Savona was once a key player in Italy’s iron industry, nowadays however, it’s become a destination for travellers seeking authentic Italy and its rich culture and history. It’s many sights to see include historic churches, towers, fortresses and palaces. Of all these landmarks, the symbol of the town is the Tower of Leon Pancaldo, named after the Italian explorer.
Another sight worth visiting is the Sanctuary of Nostra Signore della Misericordia. The sanctuary is built on the site where it is said that an apparition of the Virgin Mary once appeared to a shepherd during the war between Savona and Genoa. Clearly much thought and skill has gone into the construction of this special place and we have to admit, there really is something quite mysterious about it.
Savona is also known for once being home to the famous explorer and navigator, Christopher Columbus. The property which has come to be known as Columbus House, is in fact still registered in the name of his father Domenico Colombo.
Civitavecchia is a sea port and the name actually means “ancient town”. It’s just 50 miles from Rome and an intriguing location to begin your venture to the capital of Italy.
Where do we begin with Rome? There’s so much to see and do! First and foremost, get yourself to Vatican City because to visit Rome and not see the Sistine Chapel would be the regret of a lifetime. Many an hour can be whittled away examining the exquisite frescos and of course, the ceiling. Possibly the most famous ceiling in the world, it was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 and has since become one of the most respected masterpieces of all time.
Whilst in Vatican City, be sure to explore St. Peter’s Basilica – it’s the most acclaimed work of renaissance architecture after all. According to Catholic tradition, St. Peter’s is the resting place of Peter, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ. St. Peter’s is regarded as one of the holiest of shrines and has become a main destination for pilgrims. Throughout the year the Pope holds liturgies at St. Peter’s, sometimes drawing crowds of as many as 80,000 people.
Perhaps one of the most iconic sites associated with Rome is the Colosseum. Construction began on the Colosseum in 72AD, once finished it was a place where on average 65,000 spectators would go to watch gladiators battle and see dramatic interpretations of Roman mythology.
Explore the Cinque Terre villages of La Spezia and you’ll find colourful houses, perched precariously along the cliff tops, appearing both whimsical and charming as you approach. You’ll get the best view of the villages from the water, so if you have the opportunity a boat tour is a good idea!
To appreciate the history of La Spezia, head to Parco Naturale Regionale de Porto Venere. Here you can walk through the old fortified town and up to the castle which looks out to sea. Grab an authentic Italian pizza and sit on the walls and enjoy the view or if you’re feeling restless wander around the quaint shops and pick up some souvenirs to remember your travels by.
Both Cinque Terre and Porto Venere are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and you might find it interesting to know that in Porto Venere where the church of Peter the Apostle now stands, was supposedly a temple built in the 1st century BC, to honour the goddess Venus.
Located in the north-west on the island of Sicily is the capital city of Palermo which is over 2,500 years old. Today the city is a bustling mix of modern architecture housing glossy designer boutiques alongside busy side street markets.
One of the main sights to see in Palermo is the cathedral. It’s particularly distinguishable due to its many architectural influences, which have been added since its time of construction in 1815. Make sure to stop and take a look at the portico of the cathedral which is particularly beautiful. Look carefully and you’ll see people carved into the stone in a horizontal strip above the arches.
If you’re a real foodie then prepare to fall in love as Palermo is renowned for its gastro experiences. If you were hoping for authentic Italian cuisine then this is a great place to get it. From heart-warming pizza and pasta to gelato in almost any flavour you can think of. There’s also Michelin star restaurants including LA Madia which is operated by Italian chef Pino Cuttaia who’s creations are inspired by traditional Sicilian ingredients and cooking techniques.
If you have a keen interest in the arts, then you’ll most definitely want to visit the Teatro Massimo (Greatest Theatre). It was built in 1864 and even today it’s still Italy’s biggest theatre house, in fact it’s the third largest in Europe! At the Teatro Massimo you can watch ballets, operas, musicals and orchestras perform some of the most exquisite performances you’ll ever see or hear.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Naples city centre is the largest in Europe, stretching over 4,200 acres – so there’s a lot for you to explore! As you’ll come to find, there is an incredible expanse of history to discover and understand in each of Europe’s cities and Naples is no different. In fact, Naples has become known for its museums which showcase the fascinating history of the city and the whole of Italy too. The most well-known of these museums is the Naples National Archaeological Museum which houses some highly regarded collections of artifacts from the Roman Empire as well as antiques from Pompeii and Herculaneum.
To see one of the finest art collections in Europe, make your next stop the Mueso di Capodimonte. Here you’ll find a cornucopia of Neapolitan works of art as well as ornamental pieces, some of which date back to 1738.
