Assisi. A charming small town located in the Umbria region of Italy. It is most famous for its religious monuments, as it was the birthplace of St. Francis. Whether you are religious or not, Assisi offers a delightful experience with its gorgeous art masterpieces and picturesque streets. Exploring the town on foot allows you to stumble upon Roman ruins, medieval architecture, and stunning views of the Umbrian landscape. It is definitely worth staying for a night or even making it your home base as you explore other parts of Umbria.
Brioche. Known as cornetto in central and southern Italy, but known as brioche in northern Italy, they are a popular breakfast choice among Italians. In Northern Italy, where I live, they are called brioche. These pastries resemble croissants but are less crumbly than their French counterparts. They are typically sweet and come in various flavors such as plain, creme, Nutella, chocolate, fruit jam, or honey. You can find them in almost every bar, making them a convenient and delicious way to start your day in Italy.
Colosseum. It is an iconic symbol of ancient Rome and one of the most famous landmarks in Italy (and the world). This massive amphitheater was built in the 1st century AD and could hold up to 50,000 spectators. It was used for gladiatorial contests, animal hunts, and other public spectacles. Today, the Colosseum is a major tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage site, drawing millions of visitors each year to marvel at its impressive architecture and rich history.
Dolce. A term used in Italy to describe sweets and delicious desserts. It is a key part of Italian cuisine and includes treats like tiramisu, cannoli, and gelato. They are often enjoyed after a meal or as a special treat during celebrations. Italians take great pride in their creations, with each region having its own unique specialties. Whether it’s a rich chocolate cake or a delicate fruit tart, they are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth in Italy.
Espresso. A strong and concentrated coffee beverage that originated in Italy. It is made by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans, resulting in a rich and flavorful drink. Espresso is a popular choice among Italians and is often enjoyed as a quick pick-me-up or after a meal.
Fresco. A famous Italian art technique that involves painting on wet plaster. It has been used in many Italian churches and buildings, such as the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. The technique creates vibrant and long-lasting artworks that are an important part of Italy’s artistic heritage.
Gelato. Gelato is a popular Italian frozen dessert that is similar to ice cream but has a denser and creamier texture. It is made with milk, sugar, and various flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, nuts, or fruits. Gelato is often enjoyed in a cone or cup and is a must-try treat when visiting Italy. Some common flavors in Italy include stracciatella, hazelnut, lemon, and coffee.
Hiking. Hiking in Italy offers a wide range of breathtaking landscapes and trails for outdoor enthusiasts. From the stunning Amalfi Coast with its dramatic cliffs and panoramic views, to the picturesque Cinque Terre with its colorful villages and coastal paths, there is something for everyone. The Dolomites in northern Italy provide a unique alpine experience, with towering peaks, lush valleys, and crystal-clear lakes. The Tuscan countryside offers gentle rolling hills, vineyards, and olive groves, perfect for leisurely walks. The island of Sardinia boasts rugged coastal trails and hidden coves, while the Italian Alps offer challenging hikes for experienced mountaineers.
Ischia. A volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples, visitors to the Amalfi Coast often visit Ischia for a few days. You can take a ferry over from Naples or arrange for a private guided tour. It’s known for its curative mineral-rich thermal waters. In the east, Roman remains lie beneath the sea floor at Cartaromana Beach, where you have views of the medieval Aragonese Castle linked to Ischia by a stone bridge.
Juliet’s Balcony. In the city of Verona, you can visit the famous balcony that is said to have inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It’s a popular tourist attraction and a must-visit for literature lovers.
Kitesurfing. With its long coastline and windy conditions, Italy is a great destination for kitesurfing enthusiasts. Popular spots include Sicily, Sardinia, and the Adriatic coast.
Limoncello. A traditional Italian liqueur that is made from the zest of lemons, alcohol, water, and sugar. It is typically served chilled as a digestif after a meal. Limoncello is known for its vibrant yellow color and refreshing citrus flavor. It originated in the southern region of Italy, particularly in the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento, where the abundance of lemons makes it the perfect place for its production.
Montalcino. Located in Tuscany, Montalcino offers breathtaking landscapes that overlook the picturesque valleys adorned with vineyards and olive orchards. When exploring this charming town, make sure to indulge in a glass of Brunello di Montalcino (my favorite wine in all of Italy!) at a local vineyard.
