19 Great Cities to See in Italy
It’s hard to go wrong when visiting Italy, but here are some of the community’s favorite cities (in no particular ranking order)!
Let’s start with the most obvious one. There are a million reasons to visit Rome. Between it’s history and cultural significance, it’s a European must-visit. While Rome may be more famous for its ancient history, it has played a significant role in recent history as well. Setting the foundation for the European Union, the Treaty of Rome was signed here in 1957 establishing the European Economic Community.
Its recommendation is echoed by Savaş (@tarhan_savas_07) who suggests seeing the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, and Piazza Venezia. All three sights are a short walk from each other.
This is my personal favorite in Italy. Many famous artworks, including David by Michelangelo and the Birth of Venus by Botticelli, are found in Florence. Valeria (@valeriaandreabs), Janella (@janellavillanueva), Patty (@patty.fern), and Hera (@herazvi) also recommend Florence. It’s a crowd pleaser for sure. Hera describes waking up early for a panoramic view from Piazzale Michelangelo as one of her favorite memories from the city.
World famous Venice is as enchanting is it seems, but only when you look beyond the crush of tourists. There is a labyrinth of narrow passageways that will make any wanderer happy, but it will likely be you and 100 other people squeezing through the same alley. That said, you can point your camera in pretty much any direction and capture something beautiful. Increasing sea levels threaten this city and while it is a unique place to visit, it comes at a tremendous cost for Italy to maintain.
4. The towns of the Amalfi Coast
In this small area of Italy you’ll find Sorrento, Positano, and more. From Sorrento to Amalfi is only about 20 miles, but it’ll take you at least an hour because of the winding roads along the cliffs! Not far from here you’ll also find the island of Capri, recommended by Hannah (@hannahshohara) and Usav and Nti from Black Women Abroad (@black_women_abroad).
In southern Italy’s Puglia region you’ll find Alberobello, famous for its conical roofed, white stone homes called trulli. You can even rent one of these whimsical homes on AirBnb. The small town can be reached from Bari or Matera in about an hour.
Not far from the Amalfi Coast, you’ll find the larger city of Naples. If you are looking to see Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii, Naples makes for a good base to go out and venture from. Be sure to grab a Neapolitan pizza while you’re at it.
7. Cinque Terre
This coastal city of Liguria is famous for its cliffside colorful buildings descending down to a beautiful, rocky coast. This recommendation comes from Cynthia (@cynthiamedinas). She loved how easy it was to get between the little towns. Connected by footpaths, you can explore Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore without all the car traffic.
Not far from Cinque Terre is Genoa. Thanks to Waleed (@waleed_97) for this suggestion. Genoa is a waterfront city in the northwest. It is Europe’s largest seaport, making it a place where industry meets medieval charm. The region of Liguria is home to a wide variety of pastas, including specialties in pesto.
Located in the heart of the country, Perugia is built on a hill and is fortified by historic walls. This city shout out comes from Jon (@jonhamilt) who says the city has great Renaissance art and architecture, not to mention famous Baci chocolates!
Matera is a rocky, inland city in the south famous for its cave dwellings. It’s often cited as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The cave dwellings that attract tourists today were actually the homes of those suffering from severe poverty in the early 20th century.
Like several other cities on this list, Siena is found in Tuscany. This recommendation comes from Ellen (@ellenmoens). She describes entering the city as like going back in time and as one of the few Italian cities where she felt a strong medieval vibe.
Bari sits on the east side of Italy, resting on the Adriatic Sea. The capital of Apulia, it’s a popular city as a first stop of a Puglia road trip. The region is known for its cultivation of olives, making them (and olive oil) a traditional part of local cuisine.
Palermo is the capital city of Sicily. The city hosts a variety of markets to indulge your curiosities and engage all your senses. Street food in Sicily is quite popular, earning it a spot in rankings of places with the best street food in the world. If you are including Sicily in your travels, you might also consider Catania at the base of Mt. Etna.
Located in South Tyrol, Balzano is a great choice if you’re looking to explore the the Dolomites. Hannah (@hannahrae_baldwin) recommends visiting any part of this region. Full of charming small villages, the journey is complemented by green hillsides and sharp, rocky mountains rising into the sky. The region borders Austria and Switzerland and because of that, the landscape and architecture is quite different from what you find in other parts of Italy.
Famous of course for the Leaning Tower, a tour of Tuscany usually includes a stop in this city. Sarah (@sarahltravels) says she found the best gelato of her life near the iconic landmark. Why does the tower lean? Find out more here.
This recommendations comes from Alexia (@alexiabullu). If you love pasta and wine, this may be a great pick for you. Part of the Tuscany region, it is famous worldwide for its wine production and unique varieties of pasta.
Tropea is a town built on the edge of a large cliff descending into topaz blue water. At the base of the breathtaking cliffs you’ll find sandy beaches. The town isn’t visited by nearly as many tourists as Rome or even the Amalfi Coast, making for a more relaxing experience as a traveller.
Known for it’s Basilica of Saint Anthony, you can find Padua nearby Venice. Because Venice is such an expensive city, you could consider staying in Padua and making Venice a day trip if you’re on a budget. Padua is also home to one of Italy’s oldest universities and has a thriving cafe scene. This recommendation comes to us from Meghan (@lil_musicgeek13).
Also recommended by Meghan, Turin sits in northern Italy close to France. The city is known for its baroque architecture. Due to its proximity to the Alps, it also makes a great winter destination. Turin even hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Check out the map below to see where exactly each of these cities are! Every time I look deeper into exploring Italy I find more incredible places to see. Whatever you pick, I have no doubt you’ll have a wonderful time and drink a morning espresso for me!
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