Italy has gained a reputation for its scrumptious cuisine, beautiful scenery, amazing architecture, and centuries of history. With something to appease the appetite of every traveler, it’s no wonder that between 40 and 50 million foreigners visit the country each year.

Gondolas in Venice wait for tourists. AAA photo
Rome beckons both young and old, with its unique fusion of modern day structures and Roman ruins. During the day, locals dressed in Gladiator garb call for you to take a picture with them in front of the towering Colosseum. Just down the street is Vatican City, walled city-state home to the Pope. Inside, you can find Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, the ceiling of which took over four years to paint and contains more than 300 biblical characters. Take an evening stroll past the beautifully illuminated Trevi Fountain. Be sure to make a wish and toss a coin in.

But visiting Italy and only seeing Rome would not do the country justice. The region of Umbria is home to the town of Assisi, and a definite must-see for both the religious and not. The birthplace of St. Francis, the town is home to the 13th-century Basilica of St. Francis. Maybe you’ll take a tour of the Basilica or choose to just stand back and witness the hundreds of pilgrims who flock there each day.

In Florence, the “Cradle of the Renaissance,” the culture of Italy comes alive. This metropolis is home to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Piazza del Duomo. See the striking Duomo, added onto the Basilica in 1436. Peer into the glass windows of sidewalk cafes and pastry shops to find mouthwatering foods that seem to dare you to try a bite. Give into the temptation. After indulging, head to the Palazzo Vecchio, the former home of the Medicis and current town hall.

And who could pass up a chance to visit Venice, the city of bridges? With over 150 canals and 400 bridges, this city of small islands has become a favorite of tourists. It has earned a reputation of one of the most romantic cities in all of Europe, with its colorful buildings, large squares, and enchanting gondola rides. Lined with cafes and shops on either side, St. Mark’s Square is the ultimate spot to sit back and relax. Enjoy views of the waterways, the majestic St. Mark’s Basilica, and Doge’s Palace with its famed Bridge of Sighs. A day trip to Murano Island is a must, too. Take a vaporetto (the public water bus) to this glass maker’s paradise.

After traveling through Italy and its busy cities, relaxation in the Italian Lake District is just what you need. The resort town of Como, on the majestic Lake Como, offers breathtaking views of green mountains and serene blue waters. Put your feet up, breathe in the invigorating fresh air, and watch as windsurfers and boats pass you by. For those who haven’t seen enough, the town is home to a number of villas and other architectural fetes. Walk through town, admiring the detail and care that has been put into each building.

Whatever you desire, Italy has it. The story behind each building and museum will satiate any history buff’s appetite. For those with an actual appetite, the succulent foods of Italy will leave you wanting more. If it’s just a good time you’re looking for, rest assured that you’ll find it here. La dolce vita is calling you. What are you waiting for?
May/June 2008 Issue

AAA Travel offers many tours to Italy, so you’re be sure to find a vacation package that suits your interests as well as budget. For details, contact your AAA Travel professional.

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