The 10 most beautiful places in Italy
This Renaissance beauty Florence has it all. For starters, there's the glorious architecture, which you can all see on our listings page - who can resist the cheery pink-and-green façade and famous dome of the Duomo, the photogenic Piazza della Signoria with its stately sculptures, and the warren of shops along the Ponte Vecchio that spans the Arno? For most, however, Florence's main attraction is its staggering collection of world-class paintings, frescoes and sculptures: according to UNESCO, 30% of the world's most important works of art can be found here. With so many wonderful museums to choose from, don't hesitate to buy a house in Florence, the art and culture will fly by!
Tuscany has no shortage of charming hill towns, but San Gimignano stands out for its striking skyline, replete with medieval towers, and its remarkably intact historic centre, a beautiful ensemble of honey-coloured stone buildings. Its winding streets are frescoed with churches and Gothic palazzos, and outside the city walls, the hills are covered on all sides with vineyards and olive groves. Explore the vineyards during your stay in your own villa in Tuscany.
Lake Garda is the largest of Italy's spectacular lakes, with a more down-to-earth feel than glitzy Como, but with plenty of class. Rugged mountains surround the deep blue waters, and boats cruise between the pretty towns that hug the shore. You can make a very long stay here in your home in Lake Garda - choose from luxury spas and waterfront hotels - or take a day trip from Milan. Whatever you do, make time for a Spritz overlooking the lake, preferably at sunset. Or take a boat trip on the lake and enjoy an afternoon of Prosecco and pizza.
The Amalfi coast is stunning, and the few towns along the coast are ideal vantage points to enjoy the dizzying array of steep cliffs, lush forests and dramatic seascapes. Chichi Positano, a dramatic hodgepodge of pastel-coloured houses tumbling down to the sea, is the best of the towns. The centre is a maze of cascading streets lined with pink bougainvillea and lined with chic boutiques. You can visit Naples as a day trip or stay a few days in the city. If you stay longer, don't forget to take a walk along the Paths of the Gods, overlooking Positano.
With its crystal-clear sea, white sandy beaches and hidden rocky coves, Puglia is many Italians' favourite place to soak up the sun during the summer months. The interior is equally beautiful, with forested hills, wildlife-filled lakes and endless olive groves: the region produces about 40% of Italy's olive oil. There is so much to do, but the highlights include street food tours in Lecce and sailing trips along the coast. So you can fully enjoy all that Puglia has to offer when you buy a villa in Apulia.
The legendary island of Capri, beloved by Emperor Tiberius, a host of artists and writers in search of inspiration, and legions of today's celebrities, has star appeal galore. Away from the two centres, Capri Town and Anacapri - bursting with designer boutiques and chic cafés - quaint alleyways wind past Roman ruins and grand villas, with stunning views over the deep blue Mediterranean. If you want to explore all that the deep blue Mediterranean has to offer, such as the many caves along the coast, make sure you book your tickets for a priority boat trip in advance.
No one forgets their first glimpse of Venice. No matter how many times you have seen it in photographs, you cannot prepare yourself for the sight of a city full of stately marble palazzi, situated on a dazzling green lagoon. Enchanting in the sun, atmospheric in the mist, colourful during Carnevale, unforgettable when it floods: Venice is always a hit. If you think you've seen it all, you can join one of the walking tours and discover the most unusual and hidden places in Venice.
The five fishing villages of Cinque Terre, nestled in steep terraces along a stretch of rocky coastline on the Italian Riviera, take the top spot for the unspoilt beauty of their pastel-painted houses and small harbours full of fishing boats. The footpaths between the villages are some of the most beautiful in the world, taking you past vineyards and olive groves, with dramatic seascapes at every turn. Consider taking a guided walk to learn more about the area so you can really get settled in with your holiday home in Cinque Terre.
Despite Verona's false Shakespearean connections - the much-visited Juliet's balcony is a twentieth-century fabrication - there's plenty to love about the city. It's teeming with Roman ruins, not least the legendary Arena, the huge amphitheatre in the city centre that hosts opera performances under the stars in summer; and its historic squares and lively streets are ideal for people-watching with the obligatory gelato in hand. And if you want to taste more afterwards, you can attend a workshop to learn the secrets of Italian ice cream and make it yourself in your own villa in Verona.
Sorrento is undeniably a holiday resort. It enjoys a privileged location on the southern peninsula of the Bay of Naples, and a wonderfully long summer season. The labyrinthine historical centre is rich in Baroque and Renaissance buildings and the focal point, Piazza Tasso, is a nice place for an aperitivo. For a bit of pampering, head to one of the terrace bars of the glamorous hotels on the cliff: the perfect vantage point to take in the view.