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Valle D'Aosta

The Valle D'Aosta region is formed by the Valley of the Dora Baltea river and adjacent valleys. High and impressive mountains, forests of pine, beech and larch and several castles make it attractive. It is known to few outside Italy, although it has its charms. The proximity with France means that the region fell under the rule of the House of Savoy and remains, to this day, fully bilingual. We think of Val d'Aosta as off the beaten track, except for skiers and serious hikers. Yet for millennia it was a well-trod crossroads, one of the main access routes between northern and southern Europe. There is something for everyone in this tiny region, including a hundred castles, a surprising array of Gothic sculptures, spectacular views, glamorous ski resorts, secluded hiking trails, sophisticated and hearty food, abundant wildlife, Baroque village churches, Europe's largest casino, and friendly inhabitants.

Piemonte

The extreme north-western edge of Italy that shares alpine peaks with neighbouring France and Switzerland, the region of Piedmont (Regione Piemonte) is the 2nd largest in Italy. The Piedmont alps cover the land-locked region on three sides, and the Po River, Italy's largest, crosses through the region, with the capital city, Torino (Turin) in the valley. Bigger and more diverse then anywhere else on the Italian mainland, Piedmont is known not only as a region rich in cuisine and rich in culture but also the kind of rich that got carried down from the uber-rich Savoy Rulers and their famous baroque and opulent Savoy Residences. With its mountains, castles and vineyard covered hills, Piedmont's magical landscape has always been one of the region's greatest attractions. Intriguing and romantic, the old medieval routes, fortresses and castles, great lakes and rolling vine-covered hills are all located close enough for about a one hour drive from the centre of the region. The diversity of rich, baroque downtown Torino with its fashion and attitude, the Langhe Roero wine country and culinary heartland, the great lake districts and villages of Maggiore and Orta, and the charming small towns such as Alba and Bra, and the surrounding alps each offer a collection of historic sights, bakeries, chocolate shops, acclaimed restaurants, museums and other displays of stunning art, one of a kind stores, and year-round festivals of art, culture and cuisine.

Liguria

Like so much of Italy, Liguria is a land of contrasts, home to belle époque seaside resort towns in the style of Cannes and Monaco; dozens and dozens of sandy strands, rocky coves and pebbly beaches; the country's largest commercial port and largest naval port; some of its most wild coasts, where lush forests of lemon trees, herbs, flowers, almonds and pines send forth heady sweet-smelling breezes; terraced hillsides that produce an olive oil considered more delicate than those grown in Tuscany. Whether you travel by train or by car, the spectacular journey along the Ligurian coast goes through tunnel after tunnel, always bursting forth from darkness into warm sunlight, the aquamarine sea glimmering at your side. Notwithstanding Genoa's attractions, most people come to Liguria for its seashore, which is a virtually uninterrupted string of resorts that have been a mecca for Italian tourists for a hundred years. The Ligurians have two names for their boomerang-shaped coastline: the half that stretches from France to Genoa is called La Riviera di Ponente, while the half that lies on the Italian peninsula proper is La Riviera di Levante. The latter is where you will find Liguria's rising star attraction, the fascinating Cinqueterre.

Lombardia

If you are flying to Italy from another continent, chances are you'll be spending at least a couple of hours in Lombardy, here you'll find Malpensa Airport, located right at the foot of the spectacular Italian Alps. Most people don't know it, but Lombardy has much to offer apart of its capitol Milan. In Bergamo, you'll find what many believe to be the most picturesque piazza in the whole country. Mantova's Ducal Palace has a cycle of frescoes by Mantegna that no art lover should miss. A few miles down the Mighty Po River is Cremona, home of the world's best violins. West of Milan, on the way to Piedmont, you'll drive through miles and miles of brilliant green rice fields (risotto alla milanese has to come from somewhere, right?). The rococo façade of the Charterhouse of Pavia, a monastery whose wildly extravagant decorations are a national masterpiece. Just half an hour from the metropolis, and within easy reach, is the Lake Como. If you spend a few days here, you can take leisurely boat trips to the many aristocratic villas and gardens, and to the charming villages of Bellagio, Varenna, and Tremezzo, always with the snow-capped Alps above.

