As an enormous fan of carbohydrates, pretty things and the Lizzie Mcguire movie, I really should have got round to going to Italy by now. As luck would have it, I was invited out there by a friend from university and have spent the last week in a quaint village halfway between Rome and Naples.
Italy is home to pasta, pizza and homemade ice cream. I know I could focus on all of the cultural stuff involved too but really, how is that possible when you're faced with enormous plates of mozzarella and pepperoni for the measliest of sums?
In all seriousness, Italy is the perfect place for a family holiday. 'Italy' is a pretty broad word, so lets narrow it down:
Composed of eight regions, the north of Italy is the more cosmopolitan part of the country, with its major industrial cities of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna. The most frequented by holidaymakers are Milan, Venice and Florence - major Italian cities. The north is also well known for its mix of landscapes: not only do you get world-famous mountains for skiing and outdoor sports, you can also bask in the Mediterranean climate that Italy is famous for.
Having never visited the north, I can only really vouch for the south. Visiting southern Italy is almost like being transported to a different time. It is in the south that you see a true glimpse of an unblinkered Italy, totally uncatering to tourists. True to traditional Italian culture, it is the best place to fully immerse yourself in Italian life. It's safe to say that if I hadn't been staying with an Italian, there would have been no chance of surviving - especially with zero language capabilities. It has been incredibly interesting to learn about real Italian customs - fifteen course weddings, no music for three days after funerals, guard dogs and midday naps. I have found daily life much simpler and more peaceful than it's ever been in England. Evenings are innocent, consisting of pizzerias and ice cream. The week has been one of the best of my summer and one I would recommend to anyone and everyone.
Two must-visits in the south are Naples, home of pizza, Pompeii, Mt Vesuvius and...the mafia, and of course the stunning capital of Rome. Rome is not only where Lizzie Mcguire transformed into a STARLET - it is a "benchmark of Western civilisation", not really a walk in the park. It houses attractions such as the famous Colusseum, the Trevi fountain, the Pope's house (going under the more formal name of "The Vatican") and much, much more.
Italy is a country of great beauty and one that I hope to visit many more times.
Image pictured: Rome, by http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-3A0KeldTHcs/TqgyB4XO-jI/AAAAAAAAA7E/pOa7KpjQPb0/s1600/RomanForumBK.jpg