There are so many incredible things to do in Italy that you could spend years there and never hit them all. This Italy bucket list contains 57 of the best attractions and regions to explore. Italy is home to an incredible amount of history, some of the world’s best food, and incredible natural scenery in the mountains and along its miles and miles of coastline. Featuring historic Roman (and Greek!) sites, spectacular turquoise beaches, top wine regions, alpine lakes, and the rugged peaks of the Dolomite Mountains, all types of travelers will find activities that suit their interests. If you’re wondering what to do in Italy, this list is sure to inspire your wanderlust.
- 1 Tour the Colosseum
- 2 See the beautiful towns of Cinque Terre
- 3 Learn to row a Gondola on Venice’s canals
- 4 See the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum
- 5 Climb the Dolomites with the via ferrata
- 6 Explore the charming towns of Lake Como
- 7 See the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa
- 8 Sail into the enchanting Blue Grotto
- 9 View the colorful houses of Burano
- 10 Hike to the top of Mount Vesuvius
- 11 Hike in the Alpe di Siusi
- 12 Enjoy the Amalfi Coast in Positano
- 13 Visit the historic Roman Forum
- 14 Explore the beaches of Golfo di Orosei
- 15 Attend Carnival in Venice
- 16 Visit beautiful Lake Garda
- 17 Explore ancient Greek works in the Valley of Temples
- 18 Go wine tasting in Tuscany
- 19 Visit the Piazza San Marco
- 20 Relax in the turquoise waters of San Vito lo Capo Beach
- 21 Explore the island of Capri
- 22 Explore Pienza and the Tuscan hills
- 23 Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain
- 24 Visit Italy’s top art gallery
- 25 Visit the San Fruttuoso Abby
- 26 Visit Murano’s authentic glassblowing shops
- 27 Hike one of the deepest canyons in Europe
- 28 Visit the Borromean Islands in Lake Maggiore
- 29 See the artifacts at the National Museum of Archaeology
- 30 Visit the Italian sunflower fields
- 31 Visit historic Genoa
- 32 Go paragliding over the Dolomites
- 33 Admire the sea from the balconies in Polignano a Mare
- 34 See the glittering Ravenna mosaics
- 35 Tour the beautiful Miramare Castle
- 36 See a performance in an ancient Roman amphitheater
- 37 Take a Vespa tour of Rome
- 38 Relax on tiny Ventotene Island
- 39 Eat pizza in Naples
- 40 Visit the historic nuraghi castles
- 41 Bike around the cycling hotspot of Lucca
- 42 Relax on the beach in Costa Rei
- 43 Tour the papal fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo
- 44 Visit scenic Lake Maggiore
- 45 Taste Barolo & Barbaresco Wine in Piedmont
- 46 Admire the towers of San Gimignano
- 47 See Michelangelo’s David sculpture
- 48 Shop in Italy’s capital of fashion
- 49 Seek romantic advice at Juliet’s balcony
- 50 Visit a cat sanctuary in Roman ruins
- 51 Tour historic Lecce
- 52 Enjoy the secluded beauty of the Costa dei Trabocchi
- 53 See Milan’s famous Duomo
- 54 Visit the fortified Angevine-Aragonese Castle
- 55 Visit the historic Trulli homes
- 56 Wander through the historic Bologna porticoes
- 57 Descend through 2000 years of history at the Basilica San Clemente
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Tour the Colosseum
The Colosseum in Rome is one of the most famous buildings in Italy. Its instantly recognizable arches serve as a symbol of the Eternal City. Built in the 1st century AD, it could once seat more than 50,000 spectators. Over the centuries, it suffered damage from being stripped for metal and marble (you can see some of the materials from the Colosseum in the nearby Vatican City) and earthquakes, but the core of the building is still remarkable. Nowadays, visitors can tour the remains of the building and explore its various levels. Depending on which ticket you purchase, you could stay on the main levels, take a tour down to the underground level below the arena floor, or climb up to the recently reopened top level. If you want to see it after dark, night tours are even offered. No Italy bucket list is complete without a visit to the Colosseum. You can book tickets on its official website or join one of the many guided tours offered.
See the beautiful towns of Cinque Terre
Italy’s coastline is as popular to visit as its iconic rolling countryside, from the postcard beauty of Amalfi and Positano, to the dreamy beaches of Puglia. The rugged and ancient section along the Italian Riviera of Cinque Terre is equally revered. Literally comprising of five towns dotted along the coastline (many of them dramatically so), you can explore many of them by train or boat in a single day.
