Italy and Greece at a Glance

The appeal of Italy and Greece is both cultural and hedonistic. As the cradles of Europe's two great Classical civilizations, both countries are famous for their ancient temples and monuments, concentrated principally in the cities of Rome and Athens. Located in the southern half of Europe, Italy and Greece share a sunny Mediterranean climate and a correspondingly laid-back way of life. Away from the main cultural sights, the peaceful countryside, beautiful beaches, and warm seas guarantee a relaxed vacation.

Venice is a city quite unlike any other: a fabulous treasure house of art and architecture, built on a series of islands, where there are no cars and the streets are canals.

Florence embodies the Renaissance of art and learning in the 15th century.Familiar masterpieces of the period,such as this copy of Michelangelo'sDavid, adorn the streets.

Rome owes its grandest monuments to the era of papal rule. The vast colonnaded square in front of St. Peter's and the Vatican was created by Bernini in the 17th century.

The Peloponnese, a large peninsula, connected to the rest of the Greek mainland by the Corinth isthmus, abounds in ancient and medieval ruins. The heavily fortified sea port of Monemvasa, in the southeastern corner, has many well-preserved Byzantine and Venetian buildings.

Athens is renowned for its unrivaled collection of Classical antiquities. The world-famous Acropolis is dominated by the 2,500-year-old Parthenon, built as an expression of the glory of ancient Greece.

Crete, the largest and most southerly of the Greek islands, boasts clear blue seas and fine sandy beaches. Inland there are ancient Minoan palaces and dramatic mountainous landscapes.