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The soul of Northern Italy lies in Milan, a delectable pot of high-end couture, distinctive culture, and some of Italy's finest cuisine. Here, an artist sits by the canal working on a piece of art.  
Credit: Stationary Hobo/Flickr 
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Bergamo is a scenic community just 25 miles outside of Milan, nestled snuggly into the arms of the Alps. Known for its rich cultural atmosphere and natural surrounding beauty, a trip here is not complete without walking the peaceful and narrow streets of the city’s old town.  
Credit: hozinja/Flickr 
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Sapphire blue lakes, aristocratic pastel villas with beautiful gardens, exquisite small towns, and a mild Mediterranean-style climate make lakes Como, Maggiore, and Garda, an hour or so north of Milan, Italy, in Lombardy, an absolute delight.  
Credit: M. Bertulat/Flickr 
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Considered the gastronomic capital of Italy, Bologna earns its epithet as "la grassa" (the fat one). Local mythology claims tortellini was invented here, in the likeness of Venus' navel.  
Credit: WordRidden/Flickr 
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If Bologna's endless burnt orange porticoes, churches, and medieval palazzos begin to pall, take a drive into the mountains of Emilia-Romagna to sample wines from Italy's best vineyards. This richly developed region has fields of wildflowers scattered amongst unspoiled hilltop villages.  
Credit: AleBonvini/Flickr 
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Acting as a gateway from the Mediterranean Sea, the Port of Genoa is a historical town often forgotten about on the tourist rounds. The birthplace of Christopher Columbus is an excellent stop when touring Italy, as there are hundreds of hidden gems waiting inside the narrow alleyways and streets of Italy's first sea town.  
Credit: christine zenino/Flickr 
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Built in 1230 on the banks of the Arno River in Pisa, the tiny Church of Santa Maria della Spina serves as a remarkable example of gothic architecture with a rich history. In 1871, the entire building was dismantled and reconstructed on slightly higher land so as to avoid further destruction to the historic church, caused by the river's close proximity.  
Credit: guillenperez/Flickr 
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Located in the Italian region of Liguria is Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site meaning "five lands." Composed of five coastal villages—Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso—the area is a land of surreal and colorful homes perched haphazardly on cliffs overlooking the sea.  
Credit: Dennis Flaherty/Photographer's Choice RF 
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Venice hasn't acquired the nickname Honeymoon City without logging some serious romantic hours with adoring sweethearts who travel here to light the fire, or stoke the one that's already lit.  
Credit: Stuart McCall/Photographer's Choice RF 
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Options abound in Venice—keep it cozy on a gondola cruise, book a secluded bed and breakfast, watch the sunset over a deserted canal, take a moonlit stroll, or dine by candlelight on Italy's finest cuisine and wine.  
Credit: Mike_fleming/Flickr 
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Italy's Dolomites, the mountainous region located just south of the Alps, can easily be described as amazing, with its serenity, spectacular views, and the incredible adventures it offers to visitors. Formed some 200 million years ago, the Dolomites get their name from the unique composition of carbonate rock of which they are made.  
Credit: Fanelli Photography/Photodisc 
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Although they adjoin the Alps, and boast a similarly superb system of trails and full-service huts, the Dolomites are a mountain range apart. Rather than snow-capped movie-logo pyramids, you'll find towers and ramparts of pink limestone jutting out of green meadows.  
Credit: Laura Ciapponi/Photodisc 
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For the bold, some hiking routes ascend vertiginous faces with the help of steel foot-pegs, ladders, and cables—the famous via ferrata, or iron roads. Don't expect much spaghetti here; the local culture is more Tyrolean than Italian—sauerbraten, lederhosen, and Swiss-style ski chalets.  
Credit: Jean-Pierre Pieuchot/Photodisc 
 
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