Bell’Italia! Italy has Europe’s richest, craziest culture. If you take Italy on its own terms, you’ll experience a cultural keelhauling that actually feels good.
Some people, often with considerable effort, manage to hate this country. Italy bubbles with emotion, corruption, stray hairs, inflation, traffic jams, strikes, rallies, holidays, crowded squalor, and irate ranters shaking their fists at each other one minute and walking arm-in-arm the next. Have a talk with
yourself before you cross the border. Promise yourself to relax and accept it all as a package deal.
After all, Italy is the cradle of European civilization—established by the Roman Empire and carried on by the Roman Catholic Church. As you explore Italy, you’ll stand face-to-face with some of the world’s most iconic images from this 2,000-year history: the Colosseum of Ancient Rome, the medieval Leaning Tower of Pisa, Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Venus, the playful Baroque exuberance of the Trevi Fountain…and the Italian city that preserves this legacy in a state of elegant decay: Venice.
This book will help you make the most of your trip. It breaks Italy into its top destinations—offering a balanced, comfortable mix of exciting cities and cozy towns, from brutal but bella Rome to tranquillo, traffic-free Riviera villages. It covers the predictable biggies and stirs in a healthy dose of “Back Door” intimacy. Along with marveling at Michelangelo’s masterpieces, you’ll enjoy a snack of bruschetta prepared by a village boy. I’ve been selective, including only the most exciting sights and experiences. For example, after visiting many hill towns, I recommend just my favorites.