If Italy is the country of your expat dreams but you’re not sure where to settle then read all about the country’s top three cities!
Rome has an illustrious and bloody history which remains an integral part of the present day Italian capital. It is full of early architectural beauty, and is home to unique ancient ruins and Religious attractions like the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square. Despite the heavy presence of the past Rome maintains a modern, fashionable populace and a bustling, cosmopolitan lifestyle. Because of the way it mingles history with the present Rome is known as the Eternal City.
Rome has over 3,000 years of history.
In the time of Ancient Rome some Romans would place a phallic symbol over their doors as they were supposed to symbolise fertility and good luck. Phalluses were even worn as lucky charms!
The current population of Rome is around 3 million people.
It has been estimated that in the history of the Colosseum more than 1 million people and ½ a million animals were killed within it.
The Roman for ‘left’ and ‘left-handed’ were sinister and sinstra and the modern meaning of sinister is a result of the Roman’s deep rooted superstitions regarding anything to do with the left.
Legally registered foreign minorities in Rome include Polish, Spanish, North American, Romanian and Philipino.
The Colosseum is one of the most famous structures in the world and can be found in Rome. It may no longer house blood sports between gladiators and wild animals but it’s still an impressive sight to see.
Vatican City is often termed a City State and has an ever changing population comprised of nuns, priests, high ranking dignitaries and (of course) the Pope. Visitors to the Vatican City enter through the expansive and majestic St Peter’s Square.
The Pantheon has stood in Rome for over 1800 years as a symbol of the might of the Roman Empire. Until outdone by the Florence Cathedral in 1436 it remained the largest dome in the world. Its size and grandeur never fail to make an impression on visitors. It was originally built as a pagan temple of worship but was converted into a church in 609 and it now houses the tombs of key Italian figures. When it was first built the only source of light in the Pantheon was a large opening in the top of the dome called the oculus.
In ancient Rome Circus Maximus was the largest stadium and was famed in centuries past for holding Chariot races. Back when the city was home to 1 million people Circus Maximus could seat a quarter of the total population.
Many people consider the Trevi Fountain/Fontana di Trevi to be the most beautiful in all of Rome. It dominates the Trevi square and ends the Aqua Virgo (an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC). Nicola Salvi was commissioned to create the fountain in 1732 by Pope Clement XII. The design, which features Neptune riding a shell shaped chariot, was based on Bernini’s design of a century earlier and took thirty years to construct. It’s said that if you toss a coin into the Trevi fountain you’ll return to Rome one day.
Venetian gondolas are probably one of the most iconic images associated with Italy and the ‘city on stilts’ is one of unique charms. Situated in the north-east of the country, Venice was built on a lagoon and historically acted as a bridge between the West and the East. The city is one of Italy’s biggest tourist draws and is renowned for its beauty and romance.
Venice was built during the mid 400’s.
Venice features over 150 canals, is built on 118 islands and has more than 400 bridges.
The stilt like construction of Venice was born of necessity and came about when the population had to escape a barbarian invasion. It was thought that the unique layout of Venice would make it harder to infiltrate.
Venice’s major industry is tourism.
As bells traditionally formed an important part of communication in Venetian culture there are 170 bell towers in Venice.
The totally unique Grand Canal is one the main tourist draws in Venice. It’s the city’s main water thoroughfare and is known for its noise and vibrancy. Along the banks of the canal some of the most spectacular Venetian architecture can be seen whilst a foremost Italian icon dots the canal itself – the gondola!
If you enjoy socialising then Piazzo San Marco is the place for you. Saint Mark’s square is the biggest in Venice as well as being the city’s prime meeting place. In Saint Mark’s square there are museums to cater for the mind and cafes to cater for the body. There’s even a glimpse of sea for the eyes.
No architecture buff can visit Venice without going to see Saint Mark’s Basilica. Eastern and Western style blends in this stunning religious landmark which was consecrated back in 832 AD.
Those sightseeing in Venice will also enjoy a trip to the Palazzo Ducale, or the Doges Palace. It stands alongside St Mark’s Basilica and the architecture is similarly influenced by the East. The Doges Palace was home to the Venetian Ruler and his government and guided tours can be taken through the lavish rooms of this historically important building.
Gondola’s might be iconic but they’re certainly not the only way of getting around Venice (nor are they the cheapest!) If you don’t fancy walking then the Vaporetto system is popular, cost effective and widely used. Veporetti are water bus’s which transport locals and tourists around the city using the canals.
Florence is in the beautiful Italian region of Tuscany and is one of the world’s most important architectural and artistic centres. Due to its high calibre museums and galleries and attractions like the Medici palaces Florence attracts droves of tourists year round.
Florence was founded in 59 BC by Julius Caesar. He intended it to be a retirement location for his veteran soldiers.
The city became the first in Europe to have paved streets in 1339.
Florence is best known for leather and gold.
Famous nurse Florence Nightingale was born in (and consequently named after) the city of Florence.
In Florence streets can have one name at one end and a different name at the other.
One of the oldest buildings in Florence is the Baptistery of John the Baptist, built in the 11th century. Its striking exterior is made of green and white marble and there are three eye-catching sets of bronze doors. The interior is equally beautiful – the marble pavement depicting the Zodiac is particularly worth seeing.
If you’ve had your fill of wondering through musty old buildings then the Boboli Garden is the attraction for you. You can find this huge hillside park in the middle of Florence, just behind the Pitti Palace. The gardens and fountains are beautiful and the park affords a fantastic view of the city.
Even people who know nothing about sculpture have heard of Michelangelo’s ‘David’. This famed sculpture can be found alongside other important works from the 13th – 16th centuries in Florence’s Galleria Dell’ Academia.
Florence is also the place to go if you enjoy shopping. Some of the world’s finest examples of quality jewellery, art productions and leather/paper goods are sold in Florence. There are also a large number of open-air food, clothing and antique markets across the city.
Whether you love opera or loath it a trip to Florence shouldn’t end without at least one operatic experience. If the thought of going to a formal opera doesn’t appeal then the opera at St Mark’s Anglican Church is a fantastic alternative. A piano, soprano and tenor combine to perform Italian love songs and opera classics. The power and beauty of the performances draw visitors back year after year.