*Rome. Simply one of the most incredible cities in the world – and fantastic for kids learning about the Romans. Hang out in the Piazza Navona, window shop on the Via Condotti, explore the Colosseum and the Pantheon, admire the views from the Spanish Steps and visit the Vatican, which is so beautiful it makes me cry every time I visit. (You can watch my video guide to Rome here).
*And Venice, Florence, Verona… All Italian cities, in fact.
*The food. Pasta never tastes quite as good back home as it does in Italy, where even the most simple dish, for example plain, served with parmesan and black pepper, is delicious. But of course the seafood, meat and pizza is also incredible. The Italians just know how to cook. Plus there’s the cheese, and salami. And of course it’s the home of espresso, and Prosecco, and Limoncello…
*Italian style. Every time I visit Italy it amazes me how stylish the women are – it seems almost effortless, although of course it isn’t. Look at Sophia Loren (78) – she completely knows how to pull a very simple outfit together with clever accessorising. But of course the men, too, know how to dress. And if Versace isn’t your thing, then there’s always Armani.
*Italian islands. Sicily and Sardinia, in particular.
*It’s great for kids. We’ve had some brilliant family holidays in Italy. I don’t buy the ‘Italians love children’ line though – although this may be true, I think the reason families can feel so comfortable in Italy is because children are largely ignored and treated as adults. So you never feel as though you’re making a scene, unlike at home.
*The language and culture. I never tire of hearing Italian – it’s the most beautiful, magical language, and although I only speak a smattering (and understand only a little), I always want to try. And whether it’s football, opera or art, Italian passion and enthusiasm is impossible to ignore.
*Italian chaos. Every time I visit Italy nothing ever goes quite to plan – you just have to go with it, otherwise you’d drive yourself nuts.