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Village of Manarola, on the Cinque Terre coast of Italy

Compare the best Italy holidays

Whether you want a fast-paced city break packed with sights, to snooze on a beach for a week, go skiing, or hike in the mountains you'll be able to find a holiday to suit you in Italy. And the Italians' passion for everything from fine food to fashion is infectious.

Why go?

Enjoy la dolce vita on a holiday to Italy while taking in iconic sights, eating mouth-wateringly fresh food and sunbathing in the Mediterranean sun.

The country's capital, Rome, is the perfect destination for lovers of culture. Sights to include on a must-visit list include the Colloseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. And these attractions only scratch the surface of what's on offer. There's also a dizzying array of places to eat including traditional family-run trattorias and upmarket restaurants as well as cafés where you can prop up the bar with an espresso.

Venice is a unique city which has to be experienced to be believed. Hopping on to a vaporetto (a water bus) to reach your next destination or travelling in a gondola are exciting ways to get around, and couples on special-occasion breaks can request an on-board singer or food to enjoy while travelling along the canals. Other Venetian highlights include St Mark's Square, the Rialto Bridge and the Accademia Gallery.

Italy's two largest islands, Sardinia and Sicily, are excellent family holiday locations with beautiful beaches and jaw-dropping landscape. No visit to Sicily would be complete without a trip to the island's active volcano Mount Etna, and the town of Taormina, with a Greek amphitheatre and stunning views down to the bay below, is a popular place to stay. On Sardinia, the Costa Smeralda is home to some of the most luxurious hotels in Italy and is the place to head for an exclusive break mingling with the stars. However, if you have a more modest budget, the port towns of Cagliari and Alghero are great options and children will enjoy the boat trips on offer from Alghero's harbour.

Holidays next to Italy's largest lake, Lake Garda, offer activities for all of the family. Children will love a family trip out on a pedalo and visiting the theme park Gardaland, while parents will enjoy admiring the beautiful mountainous landscape and relaxing in spas. For the more active traveller, there are watersports galore as well as rock climbing opportunities. Other lakes to consider for trips away include Como and Maggiore.

Other Italian highlights include escaping the hustle and bustle of modern life in one of Tuscany's smaller towns such as Siena or San Gimignano, seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, admiring Michelangelo's David in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, food shopping in Bologna and skiing in the Italian Alps.

And, of course, you could visit the fabulous Amalfi Coast , staying in Sorrento and taking trips to Ischia or the home of pizza, Naples. Alternatively, enjoy posing in the fashionable city of Milan or visiting the fascinating historic city of Pompeii.

Depending where you fly from, flights to Italy from the UK take between 2-3 hours, with most flights arriving at Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) or Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumincino Airport (FCO) in Rome.

When to go?

Wondering what the best time is to take your Italian break? Whether you want to bask in the sun or enjoy cooler weather, find out when to visit...

The weather varies across the whole of Italy, but even in winter you may be lucky and catch a cool day with beautiful blue skies. Temperatures in winter can reach a pleasant 14/15C in Sardinia and Sicily, and 5/6C in Milan. In summer, temperatures soar averaging 29/30C in July and August.

What's on?

From high profile fashion events to local carnivals, Italy plays hosts to a number of events throughout the year. Find out what's on...

Milan Fashion Week; February; Milan: The latest styles are shown off in Milano Fashion Center and glamorous guests arrive in the city to ogle and pose. You need tickets to see a show, but if you enjoy people-watching, this is the perfect time to visit.

Venice Carnival: February; Venice: Masked and costumed revellers party in Venice during the 10 days leading up to Lent. There are masked balls, street performances, parades and activities for children.

Settimana della Cultura (Week of Culture); usually April; Rome: During the annual week of culture, most of the state-run museums are free to enter and have extended opening hours.

Siena Palio; July 2 and August 16; Siena: Thousands of spectators turn up to watch this horse race in Siena's public square - so book in advance for a chance to experience it. Bareback riders from the city's contrades (areas) compete in a 90-second race and the Siena is filled with revellers singing, drumming and celebrating.

What to do?

Italy is a country of contrasts, meaning that whatever type of holiday you're looking for - be it active, relaxing, romantic or family-friendly - you'll find it here...

Grown-up families: Buzzing Sorrento offers a great base for active families. Day trips are easily accessible from here, whether you want to hike up Mount Vesuvius, take a trip around the Amalfi Coast or experience eerie Pompeii.

Kids and teens: Staying in one of the towns on the south east side of Lake Garda such as Lazise or Bardolino will ensure the kids are kept well entertained.

Theme and water parks such as Gardaland, Movie Studios Park and Aqua Paradise Park are all in easy reach, giving the whole family plenty to do on your break away.

Free and cheap: The magic of Venice can be enjoyed on a budget. Swap pricey gondolas for a trip on a waterbus and soak up the atmosphere as you glide down the Grand Canal. Then take to dry land when you reach St Mark's Square.

Shopping: Dedicated followers of fashion should head to Milan to experience a wealth of high-end designer shops. Even if you can only afford to window shop, this vibrant city will impress even the most die-hard of shopaholics.

Romance: The rolling hills of picture-perfect Tuscany can't fail to inspire romance. Sip on Chianti and enjoy mouth- watering food in the medieval towns of San Gimignano or Siena while watching the world go by. A day trip to beautiful Florence is a must during your visit - its stunning renaissance architecture won't fail to impress your loved one.

Active types: Watersports enthusiasts can take in some mountain air in Malcesnie, a town on the east side of Lake Garda popular for wind surfing and sailing.

Of if you'd rather not take the plunge, why not take a cable car up Mount Baldo and enjoy a paragliding experience?

Relaxing: Take a boat trip to the island of Capri and relax onboard before ambling around the winding streets. Be sure to visit the colourful Giardini di Augusto founded by the Emperor Augustus and spend time taking in the breath-taking views as you look out across the island.