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Italy

The Culture of Italy varies from region to region.  Before the Unification of Italy, the country consisted of a collection of city states, and the personalities of the local provinces based on geography, local occupations and family connections.

The culture also includes the preservations of artisanal crafts, like iron work, ceramics, leather, jewelry, regional cuisine, gardens, Slow Food producers and fashion.

Venice which is built on a series of manmade islands in its lagoon has no cars, and its streets are its canals as all citizens use the water as their roads, or alleyways for walking.  It was once a seafaring republic and the end of the Silk Road, more Byzantine than Western.  They say Italian pasta was introduced here by Marco Polo after his return from many years in China and Mongolia.

Florence was the flower of the Renaissance where its artistic and architectural treasures are the result of patronage of its wealthy merchants, notably the DeMedici family.  It is filled with artistic and architectural treasures which all tourists should see.  Excursions outside the city allow visitors to enjoy the Tuscan hill towns which each have unique history based on wool or silk trading, banking or farming traditions and their allegiances to Florence or Siena, the 2 rival cities in Tuscany.

Rome, the Eternal City, is the basis of Western Culture for over 2000 years, servicing as the capital of both Imperial Rome and Catholic Church.  The Vatican is a papal state within Rome, governed by the Church.

Naples is one of the most beautiful, and confusing, sometimes dirty citeis of Italy.  Mount Vesuvius, now an inactive volcano, still provides earthquakes and occasional puffs of steam.  It buried both the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD.  Just outside of it visitors enjoy resorts with dramatic cliffs and islands like Capri, and Ischia, or the Amalfi Coast.  These areas have the broadest dynamic of blue colored seas.

Puglia located on the Adriatic Side of the country and forming Italy’s heel, this region is a wonderful experience of caves formed by sea erosion, pristine beaches and the famous white towns.  Bari, its capital, has St. Nicholas (of Christmas fame) buried in its cathedral.  Leece is rightly called “The Florence of the South” and is known for its paper mache makers.

Sicily is Europe’s largest island forming the “foot” of Italy’s boot.  It is 10,000 square miles and its symbol is the active volcano of Mt. Etna, which was featured in parts of Homer’s Odyssey, the return of Odysseus after the Trojan War to his home the island of Ithaca in Greece.  The region has had 52 different invasions in its history, started by the Ionian Greeks of Magna Graecia, then the Romans, Phoenicians, the Spanish and the French.  A destination where the tourist itinerary is particularly enjoyable and offers such variety in terms of cultural visits, food and wine, plus green tourism. 

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