Italy is said to be one of the origins of western culture. Needless to say, the boot-shaped country is known for its incredible cuisine, world heritage sites, art, roman ruins, the ever-evolving fashion industry, cobbled street towns, lakes, mountain ranges, and many more.
Even though sightseeing is every tourist’s main aim, in Italy many spend time learning about its rich culture and history, unveiling the stories behind the lives of the Romans.
Let’s now dive right into our list of the best cities to visit in Italy!
Number one on our list of cities to visit in Italy is Rome! Just the mention of the name takes us back to the textbook knowledge of famous landmarks in the world. The history of Rome goes back 2700 years making it one of the oldest civilizations in the world.
Classical ruins and ancient Christian places of worship can be found next to, or sometimes below Renaissance palaces and Baroque fountains. It is also filled with great neighbourhood restaurants, quirky shops, and a buzzy atmosphere.
The number one rule for all tourists is not to try to cram up everything. Enjoy the slow-paced city, go for a walk to embrace the entire experience and take in every second of it, take time out to sit at a café on the pavement, and simply breathe it all in, while checking off the main cultural and historic sites of the city from your bucket list.
Below is a list of historical attractions you shouldn’t miss out on while in Rome:
- The Colosseum
- Trevi Fountain
- Vatican Museum
- Sistine Chapel
- The Pantheon
- Borghese Museum
- Piazza Navona
Don’t forget to add breakfast at Trastevere to the list. You can also rent a bike and ride through the city and it’s an ideal way to spend the mornings in Rome where you can engage in perfect sightseeing.
It would likely take three busy days to cover most of the main sites but if you are a tourist wanting to explore every nook and cranny, we assure you, you’ll need more time.
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Known for its exquisite art, Florence is the wellspring of the renaissance. The city often described as a colossal outdoor museum is second on our list of best cities to visit in Italy.
It is filled with frescoes by artists like Domenico Ghirlandaio and sculptures and paintings by world-renowned artist Michelangelo, whose unparalleled influence on western art’s development is no secret.
Works of Giambologna, Botticelli, and Bronzino can also be found within the city walls of Florence.
Florence is also a stop for food lovers to try out the traditional staples of Florentine and Tuscan cuisine. The most famous dish, Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, simply known as the Florentine steak is a huge dish, and remember when ordering, there’s a high chance you might have to share it with another person.
A note to remember when having the Florentine steak; do not offend the chef by asking him/her to cook the steak to your liking because the traditional Florentine steak is made in its only way! Sometimes, the raw steak is brought to the table for approval, before the chef starts his/her magic on it.
Next on the list of must-try foods is Gelato. Even though Italy is well known for Gelato, Florence is famous for having its best. Our suggestion when it comes to choosing Gelato is to go for the small batches over piled-up towers of Gelato which are usually artificially coloured.
Food lovers would certainly not be disappointed in Florence with its traditional and mouthwatering variety of foods that are up for grabs.
Also, don’t forget to watch the sunset over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo.
Third on our list of best cities to visit in Italy is Milan. The Italian capital of fashion and design offers an international cosmopolitan orientation, a lively food scene, and dozens of hotels to suit all budgets.
Historic buildings stand alongside modern skyscrapers, while many of the city’s buildings have spectacular courtyards that are largely unknown.
However, what mostly draws visitors is Milan’s prominence as an excellent shopping destination with the likes of designer boutiques lining the famous Quadrilatero D’Oro district.
In addition, there are cultural attractions like the Cathedral, La Scala, and the Pinacoteca de Brera as well as the famous mural of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci in the monastery of Santa Maria Delle Grazie.
Even if you are on a tightly scheduled trip, Milan is worth at least a few hours of your time. If you are travelling between Florence, Venice, and Cinque Terre, this city will make an amazing day trip.
Lastly, don’t forget the climb to the roof of the Duomo and see what it’s like to see the beautiful city through a bird’s eye.
This small and compact city is one of the traveller’s favourites in the country. Venice is simply the place for romantics and first-time visitors to Italy.
