10 Good Reasons to Visit Italy!

Visit Italy in 2016

There are many good reasons to visit Italy. Experience extraordinary architecture, remarkable works of art, fascinating history, as well as delicious cuisine and glorious natural beauty. Italy also has the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world, and is top of the list for world-class tourist attractions.

1.Rome

Monuments in Rome

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Rome is bursting with historical monuments, ruins and artifacts. These include the world famous Colosseum, Roman Forum and Trevi Fountain.
Explore the Vatican city and see the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo and the incredible St. Peter’s Basilica.

 

2. Venice

Visit Italy Venice canal

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If you visit Italy and bypass Rome, then you must not miss Venice. World famous for its 117 small islands which are separated by sleepy canals and linked by exquisite bridges. Add to that the gondolas and beautiful architecture, including Saint Mark’s Basilica. You can create memories that will last forever.

 

 3. Florence

Bridge in Florence

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The Renaissance City of Florence is extraordinary in its beauty. View the magnificent Baptistery, Michelangelo’s David and visit Piazza della Signoria, with its stunning statues and palazzi. Stroll along the Ponte Vecchio, a Medieval stone bridge in Florence, best known for the many shops built along it.

 

4. Pisa

Pisa Square of Miracles

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Pisa is a city best known for its iconic Leaning Tower. The Leaning tower of Pisa is a freestanding bell tower which stands next to the cathedral of Pisa, and started tilting during its construction in the 12th-century.

 

5. Siena

Siena

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Discover Siena, a picturesque medieval town in the heart of Tuscany, famous for its medieval brick buildings. Admire the wonderful architecture on Piazza del Campo, including the the Gothic palace, Palazzo Pubblico,  and its tower, Torre del Mangia.

 

6. Bologna

Bologna

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Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy, and is famous for its medieval towers. It is also known for its food and where tortellini, mortadella, tagliatelle and ragù originated from.

 

7. Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

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The Cinque Terre is a district where five centuries-old seaside villages are set along the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. See the enchanting colourful houses and ancient vineyards clinging to the terraces, soak up the amazing views, and experience the sheer beauty of the place.

 

8. Italian Lakes

Italian Lake

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Witness breathtaking views and serene surroundings when you visit the Italian Lakes region. From Lake Lugano to Lake Garda and the Dolomite Mountains, bask in the peaceful beauty of it all. Take a trip to Bellagio in the Province of Como, commonly known as ‘the pearl of Lake Como’, and be enchanted by this heavenly place.

 

 9. Naples

Bay of Naples

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The cosmopolitan city of Naples is Italy’s third-largest city and boasts a vast assortment of  archaeological treasures. This wonderful place is bursting with many historic palaces, monuments and statues, and the view as the sun sets on the Bay of Naples is outstanding.

 

10. Pompeii

Ruins at Pompeii

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Visit the excavations at Pompeii and prepare to be astonished by this haunting experience. Buried for centuries beneath volcanic ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, this  archaeological site lies preserved for all time. The ruins of Pompeii are simply extraordinary, providing a fascinating insight into ancient Roman life.

 

Vineyard

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Quite simply, immerse yourself in the Italian culture and let your heart be captured by this wonderful country.

You can plan to visit Italy with Global Coach Tours

5 Great Countries For You To Explore!

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France

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France is the world’s number one tourist destination, and it’s certainly not hard to see why.

From Paris with its vast amount of cultural history, amazing monuments and architecture, to the beauty of the French Riviera and the stunning region of Burgundy, France has it all.

You can explore the Mont Saint-Michel and the historical Normandy beaches in the north, and the medieval citadel of Carcassone and ancient Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard that crosses the Gardon River in the south.

Expat Explore has many coach tours that visit Paris. See the Champs Elysees and famous Arc de Triomphe, visit the the Louvre Museum or infamous catacombs. Enjoy a cruise up the River Seine, Climb the Eiffel Tower and explore the many museums, galleries, boulevards and restaurants, as far as places to go, the ‘City of Lights’ is truly a remarkable experience not to be missed.

Germany

Germany sits central at the heart of Europe and boasts stunning rural scenery and natural landscapes dotted with historical architecture. The Rhine Valley is a picturesque glacial alpine valley that cuts between enchanting hillside castles and rolling vineyards.

