Italy dips down out of Europe and into the Mediterranean like a
lady's leg firmly planted in a sleek stiletto, so it's hardly
surprising that Italians are known for their impeccable style and
fashionable dress sense. They're also known for once having an
empire that stretched across the globe, and for having the most
spectacular churches, frescos, sculptures and Renaissance paintings
in all of Europe.
The Italy of today is littered with the relics of more than
3,000 years of history, and an atmosphere that ranges from the
Armani-wearing, scooter-driving, espresso-drinking buzz of its
cities to the quiet, pastoral existence of its hillside olive farms
and seaside fishing villages. Italy is also home to more UNESCO
World Heritage Sites than any other country on earth, with an
incredible 47 sites of global historical significance dotted around
From the depths of the canals in Venice, which floats on a
series of islands in an Adriatic lagoon, and the bleached sands of
San Remo on the Riviera, to the rocky crags of the Alps, Dolomites
and Apennines, Italy has everything from beach holidays to luxury
mountain ski resorts.
Italy's cities reveal awe-inspiring architecture from the curved
arches of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence to the crumbling
magnificence of the Colosseum in Rome. Home of da Vinci,
Michelangelo, Carvaggio and Botticelli, its artworks are a visual
delight to all visitors.
Nestled into the outskirts of Rome is the independent Vatican
City, the seat of the Pope and home to the famous St Peter's
Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. The influence of the Holy Catholic
Church on the people of Italy is still evident today in a series of
holy festivals, carnivals, and parades involving young and old
alike in almost every city, town and village.