If you visit the Piazza del Plebiscito (one of the of the largest public squares in Naples), you’ll find the San Franesco di Paola which was built in the 19th century as a tribute to the emperor Napoleon.
This may be Tuscany’s second largest city, but it’s essentially a port town which has a kind of shabby charm that only a coastal location can really pull off. It might surprise you to know that Livorno actually has venetian style canals which make for a great way to see the main sights of the city. The boat tours depart from Quattro Mori Statue which is near Piazza Micheli.
Once you’re done exploring the city by water, next on your list to visit should be the Terrazza Mascagni. The striking black and white check terrace sweeps along the seafront and looks exactly the kind of setting you can imagine a grand romantic gesture to take place. Despite being built in 1920, the terrace now bears the name of Livorno born opera composer, Pietro Mascagni.
Livorno is highly regarded as one of the best places to enjoy fresh seafood. Porto Di Mare is one of the many great seafood restaurants you’ll find around the city but as well as the delicious cuisine it also has a great interior design which feels authentic and adds to your culinary experience.
Before you leave, make sure to try the famous Galliano liquor. This sweet, herbal tipple was first created in Livorno in 1896 and it’s named after a hero of the first Italo-Ethiopian War. We won’t tell you what it tastes like – you’ll have to try for yourselves!
Florence has so much to offer! Considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, this city was once the wealthiest of the time during the medieval ages and this shows in it’s opulent statues, churches and of course art, which can be sighted throughout. Today Florence is noted for its history, architecture, renaissance art and monuments. Like Naples, the city centre of Florence is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Santa Maria del Fiore (Cathedral of St Mary of the Flower) is probably one of the most recognised sights in Florence. Standing out above the rest of the city, the tower and curved dome that make up the cathedral are a sight to behold. Work began on constructing the cathedral in 1296 and as you approach you’ll immediately realise how much detail has gone into its creation. From intricate frescos and ornate statues to mosaic floors and the incredible artwork in the dome showing the “The Last Judgement” painted by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari.
To see a great view over the whole of Florence, head to Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square). Here you’ll find a bronze casting of the original Statue of David which was removed from the square to protect it from damage. It now resides in the Accademia Gallery in the city.
Last, but by no means least, the Uffizi Gallery and your chance to view one of the most famous masterpieces to this day – Botticelli’s Venus. But that’s not all, you’ll also find pieces from Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian and Rembrandt. Construction began on the Uffizi in 1560 and the building itself is something to be admired – especially the restored Niobe room. The Uffizi is one of the oldest and most famous art galleries in the world so even if there is a bit of a wait to get in, it’s worth it! We thought it worth mentioning that upon exploring the city and its art, people have been known to get a case of Stendhal syndrome, which involves a racing heartbeat, dizziness and fainting! The syndrome is used to describe the reaction one might have to an experience of great personal significance which is usually triggered by art, but can also happen when exposed to beautiful landscapes and natural wonders. So don’t go getting too awe-struck now!
What we love about Pisa is that there’s something for everyone. In the city you have the opportunity to embrace history and culture, but if you prefer pursuits that’ll put you back in touch with nature, then there’s one of Italy’s regional parks nearby; Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli. The park boasts a beautiful lake, framed by low mountains and inhabited by numerous different species of birds. The unique ecosystem of this park means that you can explore stretches of sand dunes but also marshes and wetlands too. If you’re lucky you may even spot some of the local wildlife including deer and wild boar.
We’re not going to talk about Pisa and not mention the leaning tower! Oddly there’s something amusing and charming to see it tilted at an angle as if challenging the norms of architecture. Construction began on the tower in 1173 with the intent of it becoming a bell tower. However, after 5 years, the locals looked on in astonishment as the tower started to lean. The tower was built on a bed of soft clay which as you can guess, isn’t ideal for laying the foundations of a building on. Construction was halted for 100 years before work began on it again 1272, but even then the going was fragile until 1964 when a 800 tonne counterweight was finally installed.
Visas and Medical Requirements
- For many businesses in Italy, cash is still king. If you’re planning on doing a little shopping in any of the ports there make sure to bring a little cash just in case.
- There are no recommended medical shots you’ll need to take before travelling to Italy.
Annual Weather in Italy
January: 6 to 11°C
February: 6 to 12°C
March: 9 to 15°C
April: 11 to 17°C
May: 14 to 21°C
June: 18 to 24°C
July: 21 to 27°C
August: 21 to 28°C
September: 18 to 25°C
October: 14 to 21°C
November: 9 to 15°C
December: 7 to 12°C
How to Book Your Cruise to Italy
If you have been looking to book your fun cruise holiday to France, our 2018 cruise deals will certainly provide memories to last a lifetime. You can call us at 0800 408 0757 and our cruise specialists will help you to book your dream cruise!