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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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Ancient Rome, Rome

The Roman Empire was ruled from the Capitoline. Business was done in the Forum. Movers and shakers built grand homes on the Palatine. And the mob was...more

see the Rome guide
Editors' Pick
Anacapri, Anacapri, Capri

In the hills to the west of Capri Town, this village sits in idyllic seclusion—though these days, it's also lined with shops aimed at the tourists who are...more

see the Capri guide
Editors' Pick
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Amalfi Drive

The corniche road, Amalfi Drive, provides one of the world's hairiest and most scenic motoring experiences—veering vertiginously around the jagged edge of...more

see the Amalfi Coast guide
Editors' Pick
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Amalfi, Amalfi

Amalfi, the town that gives the coastline its name, lies about halfway between Sorrento and Salerno. Its name is derived from that of the nymph, Amalfi, loved...more

see the Amalfi Coast guide
Editors' Pick
Alberobello & The Trulli, Puglia

The countryside around UNESCO World Heritage site Alberobello looks like the homeland of some lost race of fairytale folk, thanks to its trulli—thousands...more

see the Puglia guide
Editors' Pick
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Agrigento & Eraclea Minoa, Agrigento, Sicily

Agrigento, on Sicily's southwestern coast, was once an important center of Greek learning and culture. In fact, during the fourth and fifth centuries B.C., this...more

see the Sicily guide
Editors' Pick
Acciaroli, Acciaroli

This fishing village is a must-see spot for American literature buffs—it is said that Ernest Hemingway found inspiration here for The Old Man and the Sea,...more

see the Cilento Coast 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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