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10 Unforgettable Reasons Why You Should Travel To Italy

10 Unforgettable Reasons Why You Should Travel To Italy
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    Florence/Dennis Jarvis

    Italy isn’t just for travelers who crave the world’s best pizzas, pastas and wines. The food (and wine) in this uniquely boot-shaped country is one reason to add it to your bucket list, but the historic cities, snow-capped mountains, pristine coastlines and endless museums will assure you that one visit is not enough.

    These 10 cities, sites, tastes and experiences are more than enough to lure you into Italy, but we guarantee you’ll return with a list of reasons all your own.

    1. Falling in Love with Venice

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      Grand Canal/Maëlick

      You don’t have to be a honeymooner or even a lover of chick flicks to fall in love with Venice’s romantic vibe. The colorful, canal-filled city will make you want to snap photos until your memory card is full. In addition to the famed Grand Canal, with its rowing gondoliers, travelers can dine on fresh seafood, museum hop and stock up on souvenirs.

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      2. Hiking Along the Cinque Terre

      Vernazza, Cinque Terre
        Vernazza, Cinque Terre/ Daniel Stockman

        Also known as “five lands,” the Cinque Terre region has become a sought-after Italian destination in recent years, and for good reasons too. The colorful towns, appearing as if they’re dangling from cliffs, along the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cinque Terre offer scenery that rivals Europe’s most famous sites.

        3. Sunbathing on Deserted Islands

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          Tabaccara, Lampedusa/ Luca Siragusa

          Italy is probably not the first country that comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “deserted islands.” However, Sicily’s Pelagie Islands are an off-the-beaten path alternative for travelers seeking turquoise water, white-sand beaches and postcard-worthy fishing towns. Visit Lampione to experience a truly uninhabited paradise.

          4. The Crumbling Ruins of Rome

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            Arch of Septimius Severus/Robert Lowe

            ‘Crumbling’ isn’t a common term of endearment for a city, but it is when you’re referencing the ancient city of Rome. Travelers can enjoy all of the 21st-century conveniences of luxurious accommodations, award-winning restaurants and museums after exploring the ruins of buildings that were once walked by Julius Caesar and Romulus. History buffs haven’t lived until they’ve wandered among the 2,800-year-old columns, temples and buildings of Rome.

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            5. Snacking on Antipasti

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              Antipasti/Kent Wang

              It doesn’t matter where you’ve sampled antipasti around the globe, it’ll never be as good as those in Italy. Start nearly every meal with an array of cured cheeses, marinated vegetables, prosciutto and carefully-made spreads. The antipasti dishes vary throughout Italy’s regions and restaurants, which means you can start your own taste test around the country.

              6. Walking the Streets of Florence

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                Florence Sunset/Maëlick

                Even more than Rome and Venice, many visitors to Italy will tell you their favorite city is Florence. The city’s more compact size makes it ideal for exploring on foot. Wander from the Duomo to the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Uffizi, the Mercato Nuovo, Ponte Vecchio and discover the countless other pieces of the outdoor museum known as Florence.

                7. World Heritage Site Hopping

                Herculaneum from above
                  Herculaneum/Andy Hay

                  Italy is home to more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country in the world. Travelers can visit 47 cultural World Heritage Sites and four natural World Heritage Sites, ranging from the archaeological areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata to the Aeolian Islands and the Dolomites. Wherever you are around “the boot,” it’s guaranteed there’s a World Heritage Site nearby.

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                  8. Touring the Rolling Hills of Val d’Orcia

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                    Val d’Orcia/Kuranosuke Oishi

                    When many travelers envision their trip to Tuscany, they imagine sipping glasses of Chianti among green rolling hills. This vision is mostly correct, but Tuscany is a surprisingly large area of central Italy. It pays to focus on a specific area — like the medieval towns of Val d’Orcia perched atop the hills of Montalcino, Pienza and Monticchiello. Cruise along the Val d’Orcia backgrounds, bouncing between wineries and snapping photos of the heavenly views.

                    9. Adventuring in the Dolomites

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                      Dolomites/Navin Rajagopalan

                      Italy’s desolate islands and rolling hills aren’t the only natural wonders the country boasts. The Dolomites, a snowy mountain range in the Southern Alps, is a place where hikers, climbers, skiers and snowboarders can get their adrenaline thrills. You’re guaranteed to be wowed by the craggy peaks of the Dolomites — the range represented in the background of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa — whether you visit in spring, summer, fall or winter.

                      10. Slurping 300 Types of Noodles

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                        Fresh Pasta in Sorrento/Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble

                        Some travelers visit Italy for its food alone — and we don’t blame them. Italians serve up more than 300 types of fresh, homemade pasta. Making an attempt to taste all of the crave-worthy noodles and sauces means you’ll have to cancel your plane ticket home and stay a while.

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                        Featured photo credit: Dennis Jarvis via flickr.com

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                        Last Updated on August 15, 2018

                        7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                        7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                        Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

                        Video Summary

                        Why is it important to train up our core strength?

                        There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

                        This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

                        Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

                        In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

                        One Exercise, multiple benefits

                        There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

                        By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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                        When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

                        Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

                        In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

                        What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

                        What will happen when you start doing planks every day

                          1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

                          Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

                          • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
                          • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
                          • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
                          • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

                          2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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                            Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

                            Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

                            3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                              Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                              4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                                Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                                A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                                A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                                On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                                5. You’ll improve overall balance

                                  Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                                  6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                                    Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                                    7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                                      Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                                      How to hold a plank position

                                      1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                                      2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                                      3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                                      4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                                      5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                                      6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                                      7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                                      Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                                      Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                                        How to improve your plank time gradually

                                        1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                                        2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                                        3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                                        Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                                        Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                                        You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                                        • Prolapse
                                        • After prolapse surgery
                                        • Pelvic pain conditions
                                        • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                                        • Previous childbirth
                                        • Overweight

                                        Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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