You can try bolognese pasta in every second restaurant, buy brands from Milan in the nearest shopping mall, and follow the success of Juventus and Inter easily on the Internet. In our hot hit parade you will find activities that are available to the tireless traveler only in Italy. Dine in the smallest restaurant in the world, storm an active volcano or cheer for “ours” at the strangest football match – it’s up to you.
Climb the highest active volcano in Europe
Mount Etna is the main attraction of Sicily. Its height is 3.3 thousand meters, and any sales manager will envy its activity – Etna stubbornly erupts once every three months. Once in a year, some nearby village washes away with lava, but this does not stop the restless Sicilians. Due to the steep composition of the soil and the heaps of minerals in the lava and ash, the land on the slopes of Etna is very fertile. Olives and grapes grow by leaps and bounds, and therefore no one is going to leave their familiar place.
Interestingly, despite the hyperactivity of the volcano, visiting its slopes is a completely safe event. The Sicilians are so accustomed to the quirks of Etna that they don’t even close the airport during eruptions. From above, you can appreciate the destructive power of Italian nature and admire the Sicilian expanses.
Where and how? There are three ways to get to the top. The southern route (Enta Sud) involves a bus ride from Catania, arrival at the Rifugio Sapienza base and a ride on the Funivia dell’Etna cable car. On this route, the entire slope is covered with solidified lava, and tourists here cannot be pushed through. The northern route goes through the villages of Linguaglossa and Piedimonte Etneo to the base of Piano Provenzana. Here is a completely different landscape – mountain meadows, flowers and grass. The eastern path is a forced march through the village of Zafferana Etnea – straight to the base of Rifugio Sapienza.
Go to a match of one of the oldest sports
The Florentine calcio is the progenitor of modern football and rugby. He was adored by Nicolo Macchiavelli, and in the 14th century even a training manual for playing calcio was published – “A Treatise on the Ball Game” by Antonio Scaiano. By the way, the calcio ball looks like a basketball, only it is made of leather and stuffed with goat hair. They play on the sand, on a field measuring 50 by 100 meters – a real dust storm rises during the match. Even now, the players are dressed according to the tradition of the 16th century – ridiculous trousers and a naked torso. Initially, aristocrats and clergymen played calcio, although it is difficult to imagine this now: the sport is rather bloodthirsty and dirty. But how spectacular!
Where and how? You can take communion with the general calcio fever in Florence in June – on Piazza Santa Croce.
Listen to a lecture at the first university
Bologna is definitely on the ear of Belarusian students, in whose get-togethers the question of the entry of the Blue-eye into the Bologna process regularly pops up. If you have already successfully graduated and want to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of study and parties for a couple of hours, it is most logical to do this at the University of Bologna – the oldest in Europe. This university was founded in 1088 and initially specialized only in training lawyers. In the 14th century, philosophers, physicians and theologians began to be trained here. Already in the Middle Ages, students ruled in Bologna – it was they who paid salaries (rather more like donations) to professors. Interestingly, both boys and girls could teach and study at the University of Bologna on an equal footing, and it was quite easy to get to the lecture.
Where and how? Now, however, you can also drop by for an open lecture and hang out in the building where Dante Alighieri, Albrecht Dürer and Nicolaus Copernicus studied. And you can plunge into student life on the streets of Zamboni, Delle Belle Arti, Petroni, di Moline, Mascarella.
Walk the red carpet between cities
The longest carpet path was recently laid in Italy. It connects two cities – Rapallo and Portofino, goes along the seashore through Santa Margherita Ligure. The length of the path is 8.5 km, so you can walk a lot (and you definitely won’t go astray, even if orienteering is not your strongest skill). Be sure to make a stop in Portofino – this is one of the less popular Italian towns, where there is a lot of life. Admire the parked yachts, drink cocktails and eat ice cream, go to Brown Castle (from there excellent views of the bay) or the observation deck at St. George’s Church, wander through the narrow streets and enjoy the atmosphere of relaxation.
Where and how? Ask anyone you meet in these cities where the “red carpet” is – or just go out to the water.
