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Italy: Behind the Scenes

Italy. One of my favourite places in the world.

Here you’re guaranteed to find something different wherever you go.

Let’s dig a little deeper into what this beautiful country has to offer.

When people hear the word “Italy” they think pasta, lasagne, wine and a bunch of old buildings. Maybe. Some people may not even know that much. But Italy is definitely more than just a few plates of pasta.

Pisa (Not “Pizza”)

Pisa - leaning tower

Often it is the town that people just go through on the way to another town. A pit stop. Most people tend to only have half a day here. And frankly, it’s understandable. You can probably spend a day or two maximum here and see everything that Pisa has to offer.

Of course there’s the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, where you’ll see people trying to align themselves for a photo, to give the illusion that they are “pushing” the tower or “leaning” against it. And if you’re up for it, you can also have a go at climbing the tower. Watch out for the leaning stairs. If this is something you’d want to do, I suggest you go and do it sooner rather than later, as they predict that the Tower will probably fall over sometime in the near future.

Other sites that you can add to your list are the Cathedral and Baptistery. Now, I can’t say much about these as I did not go inside, but they do look nice on the outside. Great photo opportunities. Probably more like obligatory photo opportunities.



Siena

Siena - my favourite place in all of Italy. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. Either way, once you’re here, you’ll ask yourself why you haven’t visited this small medieval town up until now.

For such a small town, it possesses an infinite amount of history. You’ll soon discover that most of what Siena has to offer resides inside the city wall. And once you’re inside the wall, you’re instantly propelled back in time to when this city was at its peak.

One of the most famous and significant pieces of Siena’s history, is the Piazza Del Campo. Site of the Palio. A yearly horse race that takes place in the Piazza Del Campo during the months of July and August.

City districts, or Contrade, participate in this yearly horse race, where representatives are dressed in their contrada’s colours. Here you’ll find that each jockey is vying to compete alongside others, in which is still an ongoing rivalry and competition between the contrade.

When you’re standing inside the Piazza Del Campo, you’ll find yourself staring up at the Torre Del Mangia. Now, climb it. Buy your 10 euro entry ticket and climb those stairs. It’s not a high ascent, but if you’re going to do it during summer, then it can feel like the stairs are never-ending.

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But when you reach the top, and you get to view a 360 degree panorama of Siena, that’s when you’ll realise it was worth it. The view is just breathtaking. From observing the people down in the Piazza, looking as a mere few dots down on the Earth below, to seeing the rolling Tuscan hills and towns in the distance, you’ll appreciate that most of Siena’s history remains intact.

Florence

Florence - where the Medicis once ruled, and where Leonardo Da Vinci once resided. What’s not to love? If the city where the Renaissance period once flourished is not your thing, then you don’t know what you’re missing out on. If you’re a huge history buff like me, then you’d feel as though you’ve hit the jackpot. The Renaissance jackpot.

From visiting sites where the Medicis sealed their fate, to staring up at the Statue of David at the Galleria Dell’Accademia, Florence will leave you eternally mesmerised and trying to picture yourself in a time where you could have lived amongst some of history’s biggest names (name drop: Da Vinci. Lorenzo De Medici).

Florence itself is an easy town to walk around, it’s condensed in a way that makes it easy to just wander the streets, wondering what you might stumble on. The San Lorenzo Markets are something else, watching Florentines and tourists alike bargain their way to a new leather wallet, just to save a few mere euros. Then you can follow in the footsteps of The Medicis, starting at the Palazzo Medici Riccardi from where they first lived, to the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. Then continue to walk through the Vasari Corridor which The Medicis had built to avoid the public eye, and to cross the streets of Florence safely and privately.

For Florence, you can use it as a gateway to explore and discover the rest of what the Tuscany region has to offer.

Arezzo - LA VITA È BELLA

Arezzo

Life is beautiful, isn’t it? And if you ever get the opportunity to visit Arezzo, just a mere one hour car drive from Florence, then you’ll find yourself in the very same spot as Roberto Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi while they were filming one of the most iconic films of the 20th century.

From Piazza Grande to the Basilica of San Francesco, you’ll find yourself transported back to the time of the Medieval period. Not only can you just sit in a quaint cafe in the Piazza Grande, watching the world go by as you drink your espresso or aperitif, but you can also visit one of the several truffle shops that Arezzo has to offer.

If truffles are not your thing, then simply just wandering the cobblestone streets of Arezzo is enough to just absorb and appreciate this small town and the many sites and remnants of the once Medieval city.


So as you can see, Italy has a lot more to offer than what you or others originally believed, and its highly recommended that you book a ticket to Italy immediately.

Life is short. Life is beautiful.

- by Jasmine Ayre

© All images property of Train bound for nowhere. Credit Jasmine Ayre & Kristina Wilson