Italy. When I say Italy, what do you think of?
The ancient Colosseum in Rome? Colorful, crumbling buildings sitting along the canals of Venice? The rolling hills lined with grapevines of Tuscany?
Yes. Italy is those things. But it’s so much more.
Do you know what I see of when I think of Italy?
I see pink-hued peaks soaring above colorful villages with onion-domed churches. I see uncrowded museums filled with science-y stuff. I see festivals revolving around chess or witches or bagpipes.
Go back and read that paragraph again. Because these are things you will find in Italy. You just have to dig a bit deeper. Italy is full of surprises.
I have to admit that the first time I visited Italy I thought I knew what Italy was all about. But each time I visited, I peeled back another layer. And I kept finding more and more interesting aspects to this complex and intriguing country.
Don’t get me wrong. Rome, Venice, Florence, Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast — all beautiful places and all worthy of time. But look beyond these destinations and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the other facets of Italy. You’ll still find ancient ruins, gorgeous art and architecture, vineyards and colorful buildings sliding into the sea. You just might find that you can have those things minus all the other travelers. And you might get all those things minus all the other travelers PLUS connecting with the locals. Cause you won’t be one of one million coming through. So the locals will be more interested in you. And you win as you’ll capture their attention and more than likely you’ll make a connection with them.
Going somewhere different
I suppose this is why I am always touting getting off the proverbial beaten path. I really don’t like to use that term, but I’ll go ahead and use it here. The fact of the matter is that nowhere is really completely off the beaten path. But there are those places that are less-visited, at least by English speakers. And there are still quite a few of them that exist in this very much visited country called Italy.
So I encourage you to seek out these destinations. Trust me. You won’t regret it. And I truly believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- Did you know there are loads of caves (more than 10,000) in Italy, both in the mountains and at sea?
- Did you know over 75% of Italy is mountainous or hilly?
- Did you know that Italy has the highest number of cultural sites recognized by UNESCO World Heritage?
Yup, all true. The boot has a wealth of natural treasures — not just cultural ones. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy both cities and the great outdoors.
And there’s more
Here’s a few more fun facts that may surprise you:
- Italy has the most volcanoes of any European country. This is due to the fact that the Italian peninsula stands on a fault line. And three major volcanoes — Etna, Stromboli and Vesuvius — have erupted in the last hundred years. That damn Vesuvius is a pesky one, isn’t it?
- Many of the great and influential scientists and mathematicians were born in Italy including Galileo Galilei, Leonardo da Vinci and Alessandro Volta (he created the battery). The barometer, thermometer, mechanical clock, telephone and optical glasses are all actually Italian inventions. There are some keen minds in Italy!
- These incredible Italians also invented the violin, cello and piano AND Italy is the home of opera and ballet.
- Yes, the Italians do love their football — known to Americans as soccer. They are obsessed with it. But they also happen to be big into cycling. One of the three most famous bike rides in Europe, called the Giro d’Italia, takes place in Italy.
- Italy is home to the world’s oldest university, the University of Bologna. It was founded in 1088.
- The Sardinian islands are famous for their witches. These so-called witches, who are mostly women, make health potions for the locals. They use a secret language that they pass on to their daughters.
- There are currently more than 500 different types of pasta eaten in Italy today. 500!!
So let’s see … we have incredible and diverse natural beauty. We have scientific inventions. We have music, art, architecture, dance. We have a lengthy and intriguing history. We have sports of all sorts. We have festivals celebrating everything from saints to bagpipes to witches to food. We have some of the best food and wine. And of course we have intelligent, passionate and warm-hearted people. Did I miss anything?
Here’s the first look at the upcoming e-book! It should be on sale by July 15. Stay tuned to Wander Your Way and our social media channels for more information.