Everywhere you go in Italy, reminders of the past mix with scenes of modern life. You may pass Roman ruins, a medieval cathedral and cloister, and a Renaissance fountain, all on your way to shop at a modern mall. Outside the cities as well — by the sea, in the mountains, fields, or wine country — spectacular natural beauty and the splendor of past centuries go hand in hand.

The past meets the present as a Roman aqueduct towers over the ski slopes; a bicyclist stays overnight at a former palace that is now a hostel; and a woman eats gelato while standing in the shadow of the Milanese Duomo.