American magazine Condé Nast has released the results of its readers’ poll on the most popular European cities to visit, with three Italian cities featuring in the top 10. Not only do Florence, Rome, and Venice all feature but they help make Italy the most represented European country in the list.
Condé Nast is considered a high end US lifestyle magazine and its average reader brings in more than $160,000 a year salary. Now in its 25th year, the prestigious and highly regarded Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards ceremony was held in New York and followed hot on the heels of the UK equivalent. Italy fared arguably the best of all in both countries helping cement its place as one of the most popular European tourist hotspots.
Florence was voted the top city in Europe to visit with Rome coming in third and Venice taking sixth spot. No other country featured more than three cities in the top 10. Nearly 50,000 people voted in the awards which also saw Italy featuring very highly with strong showings in the best hotels, best resorts, and even had its own 50 Best Hotels in Italy award. In the UK awards, Italy was voted the best country to visit.
The Cradle of the Renaissance, Florence, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982 and many famous painters, architects, and designers in various genres hail from this beautiful city. As well as being the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolo Macchiavelli, and Guccio Gucci, the city was also the first in Europe with paved streets (1339).
The city has become well known for its beautiful architecture as well as its many galleries and museums but no trip would be complete without purchasing some famous Florence leather. San Lorenzo was once considered the place to buy high quality leather but, more recently, it has become a haven for below par goods made abroad and shipped in to make money from unwitting tourists. Pierro Tucci, on the other hand, can be found just on the outskirts of town and while the goods may cost a little more they are well worth the extra money.
Gold is another popular purchase with Florence tourists and you can find great deals on extremely attractive looking jewellery items. The key here is to shop around for the best deal – don’t be rushed into making a quick decision. The Ponte Vecchio is home to some good quality shops with competitively low prices and you can also try the shops around Santa Croce.
The Italian capital Rome is one of the busiest cities in Europe and as well as being home to some incredible quality hotels, shops, and other venues, it is also rich in nearly 3,000 years of history. If you want to enjoy everything that the city has to offer then you should first ensure that you have booked enough time for your stay. A day trip, or even a weekend, will not prove long enough to enjoy everything the city has to offer.
Tourist Sites and Attractions
You can start your trip by taking in some of the more mainstream sites. The Coloseum and the Forum are excellent historical sites and they may require some time to queue but they will prove worth it to see the incredible architecture and to feel the history of the sites. The Tiber River offers some stunning walks and is a great way to unwind a little after the bustling crowds found in various areas of the city centre. Of course, no visit to the city would be complete without a trip to the Vatican City, the papal residence and the world’s smallest state. There are 11 museums in a very small area as well as the incredible Vatican Gardens so expect to spend some time here during your visit.
The Queen of the Adriatic, Venice, offers a truly unique experience. In terms of architecture you should expect tall buildings and narrow streets as well as the 400 foot bridges and 170 canals that run through the city. Venice is the birthplace of famous figures including Casanova, Marco Polo, and Vivaldi and you will find numerous sites dedicated to these and other famous historical figures. It is a cliché but if you visit Venice then you have to enjoy a ride on a Gondola. Only a handful of Gondola licenses are awarded every year, and there is an extensive training course and difficult exam that ensures only around 400 Gondolas are run on the canals.
Local Venice Life
Venice is very laid back and if you want to enjoy a real taste of the local lifestyle then Rialto Market is the ideal destination for you. The market contains a fish section and a fruit and vegetable section and not only can you pick up fresh local produce but you can chat to the locals and enjoy Venice the way it is supposed to be enjoyed, by relaxing.
Italy has much to offer the intrepid traveller and its various beautiful cities and resorts have featured heavily in both the UK and US versions of the Conde Nast traveler’s’ awards for good reason. Whether you’re looking for a romantic break, an adventure packed holiday, or some time with the family, you can find the perfect venue.