Italy

Italy

Land of la dolce vita (the sweet life), Italy is one of the world’s best-loved destinations, and no wonder—two-thirds of the world’s historical artistic heritage is there. Tuscany alone possesses more artistic treasures than the whole of Spain, which is the second country in the world for cultural heritage.

Whether you crave culture, gastronomy, cutting-edge design, sybaritic pleasures or simply the art of il dolce far niente—the sweet doing nothing—this is a country for lovers of all that is good in life. A visit to Italy is a lesson in living well. Open-air vegetable and fruit markets, neighborhood bakeries and fresh cheeses made daily are fixtures of Italian life. Tradition reigns: Neighbors still meet in the piazza to discuss the day, laundry is still line-dried, even in the largest of cities, and thepasseggiata (leisurely stroll) is still made in the evening air—preferably with a gelato in hand. From the mountains to the coasts, the emphasis is on simple pleasures and high quality.

Geography

Italy resembles a boot about to kick the Sicilian “football,” with the island of Sardinia already in the air. One of the most densely populated countries in Europe, Italy is characterized by rugged, mountainous terrain and thousands of miles/kilometers of coastline. The Alps form a barrier to the north (blocking bad weather more successfully than they ever blocked invaders), and the Apennines run the length of the boot. Only in several regions is there relatively flat land: the Po River Valley in the north and Puglia in the south. No place is very far from the sea. To the east is the Adriatic, to the southeast the Ionian and to the west the Tyrrhenian.