Monday, 29 November 2010

Top Tuscany Sights

If you are planning a trip to Italy you may be wondering what the Top Tuscany Sights are aside from Florence. Read the following article for some great suggestions.

Viva Italia! Top Five Must-Dos in Tuscany
by Beverly Frank

When traveling, it can be hard to know what sights to see, what monuments to visit, which restaurants are worth your time, and what to skip over because it is a lot of hype. This is true anywhere you visit, even Tuscany. Tuscany is a beautiful region in Italy with a lot to see and do. If you have some time to spend in Tuscany this summer, here are the top Tuscany Sights:

1. The leaning tower of Pisa. This is a huge tourist attraction, but it is also one worth seeing. While many tourist attractions are overrated, this is not one of them. It was built in the 1100s. It is a bell tower in the main Piazzas. It has since been worked on some to help correct some of the lean, making it more structurally stable. However, the lean has never been all the way corrected because it is such a big tourist attraction. Not only do you get to see one of the most famous sites in all of Tuscany, you also can enjoy wonderful cafes and bistros around the Piazzas, and enjoy the history of something built hundreds of years ago.

2. Pinocchio Park: The inventor of Pinocchio was a Tuscan writer called Carlo Collodi. The Adventures of Pinocchio was written in 1883. Now the small village where the author of Pinocchio lived boasts a beautiful little park that is a great tourist attraction. The village was named after Collodi, and the park offers thinks like literary classes, building and sculpting classes, art exhibitions, illustrations, puppet makring, and the like. Basically it is a cultural and natural park.

3. Taste wine in Chianti: One of the other things to do in Tuscany this summer is go wine tasting. There are tons of areas in Tuscany that produce world-famous wines. You can visit the most popular wine in Tuscany, Chianti. Or, you can go to some of the more southern parts of the region. You can go to Montepulciano, and taste some of the Vino Nobile. Or, you can go for a famous rich red wine from the Montalcino vineyards.


4. Roma amphitheaters in Lucca: Lucca is one of the most interesting places to visit in Tuscany. Lucca was built on top of a Roman colony, it dates back to 180 BC. You can visit all of the Roman amphitheaters, and you can see the many churches, cathedrals, piazzas, and the many historic and medieval buildings. It is a great historic city, and there are a number of fantastic coffee shops, cafes, and places to eat and enjoy your life.

5. Visit medieval Siena: This is another fantastic historic site, it gives you plenty of Italy's greatest medieval architecture and the like. You can roam through the maze like streeets and alleyways all the way to the great Piazzas del Campo, where you can sit and read and sip coffee or eat pastries at one of the sidewalk cafes.

Beverly Frank is a work-at-home writer and mom to two young kids. Visit http://www.surfnetparents.com for more parenting ideas.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Sightseeing in Bardonecchia

If you are considering a trip to Bardonecchia read this article for more information about transfers, activities and sightseeing in Bardonecchia.

Bardonecchia - Italy
By Timothy Kent

Bardonecchia is located at the Italian gateway to the Frejus tunnel, in the Province of Turin, Piedmont region, western part of the Susa valley. This is one of the prominent Italian destinations during the old times, and is now a major attraction as a key skiing destination today. The resort is excellent for beginner and intermediate skiers but it also offers good areas for professional skiing and also sections for snowboarding. It has direct access to 140 km downhill run, having 49 individual pistes, some rising at 2.300 altitude. The 21 ski lifts available around the resort can accommodate up to 23,000 skiers or snowboarders as an hourly rate. Prominent ski areas are Campo Smith, for beginners and Jafferau, the higher ski area suitable for intermediate or expert skiers.

Bardonecchia is in Italy, so you can avail of flights going to the resort. Available air transfers include:

from Turin-Caselle to Bardonecchia
from Milan Malpensa to Bardonecchia
from Milan Linate to Bardonecchia
from Geneva to Bardonecchia
from Chambery to Bardonecchia
from Grenoble to Bardonecchia
from Verona to Bardonecchia

The resort is close to the city of Turin and it is only an hour and a half away from the Turin-Caselle airport, a sixty mile drive, which makes it the nearest airport from the resort. The fastest and most affordable way to go to Bardonecchia is to get those discounted flights to Turin, Chambery, or Milan airports. Coming from the city centre of Turin, you can arrive close to the slopes if you ride the TGV train with travel time of just less than an hour. You can then get off the train to the bus stops and then use buses that will bring you to any of the major accessible skiing areas of the resort. From Chambery, you can drive through N6 going to the Frejus tunnel and Turin. Passing the tunnel will get you in Bardonecchia in a short while. If you are starting your trip from Milan Linate, you can hire cars or shuttles going to Bardonecchia via the road, or, you can also choose the Torino - Bussoleno - Bardonecchia train line to arrive at Bardonecchia station, and then use buses in going to the ski areas.

Apres ski nightlife in the area is a lot more peaceful than other resorts but there are available bars, restaurants, and 3 disco houses. During the weekend, life at the resort usually get a little crowded and hectic as local Italian residents flock the area for some weekend ski break. The resort also provides a games hall, a natural ice skating rink, a sauna and a cinema and also has available amenities for activities like ice hockey, horse riding, snowboarding, hiking and even simple sightseeing.

The author offers insights and tips in getting the right ski transfers including resort information and ski transfer destinations.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

How to Get Married in Italy

Are you considering having your wedding in Italy? If so read on to find out how to get married in Italy.

Things To Consider On Getting Married In Italy
By Kimberly Murgatroyd

Getting married in another country is a dream come true for many couples. The romance, the adventure, and the travelling create an atmosphere that is hard to resist. Today, whether you are a resident or not, many couples are legally getting married in Italy. In addition, whether the ceremony is religious or civil, it is recognized as legal.

Like with any marriage, getting legal preparations in place is necessary. For Italy, a couple must declare their intentions to marry. After declaring, the announcements are made public, and those living in Italy must post them in their Town Hall. These announcements must hang for at least eight days and no more than 180. After four days, the couple can marry. However, if neither of the couple lives or has a residency there, then the announcement doesn't need to be posted. But they still must wait at least four days after making the declaration before they can marry.

Documents will need to be legalized at the local prefecture and must include a tax stamp. Here are some of the documents required by both parties. A valid passport or residence card, a stay permit or proof of recent entry to Italy, a birth certificate, divorce decree, annulment paper or death certificate of former spouse, and if under 18, written parental consent. All foreigners must have a declaration of no impediment, which is issued by the Consulate in Italy, confirming there is no reason why one cannot marry. They also need an Atto Notorio affidavit declaring single status and freedom to marry; whereas Italians need a Certificato di Stato Libero to declare they are single and free. All documents and certificates that are not in Italian will require certified translations.

Civil ceremonies are the main way to get married. The Mayor or a delegate at the town hall performs this. You must have two witnesses present, and friends and family can of course attend. The ceremony is in Italian, but an interpreter is permitted. The couple will be told their duties and rights between spouses from the Codice Civile. After being declared married, the marriage certificate is prepared and all the details and names are entered into the marriage register. Some couples choose to follow the civil ceremony by a religious blessing ceremony.

Unlike in some European countries, like France, Catholic marriage ceremonies are legal and recognized. However, other faiths must first go through a civil ceremony. A Roman Catholic ceremony does not require a civil ceremony beforehand since the Catholic priests have the authority to perform and register marriages. All preparations are made through the church and all the documents required for a civil ceremony are still needed. A Catholic wedding also requires a baptism and confirmation certificate, as both parties must be baptized and confirmed and take a church pre-marital class.

Getting married in Italy does not have to be a dream, as many are finding out. Many countries now perform non-resident marriages that are legal and recognized all over the world. Being prepared is the main thing before getting married in Italy or anywhere else. Have your entire paperwork ready and all the right documents so that your dream come true stays a dream come true.

Kimberly Murgatroyd is the author of "How to Get Married in Positano" - compulsory reading for anyone wanting more information on having a Civil Ceremony in the Positano Town Hall. To find out more information about how you can get married in Positano town hall, visit my website about how to plan a Amalfi Coast wedding. For a FREE 10 part mini-course on "The Secrets to Getting Married in Positano Italy"! go to  http://mypositanowedding.com

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A Day Sightseeing in Venice

Venice Italy: Our First Day
By Mark Schaaf

After spending many hours planning our Italian vacation I couldn't wait for the day to start in Venice. We arrived late in the afternoon knowing by the time we checked into our hotel we wouldn't have time to do any real sightseeing. After getting settled in we walked around the area we picked out a nice little restaurant for dinner. After which we went back to the room and double checked our plans for the next day then settled in for the remainder of the evening.

The next morning we started with breakfast at the hotel and were on our way. Since we did a little walk around the evening before we knew the water bus stop was only a couple blocks from the hotel and was the only part of the trip planning that I didn't know much about. The entire length of the city of Venice is only about 2 miles and we were headed to Saint Marks square which was about a mile away so it didn't seem far but since we had never been on a water bus we couldn't guess on the time it might take to get there. It turned out to only take about a half hour to get there however the ride was quite interesting as the boat zig zagged from one side of the Grand canal to the other making it important to know which side of the canal you wanted to go.

Once we arrived at Saint Marks square (Piazza San Marco) we walked around a little took some pictures and decided which of the 3 main sights we planned to see first. We decided to go to the top of Saint Marks square tower and get a view of the city. At first I thought we were going to have to walk to the top and was surprised to see an elevator in it. The ride only took about a minute but seemed longer because there are no windows to look out on the way. Once at the top I realized what a beautifully pristine day we had and without a speck of haze in the air we would be able to get some great pictures. We took our turn looking out each side of the tower at the view which was spectacular and took some great pictures. I kept a close look at my watch for the time because the huge bells in the tower still struck on the hour and I for one didn't want to be in the top of the tower when there were ringing.

