Every year millions of visitors trek through Italy in search of ancient culture, great food, art, architecture, and more. The allure is immediate even to those who have never been.
There is more art and architecture to see in Italy than one person could possibly experience in a lifetime. Rome, Florence, and Venice alone offer an unending array of design excursions. Highlighted here are some of the must-see designs of both ancient and modern Italy. Talk a trip, bring a sketchbook, and see the gorgeous art and design that is synonymous with Italian life.

The Coliseum - An architectural marvel, the coliseum was built beginning in 72 A.M. Originally used as a source of entertainment (usually forced barbaric combat) the Coliseum is still an amazing site. Strangely, although it could be considered a source of embarrassment of the past, it has been come to be known as one of the ultimate icons of ancient Roman greatness. Location: the Piazza del Colosseo, Via dei Fori Imperiali, Rome

Vatican City
- This tiny country is perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of Rome. Vatican City is the heart of Catholicism, both spiritually and politically. St. Peter himself was crucified on this spot, and St. Peter's basilica was built directly above the ancient hill. Both the Basilica and St. Peter's square are still studied today in architecture and art history classes. You can wander the Vatican Museums for days, including a visit to the Sistine Chapel, to see some of the true masterpieces of Roman art. Location: Entry through Saint Peter's Square, Rome.

Il Duomo (The Cathedral of Santa Maria Dei Fiori) - Il Duomo is considered by many to be the grandest achievement in Renaissance architecture. The octagonal dome, originally designed by Brunelleschi was the largest in the world when built. Since then, Il Duomo, which took nearly six centuries to complete, has become Florence's symbol. Climb the 414 steps of the bell tower, and Renaissance Florence will be laid before you. Location: Piazza del Duomo, Florence.

Piazza San Marco - Piazza San Marco is still studied today by architects and urban planners as one of the most beautiful and successful public squares. The square is surrounded by cafes, shops, and of course the Campanile and St. Peter's Basilica. Visitors and locals alike sip espresso in its cafes, meet to talk, and climb the Campanile to see an amazing view of Venice. Location: Piazza San Marco, with
the Basilica at the wider end, Venice.

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection - In a city world renown for its ancient art and architecture, the Guggenheim Collection houses one of the greatest collections of modern art. her collection includes works by Pollack, Picasso, Klee, Rothko, Chagall, Mondrian, and more. There is also a gorgeous sculpture garden housing even more works. Location: Calle Venice dei Leoni, Dorsoduro, Venice.

The Brion Vega Cemetery - The Brion Vega is considered one of Carlo Scarpa's masterpieces. Scarpa was and still is often considered the premier modern Italian architect. The memorial is a great concrete and landscaped form if rectilinear, stepping, and sculptural concrete elements. It is an amazing pilgrimage for the architecture buff. Location: San Vito d'Altivole.

You can wander Italy for ages and never take in all of the art and architecture. Still, the sites listed above are some of the must-sees for lovers of art, architecture, and travel. Open your eyes and see the Italian design that has been around for centuries, and that which continues to flourish today.
Michelle is a travel buff who has recently moved away from Hawaii but is anxiously awaiting the day when she can return. In the meantime, she occupies her time by helping others compare and select vacation options.

Contributor: Michelle Linden

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If you're planning a stay in any of the hostels in Paris it probably means you'll be involved in some serious sightseeing. But as you dash in and out of museums and galleries, don't forget to take some time out to indulge in something else the city is very famous for - its café culture. The café-bars of the French capital are renowned throughout the world, and there is good reason for that. Sitting quietly sipping coffee in a Parisian café is one of life's great pleasures! As is well documented, however, the city's café culture is quite unique, and it pays to be aware of some local etiquette.

Sit and Sip

On first glance, in high-profile places, coffees can appear a little expensive. But when you consider you'll be able to take your time, relax, read, write postcards or just watch the world go by, it doesn't seem all that bad. You'll never feel rushed and can sit at a table for an hour or two without a waiter batting an eyelid.

No Smoking

As in any public place now in France (including all the hostels in Paris), smoking is not allowed in cafés. There are, however, usually some open-air tables where you can still light up. If you're offended by the smell of smoke, stay inside and choose a table that won't be affected by travelling fumes.

Grab a Bite

Most cafés in the city also serve snacks, so you can enjoy delicious pastries for breakfast, and soups, baguettes and other light bites at lunchtime. You can often also order a simple three-course meal special.

