Within the beautiful region of South Tyrol, to the west of Bolzano in the Ortler Alps is the Stelvio Pass, regarded to be one of the best driving roads in Europe. Situated at an elevation of 2,757 metres (9,045 ft) above sea level it is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, and the second highest pass in the Alps. Close to the border with Switzerland, this amazing road with its 48 hairpin bends offers some of the greatest driving views in the region, making it truly one of the best ribbons of tarmac anywhere.
30. Passo Dello Stelvio
In the centre of the country, south east from the city of Perugia, covering an area of some 697 square kilometres (269 square miles) across the regions of Marche and Umbria is the protected area of Monti Sibillini National Park. Named after the 2,173 metre (7,129 ft) Mount Sibillini, the landscape is one of steep mountains, great open valleys and rolling grassland.
29. Parco Nazionale Dei Monti Sibillini
In the east of the country, south of the mountainous micro-state of San Marino is the small hill town of Urbino. Reaching its height in the mid 15th century, the city attracted artists and scholars from across Italy and beyond, becoming a major influence on the cultural development of Europe. Home to a wealth of well preserved Renaissance architecture, the jewel of which is undoubtedly the Ducale Palace, one of the countries single most important monuments. Dating to 1454 AD, this hugely important and impressive fortress palace building today holds one of the most important collections of Renaissance art in the world. The entire historic centre of Urbino has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
North east from the capital, Rome, is the enormous 2,014 square kilometre (778 square mile) Gran Sasso And Monti Della Laga National Park, one of the largest protected areas in Europe. Centred around the Gran Sasso massif which dominates the surrounding landscape, it rises almost vertically across the green pastures of the Campo Imperatore. Home to Europe's most southern glacier, the landscape is one of steep rocky mountains, alpine plains, open valleys and large woodlands.
27. Parco Nazionale Del Gran Sasso
Between the incredible and unique cities of Venice and Verona is one of Italy's most overlooked yet beautiful cities, the city of Vicenza, renowned for it's elegant buildings designed by the 16th century architect Andre Palladio. With a rich history and culture, the core of the city is home to museums, art galleries, piazzas, churches and elegant Renaissance palazzi. The Palladian Villas of the Veneto in the surroundings area, the renowned Olympic Theatre and the entire historic centre known as the City Of Palladio has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the extreme north west of the country, on the French border between the Aosta Valley and the city of Turin is the 703 square kilometre (271 square mile) area of protected land known as the Gran Paradiso National Park, named after the Gran Paradiso Mountain. The wonderful high Alpine landscape of mountain peaks, valleys, glaciers and lakes is easily accessible by winding smooth roads that takes visitors through this wonderful area. Sharing a boundary with Vanoise National Park in France, the two parks combined form the largest protected area in Europe.
25. Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso
South Of Milan, on the coast of the Mediterranean is the city of Genoa, the sixth largest city in Italy. Mainly viewed as a port town, the historic centre is a maze of squares and narrow streets with ornate buildings at almost every turn. Home to ancient city walls, old castles, large open parks and flower gardens, ornate cathedrals and opulent palaces, the historic centre of Genoa has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Pictured is the Piazza De Ferrari at the heart of the city.
North of the city of Milan, close to the border with Switzerland is the city of Como, sitting on the edge of one of the countries most famous great lakes, Lake Como. As well as the beauty of the lake scenery with it's mountain backdrop, the city has much historical ancient architecture that includes the very special Duomo Di Como. It's close proximity to the Alps has made Como one of the most visited locations in northern Italy, regarded by many to be it's most picturesque lake. Visitors should climb the surrounding mountain roads for a wonderful view over both the city and lake.
In the far southern centre of the country, between the cities of Bari and Naples, among the mountains in the east of the Regional Park Of Gallipoli Cognato And Lesser Lucanian Dolomites is the town and commune of Castelmezzano. Its position among steep rocky peaks has led many to consider it among Italy's most beautiful located villages.
In the extreme south east of Italy, within the heel of the country is the capital city of the Salentine Peninsula, Lecce, sometimes referred to as the Florence Of The South. With so many monuments built from the white limestone known as Lecce Stone, there is a distinct Greek feel to large parts of the city. Places of note include the the Basilica Of Santa Croce, the Roman amphitheatre and Lecce Cathedral with it's 70 metre (230 ft) bell tower offering visitors one of the best views over the city.
Pictured is the Roman amphitheatre.
At the eastern end of the island of Sicily is the 3,329 metre (10,922 ft) high Mount Etna, an active stratovolcano that stands as the tallest in Europe outside of the Caucasus. Having last erupted in 2015 it is considered to be currently ongoing. One of the most famous volcanoes in the world, Mount Etna has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Pictured is the city of Catania with Mount Etna behind.
