I love the locals, who protect their traditions with an almost fanatical zeal and are careful custodians of their rich cultural heritage. But most of all, I love the fact that in this refined pocket of Italy, an extraordinary experience awaits around every corner. Then there’s the art. And oh, what art! The Etruscans indulged their fondness for a classy send-off with exquisite funerary objects that are still being excavated to this day, and the Romans, always partial to puffing up their own importance, left their usual legacy of monumental sculptures. But it was during the medieval and Renaissance periods that Tuscany really hit its artistic stride, with painters, sculptors and architects creating the masterpieces that now entice visitors into churches, museums and galleries across the region. When people imagine classic Tuscan countryside, they usually conjure up images of central Tuscany. However, there’s more to this popular region than gently rolling hills, sun-kissed vineyards and artistically planted avenues of cypress trees. The real gems here are the historic towns and cities, most of which are medieval and Renaissance time capsules magically transported to the modern day. This privileged pocket of the country has maintained a high tourist profile ever since the Middle Ages, when Christian pilgrims followed the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome. Towns on the route catered to the needs of these pilgrims and local economies prospered as a result. Today, not a lot has changed: tourism is the major industry and travellers are still thick on the ground. Come here for art, for architecture and for gastronomy. But most of all, come here for enchantment. Beautiful Tuscany Overlook

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Taking it Slow

Living History

Landscapes

The local obsession with food and wine trumps every other regional characteristic, and then some. Three of Italy’s greatest wines – Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Vernaccia di San Gimignano – are produced here, and gastronomic gems such as bistecca alla fiorentina (chargrilled T-bone steak), cacciucco and pici con ragù di cinghiale (hand-rolled pasta with wild-boar sauce) are just some of the region’s signature dishes. Tour here and you’ll develop a true understanding of what Slow Food is.

Tuscany has been enticing visitors ever since the Etruscans arrived here to party and decided to stay. The Romans came to stock their grain silos, Christians came to walk the stages of a medieval pilgrimage route, Napolean came to plunder art and British aristocrats came to complete their Grand Tour. Once here, these and many other visitors swiftly fell into the local swing of things, partaking of the food and wine with gusto, admiring the diverse landscapes and soaking up the region’s rich historical heritage.

The scenery really is that gorgeous. Central Tuscany is dotted with medieval hilltop fortresses, vineplanted hillsides and sculptural stands of cypress trees; the northwest and east harbour boast dramatic mountain ranges and fecund forests; and the central and southern coasts feature a garland of islands floating tantalisingly close to a shoreline teeming with wildlife. The range of outdoor activities on offer is equally diverse, contributing to the region’s reputation as a repository of grand-slam sights.

Travel writers tend to deploy the word ‘idyllic’ far too often, devaluing it in the process. But here in Tuscany, it really does apply.”

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From the Etruscans to the Romans to the Renaissance, Moving Around Tuscany Tuscany is possibly the greatest repository of art in the world, from extraordinary paintings and sculpture to frescoes and architectural masterpieces.

The Rolling Hills of Tuscany

Tuscany is a medium-sized region which can be crossed in a few hours. Generally the hardest part in getting from one place to the next depends on where you are headed: smaller villages are often only reachable by car or bus whose schedules might not be the most convenient. Aside from a few major roads and roadways that cross Tuscany (such as the A1, A11 and A12), most of the roads are state or provincial with a single lane in each direction. Also, as many parts of Tuscany have hills, many roads wind up, down and around these hills: if you’re driving, prepare to take your time and drive carefully. Having said this, if you are planning on visiting only the main towns in Tuscany, the most convenient way to move around is with the train: the main station in each town is generally in the center so there is no need to worry about parking before finding the major sights. Train travel is also pretty affordable, in comparison to the costs of rental cars and gasoline these days. If you already know you won’t be driving but would like to visit the smaller villages not reachable by train, make sure to check out bus schedules ahead of time. For example, San Gimignano is a medieval village which we highly recommend visiting, but be aware that if you’re not driving, you can get there only by taking the train to Poggibonsi and then a bus the rest of the way (about 13 km, or 20 minutes, away).