Trentino Alto Adige

Laid out along the country's north-eastern border with Austria, Trentino Alto Adige is a breathtaking land of saw-toothed ridges and snow-capped peaks, alpine meadows and glittering waterfalls, popular ski resorts and immaculate medieval towns. In winter, the skiing is absolutely unparalleled. Spring and fall offer enchanting hikes along an extensive network of well-marked trails, with stops in remote mountain hamlets where German is the most common language and dumplings are more prevalent than spaghetti. Italians have long known this to be one of their best vacation spots, combining glorious nature, warm hospitality and reliable accommodations. Even the most casual visitor will have little trouble noticing that Trentino, the southern part of the region centered around the beautiful city of Trento, is far more Italian than Alto Adige, which is also known as Südtyrol. In addition, sprinkled throughout the mountain valleys of both areas are about 80,000 residents who, clinging to yet another ethnic tradition, speak an ancient language known as Ladin. This utterly incomprehensible tongue, a combination of Celtic dialects and Latin, resulted from the encounter of northern colonists and Roman legions in the first century BC. The town of Vigo di Fassa has an interesting museum illustrating the history and colourful customs of the Ladin people.

Friuli Venezia Giulia

Whether you like snow-capped mountains, warm sandy beaches, lagoons teeming with water birds, remote alpine hamlets, Roman ruins, palatial country villas, rocky coastal cliffs, bustling international seaports or picturesque fishing villages, your tastes will be thoroughly satisfied in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, one of Italy's most versatile regions. The region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia was not created until 1963, and many of its towns still bear vivid signs of Austrian and Slavic influence in their lifestyle, folklore and cuisine.

Veneto

Most people speed through the Veneto on their way to their favourite Italian city, Venice. The landscape of the region sometimes looks flat and unappealing, yet its small cities are fascinating treasure troves of art and beacons of fine living, and only a few miles to the north the Alps begin, their foothills dotted with charming towns and lined with picturesque world-class vineyards. Because the average traveler aims only to see the city on the lagoon, the rest of the region is blessedly devoid of tourist crowds, and yet, consider what they are missing: Verona, home to Romeo and Juliet, one of the prettiest and most historical little cities in the whole country. Vicenza, the memorable "laboratory" for a man who may have been the most influential architect in history, Andrea Palladio. Treviso, birthplace of radicchio and our all-time favorite town in Italy. Soave, a fairy-tale castle town whose name you may already know from your local wine shop. Abano, a classic 19th-century thermal spa town. Chioggia, a mini-Venice with all the canals. Lake Garda, flanked by lemon and olive groves, with the snowy Alps reflected in its silvery waters. Cortina d'Ampezzo, one of Europe's classiest ski resorts. Padua the Erudite, where lovers of Renaissance painting can see Giotto's memorable fresco cycle. Bassano del Grappa, a potery town which also produces grappa or brandy, built ina smiling setting on the Brenta river.

Emilia Rogmana

The plain skirting the Apennines derives its name from the Via Emilia, a straight Roman road that crosses it from Piacenza to Rimini. South of Bologna the district is known as Romagna. If you want to know which part of the region you are in, pull up to any house and ask for a drink. If they give you water you're in Emilia; if it's wine you know you're in Romagna. The Via Emilia, a road originally built by the Romans between 191 and 187 B.C., marks almost exactly the boundary between plain and hills. Romagna is , a name that marks the contrast in the early Middle Ages between the Roman-Byzantine lands and those controlled by the Lombards. Emilia Romagna is a region with many faces. It starts in the north, where huge fishing nets and tiny fishermen's huts dot the broad silent wetlands of the Po River Delta. To the south and west are the rich farmlands of Emilia Romagna, once the breadbasket of the Roman Empire. The cities of Bologna, Parma, Ravenna, Modena and Reggio Emilia should be on every visitor's itinerary. If the local people don't charm you with their eccentric, fun-loving personalities, they'll get you with their music and their food. Nowhere do Italians eat more heartily, and nowhere do they love to dance as much. Venture out into the countryside on a Saturday night and you're bound to hear the strains of a polka or mazurka, played on a local invention: the accordion. In tourism, predominate the beaches of the Adriatic Sea, the cities of art - Ravenna, Modena and Faenza, as well as Bologna (the regional capital), Parma, Ferrara - and mountain resorts and spas.

