Home to many of the world's greatest works of art, architecture and gastronomy, Italy elates, inspires and moves like no other.
Epicentre of the Roman Empire and birthplace of the Renaissance, this European virtuoso groans under the weight of its cultural cachet: it's here that you'll stand in the presence of Michelangelo's David and Sistine Chapel frescoes, Botticelli's Birth of Venus and Primavera and da Vinci's The Last Supper. In fact, Italy has more Unesco World Heritage cultural sites than any other country on Earth. Should you walk in the footsteps of ancient Romans in Pompeii, revel in Ravenna's glittering Byzantine treasures or get breathless over Giotto's revolutionary frescoes in Padua? It's a cultural conundrum as thrilling as it is overwhelming.
In few places do art and life intermingle so effortlessly. This may be the land of Dante, Titian and Verdi, but it's also the home of Prada, Massimo Bottura and Renzo Piano. Beauty, style and flair furnish every aspect of daily life, from those immaculately knotted ties and seamless espressos to the flirtatious smiles of striking strangers. The root of Italian psychology is a dedication to living life well, and effortless as it may seem, driving that dedication is a reverence for the finer things. So slow down, style up and indulge in a little vita all'italiana (life, Italian style).
It might look like a boot, but food-obsessed Italy feels more like a decadently stuffed Christmas stocking. From delicate tagliatelle al ragù (pasta ribbons in a meat-based sauce) to velvety cannoli (crisp pastry shells filled with sweet ricotta), every bite can feel like a revelation. The secret: superlative ingredients and finely tuned know-how. And while Italy's culinary soul might prefer simplicity, it's equally ingenious and sophisticated. Expect some of the world's top fine-dining destinations, from San Pellegrino 'World's Best 50' hot spots to Michelin-starred musts. So whether you're on a degustation odyssey in Modena, truffle hunting in Piedmont or swilling powerhouse reds in the Valpolicella wine region, prepare to loosen that belt.
Italy's fortes extend beyond its galleries, wardrobes and dining rooms. The country is one of nature's masterpieces, with extraordinary natural diversity matched by few. From the north's icy Alps and glacial lakes to the south's fiery craters and turquoise grottoes, this is a place for doing as well as seeing. One day you're tearing down Courmayeur's powdery slopes, the next you could be galloping across the marshes of the Maremma, or diving in coral-studded Campanian waters. Not bad for a country not much bigger than Arizona.
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GalleryGalleria degli Uffizi
Home to the world's greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art, Florence's premier gallery occupies the vast U-shaped Palazzo degli Uffizi (1560–80),…
Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century and enlarged by successive pontiffs, the Vatican Museums boast one of the world's greatest art…
Archaeological SiteRoman Forum
An impressive – if rather confusing – sprawl of ruins, the Roman Forum was ancient Rome's showpiece center, a grandiose district of temples, basilicas and…
BasilicaSt Peter's Basilica
In the city of outstanding churches, none can hold a candle to St Peter's, Italy’s largest, richest and most spectacular basilica. Built atop a 4th…
BasilicaBasilica di Santa Maria Novella
The striking green-and-white marble facade of 13th- to 15th-century Basilica di Santa Maria Novella fronts an entire monastical complex, comprising…
Sandwiched between the Roman Forum and the Circo Massimo, the Palatino (Palatine Hill) is one of Rome's most spectacular sights. It's a beautiful,…
CathedralBasilica di San Marco
With a profusion of domes and more than 8000 sq metres of luminous mosaics, Venice's cathedral is unforgettable. It was founded in the 9th century to…
Consecrated on the former site of a Roman temple in 1179 and constructed over the 13th and 14th centuries, Siena's majestic duomo (cathedral) showcases…
MuseumMuseo Archeologico Nazionale
Naples' National Archaeological Museum serves up one of the world’s finest collections of Graeco-Roman artefacts. Originally a cavalry barracks and later…
Everyone wants to see the Colosseum, and it doesn’t disappoint, especially if accompanied by tales of armored gladiators and hungry lions. More than any…
MuseumMuseo e Galleria Borghese
If you only have time for one art gallery in Rome, make it this one. Housing what's often referred to as the ‘queen of all private art collections’, it…
Entered via the Palazzo Pubblico's Cortile del Podestà (Courtyard of the Chief Magistrate), this wonderful museum showcases rooms richly frescoed by…
Archaeological SiteVilla Romana del Casale
Villa Romana del Casale is sumptuous, even by decadent Roman standards, and is thought to have been the country retreat of Marcus Aurelius Maximianus,…
Dating from 1471, the Capitoline Museums are the world's oldest public museums. Their collection of classical sculpture is one of Italy's finest, boasting…
Holding pride of place on the waterfront, this pretty Gothic confection may be an unlikely setting for the political and administrative seat of a great…
Archaeological SiteArea Archeologica di Ostia Antica
One of Lazio's prize sights, the ruins of ancient Rome's seaport are wonderfully complete, like a smaller version of Pompeii. Highlights include the Terme…
This fortress palace, with its crenellations and 94m-high tower, was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio between 1298 and 1314 for the signoria (city government…
A striking 2000-year-old temple, now a church, the Pantheon is the best preserved of Rome’s ancient monuments and one of the most influential buildings in…
MuseumMuseo di San Marco
At the heart of Florence's university area sits Chiesa di San Marco and an adjoining 15th-century Dominican monastery where both gifted painter Fra'…
Archaeological SiteValley of the Temples
Sicily's most enthralling archaeological site encompasses the ruined ancient city of Akragas, highlighted by the stunningly well-preserved Tempio della…
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Italy.
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