With its wonderful cities boasting elegant palaces and churches, monuments to art and literature, pristine countryside, and bustling towns and villages, there are no shortage of must visit places in Italy. If you find yourself planning a trip to experience the best Italy has to offer, then our list of cities, architectural and historical hot spots, and other scenic sites of interest can certainly help you put together the perfect itinerary for your adventure in Italia!
The city-state that is Vatican City has many fine sites that should be first to be ticked off your list. You can start with the iconic St. Peter’s Basilica and then work your way to the Sistine Chapel, where you can marvel at Michelangelo’s breathtaking altar and ceiling frescoes. The Vatican Museums are also important to check for their collection of Renaissance art, and don’t forget to take pics of the colorfully uniformed Swiss Guards while you’re there as well.
The site of many gory gladiatorial contests to entertain the citizens of ancient Rome, the Colosseum, constructed in AD 80, is one of the most identifiable symbols of Italy. It has survived earthquakes and wars and you simply must pencil in a visit just to take in the rich history of the site, and to snap a few pics that will make your friends back home green with envy!
The magical city of Venice is surrounded by (and built on) water, so there’s something almost fairy tale-like about its existence. The city just oozes romance with its gondola-filled canals and aesthetically pleasing bridges, the most popular being the Ponte di Rialto bridge that connects the San Marco and San Polo districts. Don’t forget to take a walk through the central Piazza San Marco and find a restaurant where you can dig into the local specialty risi e bisi — a soupy risotto prepared with peas and pancetta.
Tower of Pisa
The “Leaning Tower” tilted itself into legendary status back in the 12th century, thanks to soft ground on one side of the base of the structure that couldn’t balance its weight. Since then, it has been stabilized with engineering efforts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries and has gone on to be a hit with tourists from all over the world.
Florence is one of the most important must visit places in Italy due to one major factor: art. The Uffizi Palace and Gallery is home to some of the greatest artwork ever produced in history, with creations from Botticelli, Da Vinci, and Raphael. The Gallery of the Academy of Florence is another major stop to appreciate masterpieces such as the original David sculpture by Michelangelo. Just a walk around this city, with its impressive fountains and statues, will inspire and evoke a new appreciation for the beauty of human creativity.
While gaining fame as the setting for Shakespeare’s classic tale Romeo and Juliet, there’s a lot more in store for curious visitors to Verona. You can take in its Roman arches and medieval buildings and also enjoy other sites like the magnificent 14th-century Castle Vecchio, the towering Torre dei Lamberti, and the painstakingly manicured Giusti Gardens.
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It’s the stuff perfect postcards are made of; rolling green hills, vineyards, hilltop castles, and walled cities. Yes, this is just part of the endearing charm of Italy’s Tuscany region. While there are many towns in the region that epitomize the great natural beauty of the Tuscan countryside, you can road trip through Volterra, San Gimignano, and Cortona to give you a fine sampling of great architecture, pristine scenery, and of course, fantastic wine!
Famous for its role as a picturesque setting in Hollywood movies such as Casino Royale and Ocean’s Twelve (to name just a few), Lake Cuomo has long been a favorite summer vacation spot for ancient Romans as well modern Italy’s rich and famous. There are plenty of beautiful villas that dot its shoreline, and you can get a great panoramic view of the lake from the 11th-century Castello di Vezio, a castle that’s open to the public. A microclimate gives the lake temperate climes through the year, so you can admire the white peaks of the Alps from the lake even during the peak of winter.
Pompeii and Herculaneum
Pompeii was famously buried under 6 meters of volcanic ash and pumice following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Even though the same eruption covered nearby Herculaneum, this city was covered by molten lava instead of ash, creating a better preserved mold of the buildings and day-to-day objects of people who lived there during the time. Whether you’re a history buff or not, the twin stops are a fascinating peak into life from another millennium. While you can do both sites in one day (they are just under 30 minutes apart from each other), we also recommend spending one whole day in the larger Pompeii complex and doing Herculaneum the following day.
If you love a good road trip, then the Amalfi Coast is calling your name! Often noted as one of the one of the world’s most scenic routes, you’ll be able to enjoy the view of turquoise waters of the coast one one side and quaint villages and towns perched on cliffs on the other, as you navigate its winding roads. Make sure to stop by the striking towns and villages of Positano, Ravello, and Atrani, along with many others, for some unbelievable photo ops.
The “five lands” that make up this string of secluded coastal paradise west of La Spezia are the villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The villages themselves, with their sleepy harbors and narrow streets going up and down steep cliffs, are very interesting to explore. But, the star of the show is the walking trail that connects them all. If you’re thinking of driving around the area, you’ll have to think twice; walking paths, trains, and boats are all you’ll have at your disposal to go from village to village. But, with views like what you’ll be able to enjoy, it’s well worth the trek.
So, what are you waiting for? With this handy list of the most enchanting must visit places in Italy, you can embark on an adventure that you won’t forget any time soon!
Have you visited Italy recently? Share your experiences with us in the comments.