The narrow, cobbled streets of Alghero’s medieval citadel, packed with boutiques, bars and restaurants, slope towards the harbour and sweeping bay. Built in a buttery sandstone that glows a soft apricot shade in the setting sun, it’s Sardinia’s most picturesque Old Town. Spanish-style palazzos and street signs in Italian and Catalan reflect its proud heritage - 300 years of Aragon rule. Fringed by pine forests, long sandy beaches, hotels and bars curve away towards green headlands. It’s an idyllic setting.
Welcome to Italy
As the capital of a rich and historic region, Ancona is above all, a city of the sea. The city is blessed with a magnificent coastline to the south, with clean and accessible water and unspoilt white beaches. Close by are the beautiful towns of Loreto, Recanati, Jesi and Urbino as well as the rolling hills of the hinterland and the world-famous grotto of Frasassi.
Bari, a typical maritime and market city, is the capital of the Apulia region and the second biggest city in the Italian south. The city developed industrially in the second half of the twentieth century and now boasts an important trade fair, the largest in the south. Tourists visit Bari for its historic buildings, art works and fascinating town centre, as well as for the beaches which surround the area.
In the Alpine foothills, just 50 km from Milan, Bergamo is the most striking city in Lombardy. Structured in two levels, the lower city is more modern and dynamic, whilst the famous ‘upper city’ boasts a stunning historic centre full of monuments and works of art. In the area around the city the Iseo Lake is well worth a visit, as is the sanctuary at Caravaggio and Crespi d’Adda – the most important company town in Italy, listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Val Brembana takes its name from the river crossing it, Brembo. The Bergamo Alps constitute its northern limits, notably by the Tre Signori and Diavolo di Tenda Peaks, while at south lies the plain of Bergamo. At East the valley borders with the Valle Seriana and at West with the Valle Imagna. Valle Seriana area includes the Orobie Alps, the Presolana Peak, the Formico Peak and the Val Vertova. The natural landscape is enriched by the historical and cultural elements such as trails, manors and noble house, mines and religious sancturies. The Valle di Scalve, offers a landscape with several little glacial lakes, naturalistic trails and kilometres of snow-covered ski tracks.
As capital of the Emilia Romagna region, Bologna is an art city, a university centre and a place renowned for its excellent cuisine. It hosts important international trade fairs and is one of the world’s greatest motor cities. Ducati, Lamborghini and Maserati were all born in Bologna and Ferrari’s headquarters can be found in nearby Modena.
Brescia is Lombardy’s second biggest city, a university town with a modern business satellite – Brescia Due – it is prosperous and lively. Located between two of Italy’s most famous lakes, Lake Garda and Lake Iseo, Brescia is often overlooked by visitors who bypass the city itself and head straight to the undeniably beautiful lakes. A great pity, as Brescia has one of the most beautiful historic centres in the region, and some of the best Roman and Lombard remains in northern Italy.
Brindisi is the gateway to an Italian province packed with fascination and the relics of vanished civilization. This cultural inheritance ranges from the relics of ancient Roman highways. Here you can find Gothic and Baroque churches, cathedrals, frowning battlements of Swabian castles and fortresses which are dated back to the 13th century, reign of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II.
The narrow and often steep granite paved streets of Cagliari’s Castello District suggest a bygone age when the town was dominated at first by Pisans, and later by the Aragonese. Built from white limestone, the walls and towers of the old town shimmer in the sun and are a magnificent sight, especially if you are fortunate and approach from the sea, like the English novelist, D.H. Lawrence, in 1921, when he described the old town as looking like "Jerusalem without trees."
Catania is the second largest city in Sicily, framed by the Etna volcano to the west, and the Mediterranean to the east. It is a vibrant city with bars, cafés, honking cars and narrow alleys. Visitors can retreat to the cooler climate of the surrounding small mountain villages, or to the sea for a balmy swim.
Cuneo is the capital of the third largest provincial area in Italy, which also is home to some of the best Italian wines. It is located in the region of Piedmont and the surroundings are known for the beautiful variety of landscapes found here such as valleys, rivers, plains and hills - perfect conditions to produce some of the best wines in the world. The town boasts different architectural landmarks and cultural monuments and the area is perfect to marvel at the scenic views of the Stura di Demonte Rivers and the Maritime Alps. If you are looking for an adventure, Cuneo is also famous for its excursions, skiing and mountaineering.
Florence is the beautiful regional capital of Tuscany, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. It is acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and stepping onto its historic cobbles it is easy to see why. Cradled between the surrounding hills, the city hosts some of the most famous works of art on the planet and the whole of the city centre is packed with stunning palaces, churches and monuments. The surrounding countryside is well-known for its rolling hills and its wine—particularly the Chianti area between Siena and Florence.
Genova, ’la Superba,’ is a city that makes a profound impression. Sandwiched between the sea and the Ligurian hills, Genova spreads upwards from the port, a jumble of a city with a long and chequered history. The European Capital of Culture in 2004, Genova has dozens of museums and galleries, a renowned theatre, and the largest aquarium in Europe. The city has good shopping, the best nightlife in Liguria and excellent restaurants. Day excursions along the stunning Ligurian coast are highly recommended.
Lamezia Terme was formed in 1968, thanks to the unification of three separate towns in the Province of Catanzaro. It is the central part of Calabria, a zone celebrated for its beautiful landscapes. The city is found between the cliffs of the Tyrrenhian coast and the sand dunes of the Ionic coast – just to the south of the Sila, a sort of Alpine range in the heart of the Mediterranean.
