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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Italy


Stylish, cultured, good-humoured and volatile - Italy, with its golden light, stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, has inspired poets and painters for centuries. Perhaps more than any other country, it has influenced the course of European development, particularly in culture and political thought. Today, besides the renowned cities of Venice, Florence, Siena and Naples, each with its own unique identity and architecture, Italy features romantic medieval hill towns, such as San Gimignano in Tuscany, and unspoilt fishing villages, like Positano on the Amalfi coast. Operatic productions are staged in Verona's ancient amphitheatre, while the influence of Federico Fellini is celebrated in Turin's museum of cinema. Throughout the country visitors can find vineyards and cellars to taste fine regional wines, workshops where crafts are produced by hand, and friendly trattorie where simple but superb dishes are served.The most important early settlers were the enigmatic Etruscans, but by the third century BC their culture had been displaced by the mighty city state of Rome.

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