Plan Your Perfect Italian Vacation: Part IAdventure Travel, Couples Travel, Italy — By Briana P on February 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm
By Briana Palma
Travel means different things to different people. Some envision beach days and spa visits, while others imagine volunteering on a farm or in an impoverished nation. No matter what kind of traveler you are, though, you’re likely to find options in Italy. One of the world’s top tourist destinations, the country boasts diversity among its 20 regions in everything from language to culinary traditions.
When you consider adventure travel, Italy might not pop right into your mind. But think a little outside the box and you’ll see that the land known for art, history and il bel far niente can get your pulse racing, too.
Each year about 200,000 tourists head to Maranello to indulge their need for speed. A sports car heaven, this small town in the Emilia-Romagna region houses the headquarters of luxury brand Ferrari and its museum. In the Galleria Ferrari visitors can view a rotating exhibit comprising vintage and modern cars as well as images and trophies. And while the nearby factory is off-limits to all who don’t own one of the status symbol automobiles, you can see the cars in action at the Fiorano Test Track.
Formula 1 Racing is undoubtedly big business in Italy, however, the country’s true passion for sports lies in soccer. All the major cities enjoy at least one squad and plenty of international footie stars, but two-team metropolises like Rome, Milan and Turin up the ante with strong cross-town rivalries. Though soccer has yet to pick up excitement Stateside, Italy’s competitive league provides entertainment every weekend as fans pack the stadiums and cheer on their beloved teams as if it were Superbowl Sunday.
If spectator sports just don’t do it for you, get in on the action with a cycling excursion. Italy offers routes with beautiful scenery in many of its regions, including Piedmont, Tuscany and Sardinia. Or if you’re looking for some real adventure, try the ultimate in cycle tourism, a 1,400-mile, 28-day trek from Sicily to Turin, covering the route of national hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi. ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours has organized the journey, which begins May 7, in honor of the 150-year anniversary of the country’s unification.
Throughout history many artists have unsurprisingly captured Venice in their paintings, photographs and literature. The remarkable city’s colorful palaces combined with the sounds and smells of the lagoon give it a decidedly romantic, inspiring atmosphere. Of course, snuggling up for a private gondola ride with your sweetheart makes it even more magical. Still, take time to wander away from the crowds at St. Mark’s Square and you’ll discover quiet corners to enjoy a moment alone. Or combine love and revelry by visiting Venice during its world-famous Carnival celebrations (February 19 to March 8).
About two hours west of Venice you can explore a place famous for heartbreak and where the romantic tradition of letter writing lives on. Shakespeare used Verona as the home of his star-crossed lovers, whose real existence continues to be debated. Here you can give in to one of history’s greatest love stories by visiting Juliet’s house, where you can leave a letter for the heroine, see her balcony and rub her statue for luck with matters of the heart.
The Liguria region has water, but the feeling differs from that across the Peninsula in Venice. Cinque Terre, the five villages, features sandy beaches and large cliffs set against houses in shades of yellow, orange and pink. This UNESCO World Heritage site, however, doesn’t offer much for sightseeing, making it the perfect place to eat fresh seafood, relax and enjoy the company of your travel companion. Those looking for more activity can try out the hiking trail, which includes a part known as the Via del Amore, or road of love.