See the stunning Neuschwanstein Castle, a nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace seated on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau in Bavaria. You have to see it to believe it as this extraordinary castle takes you to a world of fantasy and fairy tales.

The magical countryside is contrasted by urban cities which are steeped in thousands of years of history. This urban culture reflects a dynamic and creative force that can be seen in cities such as Berlin and Munich. Berlin has an enticing mixture of history and contemporary culture, so you can witness the historical Berlin Wall while enjoying the bustling cutting edge social scene.

Likewise, in Munich enjoy the Oktoberfest beer festival on a guided tour with Expat Explore tour to get a true feel of German culture as it is meant to be.

Netherlands

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The Netherlands is one of the most unique if not smallest countries in Europe, and is recognized by its many canals and iconic windmills.

It may be small, but it has also provided considerable power and influence over the years. In the 17th century, the Dutch Empire grew to become one of the major economic powers, excelling in science and the military. The Dutch also had considerable cultural influence which can be seen in its legacy of master painters such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt.

Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital, and is well known for its artistic heritage and bustling nightlife. You can visit the Van Gogh museum and Rembrandt House museum there and see the truly wonderful work of these great artists, or take a trip down one of its many canals to see the true spirit of the city.

If the countryside is more your thing, why not take a trip to the famous Keukenhof Tulip Garden, and be blown away by the outstanding beauty of the place, especially in spring. Whatever your preference, the Netherlands will have something for everyone, and is a truly inspirational place to be.

The Netherlands is perfectly situated for an Expat Explore Europe multi-country coach tour, and is often the first or last destination to visit depending on which way round you travel.

Switzerland

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In the heart of central Europe lies the outstanding beauty of Switzerland, home to numerous enchanting lakes and valleys, and the founder of the intricate Swiss watch. Sample the famous cheese fondue and indulge in the finest Swiss chocolate, arguably the best in the world.

Switzerland is also known for its alpine peaks and glaciers, especially the 11,400 feet Jungfraujoch which is one of the highest peaks in Europe and one of most famous landmarks in the world. Take a train ride up to the peak and witness breathtaking views.

Visit the beautiful Lake Lucerne, which can be found in central Switzerland, and embark on a boat cruise on either an elegant salon motor vessel or historic paddle wheel steamer.

With France to the west, Germany to the north and Italy to the south, Switzerland is also perfectly situated for Expat Explore Europe multi-country coach tours.

Italy

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Last but not least Italy, what isn’t there to love about Italy – a truly extraordinary place!

As well as boasting the famous Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain and  St. Peter’s Basilica, Italy also has the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world!

Home to the Pope and the Catholic church, Rome has more than its fair share of  beautiful architecture and incredible history. Explore the Vatican city and see the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo, or wonder at the beautiful Saint Mark’s Basilica.

Explore Venice, famous for its canals, gondolas and amazing festival; visit the Leaning tower of Pisa, or bask in the glory of Florence. The Romans surely did leave a wealth of legacies to behold.

Immense yourself in the Italian culture with Expat Explore on one of their regional coach tours of Italy, and enjoy a holiday of a lifetime.

Touring Weather! Check the climate and the season to prepare for your tour of Europe.

Europe  probably has a wider range of weather conditions than anywhere else on earth.

Europe is home to huge mountains and vast lakes and rivers, and is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, resulting in a diverse array of weather conditions which are changeable all year round.

Touring Europe is also something you can do all year round, so knowing the weather conditions of some of the places you may visit would be a bonus.

Look below for weather information on some of the most popular places to visit in Europe:

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England – London

The UK is well known for its unsettled weather conditions where many types of weather can be experienced in one day. However, England does tend to have warmer temperatures throughout the year than the rest of the UK, with the sunniest month being in July. It rains on less days throughout the year than other areas in the UK, with the driest month being May. Strong gales are also not as common in England, while the  prevailing wind direction for the UK is normally the south-west.

Weather in London

Germany – Berlin

Germany can have cold, cloudy, wet winters and moderate warm to cool summers.  In the north and northwest of Germany, the climate is extremely oceanic and rain can fall all through the year.  In the east, the climate reflects the continental and has very cold winters for long periods, and warm summers. In the centre and the south, Winters are mild and summers quite cool. Berlin has a Maritime temperate climate and a mild continental climate due to its inland position, with winter frosts being quite common.
 
