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Italy see + do

Italy contains more than half of the world's cultural holdings, according to UNESCO, so history, art, and architecture are always going to be the main draw. Museums like the Uffizi in Florence, the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice, and the Vatican Museums and Galleria Borghese in Rome contain a remarkable store of famous paintings and statues; many more artistic treasures (especially frescoes) remain in situ in Italy's churches, private palazzos, and villas. Then there are the archaeological sites, from spectacularly located Pompeii, in the shadow of Vesuvius, to the atmospheric Etruscan necropolises of northern Lazio and Sicily.

But there's more to Italy than Roman arenas and the Sistine Chapel. The contemporary art scene has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, and now new spaces like the MADRe museum in Naples or Rome's forthcoming MAXXI gallery are springing up alongside fixtures like the Venice Biennale art fair.

And of course, Italy is as much about scenery as it is about art: Tuscany's rolling vine- and olive-covered hills; the breathtaking vertical coastline of the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre; the primitive, trullo-dotted hinterland of Puglia. Hot springs (mostly in central Italy) and snow-covered resorts (at their best in the Alps) cater to wallowers and winter sports fans. Most visitors will want to tick Rome, Venice, and Florence off their lists—generally in that order. But even on a first visit, it's worth making time for some of Italy's smaller, less crowded art towns—Siena, Perugia, Verona, and Bologna are all worthwhile options—and factoring in a few days of seaside or country rest and relaxation.

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Villa Jovis, Capri

The grandest of Emperor Tiberius's 12 villas on the island, Villa Jovis was the seat of his empire between 27 and 37 A.D. Today, you can tour the ruins of the...more

see the Capri guide
Editors' Pick
Villa Necchi Campiglio, Milan

The cultured lifestyle of Milanese high society around the middle of the 20th century is brought vividly to life in this fascinating new casa museo. Located a...more

see the Milan guide
Editors' Pick
Villa San Michele, Anacapri, Capri

Second only to the Blue Grotto among Capri visitor attractions, this Arcadian refuge on the slopes of Monte Solaro, five minutes' walk from Piazza Vittoria in...more

see the Capri guide
Editors' Pick
Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi, Bellagio, Italy

Villa Serbelloni is a Renaissance villa built in the 15th century and surrounded by dense woodlands and gardens. The property's summer villa down by the lake...more

Editors' Pick
Volterra, Volterra

This was once the northernmost of the Etruscan League of 12 cities, but today its appearance is largely medieval. There are a few historical remnants,...more

see the Tuscany guide
Editors' Pick
Water Sports on Lake Garda

Water sports fans flock to the northern end of Lake Garda Riva in the summer, when stiff morning winds combine with afternoon gusts to turn it into a mecca for...more

Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Wine Touring in Tuscany

Most of the larger wineries in the three most famous zones—Chianti Classico, Montalcino, and Montepulciano—now offer the chance to taste and...more

see the Tuscany guide
Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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