Tuscany and Umbria Visited

Discover the treasures of one of the world's most rewarding tourist haunts
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Florence's ethereal atmosphere (PhotoDisc)

Art, architecture, cuisine, scenery, shopping. The delicate green and alabaster lines of Il Duomo. The pronounced edifice of the Uffizi Gallery. The mosaics that line the walls of St. Peter's Basilica. Italy is an overseas dish that stirs the soul's palate, seasoned with some of earth's finest ingredients. There is so much culture on which to feast, you could spend a lifetime stuffing your face.

To whet the appetite, start halfway down the boot amid rolling hills awash with sunflowers in Tuscany. Its center is Florence, where the streets are literally lined with artistic treasures that'll prime you for the greater cultural and sensory Italian feast to come.

With your cultural and gastronomic spirits literally stuffed to the hilt with all that Tuscan magnificence, take some time to venture off the typical tourist track by first heading south to Siena, about an hour's drive from Florence. There, hit one of the world's most spirited and colorful festivals, or alternately sip la dolce vita in one of Europe's finest chill-out squares. Either way, it's a dilemma worth facing to experience Italy's best-preserved medieval town.

Finally, continue several hours south by rail or car to one of the world's most awe-inspiring cities: the so-very ancient, yet equally modern, historical Leviathan that is Rome. Birthplace of western civilization and one of Italy's most vibrant locales, Rome is the place to round out any Italian cultural banquet in truly decadent style. Marvel at the ancient arena where dreams (and lives) were dashed and attained; absorb the powerful spirituality of the Vatican and Rome's many ornate places of worship; and even experience the city's new wave of 21st-century growth, with chic new spas and hotels, cutting-edge restaurants, and some of the world's hippest bars and boutiques.


Published: 13 May 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Italy

$156-$190
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Canal Grande Hotel Venice
$332
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Berg Luxury Hotel Rome
$238-$694
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Ludovisi Palace Hotel Rome
$274-$304
Average/night*
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Antiche Figure Hotel Venice

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