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Icons of Italy

2015-07-08 10:30
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Think of Italy and what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the food, the fashion or the fabulous works of art? Could it be the epitome of motor vehicles, the Ferrari or perhaps the beautiful city of Florence?

Whatever first springs to mind you cannot ignore that Italy is a country filled to the brim with must-sees and must-dos. At Trafalgar we’ve rounded up our top ten icons of Italy.


Pizza, pasta, pecorino, parmigianna, provolone, risotto, casatta, espresso, cappuccino, gelati and mozzarella. Their very names have the ability to make your mouth water while you search for the closest Italian restaurant to satisfy any cravings.

Italian food is very regional. There are special dishes that are unique to one town or a small collection of nearby towns, and there are twenty regions to choose from. Campania is best known for pizza, salty capers, fresh farmhouse cheese and dried pasta while the Liguria region is famous for basil Pesto sauce.

Fabulous Works of Art

Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps Italy’s finest painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographerbotanist, and writer. 

He was a man before his time having conceptualized the helicopter, the tank, plate tectonics and solar power but he will no doubt be remembered for two of his iconic paintings – the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. And perhaps for inspiring Dan Brown’s novel – The Da Vinci Code.


If it’s red, sports a throaty, growling engine and has a prancing horse on the hood then it can only be one thing. A Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari’s dream of building the ultimate race car became a reality when he left Alfa in 1929 to open Scuderia Ferrari in Modena. The factory was moved to its present home in Maranello during WW2.

The prancing horse is called a cavillino rampante and was the symbol Enzo Ferrari used on his racing cars and is the iconic symbol of Ferrari today.


There are four fashion capitals of the world – and Milan is one of them. To be considered a fashion capital a city needs a strong fashion industry, be home to many fashion professionals and have very unique street fashion. Milan fits the bill and is our answer to Italy’s fashionistas. Many of the trends you see on the runways and catwalks today were born in Milan.


Florence is in the heart of Tuscany and home to Italy’s Renaissance where art, philosophy, music, science, religion, literature and all the aspects of intellectual inquiry collided into a cultural movement that had an incredible effect on the whole of Europe. Florence is also home to fine food and wine and has the famed Chianti wine region on its doorstep.  

Fantastic buildings

Choose from a long list of iconic Italian architecture including the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, the Doges Palace in Venice and St Peter’s Basilica (not strictly speaking in Italy as The Vatican is a separate country).

The Leaning Tower of Pisa must be one of the most photographed buildings in the world. By building on marshy ground and not properly securing the foundations the Tower has taken on its traditional lean.

The Colosseum was known as the arena of death due to the thousands of animals and people who died there in the name of entertainment. But it remains an iconic structure almost as old as Rome herself.

Famous Festivals

Venice Carnevale is Italy's top carnival or mardi gras celebration. Carnevale season lasts several weeks, culminating on Shrove Tuesday. During carnival season, Venice is filled with costumed characters, entertainment, and food stalls. It is definitely one of the most famous and must-see Italian festivals.


Toss a coin in the fountain or to be precise throw the coin over your left should while standing with your back to the Trevi Fountain in Rome and you’re sure to return. Or so the legend says.

Rome’s legendary fountain is also associated with a ritual for lovers. This legend pertains to the miniature fountain of the left side, known as "the small fountain of lovers". According to the legend, couples that drink from the mini fountain will forever be faithful to their partner.

Whichever legend you prefer know that the Trevi Fountain contains a wide collection of international coins and it is considered really bad form to try scoop them out or attempt to swim in the fountain.


When in Rome do as the Romans do and when in Italy it is worthwhile knowing a little of the local language. It is such a lovely language filled with all the passion Italians are known for. So here goes:  Buon giorno is good morning, Buona sera is good evening while Buona note means to wish someone good night. Throw in a little Per favore (please) and Grazie(thank you) and you’ll be well on your way to making friends for life.


There’s much to be said of the shopping in Italy and this is our guide to what we think you should be spending your hard earned travel budget on. Bring back some hand blown glass from Venice, fabulous fashion from Milan, ceramics from Bologna, leather from Florence, religious objects from Rome and wine from anywhere in Italy.


Because of its long and great history, Italy is the birthplace of many important persons, some of whom influenced the course of history and some of whom are famous for being famous. Among them are many scientists, explorers and artists in particular.

Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus are arguably two of the world’s most famous explorers, while Florence Nightingale almost single handedly improved the survival rate of the war wounded by introducing strict hygiene rules.

Famous actors and singers include Sophia Loren, Luciano Pavarotti, designers Valentino and Versace as well as the Renaissance masters Leonardo da Vinci and Micheangelo.

Priced from R20 100 per person twin share enjoy a CostSaver by Trafalgar exploring the Italian Scene. This 10-day trip takes in Rome, Naples, Assisi, Venice, Verona, the Italian Lakes, Pisa and Florence. This tour includes breakfast daily, four 3-course dinners, unforgettable sightseeing such as Juliet’s Balcony and a cruise by private boat to St Mark’s Square.

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