The Italian economy may be in shambles but Italy still puts on a good show albeit an expensive one. Museums, architecture, archaeology ruins. Beach resorts, amusement parks, natural spas. Hill towns, art cities, alpine villages. Hiking trails, ski slopes, bicycle touring. Agriturism, villas, rifuggi. And while the Italians may be laughing less they still take time for food and wine. What's more, kids are king in Italy. Italians take their children everywhere and pamper them obscenely. So what's the catch? Apart from the price tag, the biggest challenge to planning a family trip to Italy is likely to prove choosing what to skip. For every boat trip, restaurant and borgo that travelers' rave there are hundreds of other fun things to see and do that are just as good if not better.
The history of modern Italy may be devoid of Emperors, gladiators and pungent Popes but it is rich in characters of a different kind. Berlusconi and Mussolini are but two. And while the Roman Empire may be long dead, Italians still make their weekly pilgrimage to the stadium, partake in demonstrations of every kind, and debate politics all the time. To understand the Italy of today doesn't require a full-blown inquiry just a short read of Beppe Grillo's blog. It's insightful and funny too. And it will leave you feeling less uppity when you pronounce bruschetta (brus 'ket:a) correctly. You can't get much simpler than grilled bread and Grillo.
Online maps are a great travel planning resource and a great way to get the kids involved in a family trip. Teach kids to use interactive online maps to locate your travel destinations, plan your itinerary and plot your route by foot, boat or train. And use online maps of Italy to pinpoint and name the 20 regions of Italy and discover the languages spoken in ancient Italy.
Books are a great way to introduce young children to a new adventure and get teens and tweens ready for a family trip. We've compiled a list of books about Italy and books by Italian authors for children of various ages and with varying interests. What better why to begin a journey that a trip through literature?
Italy has a rich tradition in music that goes beyond folk song and opera. Learn about Italian popular music as well as Italian singer-songwriters. Listen to Italian music online from Valle d'Aosta to Sicily. And when you've completed your musical inquiry and extend your exploration to sound. Hear the hum of a vespa, take in the sound of a local festival and picture the scene. Family travel to Italy is as much as sights as it is about sounds.
English language dailies, such as the Herald Tribune, Financial Times and USA Today, and weekly magazines, including The Economist, are sold at newsstands throughout Italy. While they keep readers up to date on world events and happenings at home they provide little insight to the Italian psyche and lack detail on local affairs. Corriere della Sera, Italy's best selling daily, provides extensive coverage of local, Italian and world news. The newspaper voices the opinions of Italy's industrial north yet is one of the country's most balanced news sources. The English version of the Italian-language newspaper includes the day's tops stories. The left-leaning La Repubblica is Italy's second national newspaper. The daily favored the country's intellectual elite doesn't have an English language version but boasts a top online format. Il Sole 24 Ore is Italy's leading daily financial newspaper. ANSA, Italy's leading newswire, makes national and international news stories available in five languages - Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic.
Online resources make learning lots of fun. Did you know that calcio is the Italian word for soccer? That the city of Rome was founded in 625 B.C.? Or that the Roman Colosseum was originally called the Flavian Amphitheater? Use online resources to learn words and phrases in Italian and find out what happened when. Find fun facts about Italy and get trivia about ancient and modern Rome. Test your knowledge before you depart and again when you return. Print the information you find fascinating and take it with you on your family trip. Explain your findings to your family members and use the things you learn to make your travel journal really cool.