A treasure house of architectural, artistic and scenic splendours, Italy has drawn foreign visitors for centuries. In the 18th century it was an essential inclusion on the European "Grand Tour" and it has continued to attract artists, poets and travellers ever since.
It might sound trite but Italy can truly be all things to all people. For some the Italian experience is full of passion and excitement, a hubbub of urbanity, crowds and noise. For others it is a quiet rural idyll where the traditional life of years gone by can be glimpsed and experienced.
Indisputably Italy is one of the cultural centres of the world and uniquely where the ancient and modern live side by side. Its great cities are replete with fantastic works of art ranging from the crumbling remains of the Romans to the fine canvases of the Renaissance. Even then, many visitors will forego the rich attractions of culture in favour of some of the most unspoilt beaches and spectacular mountains in the world.
From the historical and cultural centres of Rome, Florence, Milan, Naples, Bologna and Venice, to the ski resorts of Courmayeur and Cortina d'Ampezzo, the sun-kissed beaches along the coast and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, Italy can't fail to charm even the most demanding of tourists.