South along the coast from the capital city, Rome, is the city of Naples, the third largest city in Italy and one of the oldest continuously inhabited urban areas in the world. Meaning 'New City' in Ancient Greek, it's 2,800 year history has left it with a wealth of historical buildings and monuments from medieval castles to classical ruins, though the most prominent architecture comes from the medieval, Renaissance and Baroque styles. The birthplace of Pizza, one of the most ancient cities of Europe, Naples is home to over 1,000 churches, making it one of the most Catholic cities in the world in terms of places of worship. With such a span of history, Naples historic centre is the largest in Europe, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the extreme north west of the country, straddling the borders of France and Switzerland in the steep western Alps, covering an area of some 3,623 square kilometres (1,260 square miles) is the Aosta Valley. In an area dotted with many ski resorts and medieval castles and fortresses that include the 14th century Castello Fenis and Castello Di Verres, the areas biggest attractions are undoubtedly the natural ones. Among the great valleys and steep snow capped mountains, the areas most famous include the southern side of both Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, arguably two of the most famous mountains in Europe, if not the world.
18. Valle d'Aosta
In the beautiful region of South Tyrol, within the stunning surroundings of the Dolomite Mountains is the picturesque Lake Braies, sometimes referred to as Lake Prags due to it's location within the Prags Valley. Sitting at an elevation of 1,496 metres (4,908 ft) above sea level, this clear body of water surrounded by steep jagged mountains and alpine forests is definitely a contender to be one of the countries most beautiful lakes.
17. Lago Di Braies
Built in 1253 AD to the south west of Perugia is the Basilica Of Saint Francis Of Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis, one of the most venerated religious figures in history. Constructed on a hillside within the medieval city of Assisi, the site comprises two churches known as the upper and lower church, both decorated with frescoes by numerous late medieval painters that demonstrate the development of Italian art during the period. One of the most important places of Christian pilgrimages in Italy, this unique enormous landmark of Romanesque and Gothic architecture is considered a masterpiece of medieval art, making it a fundamental reference point for the development of Italian and European architecture. As such, the Basilica Of Saint Francis Of Assisi has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
16. Basilica Di San Francesco d'Assisi
In the extreme north east of the country, close to the meeting point of the Slovenian, Austrian and Italian borders is a beautifully picturesque lake in stunning natural surroundings, the wonderful Lake Predil. In one of the high valleys of the Julian Alps, the lake sits at 969 metres (3,179 ft) above sea level, nestled beneath the Kanin Mountain it truly is one of the most picture perfect locations in the region.
15. Lago Del Predil
Directly north of the city of Florence, dating back to 1,000 BC is Italy's seventh largest city, Bologna, known as the City Of Towers due to the large number of structures that once ruled the skyline. Many of the 180 towers that were built had to be destroyed once they became unstable, though the Two Towers Of Bologna that have remained are seen as the symbol of the city today. With the second largest historic centre of any city in Europe, Bologna contains an immense wealth of important medieval, Renaissance and Baroque artistic monuments.
In the northern centre of the country sits the capital of the Lombardy region, and the second most populated city after the countries capital, Rome, the city of Milan, regarded as the fashion capital of the world. At the heart of the city lies the Piazza Duomo, one of the finest squares of any world city, thanks in part to the Gothic Duomo Di Milano, or Milan Cathedral. Work began on this most astonishing cathedral in 1368 AD and took nearly six hundred years to complete. Italy's largest church is the third largest in the world, and one of the most iconic buildings anywhere on the planet.
The winding roads, the rolling green hills, vineyards, historic buildings and the tall thin cypress tree's are the things that everybody imagines when they think of Tuscany. Though a lot of people list it as a destination, it is actually a huge region of the country made up of many diverse landscapes, however, the scene most people picture does exist too.
Pictured is the Villa Podere Belvedere, close to the village of Monticchielo. It is one of the most photographed buildings used to illustrate the Tuscany landscape. Unfortunately the villa is now private property, so visitors seeking a photograph will need a long lens to recreate the iconic shot. The surroundings are equally as stunning, and it is this area that visitors should seek out if they're looking for the classic Tuscany trip.
12. Tuscany Hills
South east of the city of Naples is the city locked in time, the ancient city of Pompeii. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, Pompeii was covered in a thick volcanic ash. Unable to escape quickly enough, the people were suffocated by the thick ash, leaving the bodies and buildings perfectly preserved. Today Pompeii is one of the countries most visited destinations, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Pictured is the Temple Of Jupiter with Mount Vesuvius behind.
11. Pompeii & Vesuvias
In the north west of the country, along the Mediterranean coast between Genoa and Pisa is the coastal village of Manarola, one of the five towns that make up the wonderful and hugely popular Cinque Terre region in the province of La Spezia. With its colourful buildings climbing upwards on the seaside cliffs, it is often compared to the villages that line another of the countries most beautiful destinations, the Amalfi Coast. Manarola truly is one of the countries most picture perfect towns.