Not Just Coffee

Although the word café means coffee, the cafés in France are actually called café-bars. This means they serve all kinds of drinks, both hot and cold, and you can order anything from water to beer or wine.

Service Charge

Service and taxes are always included in the price on the menu and there are no hidden additional charges. Obviously, if you want to leave an extra tip that's up to you, but bear in mind something will already have been included in the price.

The Parisian Way

The idea of sitting in a Parisian café evokes images of romance and 'times gone by'. The culture originated when life in the city was much more leisurely and people could afford to spend plenty of time whiling away the hours. That luxury is no longer available for the normal person, and in the past 50 years, there has been a huge decline in the number of cafés in the city. It could even be argued that the culture now relies for the most part on tourists and visitors staying in the hotels and hostels. In Paris today, for locals, the pace of life is such that a coffee break is short and sweet.

While traditional cafés may be in decline, they certainly won't disappear, especially if visitors do their bit to preserve them. Find the best café (there's any number within walking distance of all the hostels in Paris), then just sit back and enjoy! It's the Parisian way, after all.

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The Turkish region of Cappadocia is famous for its amazing rock formations, history and outlandish beauty. The weird spires and towers of rock have been formed as a result of the erosion of the soft volcanic rock which covers the region. There are fabulous, varied walks which wind their way through this fascinating region. Historical sites include the troglodyte homes and churches, buried towns and other early Christian artefacts, weaving a rich tapestry that well deserves its UNESCO World Heritage status. All in all, this is one of the best places in Turkey for a hiking holiday - perhaps even one of the best walking destinations in the world.

There is no single well-known trail here. Instead, pedestrians are free to choose from a whole range of walking delights. There are a number of varied and surreal valleys around Goreme that provide some of the best walking. Goreme is at the centre of a whole cluster of attractions now within the Goreme National Park and so is a good place to use as a base for your explorations.

Amongst the highlights near Goreme is the Rose Valley - a dramatic tumble of rocks leading down from the Ak Tepe shoulder to Cavusin. From the fabulous viewpoint at Kizilcukur you make your way down ladders and through tunnels, making your way down through and between strange rock formations. In the lower reaches, it is a good idea to cut up onto the low ridge that lies between the Rose Valley and the Goreme plain and walk along the Goreme facing side of the ridge to the south-east for a bit to see some particularly bizarre rock formations and some fascinating rock houses.

Another lovely place to walk is the Zelve canyon complex. This is an open air museum so you are unlikely to find you have the place to yourself, but there are a lot of sites here all crammed into a relatively small area. Walk deeper into the three canyon branches here to escape from the coach tours. The ruined churches here beneath towering cliff faces are of special interest.

From the fascinating Goreme Open Air Museum, head into the Valley of Love or the Valley of Swords. For breathtaking views, you can climb higher on the ridge path above Love Valley. Climbing to the summit of Ak Tepe is also a fantastic idea for spectacular views.

These are just a few of the many valleys and ridges you can explore while on a walking holiday in this area. It is a good idea to take your time and explore a little further afield too if you have the time. A pair of lovely valleys, for example, are found at Soganli, south of Goreme, and around 50km from Goreme is Ilhara Valley, perhaps one of the loveliest valleys, or canyons, in Cappadocia. Here you will find a lot of churches and a monastery hewn from a rock wall.

If you tire of walking, a hot air balloon ride over this area is also very highly recommended.

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If there is one thing that holidays to Sardinia promise it's the opportunity to enjoy the inviting beaches. Whether you're alone, with your partner, or with your family, there's a beach that will tick every box and become one of the highlights of your time on this lovely island.

Cala Mariolu

Cala Mariolu
Cala Mariolu can be found in the province of Nuoro and is perfect for those looking for an energetic adventure. The low, rocky seabed plays host to an amazing array of sea life, making it ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling, while the nearby hillsides are perfect for exploring, climbing and trekking.

One of the best things about this beach is its seclusion. This does mean Cala Mariolu is a little difficult to get to and it can require a fair amount of planning beforehand. But for many visitors on their holidays to Sardinia, this makes for an adventurous and cultural experience, and the boat trips to the beach is a wonderful way to see the rest of the area. It also means that visiting Cala Mariolu is a very peaceful experience and the beach is often virtually deserted.

