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Italy Travel Blog

How It Came to Be: The Origins of the Vatican City

Basilica di San Pietro

Ask anyone what they know about the Vatican City, and you’re probably going to get some very familiar answers: “It’s the home of the pope,” “it’s the world’s smallest country,” or “it’s where Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Catholic Church’s mother church, is located.” True enough, the origins of the Vatican City, a walled compound within Rome, is where the pope lives, and it is indeed the world’s smallest sovereign state, being only 44 hectares in size – that’s about one-eighth the size of Central Park in New York! But did you know that Saint Peter’s Basilica is not actually the official ecclesiastical seat of the pope, hence it is not the ecumenical mother church of the Catholic hierarchy? This honor belongs to the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran, which is one of the four major basilicas of the Catholic Church, the others being the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the [...]

Beyond Art: Other Attractions to Experience in Florence

Mushroom shop in Central Market Florence

Whenever travel to Italy is mentioned, it is almost inevitable to include the city of Florence in the discussion. Declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982, and ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Florence is the capital of the lush region of Tuscany and is considered as the birthplace of the Renaissance. It was also a center of trade during medieval times, and to this day, it remains a major economic center. As one can expect from a city that is steeped in culture and history, almost every street and every corner boasts a historical building or a work of art (because even the door knockers here are sights to behold). However, other than your usual tour of galleries and museums, there are still a myriad other interesting places to see and things to do in beautiful Firenze. Here is [...]

10 Best Springtime Festivals in Italy

Chocolate Festival in Turin

For a lot of people, spring is the best among the four seasons of the year. It’s when we shake off the winter freeze and embrace the freshness of rebirth. Across the world’s temperate regions, there’s not a single place that doesn’t look good at this time of year. Few places, however, are as much fun to be in as Italy is from March to May. With crisp weather, nature in full bloom and a renewed energy in the air, spring is ideal for visiting this lovely European nation. Seeing archaeological sites, appreciating works of art and tasting the wonderful cuisine is standard faire when visiting any Italian city, but what can make your stay even more memorable is participating in awesome festivals during the springtime months. Taking part in the celebrations is the fastest way to immerse yourself in Italian culture; it helps you appreciate the country and its [...]

Another Love Story in Verona: Your Ultimate Guide to Vinitaly 2014

Red wine

Since its first publication in 1597, William Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet has inspired romantics the world over. Set in Verona, Italy, this story about two star-crossed lovers’ devotion to each other has such a universal appeal that even today, more than 400 years after it was printed, it still is considered by many as one of the best love stories ever to have been written. The tale has also immortalized Verona, now a place where throngs of passionate couples and hopeless romantics troop to each year, hoping to “feel the love” in the beautiful medieval city. But there is a love story in Verona that is much older than Romeo and Juliet’s. It’s a legend born of an ancient practice involving the tender cultivation of grapevines, the gentle nurturing of their fruits by Italy’s fertile Mediterranean environment, and finally, the refined process of vinification that turns the berries into [...]

The Best of Umbria With Kids: A Few of Our Family’s Favorites

The view from Colle San Paolo Villa Fontanelle

Editor’s note: Umbria is a beautiful region with lots of places to visit especially when you’re traveling with kids. Here’s what Shannon Kenny, our guest author and Editor-in-chief of Italiakids.com recommends.  And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different – deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. – C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia As director of Arte al Sole, my young children have had the great fortune of growing up visiting Umbria every summer. In [...]