Making the Most of Your Trip to Italy: Experience Italian Culture, Arts, Cuisine, and Everything in Between

First time visitor? Here is how you can turn your first trip to Italy into an unforgettable cultural experience.

Italy is a country of splendid beauty and rich history. Its cultural legacy is an amalgamation of thousands of years of heritage and tradition—tracing its roots back to the Ancient Roman Empire—which eventually influenced art, fashion and cuisine all around the world.

If you are only beginning to get to know Italy and its culture, there will surely be no dull moment as its awe-inspiring art, architecture, and world-renowned cuisine will certainly fascinate you every single time. There is also so much to explore in Italy. From the romantic canals of Venice to the bustling streets of Milan, a phenomenal experience is guaranteed wherever you go. Hence, the challenge is not really where to go, but rather, how to make the most of tours to Italy so that you can experience and fully immerse yourself in all its splendour—culture, arts, cuisine, and everything in between.

First time visitor? Here is how you can turn your first trip to Italy into an unforgettable experience.

Tour the Must-Sees of Rome

If you are an aesthete who has immense fascination for architecture and arts, you might have to allot more than a day or two to tour all the must-see attraction sites of Rome.

Upon touchdown to Rome, the best place to start your tour is the Vatican Museums where you can marvel at the countless art pieces and learn about two millenniums-worth of Rome’s ancient history. There are all in all 24 interconnecting galleries to explore, and at the end of its halls, you will find the Sistine Chapel, as well as a collection of Salvador Dali’s religious masterpieces such as The Trinity.

Alternatively, you can head over to St. Peter’s Basillica—one of the Catholic Church’s holiest temples—and admire the architectural wonders of its facade. Once you step foot inside it, you will surely marvel—mouth wide open—at the intricacies of its pristine altars, stained windows, and gold-laden walls. After saying your prayers, you can tour its underground spaces or climb its dome to get an unrivaled 360 view of St Peter’s Square.

Italy Experience in Rome
Photo: Caleb Miller on Unsplash.

After hours of walking, it would certainly be nice to sit down and relax for a bit before continuing your journey. If you head to the north, you will reach the ever-serene Villa Borghese. This idyllic green sanctuary in the heart of a Rome’s bustling city is the perfect place to rest and drink in the beauty of nature—perhaps while sipping on some refreshments.

Once you have recovered your energy, head over to Rome’s most iconic sight—the Colosseum. You can go down to the arena and stand at the very spot where the Gladiators used to fight back in the day, or you can take shelter from the sun at one of the seats in the amphitheater. You can also visit the Roman Forum, which is only a short distance from the Colosseum. Back in the day, it was the epicenter of public meetings, law courts, and gladiatorial combats.

Another way of admiring the stunning view of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum is to do it from a bird’s eye view. To get a unique panoramic view of Rome, head over to the Altar of the Fatherland—the national monument erected in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, Vittoriano. You can take the elevator to get to the top or take the arduous way by climbing its steep stairs. Just make sure you have extra stamina with you because it is a long flight of stairs with over 200 steps. Nonetheless, the climb to the top will surely be worth it, as it offers truly mesmerizing views of the city.

And last but definitely not the least, make your way to the world’s most famous fountain: the Trevi Fountain. You do not have to be an art enthusiast to appreciate the majestic beauty and intricate Baroque style of Fontana di Trevi. Its beauty will effortlessly capture your gaze. If you are a fan of Roman mythology, you will surely appreciate the sight of Oceanus, the God of water, surrounded by Abundance, Salubrity, and mythical creatures like the hippocampus and tritons. Once you are done admiring its timeless beauty, make sure you toss some coin into the fountain’s clear waters, which—as legend says—grants the wish of returning to Rome one day.

Go on a Venetian Gondola Ride

If you haven’t ridden the famous gondolas in Venice at least once, did you really even go to Italy?

