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History—there, we said it. No other country in the world touts more UNESCO World Heritage sites than Italy. But while museums and the Colosseum may draw you in, it’s the infectiously dynamic Italian spirit that makes you fall in love. (Okay, the food too.) Priests, beggars, chain-smoking fashionistas and zooming Vespas swarm the gleaming black cobblestone streets of ever-epic Rome. The Renaissance lives eternal in the famed museums of Florence, while daring drivers and aperitivo-sipping, gelato-loving residents keep it current. Hauntingly beautiful (and sinking) Venice manages to capture your heart despite the elbowing throngs of tourists. The legendary Tuscan countryside, the spunk of Naples, the lore of Sicily—all of it will make you want to don some designer sunglasses and join in the fun. Read more from the Italy Travel Guide
FlorenceThere’s one overwhelming reason travelers flock to this tiny Italian city (pop. 365,000) amid Tuscany’s rolling green hills: Florence has more than one million works of Renaissance art—among them Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. A hub of Italian fashion since the 1950s, Florence is the birthplace of global brands like Gucci, Pucci, and Roberto Cavalli, and the city’s most influential fashion clan—the Ferragamo—has turned its renowned sense of style to four hip hotels across town, breathing new life into the previously staid lodgings scene. Add to that succulent Florentine steaks, some of the world’s greatest wines, the traditional artisan workshops of the Oltrarno, and Brunelleschi’s famous masterpiece dome, and it’s not so hard to see how Firenze remains as popular as top European cities five times its size. Read more from the editors at Travel+Leisure. (Read more)
RomeSeveral years past its third millennium mark, the warmest of European capitals is more captivating than ever. Rome’s dramatic physique, from her majestic antiquities to her sinuous baroque curves, has been thrown into even higher relief by a modern trend that has made its presence felt in a major way: in hotels, restaurants, and shops that have adopted a more current, international aesthetic. Traditionalists needn’t worry, however—Rome is still very much enamored of her past, and you can find old-school establishments all over town if you know where to look. While the Colosseum and the Vatican still loom large in the skyline and identity of Rome, you’ll discover the true soul of the city away from the big sights—in neighborhood coffee bars and trattorias, and from riders of Vespas exchanging boisterous greetings while passing on cobblestone backstreets. For a city this stylish and accomplished, Rome’s remarkable accessibility, even for first-time or short-term visitors, is her most generous asset. Read more from the editors at Travel+Leisure.(Read more)
VeniceWhether you’ve been to Venice two or 20 times, there’s always something new to discover. Indeed, even the most seasoned visitors get lost in the city’s labyrinthine network of islands, bridges, pedestrian alleys, and canals. And therein lies the beauty of the destination: afternoons spent wandering from palace to piazza, exploring the small art museums, shopping the stalls that line the streets, and encountering a fresh side of Venice, a fascinating amalgamation of influences—Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Italian—every time you round a corner. Read more from the editors at Travel+Leisure. (Read more)
Other Italy DestinationsFrom pasta to the Pope, world-class fashion to world's best gelato, museum marvels to marvelous beaches, Italy boasts many delightful gems that veer a bit off the beaten travel path. Allow us to introduce the rest of Italy. Get a bit fancy in Northern Italy with a visit to Milan—the fashion capital of the world—then get a fix of an entirely different type of beauty with a trip to neighboring Lake Maggiore. Head further south to take in the sprawling vineyards and olive groves that stretch beneath the Tuscan sun, then head to Pisa to make sure the famous tower still leans. Get a taste of the wonderful chaos of bustling Naples, then slow it way down on the sun-kissed shores of the stunning Amalfi Coast. From ancient art to water-soaked adventure, Italy offers endless experiences that will surely enrich and excite travelers both young and old. Just as a fabulous family vacation should. (Read more)