travel guide to Italy

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Italy is one of the most charming countries you will ever visit. With its old world architecture and amazing culinary delights, the peninsula is a most for any budget traveller. Pizza, pasta and cup after cup of delicious espresso make every day a treat in Italy. Add in the amazing structures like Rome’s Colosseum or Milan’s Il Duomo, and you will never want to leave.

Italy isn’t just about food and ancient buildings. The country is extremely diverse. Start in the north with its snow-capped mountains and travel to the hot and sticky south, and you will find two halves that are completely different.

From Milan to Rome, Florence to Naples, the diversity of Italy’s regions are more than just a difference in recipes. The Bel Paese is the perfect budget travel getaway to the south of Europe.

Rome

The capital of Italy is the true heart and soul of the country, and the official dividing line. It is where north meets south and the two regions clash.

Rome is the perfect place to start any Italian adventure as the capital city is teeming with ancient buildings and monuments. Walk out of Colosseo metro station and you will immediately be struck by the gigantic Colosseum. It is truly magnificent and a tour through the ancient gladiatorial theatre will take your breath away. The Colosseum is the icon of Rome that is what the Statue of Liberty is to New York.

After walking the Colosseum, jump on the metro – Rome’s metro is fast and very convenient – and head over to Vatican City. Whether you’re Catholic or not, it is a fantastic place to walk through. Crowds gather to go into St. Peter’s Basilica, but you can just meander through St. Peter’s Square taking in the sights. The Vatican has its own little post office set up to send post cards to friends and family around the world.

Rome has so much to see and do, it truly needs a whole page of its own. The Pantheon, Roman Forum and the Spanish Steps are staples that must be seen. Some will take longer to visit than others as it becomes quite clear that a few sites are better than others.

The one thing you should do is get a Rome Pass when visiting the city. It will allow you have free travel on the metro for 48-hours and you can skip the never-ending line at the Colosseum.

Milan

The fashion capital of the world often gets a bad rap from travellers. Milan is considered grey and dull, but that isn’t true as the city has its own great architecture and history.

Compared to Rome, Milan doesn’t have the ancient buildings and ruins; but some of that can be attributed to Milan being bombed during World War II. While Rome and Naples are both chaotic cities busting at the seams, Milan is relatively calm, clean and relaxed. This the difference between north and south.

Il Duomo is a must-see when in Milan. The cathedral is one of the world’s largest and its location is near the city’s best shopping, bars and restaurants. After seeing Il Duomo, Leonardo Di Vinci’s Last Supper is the next item to visit. Located at the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, the painting is a favourite of tourists.

Everything about Milan is different to Rome, but in a good way. You won’t be disappointed on a budget travel holiday to the city.

Florence

Florence is considered the arts and culture capital of Italy, and if you are going to the city, you need to plan for a long stay. The city displays the Italian renaissance around every corner, and you will question whether you have seen a more beautiful city in the world. Churches, museums, monuments and more are all waiting for you in Florence.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Piazza Duomo fills the Florence skyline. It is considered one of Italy’s most prized treasures, and the museum connected to the cathedral, houses some of the world’s most important painters’ works.

The Uffizi Palace and Gallery is an art lover’s dream, as is much of Florence. Considered one of the world’s best art museums, you will get lost in the exhibits and halls of paintings. You could spend an entire day viewing the images in the gallery alone.

Naples

Hot in the summer and full of winding streets of chaos; that is Naples. At the foot of Mount Vesuvius is this city that still holds Diego Maradona in its hearts. Naples is the true south of Italy and the ire for much of the north. While the two halves have their differences, you will find plenty to see and do in the city.

Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Naples Harbour is a beautiful area to stroll and take in the sights. The harbour is full of cafes and restaurants to keep you feed.

Santa Lucia is a beautiful commercial area that extends down a slopping hill to the sea. Cafes, shops and bars are located along this busy street. Naples is the birthplace of pizza, so be sure to get yourself a freshly made pizza as it will taste like nothing you have ever had before. Some of the oldest pizzerias in the world can be found in the city, so just follow your nose.

Finish off your Naples holiday with a trip to Mount Vesuvius. You can explore the area around the volcano and take a cable car up to the top. Once you disembark you can stroll around the peak of Mount Vesuvius and tell everyone back home you went to the top of an active volcano.

Nowhere in Italy is like Naples, so be prepared for something completely different than the rest of Italy.

Elba Island

Located six miles off the Tuscan coast is the beautiful paradise of Elba. This enchanting island was where Napoleon was exiled, and strangely, he wanted to leave. You won’t want to leave, however, as the island will win over your heart immediately.

Elba Island has a near perfect climate throughout the year that allows guests to venture to the beach whenever they choose. If you want a lazy Italian getaway, especially after the chaos of Naples, Elba is the place to go. Lounge on the beaches, swim in the Mediterranean and dine on freshly caught fish at the local eateries. Mount Capanne is excellent for hiking and gives you a chance to go inland into Elba.

Getting to Elba is easy from Tuscany as the six mile trip can be made by ferry. It is a perfect place to unwind and to stuff yourself with even more pizza and wine while on an Italian adventure.