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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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Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Since 2005, this repository for centuries of stunning Venetian art has also been an obstacle course of scaffolding and builders' clutter. Ongoing renovations...more

see the Venice guide
Editors' Pick
The Gargano Peninsula

A huge limestone peninsula jutting east into the Adriatic, the Gargano was for many centuries a wild and solitary place, isolated from the fertile Puglian...more

see the Puglia guide
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Giardino di Boboli, Florence

The only park in the center of Florence, the Boboli Gardens (behind Palazzo Pitti) provides a green oasis in the midst of the city's dense Renaissance...more

see the Florence guide
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Gondola Rides, Venice

Hopelessly clichéd but utterly romantic, a gondola ride is something every visitor to Venice should do once. The experience doesn't come cheap (see...more

see the Venice guide
Editors' Pick
Grotte di Castellana, Castellana

Inland from Monopoli on the edge of the town of Castellana, this spectacular network of caves, covered in stalagmites and stalactites, were carved by...more

see the Puglia guide
Editors' Pick
Grotte di Catullo, Sirmione, Italy

These first-century B.C. ruins in Sirmione are what's left of an ancient Roman private estate. The well-preserved complex, romantically overgrown with groves of...more

Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Gubbio, Gubbio

A fortified town that rises in terraced splendor up the flank of Monte Ingino, Gubbio is so authentically medieval that you half expect to bump into Dante or...more

see the Umbria guide
Editors' Pick
Gucci Museo

Guccio Gucci opened his first leather goods and luggage shop in Florence in 1921, targeting the kind of luxury clientele he had seen while working as a bellboy...more

see the Florence guide
Editors' Pick
Ignazio Cerio, Capri Town, Capri

Capri Town has a ramshackle but fascinating one-man collection in the Centro Caprense, a cultural center dedicated to the doctor, amateur archaeologist,...more

see the Capri guide
Editors' Pick
Il Vittoriale, Gardone Riviera, Italy

The life of Gabriele D'Annunzio, Italy's favorite poet-adventurer, was as flamboyant as the kitschy Art Nouveau villa where he spent his final days. During...more

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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