In Italy tours take in places that are redolent with the history of the Roman Empire. In the past young English people undertook tours to Italy in order to experience the reality of the classical world and so complete their liberal education. Italian vacation packages may not have quite the same intentions but they do afford people opportunities to imbibe something of the place where so much of western culture was forged.
The warm and healthy climate of Italy might have played a role in the growth of the Roman Empire but in modern times it is more important as a factor in pleasant summer holidays under the sun. The poet Shelley write of being under ‘the roof of blue Italian weather’ in a reference to the wide skies that seem to make Italy tours relaxed and easy.
Italy vacations are fulsome because they are situated in the present but the past is always part of the present. The contemporary designs and fashions that flit like birds in advertisements and hoardings are poised against backgrounds of ancient stone and brick walls that have witnessed thousands of years of history.
Italian cuisine too is an amalgam of past and present. The famous coffee and ice cream is as contemporary as can be, yet the dishes have been cooked, served and enjoyed through the ages.
There is unity in the diversity of Italian culture. Many different regions have their distinctive features, from the lakes and mountains of the north to the scenic coastlines in the south. Tourists spill from buses to follow guides through the hall ways and squares of ancient towns. Qualified guides are able to explain the unique features and history of ancient places. Without them much would be left unexplained and misunderstood. Troops of visitors follow their guides and stand in groups listening to lectures.
The history of Italy is long and complex. After the decline and fall of the Roman empire the territory was divided into many separate states or dukedoms and were only united into one country during the nineteen century. So much needs to be explained that tour guides are essential but tourists also enjoy having time to themselves for reflection and independent observation.
When short trips or guided tours are booked as part of a package they may be cheaper, and serve as interesting landmarks. A day trip to museums in Florence with a guide to elucidate the particular treasures will be interesting but tourists will also enjoy time to themselves to reflect and converse privately on what they have experienced during the day.
Italy has a wide diversity of places to see and Italian vacation packages will not always include Rome. Yet this is one of the world’s great cities that should be visited at some point if at all possible. Without Rome an Italy tour is incomplete. The ancient heart of the Roman Empire beats still. The Coliseum stands as a monument to popular culture, and in St Peter’s Basilica there lives another monument to the enduring efforts of humanity towards something higher than the brutish.
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