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Italy

Everything about Italy is beautiful, from the rich art collections in the Vatican Museums to the presentation of the Neapolitan pizza on your plate.  Scenic beauty in the Italian Lakes, eminently recognisable architecture from centuries past, high fashion designs of Armani and Versace, emotionally charged opera, the fluid lines of a Ferrari sports car - all beautiful - the Roman Empire rose up from this fertile soil to powerfully impact and significantly influence the development of civilisation around the world, now, this is a tourist destination with wow factor!

Re-tracing steps through time, Pompeii, once a thriving Roman town was devastated by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.  Ash and pumice buried, and at the same time, preserved this ancient city, which is now an extensive archaeological site for visitors to observe.  The Colosseum is probably one of the most iconic landmarks from this time and a major attraction in Rome.  The Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain are two other well known spots in the capital where tourists congregate.  Vatican City is a city-state surrounded by Rome, centre of the Catholic Church and home to St Peter’s Basilica and Michelangelo’s exceptional fresco painted ceiling in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican Palace. 

A whole host of historic buildings and exquisite Italian architecture awaits, spanning Renaissance, Palladianism, Gothic and Baroque.  Well known examples include: the atypical Leaning Tower of Pisa, the stunning Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence and Tuscan village, San Gimignano, famous for its 14 towers.  Venice, steadily sinking, still charms its visitors with romantic gondolas and invites guests to sit in one of the many cafes around Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) and do as Italians do.  Piazza del Campo in the centre of Siena is regarded as one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares and a biannual horse race is held around the edge.  The colourful houses that cling to the rugged cliffs along the Italian Riviera are a vision of loveliness, Manarola is one of the picturesque villages that make up the beautiful Cinque Terre. 

Overlooking the Bay of Naples, Sorrento remains a popular, unashamed resort town.  Along the Mediterranean coastline, the panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast makes for a more dramatic holiday setting and the dreamy ambiance of Tuscan vineyards adds a touch of class and a glass of Chianti to ensure a pleasant stay.  Sardinia and Sicily, two autonomous regions of Italy, continue to lure tourists for their own particular qualities. 

Italy, gorgeous, flamboyant, synonymous with style and glamour and with more World Heritage sites than any other country, it is little wonder that Bel Paese, the "beautiful country", features as number five in the world’s most visited nations.  Bellissimo!

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