Buried by Mt Vesuvius in AD 79, this crowd-pulling Italian site has to be seen. Get to Pompeii early to beat the coach parties and savour the haunting atmosphere of abandoned bath houses, brothels and mansions.


Bullyboy Russell Crowe wouldn’t have lasted five seconds in gladiatorial combat at Italy’s greatest architectural wonder in Rome. The sheer scale and size of the Colosseum’s amphitheatre will leave you breathless.

Venice Carnevale

Masquerade fever grips Venice as the Venetians defy winter in fantastic costumes for this carnival.

Via ferrata

Altitude freaks will love these classic Alpine scrambles. In the stunning mountains of the Dolomites, your life at times will hang by a thread on a series of iron rungs, ladders and pegs. For trip ideas see Exodus.

Sistine Chapel

Even philistines can’t baulk at time spent ogling Michelangelo’s finest artwork in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. His ceiling frescoes and The Last Judgement are artistic eye-candy.

Il Palio

Siena’s explosively colourful pageant dates back to the Middle Ages and culminates in a madcap horse race around the Piazza del Campo.


Out in the Mediterranean, the island of Sardinia’s rich cultural history and cuisine are far from the mad crowds. The Sagra di Sant’Efisio in May is one of Italy’s craziest festivals.

Cycle Tuscany

It’s Tony Blair’s favourite holiday destination, with good reason. The way to see Tuscany’s iconic rolling hills, ancient walled cities and chianti vineyards is by bike.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

It may be embarrassing to admit being one of those sad tourists photographed in the foreground of the tower pretending to prop it up, but this stilted Romanesque masterpiece shouldn’t be missed.

Mt Etna

Italy’s bad-arse volcano regularly belches out sulphurous gas clouds and iridescent lava flows. Activity permitting, you can hike to the summit cones.