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Italy is culturally rich with its wealth of Renaissance architecture, Roman history and priceless art. Scenically, you’ll enjoy stark Alpine peaks in the north, the Apennine Mountains, olive groves and vineyards of Italy’s heart, and the warm waters, volcanic islands and Mediterranean lifestyle of the south.
Florence is known as the ‘Cradle of the Renaissance’, with its palaces and squares, magnificent cathedral and superb art collections in the Accademia and Uffizi galleries. In Rome you can trace the course of history through 2500 years from the grandeur of the Forum and Colosseum, to the grandiose Altar of the Nation. Venice is simply unique - a maze of narrow streets, canals and unexpected city squares, with unforgettable masterpieces in the Accademia and Scoula Grande di San Rocco.
Italy rivals France as a centre for fashion and design with names like Prada, Fendi, Armani, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana. Florence is the place for gold jewellery and beautiful leather goods. When in Rome, look for silk blouses, scarves and ties, fine knitwear and costume jewellery. In Venice, you’ll find Murano glass and porcelain carnival masks, while local embroidery can be very tempting.
In Venice you’ll be served rice rather than pasta and a delicious range of fish dishes. Wines from the Veneto are among Italy’s finest. In Rome, sample the endless permutations of pastas and sauces. Frascati is wine from Rome’s Alban hills or try the smooth Italian brandy - Vecchia Romagna. Florence is in Chianti country and the cooking is based on simple natural ingredients, Try fritto misto - deep fried meats and vegetables. And if a bistecca Fiorentino (T-bone steak with lemon) is too big for one - share it like the locals do!
Italians like nothing more than a traditional evening stroll (passeggiata). It’s great fun to watch but even more fun to join in. Venice is magical at night when all the day trippers have gone home. Relax under the stars at Piazza San Marco while string ensembles play some of Italy’s best loved music. Want more adventure? Climb a volcano! It’s something you can’t do every day and Italy is littered with them.
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When to go: April-October for the warmest and driest climates; November-December for a fantastic festive atmosphere.
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