Italy has one of the oldest civilisations in the world. Children are shown maps of Italy, and told that it looks like a boot, with Brindisi as its heel and Sicily as its toe. There is so much to see and learn about Italy, that goes beyond the dots on the map. This article explores some of the Italian cities that are essential stop-off points for a visitor to get a true flavour of the country.
From north to south
On any large maps of Italy, certain cities stand out as being amongst the most famous cities in the world. A traveller can work from north to south, stopping along the way to enjoy the history, the scenery, the delicious food and wines of Italy. Venice The city is famous for its canals and its beautiful architecture.The city covers 117 islands, and has been inhabited for thousands of years. In its heyday, during the Renaissance, it was the centre of commerce known for the world as well as the birthplace of many famous artists and musicians. The most important things to see and do in Venice are a tour of the canals on a gondola, a visit to St Mark's cathedral and to the island where the famous Murano glass is made. Milan Milan is mainly famous for two things: Design and opera. It is considered one of the world's leading cities for design, especially in the fields of furniture and fashion. The famous La Scala opera house has seen the world's most famous composers' works sung by the best opera singers. Florence The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is a truly beautiful city. Visit the Uffizi Art gallery, the Pitti Palace, former home of the infamous Medici family and the cathedral with its immense dome, designed by Brunelleschi. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a treasure on every corner.
All roads lead to Rome
Rome All roads, and indeed rail lines, lead to Rome, the country's capital. Here you will find ancient ruins mixed in with the modern and vibrant. Must sees include: The Colisseum, St Peter's Cathedral, the Vatican with its Sistine Chapel, and don't forget to throw a coin in the Trevi fountain. Naples Traditionally, Naples is considered the home of Pizza and the Mafia, but there is more to see in this beautiful city. From here, you can visit the town of Pompeii, where the people are forever frozen in time, following an eruption of Mt Etna volcano. Last word In each of these cities, you can find free maps at the tourist information offices, so that you don't miss any of the treasures that make Italy such a delight to visit.