Italy is one of our favourite country. We were lucky enough to visit it several times, but only once together, and it was to go to Naples, almost two years ago now.
We cannot stop exploring Italy, so many treasures to see in this beautiful country, but we have decided to show you our five favorite cities (and, what a surprise, most famous ones) with every time one masterpiece and one book, movie or show to travel there in another way (quite convenient in these locked down times…). A way for you to (re)discover the Boot and its thousand facets – which is a unified country only since 1870!
La bella Roma
No need to introduce Rome anymore. The Colosseum, the Roman forum, the Vatican, the Palatino, the Trevi fountain… and much more!
Rome is one of our favorite city in Europe. It teems with life like a capital, it shines with its treasures of yesteryear, the city offers the best dishes in the World and the language is chanting happiness.
Yes, we really love Rome.
One masterpiece ? Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne in Galleria Borghese
Bernini is Alexandra’s favorite sculptor (with Rodin, the French sculptor). Bernini was only 24 when he started his work on the sculpture and was without doubt truly gifted. The statue portrays Daphne, after her father has started to transform her to a laurel tree, to protect her from the God Appollo, who is trying to clutch her.
One movie? Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. A princess tired of her busy and very official royal schedule escapes her security for a while to discover Rome as a normal tourist. She will cross the path of an American reporter and a short but intense romance will follow between these two. Romantic and beautiful, a magical and old fasioned way to discover Rome!
Florence, the flower of Tuscany
Its history has given it an artistic and architectural richness, Florence is truly the jewel of Tuscany, or even of Italy as a whole.
Start your visit on the famous Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in the city, built in 1345. Then, head to la Piazza della Signoria – a real open museum, next to the Palazzo Vecchio, town hall of Florence.
Finally, discover one of the largest Duomo of the World, the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, an architectural wander from the 13th century.
End your day on the other bank of the Arno, Piazza Santo Spirito for the well deserved aperitivo, only with locals!
A masterpiece ? Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’, in the Uffizi Gallery in the Botticelli Rooms – from mid 1480s. Famous worldwide and one of the masterpiece from the Italian Renaissance, the painting is a mythological representation of the goddess Venus emerging from the sea.
A video game ? Assassin’s Creed II. Old but gold, it showcases a conspiracy set in the pristine and brutal version of a Renaissance Italy. Its version of Florence is impressive of realism. A great way to visit Italy while we are still on lockdown, don’t you think?
While visiting Florence and Tuscany, we recommend you to also pass by Forte Dei Marmi and live La Dolce Vita in one of the most luxurious resort of Italy.
Venice, Queen of the Adriatic
Venice, the city of 177 canals, 455 bridges and 123 churches. You will find there something you will see nowhere else. A timeless and magical city on the water. Formerly a flourishing trade center between Western Europe and the rest of the world, Venice is now the romantic tourism destination par excellence, and e understand why!
The Venetian ghetto, the Grand Canal, Piazza San Marco, Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sights, the Venetian Arsenal: there is so much to see in Venice. And if you visit in February – and are not afraid of the crowd- you will have the chance to be part of the famous Venice Carnival !
A masterpiece in Venice ? For a bit of change from everything you will see in Venice, go check on the Empire of Light by René Magritte at the Penny Guggenheim collection. The painting is typical work of the artist, establishing an impossible contrast of day and night lights at the same exact moment.
A movie in Venice ? The tourist (2010) starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. The thriller may not be that great, but the views of the city are splendid.
Some legends states that that the city was founded by Senio and Ascanio, nephews of Romulus, who founded Rome.
Close-by its famous and historic sister and rival Florence, Siena is definitely worth a visit while you are in Tuscany. Siena, as Florence, is a picturesque medieval city, filled with small and dark alleys as well as majestic monuments and museums.
The historic center and the heart of Sienne are a a Unesco World Heritage Site – this is the area you will find most of the site worth visiting and the most beautiful part of the city.
A masterpiece in Siena ? If you are lucky enough to visit the Duomo in Siena, you will find the Piccolomini Library inside.
The Piccolomini Library is one of the masterpiece of Pinturicchio and it was used to host precious manuscripts of the pope. It offers some of the most impressive and colourful frescoes we have ever seen. Each scene is unique, offering a complex story. If you can, visit it with a guide.
A movie in Siena? Quantum of Solace (2008). At the beginning of the moviem after a car chase, Bond drives to Siena in Tuscany. You will be able to spot many great locations of the city, such as Chiesa di San Giuseppe, Piazza del Campo or Sant’Agostino church. What a great avant-goût for your visit !
In Italy, each city has its own very personal history. Naples is no exception here. Away from its reputation, owned by the mafia, dirty and dangerous, Naples is a colourful city with some great discoveries to make: visit the harbor and the port, the Castel dell’Ovo, the undergrounds which served as bunkers for the population during the WWII, the Royal Palace and the Castel Nuovo. Really, Naples is beautiful and has a lot to offer. And, don’t forget to have a pizza – Naples is a city where the famous Italian dish was invented ! For this, we recommend Sorbillo, fresh and delicious product for a very decent price, what else can we ask for ?
A masterpiece in Naples? The sculpture Il Disinganno (1754), by Genoese sculptor Francesco Queirolo in the Sansevero Chapel. Representing an angel helping a breaking free from a net, the incredible technique and gift of the sculptor is felt in the making of the net, crying out for realism.
A book about Naples? Neapolitan Novels, the Saga written by Elena Ferrante (there is also an HBO tv show My brilliant Friend).
The story begins in the 50s in Naples and will tell the story of two young girls, growing up in a poor district, between violence and misery, from their childhood to their young age. A real social fresco interspersed with mafia and revolutionary ideals.
Turin, the first capital of Italy
Turin was the first capital of Italy after the nation re-united. It is still today an industrial city, famous for its automobile industry but also a very charming and full-of-culture city. We think Turin is perfect to discover for a week-end: incredible food scene, gorgeous architecture and a bit less touristy than other italian cities, Turin has everything to become part of our favourite city soon!
Want to know more about Turin: read our guide for a week-end in Turin.
What about you? What is your favourite cities in Italy? We’d love some new ideas for the next time we visit this beautiful destination!