Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Italy's Central Regions

Central Italy abounds with diverse landscapes and towns rich in art, architecture and culture. From Tuscan's transcendent treasures amid countless towers, palaces and churches, to the "green heart" of Le Marche and Umbria, to the lush Po Delta in Emilia Romagna and Lazio, home to Rome and the independent papal state, Vatican City.

Emilia Romagna

Half mountain range (the Apennines), half coastal plain along the Adriatic Apennines, this region's capital is Bologna, a famous university town. Historically, important Roman traces can be found in Rimini and Ravenna, once capital of the Western Roman Empire. Romanesque Lombardian style is showcased by the Cathedrals of Modena and Piacenza e Ferrara, while Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles are all well represented in the main towns.


Stretching gently down the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea, this region is a geographically charming mix of hilly landscapes and long sandy expanses, headlands and archipelagos. With Florence as its capital, Tuscany is unrivaled as a cradle of art and monuments to Italy's many eras and civilizations: Etruscan, Roman, Gothic and Romanesque. From Fiesole to Chiusi, Volterra to Siena, Pisa to Elba, Tuscany's beauty and appeal is as varied as it is enchanting.


The "cuore verde" (green heart) of Italy comprises an undulating landscape dominated by woods, valleys and water - most notably the lake known as Trasimeno, and Falls of the Marmore, which are the highest in Italy. Etruscan traces are abundant in Todi, Bettona, Orvieto and Perugia, while Spoleto and Spello feature impressive Roman remains: Spello is a city, where the Romans left some impressive remains. Beautiful examples of Romanesque style are embodied in the Cathedrals of Assisi, St. Silvestro and St. Michele in Bevanga. The Renaissance still lives through magnificent monuments in towns like Perugia and Gubbio, to name but two.


A rugged region, facing the Adriatic Sea, with narrow valleys, deep gorges and numerous rushing streams that meet a coastline of gently rolling hills and flat plains. The regional capital is Ancona, and remarkable Roman remains exist in Ascoli, Fano, Ancona, Fermo, Urbisaglia and near Macerata. The presence of local artists such as Raphael and Bramante made this area one of the hotbeds of Renaissance art. Beauty can also be found in natural form in the stunning views from cities such as Pesaro and Urbino.


The region embraces the highest and hugest massifs of Central Italy, with peaks which often are higher than 2000 meters, as well as a steep and rocky Adriatic coast. The capital L'Aquila has strong Roman and Renaissance influences, but the most creative period was during the Middle Ages, as seen in many wonderful cathedrals, abbeys and sculptures. Goldsmithing is also a renowned craft, dating back to the 16th century. Adding to the drama of this area, the National Park of Abruzzo is home to species like the Marsican Bear and the Gray Wolf.


Billowing between the Apennines and the Tyrrhenian Sea, this varied region combines coastal flatlands, and extinct volcanoes that form the lakes of Bolsena, Vico, Bracciano, Albano and Nemi. Rome is, of course, the capital of Italy, as well of the region, which itself is incredibly rich in outstanding relics of all the different periods, as has been the center of an intensive life from the Middle Ages to the 18th century- and contains the hub of the Papacy in Vatican City.

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