Where does one begin to start when discussing Italy. Well, if you intend to travel there, Rome and Venice are good places to start.
Maybe you've heard of it? It goes without saying that Rome has a rather prominent past. Lets see, in Rome you will find … [deep breath] … the Vatican, Coliseum, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Church of Saint Agnese, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and a guy name Allassandro. Just making sure you're paying attention. Indeed, Rome is filthy with historically significant attractions. It seems you can not turn around without bumping into something an Emperor built, captured or destroyed. For those willing to risk potential wrath, there are also the new Divinci Code tours, which take you to the locations found in the book.
In all serious, Rome is a city you should visit at least once in your life. No article could ever do it justice, so I'll just stop here.
I fondly refer to Venice as the floating city even though it is apparently sinking. If you've seen Venice is movies or televisions shows, the depictions are accurate. Piazza San Marco looks exactly the same, birds and all. The Grande Canal is, well, a grand canal with incredible homes lining it and boats putting up down this water way. Built on mudflats in a lagoon, the city does not really have much room to grow. It just seems paralyzed in time.
Once you've conquered the tourist attractions, it will be time to get serious about Venice. The best way to do this is stand in front of your hotel or hostel, determine which direction the tourist attractions lie and start walking in the opposite direction. While you may feel like you're driving the wrong way on a freeway for a few minutes, you'll always start getting into Venice.
An absolutely different side of Venice will appear and you'll love it. You'll find little cafés with locales happy to talk to you [and non-tourist prices]. In fact, the Venetians will tend to hold you in high regard since you're a tourist who is bypassing the tourist areas. This, of course, will logically lead to a whirl of introductions to this nephew, that son of a brother and so on. Next thing you know, you'll be complaining about Italian politicians and how things used to be better in the past.
While Rome and Venice are excellent travel destinations, you can not really go wrong in Italy. For the adventurous, set your itinerary with the old map on a wall and dart technique.