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Explore the vibrant art and culture of Italy. Visit enchanting works of art and immerse yourself in its thousand year old history
 

From the archaeological ruins of Rome and Pompeii, or the picturesque villages of Tuscany, Italy is a land rich in art and culture. Immerse yourself in Italian historical sites and its many UNESCO sites, for a cultural journey discovering the homeland of some of the most important painters, sculptors and architects who have left an incredible mark on history.

  • Archeological Sites
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  • Villages
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Art & Culture

Vernazza

Vernazza, a small village of great wonders A rocky spur reaching out towards the sea, backed by high cliffs and covered with green hills, home to a village of houses and monuments next to the marina. Introducing Vernazza, among the most authentic villages in the Cinque Terre. The small, colourful houses and moored boats, the prickly pears and cultivated terraces create an enchanting landscape. Venture into one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, for an immersive experience in the pristine Mediterranean landscape. Alleyways and stairways In Vernazza, everything centres around the small harbour and the small square behind it, where the locals rent apartments to tourists. The “carruggi”, the narrow alleyways of Ligurian villages, all branch off from here. We highly recommend taking a stroll among the colourful, towering houses, through courtyards, under porticos and loggias (the perfect spot for a cup of coffee), and along Via Roma, an ancient underground river. An unmissable site in this ancient village, which dates back to the year 1000 and was once used by the Romans as a strategic port, is the Church of Santa Maria d'Antiochia: dedicated to the village’s patron saint, it has mullioned windows overlooking the sea and presents a blend of Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic styles. While the Belforte tower acts as a lookout next to the small port, dominating the town from above is Doria Castle, on a dramatic cliff. Be sure to try the local speciality, Tian di Vernazza: baked potatoes and anchovies flavoured with Mediterranean herbs and lemon zest - the land and sea come together in one unique dish. At a slow pace to contemplate the landscape The entire UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cinque Terre is dominated by rock and sea, small bays and inlets, and flourishing vegetation. Nature reigns supreme, so the Cinque Terre National Park ask that you explore respectfully, ideally on foot or by train. It’s well worth spreading out a beach towel on the cliffs to the right of the pier or near the harbour. Then, after enjoying a cool dip, it’s time to put on your hiking shoes. You are sure to enjoy the spectacular trek from Monterosso al Mare or Corniglia, two other villages in the Cinque Terre, located either side of Vernazza. The best route is the famous Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Path), which narrows in some places as it enters the woods, while opening up elsewhere to offer breathtaking glimpses of the sea and towering coastline. This circular trekking route climbs up to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Reggio, with its beautiful Romanesque façade. The forecourt is lined with holm oaks, cedars and horse chestnuts, and providing shade is the oldest cypress tree in Liguria, which has thrived for 800 years and counting. The route continues towards San Bernardino before descending back down to the village, past cultivated fields and vineyards, dry stone walls, fragrant Mediterranean scrubland, streams and springs, well-worn ancient mule tracks shrouded in silence, and crisscrossing houses lost in the wilderness. You will find yourself outside civilisation, inside a natural space that regenerates the body and mind.
Nature

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore, the village on the rooftop of the Cinque Terre Squeezed between two valleys in a panoramic position, Riomaggiore stretches from the Ligurian coast towards the Apennines, clinging to the ridge. It is the first village in the Cinque Terre coming from La Spezia and offers splendid scenery between land and sea: crystal-clear water and cliffs, brightly coloured houses, and paths leading up towards the mountains for a total immersion in the Mediterranean vegetation of the Cinque Terre National Park. Among the carruggi of the historic centre Alleys and steep stairways wind around houses with pastel-coloured plaster and slate roofs, outlining a picturesque village where dazzling light and shadowy corners alternate. The village follows the course of the stream, buried at the end, looking out to sea at the bottom and then climbing symmetrically on both sides of the rise: a perfect "V" drawn on the cliff. In the upper part you can admire the 14th-century Church of St John the Baptist in front of a beautiful square, then climbing further you reach the Castle, a fortress from which you can enjoy a magnificent view of the coastline. To admire the sunset, choose a spot along the wall and wait for the curtain to open on the spectacle of the sun plunging into the water. A stroll through the old town offers pleasant breaks at outdoor tables, where each restaurant offers both land and seafood menus. You must have the famous trofie with pesto, and try the anchovies, generously offered by the sea. When choosing gourmet souvenirs, be sure to include the fine Cinque Terre CDO white wines and TGI reds from the vines cultivated on the terraces, preserved anchovies and fragrant lemon jams. Experiencing the Sea The Riomaggiore beach is in a small inlet, only pebbles and lapped by a perfectly clear sea. There is an organised, and licensed, diving centre in the village: here, in the Marine Protected Area, snorkelling and diving are an authentic experience. You will come across a surprising amount of fish, from groupers to bream and sea bream; further out to sea whales swim. You will discover the varied vegetation on the seabed near the reefs and in some places you will see veritable sea gardens of lush algae species. For a sea trip, boats can be hired, even for large groups, and solo canoes and kayaks can be hired. By land A walk of less than an hour leads to the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Montenero via a forest path and a sequence of steps. And that is the only way to get there, there is no road that can be travelled by car. You are at an altitude of 350 metres at a point where the vegetation thickens and the green stands out against the blue sky in a poetic contrast. The view is one you won't forget. The entire area of the Cinque Terre opens up from up there, including the three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, and on clear days the view flies as far as Corsica. For the more experienced, the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Montenero can be the first stop on a long scenic trek. Just take the Sentiero dell'Infinito from here, which connects Riomaggiore to Portovenere in 12 km. In the Cinque Terre National Park, the territory presents itself in all its magnificence, with ever-changing views. As you walk above the sea, you encounter ancient terraces for the cultivation of vines and olive trees, pleasant vegetable gardens and dense forests: the best of the Mediterranean landscape, which UNESCO has honoured by declaring it a World Heritage Site. Even more challenging is the Monesteroli Steps to reach the tiny village of the same name, which can also be admired from the sea. But it is the 1,200 steps that provide a unique thrill. The coastline follows you in parallel, on what was an old mule track used by farmers to reach the vineyards. A dizzying ascent towards the sky, breathing in the fragrant air: a bouquet of flowers, essences and saltiness.
Art & Culture
Galleria Peggy Guggenheim

