Tumbledown cottages are held up by colorful bougainvillea. Market stalls in an ancient piazza alive with the shouts of the stall keepers and the laughter of children.
Light sparkles off Venetian canals, while boats of every shape and hue jostle for space. There's so much to see that it's impossible to take it all in. These are but a few of the sights that make up the sensual joy of Italy; there is so much more.
I long to be able to take you to my Italy and share those simple things that bring me such pleasure.
Sometimes I'll wander down a cobbled lane through dappled sunlight and feel my heart soar. I feel I've discovered some great secrets to life. Then it'll dawn on me that this same lane has been here for a thousand years and has inspired joy in maybe a million or more hearts. That always makes me smile and makes me wonder who passed here before me and where are they now.
Sadly, I can't take you to "my Italy" in person, but I'm happy to be able to do the next best thing: share a visual journey through some of the loveliest Italian places I know and love.
Make yourself a cup of coffee, find a quiet spot, and switch off your phone. Now linger over these photos. Italy is not about rushing, so spend your time here; you'll soon start feeling like you're in that little lane or exploring a forgotten Venetian canal.
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Sirmione (click for more) is full of wonderful little shops like this one and it has a Roman villa and a medieval castle too. Best way to get here is by boat.
Piovene Rocchette (more details here) is my family's home. This little lane meanders up the hillside and past the old drinking fountain where the water is about the best you'll ever taste.
Verona (more stunning photos here) is one of the greatest of all Italian towns. Spending a day in a piazza is included at number eight on the Italian Bucket List and you won't find a much better piazza to spend time in than this one.
A little before entering the Ghetto of Venice I discovered this shop and fell instantly in love! More of the ghetto area here.
Bright early June sunshine, sparkling canals and and an overwhelming feeling of joy. That's pretty much what you can expect out of a summer's day in Venice. Here is our list of the must see attractions.
Early morning sunlight in Venice. This is the best time to be up and around in Venice; you'll have the city pretty much to yourself with only a few street cleaners about.
Crumbling walls, wooden shutters and window boxes are so typically Italian. Here is my list of some typically Italian things you really have to experience.
Peschiera del Garda and Lazise are the towns we always visit when we are looking for one of those fun-filled family vacations. In and around both towns you'll find more than enough to keep even the most demanding happy... be they three or eighty three.
William (my son) and I were walking through the magnificent gardens of an old villa near our home when we stumbled upon a doorway that seemed to lead underground. With trepidation we took the steps into the darkness and were greated by this unforgettable site...an ancient and seemingly forgotten aquarium.
Vicenza is a charming town which seems to be off the itineraries of most tourists. It's a shame really because there is so much to see. It was the home of Palladio - one of the world's greatest architects and is full of wonderful buildings and squares. The park in the photo is one of my favourite spots - I spend hours sitting quietly here with a good book.
I've often thought that Padua (Padova in Italian) has to be one of the best cities in Italy to live. If I had to choose a city to live in between Rome, Florence, Venice and Padua; my choice would be Padua.
When I think of Italy I always think of color and if you love color too you'll love Burano.
Two regions we love a lot are Umbria and le Marche. This photo was taken by Susan Papazian, a lady who has a real knack for capturing the heart and soul of Italy - have a look at her album here.
The Bridge of Sighs where eternal love is assured... if you do one simple thing. What is it? Click here for the answer.
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