When it comes to finding something unexpected while traveling, not many people imagine casinos, sports arenas, or eco-technology. In reality, casinos probably bring to mind an offer on oddschecker or similar websites that list the best virtual deals. Similarly, sports arenas bring to mind the Premier League or Wimbledon, while an eco-tech development could be just about anything—from a robotic forest to carbon-eating green algae.
Regardless of what comes to mind when you imagine these three activities, you’re probably not thinking about Italy. Due to its association with ancient history and the Renaissance, the vast majority of travelers head to Italy with culture and history in mind. They flock to locations throughout the north to learn more about Europe’s various cultural booms.
But let’s reimagine Italy for a moment. Taking you on a tour of three of its top northern destinations, we’re exploring the country with three unexpected stopovers.
Venice: Casino di Venezia
This location overlooks the Grand Canal and retains a refined aura centuries after its original construction in 1509. At the time, the location housed members of the Loredan dynasty—but it gained its fame when composer Richard Wagner stayed on its mezzanine. Today, the casino retains a room dedicated to Wagner.
Here’s the charm of the Casino di Venezia, as it bridges the Renaissance era with modern gaming. The official casino floor was added in the 1950s, and contributes a highly entertaining and unexpected dimension to Venice’s historical landmark and its architectural feats. Think you know Italy? Step into the past through this casino for a new and intriguing look at the past.
Florence: Calcio Storico
Heading southwest, you’ll find similar offerings in Florence to those in Venice. Most of these, unsurprisingly, revolve around history. But if there’s one historical activity that hasn’t lost its charm, it’s Calcio Storico, a game first recorded back in 1490.
The game was first played in the Middle Ages when it pitted Florence’s primary four neighborhoods against one another. To this very day, men join one of four Calcio Storico teams based on where they were born. And, once a year, they still gather in the Piazza Santa Croce in the city center to battle it out in this medieval version of football.
Milan: Bosco Verticale
Lastly, we have one of the world’s most unique architectural feats—once again, located in Italy. But this feat has nothing to do with the Renaissance. Instead, this building was inaugurated in 2014, and it didn’t introduce flying buttresses. Instead, Milan’s Bosco Verticale is a multi-story residential and office building complex that includes over 900 living trees in its exoskeleton.