Where do you want to start your journey through Italy? Florence, Naples, Rome, Milan or maybe Verona? Any Italian city displays the special charm of Italian life, a sort of magic breeze swinging from the little downtown streets all the way to the bigger suburbs road. From the colder northern regions to the warmer southern areas passing by seemingly unknown places like Abruzzo or Basilicata. Italy gives you breath taking sceneries even in places most foreign tourists do not usually reach, like Calabria, a place mostly known for local mafia, 'Ndrangheta, more than for his astonishing olive oil and wine or for Reggio's “white and blue” promenade.
That's the magic of Italy: in just one country you get it all! History, art, big cities, small cities, food, seaside, mountain, hill, traffic jam and wild nature. You can see an Edelweiss on the top of northern Val d'Aosta's Alps and a few hours later, you can look for dolphins on a boat sailing the Ligurian sea. Shady green places and hot desert flat lands, high mountain tops like Monte Bianco and warm beach in Sardegna, you can find beautiful and lonely places while the crowds reach Rome or Florence.
Is there any country that has all this potential? Is there any place on earth where you can actually “breathe” history and amazement like Italy? Sensory pleasures are overwhelmed by flavors, sights, music. You can hear the immortal tenor Luciano Pavarotti singing, while walking the streets of his hometown, Modena. Just a few miles away you can taste the real Ragù alla Bolognese, or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Starting from north-east, where the high Alps protect Po valley from Atlantic and Siberian cold winds, moving down to Valle d'Aostaand Piedmont, with their crystal clear rivers and lakes, like Orco (italian for Ogre) river where the last Italian gold-seekers follow an ancient dream of fortune.
Heading south through the magnificent Liguria's Cinque terre ( literally 5 lands) and the Poets' gulf, where the mountain meets the sea; then Tuscany with its Chianti vinyards (Sangiovese grapes) and cities, such as Florence or the not over-touristed cities like Lucca orArezzo with its beautiful Basilica di San Francesco where you can find one of the most famous Piero della Francesca's fresco: The History of the true cross; Rome with its immortal history and numerous archeological finds; Naples and its Maschio Angioino, the new Neapolitan Castle; Sicily, with its world treasures certified by UNESCO like Valley of the Temples where you can hear echoes of ancient Magna Grecia; going North back again to Mediterranean and sunny Apulia where you can find Andria's Castel del Monte, a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture commissioned by Frederick II Barbarossa (his nickname was the Red-bearded), well known Holy Roman Emperor; and then through the obscure Molise, precisely in Agnone, a little village home of bell manufacture, that has been giving bells to the most famous cathedrals in the world; and then heading to Abruzzo, the center of ancient world, andL'Aquila, characterized by a priceless cultural heritage wrecked by an horrific earthquake in 2009.
We are far away from the finish but yet there's more than you can discover in a lifetime. When you thought you've seen it all, you'll get surprised by a new, unknown, beautiful piece of the mystery of Italian life.
~ Alberto Avattaneo
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