Beside the banks of the River Arno and set among low hills clad in olive groves and vineyards, Florence ( Firenze) is immediately captivating. Cradle of the Renaissance and home of Machiavelli, Michelangelo and the Medici, the city seems unfairly over blessed with art, culture and history. Despite the traffic and stifling summer heat, Florence attracts millions tourists each year. The French writer Stendhal was so dazzled by the magnificence of the Basilica di Santa Croce that he was barely able to walk for faintness. He’s not the only one to have felt overwhelmed by the beauty of the city – Florentine doctors reputedly treat a good dozen cases of “ Stendhalismo” each year. You need at least four or five days to do Florence any justice at all. Florence, in the street M. Mercati 24 payment tel. 0039 055 481285.
Siena is one of Italy’s most enchanting cities. While Florence, its historical rival, saw its greatest flourishing during the renaissance, Siena’s artistic glories are earlier and Gothic. The medieval centre bristles with majestic buildings, such as the Palazzo Comunale on Il Campo, the main square, while its profusion of churches and small museums harbour a wealth of artwork. Budget in a couple of days to really savour the city and its rich treasures. Or make it more than two; Siena also makes a great base for exploring central Tuscany, especially the five-star medieval towns of San Gimignano and Volterra.
visit St Peter’s Basilica the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. Lunch around Piazza Navona before popping into the Pantheon en route to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Make a night of it drinking in vibrant Trastevere.
Once you’ve seen the greatest hits, stroll the streets: check out the designer shops on Via Condotti, enjoy the quiet of the Jewish Ghetto or marvel at the views from the top of the Vittoriano on Piazza Venezia. Back on the museum trail, visit the Capitoline Museums. After dark, join the student drinkers and fashionable diners in San Lorenzo.
Venture out to Via Appia Antica and the Catacombs of San Callisto or take a day trip: choose between Ostia Antica or the Etruscan treasures of Cerveteri and Tarquinia.
Once, is briefly, a maritime power to rival Genoa and Venice, Pisa now draws its fame from an architectural project gone terribly wrong: its Learning Tower (Torre Pendente). But the world famous tower is only one of a trio Romanesque splendours on the green carpet of the Piazza dei Miracoli – a serious rival to Venice’s Piazza San Marco for the title of Italy’s most memorable square. Pisa has a centuries old tradition as a university town and still swarms with students. Pisa, numerous parking lot for motorhome, in the street Brennero, street Pietrasantina, place…