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Farm Holidays

Legendary Museums

Spending your vacation in the countryside in a Tuscan farmhouse or country home may include dining with the host family and other guests, assisting in the grape or olive harvest or merely enjoying the quiet intimacy of a stay in the countryside independently from the farm.

Tuscany houses many museums with masterpieces by the greatest artists of all time, from Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to Botticelli, Giotto and Donatello. Depending on your interests in history, art or sculpture - Tuscany has it all, spanning across time, styles and periods.

Many farmhouse hosts also help organize activities for their guests, from horseback riding to mountain biking and from providing information on local hiking trails to offering Tuscany cooking classes and wine tastings. Many farmhouses in Tuscany have recently added swimming pools to their properties to offer their guests the opportunity to cool down during the warm Tuscan summers. In your searches across the Web you’ve probably come across the term “agriturismo” and have probably wondered what the term actually means. Agriturismo, or “agricultural tourism / agritourism”, gives ones the chance to experience true rural Tuscan life. It means that actual working farms have opened their homes to offer rustic to elegant accommodation. Generally based on or around a farmhouse villa, winery or castle, these are often family-run operations which offer accommodation that ranges from bed and breakfasts to large apartments and separate buildings that include living areas, kitchens and private bathrooms.

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Sardinia Captivating Coastline Sardinia was love at first sight for me. No matter how often I return, I find new coastal trails to explore and mountains to climb, hidden bays to kayak to and little-known agriturismi tucked away in the silent hinterland. The island is deceptive – it looks small on paper, but unravel it and it is huge. It’s like a continent in miniature, shaped by its own language and fierce traditions, its own cuisine and culture, its own history and the mystery that hangs over it like a shroud. Sardinians are proud of their island, and so they should be. Believe the hype: Sardinia has some of the dreamiest beaches you’ll find without stepping off European shores. Yes, the sand really is that white, and the sea the bluest blue. Imagine dropping anchor in Costa Smeralda’s scalloped bays, where celebrities and supermodels frolic in emerald waters; playing castaway on the Golfo di Orosei’s coves, where sheer cliffs ensure seclusion; or sailing to La Maddalena’s cluster of granite islands. Be it walking barefoot across the dunes on the wave-lashed Costa Verde or lounging on the Costa del Sud’s silky smooth bays – unroll your beach towel and you’ll never want to leave, we swear. Whether you go slow or fast, choose coast or country, Sardinia is one of Europe’s last great island adventures. Hike through the lush, silent interior to the twilight of Tiscali’s nuraghic ruins. Walk the vertiginous coastal path to the crescentshaped bay of Cala Luna, where climbers spider up the limestone cliffs. Or ramble through holm oak forests to the mighty boulder-strewn canyon of Gola Su Gorropu. The sea’s allure is irresistible to windsurfers on the north coast, while divers wax lyrical about shipwrecks off Cagliari’s coast, the underwater Nereo Cave and Nora’s submerged Roman ruins. This is an island where coastal drives thrill, prehistory puzzles, and sheep rule the roads. Sardinia captivates with its wild interior, dazzling beaches and endearing eccentricities.

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Isand of Idiosyncrasies As DH Lawrence so succinctly put it: ‘Sardinia is different.’ Indeed, where else but here can you go from near-alpine forests to snow white beaches, or find wildlife oddities like the blue-eyed albino donkeys on the Isola dell’Asinara and the wild horses that shyly roam Giara di Gesturi. The island is also a culinary one-off, with distinct takes on pasta, bread and dolci, its own wines (Vermentino whites, Cannonau reds) and cheeses – including maggoty casu marzu pecorino, stashed away in barns in the mountainous interior. In every way we can think of Sardinia is different, and all the more loveable for it. Sardinia has been polished like a pebble by the waves of its history and heritage. The island is scattered with 7000 nuraghi, Bronze Age towers and settlements, tombe dei giganti (‘giant’s grave’ tombs) and domus de janas (‘fairy house’ tombs). Down every country lane and and in every 10-man, 100-sheep hamlet, these remnants of prehistory are waiting to be pieced together like the most puzzling of jigsaw puzzles. Sardinia is also an island of fabulously eccentric festivals, from Barbagia’s carnival parade of ghoulish mamuthones, said to banish winter demons, to the death-defying S’Ardia horse race in Sedilo.

