With more Catholic churches per capita than any other country, Italy carries a unique religious heritage. Nearly every town celebrates its own patron saint and spiritual festivals. In addition, the country is home to half the world’s most beloved artwork, from artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, da Vinci and more. With orange groves, vivid coastline villages and winding cliff roads along the ocean, Italy is a colorful world of its own.
Major Attractions: Trace the footprints of emperors in the Roman Coliseum, ride a gondola in Venice or get lost in the ruins of Pompeii. Along Italy’s stunning Amalfi Coast, take a boat ride inside the glowing Blue Grotto on the island of Capri.
Great for Church Groups: Trek over ancient cobblestones on the Via Francigena, where pilgrims have traveled for centuries en route to the tombs of apostles Peter and Paul, as well as Vatican City. Another significant landmark is the Holy House of Loreto, which is believed to have been the home of the Virgin Mary.
Hidden Treasures: Entrenched in a ravine near Sorrento, the Valley of Mills allows travelers to explore a collection of modern ruins. Visit the poetic Marmore waterfalls, the intricate gardens of Isola Bella or the Montagna Spaccata, also known as “the cracked mountain,” which is said to have split the moment Christ died on the cross.
Unique Souvenirs: Some of Italy’s most popular mementos are Venetian masks, rosaries, leather gloves, fresh-pressed olive oil, dried porcini mushrooms and hand-blown glassworks. Make sure to pick up a bottle of limoncello, a lemon liqueur from southern Italy, or one of the local wines, such as Brunello di Montalcini.
For more information contact the Italian National Tourist Board at 212-245-5618 or go to www.italiantourism.com.