History, culture and tradition have always characterized Catania, one of the oldest cities in Sicily, lying under the shadow of the highest active volcano in Europe, Mount Etna.
Catania is packed with things to see and places to go, such as the must-see architectural wonders influenced by the Greek, Roman, Norman, Byzantine, Arab and Spanish culture, the typical markets, like the Pescheria, the old fish market, which represents the heart of ancient Catania and the beautiful beaches, a beloved destination for tourists from all over the world.
Not to be missed are also the trips on Mount Etna on foot or on a jeep and the visits to the picturesque fishing villages of Aci Castello and Aci Trezza, which were also the setting for the novel “I Malavoglia” by the Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga, who has often taken inspiration from these lands for his stories.
Catania’s heartbeat is represented by the main square called Piazza del Duomo: standing in the center of the square, you can admire the city’s symbol named Fontana dell’Elefante, representing an elephant carrying an obelisk. Legend has it that this little elephant called “O Liutru” for centuries defends Catania’s inhabitants from the eruptions of Mount Etna, having the power to placate it.
Straight from the delightful Piazza del Duomo runs up to the foothills below Etna Catania’s main shopping street called Via Etnea, lined with beautiful palaces, traditional shops and luxury stores, bakeries and restaurants.
Another famous street is Via dei Crociferi, a very attractive street of only 200 m, famous for its baroque churches.
Good food lovers will surely appreciate cannoli and arancini, as well as seafood dishes to taste in the markets of Fera o’ Luni held in Piazza Carlo Alberto and Pescaria in Piazza Alonzo di Benedetto. Popular are also horse meat sausages and meatballs.
For more informations: www.comune.catania.it
Lamezia Terme and its coasts are known all over the world, as are the castles and its enchanting landscapes that have always made it one of the most touristic places in Italy. The nearby beaches such as Falerna, Marinella and Gizzeria Lido are holiday destinations for international tourism such as Copanello Lido on the Ionian Sea and Marina dell’Isola in Tropea.
Not to forget is also Pizzo Calabro, known for its famous truffle ice cream and for its crystal clear waters.
In Lamezia Terme you can admire churches such as the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, the tower of the Bastion of Malta, the Norman-Swabian Castle, located in the district of San Teodoro on a hill 300 meters high overlooking the Canne stream, the Rione di San Teodoro and the Lametine Archaeological Museum. Also well known are the Terme di Caronte, which are located in a green park not far from the Gulf of Sant’Eufemia. In addition to the Spa, there is also the ‘gurna’, a pool of sulphurous water where you can benefit from the mud treatment, located outside.
For info www.comune.lamezia-terme.cz.it/it
A dip in art and culture with the opportunity to enjoy one of the most fascinating promenades in Italy: this is Bari, the capital of Puglia, which boasts historical monuments and a suggestive division between the “Old Bari” and the “New Bari”, which allows you to visit two different realities of the city. In the San Nicola district you can admire typical scenes of other times such as the preparation of the famous orecchiette on tables placed in front of the house.
The typical monuments of Bari are the Basilica of San Nicola, one of the most famous churches in Italy, the Swabian-Norman castle, in Romanesque style, and the district of San Nicola in the historic center of the city.
Also not to be missed are the skyline of the seafront and the Art Nouveau buildings such as Albergo delle Nazioni, Kursaal Santa Lucia theater and Palazzo della Provincia.
On the gastronomic side, in the typical characteristic restaurants you can taste local specialties such as orecchiette with turnip greens, panzerotti and raw fish.
For info: www.comune.bari.it
Brindisi is one of the most populous centers of Salento, a beautiful area of Puglia, and has always played a strategic role from the commercial and cultural side thanks to its position towards the East and thanks to its port on the Adriatic Sea.
There are many cultures that in past ages have settled in Brindisi: to discover them you can just walk in the city center or along the seafront to admire the Monument to the Sailor, a nice location to see the passage of ships. Near Brindisi there is Ostuni, called the White City for its historic center that was once completely painted with white lime, full of wonderful views overlooking the coast.
Beach lovers cannot fail to visit the nearby Gallipoli and Torre Guaceto, both located within natural reserves rich in flora and fauna.