This is an island where coastal drives thrill, prehistory puzzles, and sheep all four million of them rule the roads. Sardinia captivates with its wild interior, dazzling beaches and endearing eccentricities.

Captivating Sardinia Coastline

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View of the Sardinia Rooftops

Forgotton Island Highlights ‘Sardegna no est Italia!’, screams the graffiti, and you shouldn’t underestimate how distinct Sardinia is from the mainland. With African-tinged flavours, a language all its own and a very peculiar take on cheese, Sardinia may be part of Italy, but ignore its independent spirit at your peril. Well-heeled visitors will make a beeline for the glassy waters of the Costa Smeralda, but this unique island has more to offer than its achingly beautiful seas. These three enchanting coastal towns form a worthy roadtrip from the island’s northwest to its southern coast. Alghero: relics, shopping and the bluest of grottoes This fine oceanside town offers clearer waters than its name (from the Italian for seaweed, ‘alga’) suggests. Alghero has sun-baked streets, medieval archways and is a stone’s throw from fine sandy beaches, making it a magnet for Italian tourists. Shop in the boutiques along Via Roma, be dazzled by displays of red coral jewellery, and tread cobblestoned streets to admire the Gothic details of Cattedrale di Santa Maria. Reward your efforts with a mouth-scaldingly fresh pizza or saffron-tinged seafood risotto in one of the Old Town’s bustling eateries. For culture, the Museo Diocesano d’Arte Sacra near the cathedral is austere but splendid, and harbours some ghoulish relics. The dainty skulls of the innocents slaughtered by Herod are neatly displayed in ornate cases, and stunning silverwork entombs a fragment of the ‘True Cross’. But it’s the natural sights nearby that really put Alghero on the map. The Grotta di Nettuno at Capo Caccia is a blindingly blue excursion that’s easy to do from Alghero (about 45 minutes by car). Road signs from Alghero will point you towards a tiny car park, from which you descend (carefully) down a craggy staircase to the caves. Those with no head for heights (or no wheels) can take a boat ride from Alghero right into the mouth of the grotto during the summer months. Guided tours of the Grotta di Nettuno lead you through a goblin kingdom of eerie rock formations: boulders ballooning out of the water, dripping stalactites and winding caves. A couple of hours’ drive south of Alghero and you’ll discover the historic gem of Oristano. It may look serene, but time has bestowed a bloody heritage of vicious Saracen attacks on this coastal town. And that quiet confidence is born of centuries vying for power against other Sardinian kingdoms.

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Sardinia, as close to Tunisia as to mainland Italy and nearly grazing the French island of Corsica, is fiercely distinct and wildly colourful.


Culinary Culture Sardinia’s extraordinary culinary culture is strictly divided into food from the sea and food from the land. On the coast you eat fish; inland you eat meat. There is very little crossover. Fish stews beside the sea, roasted meats in the mountains – the qualities of the dishes are rooted in region, terrain and tradition, and the Sardinians are proud of those distinctions. To explore Sardinia’s physical landscape is to explore its culinary landscape at one and the same time. The port of Villasimius is cloaked in darkness. Some 20 miles east of the capital Cagliari, at the southern end of the island, Villasimius was once another of those small fishing villages that speckle the coast of Sardinia, but its position and sheltered anchorage lured the yachts of the rich and the cars of the holidaymakers, and now it’s a flourishing centre of tourism. Silverio Sandolo backs the Sparviero out into clear water and sends the boat nosing past the sleeping mega-cruisers, trim yachts and other fishing boats not making the dawn run. Silverio is one of 10 or so fishermen still working out of Villasimius, selling their catch either in the fish market at Cagliari, or to restaurants in the town and others along the coast. Between them they keep alive a tradition that goes back centuries, a tradition celebrated on the plate in the form of stuffed mussels, marinated anchovies, octopus salad, deep-fried sea anemones, prawns with cannellini beans, and linguine with spiny lobster. Costa Verde, South West Sardinia

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Visitors see Naples as little more than an unruly porthole to fabled destinations like Capri and the Amalfi Coast. Big mistake. Italy’s third largest city is one of its oldest, and most artistic.

