After spending quite some time gallivanting around Italy in college I came to the realization that one thing that almost all Italians share is their love of the beach. This love must be something that is ingrained in their DNA as they flock to the beaches in droves during the summer months. I however am unfortunately very pale and cannot spend the entire day at the beach even with an exorbitant amount of SPF 50. This is a lesson I learned the hard way while in Rimini, a small coastal town in Emilia-Romagna located on the Adriatic Sea. It seems to me that their perfectly bronzed skin never appears bruciato (burned), my pale skin on the other hand was slathered with sunscreen and at the end of day I looked like a cooked lobster.
The beach town of Rimini is a must on your summer destination list not only does it have the gorgeous beach but it is a city steeped in history. In fact the city has a myriad of events during the summer months such as Discover Rimini which celebrates the two souls of the city its history and the beach culture. Being a history buff, I absolutely love visiting the local museums and touring ancient ruins, but the city offers something for everyone. One of the most anticipated events is La Notte Rosa, The Pink Night, where 110 kilometers of coastline is illuminated in pink lights with its epicenter being Rimini. There are hundreds of events during the weekend, often referred to as the New Year’s Eve of the summer, such as concerts, beach parties, shows and extended hours for local restaurants, museums and stores. The night concludes with a beautiful display of fireworks at midnight which makes the city seem like it’s awash in sunlight. All in all Rimini is great stop if you are driving down the coast but be sure you head west after and check out the breathtaking region of Tuscany.
Tuscany with its rolling hills, infinite vineyards, and mouthwatering cibo (food) is the iconic tourist destination for travelers in Italy. While driving through Tuscany, it’s not hard to find a vineyard to stop at and try the local wine. Personally, I think the food in this region of Italy is the absolute best. I must say, though, I have never had a mediocre meal anywhere in the country. Siena is a gorgeous city with sweeping views of the Tuscan hills; its historic city center has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One event that looks absolutely enthralling is the Palio di Siena, which is a horse race that is held twice a year on July 2nd and August 16th. I personally have never attended, but next time I am in Italy I will be reserving my tickets in advance as this event is a mainstay for many Italians. The race itself usually lasts a couple of minutes but the parades and activities leading up to the race are what really make the occasion. It’s hard to write about Tuscany without bringing up Montepulciano, I spent a weekend here with my parents sampling wines from the local vineyards but what really stands out about this place is the food. This is where I quite possibly had the best meal of my life at a small little restaurant located on the main square called Ai Quattro Venti; just thinking about the food here makes my mouth start to water. It is definitely a stopping point for my next trip and anyone looking for great cucina toscana (Tuscan cooking) while traveling.
La Costiera Amalfitana, a.k.a. the Amalfi Coast, is a majestic stretch of coastline located just south of Naples. This region is truly alluring especially when driving from town to town; the rocky coast literally drops off straight down into the bright blue waters. There are people on the side of the road selling lemons from their groves situated high above the throughway that are literally the size of grapefruits. This plethora of lemons is something they truly incorporate into their cuisine; squeezing the juice over fresh salads, seasoning the freshly caught seafood, and my favorite Limoncello, an Italian liquor typically drank as an after dinner digestivo. The little towns offer the perfect backdrop to explore the local stores or to just relax on the beach. For those with a sense of adventure, there are trails you can hike in between all the towns with awe inspiring panoramas of the coast. Capri is a great day trip; the best view of the island is definitely from the water though, so make sure to take a tour by boat. La Grotta Azzurra (the Blue Grotto) is really something magical to behold and Emperor Tiberius also thought so as he used it as his personal pool during his vacations to the Capri. The Amalfi Coast is also just less than an hour drive to the Scavi di Pompei making it the perfect day trip, however, you could spend days exploring the ruins and still not see all that it has to offer. The ruins are truly an archeological treasure found in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius and something not to be missed. Italy has so much to offer and the summer provides a beautiful climate to enjoy the varied terrain, amazing cuisine and culture. Buon Viaggio!