A country with a rich history, a vibrant culture and delicious food – Italy offers endless possibilities for travelers. Here are some of the popular places to visit and activities to do during your time on the IVHQ Italy - Naples and IVHQ Italy - Rome volunteer programs.
In and Around Napoli
The ancient Roman city of Pompeii is a must see. A 30 minute drive or 1 hour 45 minute bus ride from Naples. This city was buried under 4 to 6 meters of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, killing the city’s inhabitants. It had a complex water system, an amphitheatre, gymnasium and a port. The site was lost for about 1,500 years until it was rediscovered in 1599. The city and inhabitants were preserved under the ash, allowing an insight into the life of the city at that time. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, so set aside a day to visit this amazing site.
Deep below the enchanting streets of the Historic center of Naples is a network of underground tunnels. Dug by the Ancient Greeks over 2,500 years ago, the excavated material was used to build the city above, and the deep reservoirs among these tunnels provided fresh water to the villas and palaces above. Every historic epic, from the foundation of Neopolis, to the bombs of WWII, has left its mark on the walls of the yellow tufa stone. Once you’re in Naples, talk to our local team about participating in a tour of these fascinating tunnels.
This volcanic mountain shadows Naples and is known for its catastrophic eruption in AD 79. It is currently a dormant volcano that occasionally emits streams of lava. Our active volunteers, who love the outdoors, will thoroughly enjoy a hike up the mountain to view the impressive crater and stunning panoramic views of Naples and Pompeii. Our local team will be happy to provide more information on getting there or arranging an organized tour, once you’re in Naples.
If you are a “foodie” then there is perhaps no greater country to visit that Italy! Volunteers can take extended weekends to experience the best cuisine that Italy has to offer, from Tuscany winery tours and Umbria olive oil mills, to Sicilian fishing excursions and walking food tours in Rome. Italy is a haven for volunteers who love great cuisine! There are cooking classes in every region which combine a passion for food with interesting sightseeing excursions and you’ll learn the best local secrets. Volunteers may even consider staying in an “agriturismo” which is a farm that produces wine or food, and has rooms for visitors to stay.
In the region of Piedmont, the beautiful rolling landscape of Barolo features some of the country’s most important vineyards and storybook castles. It is home to the exquisite Alba White Truffle, and even Nutella! Barolo is considered to be the birthplace of the “Slow Food movement”, so it may be worth studying up your “Dolce Far Niente” prior to visiting.
Finally, would a trip to Italy be complete without pizza? Naples, Rome and many other cities are filled with pizzerie al taglio (sliced pizza) stalls, where you can order slices to go and choose the width. Apart from the standard Margherita (tomato sauce and mozzarella), you could try a potato or zucchini pizza, or a slice with fresh cherry tomatoes. Deep-fried Pizza in Naples is a must for all volunteers!
Icons of Italy
Italy is home to timeless icons of history, art and architecture, such as the Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, Tower of Pisa, canals of Venice, and the Trevi Fountain, just to name but a few masterpieces. Volunteers can extend their weekends to ensure they see as many of these great icons as possible during their time in Italy. Not everyone is a history buff, but it’s pretty hard not to marvel at the grandeur of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum (featuring multiple temples, dating as far back as 500 BC), and the Pantheon. Perhaps Italy’s most iconic structure is the Colosseum - the largest and most famous amphitheatre in the Roman world and this is a must-see! Other fantastic sites include; the (leaning) Tower of Pisa, the lucky Trevi Fountain, Piazza del Campo, Galleria Borghese, the Contarelli Chapel, and of course, Venice, an amazing “City of Water”. Home of the Catholic faith, Vatican City is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world. We highly recommended volunteers take a guided tour of the Vatican Museums and other parts of city including the Sistine Chapel, Pinacoteca, St. Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Walking Tours Nature
Volunteers who love the outdoors should strap on some comfortable shoes to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and head out for the best of the Italian countryside. A top location to visit is the Almalfi Coast with its mountainous backdrops and spectacular coastal surroundings, where volunteers can spend time completing the “The Walk of the Gods”. The Gardens of Villa Gregoriana are another great trip and include gardens that have been restored to their original design of the 17th and 18th Century. A spectacular natural wonder is the Blue Grotto of Capri which is located in a sea cave on the coast of Capri Island, the cavern is illuminated by beautiful light which creates wonderful shades of blue in the water. The ancient Romans were aware of the grotto’s existence and sculptures of Neptune and tritons have been recovered from the cave. Finally, a trip to Italy is not complete without a visit to Cinque Terre National Park. Consisting of five villages along the coast of the Italian Riviera, the Cinque Terre National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting delicious seafood, mountainside terraces and hiking trails offering interesting scenery among the traditional fishing village settlements.
If you would like more details on any of these locations or activities, our local team in Italy can assist you once you are registered onto the IVHQ Italy program.