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Naples

Unlikely Masterpiece Many visitors see Naples as little more than an unruly porthole to fabled destinations like Capri and the Amalfi Coast. Big mistake. Italy’s third largest city is one of its oldest, most artistic and most delicious. Its centro storico (historic centre) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its museums boast some of Europe’s finest archaeology and art, and its swag of royal palaces and castles make Rome look positively provincial. Then there’s the food: Naples is one of Italy’s culinary heavyweights, serving up the country’s best pizza, pasta and coffee, and many of its most-delicious seafood dishes, street snacks and sweet treats. Certainly, Naples can feel anarchic, tattered and unloved. But look beyond the grime and graffiti and you’ll uncover a city of breathtaking frescoes, sculptures and panoramas, of bewitching street life, of spontaneous conversations and profound humanity. Welcome to Italy’s most unlikely masterpiece. City Overlook of Beautiful Naples

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Exploring Naples Bellies rumble greedily at this evocative street market, one of the city’s best. The market’s namesake is medieval city gate Porta Nolana , which stands at the head of Via Sopramuro. Its two cylindrical towers, optimistically named Faith and Hope, support an arch decorated with a bas-relief of Ferdinand I of Aragon on horseback. Below and beyond it, the mercato is an intoxicating place, where bellowing fishmongers and frutti vendoli (greengrocers) collide with fragrant delis, bakeries, and a growing number of ethnic food shops. Expect to find anything from buxom tomatoes and mozzarella to crunchy casareccio bread, cheap luggage and bootleg ‘80s compilation CDs.

Cappella Sansevero It’s in this Masonic-inspired chapel that you’ll find Giuseppe Sanmartino’s incredible sculpture, Cristo velato (Veiled Christ), its marble veil so realistic that it’s tempting to try to lift it and view Christ underneath. It’s one of several artistic wonders, which also include Francesco Queirolo’s sculpture Disinganno (Disillusion), Antonio Corradini’s Pudicizia (Modesty) and riotously colourful frescoes by Francesco Maria Russo, the latter untouched since their creation in 1749. Originally built around the end of the 16th century to house the tombs of the di Sangro family, the chapel was given its current baroque fit-out by Prince Raimondo di Sangro who, between 1749 and 1766, commissioned the finest artists to lavish the interior. In Queirolo’s Disinganno , the man trying to untangle himself from a net represents Raimondo’s father, Antonio, Duke of Torremaggiore. After the premature death of his wife, Antonio abandoned the young Raimondo, choosing instead a life of travel and hedonistic pleasures. Repentant in his later years, he returned to Naples and joined the priesthood, his attempt to free himself from sin represented in Queirolo’s masterpiece. Even more poignant is Antonio Corradini’s Pudicizia , whose veiled female figure pays tribute to Raimondo’s mother, Cecilia Gaetani d’Aquila d’Aragona. Raimondo was only 11 months old when she died, and the statue’s lost gaze and broken plaque represent a life cruelly cut short. The life of the chapel’s original polychrome marble flooring was also cut short after a major collapse involving the chapel and the neighbouring Palazzo dei di Sangro in 1889. Designed by Francesco Celebrano, fragments of it survive in the passageway leading off from the chapel’s right side. The passageway leads to a staircase, at the bottom of which you’ll find two meticulously preserved human arterial systems – one of a man, the other of a woman. Debate still circles the models: Are the arterial systems real or reproductions? And if they are real, just how was such an incredible state of preservation achieved? More than two centuries on, the mystery surrounding the alchemist prince lives on.

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Here you will uncover a city of breathtaking frescoes, sculptures and panoramas, of bewitching street life, of spontaneous conversations and profound humanity


Castel dell’Ovo Naple’s Seaside Castle

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Milan “

It has always been a place full of various famous artists and offers a particular assortment of churches, buildings, and monuments.