After coming down from the tower the next place to see was saint Marks basilica which is the most famous of over 400 churches on this little island. Upon entering the church I was a little surprised with the lack of light, which I thought made it a little difficult to see the paintings and other works of art in the church. Another thing that struck me odd was not being able to take any personal property into the church, I could understand no cameras but you couldn't take in a back pack and I can't remember if a large purse was allowed in either.

After we were finished in the church we took time out from sightseeing to have a bite of lunch at a nice place right around the corner, a little pricey for me but we were on vacation and planned on going to just a few pricey places and more reasonable places the rest of the time.

The last sight we had planned on seeing this day was the Doge's palace and I suggest to anyone going to Venice as a must see sight. Entering the palace the first thing you notice are the ceilings which are all very ornate with carvings and paintings everywhere. To me it seemed like there must have 50 or more rooms in the palace and everyone had a different kind of pattern carved and painted in the ceilings.

Most of the rooms were big over 30 x 30 and a few rooms that seemed small compared to the rest but each one had either paintings or sculptures in them. There were a few rooms we found particularly interesting one being two very large side by side rooms with a giant 24 hour clock mounted in the common wall so you could see the clock from both rooms, each room being at least 120 x 75 feet.

The most impressive room in the palace was a common meeting room which I believe was used as a court room and for town meetings. I have seen very large rooms before but this place was immense at least 250 foot long 120 or more feet wide and over 60 feet high with no center support beams of any kind the entire roof was freestanding. I couldn't imagine how they could build such a span well over 400 years ago without steel.

By the time we were finished seeing the Doge's palace it was mid afternoon around 4, so we still had time to see more so we walked down to see the bridge of Sighs, probably the second most famous bridge in Venice. After which we headed back to the hotel for a short nap before going to dinner.

We were staying in a hotel about 100 feet from Rio Tera San Leonardo which is one of the major streets in Venice and will take you all the way to the train station after a few street name changes that is. Being so close to a major street made it easy to find a nice place for dinner, after which we took a nice walk to see our little part of Venice at night before turning in for the evening.

I can't believe according to what I have read that most people only stay in Venice for one day and I recommend to anyone planning a visit to Venice to stay for at least 3 days, there are just too many wonderful things to see to only stay for a day.

Mark Schaaf is an avid traveler and web site owner who enjoys sharing information with other travelers in order to help make there trip more enjoyable. You can learn how to plan your trip by visiting the planning section of the site at http://www.myitaliantravels.com/vacationplanning.html . You can visit the site and view more tips at http://www.myitaliantravels.com

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Volterra Sightseeing

 Are you looking for Volterra sightseeing ideas? Read on to learn more about what Volterra has to offer.

A Great Italian Vacation in Volterra Tuscany
By Ems Aleks

When people come to Italy for a vacation or to spend the holiday, they are often drawn to Tuscany, but Tuscany is not a small place and there are many places that are concentrated tourist areas, but who knows which places are the best to go. Some people may say that San Gimignano is the more popular tourist spot in Tuscany, but other persons who are really aware of what a vacation should be like will tell you that Volterra Tuscany is the place to be.

Volterra is a hill town and is a little over 500 metres above the valley of Cecina, when you are atop you can see the horizon of the Tyrrhenian Sea which is spectacular view. This place as history and some of it is still around for you to see, one of which is the sections of the Etruscan wall that is still remaining. This wall has been around since the fourth century, when the city was known as Velathri which was a very significant city back then because it was large exporter of minerals to other countries in the Mediterranean region.

When you take vacations in Volterra Tuscany, you will not be short on entertainment especially during the holiday seasons, Volterra is not uncommon for festivities, during these festivals that depicts different aspects of their culture, you will see natives dressed in old Roman clothing at the medieval fair, where they act and dress the parts of their ancestors from the A.D era. It is a fun filled event for both tourists and locals alike.

They are not short on truffle fairs either; in April you can see the fair that hosts an all day arts and crafts display and parade, all events for that day is completely dedicated to the arts. In May, you can take in the cross bow competition and see true skills at their best in a fun environment. In July and August you can feast your ears on the cool tranquil sounds of jazz as the festivities for those two months include the Jazz festival in August and other jazz related fairs in July. I could go on and on about the different activities that takes place in each month, which do not include the day to day fun activities that will keep your vacation interesting and memorable. The fact is, there is always many things to do and places to go in Volterra, no matter what time of year you decide to visit.

Volterra is also known for its museums, one of which was the first to be developed and constructed in all of Europe. Even if you are not exactly a history buff, you will still love and appreciate the sights and narration of this ancient city and the culture that it represents. The entire collection of arts and culture will leave you in awe of what that little city (in comparison to its history) as to offer.

This Article is related to the subject of Volterra Tuscany. If you are looking for Volterra Sightseeing Holidays then http://www.volterraholidays.com/ is the greatest place for you.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sightseeing in Lecce

Are you thinking of sightseeing in Lecce, Southern Italy? If so, read on for some sightseeing tips.

Visit Lecce in Italy
By Claudio Giagnoni

One of the best cities to visit in Italy is Lecce, in the Apulia region, in the south of the country. Art, history, culture are visible in every corner of Lecce and the main monuments are in the historical center of the city. Between the main touristic attractions we can reminder:

Castle of Charles V. Built by the architect Gian Giacomo dell'Acaya (1539-1549) by order of Charles V, it has a trapezoidal shape with four bastions. You can reach the defense structure, which was surrounded by a moat, filled in 1872, through two doors: one to the east, named 'False Door', and the other to the west, named ' Royal Door'. The interior has been largely changed over the years; the most ancient part is represented by the quadrangular 'mastio' dating back to the Angevins, whose hypogeum was used as a chapel, with a baroque altar inside. The other chapel in the castle is dedicated to Saint Barbara.

Church of Saint Matteo. It was built between 1667 and 1700 by the architect Carducci by command of the bishop Pappacoda. Its facade, where convex and concave volumes contrapose, recalls the Borrominian baroque. The elliptical shaped interior with a single nave shows a women's gallery along the perimeter. Noteworthy, the statues of the 12 Apostles, made in Lecce stone by the sculptor Placido Buffelli (1692), alternating with the altars.

Church of Saint Nicola. The Church (1635) with the Monastery next to it (1631) was built according to the will of the patrician Belisario Paladini from Lecce Its sober front shows on the portal the statue of the archangel Michael defeating Lucifer; the interior has a stucco-painted vault and the high altar rich with intaglios.

For your visit in the city, book hotels in Lecce.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

5 Novels Set in Italy

Are you planning a vacation to Italy. If so, you may want to whet your appetite for your trip by reading some novels set in Italy.

Books Set in Italy - Five Novels to Read Before You Travel
By Suzi Bianca

Finding yourself preparing for a trip to Italy is an enviable position to be in. It is a country filled with magnificent art and architecture, passionate people and the best ice cream in the world. But to truly get the most out of your visit, you will want to get behind the scenes of the country and delve beneath the surface -- and one of the best ways to do this is to read some books set in Italy. Here are a selection of novels that are guaranteed to make you want to jump on that plane straight away.

'The Agony and the Ecstasy' by Irving Stone

If you are traveling in Italy it is going to be hard to avoid some exposure to the Renaissance painter, sculptor and architect Michelangelo. And by reading this novel you will have a much great understanding of the man behind the art. It allows us to re-live Michelangelo's creative process, as we work with him on his marble sculptures and walk with him through the piazzas of Florence and Rome. If you want to make the most of the first time you see the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, then read this novel before you do it.

'When we were Romans' by Mathew Kneale

A completely different look at Rome now, through the eyes of a nine-year old child. Lawrence's mother decides to take her children from England to the Eternal City in a bid to get away from her estranged husband. As the family wear out their welcome with friends, Lawrence learns to deal with his mother's mental illness - and while this is a sad and emotionally testing novel, we do witness something of a child's joy of discovering new places and the family's adventures in the city.

'The Rossetti Letter' by Christi Phillips

Venice is one of those places where you really feel as if little has changed since the Renaissance, and this novel does a wonderful job of taking us to both the modern city and the Venice of the past. Claire is an historian who is searching for the truth about a 17th century Venetian courtesan who managed to foil a group of Spaniards attempting to take over the city. The novel moves between the perspectives of the two women, telling us much about the city and its history. And as Claire is in Venice -- there is, of course, a little bit of romance on the cards.

'A Bell for Adano' by John Hersey

Major Joppolo is an American officer put in charge of the Sicilian city of Adano after the island's US invasion in 1943. There are plenty of great characters to fill this portrait of small town Italy during the war and it is an unashamed "feel good" novel. And while it may have been a bestseller way back in 1944, it is still a great read for us today. There are several novels written on WWII occupation, and it is refreshing to find one in which compassion and humanity play a part. Hersey won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945.

'Ratking' by Michael Dibdin

This crime novel take us to the Umbrian city of Perugia, and introduces us to Police Commissioner Aurelio Zen. When a rich industrialist is kidnapped, it's decided a detective should be sent from Rome. Despite being 'out of favour' Zen is dispatched to solve the crime. The novel gives us plenty of detail about the city as well as the character of Italian society and the police system. And if you continue reading the series of Zen novels you will have the opportunity to travel to several other cities around the country.

So if you still have a few weeks or months to go before you set off on your trip, why not begin your journey straight away with these novels set in Italy? And if you are leaving soon, then throw a couple into your carry-on bag so you have something to read on the plane. Buon Viaggio!

