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The Amalfi Coast is situated on the Sorrento peninsula. Amalfi, with its wonderful views, is the main town of the Amalfi Coast. White houses cling onto the rocks opposite the Saint Andrew Cathedral and the main square. The town of Amalfi is filled with alleys, and steps, with 57 steps to get up to the famous Cathedral of St. Andrew and Cloister of Paradise, a treasure of medieval architecture. The narrow alleyways of the town wind through the hills and up the slopes between the sea and mountains. While visiting, don't miss the beaches as they are some of the most beautiful on the coast. With crystal clear water, it is perfect for swimming, scuba diving or boating. Also, worth the visit is Palazzo Morelli and its Civic Museum. Save time for shopping, especially for the lemon liquor which is locally produced and the famous handmade paper created in town as well.
More complex than its famous sauce and somehow even more appealing, this storied capital of Italy's Emilia-Romagna region has simmered in a rich history that has included Etruscan, Celtic, and Roman rule. Boasting one of the most well-preserved historical centers in the country, you can learn all about it—and anything else you can imagine—in the oldest university in the world: the University of Bologna.
The Isle of Capri has captured the imagination of visitors for centuries. A mountainous island, known for its sea caverns, the most famous of which is the Blue Grotto. The lower town of Capri zigzags with narrow winding streets and interminably long staircases taking you from one part of town to the next. Travelers usually enter the city at the bustling Piazzetta Umberto below the famous clock tower. Looking more like a little courtyard, it is packed with little cafe tables a great place for people-watching and breathing in the aroma of this spectacular panorama above the sea.
Shaped like a wishbone, Lake Como lies at the foot of the Alps, making it an idyllic vacation resort. Its lakeside towns and tiny villages are easily reached by many passenger boats that operate up and down the lake. Opulent villas hug its shoreline. The charming lakeside town of Como is a short train ride from Milan.
One of the world's most architecturally beautiful cities, it is not surprising that the elegant, fashionable and picturesque city of Florence is bursting with life. Nestled below the wooded foothills of the Apennines, along the banks of the Arno River, this capital of the Tuscany region is located on Italy's northwest coast. Founded in 59 B.C. as a settlement for retired Roman soldiers, Florence retains its old-fashioned spirit and will make you feel as if you were transported back in time. Countless museums and galleries are filled with masterpieces by Botticelli, Brunelleschi, da Vinci and Michelangelo while great shopping and delicious cuisine make Florence a popular vacation spot. Most of the sights you'll want to see are within walking distance of the Duomo cathedral in the city center. The heart of the city is the Piazza de Duomo and the Piazza della Signoria where statues commemorate major historical events of the city's life. Next door, the Uffizi is the oldest gallery in the world, with a collection of the greatest works of the Renaissance commissioned largely by the Medici family.
Part of the heart of high industry in Italy, it's a lucky business traveler that finds their work taking them to the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. Nicknamed “La Superba,” it lives up to that title with the impressive landmarks and deep-seated history that made it a European Capital of Culture, and for the old city that made the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Shopping, dining and partying are serious business in chic Milan, Italy's most sophisticated and prosperous city. This financial and commercial center of Italy attracts fashionistas, world-famous designers, business leaders, opera lovers and other fans of all ages. The city is also home to many artistic treasures including the restored "Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci as well as the majestic Duomo, the world's largest Gothic cathedral, presiding over the Piazza that bears its name. Milan is also home to the world's most beautiful shopping mall, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Naples is an unforgettable experience. Set around the beautiful Bay of Naples in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, Naples is the third-largest city in Italy and capital of the south. One of Europe's most populated cities, it is chaotic, overcrowded and noisy, yet this is part of its unique charm. Its enchanting narrow streets are filled with endless rows of churches, a medieval university, street markets and hundreds of cafes and bars. Pizza was invented in Naples in the 18th century so make sure you sample some and other delicious Neapolitan treats such as calzone.
