Sardinia's problem with sand theft: The beaches in the Italian region of Sardinia -- such as Cala Goloritzè, pictured -- are so soft and golden, local authorities have introduced fines of up to €3,000 (around $3,482) for those who try to steal its sands as souvenirs. Click through for more photos of Italy's beautiful places.
Civita di Bagnoregio, Viterbo: Civita was founded by the Etruscans more than 2,500 years ago and sits atop a rocky plateau overlooking the Tiber river valley in central Italy. The town is in constant danger of destruction by erosion and was placed on the World Monuments Watch list in 2006.
Corte della Maesta
Colosseum, Rome: The awe-inspiring amphitheater echoes with ghosts of gladiators past, the roar of wild animals and the swash of sea battles, cheered on by up to 80,000 baying spectators. The arena, partly ruined by earthquake and robbers, is an enduring symbol of the Roman empire.
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Florence: Captivating Florence is the capital of Tuscany and considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. The Duomo cathedral, dating back to the 13th century, is one of the highlights along with the ancient shop-clad Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery.
Ponte Vecchio, Florence: The Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, is a Florence landmark, the only Arno River crossing to survive the retreating German army at the end of World War II. It's famous for the shops which line its span -- once butchers and fishmongers, now jewelers, art dealers and souvenir-sellers.
Duomo, Milan: The Duomo is Milan's gothic cathedral dedicated to St. Mary of the Nativity, which took nearly six centuries to build. It's the largest church in Italy (excluding St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City) and the fifth-biggest Christian church in the world.
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Palermo: Ancient Palermo is the capital of Sicily and is noted for its culture, architecture and gastronomy. The port city, on Sicily's northwest coast, sits in a bowl surrounded by mountains and has long been a mix of European and Arab cultures.
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Positano, Amalfi coastline: The Amalfi Coast is a sparkling jewel of Mediterranean beauty on a stretch of dramatic south-facing coastline between Salerno and Sorrento south of Naples. The gems of bougainvillea-clad Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, with vistas plunging into the deep blue of the Tyrrhenian Sea, earned the area UNESCO protection in 1997.
Trevi fountain, Rome: Legend has it that a coin thrown over the shoulder into Trevi fountain will ensure the visitor's return to Rome. Around 3,000 euros a day are tossed into the Baroque baths, retrieved nightly for charity. The travertine fountain, finished in 1762, stands at the end of the ancient Aqua Virgo aqueduct at the junction of three streets ("tre vie"), hence the name.
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Tuscany: The region of Tuscany in central Italy evokes myriad images: of rolling hills, sleepy villages and dreamy vistas; earthy cooking and regional wines; Renaissance treasures such as the cities of Florence, and Pisa with its leaning tower. There's coastline and islands, too. Tuscany has its own riviera and hip beach resort of Tirrenia.
Venice: Iconic Venice in northeast Italy is one of the world's most picturesque towns, built over the shallow Venetian Lagoon on more than 100 islands separated by canals and joined by bridges. Known among other things as La Serenissima, which roughly means "most serene," Venice is a treasure trove for architecture buffs, gourmets, strolling lovers and gondola fans.
Matera, Basilicata: Matera is an ancient town in southern Italy known as the Subterannean City for the cave dwellings of its original inhabitants. Its historical center is the Sassi -- once an area of poverty but now rejuvenated to cash in on tourism.
Panarea, Aeolian Islands: Tiny Panarea is the jet-set favorite of the Aeolian Islands off the northeast coast of Sicily. Car-free whitewashed streets attract day-trippers, while yachts bob in the tiny harbor. It is a dreamy summer scene -- much is closed in winter.
Archaeological Park Neapolis, Syracuse: The park holds the most important ruins of the ancient Greek Roman city of Syracuse, with highlights including the Latomia del Paradiso (Paradise Quarry), the fifth century BC Greek Theater hewn into the rockside, and the Roman amphitheater.
Salina, Aeolian Islands, Sicily: Salina is the second-largest and the greenest island of the Aeolian archipelago off northeast Sicily. It's made up of two principal volcanoes Monte dei Porri (860 meters) and Monte Fossa delle Felci (962 meters), both long since extinct. Its steep verdant slopes are famous for grapes, olives and capers, while the port of Santa Marina Salina offers a focal spot for tourists.