Shop in the oldest mall
The Italians are sure that the oldest shopping mall in Europe is located in Milan. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II connects the Teatro alla Scala and the Duomo. The gallery project was developed in 1861, and construction was completed only in 1877. It was the first building in Italy made of iron, glass and steel, avant-garde by the standards of that time. Gallery and now with striking decoration, amount of light and wide shopping “streets”. Now in the mall you can buy things Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton – or just take a walk along il salotto di Milano (“living room of Milan”), as the locals call it.
Where and how? Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (Piazza del Duomo).
Try white truffle
Perhaps the most expensive mushroom in Europe, the white truffle, is found in Piedmont. Just imagine: the price tag for 100 grams starts at € 350. The largest Piedmontese truffle was sold in 2007 – a citizen of Macau paid $ 330 thousand for a mushroom weighing 1.5 kg. The white truffle tastes like cheese with garlic, and it is not customary to cook it in Italy – mushrooms are eaten raw and stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of a week. Looking for truffles are not pigs, but trained dogs.
Where and how? The white truffle harvesting season is from September 21 to January 31.
Visit a city buried under lava
Pompeii is one of the most colorful places in Italy. This is an open-air museum, an archaeological site of a city that was covered in lava in 79 AD. Surely you can imagine how everything happened, thanks to the first serious picture of Bryullov or the BBC film. Digging began at the site of the eruption in the middle of the 18th century, and a century later, Giuseppe Fiorelli, who led archaeologists, discovered that voids had formed in place of the bodies of people and animals buried under their ashes. The Italian came up with the idea to fill them with plaster – so it turned out to restore the dying poses of the victims – the puzzle was completely formed. Since 1980, restoration work has been constantly underway in Pompeii, now only a fifth of the city remains unexcavated.
Pompeii is within easy reach of Naples, the birthplace of Italian pizza, so your “top 10 things to do only in Italy” will suddenly add one more item.
Where and how? All the details are perfectly painted on the official website of the museum.
Spend the night in a trullo in Puglia
Trullo is a fake house and an engineering marvel. In shape, these are cylinders with cone-roofs. But it is not their appearance that is interesting, but the history. In the second half of the 17th century, Count Giangirolamo II Acquaviva ordered his peasants to build houses that could be easily dismantled. Such a feint allowed not to pay property tax, which was just introduced by the Kingdom of Naples. It worked like this: if one brick was pulled out of a trullo, it folded like a house of cards. As soon as the count was informed about the future inspection, in this way he could “wipe entire villages off the face of the earth” in just an hour. Profit! In the XVIII century, the region was exempted from paying taxes, but the locals still continued to build such cone-shaped houses according to old memory. In 1925, the construction of new trulli was banned.
Where and how? Go to Alberobello – it’s not far from Bari. Living in such a house is easy – see the options on Booking.com. Like this one or this one.
Watch the Pope on Sundays
We are not talking about the fact that, being in one city, you can get from one country to another in five minutes and five steps – there is no border between Italy and the Vatican. If you’ve watched all episodes of The Young Pope excitedly, you’ll be jealous of the Romans – they have the opportunity to watch the Pope every Sunday without having to travel far from home. With mere mortals, the Pope holds two meetings a week: the Angelus prayer on Sundays (beginning at 11.50, lasts 20 minutes) and the general meeting on Wednesdays. You can get to the prayer freely, but you will have to reserve tickets for the event on Wednesday (they are also free, but you need to use a fax!). If you are too lazy to get out of bed on Sunday, you can listen to the prayer on the radio.
Where and how? More information about tickets and seats.
Dine in the smallest restaurant
You can stay alone with your companion or companion in the Solo per due restaurant in the town of Vacone. There is only one table in this establishment – for two! The interiors are also impressive: a building of the 19th century, a garden overgrown with grapes, in the evening – a candlelit dinner. The cuisine in Solo per due is local, prepared from fresh seasonal products, the composition of the dishes will be happy to discuss in advance. Naturally, you will have to fork out for such an adventure – they ask for € 250 per person. This price includes a hearty dinner with trendy champagne or expensive Italian wines if you don’t like bubbles.