Some of the best reasons for visiting Italy

Civita di Bagnoregio, Viterbo: Civita was founded by the Etruscans more than 2,500 years ago and sits atop a rocky plateau overlooking the Tiber river valley in central Italy. The town is in constant danger of destruction by erosion and was placed on the World Monuments Watch list in 2006.

Colosseum, Rome: The awe-inspiring amphitheater echoes with ghosts of gladiators past, the roar of wild animals and the swash of sea battles, cheered on by up to 80,000 baying spectators. The arena, partly ruined by earthquake and robbers, is an enduring symbol of the Roman empire.

Florence: Captivating Florence is the capital of Tuscany and considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. The Duomo cathedral, dating back to the 13th century, is one of the highlights along with the ancient shop-clad Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery. 

Ponte Vecchio, Florence: The Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, is a Florence landmark, the only Arno River crossing to survive the retreating German army at the end of World War II. It's famous for the shops which line its span -- once butchers and fishmongers, now jewelers, art dealers and souvenir-sellers.

Duomo, Milan: The Duomo is Milan's gothic cathedral dedicated to St. Mary of the Nativity, which took nearly six centuries to build. It's the largest church in Italy (excluding St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City) and the fifth-biggest Christian church in the world.

Palermo: Ancient Palermo is the capital of Sicily and is noted for its culture, architecture and gastronomy. The port city, on Sicily's northwest coast, sits in a bowl surrounded by mountains and has long been a mix of European and Arab cultures.

Positano, Amalfi coastline: The Amalfi Coast is a sparkling jewel of Mediterranean beauty on a stretch of dramatic south-facing coastline between Salerno and Sorrento south of Naples. The gems of bougainvillea-clad Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, with vistas plunging into the deep blue of the Tyrrhenian Sea, earned the area UNESCO protection in 1997.

Trevi fountain, Rome: Legend has it that a coin thrown over the shoulder into Trevi fountain will ensure the visitor's return to Rome. Around 3,000 euros a day are tossed into the Baroque baths, retrieved nightly for charity. The travertine fountain, finished in 1762, stands at the end of the ancient Aqua Virgo aqueduct at the junction of three streets ("tre vie"), hence the name. 

Tuscany: The region of Tuscany in central Italy evokes myriad images: of rolling hills, sleepy villages and dreamy vistas; earthy cooking and regional wines; Renaissance treasures such as the cities of Florence, and Pisa with its leaning tower. There's coastline and islands, too. Tuscany has its own riviera and hip beach resort of Tirrenia.

Venice: Iconic Venice in northeast Italy is one of the world's most picturesque towns, built over the shallow Venetian Lagoon on more than 100 islands separated by canals and joined by bridges. Known among other things as La Serenissima, which roughly means "most serene," Venice is a treasure trove for architecture buffs, gourmets, strolling lovers and gondola fans.

The Faraglioni of Capri, Napoli: The island of Capri off the end of the Sorrento peninsula south of Naples conjures images of the perfect Mediterranean idyll, of plunging sea views, picturesque piazzas and spilling bougainvilleas. It has been a jet-set and Hollywood favorite for decades and designer boutiques and chi-chi cafes hide more unspoilt charms. The faraglioni are three rock formations created by erosion off the coast.

Blue Grotto, Capri: The Blue Grotto is a sea cave off the northwest coast of Capri, where sunlight illuminates the space with an azure hue. The entrance is less than a meter high, just enough for a small rowboat and its prone passengers to glide through.

Lake Iseo, Lombardy: Smaller, quieter and arguably more charming than its more famous cousins Lake Como and Lake Garda -- and sandwiched between them -- Lake Iseo is a unsung gem of northern Italy. 

Val d'Orcia, Tuscany: This enchanting area of Tuscany is a UNESCO-protected World Heritage site for its rolling hills, vineyards, the lush valley of the Orcia River, and picturesque towns like Pienza and Castiglione d'Orcia with its hilltop fortress.

Ponza isle, Pontine Islands archipelago: The Pontine Islands lie in the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west of Naples. They comprise Ponza, the main island, along with Palmarola, Zannone and Gavi, plus Ventotene and Santo Stefano to the southeast, closer to the mainland. Stunning natural scenery, secluded beaches and island chic make these popular but unspoilt tourist spots.

Mount Etna, Sicily: Mount Etna towers over the cities of Messina and Catania in the far east of Sicily and is the highest active volcano in Europe. At 3,329 meters it is also the tallest peak in Italy south of the Alps. Because Etna is in an almost constant state of activity its fertile volcanic soils support abundant agriculture and viticulture on its lower flanks.

Circeo National Park, Latina: The limestone massif of Mount Circeo (541 meters) sits on a promontory about 100 kilometers southeast of Rome. It gives its name to the National Park which takes in the coastal strip from Anzio to Terracina and includes the "orgy" island of Zannone.

Selinunte Archaeological Park, Sicily: A stroll down through the ancient Greek city of Selinunte on the southwest coast of Sicily gives a vivid impression of a mighty former civilization with five temples, including the impressive Temple of Hera, strung down a rocky ridge overlooking the sea.

The Dolomites: The Dolomites is a dramatic mountain range in northeast Italy popular for snow sports in the winter and climbing and hiking in the summer. The highest peak is the 3,343-meter Marmolada. The range was on the front line between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces in World War I and witnessed brutal fighting.

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