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Italy - Leisure and Entertainment
Leisure activities for nature enthusiasts
For nature enthusiasts, the pleasant weather and scenic outdoors in Italy make the country a great place for walking, trekking and biking. There are 24 national parks across the country, and visitors have a choice between leisurely walks or arduous treks through the unspoilt countryside. Those who want to explore the countryside and learn more about life in Italy can visit the small towns and villages. Biking is a popular activity and it’s also a great way to explore your surroundings. Skiing and snowboarding are also popular activities in the northern mountainous regions. There are plenty of ski resorts in the region, and it is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
Oceanfront Activities and Water Sports
Italy’s coastline and beautiful beaches provide plenty of entertainment options as well, whether you simply choose to soak in the sun or embark on a cruise to sail across the Mediterranean. Scuba diving and snorkelling are also very popular with tourists, expats and locals. For those who prefer more intellectual and artistic pursuits, there’s plenty to see and do in cities like Rome and Florence, from concerts, theatres, and opera to cinemas, museums, and medieval cathedrals.
Cultural and Historical Avenues
Italy is literally dotted with sites of historical and cultural importance, and in fact, it is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World heritage sites. Historical monuments and works of art can be found in even the smallest of towns and villages, while the bigger cities boast some of the world’s best known monuments and works of art. There are more cultural attractions in Italy than anyone could list, let alone visit. For those who plan to live in Italy, there will always be something to visit for the first time. From the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Tuscany’s Piazza del Campo to the Colosseum in Rome and the canals of Venice, Italy is paradise for the discerning expat and backpacker alike.
Italy has approximately 10 public holidays – this includes days of national importance like the 25th of April, which commemorates the liberation and the end of World War II in Italy, as well as days of religious significance like Easter and All Saints’ Day. In addition to these days of religious or national importance, the 1st of May is a public holiday to mark International Workers’ Day. There are other regional holidays as well, celebrated in specific towns or provinces. Almost all Italian towns and villages celebrate the feast of their patron saint, and in some cases, the festivities may continue for a few days. Before making any type of travel plan, it is advisable to find out about the holidays that are specific to the region through which you’re travelling.
Cafes, bars, and night life
Cafes are an integral part of Italian culture, and they are referred to as bars in Italy. Although the restaurant business and coffee shops have been hit by the recession, Italy’s coffee culture is still very strong, and most cafes still do good business. Italians don’t linger at cafes, and most of them drink their coffee fast, generally standing at the bar. Most of them simply pop in to bars on their way to work to get their dose of caffeine, and you are unlikely to find them sitting down reading the paper or chatting while drinking their coffee. For a truly Italian experience, grab your cup of coffee and down it at the bar along with the masses. Those who do not want to get their coffee to go can sit down and slowly savour their coffee, but be warned that table service will cost almost twice as much.
Italians are extremely social, and this is an important aspect of traditional culture. Town squares, called piazze, have been the centre of activity in almost all towns and cities for centuries. Bars and cafes are open to business late in the evening, and although kitchens may close earlier, many bars remain open till the wee hours. There are plenty of pubs as well, and many bars and pubs also have live music. Italy does have its fair share of discos as well, and these are generally large establishments with different levels featuring different genres of music. When planning an evening out, one should remember that discothèques can be quite hard on the pocket. Nightclubs are a great alternative, as they are a lot cheaper, but the music is not as varied, and they typically attract an older crowd. The major cities also have their fair share of gay and lesbian bars and clubs.
Smokers should be warned that there has been a ban on smoking in public places since 2005. You cannot light up in public places like bars, restaurants, nightclubs and offices, but enforcement has been rather lax. The rules are a lot more stringently implemented in the Northern provinces, but enforcement is poor in Southern Italy.
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