I recently had the opportunity to travel internationally and visit both Rome and Venice. Italy in general is a beautiful country, with picturesque beaches against a landscape of mountains, and cliffside towns bustling with activity. There are a great number of things to do if you ever visit, but the following are five I would specifically recommend.

1. The Roman Colosseum


Whether on a guided tour on not, this is a must-see area which has a complicated and very interesting history behind it. When entering the Colosseum, you can imagine the crowds of people who must have been there to witness the shows that took place thousands of years ago. Not only did gladiators fight, but also animals who were imported from all around the world. When I went, there was a little black cat who followed our group around during the tour, who the guided mentioned lived in the Colosseum and suggested may have been emperor Nero himself in reincarnated form. The jury's still out on that one.

2. Pompeii


Like the Colosseum, Pompeii is also an ancient historical site known for its tragic backstory, in which the entire city was covered in ash following the eruption of a volcano nearby. This was a city I explored during an all-day bus tour with a very informative guide. Entrance to the remains of Pompeii enables you to see the various infrastructure of the ancient city and how people lived 2,000 years ago. If you're at all into history, it's definitely something you will want to see.

3. Murano


Murano is an island in Venice known for its glass-making. It's full of shops features handmade glass with intricate designs and colors. If one is interested in seeing how the glass itself is made, there are exhibitions which feature the talented behind-the-scenes work of those who make the beautiful vases and glass animals which can be seen in the shops. And of course, the glassmakers make the entire process look much easier than it actually is.

4. The Food


Food in Italy differs from what is known as Italian food in America. For instance, there is no chicken BBQ pizza. But there are various food items which some parts of Italy are well known for, such as the pizza margherita. Pizza marghertia is essentiall pizza topped with mozerella cheese, tomato sauce, and basil. It is named after a queen and also contains the colors of the Italian flag. Incidentally, it was also delicious

5. The Vatican


Admittedly, when I went to see the Vatican, it was extremely crowded. But there was good reason for it. It's a beautiful church with an amazing history, and the paintings by Michelangelo on the ceiling and especially in the Sistine Chapel really are out of this world. If you can handle the crowd, it is definitely something you want to check off on your list.

In short, if you visit Italy, there is no shortage of things to do and places to see while you are there. The food is good, the people are friendly, and the history of the country, especially Rome, is fascinating. It is a place I'd recommend to those who want to vacation out of the country or go abroad for any reason.