Throughout the modern age of tourism, tour operators have built most tours around Rome, Florence and Venice, and there are good reasons for that. Those three cities have thousands of years of rich culture and history packed into tight clusters. The Big Three were independent city states of major importance for many centuries before Italy was established as a nation in 1861. Each has its own independent history and culture. As three separate nations historically, they still have separate, individual characters.
According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 B.C. Roman historian Marcus Terentius Varro set the date as the first century BC, but archaeological findings date the human settlement as far back as 14,000 years. Rome was the foundation of what became Europe. Its importance and cultural richness cannot be overstated.
Venice was founded in 697 as a republic, and was the world’s first international financial center. It has always held a unique place among all of the cities in the world because its main arteries of transportation are on water, not land. And that’s only the beginning of what there is to experience there.
Florence was founded in 1115, also as an independent republic; archaeological traces of human habitation there date back 2,000 years. The Florentine dialect was the basis of the modern Italian language – and Florence was the home of the Renaissance, from which modern Europe sprung.
There is no end to what can be seen and experienced in the Big Three. I could go back to any of them over and over and I would never get tired of them. You could never begin to exhaust the possibilities. And the pleasure of just being there in any of them is always fresh and renewed.
Tours of the Big Three offered by various tour operators are all different, because each tour operator selects different things to experience in each place, and there is no end to the possibilities. Each tour is also unique in how it structures the routes and the stops along the way between those cities, choosing from unlimited possibilities of what to see and do there.
But there are also good reasons for traveling beyond those centers. One is to go beyond the most heavily touristed areas where the crowds are. But the main reason is just to get out there and experience more of the tremendous richness that Italy has to offer throughout the peninsula. There is a world beyond the Big Three, much more than can even be touched on in one article. But here are a few…
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