Italy… a country so rich in culture, art and history that it’s hard to narrow down its highlights. The number of books on the subject shows just how fascinating the area is to so many tourists with a yen for historical discovery, and this article could in fact be several tomes in length. For brevity, I have picked out the very best Italy has to offer – if you only visit 5 historical places in Italy, these should be them. Unfortunately, they’re not within easy reach of each other, so you may have to book several luxury resorts in Italy if you wish to tackle them all in one go!
Basilica di San Miniato al Monte
When it comes to Florence, it’s hard to narrow down the spot which captures the very essence of the history, but for me the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte is as close as you can get. Construction on this beautiful church was begun in 1013 in the name of St. Miniato – an Armenian Prince beheaded for being a Christian. Legend has it that after being thrown to the beasts in the Amphitheatre, a panther refused to eat him. When beheaded by the emperor, Miniato is alleged to have physically carried his head up the hill of Mount Fiorentinus to his hermitage, which later became the site of the church.
Whether or not you believe the legend attached to it or not, there is no doubt that the Italian historical sight is truly beautiful, and it is one of the most tranquil places in Italy, let alone Florence.
Duomo di Milano
One of the world’s largest Cathedrals, the Duomo di Milano is a magnificent structure that really makes an impression from the second you first see it. Work building it began in the 14th century, and continued all the way up to the 19th – in a way, it is still unfinished as work continues to be performed upon it. Its spire reaches 349 feet, and it has a capacity of 40,000 – if you’re used to seeing local parish churches, this is a real eye-opener!
The Vatican City
The smallest independent country in the world warrants its own place as an historical sight in Italy. With a population of just 932, the holy city still manages to never feel empty thanks to the seemingly constant influx of tourists and Catholics eager to see the Pope. In terms of historic value, the place oozes it – from the medieval walls to the city to the Sistine Chapel and its famous ceiling painting to the seemingly endless stream of museums, the Vatican City should be on every historical tourist’s Italy hit-list.
The Ruins of Pompeii
Over the last 200 years, the ruins of Pompeii have been successfully excavated to reveal an incredibly preserved city that was lost to Mount Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 A.D. Having lain in ash for 1700 years, wandering round the ruins is a haunting, yet fascinating experience and something that everyone with an interest in ancient history.
As the ruins cover such a large area, this may not be one historical place in Italy that you can see in within a single day.
Rome’s Coliseum is another one for those interested in ancient history – but even those who aren’t can’t fail to be impressed by the structure! Standing 165 feet tall and measuring 600 feet long, this Iegendary historical place in Italy held up to 50,000 screaming spectators for blood soaked fights to amuse the gathered crowds – which would include the emperors of the time.
Although the fighters in the ancient ring were typically trained gladiators or convicted prisoners of war, you would occasionally get glory hunting members of the public wanting to try their luck – though, more often than not they overestimated their skills and suffered the ultimate consequences for their bravery…
Of course, if you’re serious about your history, then this will only be the first of many visits to one of Italy’s luxury resorts. It will take you many days to catch up with the thousands of years of history that have occurred in this magnificent country, but once the initial curiosity is in you, the days will simply fly by!