Sardinia is a large Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea. It has nearly 2,000km of coastline, sandy beaches and a mountainous interior crossed with hiking trails. Its rugged landscape is dotted with thousands of nuraghi – mysterious Bronze Age stone ruins shaped like beehives. One of the largest and oldest nuraghi is Su Nuraxi in Barumini, dating to 1500 B.C.
Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island, is just off the "toe" of Italy's "boot." Its rich history is reflected in sites like the Valley of the Temples, the well-preserved ruins of 7 monumental, Doric-style Greek temples, and in the Byzantine mosaics at the Cappella Palatina, a former royal chapel in capital city Palermo. On Sicily’s eastern edge is Mount Etna, one of Europe’s highest active volcanoes.
Valle d’Aosta is a region of northwest Italy bordered by France and Switzerland. Lying in the Western Alps, it's known for the iconic, snow-capped peaks the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa and Gran Paradiso. Major ski resorts include Courmayeur and Cervinia. The region’s countryside is dotted with medieval castles and fortresses, such as the 14th-century Castello Fénis and Castello di Verrès.
Piedmont, a region of Italy bordering France and Switzerland, sits at the foot of the Alps. It’s known for sophisticated cuisine and wines such as Barolo. Turin, the capital, has abundant baroque architecture and the monumental landmark Mole Antonelliana, with its soaring spire. The Automobile Museum is devoted to Turin’s main industry. The Egyptian Museum displays archaeological and anthropological collections.
Liguria is a crescent-shaped region in northwest Italy. Its Mediterranean coastline is known as the Italian Riviera. The 5 colorful fishing villages of the Cinque Terre, as well as stylish Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure, are on the eastern coast or Riviera di Levante. The western coast, the Riviera di Ponente, is home to Sanremo, a vintage resort with a turn-of-the-century casino and a flower-filled promenade.
Lombardy is a region in Northern Italy. Its capital, Milan, is a global hub of fashion and finance, with many high-end shops and restaurants. Its Gothic Duomo di Milano cathedral and Santa Maria delle Grazie convent, housing Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of “The Last Supper,” testify to centuries of art and culture. North of Milan, Lake Como is an upscale alpine resort with dramatic scenery.
Veneto is a northeastern Italian region stretching from the Dolomite Mountains to the Adriatic Sea. Venice, its regional capital, is famed for its canals, Gothic architecture and Carnival celebrations. Veneto was part of the powerful Venetian Republic for more than 1,000 years, between the 7th and 18th centuries. Near alpine Lake Garda, medieval Verona is known as the setting of Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet."
Friuli Venezia Giulia is a northeast Italian region bordering Austria, Slovenia and the Adriatic Sea. It’s home to the sharp-peaked Dolomite Mountains and vineyards producing white wines. Trieste, the capital, was once part of the 19th-century Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its famous sights include the old quarter, the waterfront Piazza dell'Unità d'Italia square and Castello di Miramare, a former royal residence.
Trentino-Alto Adige is a region in northern Italy bordering Switzerland and Austria. It's known for medieval castles such as Schloss Tirol, Castel Roncolo and Castel d'Appiano. The region encompasses part of the Dolomites, a section of the Italian Alps known for sawtooth limestone peaks. Trento, the region's capital, has Renaissance palaces with frescoed facades and Buonconsiglio Castle, home to art collections.
Emilia-Romagna is a region in northern Italy, extending from the Apennine Mountains to the Po River in the north. It's known for its medieval cities, rich gastronomy and seaside resorts. The capital, Bologna, is a vibrant city with an 11th-century university and arched porticos lining the streets and squares of its medieval core. Ravenna, near the Adriatic coast, is famed for its brightly colored Byzantine mosaics.
Tuscany is a region in central Italy. Its capital, Florence, is home to some of the world’s most recognizable Renaissance art and architecture, including Michelangelo’s "David" statue, Botticelli’s works in the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo basilica. Its diverse natural landscape encompasses the rugged Apennine Mountains, the island of Elba’s beaches on the Tyrrhenian Sea and Chianti’s olive groves and vineyards.
Le Marche, an eastern Italian region, sits between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Ancona, its capital, is a port city on the Riviera del Conero, an area with sandy coves, limestone cliffs and medieval villages. Pesaro is the birthplace of renowned opera composer Rossini. The interior has countryside dotted with fortified hilltop settlements and the glaciated valleys of the Monti Sibillini National Park.
Umbria is an Italian region bordering Tuscany, Lazio and Le Marche. Often called the country's green heart, it’s known for its medieval hill towns, dense forests and local cuisine, particularly foraged truffles and wines. Hilltop Perugia, the regional capital, is the site of medieval Palazzo dei Priori, housing the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria art museum. Pedestrianized Corso Vannucci is the focus of city life.
Lazio is a central Italian region bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its principal city, Rome, is Italy’s capital and was at the heart of the ancient Roman Empire. Its iconic ruins include the Coliseum, an amphitheater that seated thousands. On the coast, the ancient port of Ostia still retains detailed mosaics and a theater. Inland are the forested Apennine Mountains, with nature reserves, lakes and stone-built villages.
Abruzzo is an Italian region, east of Rome, with an Adriatic coastline and the Apennine Mountains. National parks and nature reserves cover much of its rugged interior. It also encompasses hilltop towns, dating to the medieval and Renaissance periods. Regional capital L’Aquila is a walled city, damaged in a 2009 earthquake. The Trabocchi Coast, with sandy coves, is named after its traditional wooden fishing piers.
Molise is a mountainous Italian region with a stretch of coastline on the Adriatic Sea. It encompasses part of the National Park of Abruzzo in the Apennines mountain range, with rich wildlife and trails. The regional capital, Campobasso, is known for its mountaintop Monforte Castle and Romanesque churches. To the north is the Pietrabbondante archaeological area with an ancient Samnite theater and temple.
Campania is a region in southwestern Italy known for its ancient ruins and dramatic coastline. Naples, the regional capital, is a bustling city with a striking natural setting between the iconic gray cone of Mt. Vesuvius and the deep blue waters of the Golfo di Napoli. To the south, the Amalfi Coast is home to pastel-hued towns such as Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, nestled between cliffs and the sea.
Puglia, a southern region forming the heel of Italy’s “boot,” is known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and hundreds of kilometers of Mediterranean coastline. Capital Bari is a vibrant port and university town, while Lecce is known as “Florence of the South” for its baroque architecture. Alberobello and the Itria Valley are home to “trulli,” stone huts with distinctive conical roofs.
Basilicata is a region of forests and mountains in southern Italy. It borders the Calabria and Puglia regions, as well as the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas. The city of Matera is known for its Sassi district, a vast, hillside complex of cave dwellings dating back thousands of years. The complex is part of the Murgia Matera area, a gorge between Matera and Montescaglioso that includes around 150 rock-cut churches.
Calabria, in southwest Italy, occupies the "toe" of the country’s boot-shaped peninsula. It's a sun-baked region of rugged mountains, old-fashioned villages and dramatic coastline, with many popular beaches. Coastal Reggio Calabria, its largest city, is home to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale and its Riace Bronzes, a famous pair of Greek warriors dating back to the 5th century B.C.E.