Italy’s Culture and Influence
Key civilizations have existed in Italy since prehistoric times. Throughout history, Italy has been a main influence of European culture, from the Etruscan community to the dominating Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance period, Italy was the center of art and science. The religious influence of Italy has also been far reaching. The Vatican is an independent state within Rome that is governed by the Pope (or Bishop of Rome), the seat of the Catholic Church.
Italy Tourism – Something Fun for Everyone
Tourists flock to Italy each year to enjoy art galleries and museums, learn about Italy’s many historic landmarks, and view the beautiful outdoor scenery. Italy has much to offer both individuals and families. For the golfer, there are courses available throughout the country. Golf courses can be found in the mountains, by the sea, near art cities such as Florence, Venice and Rome, and even by many of the scenic lakes of Italy.
The Beaches of Italy
Fun in the sun can be experienced by families at one of the many beaches in Italy. There are over 7,600 miles of shoreline snuggling the mainland and islands. The Mediterranean Sea offers some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and many vacation resorts outline the coasts with sun-soaking sand, lounge chairs and umbrellas. Italy’s beaches are known for their cleanliness and safety. Abruzzo, Apulia, Calabria and Tuscany are among the many regions where beaches were recently awarded with the Blue Flag, an award given to beaches that are clean and offer safe bathing areas.
Nature Lover’s Dream
There are 20 national parks in Italy, where nature lovers can explore the outdoors and rugged terrain. Lakes, mountains, plants and unique animals are bountiful throughout Italy’s parks. Regions where national parks are located include Apulia, Calabria, Sicilia, Sardinia, Tuscany, Piedmont and the Marches.
Nature lovers also enjoy touring unique Italian botanical gardens. There are over 30 of these lovely gardens in Italy. For the bicyclist, each region offers fantastic bike trails for exploring the outdoors and touring various sites and parks.
Explore Art and History in Italy
As one of the world’s most prominent art and history centers, Italy offers many fine galleries, museums and landmarks. Unique museums featuring cars, entertainment, science and technology, and archeology are scattered throughout the Italian regions to suit all tastes. Saint Peter’s Square is one of the most beautiful sites in the world and was constructed by many famous architects, including Michelangelo, Vignola, Raphael and Pirro Ligorio. There are also many castles, palaces and cathedrals that attract visitors each year.
Whether it’s to learn about key periods of time in history, relax with the family at the beach, or to enjoy a romantic getaway, Italy has something to offer for every occasion!
Hiking the Hills and Valleys of Italy
Bring your trekking poles for a terrific hiking adventure in the gorgeous country of Italy! Italy offers some fabulous hiking trails where you’ll discover the land’s unique culture and history, and enjoy great food along the way.
Hiking in Italy is exciting because there are so many beautiful places to explore. Whether it’s nature you love or the busy city life, there are hiking tours available for both. Here are some recommended hiking adventures to consider during your visit to Italy.
The National Park of the Gran Paradiso
Enjoy a mountainous hike through this park’s lovely terrain. You’ll be introduced to the park’s wildlife, experience challenging hikes to view the high mountain peaks of the Alps, and see the glaciers that surround the Rifugio Sella. You might also want to visit the wooden village of Nex Tignet, which looks like it came from a fairy tale!
Tour the Dolomites (Starting in Ortisei, Italy)
The Dolomites, where Mediterranean and German cultures meet, are home of an ancient people called the Ladins, who live in the high valleys surrounding the Sella Group massif. While hiking in the Dolomites, you’ll discover the well-preserved culture and traditions of the Ladin people, view the herding pastures in Gardena Valley, and also observe karstic rock formations.
Tour the Italian Lakes District (Starting in Milan, Italy)
Hike challenging trails while viewing some of Italy’s most picturesque lakes. The lake-side towns of Stresa, Bellagio and Lugano offer delicious cuisine, great shopping and a variety of wines. Each lake is encircled by amazing mountain scenery, and you’ll be able to hike among breathtaking glacial lakes. This hike might include a visit to the islands of Lago Maggiore, where there are gardens, palaces and fishing villages. There’s also a milky-white waterfall called Fiumelatte at Varenna.
Hiking at the Cinque Terre (Starting at La Spezia)
The Cinque Terre is a lovely collection of oceanside villages where Italian seafaring and traditional Mediterranean food and culture coincide. You can hike among the many cliffs and trails that surround the villages, take a tour of nearby Pisa to see the famous “Leaning Tower,” or explore the Medieval art city of Lucca.
Hiking at the National Park of Abruzzo
This is a rugged, challenging hike where you can explore the true wild side of Italy. The park is home to around 300 types of birds, mountain goats, wolves, bears and chamois. Don’t worry – sightings of bears and wolves are rare during hiking tours. This park is the largest national park in Italy and offers beautiful scenes of mountains, alpine pastures and more. Be sure to visit nearby villages to enjoy local cuisine and wines, and discover each town’s unique history.
Hiking at the Majella National Park in Italy
As one of Italy’s newest national parks, Majella National Park offers an abundance of plants and wildlife, a lush green gorge and a lovely mountain village. Explore the Monte Amaro, the second highest summit in the Appenine chain, which is locally known as the Montagna Madre (or Mother Mountain). Other recommended hikes include tours in Tuscany, Le Marche and Capri.
Tips for Hiking in Italy
Hiking in Italy is great if you know where to hike and are well prepared beforehand. Here are some tips to get you started.
Paid Hiking Tours
There are many guided hiking tours where the hike is planned for you. These are great if you’ve never been to Italy or are new to hiking. Full hiking tours offer hotel accommodations, transportation to and from the hiking areas, experienced tour guides, paid entrance to sites, museums and wine tastings along with an itinerary.
If you are already an experienced hiker and are familiar with Italy, you might want to take a self-guided hiking tour. Remember, let someone know where and when you will be hiking in case of an emergency.
Decide what type of hike you’d like to take beforehand. If you’re a beginner, you might want to try the light trails where villages are nearby. Also, choose trails you will enjoy. Do you enjoy the mountain scene or lakes? Do you enjoy touring villages, farmland or vineyards? Do you wish to observe wildlife during your hike? Once you decide on the type of hike, you can research different trails and areas to find the perfect spot.
Get a Hiking Map
In Italy, many of the hiking trails aren’t marked well. Some of the markings can be found in obscure places such as on a tree or rock. That’s why you should purchase a hiking trail map once you decide where you will hike. A map that outlines the trails for you will help you find your way when markings are not available, or not clear.
Watch for Hunters
Hunting is popular in Italy, so you’ll want to be sure there are no hunters where you plan to hike. Find out from a hiking tour company where you can hike safely, and also what signs to look for while hiking. There are signs for “No Hunting” displayed along some hiking trails.
Use Trekking Poles for Support
Even if you feel up to the hike physically, use trekking poles for support. You might not realize the stress a steep hike can put on your legs, knees and ankles. Trekking poles will help relieve some of the stress and save you from many aches and pains later. Even the most experienced hikers use trekking poles for support.
Pack Light, But Pack Wisely
Your backpack should contain the essentials for your hike, such as food, water or drink, first aid kit, etc. But, don’t pack more than you need. Packing too much might cause your hike to be unpleasant due to the extra weight. Make sure you have what you need for emergency situations. This could save your life!
The mountain scenery, local villages and parks make Italy a great place for hikers to explore and relax!
You can find international cell phones and service for Italy from http://www.planetomni.com. Free incoming calls from all countries night and day and calling the states is just US $.60 per minute! They rent and sell phones and satellite phones as well.