Sicily ticks every box on every wishlist. From the snow-capped volcano of Mt Etna to the sunny, sandy shores of the southeast, from bustling Arab-Norman Palermo to the Baroque jewel-boxes of Noto and Ragusa, from the Greek temples of Agrigento and Taormina's theatre to the spellbinding Roman mosaics of the Piazza Armerina villa, there's something for everyone.
It's easy to get to, with plenty of scheduled flights into Catania and the capital Palermo - which, incidentally, makes a very underrated city break - as well as low-cost connections to Trapani. Despite its history as the heartland of the Italian mafia (which still operates, though without its former stranglehold), you'll find it a safe, welcoming and extremely friendly place. The food is excellent in a hearty, rustic way: homemade pastas, fresh fish spiced up with capers and tomatoes, tender artichoke hearts, baked aubergine with ricotta, the creamiest of cannoli, and the lightest, fruitiest gelati and granite imaginable.
In fact, there's not much not to like. OK, some of the beaches get crowded in summer, the roads are poorly maintained and signed, some sites seem to be permanently under scaffolding, and the hilly interior can be surprisingly cold in spring and autumn - but come with an open mind and a not-too-strict timetable, and you'll go home happy. Several notches happier, we'd wager - and a couple of kilos heavier.