While we may conjure all these images to mind, each region of Italy has its own magic to offer when we travel there – here’s a little taster of some of our favourite places to visit whilst on a spa break in Italy…
In the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, the city of Parma has made its name through so many of Italy’s highly prized attributes – food, art, culture, intellect, history, football and Parmesan cheese.
It is a place of natural beauty, framed by the region’s lakes and Parma Apennines, as well as the intrinsic elegance that’s universally Italian. It is where you can cycle down streets almost devoid of cars, lunch on prosciutto straight from someone’s attic and quaff full bodied red wines in art-nouveau cafes before spending the evening listening to the expressive tones of Italian opera, colouring the night air from the Teatro Regio.
Music is also an intrinsic part of Parma’s heritage. It is said that in the 16th and 17th centuries the sound of lutes and harpsichords echoed through the Farnese court, while the city was also the home of musical deities Verdi and Toscanini. One can hardly argue that music is good for the soul, and what a way to experience it!
Positano, one of the most coveted locations on the Amalfi Coast in the South of Italy, is all palazzos and romance and immeasurable scenery of the kind you imagine when you’re dreaming of an Italian idyll. It is located on a cliffside and it’s well known for its pebble beachfront and steep, narrow streets lined with boutiques and cafes.
Positano’s Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta features a majolica-tiled dome and a 13th-century Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary, while the Sentiero degli Dei hiking trail links Positano to other coastal towns – perfect for wandering – just make sure you don’t overheat.
The area is famed for the Sireneuse legend that has it that once upon a time the area was under the spell of sirens’ songs, compelled by a powerfully seductive scent of magnolia, tuberose, honey and musk. Few places could be beaten for a romantic or simply daydreamy stop on an Italian holiday.
One of the most iconic spots on the tourist trail in Italy, Rome always captures the imagination. A buzzing city that always conjures images of Audrey Hepburn’s career changing role in Roman Holiday, it is a city where every woman feels like a princess and every man feels like Gregory Peck.
The city has nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display, and of course key attractions include ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum, evoking the power of the former Roman Empire, and Vatican City including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
Personally, one of our favourite things to do in Florence is simply to wander. This is a place where it’s hard to imagine anyone is anything but happy. The architecture seems almost completely unsullied by the ravages of time; it’s like wandering through a time machine… with exceptionally good coffee.
In Italy romance is woven into the fabric of the culture, and nowhere is that more apparent than Florence. One of the most beautiful cities in the world, it feels alive without having the weighty hustle and bustle of other European cities. At no point are you weighed down by congestion or turn a corner to be confronted by some sort of offensive edifice.
Of course, key attractions include the Duomo with its terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto, the Galleria dell’Accademia displaying Michelangelo’s David sculpture, and the Uffizi Gallery. This is the city of awe-inspiring architecture, living history, palpable creativity and perhaps the most awe-inspiring skyline you could hope for, especially if you enjoy it at sunset from nearby Fiesole.
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