We’ve recently launched Jayride.com in Italy, and though it’s unlikely you need convincing of all (and there are many) the reasons why a trip to Italy is a must, just in case you’re on the fence, let us persuade you.
1. It’s home of the aperitivo
This is straight to the top of the list for us; a dedicated time of the day to relax with a drink in hand and catch up with friends and family – who wouldn’t love that? The aperitivo is an Italian tradition, and is so firmly part of the culture that you’ll notice it wherever you go in Italy. Born in the late 18th century, it’s all about whetting your appetite for a big Italian dinner with a drink and some snacks, usually between 7 and 9pm. Try a Negroni, Aperol Spritz or Prosecco to start your night, and it’ll usually be accompanied by some snacks and nibbles such as olives and bruschetta.
2. Food, glorious food
This is the home of pasta and pizza, and you’ll probably never taste anything so good again. There are eye-opening amounts of different pastas in Italy, but they should all be served fresh, steaming hot and al dente. If you’re not used to eating pasta the Italian way (argued by many as the only way to eat it), then you may find the al dente pasta firm – but trust us, the Italian’s know best, and it’s truly delicious. Many pastas come served with uncomplicated sauces such as pecorino and black pepper, and make for a delicious lunch time snack. Same goes for the pizza; you’ll never taste better. From the soft, thin base of traditional pizza Napoletana where the edge is thick to enclose the delicious toppings, to the delicious thin and crispy pizza Romana, different parts of Italy have their own styles, which we take as meaning we can eat as much pizza as possible – you can’t come to Italy without sampling all of the styles, right? And let’s not forget about the cheese – pecorino, mozzarella, gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and many more – the delicious hams and cold cuts of meat, the juicy tomatoes, the woody truffles, the creamy gelato… who’s hungry?
3. It has thousands of years of history to explore
Italy seriously packs a punch when it comes to history. The country was at the heart of the Roman empire, a cradle of Western civilisation and one of the most influential cultures of the word. Adding to that, Italy only became a unified nation in the 19th century, and the diversity of traditions and customs of the previously individual states are still evident today; travelling through Italy can feel like travelling through different countries, in different centuries. On a trip to Italy you’ll encounter architecture spanning more than 3,000 years, from ancient Greek temples and Roman ruins, to Gothic cathedrals, Baroque fountains and squares, and wildly famous Renaissance art. History lovers rejoice!
4. The cities and towns are incredible
Italy is home to some of the most famous, beautiful and historic cities in the world. Even better, as the country’s size is fairly manageable (a drop in the ocean compared to the US or Australia!), you can cover off many of them in a single trip. Take a gondola ride through the magical waterways of Venice; admire the impressive Gothic Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral and its soaring Renaissance dome in Florence; marvel at incredibly preserved Roman ruins in the nation’s capital; wonder at the Amalfi Coast’s towns that cling to cliff sides; enjoy pizza in its true home of Naples; feel cultured and well-fed in Bologna. And that’s just the beginning.
5. There are UNESCO World Heritage Sites galore
In fact, at 54 (in 2018), Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than anywhere else in the world. So if you’re after culture and history, this is the place for you.
6. It’s fantastic for people-watching
From the impeccable fashion sense of many Italians and the passionate conversations with wild hand and arm gestures, to the questionable road tactics you’ll see or maybe even experience (bumper-to-bumper parking is common, and road rules just don’t seem to exist) and the overt flirting subjected on many of the fairer sex, Italy is a great place to people-watch. Just don’t be put off if you feel your personal space is being encroached upon; kissing, hugging and touching is all part of meeting, greeting and conversing here, and it’s a sign of friendliness.
7. There are mountains
Italy is very diverse in its landscapes. From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the dry olive groves of Puglia, it really does have something for everyone, including mountains! Northeastern Italy is home to the Dolomites mountain range, part of the Southern Alps, and is a popular spot for skiing, hiking and mountain climbing.
8. And lakes
If water is more your thing, you’re in luck; Italy has thousands of lakes, and some of the most popular in the world lie in the north of the country, near the mountains. The Italian Lakes region is home to three of the biggest lakes in the country; Lakes Garda, Maggiore and Como. Home to Hollywood stars, and visited by the stylish and glamorous, the Italian Lakes are also popular holiday destinations for couples, friends and families, with their pretty houses, terracotta roofs and old church spires lining the glistening lakesides and framed by soaring mountains with impossibly green trees.
9. And beaches
There are beaches too! Some of the best mainland ones are found in the south of the country, in the Puglia region. But for the real showstoppers, head to the islands. Sardinia’s beautiful white sands and azure waters would have you thinking you’re in the Caribbean, especially at the popular Cala Goloritzé, while Elba, the biggest island in the Tuscan Archipelago, is as much famous for its sparkling clear waters as it is for harboring French Emperor Napoleon during his exile. Then there’s Sicily, with its gorgeous sandy stretches framed with rocky outcrops and warm waters. The choice is yours!
10. You’ll crane your neck like you’ve never craned before
There is just so much art here, the whole country is like a living masterpiece. Michelangelo, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci… it’s mind boggling how many of the world’s most famous artists called Italy home. You could spend years inspecting each piece in the Vatican Museums in Rome or the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, but even wandering the streets is an experience like no other; walk into any church and you’ll likely look up in awe at frescoed ceilings and walls of incredibly detailed art, so much so that you’ll constantly feel you’re craning your neck!
11. It has vines of the gods
The wine, oh the wine! Italy is famed for its wine (and is one of the world’s largest producers), especially its big bold reds, most notably the three ‘B’s: Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello di Montalcino. Add in the Tuscan Chianti and the Veneto Amarone della Valpolicella and you’ve got an enviable selection of world-class red wines. The fruity white Pinot Grigio and the sparkling Prosecco, also from the Veneto region, are big contenders, too. And for the cheap-as-chips prices you’ll pay for wine in Italy, you’ll be able to sip to your heart’s content.
12. The coffee is top-notch
You know you’re going to start off your day on the right foot with an Italian coffee; after all, this is the country that gave us the coffee-ordering lingo we all use today (espresso, cappuccino, latte…). It’s a deep-rooted part of Italian culture to enjoy a coffee, and there are customs and unwritten rules to what is the ‘norm’ when it comes to coffee drinking; breakfast is usually accompanied by a cappuccino, but after 11am milk in coffee is generally a no-no, so do as the Italians do and stick to espresso. Takeaway or to-go is not a thing, and be prepared to stand at a bar and have a chat with a barista while you sip away; it’s the Italian way.
13. La dolce vita
The ‘sweet life’ is synonymous with the Italian lifestyle; it’s all about enjoying the simple pleasures, not taking life too seriously and living life at a relaxed pace. Sounds good to us!
Have we tempted you to hop on a plane to Italy? Don’t forget to pre-book your airport transfer and make the most of that dolce vita lifestyle as soon as you land!