Italy

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From early prehistoric settlements to medieval fortresses, Italy's archeology is an apparently inexhaustible source of wonder, with treasures spanning several millennia and dozens of cultures. Etruscan, Roman, and Greek towns, cities, and necropolises yield the richest treasure troves, but little known civilizations like the Nuragic people in Sardinia are no less intriguing. Needless to say, Pompeii and Hercolaneum are in a realm of their own, with life frozen (well, burnt, really!) in real time by the sudden eruption of nearby Vesuvius.

Italy Archeology

Agrigento

The Valley of the Temples found here – a cluster of five Doric structures built around 5th century BC, and a UNESCO World Heritage site – is one of the greatest collections of Greek architecture in the world. Hire a qualified guide to explain the history and architecture to be even more impressed by its splendor. 

Just south of Agrigento, www.valleyofthetemples.com
Tags: architecture | history | archeology | arts and culture | editor pick

Fiesole

The pleasant bus ride to this ancient hilltop enclave offers charming views of Florence and the Arno Valley. Fiesole's most notable landmark is the 3,000-seat, 1st-century-BC Roman theater, home to the Estate Fiesolana performing festival. Fiesole has a semi-rural village feel to it, and is a favorite spot with Florentines seeking respite from the city heat on a sultry summer night.

5 miles north of Florence, Tuscany, 011-39-055-596-1293, www.fiesolemusei.it
Tags: outdoors | day trip | archeology

Mosaics of Ravenna

The eight mosaic monuments in this quasi-port city on the Adriatic still glitter after 16 centuries. The Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna (their official title) are a UNESCO World Heritage site – a unique collection of mosaics and monuments from the 5th and 6th centuries that draw lovers of antiquity, art, and religion. Note: Not all eight monuments are within walking distance of each other.

Eight locations in and around Ravenna, 011-39-0544-35755 (tourist office), www.turismo.ra.it/contenuti/index.php?t=arte&lang=2
Tags: architecture | world heritage site | history | archeology | arts and culture | editor pick

Ostia Antica

If you don’t have time to visit Pompeii, why not visit the next best thing? The glorious ruins at Ostia Antica, just outside of Rome, are easily accessible by a local commuter train that will bring you to Portus, the ancient port of Rome, as well as a necropolis with 100 tombs excavated (and more to be uncovered).

15 miles south of Rome, www.ostiaantica.net
Tags: family | great value | day trip | archeology | editor pick

Pompeii and Herculaneum

Preserved for centuries under volcanic ash, Pompeii is still being excavated by archeologists. What’s already been unearthed, however, is impressive enough: an entire Roman-era city complete with villas, basilicas, “fast-food” joints, and a brothel! Herculaneum, also buried under the lava of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., is a smaller site, but better preserved than Pompeii.

Porta Marina, Campania, 011-39-081-857-5347, www.pompeiisites.org
Tags: architecture | culture | things to do | history | art | archeology | editor pick

Taormina’s Greek Theater

This Greek amphitheater is the second largest in Italy but has the most spectacular setting, surrounded by the natural wonders of sea, sky, and Mt. Etna. As in ancient times, it is the site of concerts and special events during the summer season, but will take your breath away any time of year.

Sicily, 011-39-0942-610-225, for concerts 039-0942-24291
Tags: architecture | culture | history | archeology

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