• Lucca

Italy

Bell'Italia! Italy has Europe's richest, craziest culture. After all, this nation is the cradle of European civilization — established by the Roman Empire and carried on by the Roman Catholic Church. As you explore Italy, you'll stand face-to-face with some of the world's most iconic images from this 2,000-year history: the Colosseum of Ancient Rome, the medieval Leaning Tower of Pisa, Michelangelo's David and Botticelli's Venus, the playful Baroque exuberance of the Trevi Fountain…and the elegant decay that surrounds the canals of Venice. Beyond these famous sights, though, Italy offers Europe's richest culture. Traditions still live within a country that is vibrant and fully modern. Go with an eye open to both the Italy of the past and of the present.

Places

At a Glance

▲▲▲ Venice Romantic island city, powerful in medieval times; famous for St. Mark's Basilica, the Grand Canal, and singing gondoliers.

▲▲▲ Cinque Terre Five idyllic Riviera hamlets along a rugged coastline (and part of a national park), connected by scenic hiking trails and dotted with beaches.

▲▲▲ Florence The cradle of the Renaissance, with the world-class Uffizi Gallery, Brunelleschi's dome-topped Duomo, Michelangelo's David, and Italy's best gelato.

▲▲▲ Siena Florence's smaller and (some say) more appealing rival, with its grand Il Campo square and striking striped cathedral.

▲▲▲ Rome Italy's capital, the Eternal City, studded with Roman remnants (Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon), romantic floodlit-fountain squares, and the Vatican — home to one of Italy's top museums and the Sistine Chapel.

▲▲ Milan Powerhouse city of commerce and fashion, with the prestigious La Scala opera house, Leonardo's The Last Supper, and three airports.

▲▲ Heart of Tuscany Picturesque, wine-soaked villages of Italy's heartland, including mellow Montepulciano, Renaissance Pienza, and Brunello-fueled Montalcino.

▲▲ Assisi St. Francis' hometown, perched on a hillside, with a divinely Giotto-decorated basilica.

▲▲ Orvieto and Civita More hill-town adventures, featuring Orvieto's classic views and ornate cathedral plus the adorable pocket-sized village of Civita di Bagnoregio.

▲▲ Naples Gritty, in-love-with-life port city featuring vibrant street life and a top archaeological museum.

▲ Near Venice Several interesting towns: Padua (with Giotto's gloriously frescoed Scrovegni Chapel), Verona (Roman amphitheater plus Romeo and Juliet sights), and Ravenna (top Byzantine mosaics).

▲ The Dolomites Italy's rugged rooftop with a Germanic flair, featuring Bolzano (home of Ötzi the Iceman), Castelrotto (charming village), and Alpe di Siusi (alpine meadows laced with lifts and hiking trails).

▲ The Lakes Two relaxing lakes, each with low-key resort towns and a mountainous backdrop: Lake Como, with quaint Varenna and upscale Bellagio; and Lake Maggiore, with straightforward Stresa, manicured islands, and elegant villas.

▲ Pisa and Lucca Two classic towns: Pisa, with its famous Leaning Tower and surrounding Field of Miracles, and Lucca, with a charming walled old center.

▲ Volterra and San Gimignano Two hill towns in north Tuscany: vibrant, refreshing Volterra and multi-towered, touristy San Gimignano.

▲ Pompeii and Nearby Famous ruins of the ancient towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, stopped in their tracks by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

▲ Sorrento and Capri The seaside resort port of Sorrento, and a short cruise away, the jet-set island getaway of Capri, with its Blue Grotto.

▲ Amalfi Coast and Paestum String of seafront villages — including hilly Positano and workaday Amalfi — tied together by a scenic mountainous coastal road, plus nearby Paestum, with its well-preserved ancient Greek temples.

Riviera Towns near the Cinque Terre More Italian Riviera fun, including the beach towns of Levanto, Sestri Levante, the larger Santa Margherita Ligure, and trendier Portofino nearby, and to the south, resorty Portovenere and workaday La Spezia (transportation hub).