Suzi Bianca is the founder of Packabook Travel Novels which makes it easy to find novels set in particular locations. This is a just a taste of the novels she recommends -- visit books set in Italy for many more. With Packabook's constantly updated selection of travel novels from countries all around the world, you will always be able to choose something exceptional to read.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Sightseeing in Lombardy

If you are thinking of wine tasting and sightseeing in Lombardy, you will enjoy reading this article:

I Love Italian Travel - Wine Touring In Lombardy
by Levi Reiss

So you are planning to visit Lombardy, a region of northern Italy bordering on Switzerland, the Gulf of Taranto, and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its regional capital and largest city is Milan, the center of Italian finance, fashion, and media. Lombardy is home to La Scala, the greatest opera house in Europe, or perhaps the whole world. And the Cathedral of Milan, ooh, la, la. You will find museums galore and the massive, impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, an upscale Nineteenth Century shopping mall.

Small towns in Lombardy well worth the visit include Pavia which houses an important university, Cremona the historic center of violin making, and Mantua, where Romeo fled after killing Juliet's cousin. Its Palazzo Ducale contains 500 rooms one of which took a master seven years to paint. Save some time and money to visit the lakes. Lombardy borders no sea but it is home to Lake Maggiore, Lake Iseo, Lake Orta, Lake Como, and Lake Garda which spills over into the neighboring regions of Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto. Each lake has its own special attractions, as do the lakeside towns such as Bellagio, which is considered one of the loveliest towns in Europe, and honored by a hotel of that name in Las Vegas.

Lombardy is home to three DOCG wines. Franciacorta is produced near Lake Iseo between Bergamo and Brescia. This is Italy's answer to Champagne and priced accordingly. The rosé tends to cost more than the white. Sforzato di Valtellina and Valtellina Superiore are vinified from the red Nebbiolo grape locally known as Chiavennasca. You may not be surprised that these wines comes from western Lombardy not far from Piedmont. After all, Nebbiolo is Piedmont's signature grape. Just for the record Sforzato di Valtellina is made from dried grapes and often costs more than Valtellina Superiore. The best Valtellina Superiore wines tend to come from the rocky Sassella subdistrict.

The major white grape varieties include the local Garganega (the major componenent of Soave in next-door Veneto), Trebbiano di Lugana, Riesling Renano, and its cousin, Riesling Italico. International white grape varieties include Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco, the major components of Franciacorta. Regional reds include Barbera, Bonarda, Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo), and Lambrusco. Pinot Noir is found in Franciacorta and some other wines such as the high-volume Oltrepò Pavese DOC made in a wide variety of styles.

Companies selling regional wine tours include Prime Italy, Le Baccanti, Romantic Travel Destinations Getaway, and Wine Tour Italia. Regional wineries that accept visits include Berlucchi in Cortefranca, Cavalleri in Erbusco, and Sertoli Salis in Tirano. A few words of warning are in order. Make sure that you check ahead of time for opening hours and whether English is spoken. Some places may charge admission; others may expect you to buy some of their products.

About the Author:

Over the years Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet but simply prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, with the right foods. He teaches a variety of computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website http://www.travelitalytravel.com which includes information on Italian wine and food.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Sightseeing in Brescia

In this article you can learn more about sightseeing in Brescia and northern italy.

Exploring Northern Italy From Brescia Airport

By Michelle Elkins

The Lombardy region of Italy is reknown for its stunning beauty, mouth-watering cuisine and warm, temperate clime, which is why it continues to be a favourite with tourists the world over. Packed full of enchanting landscapes and breath-taking bodies of water, there is something here for every kind of holiday-maker. From those who love all action adventure to others who just like to take it easy and indulge in the pleasures in life, Lombardy is one place that can potentially deliver even more then it promises.

There are several routes by air into the area, including Verona Villafranca Airport and all three Milan Airports. However Ryanair offers low cost flights direct from Stansted to Verona Brescia Airport which is located smack bang in the middle of this fabulous locale. Brescia itself is the second largest city in Lombardy after Milan and the start and end point for the Mille Miglia, a historic car race which takes place in April/May each year and boasts some incredible examples of antique automobiles.

Within the ancient city are a range of historic buildings, museums and monuments to visit, as well as a host of other tourist-type attractions and fine eateries to take in, but for most, the great attraction about travelling here is to get away from it all and journey slightly further afield. Situated in Brescia Arrivals, Hertz is the only Verona Brescia car hire firm based within the airport and once vehicled up, it makes trips to the surrounding areas much simpler. Journey to the spectacular Lake Garda, dreamy city of Verona, cosmopolitan hub of Milan or even just nearby Ronchi. This area of unspoilt countryside offers panoramic views over the city and shows rural Italy at its best. Complete with vineyards, the Ronchi is interspersed with trattorias where visitors can take the opportunity to satiate their desire for traditional cooking.

Located 18km outside of the city centre in a place called Montichiari (which is why the airport is also sometimes known as Montichiari Airport), Brescia Airport provides other facilities for onward transportation. For a fee of EUR11 single or EUR16.00 return, shuttle buses run to the Brescia bus and Brescia train stations, from where connections can be made to the rest of the Lombardy region and further afield. These stations are next to each other and just a 15 minute walk from the centre.

If you are not planning to do much sight-seeing or are intending to stay close to your accommodation, then taxis can be hailed from outside arrivals although this option can be quite expensive. An altogether more convenient and generally more cost effective way to travel is by Brescia airport transfers. By booking in advance it can save the hassle of queueing because a driver meets and greets in the arrivals hall and ensures visitors arrive at their final destination as unruffled and unstressed as possible.

It is an ideal place to visit year round as Brescia weather tends to be mild most of the time, with temperatures never dipping much below 12ºC even during the winter months. July and August can become incredibly humid but a quick dip in Lake Garda or a swim round the pool at one of the many sensational hotels in Brescia should ensure that the clammy heat, up to 36ºC, does not become unbearable.

Michelle Elkins is a regular contributor to the Verona Airport Guide, which provides information and advice on all services to Verona Brescia Airport including Brescia Airport car hire and Brescia Airport Transfers.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Modena Sightseeing

Are you wanting to find out more about Sightseeing in Modena, Italy?

Modena is a city situated in the mid north west of the Italian peninsula and is most famous for being the home town of the Ferrari but it's also right in the middle of the Italian food corridor which runs from Bologna, the father of Italian food to Parma, the home of ham and down to Modena. As well as these claims to fame Modena is also the home to one of the most beautiful Italian cathedrals and some wonderful architecture.

Modena has numerous claims to fame, not only is it the hometown of Ferrari (the Italians other great passion), it was also the hometown of the late and great world famous Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti and it's also one of the Emilia-Romagna region's great gastronomic cities, producer of the most beautiful vinegar in the world, balsamic among other things. If you are into your food Emilia-Romagna has to be the Italian region to visit.

But what is the real Modena like? Having visited Bologna many years ago and been overcome by its beauty I'd always promised myself I'd get to Modena one day. Other than the obvious things about Modena I knew very little about it so was looking forward immensely to finding out more about the cities Italian architecture.

As soon as I arrived in Modena for some sightseeting I headed for the main square, when ever you arrive in an Italian city for the first time the main Piazza is always a good starting point. Piazza Grande is the main Piazza in Modena, and a very grand Italian Piazza it is too, being home to the beautiful cathedral. It has to be one of the most beautiful churches anywhere in and one of the most beautiful I've seen any where in the world.

Building started on the cathedral in 1099. At the time Modena was without a bishop as the one chosen by the Pope was not approved by the locals, hence the citizens of Modena managed and paid for the cathedral to be completed, some achievement. The beautiful white stones covering the outside of the cathedral were discovered, during renovation work to be Roman tombstones, this was a surprise to the restoration workers and historians who even found inscriptions on the stones. The doorways are adorned with life-like sculptures and these really set the cathedral apart from older cathedrals that generally have flatter one dimensional sculpture's. The sculptures look magnificent in their white stone but they have a somewhat eerie appearance to them due to the use of lead as eyes, the black eyes staring down at you from the beautiful white figures is strange.

Standing proudly at either side of the main entrance to the cathedral are two magnificent Roman lions, the doorway to the Piazza Grande is also guarded by two magnificent lions, this time made from an Italian pink marble.

I could spent hours inside cathedrals just looking at the reliefs and carvings, I always feel slightly disappointed when leaving a magnificent looking cathedral that isn't regaled with historical reliefs that tell a story. I certainly wasn't disappointed in Modena. On one side of the church, beneath an arch linking it to a tower there are some wonderful carvings believed to be King Arthur and his knights as well as scenes from Aesop's fables. My favourite of all was a calendar showing the months of the year complete with an agricultural task for the Italian farmers that would be carried out in the given month. This reminded me of a similar carving I saw at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice.

A later section was added to the cathedral in the 13-14th centuries, this was made out of a beautiful Italian pink marble and is of a more Gothic appearance than the earlier parts of the cathedral but it still links nicely with the older section, rather than looking like a bolt-on.

As with all Italian cities the main Piazza is the focal point of the city and Piazza Grande is no different. Up until 1931 the Piazza held the city market but this was moved to a purpose built covered site where it is still held today. Although not the site for the market any longer the Piazza is still very much the place to meet people, take a stroll or just sit and enjoy an espresso.

Modena's buildings are a wonderful terra cotta colour, the sort of colour that lends itself wonderfully to Italian architecture, so warming and gentle on the eye. The good thing about Italy is that is still so in touch with its heritage, the citizens of Modena have to respect their heritage to the degree that the colour of all buildings must fall within local council guidelines to keep the aesthetics of the city.