Even though the hustle and the crowds might be a little overwhelming, many would agree that Venice lives up to its portrayed hype.
If you make it there by train, you will be warmly welcomed by the canal as you step out of the station, and the dome of San Simeon Piccolo will join in welcoming you just as cheerfully.
There’s more to Venice than the richness of art and architecture from its illustrious history. It is the heart of contemporary action and the people of the city always keep its rhythm vibrant, creative and a breath of fresh air.
You may wander along the canals and take a graceful gondola ride creeping through the Venetian canals. Your visit to Venice would be incomplete without this ride, so make sure to allocate time for this during your day.
The usual tour takes about thirty minutes and you have the chance to get a private tour as well. Some tourists skip this iconic gondola ride and take the boat tour, so no judgements, you can make the choice but whichever mode it is, cruise through the canals of Venice.
You can also visit the Doges’ Palace and Saint Mark’s Basilica by walking across the Rialto bridge. There’s also the option of renting a bicycle and cycling around Lido island. Anyway, to embrace all of this in and around Venice, we recommend two to three days.
Sienna in the heart of Tuscany is a medieval city that deserves to be included in your Italy itinerary.
Senius and Aschius, sons of Remus, are said to be the legendary founders of this city – which explains the many statues you will come across all around.
Siena is known for its exciting ‘Palio di Siena’, one of the most looked forward to events that take place twice each summer, attracting many tourists from all around.
The first site that deserves your presence would be ‘Piazza del Campo’ in the middle of the city and it’s one of the main landmarks of Siena. Its unique shell shape and brick pavements are quite the highlight.
If you are visiting Siena in late August, September or October, you will be lucky enough to see the entire floor revealed.
Starting your day from here is highly recommended and you can wander to the ‘Duomo’ which is a magnificent Romanesque-Gothic church in Italy. It is a showcase of fascinating art from world-renowned artists like Michelangelo, Pisano, Donatello and Nicola.
The Crypt which is situated under the Cathedral with frescoes from the thirteenth century is of scenes from the old and new Testaments. The Piccolomini Library which is dedicated to Pope Pius II is another suggested place to visit.
In this city, there are some spectacular masterpieces of Sienese artists like the ‘Majesty’ by Simone Martini and the frescoes of ‘Good and Bad Government’ by Ambrogio Lorenzetti.
Anyway, you will find that the main tourist spots are located between Piazza del Campo and the Cathedral.
While roaming around the city paths, don’t forget to shop for local handicrafts as this will show you the authentic side of Siena.
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Located on the eastern coast of Sicily, Catania is near Mount Etna (Europe’s largest volcano), a must-add to your list of places to explore in Italy.
The views from the top will just take your breath away! There are guided tours that take tourists to the volcano alongside a special train called the Circumetnea.
Catania is a place known for its vibrant culture with its predominant Baroque architecture and exciting nightlife. Palazzo Biscari is the perfect example of the former and a must-visit when in Catania.
After its destruction following an earthquake in 1693, it was rebuilt by Ignazio Paterno Castello to its former glory, complete with a museum.
The giant elephant statue at Piazza Del Duomo, the main square in the heart of the city has been the symbol of Catania for the last couple of decades.
The Piazza is actually a place with calming vibes where you may just sit and relax but nevertheless is surrounded by significant monuments that can be classified as architectural wonders.
And just above the Piazza Del Duomo is the well-known fish and food market. The place is known to be busy at most times but if you want to experience the local lifestyle, this market will present an excellent opportunity.
Catania is also known for its local dishes, especially Tavola Calda and Arancino, a dish with fried rice balls with tomato and cheese.
Via Etnea, lined with shops selling local as well as foreign merchandise is one of the main shopping areas in Catania, so this is a recommended place for a nice stroll as well.
Another Square is Piazza Stesicoro with the ancient ruins of a Roman amphitheatre and at present is the venue for a lively market and a place for local shops. Catania’s main bus stop is at this square, making it an easy-to-access place.
Even though there are trains and public buses, exploring this somewhat compact city on foot is recommended.