Masterpieces

Sistine Chapel Michelangelo’s ceiling fresco aside, Rome's famous chapel also features work by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Perugino.

Galleria degli Uffizi Cimabue, Botticelli, da Vinci, Raphael, Titian: Florence's alpha art museum delivers a who's who of artistic deities.

Museo e Galleria Borghese A digestible serve of Renaissance and baroque masterpieces in an elegant villa in Rome.

Cappella degli Scrovegni See just how Giotto revolutionised art in Padua's Cappella degli Scrovegni and Assisi's Basilica di San Francesco.

Basilica di San Vitale Witness early Christian mosaics at Ravenna's Basilica di San Vitale and Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo.

Cenacolo di Sant'Apollonia Home to Andrea del Castagno's 15th-century Last Supper, pioneering for its effective application of Renaissance perspective.

Pompeii The Dionysiac frieze in the Villa dei Misteri is one of the world's largest ancient frescoes.

Palazzo Grassi French billionaire François Pinault's contemporary collection is showcased against Tadao Ando interior sets in Venice.

Museion Bolzano's contemporary-art space highlights the ongoing dialogue between Alto Adige, Austria and Germany.

Pinturicchio Perugia and Spello showcase the work of Umbria's home-grown Renaissance talent, Pinturicchio.

Fabulous Food

Bologna Bologna straddles Italian food lines between the butter-led north and the tomato-based cuisine of the south.

Truffles Sniff around Piedmont, Tuscany and Umbria for the world's most coveted fungi.

Osteria Francescana Rave about Massimo Bottura's ingenious flavour combinations at one of the world's hottest restaurants.

Seafood So fresh you can eat it raw in Venice, home to the seafood-heaving Rialto Market.

Sicily Buxom eggplants (aubergines), juicy raisins and velvety marzipan – cross-cultural Sicily puts the fusion in Italian cuisine.

Pizza Eat Italy's most famous export at its birthplace in Naples.

Parmigiano Reggiano Parma’s cheese is the most famous; just leave room for Lombardy's Taleggio, Campania's buffalo mozzarella and Puglia's creamy burrata.

Tuscan T-Bone Carnivores drool over Florence's iconic bistecca alla fiorentina, hailing from Tuscany's prized Val di Chiana.

Eataly Feast and shop at Turin's showcase of quality Italian gastronomy, flagship of the Eataly empire.

Medieval Hill Towns

Umbria & Le Marche Medieval hill towns galore: start with Spello and Spoleto, and end with Todi and Urbino.

Montalcino A pocket-sized Tuscan jewel lined with wine bars pouring the area's celebrated Brunello vini.

Erice Splendid coastal views from the hilltop Norman castle make this western Sicily's most photogenic village.

San Gimignano A medieval Tuscan Manhattan, studded with skyscraping towers from centuries past.

Ravello Lording it over the Amalfi Coast, Campania's cultured jewel has wowed the best of them, including Wagner.

Maratea A 13th-century borgo (medieval town) with pint-sized piazzas, winding alleys and startling views across the Gulf of Policastro.

Puglia From the Valle d’Itria to the sierras of the Salento, Puglia is dotted with whitewashed hilltop villages.

Pitigliano One of Tuscany's most dramatic hilltop treasures, with Escher-like streets and Jewish flavours.

Wine Tasting

From Etna’s elegant whites to Barolo’s complex reds, Italian wines are as varied as the country’s terrain. Sample them in cellars, over long, lazy lunches or dedicate yourself to a full-blown tour.

Tuscan Wine Routes Discover why Chianti isn’t just a cheap table wine left over from the 1970s.

Museo del Vino a Barolo Explore the history of vino through art and film at Barolo’s wine museum.

Friuli Venezia Giulia Oenophiles revere the Colli Orientali and Il Carso areas for their Friuliano and blended ‘superwhites’.

Valpolicella and Soave Wine tastings in these two Veneto regions include blockbuster drops both white and red.

South Tyrol Weinstrasse Here native grapes Lagrein, Vernatsch and Gewürztraminer thrive alongside imports pinot blanc, sauvignon, merlot and cabernet.

