No matter what your religion, you can appreciate this spectacular view from the top of the Vatican
Cronin describes the Italian zest for life and touches on some of the places to visit.
Most people’s perception of Italy is that of style, a country whose taste for the good life is matched only by its panache. The food is full of flavour, created with a desire to serve nothing but the best.
Variety is the spice of life; kitchens all over the country try to outwit one another with new recipes, each one tastier than their neighbours.
But what drives the Italian people is their passion, their zest for life. Nowhere else is life lived with so much enthusiasm.
The boys cruise by street cafes in their open top sports cars looking cool, trying to catch the eyes of the girls. The girls drink their coffees, dressed to the nines in their Versace designer dresses and pretend not to notice. This modern day mating ritual continues endlessly.
Elsewhere in Italy, tourists flock annually to this culturally diverse country, making it the fourth most popular destination in the world.
The majority of holidaymakers fly into Rome and make a beeline for the Coliseum. Brought to life in the recent Hollywood epic ‘Gladiator’, the ancient ruin makes no less impression in real life. Built in 80 AD, this bloodthirsty arena became graveyard for many a brave soldier, thrown to the lions with no mercy.
Within the walls of Rome lies the Vatican. Though technically not part of Italy, it is in fact an independent state and the smallest country in the world. Considered by many to be Christianity’s finest Renaissance church, St Peter’s Cathedral is a magnificent piece of architecture. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is another must see, though you may have to compete with large crowds. It is advisable to book your visit beforehand.
High up in the mountains sits the beautiful little town of Assisi, overlooking Perugia. The 14th century fortress of Rocca Maggiore sits predominantly, once the sentinel guarding this proud city. It is the birthplace of St Francis and well worth a visit, provided you can negotiate the religious pilgrims.
In the north of Italy sits the vogue city of Milan. The town is famous for its fashion businesses and exquisite shopping. Indeed, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is believed to be the oldest shopping mall in the world.
The Biblioteca Ambrosiana holds sketches by Leonardo da Vinci amid its considerable resources of books and drawings. It is one of the main libraries of European culture.
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