Walking through the narrow atmospheric cobbled streets into the sleepy piazzas you can really get lost in the sense of Italian history that Modena exudes through its architecture.

Modena has had an up and down history. Modena flourished under Roman rule but then went into steady decline as a power hub until the end of the 16th century when the ruling d'Este family made it their home. The family saw how Modena had fallen into declined and realised that it had potential and set about modernising the city to make it one of the Italian greats.

The d'Este family built their home, the Palazzo Ducale (not to be confused with the Venetian palace of the same name) on top of Modena's existing castle. The spectacular Palazzo still stands today; still in all its original glory, the unfortunate thing is that it is now an impregnable Italian military academy with no access for to the public.

After a couple of days spent walking around the beautiful city of Modena sampling the wonderful architecture it dawned on me that I hadn't even taken the time out to look deeper into Modena's gastronomic heritage.

Modena Sightseeting followed by great food is something to look forward to.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Tuscany Sightseeing

Are you looking for some Tuscany Sightseeing ideas? Read this article to find out some of Tuscany's most unforgettable sightseeting and holiday attractions.

Tuscany's Most Unforgettable Holiday Attractions
By Mark Scriven

That long awaited holiday has rolled around, and this time, you probably fancy doing something a little bit different, you're probably a little bit lost for ideas, and your partner's getting restless, they want a fun-packed holiday they can enjoy, whilst at the same time enjoying a nice relaxing break away from work and home.

If this sounds a lot like your current situation, then perhaps Tuscany is the perfect holiday destination for you. Unfortunately, Tuscany is not often thought of as a great couple's holiday hot-spot, but it has a lot to offer couples as well as families, and can give every partnership a memorable holiday, you just need to know the right spots to visit.

One of the main things couples partake in on a holiday is a shopping tour, displaying Italian fashion at its very best. The shopping facilities in Tuscany is an attraction in itself, offering couples designer labels such as Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Yves Saint Laurent.

This is a true shopper's paradise if you're looking for brand names at outlet prices, and it also gives you the opportunity to soak up your surroundings in the quaint cafes that are found within the area, a gorgeous way to spend an afternoon!

If you're a culture vulture, then a trip to some of Tuscany's beautiful Museums and Gardens has to be at the top of your list. For example, the Accademia Museum is a popular attraction, home to some of the world's most famous artistic pieces, such as Michelangelo's 'David'.

There are many different Michelangelo sculpture and pictures homed here, but also displayed are the epic works of Botticelli, Lorenzo di Credi, del Sarto and Perungino, the only place to be if you're interested in enjoying some really art and culture.

The Boboli Gardens is another spot often enjoyed by tourists, it offers up a beautiful place to relax, as well as some fantastic photography opportunities too. After a you've made your way through the Pitti palace, the Renaissance gardens that occupy the hill behind the museum will call out to you, you may notice the occasional touches of sculpture - the works of Baroque and Rococo, as well as some serene water fountains and some beautiful botanical gardens. You can always pay a visit to one of the nearby cafes and pick up some food and wine to enjoy out there in the sun, a perfect end to a perfect day.

Tuscany also offers up a wide range of different Thermal SPAS and Springs, in particular, the Thermal Spring of Montepulciano is a popular destination, set up in 1966, it contains a natural sulphur spring that gives therapeutic properties to all visitors to it.

The centre itself also offers services such as hydro massages, 'Scottish baths', vapour showers, pools, toning and moisturizing, lynfo drainage, face masks and many other purifying treatments. Many men think this is just a woman's treat, but it's surprising how many men visit each year, and leave feeling refreshed and completely relaxed!

Tuscany is a beautiful and tranquil region, offering up a variety of romantic and fun attractions and activities, the stunning views and peaceful surroundings can make for a memorable Italian holiday that will have you coming back time and time again.

Mark Scriven is an online marketing expert and has written many articles on business, travel and the internet. For a wide selection of holiday villas in Tuscany visit Cottages to Castles, specialists in luxury Tuscany villas.

Hopefully this will give you lots of Tuscany Sightseeing ideas!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Sightseeing in Bardolino

Bardolino rests on the shores of Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake. It lies about 30 kilometres northwest of the provincial capitol of Verona.


Bardolino Harbour


Bardolino although one one of the lesser well known resorts it is still very popular with German and British visitors. Lake Garda itself is a haven for weekend visitors. It is only just over four hours drive from the Bavarian capitol, Munich, and under two hours drive from Milan. This relatively easy commute makes the lakeshore a haven for week-end visitors and weekends do tend to to be very much busier than week days.

Sightseeing in Bardolino would not be complete without sampling the local wine - and there are various vintages of Bardolino wine to sample ranging from the cheap to the more expensive. Real wine aficionados can visit town’s wine museum plus the unofficial bodega’s purporting to be wine museums. Many of the towns wine and snack bars sell excellent wine by the glass straight out of the barrel


Bardolino at Night


The harbour area of Bardolino is the hub of activity by day and by night. As well as being very picturesque it also boasts one of Italy’s finest ice cream parlours. The parlour is easy to find in the evening, simply look for a large queue of people. Although there are many fine eating places around the harbour area many of the better restaurants are a couple of streets back

Although the setting sun hides beside some of the distant mountains for the last few minutes before dipping below the horizon in the summer months the orange glow across the lakeside can still be quite spectacular particularly by the yacht club or the harbour.

Bardolino Sunset


Although Bardolino itself has lots of quaint restaurants, bars and small shops it retains its own character as do all the neighbouring lakeside towns. A regular ferry service as well as a frequent bus service makes visiting neighbouring towns of Garda, Malcesine, Lasize and Pescheira relatively easy. Even the most northerly town of Riva can be visited by bus with relative ease.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Sightseeing in Perugia

Perugia is a medieval walled city located in the region of Umbria in Italy. It's location is on top of a hill with amazing views of the surrounding countryside. It's a great city to explire and also an excellent base for touring the rest of Umbria

If you are considering visiting Perugia here are a few top tips for sightseeing in Perugia.

Here are some of the top sights that you should be sure not to miss while in Perugia:
  • Duomo - this was built in the thirteenth century and you'll find it in the main square of Perugia - the Piazza IV Novembre.
  • Palazzo Dei Priori - inside this building you will find the national art gallery of Umbria and 3 other museums.
  • Fontana Maggiore - this is the main fountain in Perugia and was built and decorated in the thirteenth century
  • Etrucan Arch - this is the main city gate
  • Corso Vannucci - this pedestrianised street is filled with lots of bars, restaurants and shops.
  • Church of San Pietro & Medieval Garden - this is Perugia's largest church and was originally build between 1304 and 1458.
When you have finished sightseeing in Perugia you may also want to explore other parts of Umbria such as Orvieto, Lake Trasimeno, Assisi and Gubbio.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Sightseeing in Bassano del Grappa

Are you thinking of visiting Bassano del Grappa in Northern Italy? If so, here are a few ideas for Sightseeing in Bassano del Grappa.

Guide to Bassano del Grappa, Northern Italy
By Karen Bryan

Unique Points

Bassano sits in a stunning location by the River Brenta with Monte Grappa in the background. It is about 35 kilometres north east of Vicenza. The town's symbols are said to be the Palladian bridge, white asparagus, ceramics and the Grappa liqueur. I visited the town for the day in February 2005.

I really liked the location, the fresh air, the fast flowing river and the picturesque bridge. If you like to be slightly off the tourist track and would prefer a more rural setting for short break or as a base for a touring holiday, Bassano is ideal.

How to get there

The nearest airports are Treviso, used by Ryanair as it's airport for Venice and Venice Marco Polo. You could hire a car from the airport. It is possible to reach Bassano by train on the Vicenzia - Trento or Padova - Bassano lines.

History

It is often assumed that the city takes its name from the well known liqueur Grappa. This is not the case; it is named after Monte Grappa. The mountain's name is said to originate from crapp or greep, meaning crag in an ancient pre-Latin language. The liqueur Grappa's name stems
from grappolo, meaning a cluster of grapes.

Grappa liqueur has been produced in Bassano since 1779 when Bortolo Nardini bought a Grapperia on the Brenta River bank. Grappa is made from the by-products of wine making, the seeds, stems and skins. The company is still run by members of the Nardini family, accounting for around one quarter of annual grappa production.

Ponte Vecchia has become synonymous with Bassano. The bridge is first mentioned in the 11th century. The bridge has been rebuilt several times due to flooding or destruction during wars. It is still the original design by Palladio from 1569. The bridge is built of wood, making it more resilient to the fast flowing River Brenta.

There is a record of the city on St Mary's Hill from the 10th century. From the 14th to 18th century the city was under Venetian rule. It became well known for the manufacture of ceramics, wool, silk, iron and copper. The Remondini family ran one of the most up to date printing houses in Europe from the17th to the 19th century.

Grappa liqueur has been produced in Bassano since 1779 when Bortolo Nardini bought a Grapperia on the Brenta River bank. Grappa is made from the by products of wine making, the seeds, stems and skins. The company is still run by members of the Nardini family, accounting for around one quarter of annual grappa production.

The Town Hall was first constructed in1405. Bartolomeo Ferranci installed the present clock mechanism in 1743. The interior walls are adorned by frescoes of 120 coats of arms.

White asparagus was first produced in the 16th century after Bassano experienced a hailstorm which destroyed the asparagus crop. The farmers dug up the part of the plant below the earth and discovered that it was so tender and delicious that they started to grow it underground
permanently.

Parolini, a local nobleman, designed the Giardini Parolini in the early 19th century. In 1829 Parolini catalogued 3000 plant species in the garden.

