The Regions of Italy
This mountainous interior, which includes the highest points in central Italy, has rugged and spectacular scenery and is home to the Marsican Bear and the Gray Wolf. Abruzzo's Adriatic coastline can be steep and rocky but also has sandy stretches in the north.
Arid and mountainous, Basilicata has historically been one of Italy's poorest regions. Nowadays it is well known for its Greek, Roman and prehistoric sites. Carlo Levi's famous memoir, Christ Stopped at Eboli, is set in Lucania, the region's former name.
The region represents the "toe" of Italy, being the most south-westerly part of the mainland. Mountainous and heavily wooded, the landscape is one of wild beauty. The region has a rich heritage of remains, showing Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Gothic influences.
Dominated by the famous city of Naples - home of the pizza - Campania has a rich natural landscape, taking in the Amalfi coast, the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida and the volcanic landscape of Vesuvius. History and wonderful cuisine abound.
Renowned as a cultural and tourist centre, Emilia-Romagna is home to the famous cities of Bologna, Modena, Parma and Ferrara. The region's cuisine offers some of the finest food in Italy, while the landscape includes both the plains of the Po Valley as well as a mountainous interior.
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One of Italy's smaller regions, Friuli spans a wide variety of climates and landscapes from mild Mediterranean in the south to Alpine continental in the north. The capital, Trieste, prides itself as being at the crossroads of the Latin and Slavic worlds, and is a highly rated holiday destination.
The home of Italy's capital, Rome, one of the world's greatest cities, Lazio also has a coastline of long sandy beaches and a mountainous interior, with pretty villages, such as Labro, and picturesque lakeland scenery.
Often cited as Italy's best-kept secret, Le Marche is a blend of what many visitors love about the country. It has wonderful landscapes, medieval architecture and an honest rustic cuisine. The Adriatic coast features sandy beaches and a hectic pace of life but inland that soon gives way to rolling countryside, gentle farmland and eventually the dramatic mountains of the Monti Sibillini National Park.
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Stretching from the French border in the west to Tuscany in the east, Liguria is a region of dramatic coastlines, famous resorts such as San Remo, Portofino, La Spezio and Alassio, and great seafood. The main city is Genoa, renowned as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.
Prosperous and populous, Lombardy has the great city of Milan at its heart. The south takes in the plains of the river Po and its tributaries; the north features wonderful mountains and lakes, including Garda and Como.
Italy's second-smallest region and little-known outside the country. Agriculture and industry abound, but towns such as Termoli, on the Adriatic coast, and Larino, with its medieval centre, provide holiday and cultural interest.
Surrounded on three sides by the Alps, Piedmont is full of wonderful mountain scenery but also includes rice fields in the flatter south. Turin is the regional capital and other well-known towns include Asti and Barolo (famous for their white and red wines respectively), Acqui Thermi (with its Roman thermal baths), and Verbania on the shore of Lake Maggiore.
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The "heel" of Italy, Puglia has sun-bleached landscapes, a multitude of olive groves, the famous trulli (the stone hut with a conical roof that is a feature of the region) and wonderful hill and coastal towns. Puglia has beautiful coastlines on both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, and a simple but marvellous peasant cuisine.
Situated off Italy's western coast, Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean.It has a wild and mountainous interior and a coastline of stunning white beaches. Roman and Phoenician remains abound as well as castles and the famous nuraghe, Sardinia's ancient megaliths.
The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily is a melting pot of Greek, Roman and North African influences. The island has an embarrassment of artistic and cultural riches, reflecting the many influences on its past, and a wonderful cuisine based on its abundant seafood. Palermo, Syracuse, Marsala and Messina are among its array of fascinating towns.
A region full of culture and history, its many attractions include the artistic centres of Florence and Siena, the towers of San Gimignano, the miniature Renaissance town of Pienza, the spa at Montecatini, and the wine towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano. Tuscany also has a marvellous coastline and the "secret" valley of the Garfagnana north of Lucca.
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This autonomous region, which encompasses the South Tyrol, is the most northerly part of Italy and has become one of the country's wealthiest areas. Extremely mountainous, it takes in a large part of the Dolomites and the southern Alps.
A verdant region at the heart of Italy, Umbria has a gentle landscape of olive groves, vineyards and farmland, dotted with hill towns such as the World Heritage site of Assisi, Spello, Perugia, Todi and Orvieto. Lesser-known areas include the beautiful Valnerina, the river valley where truffles are a speciality, and the gastronomic town of Norcia.
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Italy's smallest region is an alpine valley which includes the Italian slopes of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. The town of Aosta has Roman remains and is the gaeway to Italy for those driving over the mountains from France. The robust cuisine of the region is rightly famous.
Once part of the Republic of Venice, the Veneto extends from the Austrian border and the famous ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo to the incomparable city of Venice, and includes such magical towns as Verona and Padua as well as the eastern shore of Lake Garda.