( ‘Italia’ meaning ‘Calf Land’ )

This European country, with a long boot shaped coastline has left a powerful mark on Western culture and cuisine. Italy offers up a feast on contrasts, with thousands of years of history to be discovered in well-loved cities, outstanding natural landscapes – from coast to mountain to countryside, a familiar and firm favourite.

Once at the heart of the great Roman Empire, Rome’s influence extended from North Africa through to present-day Iraq in the east and as far as Great Britain in the north. After the collapse of the empire, powerful city-states began to emerge. These sparring states then became engulfed by greater powers such as Spain, France and Austria. Unification of Italy only came about in the mid-19th century and, even today, the different cultures of the various regions of Italy still persist.

Whether you wish to experience the architectural wonders of Rome, immerse yourself Tuscany’s gastronomy, the beaches of Sicily or even skiing in the countries undiscovered gem of the Dolomites and Alps, Italy’s 20 regions feel more like 20 independent states, each with its own dialects, traditions, architecture and glorious food, leaving you spoilt for choice.