Capofaro Malvasia & Resort
The Faraglioni of Capri, Napoli: The island of Capri off the end of the Sorrento peninsula south of Naples conjures images of the perfect Mediterranean idyll, of plunging sea views, picturesque piazzas and spilling bougainvilleas. It has been a jet-set and Hollywood favorite for decades and designer boutiques and chi-chi cafes hide more unspoilt charms. The faraglioni are three rock formations created by erosion off the coast.
Blue Grotto, Capri: The Blue Grotto is a sea cave off the northwest coast of Capri, where sunlight illuminates the space with an azure hue. The entrance is less than a meter high, just enough for a small rowboat and its prone passengers to glide through.
Capri Palace Hotel
Cala Sabina, Asinara: Asinara is a virtually uninhabited island off the northwest tip of Sardinia measuring 52 square kilometers. It's hilly, rocky and barren, and designated a nature reserve, inhabited by wild albino donkeys. In the past it has been a leper colony and a high-security prison, but is now open to tourists attracted by its unique setting and coves of azure water such as Cala Sabina.
Lake Iseo, Lombardy: Smaller, quieter and arguably more charming than its more famous cousins Lake Como and Lake Garda -- and sandwiched between them -- Lake Iseo is a unsung gem of northern Italy.
The Langhe, Piedmont: The Langhe is a rolling region in the Piedmont region in the far northwest of Italy. It is famous for its wines, cheeses and truffles, especially the famous winter white truffles from the hills around Alba, southeast of Turin. The region's wine-making culture led to it joining UNESCO's World Heritage list in 2014.
Cascata delle Marmore, Terni: The Cascata delle Marmore is a man-made waterfall created by the Romans near the town of Terni in Umbria, central Italy. It's 165 meters high with three separate falls, the biggest of which is 83 meters. The water, which originally comes from the River Velino, normally flows into a hydroelectric power plant, but at certain times every day it is diverted down the falls, to the delight of paying tourists.
Val d'Orcia, Tuscany: This enchanting area of Tuscany is a UNESCO-protected World Heritage site for its rolling hills, vineyards, the lush valley of the Orcia River, and picturesque towns like Pienza and Castiglione d'Orcia with its hilltop fortress.
Ponza isle, Pontine Islands archipelago: The Pontine Islands lie in the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west of Naples. They comprise Ponza, the main island, along with Palmarola, Zannone and Gavi, plus Ventotene and Santo Stefano to the southeast, closer to the mainland. Stunning natural scenery, secluded beaches and island chic make these popular but unspoilt tourist spots.
Treviso, Veneto: Canals, cobbled streets, medieval city walls, frescoed churches -- it could be Venice just down the road, but Treviso is more than just a gateway to La Serenissima. This hidden gem makes it worth resisting Venice's siren call for a day or two.
Mount Etna, Sicily: Mount Etna towers over the cities of Messina and Catania in the far east of Sicily and is the highest active volcano in Europe. At 3,329 meters it is also the tallest peak in Italy south of the Alps. Because Etna is in an almost constant state of activity its fertile volcanic soils support abundant agriculture and viticulture on its lower flanks.
Circeo National Park, Latina: The limestone massif of Mount Circeo (541 meters) sits on a promontory about 100 kilometers southeast of Rome. It gives its name to the National Park which takes in the coastal strip from Anzio to Terracina and includes the "orgy" island of Zannone.
Cetona, Siena, Tuscany: Cetona is a beautiful ancient hilltop town in southern Tuscany featuring narrow paved streets, a splendid square in Piazza Garibaldi and a slower pace of life. The surrounding countryside is known for its high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
Mount Soratte and Tiber Valley, Rome: Monte Soratte is a soaring limestone ridge north of Rome dominating the Tiber River valley. It's 5.5 kilometers long with six main peaks, reaching 691 meters at its high point. The Tiber is the third-longest river in Italy, rising on Monte Fumaiolo in the Apennines and flowing southeast to reach the sea at Ostia. Rome was founded on its banks.