Weather in Berlin

Greece – Athens

 Greece’s climate is Mediterranean with hot and dry summers and quite cold and wet winters. The north of Greece can be very cold during the winter with even snow being common in the higher mountains. In the south of Greece and the islands, the winters will be much milder. Summers in Greece are usually very hot, especially in July and August where temperatures can reach 30 to 35°C, and even 40°C and more.

Weather in Athens

Italy – Rome

Italy has various climate systems depending on whether you are in the north or south. The northern areas of Italy have a humid subtropical climate compared to the south which has a more Mediterranean climate. The north and south can also have considerable differences in temperature, especially during the winter. Rome has a more Mediterranean climate with cool winters and hot summers, with January the coldest month and July and August the warmest. The best time to travel to Rome is in the springtime, between March and May, and Autumn, in September and October.

Weather in Rome

Discover Europe the CostSaver way from £66 per day!

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Yes, you can really travel Europe the CostSaver way from £66 per day!

 

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With CostSaver, go beyond the expected on a budget from only £66 a day.

CostSaver holidays show you much more than just the usual icons and offer a good range of optional experiences.

Like on their 13-day Splendours of Italy tour where you get to see St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and a traditional glass-blowing workshop in Venice. Plus, you are given the option to visit places like the ancient Catacombs.

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St Peter’s Basilica

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Catacombs.

  • CostSaver is the perfect way to discover a destination for the first time. You’ll enjoy incredible inclusions and unbeatable value on every trip.

  • You’ll enjoy an amazing tour that always includes breakfasts, an expert Travel Director, Local Specialists and more.

  • Your Travel Director gives you a real flavor of the destination. With their knowledge, past experience and passion for the destination, they’ll take care of all the organisation, so you enjoy a no-hassle holiday.

     

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With CostSaver you’re always guaranteed just the right handpicked hotels, all your breakfasts, and up to half your three-course dinners.

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Delicious meals

All that, plus all the things you can’t put a value on. Here’s how CostSaver put their competitors in the shade:

             

CostSaver                                                                                                                                                     Leading Competitor

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Trafalgar’s Tour Styles!

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With Trafalgar you will recognize unbeatable value, a hassle-free experience and unique moments to treasure.

Trafalgar offer a different perspective on their world famous tours, each providing unique experiences at the places you visit.

Trafalgar also offer more trip styles to choose from than any other guided travel company.

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There’s the ‘Regional Explorer’ where you can discover a region in two or more countries.

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Experience Venice on a ‘Regional Explorer’ tour.

The ‘Country Explorer’ to discover one country in depth.

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See Stonehenge on a ‘Country Explorer’ tour.

The ‘At Leisure’ where you can enjoy later starts and longer stays at a more leisurely pace.

Budapest

See the Parliament of Budapest on the ‘At Leisure Bohemian Highlights tour’

‘Family Holidays’ designed so the family can learn and have fun together.

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Enjoy the famous Rome Colosseum with your family.

‘Hidden Journeys’ where you can enjoy less visited places in groups of 26 or less.

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See amazing views of Turin on a ‘Hidden Journeys’ tour.

‘Cruise, Rail and Combinations’, amazing holidays from a different perspective.

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See the wonders of Greece on a ‘Cruise, Rail and Combinations’ tour.

 ‘Special Interest’ holidays for people with a particular passion.

Flavours of Italy ‘foodie’ trip starts in Rome

Try the ‘Flavours of Italy’ ‘foodie’ trip which in Rome.

 

 

Book a coach tour with Trafalgar today to experience the most wonderful holiday of a lifetime that suits just you!

 

 

 

 

Easter Extravaganza!

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Easter, which always falls on a Sunday, is a Christian festival celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

 In countries where Christianity is a state religion or has a large Christian population, Easter is often a public holiday. Good Friday, Easter Sunday and

Easter Monday are public holidays in many countries with many businesses having an extended Easter break.

 

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In places like Europe and America, Easter is also a cultural festival whereby many

cherished Easter traditions and symbols have been around for many centuries.

Easter eggs are just one popular cultural symbol of Easter.

The tradition of Easter eggs dates back centuries whereby eggs are specially decorated to celebrate Easter.