During the First World War the Italians took a last stand against the Austrians in Monte Grappa where they entrenched themselves in tunnels and bunkers to repel the Austrian attackers. Over 12,000 Italian and 10,000 Austrian soldiers lost their lives in the numerous battles.

During the Second World War Italian partisans hid in Monte Grappa, organising raids on the main supply route from Germany to the German troops stationed in Italy. In 1944
the Germans took revenge by marching up the mountain behind women, children and elderly local inhabitants. Any partisans discovered or civilians suspected of assisting partisans were killed. There were public hangings and shootings with families forced to watch.

In 1946 the Italian prime minister awarded Basssano the gold medal for military valour. Every year the city commemorates these events during September.

The Museo degli Alpini was established in 1948 in memory of the Italian Alpine Troops It is located on the eastern side of the Ponte Vecchio. You have to enter it through a cafe. I found this rather confusing but the museum is down stairs to the left when you enter the cafe. Originally the collection was very small but has grown as more war relics have been gathered together.There are many original photos, uniforms and armoury.

Museo della Cermica is near the eastern side of the Ponte Vecchio. The building was constructed as the residence of Ferrari family, owners of a local silk factory. The entrance hall is adorned with a fresco by Giorgio Anseli. There are pieces of engraved ceramics from medieval times, Mainardi majolica pieces from the 17th and 18th century, along with modern pieces.

The Civic Musuem is one of the oldest in the Veneto region. It was built in1828 on the site of the convent of St Francis. It houses a collection of paintings by the Da Ponti family, Guariento and Magnasco, a collection of prints by the Remondini family. There is also an archaeological section
and pieces by Antonio Canova.

Bassano boasts several churches. San Donato was built in 1208. It is claimed that St Francis of Assisi and St Anthony of Padua both stayed here during the third decade of the 13th century. The church was a hospital, run by Benedictine nuns in the 14th century, then a Fransican monastery during the 15th century. The church was restored in 1900, including work being done on the cell which was used by the two saints.

The Church of San Francesco was started in the mid 12th century, after the return of Ezzelino 11, the Stutterer, from the Holy Land. The Church of St John the Baptist was originally built in 1308 but reconstructed in the 18th century by local architect Giovanni Miazzi. Giambattista Piazzetti made the altarpiece of John the Baptist and Orzio Marinali created the statues of angels and the bas-reliefs.

The Cathedral of Holy Mary was a 10th century parish church in the original high part of the town. The present cathedral dates from the 17th century. The high altar piece and the painting of St Stephen are the work of Leandro di Ponte, and the sculptures are by Mainali. Di Giacomo Dacci made the organ and the three ceiling paintings are by Volpata.

Where to eat

Trattoria del Borgo is a traditional restaurant with a garden, via Margan 7, tel 0424 522155

Birreria Ottone is an a 13th century palazzo. They offer a selection of Italian, Tyrolean and Austrian dishes, via Matteotti 48 - 50, tel 0424 522206.

Day trips

Marostica

Marostica is a 14th century medieval town where the original town wall stands intact.
It is best known as the "town of chess". Every second year a match, with people dressed in elaborate costumes to portray the pieces, is played on the giant chessboard below
the castle. This takes place on the second Friday, Saturday and Sunday every second year, when the year ends in an even number. This commemorates the chess match played in 1454 when the victor was to win the hand in marriage of Lianora, the daughter of the Lord of the Castle of Marostica. Two suitors, Rinaldo d'Angarano and Vieti da Vallonara, had fallen in love with Lianora and were to fight a duel to see how would marry Lianora. The Lord forbade the
duel and order decreed that the victor of the chess match would marry Lianora. However all was not lost for the defeated suitor, as he would marry Lianora's younger sister, Oldrata.
The period costumes are permanenly displayed in the Lower Castle.

Marostica holds a Cherry Festival every year during May and June. There are kiosks in the streets selling a variety of cherries including morello, roame,marostagne and sander.
There is an annual exhibition of comic cartoons in the town. Every July and August local craftsmen display their work the exhibition hall of the Lower Caste. There are some lovely walks through the surrounding hills.

Asola

Asola is a charming hilltop town, with a castle, a cathedral with a altar piece by Lorenzo Lotto and the 15th century Palazzo della Ragione. It was called the "city of one thousand horizons" by Giosue Carducci, because of all the fantastic views. It was much favoured by the Venetian nobility. Caterina Corona, the former Queen of Cyprus, lived here in the late 15th century. Robert Browning, the English poet, bought a house ere in the mid 17th century. Eleanora Duse, credited with being the greatest actress of the Italian stage was also a resident. The travel writer Freya Stark was brought up in Asolo and spent a lot of time here between her various expeditions. There is an antiques market every second weekend of the month, except duringJuly and August.

You can read the full guide to Bassano including photos and accommodation options at http://www.europealacarte.co.uk/Italy/bassano.html

Karen Bryan is a UK based independent travel consultant and writer. In her website, Europe a la Carte, http://www.europealacarte.co.uk, she promotes less well known destinations in Europe. Karen believes that you can get more of a flavour of the real country even if you venture only slightly off the well beaten tourist track

Friday, 2 July 2010

Day Tours from Rome

If you are staying in Rome for a while you may want to consider taking a day tour or two while you are there. Here are 5 ideas for day tours from Rome.

Best Day Trips From Rome, Italy
By Christine Zibas

When visiting Rome, Italy, travelers should follow the example of emperors and popes and see some of the surrounding countryside. Fuori parta (beyond the gate), as Ancient Romans noted, lie great treasures. The area surrounding Rome, the region of Lazio, is one of the most beautiful areas of Italy in its own right, and those who travel beyond Rome's city gates will surely be in for a special treat.

Ostia Antica
To the east of Rome (about a half hour by train) lies Ostia Antica, a site that is considered to be "the Pompeii of Rome." Once the ancient site of Rome's port, this area lost its importance when the course of the Tiber River changed, leaving it (some 2,000 years later) a sandy, muddy wasteland.

Founded in the 4th century BC, today it is little more than a site for excavated ruins. Travelers exploring Ostia Antica, however, can gain a better understanding of what life was like in ancient times by exploring the excavations and accompanying museum.

Among the items worth exploring at the site are the mosaic floors with Neptune and the sea goddess Amphitrite at the Terme di Nattuna (Baths of Neptune), the theater built by Agrippa (original creator of the Pantheon in Rome), and the Mithraeum, in which the balconies and walls of this building are decorated with symbols from the Cult of Mithras religion. Close to the ruins of Ostia Antica is the Medieval city of Castello della Rovere, which began in 1483.

Tivoli
Another spot worth journeying to on a day trip from Rome is Tivoli. In ancient times, Tivoli was the place where emperors went to escape the heat and misery of Roman life in the summer. Large palaces and villas were created, but by the Middle Ages, this area had largely been abandoned. It was rediscovered by the elite of the Catholic Church, those cardinals and popes with abundant wealth, who revived the area by building anew.

Today, Tivoli is a beautiful and vibrant area with stunning views and cascading waterfalls. Two jewels remain from ancient times, the Temple of Vesta and the ruins of the Sanctuary of the Sibyl. Most travelers who make the journey from Rome (via bus or train), however, come to see the Villa Adriana (Hadrian's Villa) or the Villa d'Este's fabled gardens.

Villa Adriana/Hadrian's Villa
One of the most accomplished of the Ancient Roman emperors, Hadrian rose to power in 1178 AD, and began a construction boom in Rome (and elsewhere) that was unrivaled. His villa at Tivoli was a masterpiece created by local artisans, which incorporated ideas from Hadrian's world travels. He much admired Hellenistic (Greek) culture. His vast estate in Tivoli was a conglomerate of baths, theaters, libraries, temples, open-air gymnasiums, and guest pavilions. The most famous element at the Villa Adriana is the Canopus, an artificial pool created to emulate a canal on the Nile. Those exploring the villa would do well, when visiting, to rent the audio tour (along with it, you will receive a complimentary map to help guide your tour of the area).

Villa d'Este
At Tivoli's center lies the Villa d'Este, built by a cardinal in the 16th century. While the villa itself isn't much to see today, the main reason for visiting this special spot are its gardens. To create these beautiful water gardens, the Aniene River was diverted, and the result is breathtaking. The gardens of the Villa d'Este are a masterpiece, with sun and shade, water and stone all working together to create a truly unforgettable experience. Perhaps the most romantic time to visit the gardens is on a summer evening, when the floodlit fountains work their magic.

Castelli Romani
Contrary to what their name might imply, the castelli are not castles, but rather charming towns and villages scattered throughout the Alban Hills, which (of course) aren't really "hills," but instead remnants of extinct volcanic activity.

These picturesque towns today are surrounded by olive groves, woods full of chestnut trees, and lovely vineyards, with accompanying wine cellars. Among those towns worth exploring are Frescati, with its Villa Aldonbrandini; Castelgandolfo, where the Pope summers (Villa Pontifica); Ariccia, with the beautiful Palazzo Chigi; and Nemi, the smallest but most beautiful of them all.

Whether one travels amongst the hill towns of the Castelli Romani or takes in the stunning villas of Tivoli or takes a step back in time at Ostia Antica, it's clear that little more than an hour outside Rome (and often less), there is a beautiful Italian countryside worth exploring. Rome is a hard city to leave, but a day trip outside the city is well worth the time away.

Christine Zibas is a veteran of the think tank world, having worked in both Washington, DC, and London. She is a former travel writer, specializing in educational travel. Her last job before becoming a freelance writer was as director of publications for a nonprofit organization, based in Chicago, Illinois.

Hopefully these will give you some ideas of day tours from Rome!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Puglia Sightseeing

Want to find out about Puglia sightseeing highlights? Read the article below...

