Aosta ValleyThis is the most mountainous region of Italy, dominated by Alpine peaks, glaciers, valley streams, pine forests and high pasturelands, and accessed by the tunnels at the historic passes of Monte Bianco and Gran San Bernardo. The capital, Aosta, recognizes both Italian and French as the native tongues, and offers visitors such sights as the 11th century Romanesque Cathedral, Sant'Orso Church and the perfectly preserved forts of the Aosta Valley.
PiedmontA region rippling with Alpine streams flowing into the Po, and dominated in the east by the lakes of Maggiore and d'Orta. The capital, Turin, features cultural and artistic influences from the Romanesque-Gothic and Baroque styles, while Sestrier and Bardonecchia offer fantastic skiing resorts.
LombardySpreading over the Po Valley and bordered to the north by the Alps, this region is a veritable lake district, including eastern Maggiore, Varese, Iseo, Como and northern Garda. Each major city contains striking monuments to Romanesque and Gothic architecture, such as the Cathedral of Milan, while sumptuous Renaissance palaces and churches abound - some containing examples of the Lombard painting movement, which peaked during the fifteenth century.
Trentino and South TyrolA dramatic Alpine province, rich in rivers and lakes, and clusters of mountains and valleys, bisected by the Adige river. Three natural parks, Adamello-Brenta, Paneveggio-Pale of S. Martino and Stelvio conserve the native flora and fauna, including bears. Straddling Germany and northern Italy, the capital Trento combines both diverse cultures to create a fascinating artistic aesthetic.
Friuli Venezia-GiuliaA broad, flat province stretching from the Tagliamento River and to the Adriatic coastline, dotted with lagoons, interesting geological formations and countless grottoes. The regional; capital is Trieste; major towns include Udine, Gorizia and Pordenone. Evidence of older civilizations is abundant: Aquileia is a noted Roman archeological center, also with magnificent mosaics in its Romanesque Gothic Basilica.
VenetoBordered by the eastern part of the Po Valley, the extensive plain comprises the majestic Dolomites of Cadore and the lagoon zone, including Venice, the region's agelessly beautiful capital. Here, Byzantine influence abound, in San Marco's and the Cathedral of Torcello, while there are innumerable glorious examples of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance art and architecture. Other unmissable treats include the Venetian islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello; Chioggia; the canals of the Brenta and the Veneto villas.
LiguriaCentered around the Gulf of Genoa on the Tyrrhenian Sea, Liguria is a mountainous region formed by the Maritime Alps and the Apennines, leaving only a narrow coastline. The region is divided at Genoa, the capital in the Riviera di Ponente (west to Ventemiglia) and the Riviera di Levante (east to La Spezia) - the tail end of which the beautiful, unspoiled "Le Cinque Terre" (the Five Lands). Throughout Liguria, you can find superb examples of Roman ruins, Romanesque and Baroque architecture and many medieval forts, towers, walls and castles.
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