The oldest tradition is to colour chicken eggs,

although in more recent times, chocolate or candy is used to make eggs.

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In Poland and other East European countries, eggs are seen as a symbol of new life.

In Russia, you can find beautifully created eggs made from precious jewels in their Imperial Court.

The United States celebrates Easter by holding an annual Easter egg roll on the White House lawn for children.

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The Easter Bunny is also a prominent secular symbol of the Christian festival, and probably dates back to when German immigrants brought to America

their stories of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” . Rabbits are also known to be prolific procreators, so as well as eggs, another

symbol of fertility and new life.

 

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Again, as with eggs,  spring chicks are a fertility and new life symbol dating back many thousands of years.

 

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The spring lamb is also a prominent Easter symbol in Central and Eastern European countries.

Christians believe that the lamb represents Jesus and relates to his death to that of the lamb, sacrificed on the first Passover.

Notably, Christians also traditionally refer to Jesus as “the Lamb of God”.

 

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Hot Cross buns are another edible tradition eaten on Good Friday.  Although the Christian symbolism is quite evident in the bread, spices and cross, there

are many theories related to the hot cross bun.

These include references going back to Roman times and also to Saxon times. Some believe that they are a pagan rather than Christian tradition.

Theories also date back to 12th or 14th century monks and even that the Easter tradition relates to the Elizabethan era.

When all is said and done, it doesn’t really matter where the origins come from – they are absolutely delicious anyway!

 

Hot cross buns

 

Valentines Day – past & Present!

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St Valentine is a name we all recognize as a symbol of love and romance. We even have a day on February 14 named after it and, giving us a good excuse to express our most romantic side by showering our loved ones with cards and gifts. Valentines day can be a way to show our true love towards those most precious to us, but what are its origins and has it always been this way?

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St Valentines day links back to Christianity and martyrdom. Many early Christian martyrs were named Valentine and were subsequently honoured the customary public worship on various dates  by various  Christian denominations. The Valentines honoured on February 14 are Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni, with another St Valentine mentioned by the Catholic Church who was martyred in Africa.

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The legend of Saint Valentine of Rome is perhaps the most popular account of why love and romance is associated with St Valentines Day on February 14. The story goes that the Roman Emperor Claudius II banned marriage so that there were plenty of unattached young men available to fight as soldiers. Valentine of Rome fought against this and the general persecution of Christians under the Roman Empire by performing secret marriage ceremonies. When eventually found out, Valentine was imprisoned  but managed to heal his Jailer’s blind daughter who frequently visited him. It is said that he wrote her a letter before his execution and signed it “Your Valentine”, a statement still used today on valentine cards sent from admirers around the world!

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The celebrating of Valentines day evolved over time and the giving and receiving of gifts and cards originated in Britain in the late 18th and early 19th century!

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In the late 184o’s, Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts sold this British  idea to the United States after receiving a card from an English admirer. She took inspiration from his fanciful card and began importing  floral decorations, ribbon and paper lace from England to begin the first mass-produced valentines cards. The famous American company card makers, Hallmark,  first began producing Valentine’s Day cards in 1916 and Hallmark Card Statistics estimate that 144 million cards were sent in 2013 alone, coming only second to Christmas cards sent!!

 

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‘Love Locks’ are a new phenomena that are quickly becoming popular around the world to express ones love! Couples usually secure a padlock bearing their names along a bridge or similar spot and throw away the key. They are thought to have  originated in Hungary and are supposed to represent hearts locking together in eternal and everlasting love!

 

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Valentine’s Day gifts have even evolved further and short breaks and holidays have now been introduced to celebrate this most romantic of days. Valentine’s Day is just round the corner so what better way to celebrate your undying love for someone than by sharing some of the most beautiful and romantic destinations with them, and create wonderful memories which will last a lifetime!

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5 Famous Film Locations to Visit!

1.Ouarzazate, Morocco

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Visit amazing Ouarzazate in Morocco which boasts the setting for a number of famous movies which include ‘Cleopatra’, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’,  and ‘Gladiator’!

2.Salzburg, Austria

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Delight in the stunning lakes and mountains that surround Salzburg in Austria, not forgetting that it was the location for one of the most famous movies in the world – ‘The Sound of Music’.

