Dream Vacations: Italy, a country full of culture and beauty
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Most people have a dream vacation destination. Maybe your desktop background is of a tropical beach in the Bahamas, or you have a Pinterest board full of tips for touring Europe. If you love to travel, our “Dream Vacations” series will help you pick the perfect location for your next trip (if you can convince your parents to take you).
At the southern tip of Europe is Italy, a country of rich history and beautiful weather. From cathedrals to beaches to fine wines, Italy is a versatile tourist destination where all different types travelers can find something that fits their interests.
Must Sees/Must Dos
Capri is a small island located off the coast of Naples, and passengers can take a ferry boat to and from the island. The ride is approximately one hour and overlooks beautiful clear blue waters. The island itself is covered with greenery, mountains, and white sand beaches, and the streets are lined with a variety of shops and authentic Italian restaurants. The best part of visiting is taking a cable car all the way up to the highest point of Capri; the view is breathtaking, both on the way up and at the top.
Gondola boat ride
The cliché image associated with Venice is the gondola boat rides in the waterway streets, and after visiting, I can say that it lived up to the hype. The gondola ride takes you through the entire city from the perspective of a Renaissance Venetian. When I took the gondola ride, I got to see the city’s architecture and take some artsy photos. Taking a gondola ride really completes the trademark Venice experience.
Vatican City is an independent territory just a few minutes drive from central Rome. The Vatican has some of the most world-renowned religious sites, which I found incredible despite not being Catholic. The Sistine Chapel and the St. Peter’s Basilica have paintings and tapestries made by Renaissance visionaries like Michelangelo and Raphael. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, and it left me awestruck. Remember, though, you will not be allowed inside unless your knees and shoulders are covered regardless of the heat outside.
Every major travel destination has their speciality foods, and Italy’s are obviously pizza and pasta. Local pizzerias and pasterias line the streets almost everywhere you go, and the abundance keeps the prices relatively low.
The pizza in Italy is fresher than in the U.S. since the ingredients are usually locally produced. The pizza also typically take longer to prepare since it’s baked after you order, but the wait is definitely worth it. The spaghetti I tried was equally delicious, which I credit to the authentic Italian marinara sauce.
It is scorching in Italy, especially if you visit in the summer like I did. Be sure to pack loose-fitting summer clothes, such as shorts, cotton tops, and dresses. You should also pack sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen. Bring water with you when you go in the sun as well, but make sure that you get filtered water; don’t trust the tap water.
Another thing to beware of on your trip is pickpockets. Many Italian tourist attractions are very crowded, so when locals or shopkeepers approach you, keep an eye on your purse or wallet. In general, keep an eye on your belongings and don’t take large sums of money out in public.
A great way to get around Italy is public transportation. There are an abundance of trains, trolleys, and buses, which makes renting a car unnecessary and getting around very affordable.
I would recommend spending at least week in Italy, as there are so many destinations to visit.
Things to Consider
Still not sure if a trip to Italy is right for you? Consider the following to help you decide:
- What kind of weather do you like? Italy is in southern Europe and is much hotter than many European countries, even during the winter. The summer days get as hot as 110 degrees Fahrenheit with blazing sun.
- Do you mind lots of walking? Italian markets consist of long narrow passageways that cars can’t fit through, which means that you’ll be on your feet for the majority of your vacation.
- Do you like historical sites? Italy was the heart of the Renaissance, so many of the popular tourist attractions (i.e. cathedrals in Venice and Vatican City, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, etc.) focus on showcasing the art and history of Italy. You can still enjoy the beauty of these locations without being a history fanatic, but a guided tour may not be for you.