I cannot say I’ve captured Italy as a whole because each of its cities is rich in its own history, culture, cuisine, and beauty and I’ve only been to three namely Milan, Venice and Rome. But at least the experience gave me something to smile about when I hear the word Italy.
1. Thin crust pizza
Forget about stuffed crust and pan pizzas because they will serve you plain looking but really tasty thin crust pizzas. If we usually order pizza for a group of 4-5 to consume, they usually have the whole pizza for one, that’s how thin it is. To share, there’s this Florida pizza in Rome that is cheap but really tastes good. They say it’s rich because it’s on the oily side and most Italians don’t like that much because they’re health conscious but for tourists it’s two-thumbs up.
2. Interesting and breath-taking churches (also as burial site)
Just in Rome, number of Basilicas can be found. Of course St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is number one where St. Peter’s tomb is found. Basilica of St. John Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore and St. Paul completes the four Major Basilicas of Rome. There’s St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. I’ve also seen Basilica di S. Ambrogio and Duomo in Milan.
3. Fountains, museums, structures and other ancient wonders
Sistine Chapel, Fontana di Trevi, Colloseum, Pantheon, Roman Empire, Castles, Palazzo Ducale and so so much more that either I couldn’t name or I wasn’t able to see.
4. Cobblestone-covered street. It makes me feel I’m in the early days where you see horses instead of cars, trams and buses.
5. Gelato. A small cup costs around 3 euros, expensive right? But I must say it really tastes good. It’s not too sweet and has a different creaminess in it, not to mention flavors you’ve never tried before in an ice cream.
6. Italian ham (Prosciutto) and cheese.
7. Public transport is everywhere. There’s metropolitane (underground systems), trains for intercity transfers, trams, buses, vaporetto (waterbus in Venice). All you need is a map (which is usually free but sold in other cities like Venice and Rome) and patience to understand which goes where.
8. Drinking fountains. Cool natural spring water flows endlessly from drinking fountains on nearly every Roman street corner. Bring a water jug and your water is free in Rome.
9. Coffee experience. Definitely no starbucks or any coffee shop that offer mug-sized coffee. I am not really a fan of their coffee because what they serve you is really strong half-filled small cup of coffee (like an espresso shot). It’s the feeling of drinking a coffee in one of the calles (narrow street) in Italy that’s priceless.
10. Gondola ride. I wouldn’t leave Italy without experiencing this. It has been my dream since childhood. And I must say that you really can’t have the feel of Venice without riding a gondola. It’s a bit expensive I must say (80-100 euros for 6 people with 40 minutes duration, amount depending on the time of the day) but it’s a once in a lifetime experience so forget about the money just this time.
I know I still missed a lot of great cities in Italy like Tuscany, Florence, Naples, Bologna and so much more. Maybe next time. I hope.