Italy Destination Guide
Ahhh, 'bella Italia'! A country subdivided into 20 regions and their respective capital cities, there's more than a lot to 'amore' about Italy.
Much of the country's appeal is derived from its history. With ancient architecture and a history of pioneering art, fashion and food, the icing on the cake is its beautiful coastlines and the unbeatable Mediterranean climate.
Italy is home to many internationally renowned tourist attractions and you'll need a very long list to tick them all off. Start by visiting classic sites including the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Rome's Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, and Cinque Terre, a collection of pretty villages located along the Italian Riviera.
See Renaissance wonders and romantic towns
It's hard to pick Italy's highlight but Florence is definitely near the top of most people's lists. A UNESCO-protected city, Florence is also ranked as one of the most beautiful cities in the world courtesy of its fabulous architecture and stunning art collections.
The Tuscan town is largely renowned for being the birthplace of the Renaissance movement - an artistic rebirth which produced Michelangelo and Leonardo De Vinci's finest work. Make sure to visit Michelangelo's most famous statue, 'David', housed in the Florence Academy of Fine Arts.
Just a short trip north of Florence you'll find the romantic river city of Venice. Situated on 118 islands linked by a series of bridges and canals, Venice is known the world over as 'The Floating City'.
Take a gondola ride through its canals to experience the city's breathtaking architecture, or visit Venice's most impressive church, St Mark's Basilica.
Steeped in history is Italy's capital Rome. The Colosseum is a monument to 'The Eternal City's' ancient history, while Old Masters such as Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Bernini are exhibited at Capitoline Museums.
Meanwhile, the Pope holds regular audiences in St Peter's Square and Michelangelo's masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel remains one of the great artworks of all time - that's not an exaggeration!
Seek out sun in Sicily or the Almalfi Coast
South of Rome, the landscape gets even more impressive as the weather becomes more perfect. Looking as if it's about to tumble into the ocean at any moment, check out the Almalfi Coast's stunning cliff-face architecture. You can forget your climbing boots because many hotels operate lifts right the way down the steep cliffs to private beaches.
Further south the famous island of Sicily is surrounded by deep blue oceans which contrast markedly with the whitewashed buildings dotted along the island's cliff-tops.
Some of the most beautiful vistas in Italy abound in the Sicilian towns of Palmero, Messina and Catania, which maintain a distinct way of life separate from the hustle and bustle of the mainland.
Italy tours traditionally traverse the country's unique geography and you haven't seen all of Italy until you make a trip to the Alps, situated along the country's border with France and Switzerland. A ski pass at Cervinia even allows you to ski across the border for a hot chocolate in Zermatt, Switzerland!
As the birthplace of the Armani, Fendi, Gucci, Prada, and Dolce and Gabbana labels, Italy is synonymous with high fashion. Much of the best shopping can be found in oh-so-classy Milan but also in small towns will you find designer and sometimes outlet stores.
Of course, an Italy travel guide isn't complete without mentioning the mouthwatering Italian food. If you have a vice for pizza or pasta, then where better to dine than its motherland? Some notable foodie destinations in Italy include Naples for pizza, the Abruzzo region for pasta and Florence for gelato.