The very fabric of Italy seems woven from a cloth of distinctive history, from ancient Phoenician to Palladio's 16th century villas scattered around the Veneto. Everywhere you strike treasure. In Sicily alone, the Valley of the Temples is a paean to classical Greece, Palermo oozes Arabic style, while Siracusa and Noto are Baroque gems. Island neighbour Sardinia boasts 7,000 sites linked to the mysterious Nuraghe dating back 6,000 years.
Rome draws the crowds with plentiful reminders of 2,000-year-old imperial grandeur. The medieval and Renaissance fabric of Florence is complemented by other Tuscan wonders: Gothic Siena, Renaissance Lucca and San Gimignano’s high medieval towers - rivalled by lovely Alba, Piedmont's 'town of 100 towers'. Add the famous tower in Pisa, from where Galileo dropped things to prove his ideas on gravity. Amid the jagged rose-tinted peaks of the Dolomites, enjoy a unique blend of Austrian and Italian culture and architecture in towns like Bolzano and Merrano.