Toscana

Tuscany is a charmed land, equally blessed by the genius of man and nature, and often by the combined efforts of both. Think of the vineyards: rows of baby green vines that manage somehow to march in arrow-straight formation up the gently rolling hillsides, bounded by single files of darker green cypress trees, snaking sandy roads leading to rust-coloured farmhouses and moss-coated castles, symmetrically rounded hilltops surmounted by towns so homogeneous as to seem one single building. Every inch of land has been sculpted, first by the elements and then by generations of inhabitants whose goals were always twofold: make the land produce as much as possible, make the land as beautiful as possible. You could be anywhere in Tuscany, and we dare you not to fantasize about living here. Our visit to Tuscany will help you navigate through its many world-famed attractions, but it will also introduce you to some of its lesser-known jewels. Italy's most skilled cowboys, for instance. Or a host of colourful outdoor food markets. Spectacular natural parks. A mystery church, an ancient Etruscan mineral spa, a dozen Last Suppers in Florence...... and a thousand narrow farm roads waiting patiently for you to make the wrong turn and find your own secret treasure, basking happily in the Tuscan sun.

Umbria

In the true heart of Italy, the region is not touched by the sea, and the territory is for one-third mountains and for the rest hills covered with olive trees and vineyards, and acknowledgedly among the most beautiful landscapes in Italy. Rich in waters, being crossed by many rivers -- the Nestore, Paglia, Chiascio and Velino which flows into the Nera with a 165 mt jump, giving origin to the spectacular Marmore waterfalls -- and comprising the largest lake in central Italy, Lake Trasimeno, the territory is suited to agriculture, the main produce being cereals, tobacco, sugar-beet, sunflowers, vineyards; Umbria is also among the first producers in Europe of black truffle. Industry is especially connected to the electrical power plants and steel mills in the province of Terni. Renowned ceramic production is flourishing in Deruta, Gubbio and Orvieto. Thanks to the temperate climate, the beautiful landscapes and the religious, cultural and artistic wealth of many cities like Assisi, Gubbio, Spoleto, Perugia, tourism is also an important resource.

Marche

Facing the Adriatic between the Rivers Foglia and Tronto, this region occupies the eastern slopes of the Umbro-Marchigian Apennines. The region lies on the eastern side of central Italy, between the Adriatic Sea and the high Apennine mountains and much of it remains unspoilt by the ravages of mass tourism. The coastal resorts are a great tourist attraction, and to a lesser extent the mountains for summer holidays and winter sports. The cities of art are the regional capital Ancona, Ascoli Piceno, Fano, and above all Urbino. It is pronounced "lay markay", is plural (Le Marche) and is sometimes translated into English as "The Marches". True, the Adriatic coast has been a mecca for "sun n' sand" holiday makers for decades; but few venture far from the beaches. Inland, perhaps more so than anywhere else in central Italy, you will find places where time really has stood still. Compared to its  central Italian sisters, here culture comes in more easily digestible proportions but quality.

Lazio

Latium is one of the most complete and astounding places of historical, architectural, cultural and scenic beauty. The landscape of Latium is one of Italy's richest and most varied. Mountains, hill and plains are interwoven with streams and lakes of volcanic origin. Descending towards the coast, nature blends into the colours of the Mediterranean. With thousands of years of history behind, Latium has an artistic heritage of inestimable value. Every historic period has left its indelible mark. The ruins of ancient Roman times still fascinate us today with the mystery of their life of ages past and stand eternally in all their splendour. The valleys are full of well preserved little medieval towns, along the streets of which Reniassance palaces and buildings can be seen. The region has also many spiritual locations: magnificent abbeys, isolated sanctuaries, carved facades that stand out from the urban settings. Each location is home to priceless masterpieces. Latium is a magical place where man's imagination has combined with nature creating an unforgettable and unique scenery.