3.Rome, Italy

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Something to really take your breath away would be a visit to Rome, one of the most beautiful and historical cities to behold. Rome has been the setting for many films such as ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley and ‘The Belly of an Architect’, but it is the exquisite ‘Roman Holiday’ starring the film star legends Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck that really brings the city to life!

4.Provence. France

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The beautiful region of Provence is a stunningly picturesque province of southeastern France and was the wonderful backdrop for the romantic film ‘A Good Year’ starring Marion Cottillard and Russell Crowe.

5.Venice, Italy

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Last but not least is the glorious city of Venice which is situated in northeastern Italy. This unique and beautiful city has been a favourite setting for not one, but three Bond movies over the years. Bond is seen in Venice at the end of ‘From Russia with Love’ (1963); he is seen riding a gondola in Venice in ‘Moonraker’ (1979); and Venice is again the backdrop for the climactic scenes in the more recent ‘Casino Royale’ (2006).

 

5 outstanding places to visit in Italy!

 

1. Rome.

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Of course you can’t go to Italy without seeing Rome! From the amazing sight of the Colosseum to the breathtaking Vatican City, Rome has it all. Feast your eyes on the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Roman Forum and be taken aback by the Trevi Fountain in all its glory!

2. Florence.

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Florence is best known as the ‘Cradle of the Renaissance’ and a must see for anyone who appreciates fine art and architecture. The Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio and Santa Croce Basilica are just some sights to see. The street sculptures are also amazing, and talking about great sculptures, don’t forget to visit the  Galleria dell’Accademia and see Michelangelo’s masterpiece sculpture ‘David’!

3.Pisa.

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Oh, the joy of Pisa – everyone has to witness the great Leaning Tower of Pisa at least once in their life! It is probably the most famous bell tower in the world and it’s not hard to see why. The tower’s famous tilt began during construction, thought to be because of an inadequate foundation on too soft ground. The tilt gradually increased until the tower was stabilized in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The majestic cathedral is also as beautiful as much as the Tower is unusual!

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Venice Festival!

 

The unique city of Venice should be on everyone’s wish list as it is definitely one of the most enchanting cities to behold, and is an absolute must for any romantic trip. Enjoy a gondola ride on the picture perfect canals, drink wine and eat delicious food in one of the many quaint little cafes or admire venetian masks that adorn the windows of the local gift shops.

5. Pompeii

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Visit Pompeii for a truly unforgettable experience! Explore the ancient ruins of this roman town which fell victim to Mt Vesuvius and be taken aback by what you see!

Where to find UNESCO Heritage Sites in Italy!

 

Ahhh Italy – one of the first great influences of Western culture, and of course, land of the Romans and birthplace of the Roman Empire.

Hardly surprising then that it is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. High art and monuments are to be found scattered everywhere around this magnificent boot shaped country!

 For starters, the Piazza del Duomo is located in the heart of Florence and can boast as being one of the most visited places in Europe and the world!


Next, we have the most famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, well known worldwide for its unintended tilt to one side. This amazing construction measures 55.86 metres  from the ground on the low side and 56.67 metres on the high side. It has been steadily moving ever since it was constructed in 1173 and had an incline of 5.5 degrees until some restoration work was performed between 1990 and 2001. The tower now leans at an  angle of about 3.99 degrees – amazing!

Another Italian UNESCO Heritage Site is the ancient Roman City of Pompeii. It was mostly destroyed and buried under 4 – 6 metres of ash when mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD but has been excavated and open as a tourist attraction for the last 250 years!

Obviously, this is just a fraction of the sites to see, but these and many more can be visited by going on tours that visit these fascinating places. You can find tours that last for as little as 2 hours, 10 days or some  that cover a whopping 29 days!

Of course, there are also some fabulous tours that can take you to places such as the glorious city of Venice and the beautiful Italian Lakes as well as all the other wonderful locations.

For a more opulent tour of Italy, try some first class hospitality and embark on a ‘Country Roads of Italy’ tour. This 15 day tour will combine your love of travel with a passion for wine! Italy’s cultural cities of Rome, Florence and Venice are perfectly complemented by rustic villas in the wine-growing areas. Add an expert wine adviser and someone to drive, it sounds like heaven and makes perfect sense to me!