Nero d’Avola. A delicious red wine grape variety that is primarily grown in Sicily, Italy. It is known for producing full-bodied and rich wines with flavors of dark fruits, spices, and earthy notes. Nero d’Avola wines are often enjoyed with hearty Italian dishes such as pasta with meat sauces or grilled meats.
Ostuni. Located in the region of Puglia, Ostuni is a stunning hilltop town known for its whitewashed buildings and narrow alleyways. Take a stroll through the historic center, visit the beautiful cathedral, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside
Pasta. Italy is famous for its pasta, and there are countless varieties to try. From the long and thin spaghetti to the tube-like rigatoni, there is a pasta shape to suit every taste and dish. Some popular pasta dishes in Italy include spaghetti carbonara, a creamy and indulgent dish made with eggs, cheese, and pancetta; lasagna, a layered pasta dish with meat, cheese, and tomato sauce; and pasta alla Norma, a Sicilian dish with eggplant, tomato sauce, and ricotta salata. Whether you prefer a simple tomato sauce or a more complex seafood pasta, Italy offers a world of pasta possibilities to satisfy any craving.
Quattro Stagioni Pizza. A classic Italian pizza topped with four different ingredients representing the four seasons: artichokes for spring, tomatoes for summer, mushrooms for autumn, and ham for winter. It’s a delicious and visually appealing pizza that showcases the best of Italian flavors.
Roman Forum. Step back in time and explore the ruins of the Roman Forum in Rome. This ancient site was the center of political, religious, and commercial life in ancient Rome. Walk among the ruins of temples, basilicas, and arches, and imagine what life was like in the Roman Empire.
Sistine Chapel. Located within the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel is one of the most famous artistic treasures in the world. Admire Michelangelo’s breathtaking frescoes on the chapel’s ceiling and walls, including the iconic “Creation of Adam.”
Taormina. If you’re a White Lotus fan, you were likely introduced to this magical town where they filmed the show at San Domenico Palace, a Four Seasons Hotel. Located on a hillside overlooking the Ionian Sea, the building was originally a covenant in the 14th century, but it’s been welcoming guests as a hotel since 1896. Taormina is also known for its stunning views of the Ionian Sea and its ancient Greek theater, which offers breathtaking panoramic vistas. The town is filled with charming narrow streets, beautiful gardens, and historic buildings.
Uffizi Gallery. Located in Florence, the Uffizi Gallery is one of the oldest and most famous art museums in the world. It houses a vast collection of Renaissance masterpieces, including works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.
Venice. Known as the “Floating City,” Venice is a must-visit destination in Italy. With its intricate network of canals, stunning architecture, and romantic atmosphere, Venice is truly a unique and enchanting place. Take a gondola ride along the canals, visit the iconic St. Mark’s Square, and explore the narrow streets and hidden alleyways. Don’t forget to try some traditional Venetian cuisine, such as seafood risotto or cicchetti (small tapas-style dishes).
Wine. Italy is renowned for its wine production, and there are countless wine regions to explore. From the famous Chianti region in Tuscany to the picturesque vineyards of Piedmont, wine lovers will be in heaven. Take a wine tour, visit a vineyard, and sample some of Italy’s finest wines, such as Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, or Prosecco. Cheers!
Xylella Fastidiosa. A plant pathogen that has caused significant damage to olive trees in Italy. Its presence has had a major impact on the country’s olive oil production and has prompted efforts to control and prevent its spread.
Yellow Sunflowers. (Yes, it’s a stretch because Y isn’t apart of the Italian alphabet). These vibrant flowers can be found in the picturesque region of Tuscany, known for its rolling hills and stunning landscapes. The sunflowers typically bloom during the summer months, creating a stunning sea of yellow that stretches as far as the eye can see. They add a touch of warmth and color to the already breathtaking scenery. The sight of these sunflowers in full bloom is truly a feast for the eyes and a symbol of the beauty of the Italian countryside.
Zucchini. A type of summer squash commonly used in Italian cuisine, is known for its versatility and mild flavor. One classic Italian dish that features zucchini is “spaghetti alle zucchine,” which is a pasta dish made with sautéed zucchini, garlic, and olive oil. Another delicious dish is “risotto con zucchine,” a creamy risotto made with zucchini and often topped with grated Parmesan cheese. Zucchini is also commonly used in “frittata di zucchine,” a savory Italian omelet filled with sliced zucchini and other ingredients like cheese or herbs.