Through the wine glass

Feel the cobble stones, taste the vintage wine, and let yourself enjoy the best of ancient Italy.

©bluejayphoto/Getty Images


Kate Veteri

Destination: Italy

Picture yourself walking the cobbled streets of an ancient city, or sitting at a café drinking a glass of wine. Watch the sun set over the old and historic buildings surrounding you. Italy allows your senses to run wild as you wind back the seasons to warmer weather during these cold months, and travel back to a time when Italy’s ancient architecture was still in creation. Whether you like the hustle-and-bustle of a busy city or not, Italy has historical buildings in varying climates to suit all.

Rome is a bustling tourist destination all year round and is home to some of the world’s most famous ancient architecture. Adopting classic Greek architecture, the Romans made buildings their own with the use of new materials and technologies – creating a new architectural style. The adaptation of materials such as concrete, and technologies such as the arch and dome, allowed for the buildings to remain strong, and they remain standing to this day. The world’s largest amphitheatre, the Colosseum, was built in this new architectural style. This awe-inspiring landmark is 2,000 years old and was designed to include 80 entrances and exits for the 50,000–80,000 spectators it can hold. Walk around the freestanding structure and step back in time as you imagine gladiators and animals fighting in front of thousands of screaming fans. For more buildings laced in history, St. Peter’s Basilica is a must-see when in Rome. A breathtaking feat of human artistry and engineering, this example of Renaissance architecture was, according to Catholic tradition, built upon the burial site of St. Peter the Apostle. Featuring the work of artists such as Michelangelo, this building has a clear focus on magnificent artistry.

Matera is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world
©bluejayphoto/Getty Images
Explore ancient towns
Dominique Rizzo Food Tours

Keeping in line with the historical time warp, enjoy a glass of wine in a 16th century building to wind down. With an assortment of wines worth savouring and local Italian food, the candlelit Roman wine bar Mimì e Cocò sets the stage for a perfect evening after a busy day.

After spending time in Rome make your way north to central Italy and start your self-guided La Tuscia tour, for the chance to escape the crowded tourism spots. Starting at the southern border of Tuscany and ending in the Umbrian city of Orvieto, this tour covers 63km across six days. The area is known for its historic towns, with Tuscany often referred to as ‘the land of the Etruscans’. The ancient Etruscan civilization made many technological advancements inventing certain types of metalwork, civil engineering ideas that paved the way into building Roman roads, and winemaking.

Wander through ancient woods via several Etruscan towns dating back to between 700 and 300BC. One such town, Sovana, offers an enlightening historical experience from the seventh century with cathedrals and elaborately carved tombs and statues. The Sovana Cathedral, built in the ninth century, was documented in a charter by Pope Nicholas II in 1061. The architectural history of this Roman Catholic cathedral saw the inclusion of the new architectural style created by the Romans – Romanesque architecture. Today this architectural style is referred to as Norman architecture. Sovana also offers visitors the chance to walk down sunken dirt roads to the ancient Etruscan tombs. Dating back to the 6th century BC, the Siren Tomb is finely detailed with an image of the Etruscan Sea Goddess. Showing an eroded mermaid with two tails guarded by two figures, the tomb beautifully demonstrates the creativity of architecture in the era Before Christ (BC). The walk from the second oldest continually inhabited town in Italy, Sovana, to Sorano takes you past more Etruscan tombs before leading you through red poppy-filled pastures, olive groves and a collections of vineyards.

Finish the self-guided tour in Orvieto – an Italian wine region, best known for its white wines. This is the perfect location to let your taste buds explore the wines from Italy’s ‘city where wine flows’. Historically, the wine produced in Orvieto was known for its sweet taste and golden-yellow colour. Since the Middle Ages, the wine has developed into a dry but semi-sweet tasting wine. The ancient Etruscan civilization introduced winemaking to the regions, carving cellar-like caves from volcanic soil.

For an alternative direction and something different, make your way to the southern Italian city of Matera. Let your senses run riot and immerse yourself in the experience of life well before our time. Matera is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world – dating as far back as the 10th millennium BC. The area’s thriving history has global recognition. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared Matera’s historical centre, ‘Sassi’ (meaning stone), and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches a world heritage site in 1993. Drawing the intrigue of visitors, Sassi is the perfect location for those looking for a glimpse of stone-paved Italy. Filling the ancient stone caves with restaurants, bars and hotels, Sassi offers visitors the option to indulge in modern luxuries while taking in the breathtaking caves that sit between narrow walking lanes.

Whether you prefer the bustle of Rome or the quiet of Matera and the ancient Etruscan towns, Italy has ancient architecture and wine to suit the tastes of all those who visit.

Little taste of Italy

Spice up your visit to Italy with a fully guided boutique food tour of Sicily with a small group lead by chef Dominique Rizzo.

WHEN: 5–28 May 2019
WHERE: Sicily, and the Aeolian and Egadi Islands
WHO: Lovers of food, culture and wine
HOW: Visit

Related Articles

Encouraging healthy thinking

While there is particular attention of mental health during October, it’s important to manage the responsibility of workplace mental health throughout the year.

No one likes a negative Nancy

Moods of workers are highly contagious so managing the spread of unhelpful negativity will go a long way in improving the quality of your workplace.

A healthy future

What private health insurance reforms do you need to be aware of in 2019?

Beyond the illusion

Looking outwards, Rick Foster uses exercise, leisure activities and volunteering to help him in his recovery from depression and anxiety.

Join more than 120,000 like-minded subscribers