UK’s own Daily Telegraph made a list of 20 reasons to come back and visit Italy.
The article, written by destination expert Tim Jepson, was published on the 15th of April, at the very height of the Covid-19 emergency in Europe, a sign of how, in spite of the dramatic situation and the dangers associated with traveling in those days, people from abroad still yearned to come visit us.
With the reopening of EU and Schengen frontiers, many people from all over Europe are finally able to take that long-desired journey to Italy they dreamed o, and soon — possibly as early as the 15th of June — the same could be possible for Americans. It’s not a case that Jepson’s lovely article was taken up again by the Italian press on the very day borders opened, a sort of good-luck charm for the tourist season about to start and a way to remind us all that the world still loves Italy, in spite of viruses, dubious political characters and notoriously slow bureaucracy.
So, what are these 20 reasons to visit Italy that the Daily Telegraph proposed? Jepson is quick, in the very introduction of his article, to point out the difficulty of the task at hand:
“Twenty reasons we’ll return to Italy, they said. Twenty: is that all? There are 20 paintings that would take me back; 20 restaurants, 20 views, 20 hill towns; 20 of much else besides. Because no other country has Italy’s riches, its peerless combination of art, culture, food, wine, fashion, opera, people and landscape; nor its vivid blend of the old and new, the beguiling and the beautiful.”
As the seasoned traveler he must be Jepson highlights, in a short yet incredibly complete couple of sentences, the reasons he loves Italy — and we all should.
Truth is, there are thousands of good, meaningful reasons to visit Italy again, but Jepson manages to make a relatively comprehensive “beginners'” selection, a list true for most and on which each and every one of us can add their personal, intimate motivations.
Let’s take a look at them.
We are the first reason to come back and visit Italy, and I cannot but thank Mr Jepson for this on behalf of the country. He clearly understood a thing or two about us: he explains that there may be “Tuscans, Sicilians, Venetians and Neapolitans,” but we are all the same because we share, from North to South, the same basic characteristic: we love the beautiful things life can give us. “And in Italy,” Jepson concludes, “beautiful things are everywhere.”
Yes, gardens. We often forget Italy is home to some of the most beautiful and intricate gardens in the world: from those around the amazing villas on our lakes’ shores in the north, to those around homes in the Tuscan hills, all the way to the fragrant, magic lemon groves of Sicily. Hanbury’s Botanical Gardens in Ventimiglia, the Gardens of Ninfa, near Rome and the Giardino dei Tarocchi, near Pescia are only some of those mentioned.
3. Our ancient, traditional boroughs
Coming from one, I cannot agree more. There is plenty of beauty and poetry in the smallest villages dotting the Italian countryside. From those in the Langhe (where I am from), to those high up in the Tuscan and Umbrian hills, without forgetting Sulmona in Abruzzo, Tropea in Calabria, Noto and Erice in Sicily and Ostuni in Puglia. Then, more famous Matera, in Basilicata or Camogli, in Liguria. All amazing locations, with many, many more to discover.
4. The great outdoors for sports and activities
Jepson places our great outdoors at number four. And how couldn’t it be? From mountains, to sea and hills, Italy really has it all. Our skiing resorts are among the best in the world and their locations are, quite simply, breathtaking. The Telegraph’s article mentions Val Badia, Courmayeur, Cervinia, among the many Alpine locations worth a visit, but also beautiful areas along the Amalfi Coast, in Sardinia and in Sicily, where trekking and othe activities can be carried out.
5. Our language
“Because everything sounds better in Italian,” Jepson says. Funny that we Italians have the same linguistic obsession the world has for our language, for that of our closest cousins, the French. I don’t know if everything really sounds better in Italian, but it is, indeed, a beautiful way to speak!
6. Our lakes
Jepson shows he did his homework when mentioning the immense inspiration for painters and writers our beautiful lakes have provided through the centuries: lake Como notoriously made it into The Betrothed, but other lakes, like Garda, Iseo, Orta and Maggiore have provided respite and creative support for many an artist: America’s own Ernest Hemingway loved, for instance, Stresa, on lake Maggiore.
