With so much variety packed into one small country, it’s no wonder Italy is a dream destination for groups. From the staggering Dolomite Mountains in Italy’s alpine region and its grotto-lined southern beaches, the country’s wide-ranging geography is reason alone for a trip. Ubiquitous and fascinating architecture and artifacts showcase the influence Etruscan, Greek, Roman and Christian civilizations have had on Italian culture, and as a result, Western society. And where else in the world is the food an absolute triumph?
In Italy, groups can experience the past via museums and ancient ruins around the capital city, Rome; enjoy modern art and sightsee from a gondola in Venice; and wake up to explore incredible sites with authentic, freshly brewed espresso in Milan. Geography, history, food, culture — this European dream retreat has what Italians call “la bella vita” — the good life — and something for every group.
Can’t Miss Destinations
There’s a reason the Eternal City tops most must-see lists for cities in Europe. Thanks to millennia of history, a simple stroll gives visitors endless chances to view breathtaking masterpieces. Rome is densely packed with museums, churches, architecture and other clues that reveal its past. Imagine life during the height of the Roman Empire with awe-inspiring Colosseum and Pantheon visits. Fast forward to the Renaissance and religious devotion by visiting the Vatican. There, among other priceless treasures, groups can experience St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, home to Michelangelo’s masterpieces. Complete the Roman holiday with a wish at the intricate Trevi Fountain.
Prada. Versace. Dolce e Gabbana. These luxury brands find their home in the fashion capital of the world, and groups can find irreplaceable experiences in Milan, too. Milan, Italy’s second-largest city and the capital city of the Lombardy region, is home to elegance, art, luxury and a bustling entertainment scene — not to mention castles and museums. Groups will crane their necks to take in all that is the Duomo di Milano, Milan’s staggering cathedral. Make time for the Sforzesco, a grand castle and fortress in the city’s lush outer environs and the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, home of Da Vinci’s “Last Supper.”
What do “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” “Casino Royale” and “Spiderman: Far From Home” have in common? Key scenes in each were filmed in one of the world’s most magical, mythical and unmistakable cities: Venice. The open-air museum is world-renowned for its canals and transport via gondolas, but this mesmerizing and romantic city on a lagoon was once an imposing city-state and a powerhouse in Europe. The wealth cultivated in centuries past explains the architectural wonders that attract visitors by the tens of thousands today. In addition to the sigh-inducing waterways, groups can explore the Doge’s Palace, the capital of the erstwhile Republic of Venice, and view works by Pollack, Picasso and Dalì at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a significant museum of modern art on the Grand Canal, a glorious location worth a visit itself.
Italy’s 20 administrative regions are bursting with unique culture, geographies and flavors. What ties them all together? It’s the humble yet triumphant pasta dish. Groups can elevate their experience by learning to make pasta like a true Italian at a traditional, authentic pasta-making class. Tagliatelle, conchiglie and fusilli … few experiences will be as gratifying or mouth-watering.
What are cioccolato, fragola and limone? Chocolate, strawberry and lemon: the country’s three most popular flavors of gelato, Italy’s ultra-rich and creamy take on ice cream. Shop owners make the sweet treat in colorful vats at gelaterias (small ice cream shops) everywhere, with customers frequently coming in during an afternoon stroll or in the evening for an after-dinner treat.
Opulent, magnificent Teatro alla Scala is Milan’s prestigious opera house. Visiting La Scala is akin to stepping inside a treasure box. Groups can view shows and book tickets ahead of time online. Those pressed for time can tour the attached museum and view the opera house during off hours.
Murano master glassmakers are hailed the world over for their glassware. The art form’s history dates back to the 13th century, when Venice was an imposing trading partner and kept the techniques for glassmaking a highly guarded secret. Today, makers use the original technique with modern artistry to create prized sculpture, jewelry or figurines. Travelers should beware of cheap imitations and save their money for the real thing.