Culture and influence of Italy
Key civilizations have existed in Italy since prehistoric times. Throughout history, Italy has been a major influence on European culture, from the Etruscan community to the dominant Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Italy was the center of art and science. Italy’s religious influence has also been far-reaching. The Vatican is an independent state within Rome that is ruled 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 historical sights, and see the beautiful scenery in the great outdoors. Italy has a lot 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 cities of art like Florence, Venice, and Rome, and even by many of Italy’s picturesque lakes.
The beaches of Italy
Families can enjoy fun in the sun at one of Italy’s many beaches. There are more than 7,600 miles of coastline that snuggle up to the mainland and islands. The Mediterranean Sea offers some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and many resorts line the shores with sand for sunbathing, loungers, and umbrellas. Italy’s beaches are known for their cleanliness and safety. Abruzzo, Apulia, Calabria and Tuscany are among the many regions where beaches recently received 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 great outdoors and rugged terrain. Unique lakes, mountains, plants and animals abound in Italy’s parks. Regions where national parks are located include Apulia, Calabria, Sicily, Sardinia, Tuscany, Piedmont, and the Marche.
Nature lovers also enjoy touring the unique Italian Botanical Gardens. There are more than 30 of these charming gardens in Italy. For the cyclist, each region offers fantastic bike trails for outdoor exploration and touring various sites and parks.
Explore art and history in Italy
As one of the world’s foremost centers of art and history, Italy offers many galleries, museums, and iconic landmarks. Unique museums with cars, entertainment, science and technology and archeology are scattered throughout the Italian regions to satisfy all tastes. Saint Peter’s Square is one of the most beautiful sites in the world and was built by many famous architects including Michelangelo, Vignola, Raphael and Pirro Ligorio. There are also many castles, palaces, and cathedrals that attract visitors every year.
Whether it’s learning about key periods in history, relaxing with the family on the beach, or enjoying a romantic getaway, Italy has something for every occasion!
Hiking through the hills and valleys of Italy
Bring your trekking poles for an amazing hiking adventure in the beautiful country of Italy! Italy offers some fabulous hiking trails where you’ll discover the unique culture and history of the land and enjoy some great food along the way.
Hiking in Italy is exciting because there are so many beautiful places to explore. Whether you like nature or the busy city life, there are hiking tours available for both. Here are some recommended hiking adventures to consider while visiting Italy.
The Gran Paradiso National Park
Enjoy a hilly hike through the beautiful terrain of this park. You will be introduced to the park’s wildlife, experience challenging hikes to see the high mountain peaks of the Alps, and see the glaciers that surround Rifugio Sella. You can also visit the wooden village of Nex Tignet, which looks like something out of a fairy tale!
Hike the Dolomites (starting in Ortisei, Italy)
The Dolomites, where the Mediterranean and German cultures meet, are home to an ancient people called the Ladinos, who live in the high valleys surrounding the Grupo Sella massif. While hiking in the Dolomites, he will discover the well-preserved culture and traditions of the Ladino people, see the grazing pastures in the Gardena Valley, and also observe karst rock formations.
Tour the Italian Lake District (starting in Milan, Italy)
Hike challenging trails while overlooking some of Italy’s most picturesque lakes. The lakeside towns of Stresa, Bellagio and Lugano offer delicious cuisine, excellent shopping and a variety of wines. Each lake is surrounded by an incredible mountainous landscape, and you will be able to walk between impressive glacial lakes. This walk can include a visit to the islands of Lake Maggiore, where there are gardens, palaces and fishing villages. There is also a milky white waterfall called Fiumelatte in Varenna.
Hiking in Cinque Terre (starting from La Spezia)
Cinque Terre is a charming collection of seaside towns where Italian cuisine meets traditional Mediterranean food and culture. You can walk 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 in the Abruzzo National Park
This is a difficult and challenging hike where you can explore the true wild side of Italy. The park is home to around 300 types of birds, ibex, wolves, bears and chamois. Don’t worry, bear and wolf sightings are rare during hiking excursions. This park is the largest national park in Italy and offers beautiful landscapes of mountains, alpine pastures and more. Be sure to visit nearby towns to enjoy local cuisine and wines, and learn about the unique history of each town.
Hiking in 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 charming mountain village. Explore Monte Amaro, the second highest peak in the Apennine chain, which is known locally as 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 go and are well prepared beforehand. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Paid hiking tours
There are many guided hiking tours where the walk is planned for you. These are great if you’ve never been to Italy or are new to hiking. Comprehensive hiking tours offer hotel accommodation, transportation to and from hiking areas, experienced tour guides, paid admission to sites, museums, and wine tastings along with an itinerary.
If you’re already an experienced hiker and familiar with Italy, you may want to take a self-guided hiking tour. Remember, tell someone where and when you will be hiking in case of an emergency.
Decide what type of hike you would like to do beforehand. If you are a beginner you might want to try the light trails where there are nearby towns. Also, choose trails that you will enjoy. Do you like the mountain scene or the lakes? Do you like to visit towns, fields or vineyards? Do you want 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 are not well signposted. Some of the markings can be found in dark places, such as a tree or rock. That’s why you should buy a hiking trail map once you decide where you’ll hike. A map that outlines the trails for you will help you find your way when markings are not available or clear.
Watch out for hunters
Hunting is popular in Italy, so you’ll want to make sure there are no hunters where you plan to hike. Find out from a hiking tour company where you can walk safely, and also what signs to look for while hiking. There are “No Hunting” signs displayed along some hiking trails.
Use trekking poles for support
Even if you feel physically prepared for the hike, use trekking poles for support. You may 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 a lot of aches and pains later on. Even the most experienced hikers use trekking poles for support.
Pack light, but pack wisely
Your backpack must 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 can make your hike unpleasant due to the extra weight. Make sure you have what you need for emergencies. This could save your life!
The hilly landscape, local towns and parks make Italy a great place for hikers to explore and relax!
You can find international cell phones and service for Italy at http://www.planetomni.com. Free incoming calls from all countries day and night and calls to states are only US$0.60 per minute! They also rent and sell phones and satellite phones.