It is an absolute must to experience cruising through these dreamlike, romantic canals of Venice while riding the city’s elegant symbol—gondolas. However, take note that gondola rides are comparable to luxury cars in Venice, as they can be quite costly. So, if you want to tick it off your bucket list, be sure to come (financially) prepared as the standard gondola rides have a fixed cost of 80 euros for a private morning tour lasting for 25 to 30 minutes. However, I recommend booking the night tour instead.

While it may be more costly, gondola rides at sunset or after dark is infinitely more romantic and beautiful–not to mention you won’t have to deal with the heat of the sun. At night, the cost of a gondola ride is 120 euros.

If you are traveling with the love of your life, plan ahead and book a table for two in one of the many quaint Venetian restaurants. There is perhaps nothing more hopelessly romantic as a private evening gondola ride—admiring the golden orb of lights reflected at the waters while holding each other’s hand—followed by a scrumptious full course meal in a fine restaurant specializing in traditional Venetian delicacies. And if you still have room for desserts, try the decadent tiramisu—the city’s most famous dessert.

Savor the Traditional Italian Cuisine

Italian cuisine has influenced countless food culture all around the world and it is—in itself—a form of art. In fact, for Italians, food is not simply for nourishment—it is a way of life. Italian cuisine is based on the Mediterranean diet, which often makes use of ingredients like pasta, fish, fruits, and vegetables. Cheese, cold cuts and fine wines are also a necessity in the Italian gastronomic culture, along with the famous Italian-style pizza and bold shots of espresso.

Trust me when I say that your trip to Italy will not be complete without getting a taste of the flavors of its cities. Their classic and specialty dishes will give you a better appreciation of Italian culture. After all, the best way to get to know the identity of a place is by tasting their local food.

Board of cannoli Italy Experience
Photo: Louis Hansel on Unsplash.

Be sure to try Italy’s pastries—especially the renowned Cannoli. Surprisingly, Italians are incredibly fond of desserts and pastries, so tourists with a sweet tooth will surely love strolling the streets of Milan lined with pastry shops left and right.

Next up, get a serving of pasta alla carbonara, which is a dish from Rome made with eggs, Pecorino cheese, guanciale (a type of cured pork cheek) and black pepper. Then, get a bite of their pizza margherita—a dish from Naples made with a thin crust topped with olive oil, garlic, basil, tomatoes, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. You also cannot pass up on their Risotto alla milanese–a dish made with rice cooked in broth with saffron, butter and Parmesan cheese. And if you would like to get a taste of Sicily, try Arancini—a deep-fried dish made with rice balls stuffed with cheese, meat, vegetables before being coated with breadcrumbs. Of course, you have to have a charcuterie board and glass of local wine to satisfy your palate.

Go on a Winery Tour & Gourmet Tasting

If you are a wine connoisseur, you absolutely cannot miss the winery tour and gourmet tasting. Wine is a big part of Italian culture. So, it should not be a surprise that Italy is home to some of the world’s famous vineyards. Here, you can learn about viticulture while strolling in the picturesque vineyards. There’s no better way to spend a fine day than walking along the path of vines while appreciating the different terroirs of the Corte Pavone range. It will also be fun to learn about how so many different wines can be produced from only one grape variety.

After the winery tour, head over to the tasting room and savor different wines with scrumptious gourmet pairings to really bring out the flavor of these aged liquid golds. Be sure to try signature wines such as Le Perle di Pavone Spumante, Rosso di Montalcino, Levante, Brunello di Montalcino, Brunello Cru, and Brunello Cru Riserva.

Italy: A Country of Timeless Beauty and Diversity

If you are looking for a destination that will inspire you with its remarkable history, rich culture and arts, scrumptious cuisine, and natural wonders, look no further than Italy. This country will surely entice you with its beauty and diversity–so much so that you’ll be tossing coins repeatedly at the Fountain of Trevi just to go back here and re-experience Italian life in all its splendour and beauty.