Abruzzo

Abruzzo lies almost wholly on the Adriatic side of the peninsula and stretches along the coast for some 130 kilometres. The mountains of Abruzzo are the highest in peninsular Italy, with the mountains of Laga, the Gran Sasso d'Italia and Maiella. Apart from L'Aquila (the regional capital), Pescara, Teramo and the abbey of San Clemente a Casauria, other important tourist attractions are the mountains and ski resorts, and of course the beaches. Abruzzo is the site of the vast and extremely well administered Abruzzo National Park, one of the most important in all of Europe. Nearby is the newly-designated Maiella National Park, along with several regional parks. Flora and fauna abound in these protected areas, where thick forests and flowering meadows give way to barren high plains and snow-capped granite peaks. Europe's southernmost glacier, the Calderone, extends from Corno Grande to Corno Piccolo, in the shadow of Gran Sasso, tallest peak on the Italian peninsula.

Molise

This region lies between Trigno, the middle Sangro, the upper Volturno, the Matese uplands and the middle course of the River Fortore. A mountainous land, it comprises the crest of the Apennine chains of the Mainarde and Matese (2050 m) and includes part of the mountains of Sannio. The terrain slopes down towards the Adriatic coast, with a 35 kilometres coastline long between the mouths of the Trigno and Saccione, where Termoli - the second largest town in the region after Campobasso, the capital - is the main port of the region.

Campania

This region faces onto the Tyrrhenian between the River Garigliano and the Gulf of Policastro. Its inland boundary is an irregular line separating it from Latium, Molise, Puglia and Basilicata. The landscape is very varied, especially around the Gulfs of Naples and Salerno. The alternation of plains, hills and mountains, the jagged coastline, luxuriant vegetation, bright sea and the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida create splendid views, beauty spots and historic sites that fully live up to their great reputation. The unique archaeological heritage we can admire today in Campania is the result of centuries and centuries of foreign peoples ruling over this region and influencing its arts and civilization. From the temples of the age of the Magna Graecia and the buried towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, to the masterpieces kept in the several museums and churches of the region, and the archaeologial excavations of prehistoric sites. Well equipped beach facilities and uncontaminated bays will welcome visitors looking for relax and crystal-clear water. The islands of the Gulf of Naples, the Amalfi coast, the domitian littoral and Cilento represent only a few of the hundreds of kilometres of coast that Campania offers its visitors. Ceramics, coral, lacework, figurine shepherds, wooden, stone, copper or forged iron handicrafts, hand-made paper, mozzarella, pasta, limoncello and delicate wines are some of the prestigious products of Campania and can be the best souvenirs to take home after a holiday in this Region.

Puglia

Lying on the south-east tip of the peninsula, between the River Fortore, the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, this regions consists mostly of plain (the Tavoliere and the Salento Peninsula) and flat-topped or terraced hills (such as the Murge, rising to between 200 and 700 m). Tourism flourishes mainly on the coast (over 800 km long), the zone of the trulli, and the towns of historical or artistic interest. Apart from Bari, the regional capital, and the trulli of Alberobello, Castel del Monte and the baroque of Lecce, centres of interest are Lucera, Martina Franca, Monte Sant'Angelo, Taranto, Trani and Troia. If you have already toured the northern part of Italy and are looking for something equally fascinating, completely different and much less crowded, this is a wonderful area to consider. It offers archeological museums, cathedrals dating back to the 10th century, several deserted - and thus highly atmospheric - Greek and Roman ruins, a gleaming necklace of lively fishing villages, one of Europe's largest forests, a chain of medieval hill towns, and some of the very cleanest beaches and water in the Mediterranean. There is one other attraction that you will see only in Apulia, and that is i trulli. Whitewashed cones made of stones held together without mortar, they are visible in almost every wheat field and olive grove, where they serve as miniature barns. But they are at their most picturesque when clustered together in the hundreds, to form a town. This is Alberobello, and it's a wonderful site you will never forget.

