For those of us who are lucky enough to have visited Italy before — and those extra lucky sods who have been back time and time again — you might think that you’ve been there, done that when it comes to this Mediterranean gem. But beyond the ruins of Rome and the art and architecture of Florence, there is another side of Italy that you may not have discovered yet.
Read more: Choosing between Italy’s north and south
Canada may be known for its Rocky Mountains, but Italy has its own crags and peaks to be proud of. The Dolomites in the northeastern part of the country are a UNESCO World Heritage site and is where Roger Moore flew down on his skis in the 1981 film, For Your Eyes Only. You don’t have to be a skier to enjoy the mountain range through, this place is great for hiking, climbing and mountain biking in the summer months.
Like paint stripper only stronger, Grappa is a grape-based alcoholic beverage with up to 60 per cent alcohol. It’s one of the country’s favourite drinks, probably followed by red wine and strong coffee, and is made using the leftover seeds, stalks and skins from the grapes used during the winemaking process. One of the best ways to get a feel of the drink and how it’s drunk is to go through a bottle with some locals, but the second best option would be to join a tour at one of the Grappa museums.
Sure, the architecture in Florence is truly something to marvel at, but walking through the Teatro Bibiena in Mantova is like stepping back in time, just not as far back as the renaissance era. Built in the 1700s, Mozart once performed at the theatre.
It’s easy to think that Italian culture is all pasta, vino and football, but travel to the Italian-Austrian border and it’s a very different story. The Italian town of Tarvisio is close to both the Austrian and Slovenian borders and while the majority of people speak Italian, many signs are displayed in four languages, Italian, German, Slovene and the regional minority language, Friulian.
Once part of ancient Greece, Paestum is home to ancient Greek ruins and was founded by the Greeks in 600 B.C. before being conquered by the Romans in 273 B.C. The Temple of Neptune, which dates back to 450 B.C. is even said to be the best-preserved ancient Greek temple in the world – now, we bet you weren’t expecting to see that in Italy!