In my opinion, Italy is the most beautiful country in the world. It is blessed with everything, from mountains to beaches, lakes and rivers, beautiful cities filled with architectural gems, art, culture and the best food on the planet. In this post I wanted to share with you one picture from some of the different Italian cities that I have visited. Each city is as different from the other as sugar is from salt and each of them is unique in its own special way.
I would hazard to say that my favourite city in all of Italy (and I guess that would make it in all of the world) is Rome. I feel at home there for some reason. My mum likes to say that, if she believed in reincarnation, she would swear that I used to be a Roman in by-gone days and it would have been in the days of the Roman Empire because my fascination with everything from that period in time has no limits. Rome is a beautiful city. Roman ruins are everywhere, as are countless churches filled with great works of art. The soothing noise of water tinkles in the fountains and the streets are lined with great boutiques. No wonder I love this city!
The Colosseum, Rome
Verona is another gorgeous city. Made forever famous by Shakespeare's tale of the most famous lovers in history, Romeo and Juliet, Verona also boasts a huge Roman arena which is in much better shape than the Colosseum in Rome and which, to this day, hosts several summer festivals. Some people may not know that Romeo and Juliet actually existed, although these were not their real names, and that their respective houses still exist in the old part of Verona. Although Romeo's house is somewhat neglected and may only be viewed from the outside, it is possible to enter and tour Juliet's house, which has become a mecca for lovers from all over the world. And, by the way, the balcony from the famous scene in the story actually exists. Verona has a large number of medieval houses and churches. The main shopping street is closed to traffic and the ground is paved with marble. I am not sure how safe walking on marble would be during the wet winter months, but in summer it is certainly not a problem.
Loggia del Consiglio, Verona
Venice is perhaps the most unique city in Italy if not in the whole of the world. I have written about Venice elsewhere and it is truly a place which inspires me. I could write countless stories themed around Venice. I suppose it has something to do with that murky canal water...it always makes me wonder what secrets it hides. My husband, who loves to paint, is also greatly inspired by Venice. We have been there twice and we always come back with an atrocious number of photos. It feels like every building is worthy of being recorded for posterity so we click away. Some of the buildings in Venice are heavily influenced by Byzantine and Eastern architecture from the days when it was a medieval maritime republic.
Doge's Palace & Campanile, Venice
Sirmione is a delightful little town situated on a peninsula on Lake Garda. Entrance into the town is over a drawbridge guarded by a fascinating medieval castle and the remains of a huge Roman villa are situated at the tip of the peninsula. The villa used to be the home of the Roman poet Catullus. The town is small with narrow streets and interesting little shops. Sirmione also has a number of gelaterie with a mouth-watering selection of ice-creams piled up in the highest heaps I have ever seen. Making a choice is definitely not easy, especially if, like me, you would like a taste of each of the flavours that is available.
Rocca Scaligera, Sirmione
Another of the powerful medieval republics, Florence was ruled for three hundred years by the powerful Medici family. It's architecture is mostly medieval and Renaissance. After the Baroque grandeur of the churches in Rome, the ones of Florence may feel slightly bare but the grandeur of the duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore, can be immediately noticed from the exterior clad in white, pink and green Tuscan marbled and topped by a huge orange-tiled dome designed by Brunelleschi. The Medici family was a huge patron of the arts and Florence is overflowing with monuments, churches and paintings created by such great masters as Michelangelo, Botticelli, Giotto, Donatello and countless others.
Ponte Vecchio, Florence
That is enough about Italy for one day. I am sure I will post more about this delightful country some other time. Perhaps the fact that Malta is so close to Italy and the fact that our cultures have quite a bit in common makes it easy for me to love this country but there's just something about Italy which makes me dream pleasant dreams.