Spiaggia di Tuerredda

Spiaggia di Tuerredda
If you're planning to spend a full day at the beach, Spiaggia di Tuerredda should be top of your list of choices. Its beauty and extensive facilities makes it the perfect day trip for anyone on holidays to Sardinia.

Spiaggia di Tuerredda is often said to have a similar appearance to beaches found in the Caribbean. The water is renowned for its crystal clear appearance and the beach is one of the best when it comes to sand quality. The clean water is ideal for swimming and scuba diving, as the temperature remains cool and is extremely refreshing after a few hours of sunbathing.

The facilities of Spiaggia di Tuerredda offer a café and restaurant, car park, beach equipment and the opportunity to rent pedal boats and canoes. Once you are there you can relax and enjoy the fact that everything you need is within walking distance.

Cala Goloritze

Cala Goloritze
Often regarded as one of the best snorkelling beaches for visitors on holidays to Sardinia, Cala Goloritze is a small, secluded beach, which has been described as 'a taste of paradise'. The dazzling blue waters can be seen from miles away and are a delight to swim in, thanks to their cleanliness and mild temperature. The beach itself can only be reached via boat or hiking, making it extremely peaceful and somewhat of a secret. Some visitors enjoy hiking along the scenic route of the old mule trail, which presents astonishing sights of caves, rock arches and botanical beauty. Taking a dip in the heavenly water after hiking is a well-earned treat.

Oasis di Bidderosa

Oasis di Bidderosa
The Bidderosa Nature Park is an expanse of forest including five amazing beaches. These beaches are largely untouched due to the protection of the park, making them an incredible place to visit for those who want to feel at one with nature.

The turquoise waters and gleaming white sands make the area a very popular choice with visitors, but the many beaches resolve any possibility of overcrowding, and during the quieter months there is a chance you could have an entire beach to yourself. The surrounding forest makes for a gorgeous backdrop, complete with a wide range of birds and cycle paths. With a visit to Oasis di Bidderosa you can get delightfully lost in the beauty that holidays to Sardinia can offer.

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The magnificence and breath-taking beauty of the Sorrento peninsula is something that everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime. The stunning views, picturesque villages nestled precariously along the cliff edges, and beautiful national parks are places that can all be explored at your leisure. Choose from the excellent range of Amalfi coast villas to rent and unlock the magic of this stunning region.

Day Trips

The town of Amalfi, from which the region takes its name, was a Roman colony and is set in a ravine at the base of Monte Cerrato, overlooking the Gulf of Salerno. The houses are built up the sides of the mountain, which forms part of the Monti Lattari range. There are some marvellous walks and hikes in the Parco Regionale, where you can discover the glories of the surrounding nature.

Apart from the stupendous views, the 9th Century cathedral, Duomo di Sant'Andrea, is one main attraction. The original church has been added to throughout the centuries, reflecting different architectural fashions, and it is one of the historical highlights of the Amalfi Coast. Villas are available throughout the surrounding countryside, but it is also possible to stay in the historical centre, to experience the atmosphere of this impossibly beautiful town and use it as a base to explore other areas along the coast.

Public Transport

If you're feeling adventurous and would like to experience the local transport services, you can catch the bus along the coast to Sorrento and then catch a rail connection to Vico Equense. If you make the effort to use public transport you'll really start to experience authentic Italian life, and will often find your fellow travellers wanting to get into a conversation - it's a good chance to practise your Italian. This is one of the attractions of choosing a base in one of the Amalfi coast villas, because you'll have the time and flexibility to take on these types of adventures.

The bus trip takes about an hour and 30 minutes, and for part of that journey you'll travel along the coastal road; try to get a window seat so you can experience the outstanding beauty of the scenery to its fullest. Bus travel certainly takes the stress out of driving yourself and Italian buses are very comfortable. When they swing around the sharp bends, it can be slightly disconcerting, however, as it often feels as though you are teetering over the edge of the steep ravines! After reaching Sorrento there is a rail connection every 15 minutes to Vico Equense, which only takes 11 minutes.

Pizza by the metre

Once you reach this lovely town perched on the top of cliffs, you'll discover the 14th-century former cathedral, Chiesa della SS. Annunziata, with its outstanding views of Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. It has a stunning Byzantine exterior and a Gothic interior. This beautiful old church is full of exquisite carved furniture and wall frescos. The town is also famous for its pizza by the metre (take some back with you for the journey home) and its sulphurous springs that are renowned for their therapeutic properties.

