The Best of Italy
Rome: The Capital of Italy
Rome is the capital city and a special commune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,879,728 residents in 1,285 km², it is also the country’s most populated commune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits
Rome is the Eternal City city and it attracts millions of tourists every year but, despite what you might think, it isn’t the most touristic city of the country. Florence and Venice both attract more international visitors each year.
The Best of Italy – Rome
Rome is a beautiful city, with the added advantage of being very easy to visit on foot. It’s full of ancient monuments, beautiful squares and museums. In Rome, be sure to make time to see:
If you are visiting Rome, you should also go to the Vatican City. Don’t miss the following:
Florence: The Art City
Florence, undoubtedly the most beautiful city of Tuscany has numerous museums and Renaissance palaces. The Cultural Heritage is immense as half of all Italian works of art are located in Florence.
The Best of Italy – Florence
Must-see places in Florence:
- The Duomo – a magnificent Renaissance dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi
- The Uffizi Gallery and its famous paintings
- The Basilica San Miniato al Monte, from which you will have a panoramic view over Florence – go there for sunset
- Piazza della Signoria: also known as the Old Palace – is the Florence City Hall
- Cupola del Brunelleschi: climb 463 steps for a 360 degree view of Florence. Remember to book your tickets in advance to avoid the queue.
Venice: The Romantic City
Venice, the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It has no roads, just canals – including the Grand Canal thoroughfare – lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces. With its numerous canals and its famous gondola rides, it’s also the perfect destination for a romantic stay. The Venice Carnaval takes place every year in February and attracts tourists from all over the world.
The Grand Canal in Venice is one of the most famous waterways in the world and there are a variety of ways that you can enjoy it. One of these is to take a water bus known as a vaporetto along the various parts of the canal where you can marvel at the little bridges and traditional Venetian homes that back onto the water.
Another more romantic way to travel around the canal is to take an iconic gondola ride where you can imagine that you are back in the Venice of a different time.
The Best of Italy – Venice
The places to visit in Venice:
- Saint Mark’s Square: heart of the city and pigeons’ area
- Saint Mark’s Basilica and its golden mosaics
- The Ducal Palace – one of the highest examples of Renaissance architecture
- The Bridge of Sighs – it’s more closely linked to imprisonment and death than romance
- The Islands of Murano (world famous for glassmaking)
- Burano – famous for its colorful fishermen’s cottages
The Cinque Terre: Five Villages
This guide of the best places to visit in Italy wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Cinque Terre, 5 stunning cliff-side villages overlooking the Mediterranean sea. You have probably already seen pictures of them, these spectacular colorful towns are amongst the most famous sights of Italy.
Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as being designated as a national park.
Nestled in Liguria, the ‘Five Lands’ is made up of five distinct villages that sit atop craggy cliffs overlooking the famous Italian Riviera.
The five villages include Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore, and Monterosso, and each has its own unique charms and sights.
The area of Cinque Terra sprawls between La Spezia and Levanto and you will find romantic olive groves, traditional eateries, and azure sea views all the way along the coast.
The Best of Italy – Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre villages are located close to each other. To visit them, you have 3 choices:
- Do the hiking trail that connects them (but be careful, depending on the season, some of them might be closed). The routes between each village can go from ½ hour to 2 hours.
- Take the train that connects all the villages: The Cinque Terre Express.
- By boat, with amazing views over the villages.
The Cinque Terre villages are the following:
- Monterosso al Mare: located in the northernmost part, it is the largest of the villages and the only one with a large sandy beach.
- Vernazza with its colorful houses and small port.
- Corniglia, the only one that isn’t connected to the sea, can be reached by a staircase of more than 350 steps.
- Manorala: the oldest village.
- Riomaggiore, situated in the very East, at “the end” of the Cinque Terre.
Naples: Historic City
Naples is the European city with the largest historical centre, so you can be sure there are a lot of churches and monuments to visit in the city! Naples is also very famous around the world for its gastronomy: the pizza (created in the 1600s as a street food for the poorest Neapolitans) as well as the famous Neapolitan sauce.
Mount Vesuvius is one of the most famous mountains in the world, not least because of its famous eruption that covered the unsuspecting town of Pompeii in volcanic ash.
Naples has a range of pretty attractions in its own right but one of the main reasons to come here is to snack on its most famous foodstuff in the form of delicious pizza.
All over the city you will find pizza parlors and restaurants and wherever you choose to go, know that it is this city that is famed with inventing one of the world’s favorite foods.
The Best of Italy – Naples
Naples must-see attractions:
- Start with the historic centre and its Duomo
- The Piazza del Plebiscito, a huge and very photogenic square with beautiful monuments surrounding it
- The Vigiliano Park and its magnificent view over the bay
- Visit the archaeological museum which houses objects from Pompeii archaeological site
- Go to Pompeii, located about 40 minutes by bus or train from Naples and witness the damage caused by the murderous eruption of the Vesuvius.
Capri: Magnificent Island
Capri, an island in Italy’s Bay of Naples, is famed for its rugged landscape, upscale hotels and shopping, from designer fashions to limoncello and handmade leather sandals. One of its best-known natural sites is the Blue Grotto, a dark cavern where the sea glows electric blue, the result of sunlight passing through an underwater cave. In summer, Capri’s dramatic, cove-studded coastline draws many yachts. From Naples you can easily take the ferry and go to Capri island for a day trip.
The Best of Italy – Capri
Start your visit in one of the most beautiful places in Italy in Marina Grande port. You should then take the funicular: it will take you directly to the famous Piazzetta, in Capri town center. With its café terraces and magnificent view over the bay, the place is magical.
