17 Must visit towns and cities in Italy
We all have heard about Italy, isn’t it? After all, the world famous Colosseum in Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the canals of Venice are all located in Italy! Is that it? No. There is more to Italy than Venice, Rome and Pisa. Italy has everything – canals, beaches, villages stacked on a mountain top, history that dates back to centuries, vineyards, The Alps, Italian roads (they are a bliss to drive on) and what not?? Then why restrict your visit to Italy to just these 3 cities?? There are many other places in Italy which need a visit. So, let’s look at my pick of 17 must visit towns and cities in Italy.
So, let’s dive straight into Italy where I shall introduce you to some lovely locales!
Rome might be Italy’s capital city but Milan is World’s Fashion capital! This fashionable city also has historic downtown with some amazing architecture and was home to some talented artists in the history! The metro system in Milan is exceptional! We had fun getting in and getting out of Metro stations. The metro map is self-explanatory and could be understood well by first timers in Milan too!
Must see: Duomo di Milano, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Venice is synonymous with romance and I couldn’t agree more – if only it was not crowded as much! Can’t help! Everyone wants to experience a bit of Venice and thus the crowd. Nevertheless, there is certain charm to Venice that astonishes everyone! The gondolas docked in corner, bridges that connect homes, water that connects lives, history that takes back in time – totally, Venice is stunning!
Tip: Be in Venice as early as 7 to experience its stillness and devoid of crowds.
Must do: A ride in a Gondola
Rome is the heart of Italy. Wide streets lined with big trees, swanky cars moving on the clean, broad streets, tourists waiting in bus stops and tram stops – are some of the usual sights we get to see in Rome. There are tons of sightseeing places in Rome apart from the Colosseum. Give it 2-3 days and explore Rome in leisure!
Must see: Colosseum and the Roman Forum
Florence and San Gimignano
Tuscany – one of the beautiful regions in Italy that mesmerizes the onlooker! Vineyards stretching for hundreds of acres, dotting the corners of the road – makes it a visual treat! Florence is the capital of Tuscany region and is known for its renaissance art and medieval architecture. San Gimignano is another hill top town that is a must visit when in Tuscany.
Must do: Taste the Chianti Wine and drive the country side.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa has been leaning from over centuries thus giving it this name. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was constructed in 3 stages, in a span for over 199 years – from 1172 AD to 1370 AD!! The reason for the tower to lean is the improper laying of foundation. The ground is too soft at one side making the tower to lean at an angle of 5.5 degrees. Restoration work was carried out between 1990 and 2001 to correct this angle to 3.99 degrees.
Walking inside the stairs of Leaning Tower of Pisa and reaching the top floor is an experience not to be missed.
Must do: Climb all the stairs inside the tower to reach the absolute top!
Home to some of the Italy’s best museums and well known for the origin of Pizza – Naples is one of the must visit cities in Italy. Naples can also be a good base to explore South Italy. There are train connections from Naples to every major city in Italy. Not only train, Naples bay also connects many Italian cities by sea.
Must do: Do not forget to eat world famous Neapolitan Pizza!
Pompeii was a city that was lost and found. A city once in its glory was destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the city of Pompeii was buried under 20 feet of volcanic ash in 79 AD. The city that tells a sad tale of how more than 11,000 people were buried live and was abandoned until 1599. Finally in 1748, Pompeii was rediscovered by a Spanish engineer. Today, the ruins of Pompeii scream out a tragic tale.
Must do: Do the Mt. Vesuvius trek.
Capri is a tiny island in the gulf of Naples. The pebble beach, Blue Grotto, Faraglioni Sea stacks, Monte Solaro are some of the points of interest in Capri. The narrow, zig zag, steep streets of Capri took us on an unforgettable ride – swaying us from one corner to the other! Read more about Capri – must see and must do in this link.
