As the home of Leonardo da Vinci, the Pope and pasta... it's no wonder why Italy is one of the most popular places to visit in Europe. From the quaint villages scattered throughout Tuscany to the thriving metropolis of ancient Rome to the glistening Mediterranean coastal towns, Italy is indeed a spectacular country. Located in central Europe, the majority of the country juts south into the shimmering Mediterranean sea. Being the forerunners of the Renaissance art movement in the 1500s, it is widely accepted that Italian artists during this period produced some of the most exquisite masterpieces and artistic styles in western tradition.
Walking through the ancient streets of Rome will transport you to a different era when gladiators were the main event and Cesar called the shots. Indulging in some local gelato (Italian ice cream) will be sure to tickle your taste buds. See the works of Michelangelo and other Renaissance masters scattered throughout the country. If you are looking to get away from the big city, head to northern Italy where Florence, situated in the winding hills of Tuscany, offers even more amazing art at a slower pace. Or if you're seeking some sea-side relaxation, check out Cinque Terre, the a series of five coastal towns that peek over daunting cliffs into the Italian Riviera.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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