Given that the Italian peninsula was only fully unified in 1871, it’s no surprise that its draws are richly varied. The country’s appreciation of the arts ranges from the opera theatre to the trattoria kitchen while Roman ruins sit alongside pretty medieval villages only to have their grandeur recalled by Renaissance flourishes.
Even its geography is undecided. The cloud-piercing Alps spill down to the glassy serenity of the Northern Lakes before an Apennine bump sees you into Tuscany and Umbria’s rural idyll of vineyards and picturesque farmlands. It’s all lined with an impressive coastline where Amalfi’s Crayola-coloured villages cling to dramatic cliffs and the beaches of Puglia and Tuscany vie for attention. They’re the perfect piers to discovering the equally eclectic beauty of the Italian islands. There’s paradisiacal Elba, the Aeolians’ wild volcanicity, Sardinian adventures among hidden ruins and, of course, Sicily. Here, lemon trees perfume everything from pretty bays and volcanic foothills to Byzantine cathedrals and whole valleys of forgotten Greek temples.
It’s all punctuated by some of the world’s most arresting cities, each with their own discrete charm. Florence gave the world the Renaissance, Venice stands – or floats – unique and Rome bears all the grandeur befitting a host of ancient, continent-conquering empires and the world’s most powerful – and largest – religious denomination. But if there’s one thing that the country’s 20 distinct regions share, it’s a heartfelt passion for la dolce vita – ‘the sweet life’. Whether it’s fine wines and world-influencing cuisine or the Sistine Chapel’s frescoes and Michelangelo’s living marble, Italy’s artistry knows no bounds.
To begin planning your next holiday to Italy, browse our suggested itineraries. From tailor-made fly-drives to city breaks, beach holidays and luxury rail journeys, they've all been tried, tested and enjoyed by our Italy specialists who visit the country regularly.