Italy is an extraordinary blend of heart-thumping, soul-stirring art, food and landscapes rivalled by few and envied by millions.
Here are 10 things that you must do in Italy.
The landscapes offered by Italy are unparalleled and it is a country that has something to offer for all kinds of visitors – whether you are looking for a adrenaline pumping experience or just hoping for a relaxing vacation.
#1.Take a night ride on the Vaporetto in Venice
I know plenty of these lists include a Venice gondola ride on them, but I think they’re unnecessarily expensive and not the romantic experience they’re made out to be.
Instead, one evening before or after dinner, hop on the slow-moving #1 Vaporetto at one end of its run and ride it to the other end.
This is preferably done with a serving of gelato in hand and someone to cuddle with in the dark. And be sure you can snag a spot with a view, so you can see the moonlit sights of Venice as you glide past.
#2. Spend 15 minutes with “The Last Supper” in Milan
Most tourists skip Milan, and that’s probably fine, but this is the only city where you can see Leonardo’s masterpiece of “The Last Supper”.
It’s a heavily regulated 15-minute time limit, and you’ll need to get your tickets well in advance, but it’s worth it.
#3. Overdose on Renaissance art at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
The Uffizi Gallery is on just about every must-do list for Italy, and there’s a good reason for it. Nowhere else on earth will you see such an amazing collection of Italian Renaissance art, all contained in gorgeous buildings once roamed by Medicis.
The artists on display here are like the rock stars of Florence.
#4. Get a guided tour of the Vatican Museums
You could walk yourself through the Vatican Museums, but for everyone the hardcore art historian it’s probably better to follow a guide who’ll point out the truly important pieces and keep you from spending too much time on the rest of it.
And as a bonus, with most tours you’ll get a guided visit to St. Peter’s Basilica as well.
#5. Climb Florence’s Duomo
This is perhaps not for those with fear of heights or small spaces, but for a spectacular view of Florence’s historic center and an interesting lesson in architecture and engineering, you could do worse than to climb to the top of the dome of Florence’s Duomo.
If you’d prefer to have the dome itself in your rooftop view, then climb Giotto’s bell tower instead.
#6. Eat pizza in Naples
There’s nothing like eating something as universally well-known as pizza in the place where it was born, and for that you’ve got to go to Naples.
I’ve heard that the pizzeria which claims to actually be the very place which invented pizza is turning out less-than-lovely pies these days, but you’ll find plenty of great restaurants ready to take its place.
#7. Visit the Greek ruins in Sicily
When you think of Italy, you probably think mostly of Roman ruins. But on Sicily you can branch out a bit by touring both Roman and Greek ruins, and the stuff the Greeks left behind is even older than the stuff from ancient Rome.
A walk through the Valley of the Temples is highly recommended.
#8. Tempt fate driving along the Amalfi Coast
Whether you decide to do the driving or not, the road that snakes along this stretch of Italian coastline is well worth the trip.
It’s precarious at best and dangerous at worst, but the Italians seem to make it work – and the views are simply stunning.
On second thought, perhaps you should let someone else do the driving so you can just stare out the window at the Amalfi Coast and pretend you’re not scared out of your mind.
Oh, and for a truly heart-stopping ride, hop on the back of a local’s motorbike for the journey.
#9. Sunbathe in Sardinia
Yes, lots of places in the south of Italy get loads of sun, but the Costa Smeralda boasts some of the most beautiful beaches anywhere on earth, let alone in Italy.
Plus, while it’s wildly popular with Italians on vacation from the mainland, you’re less likely to see hordes of other foreign tourists in Sardinia.
#10. See an opera in Verona
Opera fan or no, there’s nothing quite like sitting in a Roman amphitheatre, just as people have done for thousands of years, watching a show.
Okay, so you’re not watching chariot races or lions fight gladiators, but Verona’s famous opera company, which fills the night air with music every summer, is still a grand spectacle.