The national park that encapsulates these villages is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the resulting preservation of the area and is immaculate. Whilst it is possible to drive to most of them, it definitely isn’t recommended given the extremely narrow and steep lanes which you need to traverse to get there. Trains run directly from nearby La Spezia (with connections to major cities) to all of the five towns, although it should be noted that for Corniglia, a 100m climb up steps is required from the station to reach it!
As mentioned, it is possible to visit all five towns in one day. However, this would not do it justice and we would recommend just picking two or three and really spend time exploring every nook and cranny that they have to hold. All the towns are mesmerizing, but if we had to pick two it would be Vernazza and Riomaggiore. The former’s striking port with great views back towards the town make its centerpiece, from which you can catch the ferry along the cliff line, in wonder at Corniglia and Manarola, to Riomaggiore. Here the pastel colors of the buildings glisten in the sun as you walk up the steep slope from its tiny harbor before stopping at Rio Bistrot for a sumptuous seafood lunch.
By Laura from The Travelling Stomach
Learn to row a Gondola on Venice’s canals
Taking a gondola ride is a classic Venice activity, but it’s really pricey! At €120 an hour, more in the evening and more again if the gondolier sings for you, it’s not in everyone’s budget.
Luckily, there’s an experience that’s way more fun, much more active and gives you the chance to do the rowing yourself. You can learn to row like a gondolier, thanks to Row Venice, a female-run, not-for-profit organization that wants to preserve and promote traditional Venetian water culture.
During a 90 minute private lesson in a shrimp-tailed batele (which is very similar to a gondola but a little smaller), your instructor will teach each of you how to stand, how to hold and move the oar, and how to propel the boat forward while she steers. Next, you’ll move on to standing on the stern and steering yourself.
It looks scary, but it’s far easier than it looks, and gives you a wonderful glimpse into life in Venice. And the good news is, it’s just €85 for 1-2 people, €120 for 3 and €140 for 4, making it far less than a traditional gondola ride.
By Kavita from Kavey Eats
See the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum
In the year 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the nearby towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, killing many of the residents. For centuries, the cities lay buried beneath the ash with buildings and artifacts preserved as they were at the time of the eruption. The highlights of Pompeii are extensive, with rows and rows of houses and stores, amphitheaters, an arena, temples, its famous brothel, and more. Many of the frescoes and other items found there were removed and scattered throughout the continent in private collections after the ruins were first rediscovered, but many of them have been moved to the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, which I’d highly recommend visiting if you have time. Herculaneum offers similar opportunities, and while the ruins there are less expansive than those at Pompeii, much of the city was better preserved. It also tends to be less crowded than Pompeii due to the name recognition and popularity of the larger city. The ruins can be visited on a day trip from Naples or Sorrento or even Rome (if you don’t mind a lot of time in transit). Check out my guide for how to get to Pompeii for more info on planning your excursion.
Climb the Dolomites with the via ferrata
Even if you’ve never rock climbed before, you can easily do so in Italy’s Dolomites mountain region thanks to the via ferrata. The Dolomites are located in the northeast of Italy, about two and a half hours north of Venice. The term via ferrata means “iron path” and it gives travelers the opportunity to climb the side of a mountain with an easy way to stay harnessed to the side of that mountain – no belaying or anchoring required. The via ferrata is a strong cable cord anchored every five to 10 feet along the mountainside and the use of these via ferrata routes in the Dolomites dates back to World War I when they were created so soldiers could more quickly navigate the mountains. You can rent via ferrata gear in the main tourism town in the Dolomites region, which consist of a harness with cable cords by each hip that you take turns attaching to the via ferrata cable as you go along. The Dolomites is home to several different via ferrata routes, some that are mostly flat and stretch along mountaintop plateaus while others are steep and require scrambling up the sides of cliffs. Whichever via ferrata route you choose, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the jagged peaks of the Dolomites next to bright green valleys. It’s an unforgettable way to spend time in Italy’s wild and rugged Dolomites region.
By Gina from One Day in a City
Explore the charming towns of Lake Como
Long known as a playground for the rich and famous, Lake Como is a stunning alpine lake located in the foothills of the Alps. Just a short train ride away from Milan, Lake Como makes the perfect weekend getaway.
Some of the prettiest and most popular towns on Lake Como are Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio. However, if you want to stay in a quieter, more affordable town (without sacrificing any of the charm!) consider Gravedona or Nesso instead. These sleepy villages are beautiful but not nearly as crowded as their more popular counterparts.
