It is hard—virtually impossible—to capture the magic of Italy in just one place, monument or dish. How can you choose among the soaring tower of Palazzo della Signoria in Florence, throwing symmetry to the wind to redefine architecture; the powerful hand of God stretched towards Adam in the Sistine chapel; the wild beauty of turquoise waters lapping the pink quartz beaches along the western Sardinian coastline; the sinuous curve of vine-encrusted hills bathed in the golden light of a Tuscan afternoon; or the extraordinary punch of the perfect espresso sipped, rigorously standing at the bar, in a busy city café?

But our readers have risen to the arduous challenge and picked the Seven Wonders of Italy—the seven places, flavours or people that best embody the country’s charm.

The survey, which ran from September 1 to October 15, revealed a few surprises—Sophia Loren ranked higher than Michelangelo and Leonardo, while Andrea Bocelli garnered three more votes than Pavarotti and four more than Giuseppe Verdi—and some rather poetic entries.

Reader Donnetta Murray, for example, loves the quality of the light in the Bel Paese. “The light in Italy is like nowhere else in the world,” she said. Alexandra Newman was enchanted by church bells. “There is nothing more delicious than being waken up by a deeply toned bell that has been ringing for centuries,” she wrote. Reader Cat Evans begged to disagree, though. For her, Italy’s most delicious wonder was “tasting fresh mozzarella in a farm.”

In the end, though, old favourites won the day. Venice was crowned as the greatest Italian wonder with 26.2% of the votes. As reader Jalna Pilcher put it, Italy’s most magic sight is “the beauty of Venice with the movement of the reflections of the palaces and buildings broken by passing traffic.”

Perhaps that’s why the Lagoon city won hands down, obtaining roughly a third more votes than its nearest contender, the Colosseum (which totalled 16.6% of all entries). Further down the rankings came Pompeii (14.4%), the Amalfi Coast (14.3%), the Cinque Terre (11.2%), the Italian people (10.4%) and the leaning tower of Pisa (9.9%). Florence and Rome were high in the pecking order too, but didn’t quite make it into the top seven.

The Winner

However, we did more than just polling our readers about Italy’s magic. We set out to make it real for at least one of them. One of the lucky survey entrants will now see her Italian dream come true, courtesy of Boscolo Tours, a company selling exclusive travel experiences for two people, neatly packaged in an elegant gift box. Debbie Morrison, from Colyton, in Devon, United Kingdom, picked Venice as Italy’s greatest wonder. She is now going to get a special weekend in Venice gift box containing a voucher for a two-night stay at the four star Hotel Bellini, plus a gondola ride.


Italy’s seven wonders

1. Venice (26.6% of all votes)

2. Colosseum (16.6% of all votes)

3. Pompeii (14.4%)

4. The Amalfi Coast (14.3%)

5. The Cinque Terre (11.2%)

6. The Italian people (10.4%)

7. The leaning tower of Pisa (9.9%)

We have a few more results to share with you so check back in the following days to discover the seven wonders of Italian food and Italian personalities.