Traditions, Family, Architecture, Artistry, Nightlife, Fashion, & Amore!
There are many cliches and stigmas surrounding the Italian heritage. From the history of their culture to modern pop culture, plenty of famous and infamous Italians have left lasting impressions.
Whether it is a mafia connection, talking with their hands, a love of pasta, or skilled soccer players who swim in their bikini briefs, Italy is home to a lifestyle associated with special attributes to offer this world beyond the obvious, delicious cuisine.
Travelers to the elegant boot don’t just want to eat spaghetti, deal with opera and gawk at old ruins, do they?
Beyond the ambiguous, you’ll find 10 other surprising ways in which Italy shines.
#10 River Cruises
When people travel to Italy, this is not among the top two or three hundred things that pop into one’s mind when they are planning their excursions. However, River cruising in one of the strongest businesses and attractions for tourists and locals dues to the stunning riverscapes around the peninsula. Visitors can float from one beautiful site to the next capturing an authentic feel of the very best that Italy has to offer.
Po River Travel, UniWorld and European Waterways offer week-long cruises that take in areas like the Venice Lagoon, Manuta, Padu, the Po Valley and Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet.
Of course, Italy is not the only European country noted for river cruises, they do stand out for the epic scenic views, accommodating service, and exceptional tours and activities for individuals seeking adventure while restoring peace in within their soul!
#9 Sports cars
#8 Caving & Rockclimbing
Italy provides many opportunities for mountaineering (alpinismo), rock climbing ( roccia) and caving ( speleologia), particularly in the Alps, where there are challenges for those at all levels of experience. Rich in crumbly, sieve-like karstic landscapes, Italy is one of the most cave-pocked countries on the planet, with more than 35,000 cavities above ground and thousands more underwater. Grotta Gigante holds the Guinness World Record for largest accessible cave on Earth at a yawning 850 meters (2,788 feet) wide, with 500 steps that descend 100 meters (328 feet) into the earth.
Other notable caves include the Blue Grotto on Capri, where Emperor Tiberius loved to swim. Inside the Grotta del Vento, winds whip through its tortuous trails at 40 kilometers an hour.
Italian desserts are a showcase of decadent desires hiding behind a sticky slice of baklava, sweet and rich tasting gelato, and creamy pastry delights. Italian favorites typically are represented by the usual suspects of pizza, antipasti, and seafood treasures, but the real headliners of the meal tend to close out the show: tiramisu, cannoli, Neapolitan, biscotti spumoni, tartufo, and zeppoles.
Italy offers an assortment signature desserts so enticing, how does one set limits? Ironically, Italians don’t even really select to eat those treats regularly, opting for a a small piece of fruit or chocolate instead. By combining cakes, cookies and creams, and otherwise in a tasty arsenal, it is often joked the specialties change as often as governments.
The country’s (and Europe’s) largest volcano is Mt. Etna in Sicily, the world’s second most active volcano after Hawaii’s Mauna Loa. Etna’s spectacular eruptions, soot-blackened scenery, lava flows and extensive caves draw more than a million tourists a year, yet gets little to know street cred taking a back seat to other well-known natural disasters to waiting to happen.
It leads TripAdvisor’s top-10 must-see volcanoes list, along with four other Italian spouters, including Mt. Vesuvius.
#5 Changing Governments
As touched upon already, Italians tear through regimes like it’s going out of style. Since the end of World War II, Italy has established 63 governments under 39 prime ministers (42 if you count Silvio Berlusconi’s three total terms), and only one has lasted a full five years. Fearing the rise of another Mussolini, Italy’s constitutional system years ago provided for a weak executive branch that requires majorities in both legislative houses just to get anything done. That, combined with an already fractured political landscape of small, opposed parties, puts Italy’s average MPG (months per government) barely over 12. Many countries would not be able to with stand this kind of roller coaster securing Italy as an extremely durable foundation capable of thriving after every renaissance.
#4 Beach Bumming
With 4,600 miles of coastline, Italy boasts the most beaches in Europe, as well as 27 marine parks. Summer temperatures peak in many places at just below 86 F, compared to 70s F in France and Portugal. The waters appear tropical minus sharks and uncontrollable waves establishing themselves as the beach bum capital of Europe. Think Jersey shore but nice. When it comes to beaches, it’s a tough choice between blinding-white dunes, pebble and even turf shores, but 248 Italian beaches have been awarded Blue Flag status for clear waters and unspoiled sands.
#2 Hot Baths
The peninsula’s 380 spa sites offer healing mud and bubbles that are sure to promote liberal amounts nudity. Boiling as much beneath the surface as its people, Italy pioneered the world’s first large-scale spas, exporting them as they colonized Europe.Watery therapies include island baths (such as those on volcanic Ischia), Tuscan hot springs, mountain baths in the town of Bormio and the thermal park of Lake Garda. Just drinking the mineral-rich water in some places is reputed to be healthy. The relaxing power of the hot springs cover the cost of some therapies for its citizens.
I have said it once and I will say it again. Any women looking for a self-esteem boost, get your passport ready! Depending on whether or not you think the occasional catcall is flattering, you’ll find Italians are aggressively complimentary of friends and beautiful strangers alike. Although, this may seem barbaric or intruding to the American mindset, Italians use this tactic as a historical tool for both disarming and defusing discomfort. Flattery is the fulcrum on which Italian society teeters.
As Luigi Barzini writes in “The Italians,” “The people have always employed such arts offensively, to gain advantages, destroy rivals and conquer power and wealth; and defensively, as the squid uses ink, to blind and confound powerful men, dictators and tyrants.”
In other words, bring on the whistles, winks, bellas, and amore!
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