For info www.comune.brindisi.it
Crystal clear sea and picturesque landscapes characterize Cagliari, a city rich in history and traditions. An unmissable destination for those who want to spend a holiday between beaches, nature and the many cultures that influence churches and monuments. The Sardinian capital was in fact founded by the Phoenicians, only to be occupied by the Carthaginians and Romans and finally by the Spanish.
The most famous district is the Castello District, which stands out on a hill about a hundred meters above sea level. It is a small fortress city with white walls and medieval towers inside which there are the Royal Palace, the towers of San Pancrazio and of the Elephant, the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Bastion of Saint Remy and Porta dei Leoni. Also worth visiting is the Marina District, where, while breathing the atmosphere of the old seaside villages, you can find typical and local shops and boutiques where you can taste Sardinian delicacies. For nature lovers there is the Molentargius park, a naturalistic oasis of 1600 hectares famous for its pink flamingos.
The pride of Cagliari are the eight kilometers of beaches that start from the promontory of Sella del Diavolo up to Quartu Sant’Elena. Costa del Rei is also a well-known tourist destination, considered among the most beautiful in the world, closely resembling the Caribbean beaches; not to forget are Capo Ferrato, Cala Sinzias, Cala Pira and Piscina Rei, so called for its natural pools Costa Rei, considered one of the most beautiful in the world.
For info: www.comune.cagliari.it
A mix of cultures and emotions characterize Palermo, the Sicilian capital, whose history is marked by different colonizations and as many moments of rebirth. The contemporary stands side by side with the classical: walking around the city you can admire wonderful Renaissance palaces close to popular houses, ornate churches next to mosques. Places to visit are the Palazzo Abatellis, a 15th century building, which houses a rich collection of modern and medieval art, and the Palazzo dei Normanni, famous for its marble floors and ceilings decorated with motifs of Arab, Norman and Byzantine culture. To see is also the Pretoria Fountain, known as the Fountain of Shame because of the nudity of the statues, as well as worth a tour in the typical markets of Vucciria, Ballarò and Capo, where sellers reproduce the typical atmosphere of the ancient markets. On the street you can taste the culinary specialties, sold in the kiosks: the crocchè (stuffed panzarotti), the arancine, the panelle (fried crushed chickpea flour), the sandwich with spleen and typical desserts such as cassata and cannoli are a ‘must’ to taste when you go to Palermo. For children, the typical puppet shows held in the Museum of Puppets are not to be missed. Outside Palermo it is also possible to enjoy the enchanting beaches of Mondello and visit the cathedral of the nearby Monreale dedicated to Santa Maria Nuova, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
For info: www.comune.palermo.it/
Trapani is a small world. Located on the westernmost tip of Sicily, Trapani is a mix of emotions with windmills in the countryside and restaurants with suggestive panoramic views near the sea.
The city center features stone buildings made in Baroque style with churches and monuments, such as the Sanctuary of Maria Santissima Annunziata, dating back to the 15th century. Another unmissable place in the city tour is the Pepoli museum where you can admire works of art in worked coral.
Near the sea there are the salt pans of Trapani and Paceco, where you can see how the salt is extracted, the Torre Ligny, one of the best-known symbols of the city, and the Torre della Colombaia, located on a small island near the coast.
Two of the most famous events organized in Trapani are the Procession of the Mysteries, with statues representing religious figures, celebrated at Easter, and, in September, the Cous Cous Fest, a review that recalls one of the symbolic dishes of Trapani cuisine.
For info: www.comune.trapani.it
Munich is the most important city in southern Germany. It has every year more than 40 million visitors, attracted by the charming royal residences, the fabulous parks, the museums, the baroque and rococo churches and the Bavarian folklore, which has one of its greatest expressions in the Oktoberfest, the most famous beer festival in the world, which takes place every year at the end of September.
Munich’s old town is a harmonious combination of its past and present.
An absolutely must-see attraction is represented by the Old and New Town Hall (German: Altes und Neues Rathaus), both in Gothic style, located in the central square: the first one was built around the 15th century, the other one around the early 20th century.
