From Julius Caesar to the Pope, from Leonardo da Vinci to Mussolini – Italy’s history is peppered with the famous and infamous. Rich in artistic tradition, steeped in culture and awash with stunning architecture, from Mediterranean coastline to Alpine mountains, this country has something to offer everyone.

Italy did not become a unified country until 1861; consequently, more cultural identity is attached to the twenty regions of the country than to the nation as a whole. This is expressed through very distinct dialects, culinary habits and different standards of living.

Italy is known as ‘the boot of Europe’ and has a landmass of 294,000 square kilometres, along with a sweeping coastline spanning 7,600 kilometres. Italy shares several boarders making it a very accessible location in Europe, including France to the West, Switzerland and Austria to the North and Slovenia to the East. Short ferry rides also connect Italy with Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece to the East, along with Malta and North Africa to the South. As of 2015 Italy had a population of 61.1 million.

There is a strong north–south divide, the north being a rapidly growing industrialized society, while the south suffers from low literacy rates, economic and social depression and still operates under a pseudo feudal system. However, it is the central regions that perhaps characterize the essence of the best of Italy.

In 2013, Italy welcomed 47.7 million international tourists. The volume of tourists visiting Italy is continuing to rise, up from 43.6 million tourists in 2010. In regards to spots to visit, you travellers are spoilt for choice. The rolling landscape of Tuscany not only offers great opportunities for trekking, but also boasts more classified historical monuments than any other country in the world.

A visit to Venice can satisfy all your romantic yearnings with its shady canals, hidden alley-ways and echoing churches. The middle of the day is siesta time, an age-old tradition of the Mediterranean, followed by the obligatory passeggiata, the evening stroll enjoyed by young and old alike. The Italians are known for their enjoyment of the dolce vita, and no visit would be complete without indulging in fine wine, fine food and fine fashion.