An Industrial Powerhouse

Milan has always been a rich and important city. It has always been a place full of various famous artists and offers a particular assortment of churches, buildings and monuments. There was a change of culture and art in the Renaissance with big a contribution in the period of the neoclassicism. Milan offers a big variety of buildings, monuments and museums. The most important church is the Cathedral which is the third largest church in the world. It is overall made of marble, with immense statues, arches, pillars, pinnacles. From the roof you can experience a beautiful panorama of the city. Santa Maria delle Grazie was built between 1466 and 1490 and modified by Bramante. In the Refectory there is one of the most famous paintings of Leonardo da Vinci: the “Last Supper”. Milan has many historic palazzos like the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) which is situated in the south side of Piazza Duomo. The Sforza Castle is one of the symbols of Milan together with the Madonnina and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. All those sights together are just few reasons for a visit. See art and culture section. Milan is the centre of many financial businesses, and its so called ‘hinterland’ is an avant-garde industrial area. Fiera Milano, the city’s Exhibition Center and Trade Fair complex is one of the most important in the world. The new fairground, in the north-western suburb of Pero and Rho (opened in April 2005) is Europe’s largest open construction project and makes Fiera Milano the largest trade fair complex in the world. It is the biggest industrial city of Italy with many different industrial sectors as manufacturing of textiles and garments, car manufactory, chemistry, mechanical tools and heavy machinery. Another important industry is tourism and of course fashion.

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Shopping in Milan

Unique Cusine

Milan for Shoppers Milan’s shopping scene is diverse and vibrant, spanning the spectrum from artisanal ateliers to arty concept shops and trendy lifestyle stores. Local guilds of jewellers, bakers, carpenters and milliners have catered to the European aristocracy for centuries, so the quality and choice on offer are superb. Factor in the giddy heights of Milanese fashion and design and you have the perfect recipe for a shopaholic city break. Top locations for browsing include the Quadrilatero d’Oro, for stellar fashions, and the retail arteries of Via Brera, Corso Magenta, Corso Vercelli and Corso Buenos Aires.

Milan’s dining scene is much like its fashion scene, with new restaurant openings hotly debated and seats at Michelin-starred tables hard to come by. Whether it’s dyed-in-the wool traditional or contemporary fusion cuisine, you’ll eat some of Italy’s most memorable and sophisticated creations in this foodie hub. Milanese cuisine is based on local ingredients harvested at the perfect moment. Highlights include cotoletta, buttery veal wrapped in burnished breadcrumbs, and mellow yellow risotto Milanese (Po Valley carnaroli rice enriched with bone marrow and tinted with saffron).

Arco della Pace, Milan

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Duomo

Standing proudly on the piazza del Duomo, the third largest church in Christendom (outdone only by St Peter’s in Rome and Seville’s cathedral), the Duomo is truly a joy to behold. Although the key elements were in place by 1391, the Duomo took the best part of 500 years to complete - and indeed, building work continues today: a five-year project to clean the façade started in 2002, and the Duomo’s full mind-blowing beauty is now there for all to behold. The Duomo was begun in brick, but upgraded to marble as its architects understood the grandeur of the project. Over time, it was adorned with Gothic spires and an astonishing wealth of statues, and has been adored by a huge number of art and architecture aficionados. As generations of Lombard builders and architects argued with French and German master stone-cutters about the best way to tackle their mammoth task, an enormous array of styles was employed. Construction began in 1386 by order of Bishop Antonio da Saluzzo, on a site that had been associated with places of worship since the third century: a Roman temple to the goddess Minerva once stood here. On the orders of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, then ruler of Milan, Lombardian terracotta stone was eschewed in favour of Condoglian marble shipped from Lake Maggiore on the Ticino river, and then along the Navigli, a network of canals in southern Milan built specially for the purpose. Although consecrated in 1418, the cathedral remained incomplete for centuries. Politics, physical setbacks (a pink granite column sank, in transit, in Lake Maggiore), a lack of money and downright indifference kept the project on permanent standby. Finally, early in the 19th century, the façade was put on the church by order of none other than Napoleon; he kick-started the final stages of construction before crowning himself king of Italy here in 1805.

Duomo took the best part of 500 years to complete and as building work continues it reveals the full mind-blowing beauty for all.

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Pomp

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peii

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Compelling Archaelogical Site A stark reminder of the malign forces that lie deep inside Vesuvius, Pompeii (Pompei in Italian) is Europe’s most compelling archaeological site and one of Italy’s most visited tourist attractions. Each year about 2.5 million people pour in to wander the ghostly shell of what was once a thriving commercial centre. Its appeal goes beyond tourism, though. From an archaeological point of view, it’s priceless. Much of the value lies in the fact that it wasn’t simply blown away by Vesuvius: rather it was buried under a layer of lapilli (burning pumice stone), as Pliny the Younger describes in his celebrated account of the eruption. About 1km down the road in modern Pompeii, the Santuario della Madonna del Rosario is a famous pilgrim destination.