Another point of interest is the Munich Residence, the former royal palace of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria, one of the most spectacular palaces in Europe.
In the old town you should absolutely visit the Cathedral of Our Lady (German: Frauenkirche), visible from far and wide, which represents the landmark par excellence. The Gothic cathedral, built between 1468 and 1488 on the remains of an ancient Romanesque basilica, is characterised by its brick façade and two 99 m high towers.
It worth also a visit the Deutsches Museum, the biggest museum of science and technology in the world.
Art lovers should visit the Pinakothek der Moderne, one of the world’s biggest contemporary art galleries.
From a gastronomic point of view, Munich offers delicious food that satisfies all palates: you can taste Brezel, a sort of bread made with wheat flour, malt, brewer’s yeast and water, Knödel, large dumplings made from stale bread, Weisswurst, a sausage made from boiled white meat. You should absolutely taste also the Schweinshaxe, a pork knuckle, served with potatoes and sauerkraut, the traditional Bavarian potato salad named Kartoffelsalat and a slice of Sacher Torte, well known all over the world for its deliciousness, to end the meal on a high note.
The combination of ancient and modern is the great merit of Prague, one of the most charming cities in Europe, where even the nightlife has no stops. The Gothic architecture and modern buildings give the town an incredible contrast, a unique charm, as evidenced by the millions of visitors who come every year to see all its beauties. The tour of Prague can only start from the Old Town Square, where there is the Astronomical Clock, one of the symbols of the city, the oldest in the world still working, and then continue along Charles Bridge, from which you can admire the Prague Castle, a medieval building that seems to have come out of the world of fairy tales. Very suggestive and full of life is Charles Bridge itself, always crowded with musicians, craftsmen and street artists. For lovers of nightlife a few steps from the bridge there is the Karlovy Lazne, the largest disco in Central Europe. Close to the Old Town stands the Josefov, the Jewish Ghetto where the messy tombs in the Jewish cemetery stand, one of the most exciting sights that Prague offers. Moving on to the New Town, we arrive in Wenceslas Square, during the Christmas period colored by its famous markets, while all around you can admire small squares, beautiful palaces and romantic corners. To visit is also the Cathedral of St. Vitus, a splendid Gothic building and one of the oldest churches in Europe. Characteristic are beers, to be sipped in the oldest craft breweries in Europe. Children cannot miss the classic puppet show at the National Marionette Theatre in the Old Town.
Katowice, the second city in Poland after the capital Krakow, is called the “City of Mines”: one of the typical places to visit is the district of Nikiszowiec, built for the miners who worked in the nearby mine. In this place you can admire buildings in dark red brick with bright red windows, accessible by cobblestone streets that allow you to enjoy a very impressive spectacle. In the neighborhood there is also the baroque church of Sant’Anna. Many mines, such as those of Bytom and Zabrze, can be visited (it is possible to go underground).
Among the most interesting monuments are the Cathedral of Christ the King, the Silesian Parliament, the Silesian Museum, and the Spodek, an indoor arena used for sporting events, from basketball to ice hockey, which also hosts theater and musical performances. Katowice is also famous for its parks, such as the Tadeusz Kościuszko, where the Parachute Tower stands, and for cruises on the Klodnicki Canal.
40 km from Katowice are the Auschwitz concentration camp and the sanctuary of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. The sanctuary houses the Basilica of the Holy Cross and the Nativity of Mary, in Baroque style: in the chapel you can admire the image of the Black Madonna, whose author, according to legend, is St. Luke. This place has been a place of pilgrimage since 1400.
Lodz is the third most populated city in Poland and offers a mix of culture and history. The industrial era has left behind neighborhoods with factories and large buildings built with red bricks and, close to these popular neighborhoods, villas and palaces in Art Nouveau, Renaissance and Neo-Baroque styles. Places to visit are the Manufaktura, an imposing factory now become a commercial structure full of stores and entertainment venues where you can admire the MS2, the museum of contemporary art. Another district of former factories is Ksiezy Miyn, which is full of art galleries, concert halls and libraries, where events take place throughout the year: the International Festival of Comics and Games, the Festival of Four Cultures, the International Festival of Design, the International Festival of Photography and the International Graffiti Festival. Thanks to its textile industry, Lodz is also the capital of Polish fashion: in October it organizes Fashion Week, an event that attracts many designers from all over the country. It is the ideal place for shopping, especially in Piotrkowska Street, the longest pedestrian street in Europe, which in its 4 kilometers offers stores, pubs and restaurants. Walking along it you can reach the heart of the city to admire the buildings of the late 19th and early 20th century, built by factory managers.
