History, culture and world–famous food
Book a last minute holiday to Italy and you'll be swapping bangers and mash for spaghetti alla carbonara in no time...
On a last minute holiday to Italy, you can hit the ground running. Sandy beaches, grand piazzas and jaw–dropping works of art are just hours away. Here's a taster of la dolce vita...
The Italians know a thing or two about food. This is the home of pizza, pasta and risotto – not to mention mouth–watering gelato and creamy tiramisu. In Sicily, the famous lemons are squeezed onto steamed mussels. In Sardinia, it's all about Culurgiones, a ricotta–filled take on ravioli. And the Neapolitan Riviera is the birthplace of pizza, which means stone–baked, wood–fired perfection.
The Italians have always been ahead of the pack when it comes to art, architecture and style. The Romans really made their mark on the place, and these days you can see dramatic ruins like the ones at Herculaneum, near Sorrento. Nearby Pompeii is a Roman town still standing, thanks to an eruption from Mount Vesuvius. Elsewhere, Salemi castle on Sicily is a Norman brute with winding corridors and hidden stairways.
Beaches in Italy come in all shapes and sizes. Lungomare Beach in Sicily spools the coast for a sandy kilometre, and is backed by gourmet restaurants. On Sardinia, Bidderosa Beach is part of a nature reserve and serves up picture–perfect golden sands. There's a limit on the number of sun–seekers allowed in each day, so turn up early to nab a spot.
Taormina in Sicily tops the bill when it comes to big–name shopping. Prada, Gucci, Armani are all present on Corso Umberto I. This narrow, shady shopping street, framed with Juliet balconies, will also sort you out for jewellery, antiques, pottery and carved marble souvenirs. For a spot of bargain–hunting, head for the open–air market in Piazza Camine. Here, you can get lava–stone statuettes and other souvenirs.
Heading out by boat is a great way to explore the Sardinian coast. There are smugglers' caves filled with stalagmites and stalactites at Capo Caccia. Head north around the sandy coastline to Porto Conte, and strap on your snorkel to spot colourful coral and lots of fish. You might even see a dolphin – they're regulars round these parts.
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