There is a certain romance between Italy and football. This wonderful country with its rolling hills, acres of vineyards and stunning architecture is totally enamoured with the beautiful game.
That famous blue of the Azzurri has been forever ingrained into the fabric of international football. From Marco Tardelli’s iconic celebration at the 1982 World Cup to Andrea Pirlo lighting up Euro 2012 to Roberto Baggio’s tears after missing the decisive spot kick at USA ’94 to Pavarotti’s spine tingling Nessun Dorma which became the soundtrack to Italia 1990, the Italian’s just love this sport.
As Euro 2016 approaches, we’re taking a look at some of our favourite countries competing in the tournament. Now it’s time for you to fall in love with Italy, if you haven’t already, as we take you to some of our favourite parts of the land of pasta, pizza and wine.
Why we love it
Do we really have to explain, we thought it was pretty easy to see how great this country is? You only have to take a drive through the beautiful Tuscany countryside passing the abundance of vineyards and wineries. Stop off at any one of the quaint trattorias that are dotted around this landscape and sample the delicious local cuisine.
It is in a region like this you can feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life in city centres. However, this is not a country just of sleepy villages and farms as you will find liveliness in cities such as Naples. Full of cultural sites such as the San Carlo opera house and Castel Nuovo as well as a wealth of bars and restaurants allowing to spend hours watching the world go by.
Jump in the car and discover the towns of the Amalfi Coast. Learn about how this landscape has been shaped by the mighty Mount Vesuvius, none more so than ancient city of Pompeii which was infamously submerged during an eruption. Take the top down and feel like James Bond as you weave down the mountains into the charming Italian towns and enjoy a sip of the finest wine and watch Lake Garda shimmer.
It is simply impossible not to fall in love with such an intoxicating part of the world.
Where to go?
While the capital of Rome with its world famous monuments such as the Vatican, the Colosseum and St Peter’s Basilica is alluring, we’re heading south and on to the wonderful Amalfi Coast.
Escape the crowds of the big city and see the glorious countryside. The best way to explore this part of the country is definitely by car. Hire yourself a set of wheels, maybe treat yourself to a convertible, and hit the winding roads. Along the way you’ll come to the town of Amalfi complete with its seaview villas and pristine beaches.
Stop off in the popular resort of Sorrento to visit the famous Grotta Azurra, a cave used during Roman times, or catch the boat to the picturesque island of Capri. History buffs will love the iconic city of Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and where 3,000 died in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted.
Hop from the tip of Italy’s boot to Sicily to see Italy’s other volcano, Mount Etna, not to mention sampling the wonderful food or you can hike until your heart’s content through the countryside of Sardinia.
Where will you choose?
What to eat and drink?
Italy is famed for its cuisine and you can sample the vest best of it in the southern part of the country. When it comes to pizza come choose from authentic Neapolitan pizza, disputed to be the very best the country has to offer, or the unmistakable Sicilian version. Staying on the small island, you have to try pasta alla Norma, a historic dish while rounding it off with an almond granita to satisfy the sweet tooth.
It would not be a trip to Italy without sampling some of the produce from the local vineyards. Some of the world’s best wine is made in this part of the world so partake in a glass or two. Don’t forget a drop of Limoncello, an aperitif native to the Amalfi region.
Combine culture with a love of food with a trip to Italy this summer. Search www.sunmaster.co.uk for a great deal.