Vico Equense
Experiencing this protected region by public transport will add another dimension to your holiday, and it is surprisingly stress free. To get a chance to thoroughly explore this unique part of the Amalfi Coast, villas and apartments will give you the flexibility to be more adventurous by using the local buses and trains, or simply relax and spend the day sunbathing on the lovely Mediterranean beaches.

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Lauca National Park
Chile is ideal for bird watching holidays, with its ever-changing terrain and differing weather conditions. Its 4000-kilometre length exposes it to extreme contrasting climates, ranging from the scorching Atacama Desert to the sub-Antarctic southern islands. This wide range of habitats has resulted in a hugely varied bird population, which will be fascinating for both newer and more experienced birders. From the high altitude specialists to the sub-Antarctic seabirds, Chile promises to fulfil any nature lover's desires with these stunning locations.

Putre/Andes Mountains

Many Chilean bird-watching holidays will feature a drive to Putre that takes visitors through the Andes foothills, revealing the various species of Sierra-Finches that are attracted to the vegetation there. It is advisable to stop often and explore each habitat that the drive travels through. It is likely participants will see species such as Mountain Parakeet, Greyish Miner, Andean Tinamou, Black-winged Ground Dove, Andrean Swift and many more. The mountains are home to myriad high altitude avian varieties making it a fascinating area to investigate in detail.

A Sierra-Finch
Lauca National Park

Another place that should definitely be on the itinerary for any bird watching holidays in Chile is Lauca National Park. It rests on the Bolivian border and has an elevation of between 3,200 and 6,300 metres. Welcoming lake and high altitude bird species, the park is home to one of the highest lakes in the world, Lake Chungara. For those passionate about sighting water-loving species, here you'll find Crested and Andean Ruddy Ducks, Puna Plover, Silvery Grebe, Giant Coot, Andean, Chilean and Puna Flamingos, Puna Teal and many more.

Lake Chungara
Lake Chungara promises an array of wildlife that will make a wonderful addition to the itinerary of bird watching holidays. After exploring the area around the lake, visitors can head to the bogs and wetter grasslands in search of species such as the Red-backed Sierra-finch, Puna Snipe, White-winged Diuca Finch and the rare Diademed Sandpiper-plover.

The incredible mountain landscape reveals breathtaking views of Chile but is also home to an exciting number of high altitude birds, including the Puna Tinamou, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Torrent Duck, Andean Lapwing, Puna Rhea, Andean Avocet, Andean Gull, Peruvian Martin, Puna Miner, White-winged Cinclodes and Andean Flicker.


Porvenir lies within the Chilean sector of Tierra Del Fuego and hosts an array of birdlife influenced by the sub-Antarctic conditions. On board the ferry to Porvenir is the perfect opportunity for sightings of seabirds such as the Magellanic Penguin and Magellanic Diving-petrel. This is often also an exciting first glance at penguins for amateur birders on their first bird watching holidays.

Once at Porvenir, the Swans Lake Sanctuary is a great place to sight avian species that can survive in a cold and windy terrain. Inhabitants here include the Short-billed Miner, Least Seedsnipe, Two-banded Plover, Magellanic and Blackish Oystercatchers and Correndera Pipits. In rare cases, visitors may even get the chance to see the rare Magellanic Plover.

The Magellanic Plover
Parrillar Reserve

One of the must-see sub-Antarctic beech forests is in the Parrillar Reserve, where birders can explore the forest terrain in the hopes of sighting the Magellanic Woodpecker. Its large size and surprisingly tame nature makes it easily sighted. The secluded forest pools are also home to the quiet Spectacled Duck. Parrillar has beautiful surrounding countryside, home to many avian species such as the Chilean Swallow, Austral Parakeet, Black-chinned Siskin, Rufous-back Negrito, White-cheeked Pintail and many more exciting varieties.

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Tuscany is one of those rare places where both natural and man-made beauty appear to echo from the same chord: the pristine rolling hills and painted rural sunsets perfectly match the beauty of ancient Romanesque churches and the exquisite high culture of Florence. It is not surprising, then, that a holiday in one of the villas in Tuscany is the desire of so many, but what is surprising is that the region's allure actually owes so much to the past.

