See what drew Anthony Bourdain to Emilia-Romagna (Hint: It had something to do with the food) and George Clooney to Lake Como (We're guessing just about everything).
The Northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna is known for its gastronomy, and it's no surprise with towns like Parma and the capital, Bologna, which are almost synonymous with the foods that are produced there: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Bolognese sauce and half of all pastas worth eating.
It's featured in every postcard, painting and film for a reason -- you can't visit Venice without taking a gondola ride on the watery boulevard beneath the arches of the Rialto Bridge and centuries-old buildings.
When you first think of Bellagio and Lake Como, you probably think of the Vegas casino and George Clooney, respectively. The actual town of Bellagio, jetting out into this beautiful Italian lake with the Alps in the distance, is what has inspired the rich and famous to erect hillside villas there.
Fair Verona is home to one of the best-preserved first-century Roman arenas, which was built beyond the city walls in AD 30. Today, over 500,000 people see its world-famous opera performances each year.
Giotto completed one of the most imported masterpieces in Western art around the year 1305 in Padua. The fresco cycle covers the entire interior of the chapel in 3 panels and tells the story of Christ and the Virgin Mary.
Napoleon was said to call the Piazza San Marco "the drawing room of Europe." This principal public square in Venice, anchored by Doge's Palace, reflects the height of the Venetian Republic.
For some of the finest alpine scenery in Europe, travel along the Great Dolomite Road from Bolzano to Cortina d'Ampezzo (pictured here). Cable cars, hiking trails and winding roads lead to even higher views over the mountain passes.
The inspiration for Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, the Villa Rotunda exemplifies Andrea Palladio's revolutionary style of architecture along with the Palazzo della Ragione and Laggia del Captianiato in his hometown of Vicenza.
In the 1560s, Savoy rulers moved their capital to Turin and began building palaces in addition to the 17th-century Royal Palace. Several more ring the city -- all declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1997.
The fourth largest cathedral in the world, Milan centers around its gothic cathedral, with all the streets radiating from or circling it. Construction started in 1386, but the Duomo took nearly 6 centuries to complete.
From Stresa you can take a water taxi and tour the 3 small Borromean Islands (and 2 islets) known for their picturesque villas, palaces and gardens.