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National Geographic publishes in 16 languages around the world. Who better to point you to the best places to see in their countries than the editors of our international editions? Each month a real insider reveals five must-see destinations.

Alix Van BurenWho’s really the boss at the NGM-Italia office in Rome? “My dalmatian, Archibald, is the boss,” editor Alix Van Buren is quick to point out. “He sits in my desk chair and tells me he really would love to be on the magazine’s cover,” she jokingly confesses.

In their pet-friendly workplace, Van Buren and her staff of ten celebrate their edition’s third anniversary this month. Since their February 1998 launch, circulation of the edition has grown to 200,000 issues with 100,000 subscribers.

“I grew up with National Geographic like everyone else,” says Van Buren, who was born in Europe of American parents. Trained as a journalist, she worked as a war correspondent—mainly in the Middle East—before being recruited to take the editor’s job.

Savvy about what Italian readers want, Van Buren meets the challenges of publishing the edition each month. “We strive for the high level of excellence that is National Geographic,” she says. “And we try to add a little zest in our translations of the original English edition. Our goal is to create a magazine that reflects our lively culture.”

Italy


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We asked the editor to come up with the top five places that will give visitors a real taste of Italy. Here are her favorites:

1. Rome
“As the world’s eternal capital, Rome bears witness to more than 2,000 years of human genius—as shown in its ancient Roman temples and walls that can still be seen today. Many Renaissance and baroque art masterpieces also have withstood the test of time in the city’s churches and palaces. Don’t miss a stroll in the 17th-century Borghese gardens and the recently reopened Galleria Borghese, which is home to one of the best collections of Caravaggio paintings in the world.”

2. Capri and Ischia
“These two little volcanic islands off the Gulf of Naples are best known for their healing springs and as a refuge for the dolce vita crowd. Sit at an outdoor café in the piazzetta, and you’ll see the jet set come alive.”

3.Positano
“The tiny village of Positano sits on a mountainside along the Amalfi coast. The scent of lemon and a brilliant blue sky are the norm here. They provide a sensual backdrop to the Moorish domes, whitewashed houses, and winding streets. Stop for a drink at the Sirenuse Hotel, and take in some of the most stunning scenery the world has to offer.”

4. Siena
“Siena is a living carousel of ancient dames and chevaliers, frescoes, and towers. It’s a medieval gem in the heart of Tuscany. Relax in the Piazza del Campo, where time has come to a standstill, and savor a glass of wonderful Tuscan wine. Then visit the Duomo and marvel at Canova’s magnificent sculptures.”

5. Venice
“This is truly a magical, one-of-a-kind city. Inside the San Marco Basilica you can see ancient treasures from the Orient. At sunset take a boat to San Giorgio, an island that inspired Marco Polo; the beauty of the lagoon is overwhelming. Stop in at Ernest Hemingway’s favorite spot, Harry’s Bar. Check out the Hotel Des Bains, which was the setting for Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. And Peggy Guggenheim’s residence is a must for modern art aficionados.”

Photographs by Sam Abell and James L. Stanfield (center)

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