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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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Bevagna, Montefalco, and Spello, Foligno

These three small historic towns circle the olive groves of the Valle Umbra south of Perugia. Bevagna is probably the best-kept secret: A Roman colony on the...more

see the Umbria guide
Editors' Pick
Blue Grotto, Capri

No trip to Capri is complete without a visit to the island's most famous natural attraction, a partially submerged rock cave where refracted sunlight turns the...more

see the Capri guide
Editors' Pick
Boats, Capri

You can't truly appreciate the sheer drama of Capri's theater of sea, cliffs, and sky until you've circumnavigated it. Boat tours to the Blue Grotto only...more

see the Capri guide
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Boats

Keen to avoid the sort of day-trip tourism that tests the patience of Capri's inhabitants in high season, the majority lobby of Amalfi Coast hoteliers has long...more

see the Amalfi Coast guide
Editors' Pick
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Caffè Culture, Rome

Coffee punctuates the Roman day with a regularity that is almost monastic. The first shot—usually in the form of a cappuccino—is generally downed in...more

see the Rome guide
Editors' Pick
Cappella Brancacci, Florence

The Brancacci Chapel, inside the Oltrarno Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, is where the Renaissance started. Commissioned by a local silk merchant, the fresco...more

see the Florence guide
Editors' Pick
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Cappella Medicea, Florence

Attached to the church of San Lorenzo, this complex of three rooms is the final resting place of Medicis great and small. Minor family members were relegated to...more

see the Florence guide
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Capri Town, Capri Town, Capri

Situated just below the postcard-pretty clock tower, the famous Piazzetta (officially known as Piazza Umberto I) is both the entrance to the island's main town...more

see the Capri guide
Editors' Pick
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Caravaggio, Rome

In 1606, tortured genius Michelangelo Merisi—a.k.a. Caravaggio—fled Rome after killing a man over a tennis match. Behind him he left some of the...more

see the Rome guide
Editors' Pick
Castel Del Monte, Puglia

This eight-sided castle, which rises on a remote hilltop some miles inland from Trani and Barletta, is one of history's great puzzles. We know that it was...more

see the Puglia 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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