Why you should visit Italy

Why you should visit Italy

As many of you know, we just returned from our northern Italy honeymoon. After spending 2 weeks traveling here, we were easily able to come up with 20+ things we loved about this country. So now we will try to convince you! Read our list about why you should visit Italy.

As we bopped around from destination to destination I frequently woke up to a dilemma. Should I just lay in bed soaking in the view or should we get on with our day to enjoy all the cultural nuances?

What a tough dilemma to have….

We did do a lot in Italy. I always like to tell people “I don’t like cramming in a bunch of activities on our trips.” But ironically, you may have been exhausted just reading our itinerary — which you can check out here if you haven’t already (I’ll be writing another post soon about the itinerary that we actually implemented).

Even if you were out of breath reading through our plans, I promise — it didn’t feel like we were jamming our days full of touristy things. There was sincerely just so much to experience.

I mean why wouldn’t we want to just get lost walking down little, ancient cobblestone paths surrounded by rolling fields overlooking mountains and lakes every single day?

Anyway, check out our list of what we loved and all the reasons why you should visit Italy.

If you want help planning your trip there let me know 😉

Breathtaking Landscape

If you’ve seen any of our pictures, you know how beautiful Lake Como and Cinque Terre were. I can’t even describe how amazing it was waking up to this landscape every single morning. I mean at Lake Como we had a hotel room on the 3rd floor with a balcony overlooking the center of Lake Como with Bellagio way down below. What is not to love…?

But everywhere we went the landscape was breathtaking. And I don’t mean to use that word lightly.

Imagine the rolling hills of vineyards in Tuscany, the peaks of Alps in the distance in Piedmont, and the train rides along the ocean pebbled with little towns. Everywhere we went we were in awe.

You could travel to Italy for this reason alone and be so satisfied.

Pasta, olive oil, and gelato

Let’s just loop all the food together. We loved all of this in Italy.

The food was so delicious, but it was also the experiences that came with the food/drink.

For example, imagine eating fresh pasta and pesto at a cozy restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean…. But first the bread comes out with local olive oil.

Some of our favorite dishes included shrimp carbonara in Turin and pesto gnocchi in Cinque Terre.

Then you can follow-up dinner with gelato as you walk around and the sun sets…

Weather

Another reason you should visit Italy is because of the weather. Italy is pretty diverse in its climate and so it can depend on the regions you travel to and the time of year. But speaking from our experience traveling through northern Italy in June, the weather was really incredible. It was mild during parts of our trip (think 75 and sunny), warm when we had access to a dip in water (85 near Lake Como), a few hot days in Florence, followed with a cool-down in Cinque Terre. We were prepared for hot weather the whole trip, but we were pleasantly surprised that we didn’t have to sweat through our clothes much at all!

I do think it gets much hotter through July and August. So if you’re able to travel before those months (also because it gets even more touristy), I would definitely recommend that.

Architecture

The architecture in Italy is made up of numerous time periods in history, such as the Renaissance and more ancient time periods. You will even find modern and Gothic architectural styles. All of this has a past and a history. You can see this at the Duomo in Florence, town churches, old stone buildings seen dotting the foothills of the Alps, and with the narrow buildings making up tiny seaside villages.

We both really appreciate the beauty in architecture. It’s something that we are drawn to when traveling. Both of us tend to gravitate towards a destination that has a past to witness in it’s architecture.

Italian language

Italian is a beautiful language. I have always thought that. But being surrounded by Italian as you enter a grocery store, run to the train, walk through the fields on your way to town, or just observe several women socializing towards the end of the day was a completely different experience.

The annunciations rise and fall in a special way that really makes me want to be fluent in the language.

Check out my post on tips to learn a language for your travels.

Through more rural Italy we did find that most people didn’t speak much English. Often times, you might find people knew Spanish as a second language (before English). Thank you Nate for saving us on a few occasions!

So if you plan to travel in less touristy places, I would recommend learning some basic phrases.

But this is one thing I love about traveling. The more we got into our trip the more my husband (wow — “Husband!”) learned to sit back to let me order our espressos in Italian. He knew how excited it made me to have an official exchange in Italian.

“Per favore due espressi.” or “Per favore due cappuccini”

Sadly, that really was the extent of my ability to speak Italian….

But we did try everywhere we went! We sometimes prepared a translation onto our phone so we could speak and show that we were trying….

Caffe

Speaking of “espressi” and “cappuccini” one of our favorite things about Italy was the coffee. The coffee was delicious.

I felt like the way Italians drink espresso was a testament to how they live life. They would order an espresso, a tiny amount. They would stop about their day, enjoy the small moment, maybe chat with people or sit in silence, and then go back to what they were doing. There is this way of enjoying the small things, taking a break, and living life in moderation.

Not to say that we do it all wrong in the U.S….. But I do think “we” live our life very fast paced with our huge coffee mug to sip on as we go about our mundane morning of obligation.

Well, that’s generalizing, but isn’t there some truth in that?

Tip: only order cappuccinos before lunch. It is seen as a bit strange to have a cappuccino after lunch or in the afternoon. If you want a caffeine-fix following lunch, order an espresso (or an americano).

Friendly and hospitable people

We may be bias because we did meet up with extended family while in Italy. But everywhere we went, we did find people to be so welcoming, friendly, and hospitable! We had never met our extended family before, but they welcomed us with open arms. AND this was despite an enormous language barrier!

They were committed to giving us a tour of their city (Torino), taking us out to dinner, learning about us, and investing in building a relationship — despite having to use Google Translate for everything we wanted to say.