Plan

Photos

  • A couple sits outside St. Peters in Vatican City
  • Rooftops of Volterra in Tuscany, Italy
  • On the train in the Cinque Terre
  • Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna
  • Manarola with moon light at night
  • The Cinque Terre
  • Florence, the Arno, and the Ponte Vecchio
  • rome-trastevere-piazza-santa-maria
  • venice-gondola-ride
  • sicily-syracuse-cathedral
  • sicily-cefalu
  • sicily-puppets
  • sicily-syracuse-market
  • sicily-ragusa
  • sicily-mt-etna
  • sicily-marsala-windmill
  • sicily-erice-fortresses
  • sicily-agrigento-temple-of-concordia
  • rome-trastevere-neighborhood
  • italy-gelato-break
  • italy-cinque-terre
  • Vernazza
  • Montone restaurant
  • Traffico limitato road sign
  • Orvieto Cathedral
  • Amalfi Church
  • Siena Campo
  • Cupola exterior, Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy
  • Harbor view, La Spezia, Liguria, Italy
  • Church view from Sassi, Matera, Basilicata, Italy
  • Gondolas on Small Canal, Venice, Italy
  • People Outside Tourist Information Office, Tuscany, Italy
  • Two Guys Communicating, Milan, Italy
  • Former Ice Man Display, Bolzano, Italy
  • Hiking Family, Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites, Italy
  • Chalkboard Restaurant Menu, Venice, Italy
  • Hotel Reception Staff, Venice, Italy
  • Street at Night, Oltrarno, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
  • Pilgrims at Scala Santa, Rome, Italy
  • Woman Eating Italian Breakfast
  • Couple atop Torre Guinigi, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
  • St. Peter's Exterior at Night, Rome, Italy
  • Duomo Exterior, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
  • Harbor Beach, Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy
  • Old Town Beach, Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy
  • Train Ticket Machines, Italy
  • City Bus, Florence, Italy
  • Doges Palace and Square, Venice, Italy
  • Gondola in Venice, Italy
  • Agriturismo, Pienza, Tuscany, Italy
  • Domaine Quo Vadis Church, Appian Way, Rome, Italy
  • Appian Way, Rome, Italy
  • Gondolas in Narrow Canal, Venice, Italy
  • Tourist Info Booth for Cruisers, Livorno, Italy
  • Crowd in Courtyard of Vatican Museum, Rome, Italy
  • Cooking Student, Tuscany, Italy
  • Cast of Disaster Victim, Pompeii, Italy
  • Naples Harbor and Mt. Vesuvius, Italy
  • Pharmacy Sign, Italy
  • Limoncello Bottles, Amalfi Coast, Italy
  • Street in Civita di Bagnoregio, Lazio, Italy
  • Outdoor Cafe in Evening, Rome, Italy
  • Colosseum Tunnels, Rome, Italy
  • Pre-Disaster Harbor, Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy
  • Gravestones in Monumental Cemetery, Milan, Italy
  • Entry Arch, Volterra, Tuscany, Italy
  • View of San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy
  • Beggar and Tourist in Venice, Italy
  • Wine Bar with Bras on Ceiling, Volterra, Tuscany, Italy
  • TV Crew with Leonardo's Last Supper, Milan, Italy
  • Pantheon Exterior, Rome, Italy
  • Evening at Campo de' Fiori, Rome, Italy
  • Cruise Ship at Venice, Italy
  • Mosaic of Theodora, San Vitale Church, Ravenna, Italy
  • Ceiling Mosaic, San Vitale Church, Ravenna, Italy
  • Meal with Wine, Milan, Italy
  • Bus Riders Vulnerable to Pickpockets, Rome, Italy
  • Colosseum Exterior Night, Rome, Italy
  • Presepi Nativity Kings, Naples, Italy
  • Leonardo's Horse Sculpture, Milan, Italy
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Interior, Milan, Italy
  • Piazza del Duomo, Milan, Italy
  • Handwritten Menu, Rome, Italy
  • Jewelry Display, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
  • Dome of Duomo, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
  • Colorful Houses, Burano, Venice, Italy
  • Acqua Alta, St. Mark's Square, Venice, Italy
  • Fig Leaf on Statue, Italy
  • David Copy, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy
  • Roman Arena, Verona, Italy
  • Tourists at House of Juliet, Verona, Italy
  • Volterra, Tuscany, Italy
  • Duomo Spires, Milan, Italy
  • Spiral Staircase, Vatican Museum, Rome, Italy
  • Ponte della Costituzione, Venice, Italy
  • Taxi Drivers, Amalfi Coast, Italy
  • Grand Canal View, Venice, Italy
  • View from Tower, Pisa, Italy
  • Duomo Pulpit, Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa, Italy
  • Public Drinking Water, Assisi, Italy
  • Dining in Montepulciano, Italy
  • St. Peter's Dome Interior, Vatican, Rome, Italy
  • Vernazza Harbor, Cinque Terre, Italy
  • Woman Restaurant Chef, Italy
  • Victor Emmanuel Monument, Rome, Italy
  • Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy
  • Roman Theater, Ostia Antica, Italy
  • Palio Horses, Siena, Tuscany, Italy
  • La Befana Dolls, Italy
  • Theater of Taormina, Sicily, Italy
  • St. Francis Basilica Interior, Assisi, Italy
  • Wine Seller
  • Padua, Italy
  • Cicchetti, Venice, Italy
  • Capuchin Crypt Bones, Rome, Italy
  • Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy
  • Basilica of St. Anthony, Padua, Italy

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