Whether its Grand Tours or terracotta-coloured villas, Italy has always been a travel A-Lister. The challenge comes in picking a particular brand of la dolce vita. Italy’s cities offer time-proven fodder for culture-lovers: Florence’s art, Pisa’s wonky tower, Venice’s canals and Rome’s, well, everything all contenders. Seaside Puglia and hilltown-happy Tuscany represent rental hotspots, while nowhere’s more chic than an Amalfi Coast hotel. Further south, the quasi-autonomous, sun-scorched isle of Sicily scores for sandy shores, still-standing Greek temples and superb food.
What keeps me coming back? The climate and lovely language help, as do those moreish Baci chocolates. But, ultimately, its Italy’s apparently never-ending supply of secret spots which have me hooked: the Pian Grande’s extraordinary poppy blooms, which once made me cry, the trabacchi: rickety wooden fishing piers turned hopelessly romantic fish restaurants in Abruzzo, or up-your-sleeve beaches like Sardinia’s incredible Cala Biriola, rewarding a two-hour trek with near-heaven.