To get around Lake Como, you can rent a car and drive, take the bus, or take the ferries. The ferries are slow, but the view from the water is worth it! The bus system is a great option if you don’t have a rental car.
In addition to exploring the charming towns of Lake Como, you can also visit some of the most stunning private villas in the world. Villa Carlotta and Villa del Balbionello are two of the most impressive villas on the lake.
Finally, don’t miss the cable car up to Brunate. It departs from the town of Como at the southern end of the lake and takes you all the way up to a tiny hilltop village, providing stunning lake views as you go up.
By Dale from Wander Her Way
See the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa
Seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa should be on your Italy bucket list because there is nothing else quite like it in Italy. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, or also known as the Tower of Pisa, is known around the world for its remarkable 4-degree tilt. Located in the Square of Miracles of Pisa, the Leaning Tower of Pisa along with the Cathedral and Baptistery are excellent examples of Pisan Romanesque architecture. If you’re paying a visit to the Tower, take some time to visit the Baptistery and Cathedral as well to see the beautiful artwork and sculptures. Interestingly, the Leaning Tower isn’t the only structure leaning in the Square of Miracles. The Baptistery and Cathedral are also slightly leaning because of the surrounding inadequate foundation; however, the Tower has the most recognizable tilt. You can tour all three of these monuments in addition to the surrounding museums and cemetery. The museums, Leaning Tower of Pisa, and cemetery require tickets, and there are age and physical ability restrictions for the Leaning Tower, as you must be able to climb the 251 steps. The entire Square of Miracles is beautiful and full of history, so if you’re in Italy consider spending a day exploring this UNESCO World Heritage site!
By Pam and Kathrine from Everywhere Forward
Sail into the enchanting Blue Grotto
The Blue Grotto, or Grotta Azzurra, is a sea cave on the island of Capri. The grotto is located in the northwestern area of the island and is only accessible by boat through a small cave mouth. The Blue Grotto has been famous since the age of ancient Rome, when it was one of Emperor Tiberius’s favorite places. At that time it was used as a swimming hole and temple dedicated to sea nymphs. Today, visitors from around the world flock to the Grotta Azzurra to catch a glimpse of its magical blue waters.
Venturing into the Blue Grotto isn’t the easiest task. The most common way to get inside requires several boat rides, and whether you get inside at all depends on the sea. First, you’ve got to get to Capri on a ferry from the mainland. Then at the main port on Capri, Marina Grande, you’ll get on another boat to take you to the Blue Grotto. Once you’ve arrived at the mouth of the cave, you’ll get into a small row boat. Then, you wait.
One by one, row boats enter the grotto’s small opening. To get inside, you must lie down in the boat while your guide pulls the boat through the opening just as the waves dip low enough.
All the chaos of getting to the cave disappears once you’re inside. Bright blue water glows from beneath you and illuminates the cave walls. Row boats float slowly around the cave as visitors take in this enchanting sight.
The grotto may be closed to visitors due to weather or rough seas. It is open year-round, but your best chances of getting inside are during spring and summer. Between the journey to the cave and the magical blue waters within, visiting the Blue Grotto on Capri is a unique experience that’s well worth the trip.
By Carly from Papers and Airplanes
View the colorful houses of Burano
The vibrant and colorful island of Burano is certainly worthy of a place on your Italian bucket list. Located in the Venetian lagoon, the island is easily accessible from Venice using the local waterbus service.
Burano is one of the most picturesque spots in Italy thanks to the rows of colorful houses spread across the island. It’s traditionally a fishermen’s village, and so the fishermen painted their houses bright colors to help them find their way home when fog descended on the Venetian lagoon. The result is beautiful, with almost every street packed with an explosion of color that is sure to brighten anyone’s day! Each house is a different color to the last, creating a rainbow effect along the island’s streets. The reflections of the houses in the canals only add to the beauty!
Although one of the best things to do on the island is simply wander around and enjoy the colorful houses, Burano is also known for its tradition of lace making. Once you’ve roamed the streets and snapped some nice pictures you should make sure to visit some of the shops selling locally made lace products, or alternatively visit the island’s Lace Museum.
By Sam and Natalia from Something of Freedom
Hike to the top of Mount Vesuvius
If you find yourself on the gorgeous west coast of Italy, a hiking trip to Mount Vesuvius is well worth your time. Grab your hiking shoes and find yourself heading to the top! There is also transportation to the top section of the volcano, allowing you to visit the top for when you don’t have too much time. From this point it still takes a good 20 minutes. Make sure you also have a drink and a snack with you on hotter days, as it’s not too close to any big stores.