Milan is all about design and high fashion, so the range of shops and trendy bars can be almost overwhelming. But Milan also has the Duomo cathedral, da Vinci’s “Last Supper” and the simple neighbourhood restaurants where no long lunch is complete without ossobuco and risotto alla milanese.
Naples, with its million inhabitants, is the third biggest city in Italy. Its position is spectacular with the celebrated view over the gulf of Naples and the extraordinary islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida. The city is overlooked by Vesuvius, a vast volcano which erupted violently in 79 BC covering the cities of Pompei and Ercolano. Today, these cities, now excavated, bear witness to the splendours of the Roman Empire.
Olbia is the gateway to the beautiful pearly white beaches of the northeast coast and the glittering Costa Smeralda. This is where jetsetters, film setters and the ‘glitterati’ arrive to indulge in la dolce vita Sardinian-style. Despite its Greek name meaning ‘happy’, Olbia’s origins were Phoenician before the town became a Roman trading post. Olbia used to be a little fishing village but has now grown to become Sardinia’s busiest ferry port, complete with an International airport. The countryside is cloaked in aromatic wild herbs, the macchia, and the surrounding sea sparkles in every hue of electric blue.
Palermo is a hidden gem! After years of mafia rule and poverty, the city has reclaimed its place among Europe’s cultural cities. Palermo is full of sights and treasures, from Baroque churches to modern Sicilian restaurants.
When you hear of Parma you probably think of ham, parmesan cheese and Verdi. These three words truly encapsulate Parma, a city associated both in Italy and abroad with savoir faire and the good life. The capital of the Duchy of Parma for centuries, the city boasts a series of magnificent art works and a splendid historic city centre, packed with beautiful civil and religious buildings.
Perugia is the provincial capital of Umbria, one of Italy’s most beautiful regions. The ancient heart of the city, packed full of Etruscan and Roman monuments, perches on a hilltop with the modern city spread below. With a prestigious university, the city has a lively student population, good shopping, fun bars and great restaurants. If that weren't enough, Perugia is the setting for one of Europe’s best jazz festivals: Umbria Jazz.
Pescara, the gateway to the rugged mountainous Abruzzo region, is framed by the snowy peaks of the Apennine Mountains. The land tumbles through the hilltop villages and down to the blue waters of the Adriatic Ocean. In the town of Pescara itself, the long ten-mile stretches of wide, clean and sandy beaches and superb food and wine, offer many inviting opportunities to its visitors. These are the perfect conditions for a relaxing break for families, or as a restful prelude before venturing into the mountains or hiking through the region’s many national parks.
Pisa is strategically located in the central part of Italy. It is only 12 km from the Ligurian Sea, 20 km from the harbour of Livorno and the ferries heading to the Elba Island, Sardinia and Corsica and 80 km from Florence. This city is closely associated with the Leaning Tower. But Pisa also preserves, with the whole complex of Piazza dei Miracoli - cultural patrimony of all humanity - and its medieval centre, numerous masterpieces of architecture and medieval history. The area around Pisa is also excellent for farm-holidays, trekking, beaches and water sports on the Versilian coast.
Italians head for Rimini for their holidays, which must be the best recommendation there is. Located by the Adriatic Sea, it is a sophisticated, stylish city known for its lively take on life. Rimini is a city for everyone!
Rome, known as the Eternal City, has attracted visitors for over 2,000 years. It is one of the most magnificent and romantic cities in the world. Rome has an attractive mix of grandiose sights and bustling city life. Life is sweet—the cake is there for the eating. Italian designer shopping, smooth ice cream, frothy cappuccino and exquisite wines to name but a few things.
“El diau, el diau!” “The devil! The devil!” It was in 1897 when mountain people from Sauze d’Oulx witnessed a red-faced man with a long white beard descending from the slopes, with long wooden skis attached to his feet. He was a Swiss engineer, Adolf Kind, and the wooden skis were the first seen in Italy. Today there are more than a hundred ski-lifts and 1,500 km of slopes for all levels – as well as alpine skiing, sledges and huskies, telemark skiing and the snowboarding. For those with more extreme tastes the zone also caters to ice climbing, free-riding and other similar sports.
Trapani is not only one of the most romantic places in Sicily, but in the whole of the Mediterranean. It is characterised by long stretches of coast and coastal plains, lavish monuments and palaces, ancient sites, windmills, islands, quaint provincial towns and a countryside that beg to be explored. By night, the region should be enjoyed over a glass of chilled wine and fine food in a beachside restaurant—ideally facing west so as to see some of the most spectacular sunsets in Europe.
As the poet Umberto Saba wrote: “Trieste has an unsociable grace. Located between the sea and the mountains of Carso, beautiful and fascinating, she does not like to show off, although she conquers her visitor at first sight.” Tergeste, as Trieste was named during the Roman era, is to be discovered on foot, to fully taste her richness and to breathe, through her streets, buildings and monuments, her 2000-year-old history.
In Turin, the food is good and the drinks are even better. Under the arcades in the city centre there are countless wine bars, grandiose continental cafés and luxurious shopping streets. Turin is known for Fiat, Juventus and Italian film - this city is a fascinating metropolis where the future is being created!
There is no other city like Venice. It has 180 canals, 450 bridges and magnificent palaces. It is a city rich in museums and historical buildings of great artistic and cultural importance. Add to that the transient feeling and the quiet everyday life. The beauty of it all is truly apparent.
Verona is world famous for its magnificent Arena and its association with Shakespeare’s love story, "Romeo and Juliet." The city is one of the most important tourist destinations in Italy, and a UNESCO world heritage site.