Best things to do in Italy
Find out more about those top places in Italy
Closer to the North African coast than mainland Italy, which the locals call il continente, the island of Sardinia is Italy’s remote hinterland with Moorish, French and Catalan cultural influences. Most visitors arrive in Sardinia on the island’s bustling capital Cagliari, whose salt-water lagoons are famed for some of Europe’s best urban wildlife. Beyond the capital, Sardinia’s mountainous interior remains largely unspoiled region with numerous hidden gems to be explored. The historically Catalan town of Alghero has remained frozen in time and gives visitors a flavor of what Sardinia was like before it became Italian. However, the island’s history goes much further back. It is home to one of Europe’s largest ensembles of Iron Age ruins at Nuraghe Su Nuraxi, which were left undisturbed until their discovery in the 1940s. While evocative ruins and charming towns are Sardinia’s main draw, the region is not all about history, as it is home to some of Europe’s most spectacular beaches.
Sardinia is dotted with numerous beaches but the most luxurious of them is the Cala Goloritzé. Famous for its high pinnacle of 143 meters above the cove. No tour or vacation trip of Sardinia is complete without a visit and a long dip in its waters. Located in Baunei, in the southern part of the Gulf of Orosei, Sardinia, Cala Goloritzé is a sight to behold.
A stalactite cavern on the Island of Sardinia in the town of Alghero in Italy is Neptune's Grotto. After being discovered in the eighteenth century by anglers nearby, it has become a very popular vacation spot and is visited by many tourists every year.
A tour of the Cagliari Cathedral, the spotlight of Cagliari could be the highlight of your visit. This Pisan-Romanesque Style Roman Catholic cathedral was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint Cecilia. Built in the 13th century, it didn't become a cathedral until 1258 and presently houses the Archbishop of Cagliari. The Cagliari cathedral's rich history and architectural design are bound to hold you spellbound.
A tour of this tomb leaves you with memories that stick for a long time. The Tomba Dei Giganti which simply translates to the Giants' tomb in English has its structure built in the bronze age. The tombs can be found scattered all through Sardinia while about 800 can be found at this particular site.
Hidden Beaches remains one of the best sites for snorkeling and getting a feel of the sand under your feet. It is located in Cala Cipolla, South Sardinia in Cagliari. Family-related activities which are a little fun are added by the presence of crystal clear sparkling water alongside many fun activities for children.
The Zuddas Caves can be found very close to the town of Santandi and is your entryway to a world of magical wonders. It is a network of caves that can be dated to over 500 million years ago and are interlinked in a very magnificent manner. This tour is one you should never miss whenever you find yourself in Cagliari.
While most visitors come to Verona due to the city’s role in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, there is much more to this Northern Italian city than star-crossed lovers. Besides Venice itself, Verona is the best preserved city in the Veneto with a wealth of Roman ruins, ocher colored medieval buildings and graceful bridges spanning the River Adige. The centerpiece of Verona is undoubtedly the city’s vast Roman amphitheater, which was built in the 1st century AD and today is the city’s open-air opera house. Beyond this beguiling monument to antiquity, Verona has a host of marble-clad Romanesque basilicas, Renaissance town houses and atmospheric piazzas to be explored. While there may be no canals, Verona more than rivals its larger neighbor Venice, as it is remarkably tourist free year round.
The Verona Arena is typically the first stop for many tourists when visiting Verona. This amphitheater which is of Roman architecture is one of the best preserved and maintained structures in Verona and is still used today. Since it was built in the first century right in Piazza Bra, it has played host to very impressive exhibitions and world-class performances.
For a relaxing and leisure time, the waters of Lake Garda in Northern Italy with its crystal clear is a beautiful sight to see. Cruising on these waters, be sure to take in the splendid view of Rocca Scaligera which is located just at the South end of the lake Garda. Also, you can check out the Grotte di Catullo, a foremost archaeological site.
Italy has a number of towers which all have some historical significance but the Torre del Lamberti is one of a kind. A mention of "Terre" in Verona and you are given graphics and detailed descriptions to the Torre del Lamberti which is 84 m high. Another fact about this tower is that it was struck by lightning in May 1403 and restoration work took 16 years after it commenced in 1448.
Verona has a lot to offer in terms of tasty and appealing Italian delicacies to be washed down with exquisitely flavored wines. The locally made tortellini pasta alongside olive oil, prosciutto, wines, and sweets are some that you shouldn't pass up on during your journey and of course, the monuments and historic sights that are scattered all around Verona such as the Piazza Erbe and the mind-blowing arena.
