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Home Page > Travelogues > Italy (a.k.a. Italia)

Quick Access for this Page -- [ Introduction ] [ Travelogues By Region ] [ Links ]

Click on the colored areas of the map to access a travelogue.  The colors indicate different regions of Italy -- scroll down for explanation and introduction for each location. (Original map comes from the CIA World Factbook)

IntroductionI keep telling myself that I haven't done enough Italy.  The good Italynews is that I've hit most of the top spots -- Rome, Milan, Venice, etc. -- but as I've mostly done weekenders, and these are places that can't be covered completely in a weekend.

Italy differs greatly from one part to another.  The mountainous north is very picturesque and Alpine Italy is very friendly and enjoyable.  Once you get south of Rome, the land be comes mostly desert (Sicily is a desert island), and the people demonstrate a stereotypical Mediterranean passion about life.  Although the Italians do tend to show a short fuse around tourists, the fact is most Italians I've encountered are naturally easy-going and strongly family-oriented -- very little different from the large Italian-American communities I grew up around.

Italian cuisine is everything it is cracked up to be.  Italians know food very well, and another short of excellent is considered subpar.  Pizzerias are common and represent Italian fast food (but the pizzas are not sliced, they are served as individual pies and you eat them with fork and knife).  The typical sequence of course is something like -- antipasto (appetizer), first course (usually pasta), second course (usually a meat dish), salad, desert, coffee.  Be advised that if you order a coffee in Italy, you will get an espresso.  (If you want an American-style coffee, you must ask for a coffee americano, and you'll get a big cup with an espresso and a jug of hot water.)

Italian driving is also everything it is cracked up to be.  I was told by a grandfatherly figure in Sicily that the traffic signs are for decoration.  Simply put, if you are remotely skittish behind the wheel, don't try.  On the other hand, you'll quickly learn that there is a civility, and while they are aggressive drivers, they are normally courteous, too, and accidents are rare.

There are other hazards.  Some gotchas you'll want to know:  There are such things as fiscal police -- officers who will pull over cars and check all belongings to ensure they were rightly purchased by the owner, including soft drinks and snacks purchased at gas stations.  Word to the wise, keep all receipts.  Also, if you take a taxi, few are metered.  You must negotiate the price before he departs, otherwise you will find yourself subjected to the demands of the driver.  Italians are also infamous pickpockets and petty thieves who will reach into moving cars and grab stuff (i.e. keep your windows closed and doors locked).

But, despite the quirks and gotchas, Italy is absolutely worth all the attention it gets.  You can't go too far wrong in the big cities, and Sicily is a worthwhile visit.

Travelogues by Region.  The coloring of the locations on the map above indicate different regions in Switzerland, as shown below.  

PURPLE:  Northern Italy.  The three cities I lumped together in this group have virtually nothing in common.  The northwestern city of Milan is world-reknowned for fashion, but it is Milan's Duomo (Cathedral)also famous for its extravagant Duomo (pictured).  At the opposite side is Venice, where I spent a good day enjoying the canals, the piazzas, and shopping.  I also watched Venice's glass makers at work making famous Venetian crystal.  An hour drive west of Venice is Vicenza, a quieter city built on the steep banks of the Bacchiglione River with lots of old architecture and great pizzerias! GREEN:  Tuscany.   I had the chance to spend a great day in the Tuscan cities of Pisa and Florence.  Pisa was a shorter visit, because its main attractions -- the famous leaning tower, Il Duomo in Florencethe Baptistry, and the Cathedral -- are all together in one square.  It's fascinating to see how they've jerry-rigged the Tower to make sure it doesn't tip!  Meanwhile, Florence (pictured) is a fantastic city with the

RED:  Rome and the Holy See.  Everybody's heard of Rome, and surely many dream of going there someday!  I had my chance on a bus tour that included stops at the Colisseum, the Trevi The Colisseum in RomeFountain, and seemingly dozens of piazzas.  It was a mere day, but one could spend about a week there and not see everything!  It also included a trip to the Holy See (technically a separate country although it is entirely contained within Rome), with a full tour of the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica!

BLUE:  Naples.  These travelogues were formed from three trips I took to the Naples (pictured) region in 2000 and 2001.  I was fortunate to get enough pics of the city to form a travelogue.  A bus tour I took in 2000 was the basis for the Naplesother travelogues.  First is a wonderful afternoon trip to the island of Capri, with its breaktaking views and wonderful shopping districts.  Next was an evening swing into Sorrento, where I had the chance to watch inlaid wood art being made.  Then, I spent a good day in the volcanic ruins of Pompeii, a chance to learn about life during Roman times.
ORANGE:  Sicily.  This set of travelogues represent I took to the wonderful island of Sicily back in 1995.  Travelers there tell me it has changed little -- still a wondrous desert island with lots of Roman ruins, Agrigentowonderful food and wine, and tremendous scenery!  From my scrapbooks and memory, I was able to piece together four travelogues.  Agrigento (pictured) is the site of a former Roman city, and the ruins are surprisingly well-preserved (some being restored).  Catania is the capital city, where I had the chance to visit a local market and see the ruins found there.  Taormina is an extraordinary city, with a real Roman amphitheater perched high atop the seaside cliffs!  And finally, a travelogue from a driving tour around the entire base of Mt. Etna!  

LinksThe below links connect you to external sites in a new window.  All links are official sites sanctioned by the national, state, or local governments unless otherwise indicated.  These links will open to the Italian-language home page, which will offer an icon or link to an English-language section (normally limited content).  If an English language link is not available, click on the "Turismo" section.  This is for the tourism page, which should have English content available.  Links updated 6 January 2006.

Country Links:

bulletItalian National Tourist Bureau
bulletUS Embassy to Italy
bullet US Consular Information Sheet for Italy
bullet Italian Embassy to US 


Regional Links:

bullet Sicily Tourism Page

Tuscany Tourism Page


City and Town Links:


Agrigento Home Page (in Italian)


Capri Island Home Page


Catania Home Page (in Italian)


Catania Region Tourism Page (in Italian)


Florence Home Page


Florence Tourism Page (in Italian)


Milan Tourism Page


Naples Tourism Page


Pisa Home Page


Rome Tourism Page


Sorrento Tourism Page


Taormina Home Page


Taormina Tourism Page


Venice Tourism Page


Vicenza Home Page

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