Your guide to getaways in Northern Italy

Apr 12, 2010 at 2:53 p.m. ET

Looking for an ideal European vacation this summer? Let Northern Italy be your destination! Here, landscapes range from small cities in the lush, sunflower-washed Tuscan countrysides to bustling big cities and sunny seaside villages.

SheKnows Travel contributor, Tracy E. Hopkins, is our guide through this unforgettable Italian summer getaway:

Florence, Italy


Florence, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, is a walking art history lesson -- home of Michalangelo's revered David statue and other ancient sculptures depicting Biblical and mythological figures.


The frenzied city is also a shoppers' haven to fit every budget: the San Lorenzo flea market is the place to score reasonably-priced leather handbags and belts; designer shops like Prada and Gucci satisfy the high-end shopper; and the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is flanked by fine jewelry stores.

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Not unexpectedly, Florence also boasts some of the region's best pizza -- sold in squares by the pound with unique toppings like potato and sardines -- and unbelievably creamy gelato. Vestri Cioccolato (Borgo degli Albizi) serves several silky smooth flavors, including heavenly pistachio and caramel.

On the next page: Pisa & Lucca

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