What to Do on Holiday in Puglia
By Andy Gibson

Puglia is popularly referred as the "heel of Italy's boot" and is the fine assortment of baroque churches, pagan dances and fairytale cottages. This captivating terrain is full of picturesque locations that are very popular with families staying in holiday homes.

Puglia boasts about its long history and has a wide range of sightseeing attractions that are well worth a visit. Puglia is divided into six provinces making it more interesting when renting holiday villas.

Many holiday makers visit Lecce. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations of this region. Lecce is regarded as a magnificent jewel of the baroque architecture. You will find different crafts of architecture constructed using the theme of yellow colors and splendidly preserved.

Other places to visit are Bari, Taranto, Ostuni, Otranto, Alberobello, Gallipoli, Isola San Domino, Bitonto, Isola Caprara, Castellana Grotte, Rignano Garganico, Monopoli, Brindisi and Foggia. Apart from sight seeing, you can also go to the zoo safari at Fasano.

Puglia has a wide range of markets including Putignanno, Alberobello, Noci and Martina Franca. These markets have a great selection of locally made crafts and food. There is nothing better than walking through a local market and sampling locally produced wine and cheese. The area also has many shopping centers and retail outlets.

You can buy fabulous art and craft works, designer attires, fashionable accessories and hi-tech gadgets, the markets in Puglia are there to serve you for all your needs and interests.

If you are true lover of adventurous activities, then Puglia has fun and entertainment in store for you. This is because there are many beaches such as Polignano, San Vito, and Castellanetta among others. The best thing about these beaches is that you can enjoy serene landscapes and sun basking to a large extent.

Along with this, these beaches are also popular for different adventurous activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, sea surfing, underwater swimming, fishing and splendid views of coral reefs. This will make your entire trip a memorable experience as these activities are entertained with the advance amenities so as to provide travelers with the most exciting experience.

If you are connoisseur of Mediterranean cuisine and wines, Puglia will never disappoint you as this terrain is popular for world class restaurants and eateries offering top quality and finger licking cuisine varieties made from tomatoes, courgettes, olives, chickpeas, sauces and cheese.

All these varieties are assorted with mouth watering friselle, bread rings, softened water and oregano. This way they are classically served to the people. Moreover, another attraction is its wine. You can taste all kinds of wines available in the world such as red wine, white wine and gold wine among others.

Some of the famous brands include Primitivo di Manduria, Salice Salentino and snifferes. So, travel to this terrain and enjoy all these things to a large extent and make your entire trip a rocking experience.

The relaxed way of life here combined with the abundant local foods makes renting holiday villas here so calming and easy, giving you time to explore the Puglia region with great ease.

Italy is an interesting country to visit on vacation and is full of a rich history and takes great pride in its local culture. You can stay in holiday rentals when you come here on vacation. If you bring your family you may decide to stay in a self catering holiday apartment in Puglia.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Sightseeing in Pisa

Are you thinking of doing some sightseeing in Pisa? Read this article to find out what not to miss.

Things to See and Do in Pisa
By Dennis C Wilson

Pisa in Italy is the perfect place to visit for short trip and it is also great for a long vacation. It is a city that is steeped in heritage and has a lot of history behind it's walls. Every place has a story to tell and you will be mesmerized at the sheer beauty and elegance of many of these places. There are various architectural sights that you must absolutely see when visiting Pisa.

You can start your tour of this great city at the Baptistery (Battistero), which is the largest baptistery in Italy. It dates back to the 12th century, making it a remarkable piece of European history. Designed in its round shape by the famous Deotisalvi, it has a rather large circumference of 348 feet. The construction of the lower drum was done in Romanesque style and the Gothic style upper part was added almost a hundred years later. It is famous for its huge dome, its carved front and the pulpit designed by the great Nicola Pisano.

Afterward, you can visit piazza dei Cavalieri. It was designed by Giorgio Vasari in the year 1560 and is one of the most important piazzas of Pisa. It is a curved open space that leads up to the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri. This piazza was the former seat of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen (Ordine dei Cavalieri di Santo Stefano), who were an organized group of religious warriors who protected the city from the Turks.

For those who enjoy being close to nature, there is the Botanical Gardens (Orto Botanico di Pisa). It was built sometime in the 1540s and is claimed to be the oldest botanical gardens in all of Europe. Visitors can look forward to an amazing experience viewing various fantastic species of plants from all over the world. It has a very relaxed atmosphere and most visitors appreciate the calm and quite. It is closed on Sundays and there is no admission fee.

Any visit to Pisa is incomplete without a trip to the Leaning Tower (Torre Pendente) of Pisa. There are many people every year who make a trip to Pisa just to see this tower. It is actually the bell tower of Pisa Cathedral (Duomo di Pisa). Its sand foundation caused it to lean over time and has now made it the famed monument that it is. Climbing the stairs is a unique experience.

Italy is a country with so much to explore and discover. Hiring a car in Italy may be an option worth considering particularly if you plan on traveling about and taking in some of the other wonderful locations within Italy such as Venice, Rome, Milan and Naples.

There are lots of holiday bargains to be had in Italy when it comes to flights, car hire, lodgings and other holiday necessities. Companies are fighting tooth and nail for your business. So if you fancy a value for money trip to Italy well now may be the time to start searching.

Take a look at our resource sites at car hire Pisa and car hire Venice Airport for more information.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Sicily Sightseeing

Are you planning some Sicily Sightseeing? If so, read on to find out the highlights of Sicily.

The 5 Best Tours of Sicily
By Mark Scriven

When it comes to travelling in Sicily, independent travel and exploring is possible, thanks to the vast amount of tour and excursion packages which can be found on this beautiful island. These can be found and organized by either contacting your local travel agents or a tour operator once you have arrived on the island, but below is a taste of the fantastic sights you can look forward to seeing.

For the ultimate in luxury sightseeing tours, look no further than a day tour of Palermo which will take you to some of the city's most aristocratic homes. This is perfect for those history buffs who love nothing more than soaking up as much culture as possible whilst on their vacation. Many may find interest watching documentaries based on art and architecture from the Middle Ages to the Baroque era, but on this tour you can view it for yourself-providing an experience not to be missed.

This is a full day tour which includes a lunch, sampling some of the most delicious Sicilian specialties that you can find on the island. Your tour will take you to some of most breathtaking and historical monuments you can find within Europe, from Steri Castle to the Martorana Church, making this a truly cultural day out. The Golden Sicily Tour is the best tour for those who want to see the major sights within Sicily.

Beginning in either Palermo or Taormina, this 6 day tour will allow you to see all this fantastic location has to offer, rather than 'dropping' you off for a brief time at different locations. With hotel bookings made for you, you are free to enjoy the culture, history and decadent cuisine of Sicily-perfect for those who are looking to explore the main attractions within the island, whilst still allowing for your own personal time to do some exploring on your own. These tours run throughout most of the year but also have the advantage of add-on days such as gourmet cooking classes and jeep excursion and lunch.

When it comes to tours of your holiday destination, many may feel that they are provided with similar tours they have experienced before-never providing them with something new and exciting. The Best of Sicily Tours involves a mixture of hotel bookings, small guide groups and some of the best in Sicilian cuisine-in all, making your holiday what it should be.

Again, this tour allows for your own personal time to explore which is great for those who are not used to travelling with aid of a tour guide before. The Sicilian Impressions Tour looks to provide you with as much culture, history and good food as possible within the space of 5 days-allowing you to extend your vacation in Sicily for your own leisure if you've not quite had enough of this beautiful island. Crossing over from Palermo to Taormina, this is the ultimate in tours for those who love nothing more than embarking in a spot of Sicilian history and culture. Whilst enjoying the traditional food you will get to view for yourself some outstanding landmarks such as the Greek temples in Agrigento to Mount Etna. Finally, for the ultimate foodie there is Market cooking classes in Palermo.

This is the perfect way to spend your vacation for those who simply cannot part with the delicious food you will find in Sicily. These half day lessons will begin with you finding your ingredients during a trip to one of Palermo's street markets, after which you will prepare lunch under the direction of one of Palermo's finest chefs. This is not only a fantastic way to hone your cooking skills, but also allows you to take some of your experiences within Sicily back home with you.

When it comes to your holiday in Sicily, there are no limitations to the ways in which you can explore this fantastic island. Why not combine a few tours together for the ultimate experience or work your tours around the most appealing factors of the island? Whatever you decide, you are sure to be astounded and amazed by the sheer beauty which comes from all Sicily has to offer.

Mark Scriven is an online marketing expert and has written many articles on business, travel and the internet. For a wide selection of holiday villas in Sicily visit Cottages to Castles, specialists in luxury Sicily villas.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Italy Bicycle Trips

Are you thinking of taking an Italy bicycle trip? Read on to get some ideas for ideas for Italy bicycle trips.

Bicycle Tour Europe - Top 5 Cycling Regions of Italy
By Tom Oxby

One of the most visited European destinations for bicycle touring is Italy. You will not be alone as many local cyclists also fill the bicycle paths and country roads. Surprisingly, Italians are very gentle when passing cyclists so do not let their reputation for fast driving deter you.

The top 5 bicycle touring regions of Italy:

Tuscany - this region is on the must do list of everyone who bicycle tours. Although there are no signed bicycle routes in the region there are many quiet and scenic roads between the major towns which are well signed. You can expect some major climbs as you bicycle tour through the hills covered with either sunflowers or bright red poppies, depending on the season.

In the southern Tuscany your cycling is in the area between Cortona, Montepolciano and Montalcino. In central Tuscany you will be bicycle touring it is the area between Siena and Florence including San Gimignano and the wine region of Chianti. And in the north the best cycling is found in the area around Lucca. Either base yourself in a villa for daily trips or easily join the three regions in one longer journey.