Odessa is considered the pearl of the Black Sea and is famous for its nineteenth-century monuments, for its beaches (it is also called the French Riviera of Eastern Europe) and for its catacombs, known throughout the world.
Just the catacombs of Odessa are one of the most mysterious and fascinating places to visit, winding underground for 2500 kilometers, so that its underground tunnels are the longest in the world. During the Second World War they were the refuge of Soviet partisans, and then became the place where smugglers hid. It is recommended to visit them with a guide, because it is very dangerous to walk around inside them without knowing them.
Another place to see is the Potemkin staircase, described in novels but famous in Italy especially for the quote in the movie “Fantozzi”, so impressive as to create an incredible optical illusion: looking at it from below, it seems almost endless.
You cannot miss to visits the National Theatre and the Vorontsov Castle and to go for a walk in Privoz Market, the largest city market. Beach lovers can relax in Arcadia or Lanzheron, crowded especially in summer and famous for their nightlife.
Craiova is located in the Oltenia Region, in the southern part of Romania, about 200 kilometers far from the capital Bucharest. Craiova is a lively university city with a long history: it was one of the routes used by traders from the East to reach Europe.
There are many famous religious buildings: the Cathedral of Saint Demetrius, an orthodox church built in Byzantine style, the Church of the Monastery of Cosuna, the oldest building in Craiova, the Church of Our Lady Dudu, famous for its frescoes, the Church of Saint Ilie, the Obedeanu Monastery and Casa Baniei, which houses the Ethnographic Museum of Oltenia. In the historical center you can admire the Piata Vech, the Old Square, full of characteristic places, the musical fountain, the statue of Mihai Viteazul and the small church of the Holy Trinity. A walk in Mihai Viteazul Square is a must.
It’s also worth visiting is the Nicolae Romanescu Park, one of the largest in Eastern Europe, with an area of over one hundred hectares, ten of which are occupied by lakes. Inside there are many architectural works, a castle, the hippodrome and the zoo of Craiova, one of the oldest in Romania.
Arad, the third largest city in Western Romania after Timisoara and Oradea, is an important cultural and industrial center and is home to an Orthodox archbishopric and two universities. It is also famous for hosting one of the first music conservatories in Europe. One of the characteristics of Arad is its multicultural heritage: it is home to many ethnic minorities such as Hungarians, Germans, Serbs and Arabs. Places to visit are the Palace of Culture, which has an important concert hall and an archaeological museum, the Red Church, characterized by the red bricks with which it is built, also known for its 46 meters high bell tower, and the Ioan Slavici Theater. The Red Church and the Ioan Slavici Theater are located along the Boulevard of the Revolution, a suggestive avenue where there are also the City Hall and the Palace of Culture. Characteristic are also the Old Theater, the Museum of Arad and the synagogue, an imposing structure developed on five floors and famous for its stained-glass windows and its big dome. Wine lovers can visit Minis vineyard, located in the vineyards of Maderat, which exports its wines all over the world: in 1862 its vineyard was nominated the best in Europe.