Basilicata

This is one of the smallest regions of Italy, hemmed in between Puglia, Campania and Calabria. It faces onto the Ionian Sea, the Gulf of Taranto, and a short stretch of the Tyrrhenian in the Gulf of Policastro. Largely mountainous, its biggest massif is the Pollino (2248 m). To the north rises the ancient volcanic complex of Vulture (1326 m), covered in thick vegetation. UNESCO has named the "Sassi di Matera" a World Heritage Site, as "the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region".

Calabria

Forming the southern tip of the peninsula, this region itself forms a peninsula between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas. The narrow plains covers less than a tenth of its territory; the rest is mountainous. Tourism has grown recently, above all along the coast, fostered by the extensive improvements to communications, such as the autostrada that traverses the region from north to south via Castrovìllari and Cosenza to Reggio di Calabria, the road known as the Strade dei Due Mari and the Sila highway. Unforgettable vistas across rugged mountains, vast golden wheat fields and crystal clear seas. Ageold olive trees that grow as tall as eucalyptus. Ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Norman ruins, forgotten by time, which suddenly loom over the horizon, beckoning you to your own private rendezvous with history. Shy but hospitable villagers who still wear voluminous black skirts or colorful traditional costumes. Delicious fish, vegetables, cheese, sausage, salami, wild mushrooms and figs.

Sicily

Sicily, sometimes called Trinacria - from its Greek name, meaning "three-cornered" - is the biggest island in the Mediterranean and the largest region of Italy. It lies in the middle of the Mediterranean, separated from the southernmost tip of the peninsula by the narrow Strait of Messina. It is essentially hilly and mountainous. Tears of lava, limestone plains swept by the wind, sunny lands the colour of bronze: one by one the islands decorate the Sicilian coast like a string of pearls on the neck of a beautiful woman. There are fourteen of these daughters of Sicily, not including Motya, which at low tide is sometimes linked to the coast of Marsala. Fourteen paradises of untouched beauty. Some have an African charm, such as the Pelagie, in the province of Agrigento, and Pantelleria in the province of Trapani. Others, the uncontested mistresses of the sea and its secrets, Levanzo, Favignana, and Marettimo, form the archipelago of the Egadi in the sea off Trapani. Further north, in splendid isolation, is Ustica, the island of Circe, with its unspoilt marine reserve. And in the Aeolian islands, in the province of Messina, water meets fire. The cities of the 18th-century Grand Tour, such as Taormina, Siracusa, Agrigento and Palermo have been joined by newer resorts for tourists attracted by the sunshine, the sea, the vegetation on the north and east coast and the Aeolian Islands. Of great interest are also Erice, Messina, Monreale, Noto, Piazza Armerina, Segesta and Selinunte. Just like a beautiful woman, Sicily needs a certain type of approach and cannot be easily won. All you can do is to let yourself be seduced. Just as the first Mycenaeans were seduced when they came this way to buy obsidian and pumice-stone in the Aeolian Islands, when nothing else was known for cutting and polishing. Just like the Phoenicians, who along these very coasts set up their trading stations and left them in the charge of people taken on in every corner of the Mediterranean, people who lived in peace, trading with Siculs, Sicans, and Elymians. Just like the Greeks, seeking somewhere to live in peace, Sicily welcomes everyone.

Sardinia

The second-largest island of the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia has 1897 kilometres of coastline, mostly fairly rugged, at times with steep cliffs and at others with frequent coves and bays. Summer tourism, especially at the seaside resorts, is growing steadily. Among the sights of Sardinia are the nuraghi, famous prehistoric buildings in the form of a truncated cone. Its coastline is probably Europe's most spectacular. Its waters teem with fish and shellfish. Its broad valleys turn into golden oceans of wheat in summer. Its rugged mountains, pocked with caves, are home to large flocks of sheep that feed on pungent wild herbs and produce a cheese your palate will never forget. Nestled into its silent olive groves are some of the continent's oldest archeological remains, dating back to 1700 BC. Its people speak a language incomprehensible to all other Italians, celebrate more saints' days than anyone else in the nation, and love to dress up in elaborate costumes at the drop of a finely-embroidered hat. Discover Sardinia''s cultural diversity and many traditions. Ancient customs, amazing celebrations, colourful costumes and culinary delights await you

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