Umbria - the next door neighbor to Tuscany which often combined to create a longer bicycle touring journey including both regions. Cyclists will want to head for Perugia, well known for its chocolates, the hilltop town Todi and the religious center of Assisi. Umbria, like Tuscany is a hilly region so expect many nice climbs.

Puglia - a little to the northeast of Umbria is Puglia with bicycle touring along the rugged Adriatic coastline. So you can expect excellent Italian seafood cuisine along your way.

The countryside also features olive grove plantations surrounding charming white walled villages.

Veneto - Just because the terrain of this area is mostly flat you may be surprised by the fabulous scenery and historic towns. Unlike some of the other regions there are a number of bicycle paths for the cyclist. In Bassano del Grappa taste the famous liqueur made here; in Asolo you have elegant homes and great red wines; Stra is known for its many villa which are really palaces. In Padua there are some ancient museums and one of the world's oldest universities. Of course, there is Venice, to both visit and cycle along the islands of the Lido area.

Piemonte - not as well known this northern bicycle touring region offers rolling terrain along quiet roads. The region is best known for its medieval towns surrounded by vineyards with the Alps in the background. Along your journey enjoy fine truffles, cheeses and the excellent chocolate.

The best time to go bicycle touring in any of these regions is from May to June or September to October.

So for you next European bicycle touring journey go to the land you have always dreamed about, Italy. It is everything you always imaged.

And every year Tom Oxby explores North America and Europe on while bicycle touring and hiking. He has found that proper planning is essential to get the most from your cycling adventure.

For more fascinating information about bicycle touring visit his website at http://www.easybicycletouring.com

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Sorrento Sightseeing

Here are a few tips for Sorrento Sightseeing:

Sorrento, Italy
By Hannah Rollmaker

For visitors to Italy you will find a country which is brimming with an abundance of natural beauty, friendly native inhabitants, interesting sights to visit and a number of interesting cities and towns that you can explore to your heart's content. One such city you will enjoy exploring is that of Sorrento. You will be able to find this small city in the Campania region of Southern Italy. Due to the numerous modern amenities to be found in this city as well as the close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea Sorrento is a popular tourist destination for many people the world over.

From the city of Sorrento you can travel with ease to neighboring cities and islands as it is close to Naples, Pompeii, Capri, Ischia, Amalfi and Positano. In addition to visiting these other cities you will find Sorrento provides you with an excellent view from many places in the city of Naples which can be clearly seen across the bay. Other sights you will be entranced to see are that of the island of Capri and the still active Mount Vesuvius.

Once you have familiarized yourself with these sights which can be found both in and close to Sorrento you can take your time to visit some of the more memorable places of interesting in this city. The first item to remember as Sorrento is regarded as a holiday destination you might want to include hiking as well as lounging on the beach as part of the way to pass time enjoyably. However if you want to absorb some of the culture and history of this lovely city you may wish to visit the Archeological Museum of the Sorrentine Peninsula.

In this Archaeological Museum you will be able to look at a number of different artifacts which shows the history of southern Italy as well as Sorrento. You will have the chance of learning how the culture of this city developed into the one which the world is familiar with today. Once you have toured this museum you may like to head over to the Museo Correale di Terranova. This museum is considered to be Sorrento's primary picture gallery. Here you will be able to look at the many different paintings which have been done by artists from a number of eras.

The talents of these artists will provide you with a wonderful way of seeing the past through art. While visiting these museums is quite delightful you will also be able to learn about the history of Sorrento from its various religious buildings such as the St. Francis Monastery, the Basilica di Sant'Antonino or even looking at the Duomo which is a fabulous Cathedral that you should visit while you are in Sorrento.

The next time you are looking forward to a fabulous Italian holiday remember you can sightsee in the beautiful city of Sorrento. The memories that you will make here are ones that you can talk with friends and family for many a month to come.

Find your next Sorrento hotel, here.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Italy Sightseeing Tips

Are you planning an Italy Sightseeing trip? If so, here are a few facts about Italy to prepare you for your vacation.

Introduction to Italy

Italy, the birthplace of pasta and pizza provides a wide range of choices for art lovers. They have a temperate climate with very hot summers and mild winters. Sightseeing is best in spring and autumn when they have pleasant temperatures and scenic views. At that time of the year, the place isn’t crowded much and things can be enjoyed in leisure.


Italian Culture

Italian is widely spoken and is the official language. English isn’t very familiar to the locals but in popular sightseeing locations you will often find that English is spoken in shops, restaurants, hotels and at popular sights.. Family ties are of utmost importance here and hence social courtesies mean a lot to the locals. The Roman Catholic Church has a great impact on the culture here. Since Italian is spoken on a wide scale, it is highly recommended to learn few common Italian phrases which can be of great use.

Social gatherings call for formal wear, but one can dress in casuals otherwise. At some religious places, sleeveless shirt and shorts are frowned upon. So they are better avoided. Purses and wallets should be well guarded and in case of any theft, police should be informed about the incident.


Shopping

Shops in Italy are generally open from 9am to 8pm and closed for lunch.Popular items include crystals, lacework, leather good, and jewelry. Tipping of 10% is customary along with the service tax levied on the bill. Italy is famous for top designers of the world, so do buy clothes and accessories to update your wardrobe. Cruises have formal gatherings in the evening, so ensure to buy a cocktail dress or some formal wear, though casuals can be worn at other times.

Practicalities

The voltage used is 220 volts and 50 Hz frequency.

There is a high content of chlorine in tap waters, so bottled water is recommended for staying fit during the trip.

Getting there

Alitalia is the national airline of Italy. Many other flights connect to Italy from USA, UK, Canada and Australia and there is big competition to attract passengers giving a wide range of offers to travelers. Rome airport is located 26 km away from the city and it takes 45 minutes to get there from the airport. Trains connect directly to Termini Station from where one can take taxi to get to their destination. Milan has another busy airport here, which is at a distance of 45km away from the city.

Brindisi, Ancona, Naples and Venice are the major seaports of Italy. Italian State Railways connects many European cities. But, Eurostar provides the fastest train service.

If choosing to drive, don’t forget to carry international driving license and international insurance certificate. Roads connect Italy to France, Austria and Switzerland. Many coach services are provided from the neighboring countries.

Naples Sightseeing

Naples Sightseeing: Italy - Naples Attractions
By Lucia Mancini

A positive outcome of the mess caused by the trash emergency is what has been called a rebirth of Naples Italy and the new and old attractions of this city. Naples has its problems, no doubt, but there are few cities in the world that have the incredible charm of Naples and its people.

Some of Naples attractions that you should not miss include:
- the Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina which has been open for three years and is the result of the restoration of Palazzo Regina on Via Settembrini.

-the doll hospital called "l'ospedale delle bambole" is a delightful place where broken toys are given new life.It is on Via San Biagio dei Librai 81.

One of the best attractions includes Naples' eateries. The locals have their preferences for just about everything and will boastfully tell you where you can get the best food, drinks, etc. In fact, just about everyone will agree that the locals prefer to have their coffee at Spaccanapoli, at bar Nilo, where they say there is no comparison.

Naples is also the birthplace of fried fast food which includes "crocchette,arancini, panzerotti". Again locals will tell you the best eatery for these is at Le Belle Figliole in Forcella. For those who have a sweet tooth "la sfogliatella" is in piazza San Domenico Maggiore at Scaturchio. For dinner don't miss Cicciotto at Marechiaro. Appetizers include fried mozzarella and fried baby octopus. For happy hour "il migliore" or the best is at Bufala Cafe' at Via Luca Giordano 33 after 7 pm.

Another attraction not to miss is the best place to see the sunset! Lungomare or seaside between Mergellina and Castel dell'Ovo is the best place for this view. It is no wonder you will find a plethora of couples exchanging glances and embraces in this spot!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Umbria Sightseeing - Perugia, Assisi, Orvieto & Terni

I Love Sightseeing Tours of Italy - Winter Attractions and Events In Umbria

Umbria is a landlocked region of central Italy. Its winters are relatively mild. Of course, the higher the elevation, the more snow and wind. The Perugia Antique Trade Fair runs for about a week from the end of October in Umbria's capital. Then go to the Citta di Castello Truffle and Forest Products Fair on the weekend that starts on the first Friday of November. In addition to peerless white truffles you'll find delicacies such as mushrooms, chestnuts, honey, wild-berry jams and some great oil, wine and cheeses. Towards the end of November visit the Torgiano Tasting of Italian Wines that focuses on Umbrian wine. Don't miss the local wine museum.

Perugia's Christmas market starts in early December and runs for approximately one month. It includes crafts, movies, music, family shows and food. The Soul Christmas festival of gospel music starts a few days later in the theaters and churches of Lake Trasimeno. Mount Ingino, perched above the small town of Gubbio, Umbria, boasts a huge Christmas tree, the tallest in the world with some 500 lights. It's about half a mile (800 meters) high and the star on top can be seen for almost 30 miles (50 kilometers.) The tree is lit on 7 December, the evening before the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

You may want to spend Christmas in Assisi, the home of Italy's patron saint, Francis of Assisi. Umbrian nativity scenes and holiday concerts abound; the list of towns and villages is too long to reproduce here. Citta di Castello celebrates Christmas Eve on the Tiber River. Several canoeists, each dressed as Father Christmas, wend their lighted canoes to the Porta San Florido Bridge where a crib is suspended over the water. They exit their canoes and give small presents to the children.