This volcano is pretty famous since the disaster of Pompeii, so it has some dark history. But keep in mind that Mount Vesuvius is still an active volcano, and the only active one in mainland Europe. So hiking in this location has its risks, but it’s well worth the risk. The view at the top is so pretty looking down to the bay of Naples – as long as you are lucky to have clear blue skies!
We hiked it in combination with a day trip to Pompeii, which worked out really well with the time. At the top you can see the whole area of Pompeii. It’s really impressive to see from the top. Of course you need to get yourself a famous Naples pizza too while in the area. It’s perfect to get one after this hike!
By Zoe from Together in Transit
Hike in the Alpe di Siusi
Hiking in the Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm) in the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy is a must for those who love the mountains. This high alpine meadow is located in the Parco Naturale Sciliar-Catinaccio, Naturepark Schlern-Rosengarten, which is one of 9 Dolomite parks all of which have UNESCO designation.
Note: This area of Italy is very Austro-Germanic, so German is spoken first, signs are in German, then Italian — so be prepared.
It’s a gondola or bus ride up to the settlement of Compaccio (Compatsch) where many of the trails begin — although you can start lower near Siusi (Seis) or Castelrotto (Kastelruth), two of the towns that make a good base for your time here. But why not get a little bit of a head start?! There are easy walks through the meadow, past grazing cows and farm houses. Or you can challenge yourself and hike up to some scenic points where you can get stunning views of the Dolomite peaks all around you. There are shorter trails and longer trails. And you’ll find trails for all levels — easy, moderate or difficult. The area is well-marked so even less-experienced hikers will enjoy the Alpe di Siusi.
Buses also run regularly in high season so if you get tired, or if the weather turns, you can easily hop on a bus back to one of the towns. I think this is one of the most beautiful places in Italy and, to be honest, it’s one of my favorite places I’ve ever been. If you love the outdoors, especially the mountains, be sure to experience a hike in Alpe di Siusi.
By Lynne from Wander Your Way
Enjoy the Amalfi Coast in Positano
Positano on the Amalfi Coast is definitely bucket list material – with a tropical-looking landscape of hills which tower above the town coated with luscious greenery whilst a deep blue sea laps against the beach, you might think that you’re in heaven already!
The town is assured in its position as one of the most glamorous locations in the world, and it isn’t shy about letting you know about it. You’ll find an array of top hotels, exclusive terrace restaurants, and a host of fashion shops which rival the selection on nearby Capri. Positano fashion has its own genre in the galaxy of Italian style, and you’ll find plenty to choose from – you can even have a pair of jewel-encrusted sandals custom-made whilst you wait!
But for me, it’s Positano’s natural scenery which makes it a must-see. From the surrounding mountains, which you can hike on the trail known as The Path Of The Gods, to the stunning beach by Positano’s harbor, the scenery is simply jaw-dropping. If the crowds of daytrippers get too much, you can even go on a short ten minute walk along the sea’s edge to a well-hidden beach just along the coast, which is a lot quieter.
Positano is welcoming, easy to reach, and provides you with a little taste of the high life. John Steinbeck wrote about the town’s charms – and who are we to argue with that kind of recommendation!
By Nicky from That Anxious Traveller
Visit the historic Roman Forum
Once the center of Roman life, the Forum now contains the ruins of several government buildings, monuments, and temples. Located between the Capitoline and Palatine hills, the small valley is an absolute archaeological treasure. Some of the highlights include the Temple of Castor and Pollux – the three tall columns that remain are one of the most striking features of the forum – and the House of the Vestals – where the vestal virgins lived. There are also triumphal arches that inspired icons like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and temples that were converted into churches over the centuries. These are actually the best-preserved ruins in the Forum because the buildings were maintained. The climb up Palatine Hill isn’t too taxing, but it’s well worth the effort for the views of the whole area from above. History buffs and casual visitors alike are sure to love a visit to the Forum. To catch the view in the photo above, check out the incredible Musei Capitolini full of paintings and artifacts – and a well-placed balcony. You can even combine your ticket with the Colosseum located nearby.
Explore the beaches of Golfo di Orosei
I discovered Golfo di Orosei during a Sardinia road trip, and it totally blew me away. This stretch of stunning coastline is home to some of Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches, with unbelievably clear turquoise water.
