FACTS / A country for lovers of wine, food and, well, love, Italy is filled to the brim with romance. Perhaps that is why it ranks among the top five most visited countries in the world. Once the home of ancient Rome, Italy has often played a prominent role in world history, whether through Julius Caesar’s conquest of foreign lands or through Niccolo Machiavelli’s revolutionary political writings. Its population is almost 60 million and its settlements range from little to large, from the cosmopolitan streets of Rome to the rustic villages of Sicily.
SEE /  Rome’s Colosseum is a spectacular sight not to be missed. This amphitheater was once one of the great centers of entertainment in ancient Rome, and it was here that gladiators and animals battled for their lives. Explore the massive 510-foot (155.4-meter) wide arena and peer into the underground chambers of the hypogeum, where animals and pieces of set were stored before being brought out in front of 50,000 people. Also included in the entry fee is access to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, two major centers of Roman life where the empire was established and where its great political dramas played out.
PLAY /  No visit to Venice is complete without a ride on one of its iconic gondola boats. Relax as your gondolier steers you through the Grand Canal and a musician completes the experience with some traditional Italian songs. Pass under the famous Rialto Bridge, whose white archway rises majestically out of the water and marvel at the opulent city palaces and buildings that line the water’s edge.
STAY /  Hotel Belvedere brings luxury and style to the seaside town of Riccione. The four-star hotel is straight out of an interior design magazine with crisp white rooms, and sprinklings of turquoise, gold and other elegant hues throughout the premises. Pack bathing suits for its large pool, with comes complete with a fountain and a jacuzzi. Parties give this hotel a fun edge; get to know your fellow guests in a relaxed atmosphere.  Stay in the Gritti Palace in Venice for another indulgent experience. Once the home of the 16th century Doge (or Duke) Andrea Gritti, the hotel recently underwent a $54.2 million refurbishment to restore it to is original splendor, and it shows. It has drawn in esteemed guests including Ernest Hemingway and Winston Churchill and enjoys an excellent position on one of Venice’s canals. The rooms are sumptuously furnished and recall the hotel’s palatial beginnings with ornate wallpaper, chandeliers and marble.

SHOP / Head to fashion-forward Milan for high-class shopping at its finest. Here you will find the famous Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II. This neoclassical building, with huge archways and a glass-covered gallery, is almost as beautiful as some of the designer clothes it houses. For more couture, head to the Quadrilatero d’Oro or ‘rectangle of gold’, a set of four streets all selling designer wares, from dresses and swimwear to bags and accessories. It’s within walking distance of Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II, so it really is a case of shop ‘til you drop!
CAPRI  /   VENICE   /   AMALFI COAST   /   ROME   /   MILAN   /   FLORENCE   /   TUSCANY   /   BOLOGNA   /   VERONA   /

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