The Colosseum, Rome. A glory of ancient Rome, the Colosseum and the Forums make a logical starting place for exploring the city. The domed Pantheon, built in 27 B.C., is the best-preserved of the ancient sites, and is the burial place of Raphael and many other notables.
Piazza Navona, Rome. A favorite gathering spot, and once the site of a stadium for chariot races. In addition to Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers, its attractions include sidewalk cafes and street entertainers.
Leaning Tower, Pisa. The famous tower will get a temporary new look in 1998. Engineers must brace it with two 340-foot-long steel cables for delicate preservation work.
Pompeii, destroyed by an erupting Vesuvius in the 1st century, has been uncovered through years of excavation. New sound-and-light shows are planned this year beginning in April.
Borghese Museum and Gallery, Rome. See the masterpieces of Bernini, Carpaccio, Antonello da Messina, Raphael and Titian, then relax in the tranquil gardens. (Reser-vations are necessary).
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City. Its treasures include Michelangelo's Piet (sculpted in 1498) and priceless church relics. The dome is 400 feet high.
Vatican Museums and Galleries, Vatican City. Some highlights: the Greek sculptures, including Laocon, the Belvedere Torso and Belvedere Apollo; the frescoes in the Raphael rooms; and Michelangelo's masterwork, the Sistine Chapel-now with The Last Judgment, as well as the ceiling-restored to the original vibrant colors.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Works of Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, Masaccio, Botticelli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Correggio, Mantegna and others are exhibited. Among the most famous are Botticelli's Birth of Venus and Michelangelo's The Holy Family. Plans are under way to expand this incomparable museum.
Pitti Palace, Florence. One of the richest collections of 16th- and 17th-century art, displayed in stunning rooms. The emphasis is on Italian Renaissance painters.
National Archaeological Museum, Naples. The most important archaeological museum in Europe has thousands of mural paintings from Herculaneum and Pompeii, extensive Magna Graecia pottery and coin collections, and the Borgia collection of Etruscan and Egyptian art.
Capitoline Museums, Rome. In the heart of the city on a square designed by Michelangelo, they are known for Etruscan sculptures and the restored statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
St. Mark's Basilica, Venice. The Byzantine cathedral is one of Europe's most dazzling.
Doge's Palace, Venice. This combination of palace and art gallery is highlighted by magnificent frescoes and a splendid courtyard. It is linked to the old prison building by the famous Bridge of Sighs. The restored Apartment of the Doges, filled with 17th- and 18th-century furniture and paintings, is now open to the public.
Brera Gallery, Milan. Holds Raphael's Marriage of the Virgin and major works by Correggio, Carpaccio, Bellini and Titian.
Visit the charming Tuscan city of Arezzo, 45 minutes southeast of Florence. Walk the winding streets to the Basilica of San Francesco, home of the recently restored Legend of the True Cross frescoes. Painted in the 15th century by Piero della Francesca, these were models for what were seen in The English Patient. The largest antiques market in Italy operates the first weekend of every month in the medieval center of town. And for shopping, Arezzo is the largest gold- and jewelry-producing center in Italy.
Note: The lower church of St. Francis of Assisi Basilica has reopened following the devastating earthquake in September 1997. The upper church will not reopen before late 1999.