The central areas of Italy are a grand mix of environments, architecture and geology. There are many reasons why people who visit Italy can get a great overall idea of the country from visiting the central regions. Although a visit to Italy is often limited to a fleeting race between one city and another.
Rome and Florence in particular, are so daily visited by thousands of tourists that it’s become normal to feel as though you are constantly queuing for everything. Here at ItalianHolidays, we want you to know the Italy of small villages rather than big cities.
We strive to create a trip with the purpose of helping you discover the road less traveled by tourists but loved by Italians. Some tourist locations are of particular interest for their history, their natural beauty or artistry, which are often ignored. However, there are plenty of hidden treasures that the Italian seek out for themselves because they demonstrate the community and family spirit that the Italians are famous for. The festival at Rocca Antica or Vallecorsa for example, where members of the community reinact history events of long gone family feuds.
Did you know that the central regions of Italy hold 20% of the world’s artistic treasures, and almost half of those are in small villages and towns hidden among the hills. Some of these hidden hamlets are populated with as little as 10 residents and some are even on the verge of disappearing forever, like Civita di Bagnoregio.
Central Italy is bordered by the Tyrrhenian Sea, furrowed by the river Tiber and characterized by a territory predominantly hilly and mountainous but flat near the coast. The region offers landscapes that contrast and complement, natural landscapes with spectacular horizons flow into urban centers. At the heart of it all is the Eternal City of Rome. Cradle of Western civilization and Christian culture, legends and history, of ancient roads and verdant hills: this is Rome, but without its surrounding villages and towns it would not exist today. Of course, no visit to Central Italy and Rome would be complete without a tour of Vatican City.
Lazio is a region of spas, whose history is linked to the many sources of healing water that had tremendous development during the Roman era, both in the republican age and the imperial one. The Romans built sumptuous thermal baths of which there are spectacular testimonials scattered throughout the territory, such as the Baths of Caracalla, in the heart of Rome.
Tivoli is another spa, but its name is mainly linked to the artistic beauties that it guards. Its fame is due to two monumental villas: Villa D’Este, offering beautiful fountains, gardens and a magnificent palace of the Renaissance period, and Villa Adriana, the ancient residence of Emperor Hadrian. The two buildings have been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.
For those who prefer the sea, the region offers some real pearls like Gaeta, Sabaudia, San Felice Circeo, Sperlonga and the Pontine islands of Ponza, Ventotene and Palmarola. While lovers of the lakes are recommended to go to Bracciano where there is an enchanting stretch of water encircled by the intense green of surrounding nature, at the center of which is the imposing Odescalchi Castle. Walk the medieval streets of the villages along the lake shores where you can’t help but get a sense of what the Roman Empire must have been like. Other examples include Lake Bolsena in Viterbo, the largest volcanic lake in Europe, from which emerge two islands, Martana and Bisentina. Aside from the great views, the area tells of the history through traces left by the Etruscans, Romans and many historical periods that have followed.
Mountain lovers will not be disappointed. Throughout Lazio there are many excellent biking and hiking trails as well as an excellent array of ski resorts. Capracotta, Terminillo, Livata and Campo Staffi to name just a few.
Here at ItalianHolidays, this is the area that we are most familiar with since we have family members and friends sprinkled all over it. To be honest, it is very difficult to write about this part of Italy. We know through experience it will evoke in you intense emotions. You will come to know and understand the historical and cultural context in which not much has changed over time. Where generation after generation of peoples are proud to pass on their knowledge and skills overcoming challenge after challenge in an effort to leave something of themselves behind.
Of course, the only way that you can truly understand what it has to offer, is to pay a visit.