Italy is a country that almost everybody wants to visit. But what is so special about Italy? Let me just list a few things.

First of all, Italy is beautiful. There is art, history, beautiful sceneries, all blending together in place after place. Then there is the food, that is the best in the world. Think of gelato, real pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, risotto, polenta, fiorentina steak, and more.

View of Rome, Italy
Rome View

Then there is the the art and culture. Italy has been defined a “cultural superpower“. Italy is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (54) to date, more than any other country. Italy’s dominance is particularly strong if one looks only at the Cultural Heritage Sites. In this case Italy has 48, and China, the second country on the list, is second with only 36.

A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance. The sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity.

Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy
Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy

According to one estimate (Abbot, Charles. Italy. Morellini Editore, 2006. p. 101. Web. 24 September 2011) the country is home to half the world’s great art treasures. Overall, the nation has an estimated 100,000 monuments, including churches, cathedrals, archaeological sites, houses and statues.

If this is not enough, let me add that Italy has been the birth place of the Magna Grecia, the Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church, the Renaissance, the Baroque, the neo-classicism, the Risorgimento and the European integration.

Western culture was born on the Italian peninsula, just think of the history of the Christian faith, civil institutions (such as the Senate), philosophy, law, art, science, or social customs.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Even America was discovered by an Italian, Cristoforo Colombo (Christopher Columbus), and America is named after Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who realized that the lands discovered by Columbus were actually part of a separate continent.

Other famous Italians include many artists, explorers, and scientists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Dante Alighieri, Galileo Galilei, Filippo Buonarroti, Niccolò Macchiavelli, Maria Montessori, Vilfredo Pareto, Pico Della Mirandola, Marco Polo, Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi, Antonio Stradivari, Alessandro Volta, and many more.

Ravenna: Mosaics
Ravenna: Mosaics

Italy has several world-famous cities, well worthy of a visit. Rome was the ancient capital of the Roman Empire, Florence was the heart of the Renaissance, Venice in the early 14th century was one of the richest and most powerful cities in Europe. Turin, is one of the world’s great centers of automobile engineering, Milan is the industrial, financial and fashion capital of Italy.

Those bigger and famous cities are visited every year by millions of tourists, but not many are aware of the fact that the true Italian life is actually in the smaller towns, and many of them are amazingly beautiful. I personally prefer to visit the smaller tows in Italy. Many of them are beautiful and unique. In the next posts I will share some of my favorite places to visit. I love to visit Italy.


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