Italy is the home of opera lirica and bel canto, so it doesn’t surprise to find it among the reasons to visit Italy again after the lockdown. You may think opera is, today, a patrimony of the world and that’s certainly true, but Italians have a special bond with it, just like Americans have it with jazz and rock’n’roll. The world loves it, but we feel it remains all ours.
This one is a no brainer, really, and Jepson knows it! Italian cuisine is wholesome, traditional and made with high quality ingredients. It is also very varied, thanks to the way the palate changes from region to region. There isn’t much more to say here: Italian food really does speak for itself.
9. Good drinking
This is another interesting aspect of The Teleegraph‘s article, for the way it exalts Italy’s love for buon bere, that is, drinking for pleasure and not for the sake of drinking. Our wines are known all over the world, as are our liquors, but it’s also the attitude towards drinking that Jepson thinks of, I believe: the way Italians love drinking for the smoothness and quality of whatever they are having — a glass of dolcetto, a negroni, a vintage grappa — and for the company they enjoy while having it, rather than the buzz they get from alcohol.
... Il caffé, ovviamente…Coffee in Italy is a way of life, a ritual than some would like to see protected by UNESCO. From espresso to cappuccino and macchiato, you can’t find a coffee as good as you do in Italy. I am a coffee lover and I adore Americanos and other types of non-Italian coffees. But nothing can compare to the tazzina di caffé you get al bar here. Jepson is 100% right.
11. Our mountains
Absolutely yes. Nothing is like the Alps, nothing. “Many countries have mountains, but Italy has the Dolomites,” Jepson says. And then, the Apennines and even Mount Etna, the iconic volcano symbol of Sicily, which reaches 10.990 feet in height.
12 and 13. Fashion and architecture
Italian design, artistic allure and good taste mix in both fashion and architecture, reasons number 12 and 13 respectively to visit Italy according to The Telegraph.
Venezia is so unique, magical and breathtaking that is worth a visit to Italy on its own. And I agree with Jepson — even if I feel our capital, Rome, also deserves the same — because there isn’t anything like Venice in the world, anything. It’s a rare jewel, indeed.
15 and 16. Our islands and our coast
Back to natural beauty, after man made artistic pleasures. Jepson notes that Italian islands — the smaller ones, like Capri, Elba, Capraia, the Tremiti — have a lot to offer to Italophiles and travel lovers. Many of them are naturalistic gems, like those of the archipelago della Maddalena, which you can even visit by sailing. And the same beauty can be found along the 4.720 miles of Italy’s coasts: think Amalfi, the Italian Riviera (including the Cinque Terre) but also Gargano, Salento and Cilento, which are just as beautiful.
17. Art galleries
Number 16 in The Telegraph’s list of reasons to visit Italy is our art galleries and it couldn’t be otherwise, considering the magnitude of our artistic patrimony and cultural heritage. The Uffizi, Brera, the Vatican Museums, but also Naples’ Archaeological Museum and Turin’s Museo Egizio. And this is only a tiny, tiny list.
18. Artistic locations
But our rich artistic heritage is not only kept in museums, it’s all around us. And so, here are the Sistine Chapel and Saint Francis Basilica, with its Giottos and Cimabues; Orvieto Cathedral and Cappella degli Scrovegni, in Padova or Leonardo’s Last Supper in Milan. And how many more can wee think of, without even making an effort?
19. Ancient archaeology
One of my American friends, who studied Classics in university, came to Italy a year and a half ago, went to Rome and, when finally seeing the Colosseum, he wept. No shame in doing it and no shame in admitting it, either. I wept when I went to Rome for the first time, so I totally understood him. This, to introduce the 19th reason to come to see us in Italy, archeology and the history of Antiquity. It’s not only Rome, you know: there is Aosta, there’s Sicily and its Valle dei Templi, Paestum in Campania, and Aquileia. The whole country is a testimony to antique history.
Tim Jepson is British and we know the Brits love Tuscany: the Valley of Chianti isn’t called Chiantishire for nothing! But it’s an amazing example of how the love for our country unifies people, regardless of their geographical origins. And we need this type of love and support, in a moment where certain states treat Italy as if more “infected” than others because we got the virus first.
So, do you agree with Jepson’s list of 20 reasons to come back and visit Italy? Is there anything you would add? Let us know in the comments!