The Castle Vecchio remains a very significant monument in Verona and Italy generally and the role of this monument in Verona history cannot be underestimated. It can be found standing on the banks of River Adige. The Castle Vecchio, according to history was in 1366 and still stands today. This remains one of the wondrous engineering works of the Scaliger dynasty.
Trieste is the only mainland Italian city not on the Italian Peninsula and has for centuries been a gateway to the Balkans for Venetian merchants, Napoleonic armies and Victorian travel writers. Today, Trieste is almost entirely surrounded by Slovenia and its geographical isolation from Italy has helped form one of the country’s most memorable local cultures with influences from as far a field as Greece and Turkey. Sandwiched between the barren Karst mountains and the sparkling Adriatic Sea, Trieste is architecturally unlike any other Italian city. Owing to its position as a fashionable 19th century seaside resort for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, many of the city’s grand public buildings would not look out of place in Vienna and Budapest. What is more, the city’s belle-époque cafés, sailors’ taverns and chic wine bars offer ample shelter from the legendary bora winds that periodically whip through the city.
The Piazza Units d'Italia is found sited just beneath the hill in Trieste. As proof of the importance of the Piazza Unit d'Italia, it is regarded as the main square that can be found in Trieste. There is a clear view of the Adriatic Sea from the square since it faces it and it is rumored to be the largest square in Europe that is found beside the sea.
Having its construction completed in the 19th century, the Miramare castle can be found northwest of Trieste. In fact, it is found nestled in the little village of Grignano which is only 15 minutes northwest of Trieste. The Miramare castle isn't very medieval but it is also a great place to visit and in the region of Italy where it is found, it can very well be the most picturesque castle there.
A visit to the mystery-filled Grotta Gigante leaves you with an effect that can only be induced by natural phenomenons. The Grotta Gigante is also known as the Risengrotte and can be found on the Italian region of Trieste Karst. This giant cave is home to a number of large sized stalagmites and stalactites which are all exceptionally beautiful.
For the perfect blend of history, superb meals and a taste of the Trieste local life, the Piazza Della Borsa presents itself as the best place to be. This Greek temple styled building can be found standing just beside the notable Piazza Unit Italia. The Piazza Della Borsa is also pretty significant since it has served as home to the Italian Stock Exchange and presently houses the Chamber of Commerce.
Stretching between the seaside resort of Levanto and the port of La Spezia, the Cinque Terre is one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline in the world. The region’s name comes from the five pastel hued fishing villages that are wedged near vertically into the coastline’s rugged coves and cliffs. Visitors can walk between the five villages on vertiginous paths that hug the cliff sides while the less adventurous can hop on a vintage railway that connects the villages through a series of ingenious tunnels. The villages have scarcely changed since the late-medieval period and were rightly designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Today, the villages can become swarmed with tourists in the peak-summer months. However, a visit to the Cinque Terre in spring or autumn remains one of Italy’s most enchanting experiences.
Cinque Terre is home to many pretty faces and some of the tastiest street food that you can find in Italy all at the Parco Nazionale Delle Cinque Terre. Since its establishment in 1999, this park has over 5000 residents although it is one of the smallest in Italy. The Parco Nazionale Delle Cinque Terre can be found in the La Spezia province in Italy.
Italy is well-known for its architectural history and you can get a glimpse of this from the design of the Church of San Giovanni Battista. This 14th-century wonder with a glorious façade of white and black marbles was constructed Gothic style and has an impressively styled rose window attached.
The Italian culture takes wines as a massive deal and is entirely necessary for various celebratory occasions, eating meals or even while relaxing. In order to have a feel of the Italian wine culture, a wine tasting tour is just perfect. Of all the wine tasting tours that Italy has to offer, the Cinque Terre tour remains the best. What better way to enjoy your tour than to sail the breathtaking Italian Riviera while drinking the exquisite wines of Manarola.
An exciting boat tour of the elegant coastline of Cinque Terre is an experience that nobody should miss out on. Along the way, the beautiful and colorful towns and cities are bound to take your breath away. After your tour of the amazing Ligurian sea, it would be time to relax and take in the beautiful sunset while the dolphins swim past. For a romantic getaway, this is perfect.
Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Alps and within easy striking distance of the beguiling Italian Lakes, Bergamo is one of Northern Italy’s hidden gems. While the city is often viewed as a gateway to Milan, Bergamo has an identity all of its own. Ruled by the Venetians for nearly four centuries, the city is divided into two distinct halves. Perched precariously on steep sub-Alpine hillsides, the old town, known as Bergamo Alta, is a tangle of medieval streets and cobbled piazzas bedecked in the heraldry of the Venetian Republic and encircled by five kilometers of imposing city walls. Below the old town lies the new town, known as Bergamo Bassa, whose tenement-lined streets are a reminder that Lombardy was a center for the Italian Industrial Revolution.
With 16th-century Venetian walls that stand steadfast in the ancient city of Città Alta, the Rocca di Bergamo maintains a very impressive stance. The city of Città Alta has alleys that are painted in warm colors to portray just how much Italy takes its heritage seriously while keeping up with contemporary art. As a piece of evidence, there are numerous upscale and exclusive restaurants, cafes and boutiques that are sited alongside medieval cafes, wine bars and pizzerias. Apart from these, Città Alta is also home to other wonderful sights including the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore which depicts Romanesque architecture, the arcaded Palazzo Della Ragione and the popular Capella Colleoni with it's painstakingly detailed marble facade.
Of all the things that Italy is known for, there are two very prominent ones - excellent pizza and exquisite wine. These are the two things that cannot be taken away from Italy. The Franciacorta Wine region is one of such locations with a wealthy back story in Italy's wine history. It can be found nestled in the hills of Lombardy in northern Italy just south-east of the foot of Lake Iseo and should be your first stop on your Italian wine tasting travels.
If you have a desire to check out some art, then you should visit a wholesome repository such as The Academia Carrara. As one of the most notable art academies and exclusive art galleries in Bergamo, it remains a site for allowing the eyes feast on the finest of arts. It has a history dating back to between the 15th-19th century where it was established using the best works from leading fine artists at the time.
The Museo di Scienze Naturali Enrico Caffi remains the oldest museum that can be found in Bergamo. It is one of the sites that are worth checking out especially since it is a family friend museum which implies that you can always visit with your family. The Museo di Scienze Naturali Enrico Caffi has a huge collection of fossils and an impressive reassembly of various extinct animals.
Right from ancient times the city of Florence has been one of Europe’s most loved city. It was known as the financial trade center of the old days and featured one of the most prominent families in history “the Medici Family”.
The city plays a major part in history and it is often regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance, a period from the 14th to 17th century that signifies the transition from middle ages to modernity.
The former capital of Italy does not lack for tourist attractions with beautiful architecture that have great historical relevance such as the Boboli Gardens, Florence Cathedral and Ponte Vecchio.
Located on the Arno River, the Ponte Vecchio is an architectural marvel with much history attached to it. The Ponte Vecchio is 32 meters wide and 20 meters long. The bridge has been rebuilt several times due to man-made and natural disasters but it survived the World War II unlike most bridges and the 1966 flood of the Arno. It became well-known because of the Benevento Cellini’s bust, where tourists and locals added padlocks known as love locks, until they were removed by city council and the act of adding locks was banned. There are also shops attached to the bridge so if interested you can do a bit of shopping.
Italy is filled with Cathedrals but the Florence Cathedral is one of the most famous in the country. Officially known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, the building was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and Filippo Brunelleschi. The Cathedral has a crypt, part of which is opened to tourists, it holds the tombs of respected persons of Florence and Italy such as Zenobius of Florence, Pope Stephen IX, Conrad II of Italy and Pope Nicholas II.
Known as a symbol of Florence, the statue of David is highly revered by the citizens of Florence. Situated in the Galleria dell’Accademia, it is a sculpture of the renowned Italian artist Michelangelo created between 1501-1504. Made of marble, it is a 17 ft (5.18 m) long representation of David of the Bible. The statue of David has been well conserved over the years and have survived various wars and natural disasters.
The Boboli Gardens is a perfect place to escape life in the city of Florence. Located right behind the Pitti Palace, the gardens were laid out for Eleanora di Toledo by several renowned architects including Bartolomeo Ammanati and Niccolo Tribolo. The Boboli Gardens gets its name from “Bogoli” the name of the family that owned the land where the gardened is situated. In recent times the Gardens seems to play part of an outdoor museum, with several sculptures and beautiful fountains.
