Although the Mediterranean Sea is extremely beautiful and tranquil, many shore excursions allow you to experience the Italian culture, food, and attractions. The country is filled with wondrous sites and architecture from its northern mountains to its southern coast and is definitely worth exploring. If time is limited, a few stops should be a high priority for any visitor.
At first glance, this port just north of the capital city does not seem to have much appeal as a tourist destination; however, it provides easy access for those traveling by the sea since it lies only one hour by rail from Rome. While the city itself offers hundreds of monuments, churches, plazas, shops, restaurants and other attractions of interest, there are a few that should not be missed if you only have a short period to visit.
A tour of Rome in a single day should include stops to some of the most significant Roman monuments, famous piazzas, and the Vatican. The Coliseum is one of the most popular ancient monuments of Roman history and remains one of the most recognizable archaeological monuments on earth. It is truly impressive standing 165 high, 600 feet long, and had the capacity to hold 50,000 spectators. If you are captivated by ancient Rome, you may also want to visit the Forum which once was the political, commercial, and religious center of the city or the Pantheon which is one of the best preserved examples of ancient Roman architecture.
Time permitting, a trip to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican is also well worth your efforts. The Vatican is seat of the pope and one of the world’s supreme accomplishments in artistic architecture. The Vatican is also home to many wonderful museums, including the Sistine Chapel. These museums hold the priceless works of some of the greatest artists including Michelangelo and Bernini.
Situated south of Rome, the city of Naples is home to some of the most impressive museums and is accessible to some of the most beautiful scenery in southern Italy. Within the city itself, the MuseoArcheologicoNazionale is home to beautiful mosaics, frescoes from Roman villas, and an impressive collection of ancient antiquities. Archaeological investigations can be visited throughout the city, but the most impressive site lies south of the city in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. The famous eruption in 79 AD forever immortalized the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum by freezing that moment below a layer of volcanic ash. After a trip to the ancient city, you can then explore the modern city built above.
The Amalfi coast lies only a short distance further if you wish to experience the breathtaking scenery made famous from many Hollywood movies by going on an Amalfi Coast excursion. Beyond the shops and cafes along the seafront, Capri and Grotta dello Smeraldo are also easily accessible for day trips.
When sailing the Adriatic Sea, a shore trip to Venice should definitely be on the agenda. The romanticized images of the canals and architecture hardly do the city any justice. The main street of the lagoon city, lined with palazzos of the Venetian elite, seems to create a fairytale effect. You can take in all the sites the city has to offer as you drift through the canals along the Rialto. During your stop in Venice, be sure to pass through Piazza San Marco to admire the elegant colonnaded square and the grandiose St. Mark’s Basilica. Venice is also home to many wonderful museums which house the works of the greatest artists; the Gallerie dell’Accademia houses many of Titian and Bellini’s pieces and Ca d’Oro is home to a vast collection assembled by its former owner, Baron Franchetti. Venice is also host to a number of festivals throughout the year, so be sure to check the events calendar during your trip and find a reliable tour company that has the inside scoop on all the best excursions.
Giovanni Benvenuto is the Managing Director at a company that specializes in tourism in Italy. Living in Italy the majority of the year, he is an expert in where to go and sights to see.