The pleasures of northern Italy are found in its beautiful lakes, vine-draped hills and high mountains; its seaside beaches and -- most of all -- its ancient cities, large and small. Among the region's seemingly endless attractions:
*Venice: The exquisite old city of palace-lined canals, colorful piazzas, memorable gondola rides and romantic dreams is one of the world's great treasures.
*Cortina D'Ampezzo: Pick your season for mountain hikes or downhill skiing surrounded by the spectacular spires of the Dolomites.
*Riviera di Levante: The gorgeous mountain-lined coast of the Ligurian Sea southeast of Genoa is dotted with inviting fishing villages and the sophisticated summer resort of Portofino.
*Verona: Shakespeare set "Romeo and Juliet" in this Roman city of rose-colored marble facades, and you can spot any number of balconies that could have been Juliet's. There's summer opera in the Arena, one of the best-preserved amphitheaters, which was built in the lst century.
*Gran Paradiso National Park: Once a royal preserve, the alpine park in the Valle D'Aosta is laced with stunning hiking trails, and at the end you are likely to find a rifugio ("refuge") for refreshment or a meal.
*Bergamo: A lovely two-tiered city, it is divided between 19th-century Bergamo Basso ("Lower City") and ancient Bergamo Alto ("Upper City"), reached by a funicular. The views of the countryside are grand from this hilltop perch.
*Gardone Riviera: A splendid hillside resort town overlooking Lake Garda, it is the site of one of northern Italy's most-curious tourist attractions, Vittoriale, the extravagant villa of poet Gabriele D'Annunzio.
*Genoa: An ancient port, it is today among Italy's most elegant and interesting cities. Its historic old town, a wonderful place to stroll, is filled with palaces and parks.