Italy

The exquisite “Repubblica Italiana” can overwhelm the senses, especially since it's had thousands of years to shape and hone its unique, sophisticated culture.  It is famous for its fresh and delightful cuisine, the Roman Empire, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, thousand-dollar bags and shoes,  and the list goes on and on.  In Italy, there really is something for every visitor. Those who wish to be taken back in time can admire the great Colosseum, the flamboyant Trevi Fountain and the Forum all in Rome, and keep the cameras rolling in Florence, home to the Ponte Vecchio and il Duomo, the largest cathedral in the world.  Italy’s cities have an endless list of museums, archaeological sites, charming winding roads, vineyards, gardens, street performers, theatre and festivals.  Its snow-capped mountains in the Alps and awe inspiring coastlines draw people from around the world to this boot shaped peninsula.  Adventure seekers in the Cinque Terre region can enjoy scuba diving, snorkelling, sailing, windsurfing and water skiing while viewing the silhouette of rugged pastel buildings from the sea. The fashion aficionados will head north to Italy’s busiest business city of Milan.  Everyone has a long “must see” list and will never forget their incredible journey. Nat King Cole sang “Non Dimenticar” which means “don’t forget” in Italian; however, it is more appropriate to quote another one of his songs because Italy truly is “unforgettable.” ~ Jason Trinidad Pucheu


Paddling Through La Dolce Vita

At the mere mention of Italy, travellers’ heads are filled with images of famed masterpieces, majestic churches and revered historical sights, not to mention food and wine – the glorious food and wine! – of this fabled destination. Most people pinpoint the well-known triad of Rome, Florence and Venice, and feel they’ve seen the country once these must-sees are crossed off their bucket lists. The truth, however, is that one can’t truly appreciate Italy as viewed solely via some frenetic whirlwind tour. Italy demands the time it takes to slow down, engage your senses and fully indulge in la dolce vita.

Cinque Terre: Italy's Coastal Jewel

Stunning Italy: Walking the Cinque Terre trailThe famous Cinque Terre region of the Italian Riviera consists of a gorgeous coast-line stretching between five very special towns. Situated on the Ligurian Sea to the north-west of the country, the whole area has been made a national and marine park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a result, the area is well protected, which preserves the towns in their original beauty.

One of the biggest draws here for visitors is the walk along the coastal path between towns. The lower walking trail can be theoretically walked in one day, though most visitors choose to stay several days so they can take the time to enjoy the towns, the views and the sensational Italian food. There are also trails higher up in the mountains and the extra effort to walk here pays off.

Profiled: An Italian summer

Taggia: Sun and sand for miles

The waves crash into the shore, gentler with each moment the sun dips into the horizon. The mattress is not the softest, the thread count of the sheets not comparable to those of Egyptian cotton. Still, this moment is worth more than a week at a luxury hotel. I am in Taggia on the west coast of Italy, and it is to die for! I am stationed at a campsite as I have been recruited to teach English at a summer camp, and my fellow ‘recruitees’ make for excellent company. Taggia, a small town, offers a multitude of life for its size. Like any place in Italy, it is teeming with spirit and fun. There are supermarkets and quaint little boutiques, pubs and restaurants, tennis courts and a gorgeous light-sanded beach that stretches for miles. The locals are friendly and warm like their oven-baked pizzas and delicious lasagne. One evening I was walking from the campsite into town in search of internet access, and bumped into a lovely Nonna. She began an animated conversation in Italian while I struggled to communicate with a jumble of Spanish and my as-yet infantile Italian. It wasn’t so much that she understood everything I said, or vice versa for that matter, but I won’t soon forget her warm smile as she pulled me into a tight embrace and kissed me on my cheek!

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 Full name: Italian Republic

 Population: 61.26 million (CIA, 2012)

 Capital: Rome

 Largest city: Rome

 Area: 301,340 sq.km. (116,348 sq. mi.)

 Major languages: Italian, German, French,  Other

 Major religions: Roman Catholic, Other

 Monetary unit: Euro

 GDP per capita: US $31,000

 Internet domain: .it

 International dialling code: +39

 Source: CIA World Factbook