For many reasons, Italy is very similar to Pakistan; similar climate, similar landscape and similar driving! Yet, tourism is the biggest industry in the country and still increasing is with almost $50M worth of international influx. Tourism guides and reviews are full of praise for this country and you will not be disappointed on your visit. In fact, if you get your trip right, you will still manage to get surprised over the tourist appeal of this country. Here, you will find the world’s best views, richest art and most savoury food! Say hello to bel paese (The beautiful country).
Text and photography by: Hassan Ali
PLACES TO VISIT
Rome: Thousands of years of history that is very well preserved. They construct their new buildings on the same artistic architecture that you might be fooled about its age! Rome has a bit of history in every corner, every junction; it has the most concentrated list of sights. Visit the ancient Colosseum and close by arches. The Pantheon is slightly away. Further off is the magnificent fountain of Trevi about which rumour has it that if you throw 3 cents over your shoulder, the fountain will call you back. Art lovers will find countless galleries, castle of Michaelanglo and the Vatican too!
Milan: The modern business hub of the country is home to two giant football clubs that share the gigantic San Siro stadium. If you’re lucky, a local derby will be on offer but make sure you remain neutral in football. If you visit the Piazza del Duomo, you will see the huge and beautiful Milan Cathedral and the branded Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II at once. This latter is the oldest shopping mall in Italy as it opened for business in 1877. Even if you don’t want to shop, at least try their light yet creamy gelato.
Pisa: The leaning tower will peek at you from behind the fortress way before you enter the small town. The 56 meter tall tower surrounded by lush green Tuscan gardens is in close proximity to the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles). If you make it in time, you can also go to the viewing floors at the top of the tower but it is a bit scary! It is worth taking a detour to pisa; it will not disappoint you.
Capri: This heavenly island has a history of its own. Tiny beaches full of pebbles are washed up by crystal clear Mediterranean waters showing glorious shades from dark blue and turquoise to emerald green. The island is famous for its grottos (water caves) and the Faraglioni rocks. The erosion of rocks by wind and water around the island is magical. If you’re standing on the coast of Sorrento (mainland) looking at Capri wondering how much better could it get, you will be surprised when you visit Capri as it is a whole different level.
Florence: This epicentre of art is located in a valley and can reach a whopping 40C in summers. A walk in the town centre and you can find sculptures and art work by the biggest of names within one square mile. You can visit the iconic cathedral and the close by bell tower but to get a scenic panoramic view, do go up to the Piazzale Michaelangelo on the other side of the river.
Venice: You will either love it or not; nothing in between. If you plan in the next ten to fifteen years, you still have time to see the sinking (read stinking) canal city. A day and evening trip into the city can give you the flavour. It is a unique experience to take the water bus here through the curved Grand Canal till the last stop close to Saint Mark’s basilica. Do experience the random walk back that will last around 40 minutes in the best case. It is next to impossible to not get lost in this town when walking.