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Passion seeps into all aspects of life in Italy – you can hear it in the opera, taste it in lovingly prepared pasta, and see it in action as the Italians promenade across their piazzas, talking with their hands. Only the most hard-hearted of visitors can fail to be caught up in the Italian love of life.

In its capital of Rome and its fashion and business powerhouse of Milan, life is lived at a fast pace and often via a host of speeding Vespas. Life flows through Venice via its canals and into its grand palaces and shines from the artworks housed in the living museum that is the renaissance jewel of Florence.

Deep in the countryside, however, Italian life slows down a little – here there is time to savour a new wine, linger over lunch under the vines, and contemplate a field of sunflowers. There’s something timeless about a Tuscan landscape of hilltop towns, stately cypress and olive groves, and a sense of history is palpable in the ruins of Pompeii and in Rome’s eerie Colosseum. On the coast, villages washed in pastel colours cling to cliffs; and in the Italian Alps, elegant villas overlook tranquil lakes. No wonder Italy was home to so many inspired painters and composers.

La Dolce Vita, living the sweet life!

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