Villas & Palaces

Reggia di Caserta As seen in Star Wars and Mission Impossible; the Italian baroque's spectacular epilogue.

Rome Grapple with real-estate envy at Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Palazzo Farnese and Palazzo Barberini.

Palazzo Ducale The doge’s Venetian palace comes with a golden staircase and interrogation rooms.

Villa di Maser Andrea Palladio and Paolo Veronese conspired to create the Veneto’s finest country mansion.

Reggia di Venaria Reale Piedmont's sprawling Savoy palace inspired French rival Versailles.

Palazzi dei Rolli A collection of 42 Unesco-protected lodging palaces in Genoa.

Villa Romana del Casale See where the home decor obsession began with this Roman villa’s 3500-sq-metre mosaic floor in Sicily.

Il Vittoriale degli Italiani Gabriele d’Annunzio’s Lombard estate would put a Roman emperor to shame.

Palazzo Ducale A crenellated, 500-room palace lavished with frescoes in medieval Mantua.

Markets

Rialto Market Shop for lagoon specialities at Venice’s centuries-old produce market.

Mercato di Ballarò Spices, watermelons and giant swordfish under striped awnings down cobbled alleys: Palermo’s market recalls an African bazaar.

La Pescheria A loud, wet, action-packed citadel of fresh fish, seafood and more in central Catania.

Mercato di Porta Nolana Elbow your way past bellowing fishing folk, fragrant bakeries and bootleg CD stalls for a slice of Neapolitan street theatre.

Fiera Antiquaria di Arezzo Arezzo's monthly antiques fair is the region's most famous.

Porta Palazzo Turin's outdoor food market is the continent's largest.

Islands & Beaches

Counting all its offshore islands and squiggly indentations, Italy’s coastline stretches 7600km from the sheer cliffs of the Cinque Terre, down through Rimini’s brash resorts to the bijou islands in the Bay of Naples and Puglia’s sandy shores.

Sardinia Take your pick of Italy's most spectacular beaches, including the Aga Khan’s personal favourite, Spiaggia del Principe.

Puglia Superb sandy sweeps, including the Baia dei Turchi near Otranto and the cliff-backed beaches of the Gargano.

Aeolian Islands Sicily’s seven volcanic islands sport hillsides of silver-grey pumice, black lava beaches and lush green vineyards.

Borromean Islands Graced with villas, gardens and wandering peacocks, Lago Maggiore's trio of islands are impossibly refined.

Procida A sleepy Campanian island made famous in a string of celebrated films.

Rimini Trade high culture for thumping beats and party crowds on the Adriatic coast.

Elba An island of the Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano, Europe’s largest marine park.

Gardens

Italy’s penchant for the ‘outdoor room’ has been going strong since Roman emperors landscaped their holiday villas. Renaissance princes refined the practice, but it was 19th-century aristocrats who really went to town.

Villa Carlotta An extraordinary oasis on the Italian lakes, whose other botanical wonders include Villa Balbianello.

Villa d'Este Tivoli’s superlative High Renaissance garden, dotted with fantastical fountains and cypress-lined avenues.

Ravello Applaud classical-music concerts in Villa Rufolo's romantic, sky-high gardens.

Reggia di Venaria Reale Amble in elegant gardens at Turin's World Heritage–listed former royal pad.

La Mortella A tropical and Mediterranean paradise inspired by the gardens of Granada’s Alhambra.

Giardini Pubblici Venice’s first green space and the home of the celebrated Biennale with its avant-garde pavilions.

Unspoilt Wilderness

Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso Spectacular hiking trails, Alpine ibex and a refreshing lack of ski resorts await at Valle d'Aosta's mountainous wonderland.

Parco del Conero Hit this protected pocket of Le Marche for fragrant forest, gleaming white cliffs and pristine bays.

Selvaggio Blu Sardinia's toughest hiking trek doesn't shortchange on rugged beauty – from cliffs and caves to hypnotic coastal scenery.

Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini Head for the border between Umbria and Le Marche for woodland and subalpine meadows dotted with peregrine falcons, wolves and wildcats.

Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro Dip in and out of picturesque coves along the wild coastline of Sicily's oldest nature reserve.