South east of the city of Bolzano, within the beautiful region of South Tyrol in the Dolomites is the Lago Di Carezza, sometimes referred to as the Karersee. Surrounded by alpine forests and high craggy Dolomite mountains, the landscape is the definition of picturesque.
9. Lago Di Carezza
West of the city of Florence, close to the Mediterranean coast in the Tuscany region is the city of Pisa, famed for the walled complex known as the Square Of Miracles, recognised as one of the finest architectural ensembles on the planet. Considered sacred by the Catholic church, the square is dominated by its four hugely significant religious edifices, the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the Camposanto Monumentale and the Campanine, better known around the world as The Leaning Tower Of Pisa. Constructed in the 12th century, the freestanding bell towers tilt was caused by inadequate foundations, the ground on one side too soft to support the weight. The unintentional tilt gradually increased until stabilisation works were carried out in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, putting an end to the towers inevitable collapse. One of the most iconic locations on Earth, it is unsurprisingly a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
8. Piazza Dei Miracoli
Between the famous cities of Milan and Venice lies the city of Verona, another of the countries most incredible cities, thanks to its artistic heritage, ancient monuments and historical significance. Though not known if he ever visited, Verona is the setting for three of Shakespeare's plays. Visitors should seek out the Casa Di Giulietta, the Piazza Bra with Verona's ancient Amphitheatre, the Ponte Pietra Bridge, Piazza Erbe with the Statue Of Madonna Verona's Fountain and climb the 84 metre (275 ft) Lamberti Tower for one of the finest views around. With so much incredibly history, the entire historic centre of Verona has been classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
South of the city of Florence, is the city of Siena, one of the most visited locations in the country, and the second city of Tuscany, famous for it's cuisine, art, museums and historic medieval centre. In the Piazza Del Campo, the Torre Del Mangia stands at 88 metres (289 ft) high, making it the third tallest tower of medieval Italy after the Two Towers Of Bologna. The jewel of the city is undoubtedly the Siena Cathedral, built in 1215 AD, constructed of white and greenish black marble of alternating stripes, the colours of Siena, it remains one of the countries most iconic landmarks. Visitors should seek out a trip to the top of both the Torre Del Mangia and the tower of Siena Cathedral, with both sites offering fantastic views over the city.
South of the ancient city of Pompeii and the city of Naples, running along the southern edge of the Sorrentine Peninsula is a 50 kilometre (31 mile) stretch of coastline known as the Amalfi Coast. This hugely popular tourist destination is a place of sheer cliffs dotted with small beaches and pastel coloured fishing villages that appear to climb upwards away from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Among the most notable and picturesque of these villages is Postinao, Sorrento and Amalfi, with all three making up part of the Amalfi Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site.
5. Costiera Amalfitana
At the northern end of Italy's Adriatic coastline is one of the most famous locations on the planet. Known as the Queen of The Adriatic, The Floating City and the City On Water, these are just a few names for the 117 small islands that make up the city of Venice. Visitors can explore the tiny passageways that run along the canals, watch the gondolas pass beneath the bridges and find themselves in the amazing Piazza San Marco, or St. Marks Square. Easily one of the most recognisable cities in the world, a unique city of our planet, all of Venice has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Pictured is one of Venice's most iconic locations, The Grand Canal.
South of the city of Bologna, east of Pisa in the northern centre of the country, once the wealthiest city of medieval Europe and the birthplace of the Renaissance, is the wondrous city of Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region, sometimes referred to as the Athens Of The Middle Ages. Home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art, including one of the most iconic cathedrals in the world, Florence is a place of narrow streets, grand piazzas, statues and artworks that rank among the most important in human history. Regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with a wealth of art and architecture spanning centuries, the entire historic centre of Florence has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Once the capital of the Roman Empire, the first ever metropolis, considered the birthplace of western civilisation, it is the incredible city of Rome, remaining to this day the capital of Italy. With a history spanning more than 2,500 years it is one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe, earning it the nickname, the Eternal City.
A global capital, one of the most visited tourist destinations on Earth with more historical monuments per square mile than anywhere else, Rome is unique in being the only place in the world to have a country within a city. Home to a wealth of historical buildings that include one of the New Seven Wonders Of The World, Rome's historic centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site of insurmountable importance.
In the north east of the country, forming part of the Southern Limestone Alps is a wondrous mountain range known as the Dolomites, a place where nature proves it can beat almost anything man can imagine. Incorporating the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park and many regional parks, the area is considered one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Europe. Some of the areas most notable locations include the Pordoi, which can be reached by cable car, the Gardena Pass, Santa Maddalena, the Vajolet Towers and the huge peak of the Langkofel. With breath taking beautiful nature at it's finest, the Dolomites have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.