Perugia is set high in the Umbria hills, where modern shops and jazz clubs are integrated into its narrow, winding streets. Its storied history dates back to pre-Roman Italy, and the city's shifting alliances over the centuries has made it a host to much of Italy's history. As the home of two major universities, Perugia is a major center of culture and a lively magnet for students from around the globe. The city was also the home to a number of influential Renaissance artists whose works live on in the Perugia National Gallery. Perugina chocolates have brought the sweet life to this town, giving rise to the annual Chocolate Festival held each October.
Located in an amazing spot along the southern tip of the Amalfi coastline, picture-perfect Positano is one of the most popular seaside resort destinations in Italy. Like many European resorts, it began as a fishing village that was visited by painters, writers and bohemians until a full-scale tourism industry was born. An hour's drive from Naples, Positano has been described as heaven between the sea and the sky.
For large-scale design, Palermo on the island's northwestern coast holds its own. Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and baroque architecture showcase the best of their eras around the Piazza Pretoria's winding streets, and modern art provides a pleasant pop of additional culture in the galleries and museums.
Between Portofino and Chiavari in Liguria, Northern Italy, is another town to be utterly charmed by…and a secret you won't want to share. Domingo Ghirardelli, founder of that famous chocolate company, and Ezra Pound were among the notable residents that kept the treasure of its villa-sprinkled coastline and mild days to themselves—a difficult feat when there's so much beauty to rave about.
Built on seven hills, Rome is an unforgettable encyclopedia of living history. Everywhere you look, you will be overwhelmed by the powerful reminder that ancient Rome was the center of the civilized world. A city of contrasts, the magic of Rome lies in its talent to blend the old with the new. While empires have risen and fallen, Rome remains as vibrant as ever. The Eternal City is filled with things to do and see and after your visit, you will be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. Rome is certainly a city where you will get your cultural fill but be sure to allow time for more self-indulgent concerns, eating, drinking wine, basking in the sunshine and enjoying open air concerts, ballet, opera performances, live rock and jazz.
Sorrento is an elegant and sophisticated seaside resort perched on cliffs above the Bay of Naples, with unbelievable views. Piazza Tasso, the main square built over a ravine with the ruins of an old watermill at the bottom, represents the heart of town, and is filled with friendly bars and restaurants.
Once a republic all its own, this hilly town is said to trace its roots back to the sons of Remus of Roman legend. Its center is one of the nation's most visited attractions, and for good reason: its cuisine, art, museums, and medieval architecture is a joy to behold. Sync your visit with the twice annual horse race, Palio, and you'll find this town as rich as the wine the region's known for.
Sicily's most famous resort town and its most picturesque, Taormina, boasts the most photographed image in Sicily, across the beautiful ancient Greek amphitheatre to the sea with Mount Etna in the background. The town hugs the edge of a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea. Taormina is also known for its charming, winding medieval streets and tiny passages hiding great restaurants, cafes and ice cream shops, hidden gardens and terraces with great views of the sea. It's a great place to shop with thousands of boutiques selling crafts, fashions and unique jewelry.
Tuscany is home to the scenery and the magical light that captivated artists for centuries. Savor the tranquility of the soft-edged countryside lined with slender cypress trees, rolling hills, Etruscan walls, medieval villages and small patches of farms. Join its people to share the Tuscan culture's cuisine, its olives, cheeses and wines sipped on verandas overlooking breathtaking scenery.
Built on 117 small islands at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea, Venice is unlike any other city in the world. No matter how many times you have seen photos of it, nothing will prepare you for the real thing. You must walk everywhere in Venice and where you can't walk, you go by water. Venice has 150 canals and more than 400 bridges, and its historic center is divided into six quarters. The main thoroughfare is the Grand Canal that intersects each of the six quarters as it twists along the length of Venice. One of the best ways to explore the architectural beauty of the city is by a romantic gondola ride along the Grand Canal allowing you a unique vantage point to admire palaces and buildings along the water. While you can easily spend weeks visiting Venice and the lagoon islands, the city is also a popular weekend destination.