Other things you shouldn’t miss in Capri are the Arco Natural, a large 20m height rocky arch and the viewpoint of Tragara, which also offers a magnificent view. And of course the must-see attraction of Capri: the blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra in Italian), named after the unique water color inside.
Milan: The Capital of Fashion
Milan is the capital of fashion and design, with many renowned designer’s luxury boutiques and showrooms. In addition, there is also many historic buildings to visit in the city!
Even if you are not an art aficionado you will still be able to appreciate the splendor and religious significance of the mural of the Last Supper.
Painted by Leonardo da Vinci and on display at the Santa Maria delle Grazie, the mural depicts Christ and the apostles at the last supper before Christ’s crucifixion.
Many visitors to Milan consider this a highlight of their trip and it is an extremely moving sight even for those who do not believe the original story from which the mural was inspired.
The Best of Italy – Milan
The tourist attraction you shouldn’t miss in Milan:
- The Piazza del Duomo and its magnificent Cathedral: the Duomo di Milano. Don’t hesitate to take the entrance ticket with rooftop terrace access, it’s worth it!
- The Sforza Castle and Parco Sempione, just nearby
- The Vittorio Emmanuel II gallery and its huge glass roof, a luxury shopping spot
- The Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera art gallery) and its rich collection of paintings by Italian masters such as Raphael, Bellini or Caravaggio.
- The monumental cemetery: The burial place of celebrities, featuring some very unusual tombstones.
Lake Como – 3rd Largest of the Italian Lakes
Located at only 1 hours from Milan, Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy. The lake is a very popular jet set holiday destination and is famous around the world for its many majestic villas and lush gardens.
It’s also a very popular shooting location: for example, you might have seen in it in Star Wars episode II! A part of the movie was shot at the Balbianello villa, one the lake shore. But Lake Como is more than this: around the lake you can visit beautiful fishing villages and enjoy many hiking trails.
Lake Como in Lombardy spans an amazing 146 square kilometers and is the perfect place to get out on the water and explore Italy by boat.
The area around Lake Como has houses owned by some of the richest celebrities in the world, which tells you everything to know about the kind of views you can expect here.
The landscape surrounding the lake is covered with alpine forest and traditional villages as well as dainty ornate houses that make you feel as if you are in a picture postcard version of an Italian
The Best of Italy – Lake Como
Best Places to see:
- Como city and its pedestrian center
- Tremezzo and Villa Carlotta with its sumptuous botanical garden
- Bellagio and villa Melzi, a source of inspiration for Stendhal himself
- Varenne and the villa Monastero with its promenade at the edge of the water
- Castello Di Vezio and its panoramic view of the lake below
- And of course, if you’re Star Wars fan, the Villa Balbianello.
The Amalfi Coast
Located South of Naples, the Amalfi coast is famous for being one of the most beautiful coasts of Italy. With its wild coast and amazing cliff-side villages, no doubt you will love it!
The gorgeous Amalfi Coast is one of the most scenic spots in Italy and if you want to experience as much of it as possible in the shortest amount of time then consider taking a boat trip along the shore line.
A number of companies offer boat rental and you can take in sights such as the towering Lattari Mountains as well as various cute coves and inlets.
Seemingly out of nowhere traditional Mediterranean villages will appear and boat tours usually come with food and drinks included so that you can snack on local produce as you take in the views.
The Best of Italy – The Amalfi Coast
Overview of the best places to visit:
Sorrento, standing on a cliff with a view over the bay and the island of Capri.
Positano, a colorful cliffside village. It’s popular jet-set destination for its fashion boutiques and trendy cafes.
Nocelle: if you go to Positano, you should really do the Path Of Gods Trail, it start from Nocelle, a bit above Positano.
Amalfi and its magnificent Duomo
Ravello and the villa Cimbrone: with its 6 hectares garden overlooking the sea, it’s a must-do in Ravello.
Sicily – Largest Island in the Mediterranean Sea
Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island, is just off the “toe” of Italy’s “boot.” Its rich history is reflected in sites like the Valley of the Temples, the well-preserved ruins of 7 monumental, Doric-style Greek temples, and in the Byzantine mosaics at the Cappella Palatina, a former royal chapel in capital city Palermo. On Sicily’s eastern edge is Mount Etna, one of Europe’s highest active volcanoes. Sicily is an ideal place to visit if you want to mix relaxation at the beach and discovery of world class archaeological sites.
The Best of Italy – Sicily
Best places to see in Eastern Sicily:
- Catania and the Piazza del Duomo with the Cathedral of Santa Agatha
- Syracuse and the island of Ortigia: Take a walk the small alleys of the historical center, admire the grandiose Piazza del Duomo and enjoy the view of Castello Maniace
- Baroque towns: Noto, Modica and Ragusa
- Taormina: For the famous Greek theatre, the view over the Etna and its magnificent pebble beach: “Isola Bella”.
- Etna, the most active volcano in Europe.
Places to visit in Western Sicily:
Sardinia – Best Beaches
Sardinia, the 2nd biggest Italian island, is famous around the world for its stunning beaches. It’s the perfect destination if you want to enjoy holiday in the sun. Sardinia is a large Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea. It has nearly 2,000km of coastline, sandy beaches and a mountainous interior crossed with hiking trails. Its rugged landscape is dotted with thousands of nuraghi – mysterious Bronze Age stone ruins shaped like beehives.
The Best of Italy – Sardinia
Best places to visit in Sardinia:
- Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia which stretches over several hills. Visit the Castello district, most of the tourist attractions are located there.
- Maddalena Islands, with beautiful wild beaches.
- Costa Smeralda: the perfect jet-set destination for a luxury holiday. The road, all along the coast, offers a spectacular view.
- The Gulf of Orosei: Huge and impressive limestone cliffs, hosts some of the most beautiful beaches of Sardinia.