Cala Gonone is a good place to base yourself to explore Golfo di Orosei, from here you can take boat trips or hire kayaks along the coast. Boat trips will stop at the beaches, allowing you to swim and have a picnic before hopping back on board to explore the next beach. The most famous beach along this coastline is Cala Goloritze, known for its stunning cliff backdrop, clear waters and rugged beauty. There are two ways of reaching Cala Goloritze, the 1stt is via a 90-minute hike through the mountains and then stairs down to the beach, and the second is by taking a boat trip from Cala Gonone.
There are many caves along the coastline, and for a small entrance fee you can visit Bue Marino Grotto. Once inside, a guide will take you 1km into the cave, through different ‘rooms’ containing striking stalactites and stalagmites.
Back in Cala Gonone, there are plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy the evening, overlooking the beautiful waters on the Golfo di Orosei.
By Hayley from A Lovely Planet
Attend Carnival in Venice
Carnival is an annual festival in Venice, usually around February, that ends with the Christian season of Lent (similar to Mardi Gras). It’s famous for its elaborate masks and costumes that can completely disguise the revelers. The wearing of masks and outlandish dress originated as a break from the rigid social structure of Venice’s Republic days and gave the populace a bit of freedom. Dating back hundreds of years, the festival faded away before being revived in 1979 and now it’s one of the most popular events of the year there. With galas, costume contests, street performances, water parades and more. If you wish to dress up, you can purchase or rent fancy outfits. With or without a mask, you’ll enjoy the lively events and bright colors against the historic backdrop of the city.
Visit beautiful Lake Garda
Lake Garda is a beautiful destination for all types of traveler. Adventurers, explorers, foodies and families will all love visiting this beautiful spot. The largest of the Italian lakes and the third largest in the whole Alps region, Lake Garda provides a huge range of activities and experiences.
North of the lake enjoys stunning mountainous scenery and water sports, with plenty of outdoor pursuits. If water sports are your thing then you’ll want to visit Riva which is one of the best places in Italy for wind and surf sports. Also north of the lake are the towns of Limone and Malcesine. Limone is a quaint historic fishing town is famous for its olive oil production and lemon groves, which grow up the mountainous hillside. The picture perfect town of Malcesine is home to the historical medieval castle, Castello Scaligero and has direct access to Monte Baldo – the largest mountain in the Lake Garda region. A short cable car ride from Malcesine transports you to the Monte Baldo peak where you can experience a range of outdoor pursuits – including hiking, cycling, paragliding and mountaineering.
South of Lake Garda offers a more Mediterranean feel with warmer days and great beach areas. You really are spoilt for choice here and there’s so many great towns to visit. Our favorite spots are Bardolino for its world famous vineyards and fine wines and Sirmione for its 13th century fortress and roman thermal spas. If great nightlife is what you’re after, head to Desenzano. It has a lively nightlife scene and is the party town of the lake – people come from all over Italy to hit the clubs here. It’s also the only town on the lake with train access to other Italian cities. You can reach Milan in under an hour and Venice in ninety minutes!
By Kylie from Our World of Adventure
Explore ancient Greek works in the Valley of Temples
The Valley of Temples is a famous Greek archaeological site in Italy and also one of the largest outside of Greece. It was accorded the UNESCO Heritage status in 1997 and forms an essential part of any historical itinerary of Sicily. Located atop a ridge in the modern city of Agrigento (ancient city of Akragas), Valle dei Templi is filled with impressive Doric temples. The Temple of Concordia is one of the best preserved ones. Its columns are still intact and you can see the remains of an ancient stairway
that once led up to the roof.
Another fascinating temple is that of the Dioscuri twins, Castor and Pollux. The modern reconstruction has only 4 columns with bits of white stucco from the 5th century thus, leaving a lot to your imagination. The temple has now become representative of the city of Agrigento, functioning as its symbol many-a-time. You can see the ruins of various other temples such as those of Hercules, Juno, and Zeus.
The temple of Zeus was envisioned to be the biggest Greek temple ever built. However, it was never completed. All that exists today is a pile of ruins. A visit to the Valley of Temples can be easily clubbed with a tour of the Archaeological Museum nearby and a short trip to the botanical gardens of Kolymbetra. Early Christian necropolises, that dot the area behind the Temple of Concordia, also make an interesting addition.
Don’t miss out on this wonderful bit of Greece when you are in Italy. Only make sure you carry a hat and lots of water because it can get unbearably hot during the day.
