5 reasons to visit Italy
Italy boasts a bounty of treasures for its visitors, from the glistening Italian Lakes to its beautiful cities, including Venice, Florence, and Rome. It's loved and lauded as a beach break destination - particularly on the shores of Italy's islands, Sicily and Sardinia - or you can head out to a scenic wine estate in the gently undulating Italian countryside, or venture north to the mountains. Whatever attracts you to Italy, there's always another reason to return.
Choose between authentic experiences in an iconic conical trullo home in Puglia, opt for five-star glamour on the shores of Lake Como, or explore the glorious Venetian Lagoon by boarding a luxury cruise and visiting the islands to see where local artisans expertly make intricate Italian lace and Murano glass.
The warmer weather in the spring is the perfect time to get to know Venice before the temperatures rise - or choose to cruise in October when the lagoon takes on an enchanting quality. And while winter in the north brings cool temperatures, it's a wonderful time to explore the Italian lakes when the summer crowds have subsided, and you can cross to Switzerland to ride the famous Bernina Railway on a snowy mountain route to St Moritz.
And if you need further convincing, here are five reasons that Italy remains an enduring favourite destination.
The captivating lives of the ancient Romans draw many people to Italy, where you can imagine the gladiators in the Colosseum or witness life frozen in time along the eerie streets of Pompeii. But Italy's fascinating history is not contained to the events that occurred aeons ago - the Battle for Sicily in 1943 is an extraordinary story involving a large airborne operation and daring raids. You can still see battlegrounds across Sicily today.
Italy's famous food needs no introduction - eating out is always a highlight of an Italian escape. The highlights vary from region to region, from plates of seafood risotto eaten al fresco on the streets of Venice to the freshest pizza of Naples and the handheld street food of Sicily. Bologna is known as La Grassa - 'the fat one' - and for good reason, this is Italy's foodie capital. A visit here is not to be missed. Or join a trip where you can learn more about food, in the company of an expert. We have trips with top-chef James Martin and Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge - both cruising around Venice's lagoons. You'll get the opportunity to explore the food markets in Chioggia and back on board, your chef will give a cooking demonstration.
Powerful opera is Italy's most celebrated musical export, with the likes of singing sensations Pavarotti and Bocelli among the most famous. La Scala in Milan and Teatro di San Carlo in Naples are considered among the best venues for opera in the world. Venice is also known as the 'Opera Centre of Europe', and while you're there taking in a performance, you could be cruising through the Venetian Lagoon, as well as seeing popular sights such as Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica.
If you love operatics, you'll love our Exclusive chat with Russell Watson
Italy's landscapes are dramatic and cinematic, from the Italian Riviera and the Amalfi Coast to the glistening Italian Lakes. They also attract a glamorous crowd that's distinctively Italian, where you can admire blazing red Ferraris along the Italian Riviera, order an espresso from a chic Italian cafe, and enjoy a spot of people-watching. Or head to Lake Como, where scenes from Casino Royale were filmed, and stay by the lakeside, taking your time over long breakfasts and spending your days on a boat on the water or venturing out to explore the other lakes.
Tour Lake Como and St Moritz by Bernina Express
From Tuscan Chiantis, fizz from the Prosecco hills in Veneto, and Barolos from Piedmont, there's a delightful diversity of Italian wines. Join a food-themed trip to Puglia, and in Lorocondo, you'll taste the local wines after a vineyard tour. Aboard the opulent S.S La Venezia, fine wines from Italy are included in the sailing, so there are plenty of opportunities to find your favourite as you hop from island to island around the Venetian Lagoon.
Feast on a culinary tour of Puglia