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Italy is renowned for its natural and architectural beauty; its highlights include the rocky cliffs and medieval villages of Tuscany, and the Gothic churches and canals of historical Venice. From the northern snow-capped peaks of the Dolomites to the sun-kissed shores of the Amalfi Coast, there’s something for everyone on a luxury Italy holiday.
The country is famous for its history, culture and art. Florence, Rome and Siena are particularly popular tourist attractions, but wherever you go, you are sure to find artistic beauty. Italy boasts 95,000 monumental churches, 30,000 historical residences and 20,000 historical towns and cities.
Of course, there’s one other thing that Italy is particularly known for – its food. No trip to this beautiful country is complete without sampling some classic Italian cooking, topped off with a glass of finest vino.
The island gems are probably Italy's best-kept secret and each one, distinctly, is its own individual world. Of the 700 official Italian Islands only 30 or so are inhabited. The most well known of these are beautiful Sardinia, with its perfect beaches, dramatic rolling hills and friendly people, exotic and famously glamorous Capri, and gloriously diverse Sicily, with its remarkable history, natural beauty and style.
Whether you choose to stay in a vibrant city of culture and art, or a tranquil little coastal village, you are bound to be treated to sublime cuisine and sensational scenery.
If you’re after wellness and therapy, you’ve certainly come to the right place. Italy has the largest number of thermal spa centres in the world, inspired by a tradition of body and soul treatments that dates back to the baths of ancient Rome. The wonderful region of Tuscany in particular is home to a number of world-famous thermal spas, such as Saturnia, Montecatini and San Gimignano.
If you prefer your holidays a little bit more active, then Italy has plenty to offer. With its long coastline and large rivers in the north, it is no surprise that watersports are hugely popular in Italy. Sailing, diving, rowing, canoeing, waterskiing and windsurfing are all on hand in the country’s many coastal and lake resorts.
In the winter, Italy’s Alps become some of the most popular ski resorts in Europe, for both locals and winter sports enthusiasts from abroad. Whatever the season, Italy is an excellent choice for a spa or sports holiday.
Italian cuisine is famous all over the world and offers visitors an incredible variety of flavours and regional recipes. You simply cannot leave Italy without enjoying a classic pasta or pizza dish with some legendary Italian cheese or cured meats.
Italy is synonymous with art and culture, and has been the birthplace of some of Europe’s most prominent artists and artistic movements. Several of the best examples of Western architecture can be found here, including the Colosseum in Rome, the Milan Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Art exhibitions, events and festivals run throughout the year, from visual art at the Venice Biennale to theatre and opera at La Scala in Milan.
Another thing the Italians are passionate about is football. The country’s two biggest cities, Rome and Milan, are home to two of the most iconic stadiums in the world: the Stadio Olimpico and the San Siro, shared by four of the biggest football clubs in Europe. Going to the Rome or Milan derby is an experience you won’t forget.
If you’re heading to Venice for a romantic Valentine’s break, you might be lucky enough to catch the Venice Carnival in February. The annual ‘Carnevale di Venezia’ takes place during the ten days leading up to the beginning of Lent and features masquerade balls.
Pompeii is definitely one of Italy’s best attractions. The ancient Roman city, near modern-day Naples, was mostly destroyed by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius, but buildings, bodies, art and artefacts that were frozen under the ash have since been rediscovered and excavated. The site provides a fascinating insight into life under the Roman Empire.
Along the Amalfi Coast in the south, you’ll find delightful hillside towns, gorgeous beaches and azure waters. The area is a popular holiday destination among Italians, but underused by visitors to the country.
Meanwhile, if you’re up north, the Lakes are the place to be if you want to escape from the big cities and explore Italy’s natural beauty. Lake Como has been a popular retreat for aristocrats since Roman times and remains a playground for the rich and famous. A number of A-list celebrities have had homes on the shores of Lake Como, including Madonna and George Clooney.
Italy boasts 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the most of any country in the world – and six of them can be found on the island of Sicily. The late Baroque towns of the Val di Noto and the Villa Romana del Casale, a 4th century Roman Villa containing the largest collection of Roman mosaics in the world, are just two of them.
Information Time Difference: GMT +1 hour Flight duration: 2 hours 50 minutes direct to Naples, 2 hours 20 minutes to Olbia (Sardinia) Currency: Euro Capital: Rome (Italy) Cagliari (Sardinia) Palermo (Sicily) Language: Italian Visa requirements: No visa required
Flights British Airways flies from London Gatwick and London Heathrow to various Italian destinations. Other airlines and UK departure points are also available. Supplements: British Airways Club Europe upgrades start from £120 to Naples per person each way.
Ideal For Couples, historical and cultural interest, local dishes, beautiful and dramatic scenery, family-friendly resorts.
Climate The Italian Islands enjoy a very warm and sunny climate, with temperatures at their height between April and September and dipping no lower that 15°C in the winter months.