Don't tell, but northern Italy has a bit of a secret.
Just over the majestic Appenine mountains, stretching from historic Piacenza to the sunny seaside resort of Rimini along one of the oldest Roman roads in Europe, you'll find the Emilia Romagna region.
Boasting a pizza slice of truly authentic Italian living, here the swarthes of tourist crowds you might find elsewhere in Italy are replaced by culture, fine food, natural beauty and fascinating stories from its ancient past.
As a melting pot of vastly different cities, each with their own quirky identity, the Romagna region is an ideal base if, like me, you like to try a bit of everything on holiday. Call it a buffet of Italian treats, finger food for holiday makers.
Once in the region you can pick and choose from a variety of experiences and destinations, from vibrant Bologna to quiet dozing villages like Fratta Terme, from walking with flamingoes to exploring the beautiful mosaic city of Ravenna.
It's no wonder the area is the first of its kind in the world to become a dedicated Wellness Region, committed to leading the way in healthy living and making its people and visitors feel fantastic.
Sun, sea, sand and some good old fish and chips. No, not Blackpool. But Rimini. The medieval coastal city that's home to centuries of history, a touch of glamour and a stunning sea view.
Here you can track what's left of the Via Emilia, the old Roman road that once connected to the Via Flamina, the route that led from Rome to the colony of Ariminum, founded in 268 BC, now called Rimini. You'll also uncover among the miniature alleyways and tiny cobbled streets, other little mines of the past as you see the old mosaic floors and skeletons of the old Surgeon's House, the ruins of the Malateste Castle and the peculiarly pagan central cathedral.
Be sure to check into the Grand Hotel, Rimini – either just for evening drinks or if you want a really luxurious treat, for an overnight stay. The Ritz of the region, you can feel the history as soon as you walk in the door . And with its quirky antiques and characterful features, you can see why the legendary Italian director, Federico Fellini, eventually made this place his home.
And of course it wouldn't be a trip to the seaside without a fish lunch and luckily the Emilia Romagna region has some of the best fish around, caught straight from the nearby coast. Squid, shrimp, octopus, calamari, trout and more, you're doing something right if you sample it all, leaving you flying back to England practically hopping with Omega 3.
Away from the bustle of Romagna's main cities, there's plenty of peacefulness to enjoy too.
In sleepy little villages like Fratta Terme, you'll get a glimpse of a truly charming everyday Italy where old men and stretched out cats nap on terracotta terraces overlooking the rolling hills of vineries.