This isn’t to mention one of our favorite Airbnb hosts — Thank you Chiara and family!! (Check out this Airbnb if you’re looking for a rural stay in the Piedmont region of Italy — we cannot recommend them enough!). And everyone we met who was so wonderful to us.

This can “make” or “break” an experience. We can confidently say that if you travel to Italy this will “make” your experience!

Hydrangeas

This might seem like a funny reason to try to convince you to travel to Italy. I mean we see hydrangeas all over the United States.

But there was just something different about them in Italy. Maybe I just took more notice to them, but they were everywhere. My favorite was to see a beautiful purple or blue hydrangea bush up in contrast with centuries-old stone building.

Wine

If seeing hydrangeas doesn’t convince you to travel to Italy, maybe hearing about the wine will 😉

We had some delicious wine throughout Italy. We had one full day in Tuscany and spent that doing a couple winery tours and tastings. And I would highly recommend this. If you aren’t a wine drinker, the tours are still very interesting, and often times the wineries may also produce olive oil.

Our day traveling around Tuscany was such a wonderful, relaxing day.

Going through the winery tours and tasting wines was so much more than sipping on delicious wine. It was an experience to understand an approach to this drink passed down from century to century.

I believe that the Italian’s approach wine similarly to how they approach espresso/coffee. Wine would selectively be enjoyed with dinner depending on the meal (red with red meat, white with fish and chicken), maybe sipped on as with family and friends as you’re socializing before dinner or after.

But just like espresso, a wine glass is not filled to the brim. It sits low in a glass and slowly disappears as you connect with loved ones.

Limoncino

While we are talking about alcohol, another thing we really enjoyed while in northern Italy was limoncino.

You might have heard of limoncello. limoncino and limoncello are basically the same thing, it’s just a difference of the region. Limoncino is a lemon liquor made in the north near Cinque Terre and Portofino. Limoncello is the same thing made in the south of Italy.

One of our favorite memories traveling around Italy was sipping on some gifted limoncino a new local restaurant-staff friend gave us when they heard it was our honeymoon.

It’s a delicious drink. And is great use for all the lemons that grow through different regions of the country!

Train travel

We split this trip up by half-car rental, half-train travel. As many people know from their own experience, Europe has train-travel figured out! The train systems throughout the whole continent (practically) are thorough, comprehensive, and efficient.

It’s a different experience from taking a train in the U.S. I will say.

Taking the train in Italy was so convenient. It got us from destination C to D at an affordable price, with comfortable seats, a bathroom, luggage storage, large windows for scenic observations, tables for reading, and sometimes a cafe.

This is the ultimate form of transportation in my opinion!

Cobblestone streets

Wherever you go in Italy, there are cobblestone streets: big streets, little streets, narrow roads, and tiny pedestrian walkways. They are seemingly “secret” paths that you only know about if you’re local. There are paths driven on by cars, and cobblestone streets that only fit little mopeds or tiny cars.

And they are filled with so much character and beauty. We love getting lost on these streets. I would say it’s a hobby of ours and an activity all on its own.

Isn’t this enough reason to visit Italy??

Wine windows

I had visited Florence back in 2009 when I was an exchange student in Poland (check out my post on being an exchange student in Poland). While that was a long time ago, I don’t remember anything about “wine windows.”

Wine windows are a “phenomenon” or an element from history mostly characterizing Florence. They were a common thing centuries ago. It was a way for families to sell wine through a secretive little hole in the wall (or “window”) so that they did not have to pay taxes as a business.

They also proved effective through pandemics such as the Bubonic plague…. and then… COVID19.

There are numerous throughout Florence. So it was important for me that we visited at least 1.

Depth of history everywhere

There’s so much history in Italy. While there is so much history everywhere around the world, in Italy it physically surrounds you.

It was really incredible to be surrounded by history in forms of buildings, churches, streets, Virgin Mary vignettes, wineries, trains, and so much more.

There’s something so magical about thinking that humans used to walk the same streets or enter the same buildings as you hundreds of years ago….

Art

I am not an art buff by any means. Neither is my husband (“husband”!!). But we processed this a lot when we were in Italy –particularly in Florence. There is so much art in Florence and there is so much appreciation for it.

I don’t witness the same appreciation here in the U.S. at least not at the societal level.

In Italy it’s an important part of society and the city heritage.

We once learned that the last member of the Medici family that was ruling Florence (at least economically) agreed to pass over the reigns to the next family. But she made it very clear that all the art present in their palace and in the city belonged to the city of Florence. Centuries ago, they wrote a contract to make sure the art was preserved and belonged to the city.

This is said to have saved many pieces of art — such as the Statue of David and all of Michelangelo’s’ dedications.

Even if you aren’t an art connoisseur, I highly recommend experiencing this aspect of Italy. You might be awed by the passion that you witness alongside.

The harmony of all sensations at once

Nate and I sat down to discuss make a list of our favorite experiences in Italy. Nate brought something up that I quickly and enthusiastically agreed. What made Italy special to us was that you could experience multiple beautiful sensations all at once. You could experience multiple points from above all at one moment.

For example, we had delicious dinners of fresh pasta and homemade creamy tomato sauce, all while we were soaking in the beautiful view overlooking one of the most iconic lakes in the world. This didn’t mention the smell that would come along as the sauce was simmering, or the noise of a couple friends speaking in harmonic Italian next to you.

It was like you could get flooded with trying to disect which one of these pieces was the most beautiful.

The truth is, it’s sort of overwhelming — in an amazing way. And there’s no need to pick out what sensation is being stimulated the most.

Just take it all in and enjoy the moments.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our favorite things about traveling in Italy. AND I hope maybe it inspires you to travel there. These are just some of the reasons why you should visit Italy.

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