Italy is the boot-shaped peninsula in the middle of the Mediterranean. It stretches from the Alps in the north and almost all the way to Africa in the south. It is perhaps best known for its contribution to fashion, flashy cars and as the birthplace of pizza.
The biggest city in Italy is Rome, and it’s also the capital and the most famous of Italy’s cities. It serves as a good starting point from which to explore the rest of the country. In Rome itself, you’ll find a wealth of ancient roman sites that are definately worth visiting, especially in the Colosseo district, which is the heart of ancient Rome. Here you’ll find the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Forum of Augustus, the Forum and Markets of Trajan, the Capitoline and all its museums. While in Rome you should also make time to see the Vatican City, which is the independent papal state as well as being the world?s smallest state. Here you can visit the Sistine Chapel.
Italy Car Hire Tip: When in Italy you’ll always drive on the right. Drink driving is a serious offence and the limit is 0.5 milligrams which is almost half that in the UK and Ireland (0.8mg). The minimum age for driving in Italy is 18.
While most of the major cities in Italy are located to the north of Rome, no trip to Italy would be complete without a visit to Naples (Napoli). It was here that the original pizza was invented so you simply must try one during your stay.
Also while you’re nearby you can visit Pompeii, which was famously preserved by the erupting Mount Vesuvius in 79AD and is just about 15kms away on the other side of the mountain.
Italy Car Hire Tip: While the Italians have a bad reputation for driving, this is largely fading, as the city centres become less overrun by cars. The exception to this rule is Naples, which is considered bad by Italian standards! Also, though the crime rate in Italy is quite low, there are parts of Naples you will want to avoid so be careful especially at night.
Returning north and passing Rome, and moving up the western coast on the E80 you will come to a series of sites along the coast that are all well worth visiting. Livorno is modern Italy?s 3rd largest port on the west coast and in the past it was a major port for the western Mediterranean.
Some 20kms north of Livorno is Pisa, home of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. There are plenty of other architectural wonders to see in the city besides the tower, so don?t forget to check them out too.
Italy Car Hire Tip: The maximum speed limit in Italy is 130km/h on motorways, 90 km/h on the open road and 50km/h in towns. But bear in mind that the official speed limits are reduced when the roads are wet to 110km/h on motorways and 80 km/h on the open road. The motorways are tolled so be ready with a credit card or some change.
Next stop is La Spezia, which is home to one of Italy?s biggest military company?s, Oto Melara. The town is also a great set off point for those wishing to explore the Cinque Terre National Park. This park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and includes 5 beautifully picturesque villages, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, that are all worth stopping off at.
This should bring you neatly to Genoa, which was the European Capital of Culture in 2004. While visiting the city you could make time to visit the Aquarium, which is the largest in Europe. Other sights to see include the Naval Museum, the Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art and the historical city centre which is the biggest in Europe.
Italy Car Hire Tip: More and more the city centres in Italy are becoming pedestrianised. This means that if you’re driving, you’ll have to park your car in the suburbs, preferably in a supervised car park as opposed to the side of the street, and then walk (or use public transport) into the city centre.
After following the coast for a few more kilometres and then turning inland on the A6, you’ll find yourself heading for Turin. Turin was the first capital after Italian unification, though it lost this title later. Turin is the home of FIAT that was largely responsible for the city?s recovery after WWII. Other sights include the Mole Antonelliana, the Valentino Park and the Palazzo Madama.
Turning east along the A4 you will find yourself heading for Milan. This city is very much one of the fashion capitals of the world. Don?t forget to do a little shopping in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, which is a shopping mall in a converted 19th century palace. While here you could also visit the Cenacolo Vinciano, which is were Leonardo da Vinci painted ?The Last Supper?, but it’s recommended to purchase the tickets months in advance, though you can buy cancelled tickets, if there are any, in the morning.
Continuing east along the A4 you should eventually arrive at Venice, which is certainly one of the most famous cities in the world. The city stretches across 118 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon, and it occasionally floods during Acqua Alta (“High Water”). You will have to leave your car outside the city as none are allowed within the city bounds. While here don?t forget to visit Piazza San Marco and take a Gondola ride!
Bologna can be found on the A13. While here you could visit the oldest university in the world, Alma Mater Studiorum, founded in 1088. While in the city you should also check out the Tower of the Asinelli and Tower of the Garisenda, which are two of the few remaining towers left in the city. It is hard to imagine what the city looked like with 180 of these during the 12th century.
Continuing south along the A1, will bring you to Florence (Firenze) which is considered to be the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. While here you should visit some of the museums, which feature some of the works of such greats as Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, Dante and Machiavelli. In the Uffizi Gallery you can find The Birth of Venus by Sandro Boticelli and in the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze you’ll see Michelangelo?s David.
Mairead Foley writes for http://www.Novacarhire.com/ where you can book car hire at airports, ferry ports, rail stations, cities and towns all over the world.
Visit Novacarhire.com for all you need to know before you take to the roads in Italy, like where to go and what to see with your car hire. Book your Car hire Italy now.