There’s more to Italy than their pasta and pizza.
When traveling to Southern Europe, a trip to Italy is a must, with or without a lover in hand.
Though there are romantic restaurants to eat at and views to see, the country is rich in culture and history and chock-full of beautiful attractions to visit.
Italy was the birthplace of the Renaissance, after all.
One can spend hours in art galleries and museums, memorizing every inch of the masterpieces on display.
People interested in fashion can shop at high-end boutiques, while those who enjoy immersing themselves in nature can hike up beautiful landscapes or lounge near relaxing sceneries.
History-loving tourists will love looking at Roman ruins, admiring the era’s architecture, or reflecting on their luxury.
It takes more than just a few days to thoroughly appreciate the country, but here are the top five attractions one must visit when in Italy.
The Colosseum is one of the grandest landmarks of Italy.
Situated east of the Roman Forum, the stone amphitheater has been able to fit around 50,000 people.
Its history can be traced back to A.D. 70-72 when Emperor Vespasian commissioned its construction for the Romans.
A decade later, his son opened the amphitheater with a hundred days of a series of games.
These games included fights with wild animals and gladiators.
Though the Italians used the Colosseum for several centuries, it was eventually abandoned and partially taken apart so that other construction could take place using its materials.
Only a third of the Colosseum remains, now regarded as both a tourist spot and a monument to the country’s history.
While it may be tempting to visit the Colosseum in the summer, the best time to make the trip is from November to March, when there are fewer tourists, and the weather isn’t too hot and humid.
Tourists who don’t want to stay in line for too long can hire a tour guide, significantly cutting their wait time and providing them with a deeper understanding of the Colosseum’s rich history.
2. St. Peter’s Basilica
The history of St. Peter’s Basilica goes back to the crucifixion of the apostle Peter.
He was said to have been crucified upside down on a cross and later buried in a spot now known as the Vatican Hill.
The Old Basilica was then built on the same site between 319 AD and 333 AD, but once the Old Basilica fell into ruin, St. Peter’s Basilica took its place.
St. Peter’s Basilica is not recognized as the Pope’s official Basilica, but it is a Papal Basilica where the Pope holds his main events.
This is mainly because of Basilica’s large size and significance, considering it houses St. Peter’s Tomb and the Chair of St. Peter, which is said to have been St. Peter’s throne when he was the Bishop of Rome.
The Basilica, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest church building and tallest dome in the world.
It is also the second tallest building in the country.
To admire the Basilica, one doesn’t even have to enter it.
Its architecture results from a series of changes starting with a design competition won by Italian architect Donato Bramante in 1506, leading to Michelangelo’s appointment as an architect in 1547.
3. Venice Canals
A trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without visiting passing through Venice Canals.
The best way to understand and get a taste of Venice is through these canals, which are used like a city’s streets and pass by all of the city’s major tourist attractions dating back to the 13th century.
There are over 150 waterways scattered around Venice, as well as 400 bridges connecting the land.
The Grand Canal, in particular, measures at around three kilometers in what looks like a big letter “S.” Perhaps the most popular activity in Venice is the riding of gondolas, which are the boats tourists use to travel through the canals, steered by gondoliers in memorable outfits.
One can experience traveling through the Grand Canal’s entirety by riding the Vaporetto, a Venetian public waterbus.
Still, tourists can also take a motorboat tour complete with a guide.
Some boat tours pass through just the Grand Canal, but the more expensive and more extended boat tours take tourists to smaller canals and neighborhoods.
Not everyone knows that it’s possible to visit Pompeii, the ancient Roman city buried under volcanic ash after Mount Vesuvius’s eruption in 79 A.D.
The thick layer of ash killed over two thousand people in Pompeii, and the area was left abandoned later rediscovered in 1748.
What’s shocking about this archeological site is, much of Pompeii remained intact despite being covered in ash.
There are plenty of places to see in Pompeii.
Most visitors start with the Villa of the Mysteries, a rural estate that was buried under ash but eventually unearthed.
Its well-preserved, first-century frescoes are the reason many people admire it.
Another attraction to visit is the Pontifical Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, a church with more frescos and art worth seeing.
It isn’t all just art and history, though.
There are also vineyards tourists can check out to pair different types of wine with four-course meals.
5. Leaning Tower of Pisa
Did anyone even really go to Italy if they didn’t take the obligatory Leaning Tower of Pisa photo?
Construction of the 60-meters-tall Tower of Pisa began in 1173 and finished in 1399.
Pisa is a city in northern Tuscany, perhaps most famous for its leaning tower, a bell tower made to accompany the Duomo (cathedral).
The tower is made of white marble and covered in geometric designs.
It took a couple of a hundred years to complete the tower’s construction, but the tower began leaning even before 1399 due to the soft ground where it stands.
The tower’s designers made some of the floors taller on one side to adjust to this asymmetry, but the tower continued sinking.
Engineers today guarantee that the tower does not pose a danger to anyone considering that it has stopped sinking.