Few places rank as high on travelers' bucket lists as Italy. Whatever your taste in travel, you'll satisfy it in this country that is at once exotic and familiar. History, art, food, music, architecture, culture, sacred sites, charming villages, and stunning scenery are all around, and in an atmosphere that only the most confirmed curmudgeon could fail to enjoy.
Places to visit
Both for its history as the capital of much of ancient Europe and for its present-day role as one of Europe's most vibrant cities, for most tourists traveling to Italy, Rome heads the list of places to visit. Relics of its ancient glories–the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon, the Appian Way, and the Palatine Hill–vie with the vast riches of the Vatican as the top attractions.
The showcase of the Italian Renaissance, Florence can at times seem like one giant art museum. The Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, is a landmark of world architecture, topped by its gravity-defying massive dome. Together with its marble-inlaid bell tower by Giotto and the octagonal Baptistery with its incomparable bronze doors by Ghiberti, this is one of the world's finest ensembles of Renaissance art.
Who could fail to love a city whose streets are made of water, whose buses are boats, and where the songs of gondoliers linger in the air? It is a magic city, and its major attraction to tourists is the city itself.
The hub of the city is the broad Piazza San Marco, St. Mark's Square, surrounded by several of its top tourist attractions. The great Basilica of St. Mark stands beside the Doge's Palace, and overlooking both is the tall Campanile.
Although Milan is a major entry point for tourists because of its airport, it's often overlooked as a destination of its own. Milan has one of the highest concentrations of artistic and architectural attractions in all of Italy, and for those interested in design and fashion (not to mention shopping), it's a must.
Milan has been the home and workplace for luminaries in all these fields: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Verdi, Enrico Caruso, Toscanini, and designer Giorgio Armani.