Must do: Mt. Solaro chairlift and Blue Grotto
This 50 km of coastline in South Italy is pure ecstasy! Amalfi coast spans many quaint Italian villages with terraced vineyards, lemon groves and bright coloured flowers adorn the pathway which overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea down below. The views are just perfect. Towering towns on one side and deep blue ocean cascading down! Positano, Ravello, Salerno, Atrani and Amalfi are some important and scenic towns you’ll come across in this drive.
Must do: Drive the entire stretch of Amalfi Coast. Amazing experience!
Entire town of white washed houses with cute cone tops stacked with stones. Entire town! Just imagine. Walking the cobbled alleys with such cute houses giving me company all the way – was an experience which is beyond words.
Alberobello is swarmed with houses called Trulli built with Apulian dry stone consisting of limestone and conical roofs. These houses are quintessential to Alberobello and makes a lovely backdrop for pictures and videos. For the same reason, Alberobello has been a host to many movie shoots.
Must do: Do I even have to tell you to take lots of pics? 😉
Maranello is the land of Ferraris. Turn your head to any side and I bet you will find a Ferrari there! That is Maranello for you! Maranello is where horse powers not horses, rule the road! The vrooming of Ferraris sounds like heaven for Ferrari lovers! Needless to say, I loved it!
Must see: Check out the Ferrari Museum in Maranello!
Read more about Ferrari Maranello Museum here.
Another famous island of Italy is Sicily and why not? It is the largest island in Italy and also on the Mediterranean Sea. The lovely blue ocean, a spewing volcano, classic heritage and great food – Sicily is just what the doctor ordered!
Must Do: A jeep excursion to Mount Etna
A string of 5 villages form the Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Monterosso, Vernazza are one of the most beautiful places in Italy. Well known for its terraced houses adjoining the rugged Italian Riviera – Cinque Terre is a major tourist attraction in Italy. Swimming, hiking, sailing or just taking a plain romantic walk hand in hand and soaking all the goodness of Cinque Terre would be a good idea!
Must do: Visit all the 5 villages to find something you love in every village!
Now this one’s a charmer. Lake Como is so beautiful and romantic that you don’t really want to miss this place when in Italy. With just an hour from Milan, Lake Como is easy to reach and one can comfortably spend two days without getting bored. My favourite time to stroll around the banks of Lake Como is early in the mornings, when the sun has just peeped out to give you the glimpse of the world and the clouds are still lurking around. Just so romantic!
Must do: A walk along the Lake Como
This town was a true revelation in Northern Italy. Bernina express is how we stumbled upon this pretty town. With Alps that make a lovely background, Tirano is the starting point for Bernina express from the Italian side. The town is small and can be covered by foot in a couple of hours. Look out for small family owned wood fired pizza outlets for some scrumptious helping of authentic Italian Pizza.
Must do: Keep aside a whole day to hop onto Bernina Express.
Siena is another gem of Tuscany. Its medieval architecture, cobbled alleys and lively people make it an essential stop in you Italian holiday. Restaurants with mouth-watering food and lip-smacking gelato and of course the cafés that serve this with a view and the vibe in the air is so cheerful. Piazza Del Campo, Fonte Gaia (Fountain of Joy), Piazza Del Duomo, Courtyard of Catherina in Fontebranda, Basilica of St. Domenico are some of the places to see in Siena.
My first tryst with the beautiful coastline of Italy was through Sorrento. After a long drive from Rome – Naples – Pompeii, we finally we were about to reach Sorrento and the sun was about to rest for the day. We stopped our rental car near the lay-by, got down from the car, stretched our legs and stood there staring at the Mediterranean Sea and a pretty town bordering the coastline. We all were so happy to see the sun sink into the horizon beyond the vast stretch of water. Sorrento was special to us.
Sorrento is strategically placed and a well-connected town. You can either go to Capri or drive south towards Amalfi or head north to Naples. Also, don’t forget to have Sorrento’s Special Lemonade!
Must do: Stroll along the streets of Sorrento to see houses with flowers tumbling out and to spot orange trees lining the roads.
These were my roundup of 17 must visit towns and cities in Italy. Now that you know where to go in Italy, when are you packing your bags?