Italy has a spellbinding effect on travelers; they fall in love quickly and deeply with the landscapes, the food and the culture. While that can happen virtually anywhere you go in Italy, the ultimate experience comes with traveling around the country, taking in its surprising diversity and depth. If you're eager to travel Italy, there are five key places that should be on your itinerary.
1. Venice. Some call it 'La Serenissima,' meaning 'the most serene.' Others call it one of the most beautiful cities in the world. No matter what moniker you choose, one thing is certain - Venice is one of the most unforgettable places you'll see when you travel Italy. Taking a gondola ride along the city's canals is an essential experience, as is marveling at the glittering Byzantine mosaic interior of the Basilica of St. Mark and stepping into the Gothic grandeur of the Doge's Palace.
2. Milan. This world-famous fashion capital blends cosmopolitan character with historic architecture; it also serves as the gateway to Italy's alpine region. The area's mountain scenery and lakes offer an ideal setting for getting off-the-beaten track and relaxing in stunning surroundings.
3. Florence. The birthplace of the Renaissance remains one of the greatest places on earth to explore art and architecture. Tour famed museums like the Galleria dell'Accademia (where Michelangelo's David resides) and the Uffizi, which holds works by Da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli and other Renaissance masters. The city is also great for memorable walks, which can take you over the famed Ponte Vecchio, through the Boboli Gardens and into the Duomo, an architectural marvel of its time.
4. Siena. The landscapes of Tuscany, with characteristic rolling hills, rows of cypress trees and graceful villas, are sure to enchant any visitor. When you travel Italy, a visit to the medieval hill town of Siena is essential. Wander the town's ancient streets and, as you stand in the Piazza del Campo, imagine the rush of the city's centuries-old Il Palio horse race thundering past you.
5. Rome. From the Forum to the Vatican to the Pantheon, Rome is filled with monuments that should be on everyone's itinerary when they travel Italy. However, the charms of Rome go far beyond these colossal sites. Stroll the neighborhoods and enjoy the city's stellar cuisine to round out your experience.
Planning an itinerary that covers all of these can be a challenge, but it doesn't need to be. Many savvy travelers have discovered that putting their trips in the hands of experts makes travel not only easier, but more economical - and in some cases, more in-depth. Tauck, a leading travel company with more than 87 years of experience, offers savings of up to 40 percent (over independent travel), while providing unique experiences like exclusive after-hours tours of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
If you've dreamed of being able to travel Italy all your life, remember - it could be easier than you ever imagined to make that dream a reality. By opting for a tour that includes the country's greatest sights, travelers of all ages can sit back, relax and enjoy the magic that has made Italy one of the best-loved destinations in the world. For more information, visit Tauck online.