Certosa di Pavia, Pavia    This city south of Milan was a court for the ruling Visconti and Sforza families, and at the Certosa they are entombed behind a facade of richly colored marble, amid frescoes, paintings, and elaborate statuary. Cistercian monks reside at the Certosa in two-story cottages -- each with its own garden plot -- that surround the enormous cloister.     Photo Caption: The Certosa is just one among many architectural wonders of oft-missed Pavia.    Photo by Riccardo De…

Certosa di Pavia, Pavia This city south of Milan was a court for the ruling Visconti and Sforza families, and at the Certosa they are entombed behind a facade of richly colored marble, amid frescoes, paintings, and elaborate statuary. Cistercian monks reside at the Certosa in two-story cottages -- each with its own garden plot -- that surround the enormous cloister. Photo Caption: The Certosa is just one among many architectural wonders of oft-missed Pavia. Photo by Riccardo De…

Leaning Tower, Pisa    The very word "Pisa" conjures images of a jauntily askance, ornate white marble cylinder, framed by sunny blue skies and as iconic of Italy as pizza and tomato sauce. A view andaphotosessiondo not suffice: Climbing the tower is one of Italy's most exhilarating experiences.    Photo Caption: Though its prominent lean looks disconcerting to prospective climbers, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is now stable.    Photo by Vanessa Berberian

Leaning Tower, Pisa The very word "Pisa" conjures images of a jauntily askance, ornate white marble cylinder, framed by sunny blue skies and as iconic of Italy as pizza and tomato sauce. A view andaphotosessiondo not suffice: Climbing the tower is one of Italy's most exhilarating experiences. Photo Caption: Though its prominent lean looks disconcerting to prospective climbers, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is now stable. Photo by Vanessa Berberian

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan    The glass-covered shopping arcade at the center of Milan, tucked between the Duomo and La Scala and inaugurated in 1867, is the prototype for shopping malls around the world. Milanese are proud to refer to their landmark as the "Salotto di Milano" (Living Room of Milan).    Photo by Lucabertol/Dreamstime.com

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan The glass-covered shopping arcade at the center of Milan, tucked between the Duomo and La Scala and inaugurated in 1867, is the prototype for shopping malls around the world. Milanese are proud to refer to their landmark as the "Salotto di Milano" (Living Room of Milan). Photo by Lucabertol/Dreamstime.com

Mosaics, Ravenna    From 550 to 750, Ravenna flourished as the western seat of the Byzantine Empire, and the most striking evidence of the city's former power can be found in the brilliant mosaics that shine within its churches and other landmarks.     Photo Caption: Among the figures in the 6th-century mosaics of San Vitale is Emperor Justinian, placed at Christ's side.    Photo by Riccardo De Luca

Mosaics, Ravenna From 550 to 750, Ravenna flourished as the western seat of the Byzantine Empire, and the most striking evidence of the city's former power can be found in the brilliant mosaics that shine within its churches and other landmarks. Photo Caption: Among the figures in the 6th-century mosaics of San Vitale is Emperor Justinian, placed at Christ's side. Photo by Riccardo De Luca

Southern Tuscany    Olive groves, vineyards, cypresses, wine towns, and wheat fields studded with farmhouses capture the beauty and essence of Tuscany. Pienza is an especially good place to hit.    Photo Caption: Pope Pius II designed Pienza's historic core as the "ideal Renaissance city."    Photo by Hollenbeck Productions

Southern Tuscany Olive groves, vineyards, cypresses, wine towns, and wheat fields studded with farmhouses capture the beauty and essence of Tuscany. Pienza is an especially good place to hit. Photo Caption: Pope Pius II designed Pienza's historic core as the "ideal Renaissance city." Photo by Hollenbeck Productions

Valley of the Temples, Agrigento    Sicily's most celebrated archaeological site preserves a proud group of temples from the fifth century BC, as well as houses, streets, and tombs -- all set on a ridge amid olive and almond trees and overlooking the sea.    Photo Caption: Agrigento. Photo by gmsanders/Frommers.com Communitiy

Valley of the Temples, Agrigento Sicily's most celebrated archaeological site preserves a proud group of temples from the fifth century BC, as well as houses, streets, and tombs -- all set on a ridge amid olive and almond trees and overlooking the sea. Photo Caption: Agrigento. Photo by gmsanders/Frommers.com Communitiy

Vatican Museums, Rome    The richest museum of ancient and Renaissance art in the world is enthralling in its quantity and quality. Standouts are the Laocoön and other ancient sculptures, the Raphael Rooms (Stanze di Raffaello) and Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, and the rest of the collections range from mummies to moonrocks.    Photo Caption: A view of the Vatican Museum in Rome, dominated by the golden sphere that stands outside,    Photo by Jim Holmes

Vatican Museums, Rome The richest museum of ancient and Renaissance art in the world is enthralling in its quantity and quality. Standouts are the Laocoön and other ancient sculptures, the Raphael Rooms (Stanze di Raffaello) and Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, and the rest of the collections range from mummies to moonrocks. Photo Caption: A view of the Vatican Museum in Rome, dominated by the golden sphere that stands outside, Photo by Jim Holmes

Pantheon. The 2nd century Roman temple to all Roman Gods built by the Emperor Trajan. Now the Roman Catholic  church of St. Mary and the Martyrs. Rome

Pantheon. The 2nd century Roman temple to all Roman Gods built by the Emperor Trajan. Now the Roman Catholic church of St. Mary and the Martyrs. Rome

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