Italy is known for great wine, leather products and beautiful scenery. Italy is divided into 20 different regions, each different in size, as well as landscape and resources. The countryside has rolling hills of sunflowers, corn fields and vineyards; while the coastal towns are lined with tall, colorful buildings and rocky beaches.
The saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is also true for seeing Rome in a day. Time is needed to travel from one site to the next, but also to really take in and appreciate the ancient ruins, remarkable frescos and enormous Cathedrals. There is a hop-on hop-off double-decker bus for only 12 Euro which is the best way to view the city and get around effectively.
Florence is a much smaller city with almost no hustle and bustle. Its winding cobblestone streets are more accustomed to foot traffic than cars. The Arno River, which flows just south of the city center, is famous for Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge. It has many pricey jewelry shops along both sides of the bridge and is lined with windows full of glistening gold jewelry.
Cinque Terre, which means five towns, is literally five different cliff-hanging towns. Even the vineyards around these towns are growing on a 45 degree slope. This area is known for its hiking, believe it or not. The towns are six miles apart total, and are connected only through winding narrow hiking trails (or by underground train).
Don’t be fooled by the term “lake” when referring to Lake Como, especially if you are picturing a pond-size lake. Lake Como, in the Lombardy region, is most recently known for the second/third home of George Clooney. It is 28 miles long and is surrounded by 24 separate towns, including Como. The ever so famous Villa d’Este hotel, which was built in 1568 and is now one of The Leading Hotels of the World, has a wonderful view overlooking the lake. The view from this hotel alone is worth the trip to the town of Cernobbio.
The height of tourist season for Italy is June and July. August is almost deserted because of the extreme heat throughout Italy. October 1st is when a lot of the shops and restaurants, even in the larger cities, close for the season. April, May and September are perfect if you want fewer crowds and mild weather.
Note: If you are driving through Italy –
There are video surveillance systems monitoring your speed and automatically sending tickets via mail. Tolls are collected every so often, asking anywhere from two to 20 Euros. Italians do not abide by the speed limit. Drive at your own risk.