Italy is a country of variety. With so much on offer, from weekend breaks in the major cities, skiing and mountain walking in the Alps or the Dolomites to peaceful countryside retreats in Tuscany or Umbria, Italy has something to satisfy even the fussiest tourist. Italians are renowned for being masters of seduction and if the beautiful architecture, art, culture and history don't seduce you, the golden beaches, food, wine and Gelato certainly will!
The Romans thought the city of Rome would survive forever no matter how many other empires fell and they were right in one sense; its beauty is still unparalleled today. It is a vibrant, lively city, but still maintains its classic good looks and cultural heritage. In all directions there are reminders of its history. Take a walk through the Roman Empire via the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Roman Forum or exchange a coin for a wish at the Trevi fountain.
In most of the cities in Italy hotels offer only bed and breakfast. Major chains are well represented here, from Crowne Plaza to Best Western, but there are hundreds of smaller hotels, many in the suburbs, that offer good accommodation on a budget, so it pays to shop around.
Milan is the economic and business centre of Italy. A wealthy city, it is famous for fashion and clothes design, as well as for opera. Shoppers of expensive taste will find solace in the many designer clothes stores and sneak previews of next season's Prada and Gucci designs can be spied during Milan Fashion Week. As you might expect from a city with money, hotels range from the height of luxury to mid-priced three and four-star accommodation.
The Tuscany region of Italy has a great range of locations for short breaks and extended holidays. The town of Pisa, where the main airport is situated, hosts the Campa di Miracoli where the Leaning Tower rests, but the architecture of the surrounding buildings is equally beautiful. Florence, meanwhile, is a city full of palaces, churches and museums. The San Lorenzo library is a magnificent example of Michelangelo's architectural work, while the best views of the city can be seen from the top of the hill where the church of San Miniato al Monte sit. Visit in late September for Wine Week and taste some of the best that the Tuscan wine region has to offer. The countryside between Florence and Siena is the heart of Chianti country.
The busy city of Naples, with its lovely shops, ancient city of Pompeii and the still-active volcano of Vesuvius as a backdrop, has many museums, galleries and churches. It is the perfect starting point for a drive along the Amalfi coast to Sorrento, where the scent of lemons and bougainvillea hangs heavy in the air. From either Naples or Sorrento, visitors can take a ferry across to the island of Capri. Formerly a millionaires' playground, the island is now popular among honeymooners thanks to its lovely array of hotels and romantic atmosphere. Hotels on the Amalfi coast tend to range from boutique accommodation to a converted 18th Century palazzo and most offer half board.
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