Italy, a European country with a long Mediterranean coastline, has left a powerful mark on Western culture and cuisine.
Its capital, Rome, is home to the Vatican as well as landmark art and ancient ruins.
Other major cities include Florence, with Renaissance masterpieces.
Such as Michelangelo’s David and Brunelleschi’s Duomo; Venice, the city of canals and Milan, Italy’s fashion capital.
Florence, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, is home ot many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture.
One of its most iconic sights is the Duomo, a cathedaral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto.
The Galleria dell’Accademia displays Michelangelo’s David sculpture.
The Uffizi Gallery exhibits Botticelli’s The Birth Of Venus and da Vinci’s Annunciation.
Milan, a metropolis in Italy’s northern Lombardy region, is a global capital of fashion and design.
Home to the national stock exchange, it is a financial hub also known for its high-end restaurants and shops.
The Gothic Duomo di Milano cathedral and the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent, housing Leonardo de Vinci’s mural The Last Supper, testify to centuries of art and culture.
Rome, Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display.
Ancient ruins such as the Forum and hte Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire.
Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
Sardina is a large Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea.
It has nearly 2000km 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
Venice, the capital of Northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea.
It has no roads, just canals – including the Grand Canal thoroughfare – lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces.
The central square, Piazza San Marco, contains St Mark’s Basilica, which is tiled with Byzantile mosaics, and the Campanile bell tower offering views of the city’s red roofs.