Europe’s bootboy, Italy, hosts arguably the most sumptuous hoard of art and architecture in the world, a living museum, with ancient Rome’s buildings, museums and the Vatican (I know, it’s another country, but it really doesn’t feel that way! ) soaking up tourist masses with ease, Florence prides art a little too well but can’t handle the crowds, while Venice is a completely different experience – strangely damp and spooky yet blazing with colour during the carnival; smaller town across the country offer similar oddities – Lucca and its walls, Pisa and its tower, Siena and its horsey madness, Pompeii’s frozen town, Verona’s opera. . .
Forum Romanum, Rome. Photo by Jose Ramon Lopez.
And then there are the grand lakes and mountains up north, the coastal scenes down south, great beaches (though primarily on Sardinia island), good food, fair prices and nice people if you can catch them away from tourist turbulence.