A Traveler’s Guide to Historic and Cultural Destinations

Proof of this demand is in the statistics: Italy is the fifth most visited country on the planet. Not only that, but tourism in the country generated $39 billion in revenue in 2010, and saw nearly 45 million international visitors. This should come as no surprise, considering that the country truly is a must-see destination. For most, tours in Italy consist of a visit to four of the country’s best-known cities: Rome, Venice, Florence, and Milan. Each city offers something different and something similar all at the same time.

Rome – This is one of the most well-known cities not only in Italy but also all over the world. This vibrant metropolis is modern and classic all at the same time. Everywhere you look, there are remnants of the past. From the numerous basilicas to the countless museums, each structure has its own story to tell.

Among the more popular attractions is The Colosseum. Completed in 80AD, this landmark is the oldest in existence from Imperial Rome. The structure was host to intense gladiator and animal fights. Today, thousands line up on a daily basis just to get a quick look at the interior.

Rome is also home to the Vatican. This city-state is widely recognized as the center of Christianity, but more than that, it also holds some of the earth’s greatest works of art. This includes St. Peter’s Basilica, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, and an art piece in itself.

Venice – This northeastern city is perhaps best known for its canals and gondola rides. Many people visit the place just to experience the city’s unique and unparalleled architecture. Built on a lagoon, the locale has a little over a hundred bodies of land connected by over 400 bridges. The Grand Canal is one of Venice’s most popular attractions. It is teeming with all kinds of boats and is lined with breathtaking buildings.

Florence – Just like most other Roman cities, Florence has some of the world’s most beautiful architecture. Unfortunately, just like most modern Roman cities, the attractions are lined with hundreds of eager tourists as well. Visitors looking to avoid long lines and crowded areas should consider taking Florence day trips.
Because the city is in the Italian province of Tuscany, it is the perfect point of entry into the nation’s countryside. Florence day trips can consist of wine tasting excursions in one of the many vineyards, or a visit to Boboli Garden, overlooking the metropolis.

Milan – Considered by many to be the fashion capital of the world, the pace here is faster than in other Roman cities. The city proper is lined with numerous big-ticket fashion outlets. For those looking to shop till they drop, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II is a shopping haven. For those who’d like to experience more Italian culture, there are plenty of attractions to visit including The Duomo and La Scala.