The end of a dark age

A short (or even long) stay in one of the villas in Tuscany is a perfect starting point to discover the secrets of the region. Whether nestled into the hillside or ensconced in one of the cities, a wealth of natural and urban beauty will surround you. The inherent aura of high culture with which the Tuscan region has become synonymous is not something born from modern culture, but draws its ambience from the decay of antiquity in Europe. The rise of the Florentine state, even during the so-called 'dark ages', meant it was perfectly placed to become the driving force behind the Renaissance. Its evolutionary zeal toward a new, heightened intellectual and cultural force shook the world and shapes the oeuvre of the current region.

The path of ships

One of the reasons why villas in Tuscany have such a flavour of romantic and rustic decadence is that they are situated in locations that suit - like Florence, the capital of the Renaissance. While the glamour capitals of New York and Paris are modern travel hubs and ancient fashion meccas respectively, few places can match the Florentine heritage, which is steeped in the trade of fine things from all around the world. From ships that passed cargo through Genoan and Venetian states to Chinese, Arab, and Indian goods reaching the ultimate destination along the famous silk road, the city is a treasure trove for the exotic and fashionable. While the nature of the elite may have changed with the demise of the Medicis, ever since the rise of modern internationalism during the Age of Enlightenment, Florence has presided over a love of aesthetics.

The birth of modern luxury

It would not have been hard for Florence to have gone the way of so many other cities whose star faded as empires rose and fell. But the city has continued to be a beacon for culture, art and sophistication - from its fashion and art to its luxurious villas in Tuscany. With beautifully restored architecture and cultivated wine and cheese, to its harbouring of the rich and famous and obsession with fine art, the Florentine region exudes a particular chic precisely because it has continued to adore high culture into the modern era.

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The ski resorts of the Three Valleys are some of the most popular in Europe. This excellent area boasts runs suitable for all abilities, and resorts provide plenty of accommodation options, including catered ski chalets. Each of the resorts offers something different for visitors, so here is a guide to what to expect.
1. La Tania

La Tania is a peaceful resort that is really not suitable for anyone looking for nightclubs and a lively party scene. Instead, it is better suited to smaller groups and families. However, you will still certainly find some good bars and restaurants to enjoy.
The runs can be challenging and the off-piste action is excellent, with places like Plumber's Crack and Dou Des Lanches being especially popular. Plenty of other activities are also available, including snowshoeing, dog sledding, paragliding and snowmobiling.
2. Les Menuires

Located in the Belleville Valley, the largest of the three valleys, Les Menuires is a popular destination for skiers looking for good catered ski chalets. It is located at a height of 1,850 metres, and is surrounded by high peaks including La Masse and Mont de la Chambre.
From here you can easily reach other resorts, including San Martin de Belleville, making it an excellent base. You will also find good snowmaking facilities, so you don't have to worry about not being able to ski if there's no fresh falls. There are about 70 pistes here as well as numerous lifts, and you will also find plenty of indoor activities including badminton and swimming.
3. Courchevel

Courchevel consists of a collection of villages, with Courchevel 1850 being the highest. It is also the best known and tends to attract a wealthy crowd, who enjoy its fine restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Other villages further down are Courchevel 1650, 1550, 1300, with gondolas connecting all the villages. In total, you can enjoy 150 km of pistes here.
4. Meribel

Meribel is a popular resort that is often recommended as a great choice for families. Not only is it considered very safe, but the après-ski scene is also excellent. There are a number of good ski schools where beginners can enjoy learning the basics.
5. Val Thorens

Val Thorens is the highest resort in Europe at 2,300 metres. As a result, the snow is fantastic here. It is also a very attractive resort, with picturesque chalets and easy access to other resorts like Les Menuires. The après-ski is lively and there are plenty of bars and restaurants to visit, including the Frog and Roast Beef, Rhum Box Café, La Folie Douce and more.
6. St. Martin de Belleville

This traditional style resort is full of good bars and restaurants to enjoy, making it a popular option for anyone wanting to rent catered ski chalets. It is linked to both Les Menuires and Meribel, making it the perfect base for exploring. It is a great option for intermediates, and the off-piste opportunities are also excellent for more advanced skiers.
Choose Your Perfect Resort
The Three Valleys is one of the best places in the world to go skiing. Catered ski chalets are easy to find in any of these resorts, so have a think about which one might be the most suitable option for you and book that ski holiday!

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