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Europe’s most compelling archaeological site and one of Italy’s most visited tourist attractions. Each year about 2.5 million people pour in to wander its ghostly shell

Ruins of Pompeii The ruins of Pompeii are priceless. Much of the site’s value lies in the fact that it wasn’t simply blown away by Vesuvius in AD 79, rather it was buried under a layer of lapilli (burning fragments of pumice stone). The result is a remarkably wellpreserved slice of ancient life, where visitors can walk down Roman streets and snoop around millennia-old abodes and businesses (including a brothel). As terrible as the eruption was, it could have been worse. Seventeen years earlier Pompeii (Pompei in Italian) had been devastated by an earthquake and much of the 20,000-strong population had been evacuated. Many had not returned by the time Vesuvius blew, but 2000 men, women and children perished nevertheless. The origins of Pompeii are uncertain, but it seems likely that it was founded in the 7th century BC by the Campanian Oscans. Over the next seven centuries the city fell to the Greeks and the Samnites before becoming a Roman colony in 80 BC. After its catastrophic demise, Pompeii receded from the public eye until 1594, when the architect Domenico Fontana stumbled across the ruins while digging a canal. Exploration proper didn’t begin until 1748, however. Of Pompeii’s original 66 hectares, 44 have now been excavated. Of course that doesn’t mean you’ll have unhindered access to every inch of the Unesco-listed site – expect to come across areas cordoned off for no apparent reason, a noticeable lack of clear signs and the odd stray dog. Audio-guides are a sensible investment and a good guidebook will also help – try the €10 Pompeii published by Electa Napoli. At the time of writing, the Casa dei Vettii was closed for restoration. The Terme Suburbane, just outside the city walls, are visitable on weekends subject to prior booking at www. arethusa.net. It’s here that you’ll find the erotic frescoes that scandalised the Vatican when they were revealed in 2001. The saucy panels decorate the changing rooms of what was once a private baths complex.

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Pack your Bags Ask an Italian where in the world they would most like to live, and the odds are that they will say “right here”. Indeed, most people – not just Italians – have raved about Italy since tourism began, and to be honest the country really does have it all: one of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes in Europe; the world’s greatest hoard of art treasures (many on display in fittingly spectacular cities and buildings); a climate that is on the whole benign; and, most important of all for many, a delicious and authentic national cuisine. The country is not perfect – its historic cities have often been marred by development, and beyond the showpiece sights the infrastructure is visibly straining – but for its places to visit, many of the old clichés still ring true; once you’ve visited, you may never want to travel anywhere else. Italy might be the world’s most celebrated tourist destination, but it only became a unified state in 1861, and as a result Italians often feel more loyalty to their region than to the nation as a whole – something manifest in its different cuisines, dialects, landscapes and often varying standards of living. However, if there is a single national Italian characteristic, it’s to embrace life to the full – in the hundreds of local festivals taking place across the country on any given day to celebrate a saint or the local harvest; in the importance placed on good food; in the obsession with clothes and image; and in the daily ritual of the collective evening stroll or passeggiata – a sociable affair celebrated by young and old alike in every town and village across the country. There is also the country’s enormous cultural legacy: Tuscany alone has more classified historical monuments than any country in the world; there are considerable remnants of the Roman Empire all over the country, notably in Rome itself; and every region retains its own relics of an artistic tradition generally acknowledged to be among the world’s richest. Yet if all you want to do is chill out, there’s no reason to be put off. There are any number of places to just lie on a beach, from the resorts filled with regimented rows of sunbeds and umbrellas favoured by the Italians themselves, to secluded and less developed spots. And if you’re looking for an active holiday, there’s no better place: mountains run the country’s length – from the Alps and Dolomites in the north right along the Apennines, which form the spine of the peninsula; skiing and other winter sports are practised avidly; and wildlife of all sorts thrives in the country’s national parks. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags.

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E x pl or i ng It a ly D e s i g n e d By : As h l e y S ch ol l

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