Sunday, April 7, 2013

Recommended sites in Italy, or where Rick Steves' guides say you should go

Yesterday, Rick Steves offered a free webcast of his European Travel seminar which I was able to watch and listen to part of online.  One part of the seminar addressed touring in Italy and came with a handout available to download that lists various points of interest throughout Italy.  I was excited to see it because it included several of the ports we'll be visiting.  I'm sharing parts of it here in this blogpost.  The red sites are ones we have plans to visit and the italicized ones are places we've been before; if you're planning a visit to Italy, be sure to check out the recommendations.

  •  Europe’s best preserved big city
  •  St Mark’s Square, Europe’s living room
  •  Rialto bridge and market
  •  Vaporetto, slow boat down Grand Canal fine intro tour
  •  Doges Palace, Bell tower, St Marks
  •  Glass blowing demo just off main square
  •  Great art – Accademia, Scuola San Rocco
  •  Gondola – expensive but worthwhile
  •  Traghetti – ferry gondolas, very cheap
  •  Wander, get lost, you’re on an island, it’s ok navigate not by streets but by landmarks and signs
  •  Flood in winter “acqua alta”
  •  Magical evenings, staying in town makes a difference
  •  Carnival, 40 days before Easter, masks
  •  Stand-up-progressive-Venetian-pub-crawl-dinner
 Nearby islands including:
  •  Burano (famous for lace and colorful houses)
  •  Murano (glass works)
  •  Torcello (oldest island settlement, mosiacs)
  •  Lido (residential core and sand beaches)

  •  Birthplace of Renaissance
  •  Duomo = cathedral, center, dome by Brunelleschi
  •  Arno River, Ponte Vecchio
  •  Bargello – best sculpture
  •  San Lorenzo and Leather Market
  •  Central Market, good for specialty foods
  •  Food in Florence is some of best in Italy
  •  Possibly best gelato is found here
  •  Uffizi Gallery – Botticelli, best Italian paintings
  •  Baptistry - Ghiberti’s “Gates of Paradise”
  •  David and “Prisoners” at Accademia, Michelangelo
  •  Duomo Museum – original doors, Donatello
  •  Santa Croce, burial place of famous Italians
  •  Pitti Palace, modern Italian art, park is nice for picnic
Cinque Terre
  •  5 tiny towns on Riviera between La Spezia and Genoa
  •  Vernazza is best town
  •  Wine, hiking, swimming
  •  Consider sleepy Levanto as a base
  •  Carrara, best marble quarries
  •  Colosseum, 50,000 numbered seats
  •  Forum, center of ancient city
  •  Palatine Hill
  •  Circus Maximus
  •  Capitoline Hill – city hall and great museum
  •  Victor Emmanuel Monument
  •  Pantheon – best preserved Roman building
  •  Villa Borghese, fine Baroque art museum and park
  •  Many, many churches to visit with great art - Moses by Michelangelo in St Peter in Chains church, St.Theresa in Ecstasy by Bernini at Santa Maria della Vittoria
  •  Vatican – center of Catholicism, become a temporary Catholic, climb St. Peter’s dome
  • Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel
  • Cappucchin Monastery, bones galore, off Piazza Barberini
  •  Passeggiata, or the evening stroll, Piazza del Popolo down via del Corso
  •  Trastevere – the seedy, colorful side of river
  •  Night spots, Trevi fountain, Spanish Steps=over-rated
  • Piazza Navona for tartufo gelati, dinner at Campo di Fiori, atmospheric square
Naples, Sicily and South
  •  Hairy urban jungle, 2 hours south of Rome, birthplace of pizza
  •  Best to see Naples fast and sleep in Sorrento
  •  Pompeii, stopped by Volcano Vesuvius in 79 AD
  •  Herculaneum, better preserved than Pompeii
  •  Pompeii art in Nat’l museum, Naples
  •  Sorrento – Romantic tourist town, easy base for Amalfi Coast, Paestum, islands, Vesuvius, one hour from Naples,
  •  Amalfi Coast – exciting bus ride, beautiful villages of Positano, Amalfi and Ravello
  •  Scenic tourist trap – Isle of Capri

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