Built for the fortification of Florence, the fort Belvedere was constructed over a five-year period (1590-1595). Situated on the highest hill of the Boboli gardens it is the largest fortress in Florence. The fort is known as the site where Galileo Galilei carried out some of his astronomical observations.
Italy is blessed with so many amazing cities, each of them special in its unique way. One of such cities is Milan, known to be the “fashion capital of Europe”, it is one of those cities that seems tailored for your every pleasure with its ancient architectural buildings, high–end restaurants and delightful Italian cuisine.
The city of Milan is Italy’s second most populous city after Rome and it is the capital of Lombardy located in northern Italy. Some of its major tourist attractions include the Milan Cathedral, San Siro Stadium and La Scala Opera.
The Milan cathedral also known as Duomo di Milano is situated in Lombardy. The cathedral is the largest church in Italy and the fourth largest in the world. Completed in 1965, it has a capacity of 40,000 and was designed by several architects and engineers. The cathedral dedicated to the Nativity of St. Mary, is a major tourist spot and not only do visitors get to admire the building’s architectural work, there are also amazing artworks to enjoy. Some of these artworks include the sculpture of Saint Bartholomew and a white marble Sculpture by Tony Cragg.
Italy is often regarded as the home of opera, so it is only normal that one of its biggest cities should have an opera house. Opened in 1778, it was initially known as the New Royal-Ducal Theater alla Scala. The La Scala Opera designed by Italian architect Giuseppe Piermarini has a capacity of 2,030. Over the years the best stars of music, such as Antonio Salieri have performed at the La Scala Opera, asides performances it is also offers training in music, stage management and dance. A must visit for music and opera lovers.
The last supper is a painting by Famous Italian Artist Leonardo da Vinci, housed in the Covent of Santa Maria Delle. The 15th century painting depicts the reactions of each of Jesus’s disciples when he told them that one of them would betray him. The painting has been a subject of many speculations and conspiracies theories by authors and revisionists who try to depict its “hidden messages”.
One of the reasons why Milan receives so many visitors’ year after year is because of its dishes. The Italian cuisine has taken several years to evolve by careful study of the best methods and practices. Its main dishes include Pizza, Bottarga, Risotto and Polenta, they can be found in any of the numerous restaurants round the city.
Italy is regarded as one of the powerhouses of European football, the nation is a football loving one and boast of numerous football stadiums. In Milan the number one stadium is the San Siro, completed in 1926, it has a capacity of 80,018 making it the largest stadium in Italy. Its official name is the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, it is the home of the A.C. Milan and Inter Milan. Tourists are often advised to come and see the derby between both teams to witness how Italians watch football.
It usually comes as no surprise when Rome is spotted on the itinerary of even the most “traveled” tourists because it is simply an amazing city that people cannot get enough of. Often said to be one of the birth places of European civilization, it is a city with unparalleled history which are shown through the most of its attractions. The Colosseum, Roman Forum, Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica are just a few of Rome’s abundant gifts.
One Rome’s best spots is the Colosseum, sometimes referred to as the Flavian Amphitheater it serves as a reminder of life in the old days of Rome. Located in the center of the city the Amphitheater was a 50,000 capacity structure constructed in AD 72 commanded by Emperor Vespasian. The Colosseum was use for a number of functions in its glory days including gladiatorial shows, hunting games and drama. But in recent times it is more of a tourist site and a ceremonial venue.
Rome is often regarded as the home of Christianity (especially Catholic) in the modern era and this is often visible with the amount of stunning Cathedrals around the city. One of Such Cathedrals and probably the most significant is the St. Peter’s Basilica situated in Vatican City – designed by several famous individuals including Michelangelo and Donato Bramante, it is a beautiful piece of architectural brilliance. The St. Peter Basilica holds the award for the largest church in the world and is very revered by the Christian world - it holds the remains of Saint Peter and that of the first Pope.
Visiting a fountain might sound a bit trivial but that cannot be said about the Trevi Fountain, it is one of the most visited places in Rome by locals and tourists receiving over hundreds of visitors daily. Referred to the Trevi because of the “tre vie” (three roads) that meet at the location of the Fountain, it was designed primarily by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and inscribed on its walls are Roman Mythology. The most exciting thing about the Trevi Fountain for visitors to do is the long-lasting tradition of throwing a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain.
