A treasure trove of art, architecture and natural splendour, Italy is unarguably one of the great cultural centres of the world. It is also one of the few places where ancient and modern society live quite amicably side by side. Its great cities are replete with fantastic works of art, from the crumbling remains of the Roman Empire to the magnificent canvasses of the Renaissance. Italy is a feast for all the senses, from the historical and cultural grandeur of Rome, Florence, Milan, Naples, Bologna and Venice to the ski resorts of Courmayeur and Cortina d'Ampezzo, from the sun-kissed beaches along the coast to the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Even the most demanding of tourists cannot fail to be charmed.
Italy's currency is the Euro. Italy is three and a half hours behind India in summer and four and a half hours in winter. Italian is the main language spoken throughout.
As capital of the Roman Empire, the Papal States and Italy, Rome truly is the Eternal City. One of the world's most elegant capitals, the city's sheer excess of beauty can prove overwhelming to the unsuspecting visitor. Roman columns soar up beside medieval basilicas, the tinkling of water fountains fills the air at Renaissance palaces, colour and aroma fills the multi-coloured markets and the winding cobbled streets. As if this weren't enough, Rome is also one of the world's fashion capitals and its cuisine and shopping are amongst the most popular on earth.
Florence rises from the breathtakingly beautiful landscape of Tuscany like a living piece of history. Even the most normal street or building is a work of art, embodying the classical beauty that defined the Renaissance. Everywhere you turn you will see works by Michelangelo, Donatello and other artists of Italy's Golden Age. It is undoubtedly in the museums and galleries that most of Florence's charms are concentrated. But Florence is also a city of today - the piazzas are full of fashionable boutiques and fashionable people and the café is still central to Florentine social life.