For several days starting in late, late December Orvieto is the site of the Umbria Jazz Winter Festival. Concerts run from noon until late at night in several locations including the Fourteenth Century Palazzo Soliano. Don't miss the New Year's Eve feast or, for a change of pace, the New Year's Day gospel concert held in the magnificent Cathedral.

The Umbrian town of Terni celebrates their patron saint, Valentino, with a jewelry exhibition and contest and a torchlight parade. On the third Sunday of February Spello hosts an Olive and Bruschetta Festival. The month of February ends with the Norcia Fair devoted to the Norcia Black Truffle and typical specialties from the Valnerina. Besides great food you'll enjoy music, dancing, crafts, folklore, and sports events.

About the Author:

Levi Reiss authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books but he really prefers drinking fine wine with the right foods. He loves teaching computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel, wine, and food website www.travelitalytravel.com and his global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com featuring a weekly review of $10 wines and new sections writing about and tasting organic and kosher wines.

Colosseum Sightseeing Rome

Are you planning a visit to Rome? If so, you don't want to miss the Colosseum when you are sightseeing.

All About the Colosseum in Rome, Italy
By Roxanne Bridger

One of the most iconic images of Rome is the colosseum. Construction began on it in 70 and 72 AD and was complete about 8 years later in 80AD. Its purpose was not only to be an amphitheatre to seat 50,000 spectators, it was also designed to impress the thousands of people who would travel far and wide to come and stare at this astonishing building. Being one of the most visited hotspots in the city means that even today, people travel miles to come and see what is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture.

The Colosseum was not thought of as being a very sacred place to begin when it was first created. However, in the 16th and 17th century this all changed and, despite some opposition, the area became synonamous with religion. It still has very strong connections with the Roman Catholic church and every year on Good Friday, the "Way of the Cross" procession starts in this area and is lead by the Pope.

The different tiers in the structure were allocated to different types of people. In the days when the amphitheatre first opened it's doors, the best seats in the house were reserved for the Emperor and other royalty as they offered the greatest views. Then there was the senatorial class's level. These were reserved for a certain type of upper class people and had amazing views as well -visitors even got to bring their own chairs. The levels above that were for the poorer visitors as the view made it a lot harder to see what was going on.

The building is in such well-preserved condition, despite a number of devastating earthquakes and people stealing the stones. Thanks to a recent €3million restoration and structural reinforcement effort, the amphitheatre is opening its doors to the public and allowing the public access from the 1st July 2010.

The access to the colosseum is very limited at the moment. You can go up to the second level and get a reasonably good view, but the third and fourth tier have been off limits to the public since the 1960's. In the past it wasn't good if you got a seat at the very top, but these days the views that are on offer are incredible and this is the level us tourists want to be.

If you do plan on visiting the newly opened areas of the colosseum, have a look at our experts recommendations of the best cheap hotels in Rome before your trip.

By Roxanne Bridger - a travel enthusiast who loves to explore the world!

Sightseeing in Piedmont

Are you thinking of doing some sightseeing in Piedmont? If so, read the article below to learn more about exploring Piedmont.

Explore Piedmont, Italy's Wine Region

By Adam Singleton

Those who enjoy a nice glass of wine are sure to have heard of Piedmont. A region of Italy well known for producing some excellent boutique wines, Piedmont is also a gorgeous destination with views of grassy vistas and alpine ranges. Surrounded by the Alps on three sides, Piedmont is a gem in the Italian borders and its main city, Turin, is home to Italy's royal family, so you can rest assured there will be plenty to see and do in the region.

A trip to sample some of Piedmont's finest wines means a chance to get to grips with a beautiful, but expansive, region. Hiring a car to let you discover Piedmont's treasures at your own pace can be a great way to make sure you don't miss out.

Like Tuscany, Piedmont is a favourite destination for wine buffs - producing world-renowned selections such as Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto and Moscato D'Asti. However, it's also a perfect destination for travellers hoping to enjoy some fine dining along with their drinks, and its local dishes are some celebrated throughout Italy. If you're taking a trip to Piedmont to experience some of the finer things in life, then indulging in some of Piedmont's precious white truffles is a must.

Piedmont is made up of a number of provinces, and if you're visiting to take a tour of some of its most famous wineries Langhe in Cuneo Province is the perfect destination for you. Its hills are home to some of Piedmont's most stunning vineyards and you can pay a visit to famous wine towns Monforte, Serralunga d'Alba, Barolo, La Morra and Barbaresco.

Other areas that are a must see for any discerning wine buffs include the Roero hills which are situated in the west bank of the Tanaro River. Also famous for its honey and peaches, visitors will have a chance to see the vineyards of Piedmont's Arneis wines. Monferrato is another favourite, and is well known for Barbera d'Asti wine and is home to some particularly fine truffles.

A trip to Piedmont wouldn't be complete without a stop in Turin however, and the city's grand boulevards and impressive architecture makes it an awe inspiring choice for any travellers. There are plenty of shops to peruse, as well as a number of art galleries and leafy parks. Turin car rental is also available, meaning it could be a good place to start and end your wine tasting adventure in Piedmont.

Learn more about Turin car rental. Adam Singleton writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Palermo Sicily Sightseeing

Palermo Uncovered - Things to See & Do in Palermo, Sicily
by Michelle Elkins

Like the country itself, the people of Sicily burst with colour, passion and vitality, welcoming visitors to their spectacular island with a warmth that is infectious. As the capital of Sicily, Palermo concentrates all this wonderful enthusiasm and provides a getaway for holiday-makers that is unforgettable. Although parts of it are still crumbling, much work has been done to restore the grandeur of this amazing city which is rich in medieval ancestry and the sights, sounds and flavours of the Mediterranean.

Palermo Airport, also known as Punta Raisi Airport or Falcone-Borsellino Airport is located 32km northwest of the centre. For those not organising car hire at Palermo Airport, onward transportation comes in the form of trains, buses, taxis or a Palermo Airport Transfer, which is well worth the few minutes it takes to book in advance. Direct flights to Palermo from the UK go from Stansted Airport and are provided by the low cost airline, Ryanair.

While the Piazza Pretoria equates the central point of Palermo, where the famous Pretoria Fountain complete with nude figurines takes centre stage, the Quattro Canti is at the original heart of the city. This ancient square is where the main roads of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda diverge and divided the town into quarters. It is here that one of the most impressive structures in Palermo lies, at least internally, the Palazzo dei Normanni, which is now where the Sicilian parliament resides. This Arab-Norman palace has been rebuilt significantly from the outside but inside is made spectacular by the unbelievable mosaics which cover the walls and ceiling of the Cappella Palatina and the old Royal Apartments.

Other places of interest to visit are the Museo Archeologico Regionale with its Greek and Roman artifacts, the Galleria Regionale within the Gothic-styled Palazzo Abatellis which exhibits a host of masterpieces, and for music lovers there is the Teatro Massimo. Finally finished in 1897, after 22 years of construction, it is the largest opera house in Italy.

For a truly spine-tingling treat however, the Capuchin Catacombs offer something a little more macabre. Situated under the monastery of the same name, it is home to over 8000 mummified cadavers which line the walls in a state of lifelike suspension. The effect is due to the special preservative used to freeze the corpses, although some have fared better then others. Some of the bodies date back to the 16th century, but the last person to be buried there was a 2-year-old called Rosalia Lombaro in 1920 who the locals have nicknamed "Sleeping Beauty". It is open daily between 9am-12 noon and 3pm-5pm.

After all that sight-seeing, a leisurely trip to the beach may well be in order and on the north coast of Sicily the choice is fantastic. The chance to wade in mesmerising, warm blue waters and lay out on soft, golden sands in the glorious Sicily weather is guaranteed along the north coast.. Travel west 12.2km, a journey of around 25 minutes in a Palermo hire car, and you come to the riviera-type resort of Mondello. This pretty seaside location is full of beautiful grand villas, many in the art deco style, and swaying palm trees sat cocooned between the gentle, lulling sea and the majestic mountains of Cape Gallo and Mount Pellegrini. The town has plenty of quaint cafes to find refreshment in or for something altogether swankier, there is a beach club with a restaurant located at the end of a pier which treats diners to some spectacular views. To get back to nature, the Capo Gallo National Park provides some fantastic walks with its rocky, lush green beauty and is just a further 20 minute drive north.

Travel in the other direction, 67km or 55 minutes east from Palermo by car and Cefalù offers the perfect place for a day trip. More classically Italian in spirit, Cefalù boasts a colourful beach and a plethora of traditional eateries, while the town´s Norman and medieval heritage is still very much in evidence in its narrow winding streets and architectural remnants. The Palermo-Messina trains also stop along this route and buses regularly stop here.

It would be impossible to come to Sicily though and not visit one of nature´s biggest attractions. Although Mount Etna is over a 3 hour drive from Palermo, roughly 250km, the chance to see the most active volcano in the world is unmissable. The south side of the mountain is free for all to climb but to get to the very top and stare into the eye of the volcano, a guide is necessary. Here the scenery changes from vines and wooded areas to a spartan wasteland of craters and hardened black lava, dotted with snow for much of the year. The result is akin to the conditions on Mars which is why scientists frequently use the area to test robots before they are sent there.

Although it can be done in a day, it is advisable to stop off in nearby Catania for the night and take the opportunity to visit some of the unusual black sandy beaches, a direct result of the resident volcano. Also on the list should be Siracusa, approximately 66km and an hour´s drive south. The town itself and the nearby Necropolis of Pantalica are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites, and have some amazing examples of ancient Greek and Roman archaeology.

Michelle Elkins is a regular contributor to the Sicily Airport Guide, which provides the best rates on Palermo Airport car hire and information on everything from Palermo Airport transfers to Palermo Weather.