Planning a trip to Italy? Here are five places you’ll want to put at the top of your list, for savoring the very heart of Italian ambiance.

For an exhilarating metropolitan experience in one of Italy’s busiest cities, Naples offers a vibrant atmosphere, chock-full of art museums, history, shopping, dining and world class nightlife venues. This focal point of Southern Italy is the capital of the Campania region, where many well known Italian foods–like spaghetti, pizza and parmigiana were first introduced. Made with locally grown, fresh ingredients, you’ll want to try them all in Naples, for a taste of authentic Italian culinary passion.

Known for being one of Europe’s wealthiest cities, Milan was almost obliterated by heavy bombing during WWII, but today, visitors to this spectacular city will discover a reconstructed center for high fashion, with its huge array of designer shops. It’s here that visitors come from all over the world to see Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” Other prominent tourist draws of Milan’s world renowned treasures that somehow survived are the Castello Sforzesco, the La Scala Opera House and one of the largest Gothic Cathedrals in the world, the Duomo di Milano, which took centuries to build.

One of the most visited attractions of Italy, Pompeii was, for nearly 1700 years, buried underneath several thick feet of volcanic ash, from the devastation resulting when the now hundreds of thousand of years-old Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79AD. Easy to get to from Naples, Pompeii offers tours on an ongoing basis that provide visitors with an intriguing connection to what life was like for ancient Romans. A walk down any Pompeii street will reveal a myriad of remains from that long ago time.

If you can only make one stop in Italy, it should be in Venice. This city is built upon a lagoon that’s surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. Many visitors are surprised to discover that Venice is actually an archipelago of 118 islands which are linked by hundreds of distinctive bridges and canals. Most people have heard of the Grand Canal, which divides the city into two parcels. Often considered to be one of the most romantic adventures ever, a leisurely tour via gondola, floating through the Canals of Venice will reveal magnificent old world architecture and sights, everywhere one looks.

Probably Italy’s most well-known region, the visual splendor of Tuscany comes in a variety of forms and colors. Here, you’ll find centuries old olive groves, vineyards and cypress trees all embedded within the rich landscape of beautiful rolling Tuscan hills. There’s much to do here, from a day trip to discover Renaissance art in Florence, relaxing with a bottle of homegrown wine at a little sidewalk cafe in Chianti or just exploring Tuscany’s enchanting small towns and all the little shops and restaurants. Here you will find the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and Elba offers premier beaches. Make sure to check out the medieval city of Sienna, with unsurpassed history and art.