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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Italy: Land extraordinaire

Palazzetto Veneziano (15th c.), Piazza del Pop...Image via Wikipedia

Author: Matrix

Often referred to as the Belpaese, meaning beautiful country in Italian, Italy is considered far and wide as the perfect place to relax and bask in the most opulent pleasures the material world has to offer. Right from food to scenic views around the landscape to the most fashionable designer-ware and strikingly illustrious art, it is all there. The country has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other, with the number going over 40 (44 to be exact) and the città d'arte (cities of art) like Florence, Rome and Venice are certainly among the key places to have more visitors than the rest of the country. It may seem like the country is purely popular based on these few sites, but there are many other attractions, albeit for different people. Milan is Italy's financial hub, and is also host to one of the largest trade fairs in the world. Venice, despite being too engrossed in the art scene, has also opened a new bridge over the Grand Canal. So, there's a lot more happening to change the perceptions
Ravenna: The region of Ravenna is nothing short of the most splendid artistic jewels of Italy in every manner whatsoever, with the Byzantine and Christian era mosaics. Ravenna is described as a symphony of colour by Dante in his masterpiece 'The Divine Comedy', and is certainly living up to its name ever since. It was not so important as a provincial city until the year 402, which saw the Emperor Honorius moving his court from Milan to Ravenna, making it the capital of the Western Roman Empire. However, the city was annexed a few decades later to the Goths, which didn't really hinder its development towards claiming its rightful place among the Mediterranean's greatest cities.
Piedmont: The region that is often termed as 'Tuscany without the tourists' has a unique identity of its own, and has carved a niche among tourists with its pristine hills that are lined with vineyards making for a great eye candy of sorts. However, it is noticed that not many stop by to admire this part of the region, with the first signs of tourism coming from Germany and Switzerland around 10 years ago. However, this relatively new destination is becoming a favourite at an exponential rate due to the truly authentic Italian feel it offers. Those who relish good food can have their fill with white truffles, hazelnuts, chocolates, along with Barberesco, Barolo and sparkling Asti wines. The immense availability of fresh produce sparked the Slow Food Movement, which is created around the concept of enjoying the simple things in life, something the local population seems to have mastered over the decades.
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