The Peggy Guggenheim Museum

The Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice is located in a house on the Grand Canal where the American art dealer and collector lived after World War II, displaying one of the most important collections of 20th century European and American artists in Italy. A lover of avant-garde, Guggenheim acquired works by Cubists, Futurists, Surrealist Dadaists, American Modernists and Italian Abstract artists throughout her life. And today the Guggenheim Foundation carries on Peggy's dream in her extraordinary house-museum. What to see at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum The Peggy Guggenheim Collection (1898-1979) is located on the Grand Canal in Venice between the Accademia Bridge and the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, in the only single-storey white Istrian stone building, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni. Left unfinished, Guggenheim bought the building after the war when she fell madly in love with Venice. The art dealer and collector lived in this mansion overflowing with works of art until her death in 1979: when she was still alive, she liked to open her house to the public to show her works once a week for free. Donated to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, which also runs the eponymous museums in New York, Bilbao, and Abu Dhabi, today Peggy Guggenheim's collection enriched over time can be visited in the house-museum. It includes works by Constantin Brancusi, George Braques, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst (one of Guggenheim's husbands), Vassily Kandinsky, René Magritte, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock, among others. The creators of abstract art include the Italians Afro, Carla Accardi, Agostino Bonalumi, Pietro Consagra, Lucio Fontana, Giuseppe Santomaso, Toti Scialoja and Emilio Vedova. In addition to the permanent collection in the house-museum, various exhibitions of contemporary artists can also be visited. The Schulhof and Nasher Collections In 2012, the museum was enriched with 83 works from the collection donated by the American couple Hannelore and Rudolph Schulhof, including various 20th-century artists like Alberto Burri, Alexander Calder, Jasper Johns, Mark Rothko and Claes Oldenburg, in addition to Andy Warhol, Sol LeWitt and Anish Kapoor. A new building was purchased to accommodate the acquired works in 2016, now also home to introductory art activities for schools and families, as well as an international internship programme dedicated to young art enthusiasts. The garden instead displays sculptures from the Nasher Foundation permanent collection with pieces by Hans Arp, Alberto Giacometti, Piero Gilardi, Marino Marini, Luciano Minguzzi, Mirko, Henry Moore, Mimmo Paladino, Germaine Richier and Takis. The woman who bought a painting a day "My motto was Buy a painting a day and I followed it to the letter”. This was Peggy Guggenheim, the American heiress whose love of art was commensurate with her immense fortune inherited from her father Benjamin, a mining magnate who died in the sinking of the Titanic. Growing up in New York, she and her first husband frequented the Parisian art scene in the 1920s, befriending artists such as Brancusi and Duchamp. In 1938 she opened an art gallery in London (Guggenheim Jeune) where she showed Kandinsky's first solo exhibition in Great Britain and presented artists such as Tanguy, Cocteau and Kernn-Larsen. In those years she bought her first work, a sculpture by Hans Arp, and developed the idea of creating a museum of modern art in London, which the outbreak of war prohibited: in those difficult years, however, she managed to acquire a large number of important works. Back in New York, in 1942 Peggy opened the gallery-museum Art of this Century with the first core of her collection and exhibitions of emerging artists, such as the first solo show of Pollock, of whom she was a patron. She moved to Venice in 1947. The following year she exhibited her collection at the Biennale and in 1950 she brought Pollock to Europe for the first time, in an exhibition held in the Napoleon Wing of the Correr Museum in St Mark’s Square. As early as 1951 she began to open her house to the public, albeit occasionally, so that everyone could, like her, enjoy art. Guggenheim is buried in the garden of the Venetian house-museum, together with her dogs. Find out more www.guggenheim-venice.it
Art & Culture

