Where to start? The fact that Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country on the planet? That the food is tantalisingly close to perfection? That the landscape, from beautiful island beaches to cypress tree-topped hills and soaring mountains, has something for pretty much everyone? Suffice to say this is a country that gives France a run for its money as the perfect all round destination, and as with our Gallic friends, it's all there on our metaphorical doorstep. Lucky us.
From a diving perspective, the highlight is Sardinia. Just to the south of Corsica in the western Mediterranean, this island is a mountainous slab of granite blessed with endless white-sand coves, and offers some of the most exciting diving in the Mediterranean. In 1960 the Aga Khan led a group of investors in buying some 35 miles of its most stunning coastline, and proceeded to transform it into what is now known as the Costa Smeralda or the Emerald Coast, named after the distinctive colour of the island's surrounding waters. The diving around this part of the island, and off the coast on the Maddalena Islands is some of the best in Europe.
Sardinia itself offers aquarium-like diving conditions with almost limitless visibility. Often described as the most exciting diving in the Mediterranean, it is both varied and suitable for all divers, from novices to the more experienced.