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Italy

Italy is a land celebrated for the arts, and not the least among the arts that have attained their highest expression in Italy is the art of hospitality. The Italian welcome is as warm and traditional as a glass of fine wine. This comparison is apt, for travelers in ancient times gave the country its first name: Land of Wines. Italians are such good hosts because they get so much practice welcoming visitors from all over the world. Italy is one of the most popular vacation countries in Europe, all seasons being good for a visit. In summer, Italy is an international playground, with visitors from all continents mingling with vacationing Italians at the famous resorts. Spring comes early to Italy and autumn lingers - and so will the wise traveler who wants to enjoy at a more leisurely pace the art centers, the large cities and the holiday resorts such as those in the Lombardian lake region where spring and fall are ideal seasons. In winter, the Italian Alps are unequaled for scenery and skiing. In northern Italy are some of the world's most renowned winter sports resorts, easily reached from such centers as Torino, chief city of the westernmost Piemonte region; from Milano, hub of the central mountain and lake district; and from Venezia, leading city of the eastern region. Skiing is also a summer sport in the Torino Alps and the lofty mountains surrounding the Valle d'Aosta. From the sunny southern slopes of the Alps to the lush orange groves of Sicilia, Italy offers enormous variety in its natural scenery and historical backgrounds. Because a good part of Italy grew up as a collection of independent city-states, customs and food vary greatly from region to region. This rich history is preserved in the colorful folklore festivals that take place in all of Italy's regions throughout the year. Most of the year the beaches are sunny, with 5,310 miles of shoreline bordering Italy and its islands. You can usually find waters where the temperature is right for swimming. And history is always in season: choose any time of year to tour historic buildings and view the world's greatest art treasures, for this is a land that has been writing and preserving its history for over three thousand years.

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