Italy is truly one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces, offering a geography boasting incredible landscapes- from the icy Alps to the volcanic craters to the turquoise waters. Along with incredible scenery, this country is filled with history, medieval towns, and more UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites than any other country. Dine on traditional Italian foods, indulge in the finest of wines and take in incredible sites. Italy is a place to be visited twice, once before kids and once with kids and the following eight places should all be done before you are toting around the wee ones.
The fashion capital of the world is best discovered without kids in tow, for obvious reasons and the time to get there and shop is now. This seething metropolis at times can seem brash and soulless but underneath that lies serious history and beauty. Visitors should count on visiting the grand Gothic Cathedral that lays at the heart of the city, La Scala one of the best Opera Houses in the world, the ancient shopping gallery- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the Brera Art Gallery. There is no shortage of museums, churches and historical monuments to be found in this city, along with a slew of incredible restaurants and accommodations. Shop, eat, catch a football game or attend one of the many exhibitions that take place throughout the year; whatever it is you do, enjoy it sans kids.
The gorgeous island of Sicily is one of Europe’s most alluring destinations, the eternal meeting point between East and West, Africa and Europe. The varied landscape here with sea, mountains and volcanoes makes for a stunning backdrop for outdoors activities. Visitors here will be privy to plenty of diving, swimming, climbing and hiking. The ancient cuisine here will make any foodie happy, as the chefs still depend on island-grown ingredients including shellfish, tuna, hazelnuts and almonds, and play with these ingredients to create timeless recipes with creative flairs. Wander through the rubble of ancient columns, through the breathtaking Concordia temple and palace walls as you discover the history of this incredible island. Best done without kids, this is one place in Italy you must get to.
Made up of five small fishing villages, Cinque Terre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997 and offers some of the most dramatic coastal scenery on the planet. This is a place that is rooted in history with the oldest village, Monterosso dating back to AD 643. Much of what remains in the villages today date back to the late High Middle Ages, including several castles and parish churches. Explore the villages by train or foot, as cars were banned over a decade ago. Expect long walks with breathtaking views, eccentric shops, quaint B&B’s and superior wine and food. The main draw here is the landscape and there is an abundance of hiking trails throughout the villages, as well as a number of beaches throughout.
If you are looking for a more road trip style vacation before you have kids, there is only one choice when it comes to Italy, and that is the Amalfi Coast. Considered to be Italy’s most scenic stretch of coastline the landscape is full of towering bluffs, pastel colored villages, luscious green mountains and expansive vista over the sparkling turquoise waters. Aside from the sheer beauty you encounter here, the Amalfi coast is home to a slew of superb restaurants and hotels, as well as being one of the top spots in the country for hiking. Don’t miss the coastal towns of Positano and Amalfi, which are the two favorites. If you are looking for romance stop into the most romantic and beautiful small town in Southern Italy, Ravello, a city blessed with lush gardens, unforgettable views and a beautiful history.
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