The island of Rhodes is rich in tourist attractions and offers beautiful scenery between culture and sea. In addition to the city of Rhodes in the island there are in fact the beaches, the village of Lindos, the ancient ruins and many dream landscapes, which can be easily visited by renting a car (it is recommended to book before departure). Rhodes is the capital of the island and is divided into two areas, accessible after crossing the port of Mandraki: the Old Town, enclosed in large walls, which presents different architectural styles such as classical, medieval and Ottoman, and the New Town, with stores, bars and clubs that are located on the waterfront. Also worth visiting are the Knights’ Quarter, the Palace of the Grand Master, the Mosque of Suleiman and the Acropolis of Rhodes, two kilometers away from the city center. And then there is Lindos, an enchanting place characterized by small white houses and the many streets that lead to the typical bars and taverns. For couples, a must is dinner on the roof of one of the many restaurants, from which you can admire an incredible panorama. Not to be missed is also the acropolis of Lindos, suggestive and rich in culture. For lovers of beaches not to be missed is the famous and enchanting Anthony Quinn Bay, dedicated to the famous actor who played here the film ‘The Cannons of Navarone’: he literally fell in love with this area, so much so that he bought a luxurious villa and land. Another enchanting place is Faliraki beach, with golden sand bathed by a crystal-clear sea, perfect for families. Tailor-made for young people is instead Prassonissi, center of the summer nightlife and ideal place for surf lovers (in July and August the meltemi blows). A place to visit, but indicated especially for enthusiasts, is the Valley of Butterflies, where you can walk along a path literally surrounded by colorful butterflies of various sizes.
Heraklion is the capital of the island of Crete and is one of the most popular resorts in Greece. Worth visiting are the Archaeological Museum, where you can find the largest collection of Minoan art, and the Castello a Mare, which overlooks the port and the nearby arsenal.
The Minoan art is also protagonist in Knossos, where there is the palace that housed Minos and the Minotaur, as well as in Phaestos, Malia and Agia Triada.
Very popular are also the beaches of the southern coast, such as those near Metala, characterized by tuff caves. Heraklion, as well as being a place frequented by young people in search of trendy places and fun, is also an excellent base for discovering all the beauties of the island of Crete.
The island of Corfù is located in the westernmost part of Greece and is the second largest of the Ionian archipelago after Kefalonia. Corfu is famous for its white beaches, the sea, the nature and the nightlife, which attracts many young people from all over the world every summer. The most beautiful beach of the entire island is Paleokastritsa, with five bays and six coves, an ideal place for diving. The wildest beach is that of Myrtiotissa, while that of Agios Giorgios Pagi is characterized by golden sand. To be visited is the city of Corfu, situated between two hills, with its fortresses, one older and one newer, the palace of St. Michael, that of St. George and the tomb of Menecrate. Symbol of the island is the monastery of Vlacherna, a white church in the middle of the sea, connected to the mainland by a pier. And then there are the villages of Sidari, Palia Perithia and Benitses, very different from each other, and magnificent and unique in their kind.
Kefalonia is an island of the Ionian Sea, an ideal destination for those who want to spend a quiet vacation enjoying the sea and nature. The most visited area is the North one, one of the few not affected by the terrible earthquake of 1953. Kefalonia is famous for its beaches, especially the one of Myrtos Beach, considered among the ten most beautiful of all Greece, without forgetting Dafnoudi, characterized by a cave that has a smaller beach inside. There are many coves along the North East coast overlooking Ithaca, reachable by boat with organized tours. For adventure lovers, deep in the sea there are caves full of shipwrecks and airplanes, while archaeology enthusiasts can visit Fiskardo, where a Roman necropolis has been found. Fiskardo is also famous for its fishing village and for the many restaurants and bars that overlook the port. Not to be missed is a visit to Assos, a classic Greek sea village immersed in the green of olive trees and Mediterranean vegetation.
Santorini island is one of the most romantic of Greece: it is famous for its beautiful sunsets and for the Caldera, a unique landscape, created ten thousand years ago after the collapse of the magma chamber of a volcano.
Santorini is rich in traditional villages, such as Fira, the capital of the island, and Oia, located on the edge of the caldera near the islands of Palia Kameni, Nea Kameni and Thirassia. In the villages of Imerovigli and Firostefani you can admire the typical architecture of the place, while in Pyrgos, Megalochori and Vothonas you can visit neoclassical palaces, squares and the cave of Santorini. For those who love culture, there are the ruins of Akrotiri, a town also famous for its Red Beach.
Other typical beaches (with black sand) are those of Kamari, Perissa and Perivolos, very popular with tourists, while Messaria, more exclusive, is the ideal location for those who want to relax in peace.