Italy is one of our favorite countries in the world. The beautiful country is home to some of the spectacular cities and beautiful countryside. The cities are rich in history, architecture, art, and home to archaeological ruins. Below are our top favorite places to visit in Italy. Some of these cities we have visited twice and are looking forward to visiting again soon.
Best Cities to Visit in Italy
Florence has been one of our favorite cities to visit in Italy. The city of Florence more like an open-air museum which oozes with Renaissance art and architecture. The major landmark of the city is the Florence Cathedral or the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. The stunning Gothic cathedral consisting of the Baptistery, the basilica, and the Campanile is an architectural masterpiece.
The Piazza Della Signoria square is like an open-air museum. You will find several sculptures, monuments and important buildings here. The most famous are Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Uguccioni and Palazzo Vecchio.
Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone bridge popular for the sunsets. The landscaped gardens of Boboli adorned with statues, fountains and grottos is also something not to miss.
The Italian capital city Rome draws visitors and history buffs for its rich history and architecture. The ‘Eternal City’ of Rome is home to magnificent churches, historic monuments, beautiful squares, and fountains. Also amongst the top things to do in Rome is a visit to the 2,000-year-old Pantheon, a former Roman temple, Colosseum, the largest amphitheater completed in AD 80 and the archaeological sites Roman Forum and Palentine Hill.
On your visit to Rome, you can cross out another country from your list. Vatican City is the tiniest country in the world home to the majestic St. Peter’s Basilica. Public transports connect Rome city center with St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
The fashion capital of the world, Milan has plenty to offer. The magnificent Milan Cathedral is the major draw for visitors from over the world. The Naviglio Grande is yet another unique attraction. The 12th-century canal is lined with beautiful artisan houses and buildings which can be explored on a boat trip.
Top Milan attractions are several historical monuments and beautiful churches like Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, Santa Maria Delle Grazie and many amazing museums which make Milan one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the oldest shopping mall with many high-end shops, the place to go if you are a shopaholic.
Venice, the city of canals is one of the most beautiful and romantic places in the world. Sauntering through the maze of canals winding through the colorful ancient buildings and churches is sure to drift you into a time warp. The major landmark of the city of Venice is the Saint Mark Square or Piazza San Marco and the Ponte di Rialto or Rialto Bridge is something not to miss.
A trip to Venice is incomplete without the iconic Gondola ride. The ride takes you around the canals past the old houses and buildings. If you love collecting souvenirs make sure you buy one of the elaborate and colorful Venetian masks. You will find them here in a myriad of sizes and colors.
Make sure to spend at least 2 days in Venice and plan a day trip to the colorful islands of Burano and Murano. While Burano is popular for the lace items, Murano is popularly known as the glass island for the several traditional glass factories.
Pisa is one of the popular day trips from Florence takes you little more than an hour. Pisa draws visitors from all over the world to Piazza Dei Miracoli or the Square of Miracles which is home to the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. The ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’ was built as the bell tower of the cathedral. Visitors can climb 297 steps to the top of the tower for a wonderful view of the Pisa City.
In the same square, you will also find other religious monuments like Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry and the Camposanto Monumentale. While the Pisa Cathedral has an elaborate interior with the gilded ceiling, frescoes, and mosaic work, the Pisa Baptistery marble exterior adorned with arches, columns, and statues.
Cinque Terre which translates to ‘Five Lands’ are the five colorful seaside fishing villages on Italian Riviera coastline. Cinque Terre a UNESCO world heritage site comprises of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Each of these villages is set in a picturesque setting on a cliffside overlooking the Ligurian sea. The 5 villages are linked through the Sentiero Azzurro cliffside hiking trail. You can take a train to Cinque Terra from Florence (2.5 hours) and Pisa (1.5 hours). There is also a train that connects each of the villages.
Monterosso al Mare is the largest of the five towns with major attractions 14th-century Loggia del Podestà and San Giovanni Battista Church. While Vernazza is the prettiest of the five villages, Riomaggiore is the postcard-perfect picture of Cinque Terre. The major attraction in the village of Corniglia is the Gothic church of San Pietro, one needs to climb over 300 steps.
The major draw to the city of Verona is Juliet’s Balcony’ which dates back to the 14th-century. A small museum displays artifacts from the era of Romeo Juliet. Verona is one of the popular day trips from Venice with a train journey of an hour and a half.
Also must visit in the city are Arena di Verona, a Roman amphitheater, Duomo di Verona which is a 12th century Romanesque Church and 14th-century Castelvecchio housing a museum on ancient artifacts. For amazing views over the city visit Torre Dei Lamberti located in the square Piazza Delle Erbe.
The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Naples is Pizza. e Naples is one of the oldest cities in the world. Its historic center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Old Town or the historic center is home to many historic monuments, buildings, and beautiful churches. Major attractions are Naples Cathedral, Napoli Sotterranea (Naples Underground) and Royal Palace of Naples.
Naples is home to many forts and castles – do not miss the Castel Nuovo, Ovo Castle, Sant’Elmo Castle, and Capuano Castle. The Roman ruins of Pompeii are about half an hour drive which can be visited on an easy day trip so is the Mount Vesuvius.
Also Read: 10+ Amazing Day Trips from Naples, Italy
One of the best places to visit in Italy the picturesque coast of Amalfi is a 50-kilometer stretch of coastline in southern Italy. The rugged coastline dotted with beaches and pastel-colored fishing villages is a major draw for the visitors. There are some charming towns along the Amalfi coast which are definitely unmissable like Positano, Ravello, the town of Amalfi, Furore, Conca Dei Marini, and others.
While these towns and villages are amazing to wander around and explore its charm, there are some best attractions you should include on the list. The top attractions are the Duomo of Amalfi town, visit the Museo Correale in Sorrento, trek to Santiero Degli Dei, Le Vigne di Raito and tasting session at Limonoro in Sorrento.
Trieste is a beautiful port city set along the Adriatic coast. The historic Old Town of Trieste draws visitors for the historic monuments and churches, archaeological sites, winding cobblestone alleys, and medieval buildings. The top attractions in Trieste are the 14th-century, San Giusto Cathedral, Castle of Saint Giusto which houses the weapons museum and Miramare Castle.
Visit Piazza dell’ Unita d’Italia which is one of the largest and most beautiful Piazzas in Italy. It is surrounded by beautiful architectural buildings on 3 sides and the 4th side opens up to the sea. Also must do when in Trieste is to take a boat along the Grand Canal for spectacular views of the city.
Best Time to Visit Italy
The spring months from April to June and the fall months of September and October are considered to be the best time to visit Italy. While spring months have moderate nice weather, the prices are usually on the lower side. Fall months are our favorite when the countryside is painted in the best of colors. The summer months can be hot and at the same time very expensive. Visitors can expect some rains in April, May, October, and November but it is mostly dry and sunny. The airfare is the lowest during the winter months.