Another of Rome’s important historical site, the Roman Forum was the center of the activities in the city’s earlier years. Currently, in ruins the site was initially a marshy lake before it was developed in the 7th Century - considered one of the oldest structures in the city it played a major part in the history of Rome often being the sites for public speeches, elections and trials. Visiting the Roman Forum is highly recommended because it gives insights on roman history and it is also surrounded by many other historical sites as well.
No visit to Rome is complete with exploring the Vatican Museums. Founded by Pope Julius II the Vatican Museums are basically a collection of works amassed by several Popes overtime, culminating to almost 70,000 works of which only about 20,000 are displayed. Regarded as one of the most visited museums in the world, it famous attractions include the prestigious Sistine chapel known for its decorated ceiling by Michelangelo and Stanze di Raffaello decorated by Raphael. It's also home to the Niccoline Chapel, the Gallery of Maps, The Frescoes and many more.
It might be a little odd to find that a set of steps are regarded so highly but over time the “Spanish steps” as ranked as one of Rome’s top attraction – therefore deserving of all its hype. Designed by Architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Speechi they are set of 136 steps built in 1725 to connect the Trinitá dei Monti with the Bourbon Spanish Embassy. The steps are usually crowded so expect many people to be there as well and be careful not to break any of the “steps” regulations.
Displaying some of Rome’s best artworks is the Galleria Borghese, situated in the Borghese Villa complex it was established in 1903. Made up of twenty-two rooms spread across two floors, its exhibitions are set up to follow different themes – they feature several paintings and sculptures by famous Italian artists like Caravaggio and Federico Barocci. There are also the Villa Borghese gardens around the grounds, it is worth a visit as well.
Built in 315 AD, this monument was built to celebrate the Great Emperor Constantine victory at the Battle of Milivian. Situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill, the arch is 21 m high and 25.9 m wide and consists of several types of design to form one of the most known landmarks in the country. There are several roman inscriptions on some of the Arch’s plinths with most of them depicting of scenes of war.
Venice is one of Italy’s famous cities, situated on a group of 118 small islands in north-eastern Italy - it is the capital of the Veneto region. Sometimes referred to as the “City of Bridges” – it is not your typical city, it has no roads but rather movement around the city is by canals and its numerous bridges which links the city together.
Like most Italian cities Venice is a top tourist destination with its fascinating palaces, top art galleries and welcoming locals.
The emphatic cathedral is the most famous structure in Venice, also known as the St. Mark’s Basilica it represents the prestige of the Venetians. Built in 1092, it was designed by various Italian architects - the St. Mark’s Basilica interior and exterior can be said to be one that exudes opulence, with its mixture of Italian and Byzantine style. The cathedral is well-known for its several domes and 8000 square meters mosaics decorations.
The Palazzo Ducale remains one of Venice's most important landmarks. Built in 1340 using Venetian Gothic architectural style, the palace was once the residence of the Doge of Venice, the leader of the Former Venetian Republic. Officially now a museum, it remains one of the best places in the city to explore - it features the Museo dell’Opera and the old Doge’s Apartments which are now used for art exhibitions. But the highlights of the Palace are the Sacla d’Oro (Golden Staircase) a 24-carat gilt stucco-work and the Sala delle Quattro Porte (Hall of four Doors).
If you are looking for the best of Venetian art, then a trip to the Gallerie dell’Accademia is a must. Situated on the south bank of the Grand Canal, the former convent turned gallery houses most of the Venetian artworks from before the 19th century. It has works from famous artists such as Lazzarro Bastiani, Giulio Carpioni among many others. However, its crown jewel is the masterpiece “Drawing of Vitruvian Man” by Leonardo da Vinci.
Venice is majorly known as a city that has no roads but one of several canals, the most popular of them all is the Canal Grande. The S-shaped canal is 2.8 km long and runs from the lagoon close to the Santa Lucia railway Station into the basin at San Marco. A tour on the Canal Grande is one of the best ways to see the city – passing through its famous bridges and seeing the city’s best architectural works in one full sweep using the city’s vaporetto (water bus).
Located in the Piazza San Marco, the bell tower is the tallest structure in Venice, towering at a height of 98.6 meters. The building has been reconstructed several times after suffering from a series of natural and man made disasters, its most recent reconstruction was in 1912 after its collapse of 1902. Crowned by the golden Statue of the Angel Gabriel, the building is one of the Venice symbols - it offers visitors a chance to take an elevator to its highest floor for a panoramic view of the city.