2,500 years of history are woven into the fabric of modern Rome. You can feel it in the glory of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Or as you wander sidestreets that open onto piazzas, fountains, Bernini sculpture, and elegant courtyards. Famous treasures are legion in Rome: the Colosseum…the Forum…St. Peter’s Cathedral…the Trevi Fountain…the Spanish Steps. Take time out between sights to do as the Romans do: enjoy a three-hour lunch, shop, people-watch, or savor the best gelati in the world.
Ischia is a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples. Some sights worth seeing are the Church of Soccorso (a tiny white-washed church located in the square on the Punta del Soccorso in Forio, that looks out onto the crystal clear sea), and Castello Aragonese (a castle located on a small island near Ischia Ponte). There are many wonderful beaches located here as well, namely Lido di Ischia and Cartaromana beach.
Celebrated by the poet Homer, who described it as “a floating island, a wall of bronze and splendid smooth sheer cliffs," Lipari is the largest of the 17 Aeolian Islands, and also the name of its only real town. Rising from the cobalt seas on the northeast of the Sicilian coast, Lipari’s location makes it a popular base for exploring the archipelago. However, this fascinating place more than holds its own as a worthy destination. Located on a plateau of red volcanic rock on the southeastern shore, Lipari boasts two beaches on either side. Its mountains, volcanoes and stunningly beautiful waters attract adventure-seekers from throughout the world. Settled in the 4th millennium B.C., the island offers such historic sites (and sights) as the impressive cliff top citadel. Built in the 1500s, the citadel’s high defensive wall still stands, enclosing the Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew, an archaeological museum and two baroque churches.
The seaside resort of Giardini Naxos lies cozily situated on the coast of the Ionian Sea. Founded in 734 BC, and a quiet fishing village until the early ‘70s, now it is famous for delightful beaches, panoramic views and as the gateway to Taormina on Monte Tauro above. Before heading up to Taormina it’s worth checking out the Greek temple of Apollo Archegetes, the Naxos Museum of Archaeology, located in the Tower of Capo Schisò, where items from recent excavations in the area can be found, the Archaeological Park, with remains of the old Giardini Naxos wall, and Vignazza Tower, a watchtower built in 1544 and used to watch for pirate boats. Discover the winding medieval streets in lovely Taromina, Italy’s best-known resort, with a backdrop of Mount Etna and dramatic views of the bay. Easily explored on foot, see one of the most popular ruins in Sicily, the beautiful and remarkably preserved Ancient Theatre. Other sites to visit include Palazzo Corvaja, built in the 10th century, and whose central core is an Arabic tower, Corso Umberto, an energetic street lined with shops and bars, Madonna Della Rocca, a 1640 sanctuary, Greek Theater, built in the 3rd century BC and still used for performances and Via Bagnoli Croce, an exotic public garden.
Truly one of the world’s original great urban centers, the port city of Gythion was founded by the ancient Phoenicians prior to 400 B.C. Gracing the isolated southern edge of the Peloponnese, the city has a rich political and cultural heritage. The site of many ancient battles, today Gythion is a port that is known for its ferries to Kythira and Crete as well as its superb seafood.
Accessible only by a 1,312 foot causeway joining it to the mainland, Monemvassía was separated from the mainland by an earthquake in 375 A.D. The town walls and many of the churches remain from Byzantine times. The oldest church is St. Paul’s, built in 956 and now a museum. The most well known church is Christos Elkomenos, in the main square, and closer to the sea is the 16th century, whitewashed Our Lady of Hrisafittisa. The town is split into lower town and upper town and the narrow, winding streets are a walker’s delight. See numerous ruins of the first 800 houses built here, and high above, in upper town, castle walls still stand majestically on the summit. So much history is found in the public buildings, cisterns, and the Fortress of Goulas, which is entered by a tunnel. Other sites to see include the old bishop’s residence, Cami mosque, and the Turkish bathhouse. Sun and beach lovers will find the two beaches, Mandraki Beach and Pori Beach beautifully relaxing.
Above the city, looking out towards the blue Aegean, stands the Acropolis. Here lie the ruins of a culture 2,500 years old: the Propylaea; the Temple of Athena Nike; the Erechtheum temple, and, most famous of all, the Parthenon.
Meanwhile, modern Athens buzzes busily below, a city of chic restaurants, lively bazaars, sophisticated banking, historical museums, and the sights and smells of the Plaka district.