- Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world, welcoming some 46 million foreign visitors annually.
- Italy now has one of the lowest birthrate and fertility rate in the world.
- Italians are known for their family centric culture.
- Two of Europe’s smallest countries, San Marino and the Vatican, are enclaved within Italy.
- St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican is the largest Christian edifice in the world. Its construction took 120 years.
- The Romans love cats so much that they are considered a bio-cultural asset of the city. A new law condemns any person killing a cat to a 10,000 euro fine, and up to 3 years in jail.
- The oldest film festival in the world, beginning in 1932, is the Venice Film Festival.
Places to Visit in Rome
Anyone visiting Rome will sooner or later end up at Piazza Venezia. This square is located in the heart of Rome, at the end of the Via del Corso. From here it’s only a short walk to some of Rome’s most famous sights like the Capitoline Hill, the Roman Forum and the Pantheon.
The Colosseum is a site like no other. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, nothing represents the sheer power and magnificence of the Roman Empire like this stunning piece of ancient architecture. When it was built, not only was the Colosseum able to take up to 50,000 spectators, it was also perfectly symmetrical, ornately decorated in marble and stone and an incredible feat of engineering. The Colosseum remained the amphitheatre of Rome until the end of the Roman Empire. This was the place where gladiators, lions and those accused of crimes were put to the test, often fighting to the death. Since the fall of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum has suffered from various destructive forces, including extensive pillaging of its stone and marble as well as natural disasters such as earthquakes. In fact, its materials contributed to many famous Roman buildings such as St Peter’s Cathedral and the Palazzo Venezia. Yet, even though a third of the Colosseum has been lost over time, this magnificent structure remains one of the most fascinating and beautiful historic sites in the world.
St Peter’s Basilica
St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is one of the most important Christian sites in the world and is a church (rather than a cathedral) with a long and illustrious history.St Peter was one of the twelve apostles in Christianity and is believed to have been crucified at the Circus of Nero, on which St Peter’s Basilica was constructed. At that time, the Circus of Nero also had a cemetery.Inside St Peter’s Basilica, visitors can view a wealth of historical art, mostly Renaissance (The Renaissance refers to the era in Europe from the 14th to the 16th century in which a new style in painting, sculpture and architecture developed after the Gothic).
Leaning Tower of Pisa
It was a building blunder that became Italy’s engineering marvel. Construction on the Tower of Pisa, which began in 1173, had reached only the third storey when architects noticed that the white-marble campanile (bell tower) was leaning. When building was stopped the first time, due to war, the tower was already leaning. The break, however, allowed the tower and its foundations to settle – without it, the tower would have probably collapsed. The second phase of building commenced in 1272, and chief architect Giovanni di Simone attempted to correct the lean by making the next storey taller on the shorter side. This just made it heavier, which caused the tower to sink more. At its worst, the lean was 5.5 degrees (about 4.5 metres). From 1990-2001, a major project removed earth from the taller side, which reduced the lean to under four degrees. It is thought the tower should now be stable for at least 200 years. Today, Leaning Tower of Pisa is considered one of the seven wonders of the medieval world!
Venice was and is full of lost places where people put up for sale the last worn bits of their souls, hoping no one will buy.
St Mark’s square in Venice is a nice place to go in the evening, it’s surrounded by vibrant cafes. Couple of bars there have live music playing, it’s a great atmosphere. It is expensive as you’d expect but definitely worth a visit. Venice’s famous Bridge of Sighs was designed by Antonio Contino and was built by the seventeenth century. Spanning the Rio di Palazzo (Palace River), the bridge was intended to connect the Old Prison and interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace to the New Prison, which was situated directly across the river. It’s named bridge of sigh because through it, the prisoners would have the last sight of the outside world, of the beautiful Venice, and after that they are taken to their respective cells. Therefore, the prisoners would often “sigh” as they crossed the bridge.
There are a group of 117 islands in Venice which are separated by canals and linked by bridges. The Grand Canal, so called the “Canalazzo“, is the most important water way of Venice, about 3800 meters long, it splits the city in two sides. Most people recommend taking a gondola ride on the quiet, back canals rather than on the crowded Grand Canal. If you want to ride on the Grand Canal, a vaporetto (a water bus, common form of Public Transportation in Venice) is much less costly.