Dark-hued buildings lean over the street and over 700 year-old porticoes. They line the cobble stone roads that twist and turn as they pass by churches and fan out towards the city gates. But Bologna's special appeal extends beyond aesthetics. Blessed with modern-day prosperity and the world's oldest university (1088), Bologna has developed a reputation for being open minded and progressive in character. It has a tightly-knit historic center which is pleasing medieval patchwork of bricks, arcades, towers, churches, palaces. All this is capped off by a fascinating museum. What's more, Bologna, in many the mind of many, sits at the very pinnacle of Italian culinary life.
Milan is the industrial and financial center of the country. It is also one of the main fashion centers in the world. However, what has probably made this city famous is its design industry. The city was the capital of the western half of the Roman Empire. It is a fast-paced modern metropolis with its renowned museum, the world famous opera house "La Scala" and Leonardo Da Vinci's celebrated masterpiece "The Last Supper."
Padua is home to one of Italy's most famous universities founded in 1222. The city has been nicknamed "la Dotta" because of its prestigious university. Galileo, Dante and Copernicus all studied at this famous center of learning. Consistent with its being a university town, Padua has a reputation of being laid-back and without the hustle and bustle of larger Italian cities. With its famous Cathedral of Saint Anthony, it is also a center of pilgrimage for many of the Catholic faith.
Rome is a beautiful, beguiling, chaotic, fascinating and romantic city that has always inspired wonder and awe in its visitors. Its innumerable monuments are evidence of the city's transformation throughout the Imperial, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods. In fact, from the time of the Roman Empire to the present day--a period of more than 2500 years--Rome has become a veritable archeological archive of Western culture.
Venice is a city beyond description and compare. This car-free urban world is a wonderland hundreds of islands laced together by 400 bridges and 2000 streets and passageways. You are made to feel as if you are have been plopped down in the middle of the city's deep and rich centuries old history. Of particular interest is Venice's fascinating legacy from the Renaissance period It should be noted that Venice is also a quick train or car ride from Padua, another of Northern Italy's historic city centers and home to one of the country's most famous universities and basilicas.