Parma Ham Museum

Taste tradition at the Parma Ham Museum Welcome to Langhirano, the cured ham district: in fact, it’s not only home to the Parma Ham Museum, but also a festival dedicated to this delicacy produced between the Po River and the Apennines. The museum is located in the former Foro Boario and is well worth a visit, also to discover the other cured meats produced in the area, including culatello di Zibello and spalla di San Secondo. With tasting included, of course! The art of the “lardaroli” Cured meats have been made in Parma since the Middle Ages, when lardaroli, or lard-makers, began to specialise here, handing down a much older tradition from generation to generation: the Romans already produced exquisite salted hams in the 2nd century BC. That tradition, spoken of by Latin authors such as Horace and Plautus, was consolidated over time. Parma ham is already referred to in a cookbook from the 1300s. Then it is found in a 16th-century wedding menu, among Tassoni's poems and even among the dietary advice of a 16th-century Bolognese doctor. Today, the artisan processing has been complemented by more modern technologies that have improved hygienic conditions without affecting taste. Or tradition: salter maestros prepare the legs for curing, which lasts at least 12 months. At the end of which only the hams that pass strict controls are branded with the five-pointed ducal crown. Learning about ham at Foro Boario The museum is located between the historic centre of Langhirano and the Parma stream, on an area taken from the river in the early 1900s to protect the town from flooding. The Slaughterhouse and the Foro Boario, rural architecture originally intended for the sale of livestock, date back to that period. The itinerary includes eight stops, in as many sections in the museum. First learn about the territory and pig breeds, then salt, which is indispensable for preserving cured meats. Step by step, you’ll discover all the secrets of Parma ham, from its production to its use in the kitchen. Finish with the inevitable tasting in the museum's prosciutteria. In Langhirano and surroundings Langhirano is located on the green slopes of the Parma Apennines and the festival dedicated to Parma ham is held here the first two weekends of September. The historical salumifici were located along the stream to better utilise the area’s fresh air for curing hams. They are still here, although no longer in use. The Town Hall is also worth a visit, built in the 13th century and remodelled in the 1600s. A few kilometres from the village on the opposite bank of the stream, you’ll find the Badia Cavana founded on a hill in 1111, a very important abbey. Its jewel is the small Romanesque church dedicated to St Michael. A little further away you’ll come across the Torrechiara Castle, dating back to the 15th century. If you feel like taking a stroll, enjoy the Torrechiara Art Trail connecting the castle to Langhirano, running along the San Michele canal through woods, fields and vineyards of the ancient Torcularia, the medieval name for Torrechiara.
Art & Culture

Tomato Museum

From the Americas to Parma: a long journey at the Tomato Museum Close to Parma, in the agricultural heart of Emilia Romagna, is the Tomato Museum, the red gold of these lands. We are in Collecchio, where the story of a tomato now exported worldwide is told, from its cultivation to conservation. Conservation pioneers The secret of the Parma tomato's success lies in having quickly found a way to preserve a fresh, highly perishable product. This was thanks to innovative 19th-century agronomists who dared to experiment with new conservation techniques. The pioneers of the new industry were born in this time, and it was they who started real entrepreneurial dynasties. The real breakthrough came in 1922 with Stazione Sperimentale delle Conserve. Thanks to those innovations that have been continuously improved over time, more than a million tonnes of tomatoes are processed in the area and exported halfway around the world today. The tomato revolution Before tomatoes arrived from the New World, European tables had a different colour. In the Renaissance, food was still seasoned with brown sauces. Then something yellow appeared on ships returning from the Americas: this was the colour of the first tomatoes to reach the Old Continent. In Italy, tomatoes began to be used around 1600. A Tuscan recipe dates back to 1705, which cooked vegetables in peeled red tomatoes, cut into pieces and sauteed in oil. This was how it all started. As tomatoes grew more and more popular, people began to think about the best way to store them throughout the year and transport them even over great distances. Thus preserved tomato purée was created. The journey of the tomato: from field to table There are seven stages in the processing of tomatoes for state-of-the-art tomato purées, all of which are illustrated along the itinerary of the museum located in Corte di Giarola, in an ancient agro-processing centre of the Middle Ages. The stages are sorting and cleaning, washing, blanching, sieving or pressing, pasteurisation, packaging. Whether prepared at home or industrially, the process does not change, thus the tomato remains delicious. Make sure to stop in the last part of the museum tour that illustrates the culture around tomatoes with advertisements, sculptures, paintings and... recipes! La Corte di Giarola and surroundings Thanks to its location on one of the fords of the Taro River and along the Via Francigena, Corte di Giarola was already an important place in medieval times. A women's monastery dedicated to St Paul stood here, around which a church, stables, cowsheds, a mill, a dairy and homes were built over time. All protected by strong walls. Don't miss the parish church of San Prospero, which dates back to the 11th century. It preserves zoomorphic capitals and terracotta decorations. The 19th-century Villa Nevicati, surrounded by a park with centuries-old trees, is also worth a visit. In the mood for nature? Then enjoy a walk among the trees and ponds of Boschi di Carrega Park, the former hunting reserve first of the Farnese family and then the Bourbons.