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Italy - Milan, Pisa, Naples and Sorrento
When visiting Italy, it seems every destination has enough historical sites to keep you busy for a month. Oddly, Milan and Pisa don't fall into this category.

Italy is really two countries in one with the wealthy, historic north dominating. To get a taste of the south, Naples and Sorrento are your destinations. Southern Italy often gets a bad rap as a rough place riddled with crime. To some extent it is true, but seeing Italy without the gloss of the north is worth it.

Milan

Milan is a thoroughly modern city and I would hazard to guess a wealthy one. This is not really the place for a budget traveler, but then again budget travelers seem to survive anywhere.

Milan is a good city to stroll around in. One can see a lot of interesting little shops and neighborhoods, but there isn't the "monument to..." you find in most Italian cities. Don't worry, the Cathedral makes up for it all.

In a city with a very modern feel, an old structure dominates. If you have interest in churches, you must visit Milan. The "Duomo" is simply staggering in appearance. From the outside, it is all gothic spires and frescos. I don't know why, but the place is just radiates intensity and power. The inside of the structure is world unto itself. Marble is everywhere and you can't help but stand around with your mouth open.

I hate to say it, but Milan can be a bit boring once you've had your fill of the Cathedral. The nightlife can be vibrant, but there is a definite dress to be seen feel to the place.

Pisa

Who hasn't heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. When you visit, you will indeed find the tower is leaning. Unfortunately, you will not find much else. The tower is impressive as are the buildings immediately surrounding it. Nonetheless, the rest of Pisa is more interested in getting on with things. A nice place to visit, but don't plan on spending more than a day or two. There is nothing inherently wrong with Milan or Pisa if you know what to expect. If you're expecting destinations similar to Rome, you'll be disappointed.

Naples

If ever there was a city with a reputation, it is Naples. Dirty, nasty, crime infested and fanatical are all words thrown around when describing. In this case, the descriptions are true and it is GREAT! The place is a madhouse and colorful beyond description. Crime is a problem, but you will be fine if you use common sense.

Naples is all about "real." You will not get that odd touristy sensation you find in the cities to the north. Naples is about living now, now in the past. The people can be gruff, but are also a heck of lot more colorful than you will find elsewhere. If you get in trouble, just bring up the subject of football (soccer) and you'll suddenly have friends for life.

The best way to experience Naples is just to explore it. The action is on the street, not in museums. If you're hankering for picture opportunities, the glass dome over the Galleria Umberto I is a good spot. You can also climb above the city to take scenic pictures of the coast and madness of Naples.

If you are really pining for a tourist fix, Pompeii and the looming Mount Vesuvius are close by. Pompeii, of course, was buried in a Mount Vesuvius explosion, literally freezing everything in place. Ah, you already know the story.

Sorrento

If Naples overwhelms you, head around the bay to Sorrento. Sorrento is similar to Naples with one notable exception. It is all about the tourist and making them comfortable. Frankly, it is hard to see how Naples and Sorrento can co-exist, but they do. In Sorrento, you can stay at ancient resorts where service is the name of the game. The beaches aren't so hot, but you can rent jet skis and such to invoke your inner tourist.
About the Author
Rick Chapo is with Nomad Journals - makers of travel journals to preserve your travel experiences.
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