By Soumya from Stories by Soumya
Go wine tasting in Tuscany
Italy is one of the world’s oldest and largest producers of wine in the world. Although there are multiple wine tasting regions around Italy, the most popular wines come from the Chianti region in Tuscany. Thus, wine tasting in Tuscany should be on any traveler’s Italy bucket list.
Italian wine tasting is different than American wine tasting. Visitors cannot just show up at a winery and expect to go wine tasting. You must make a reservation prior to your visit. The wine tastings are more intimate (most of the time it is just your group). The tastings often include a light snack of breads, meats, and cheeses and some have the option to have a meal with the tasting. Wine tastings in Tuscany include a tour of the property as well. You get to walk through the vineyards and see the grapes up close. Visitors get to see the facility where the grapes are turned into wine as well as the barrel rooms where the wines age. At the end of the tour is when you get to taste the delicious varietals of wine.
If you are unable to get a reservation and want to try many varietals of wine, or prefer a different experience, head over to an Enoteca. An enoteca is a local wine shop that has a variety of wines from the region. You do not need reservations to go to an enoteca and most serve light bites to eat as well. One thing I really appreciated about Tuscan wine tasting (besides the wine) was that the wineries did not rush you. Each tasting was a minimum of two hours. Many of the tastings were with a somalier or the owner of the vineyard. They took the time to have a real conversation with you as well as thoroughly explained each type of wine before you tried it.
By Francesca from Homeroom Travel
Visit the Piazza San Marco
The Piazza San Marco is one of the most recognizable spots in Venice with its beautiful styling and the Basilica San Marco and Doge’s Palace. The plaza, though crowded, is a great place to photograph both buildings before touring inside. The basilica is free to enter and is absolutely stunning inside. Photography isn’t allowed, but there’s no way to do it justice with a picture anyway. If you want to enjoy a good view of the piazza, you can pay a few euros to climb the stairs, enter a small exhibit about the church, and walk out on the balcony. It was beautiful out there above the crowds. Right next door, you’ll find the Doge’s Palace, which was the seat of power during Venice’s heyday as a powerful republic. If you want to visit in the busy seasons, you’ll definitely want to pre-book your tickets. The interiors are lavishly decorated and covered with intricate murals, clocks, and other accessories. An audio tour guide will help you get a sense of the history here. Don’t miss the Bridge of Sighs, a famous covered bridge that crosses one of the canals. It has tiny windows peeking out and got its name from the fact that prisoners were escorted over it after being sentenced – supposedly their last peek at beautiful Venice would cause them to sigh.
Relax in the turquoise waters of San Vito lo Capo Beach
San Vito lo Capo, Sicily
If you are after a powdery white, sandy beach with clear turquoise waters to swim in during your trip to Italy then look no further than San Vito lo Capo Beach in Sicily. This small beach located in the northwest of the island, is not only picture postcard perfect, it also has an amazing small town to wander around featuring restaurants, cafes, bars and luxury shops to peruse.
With a backdrop of the nearby mountain range, San Vito lo Capo beach is unrivaled. You can while away your day lounging around on its calming shores before perhaps taking a break from the intense lunchtime sun to get a spot of lunch in one of the numerous cafes positioned directly on the beach. A personal favorite is Tasty, a beach-front cafe which, as a vegetarian, has several options available including the most amazing goat’s cheese, sundried tomato and caramelized onion toastie.
As the sun sets, the locals then join the sun-drenched tourists, for early evening aperitifs and long, relaxed meals of freshly caught seafood. If however, you fancy a change from pasta and pizza you will also find the most amazing creperie, Le Stefano di Crepes, in the heart of the town, well-known for its savory as well as its sweet crepe dishes.
By Tamason from Travelling Book Junkie
Explore the island of Capri
Designer labels and upscale restaurants are not my bag, and Capri is a world away from my current base of Courmayeur in the Italian Alps. But we knew it had some beautiful rugged coastline and spectacular villas so, when hiking around the Amalfi Coast, we decided to give it a whirl. My initial judgement was unfair and we could have spent much more than a day enjoying all the island has to offer.
The Marina Grande Port, where you arrive, is extremely busy and slightly grubby, and the queue for the funicular up to Capri Town was huge. We decided to walk and, despite the heat, were glad we did. The winding, shaded cobbled pathways, leading off to some impressive Villas, were lovely and, as you climb, there are great views down to the harbor and beyond.
We visited the tranquil and atmospheric Certosa di San Giacomo on the outskirts of Capri Town. It is a beautiful old monastery and grounds that are home to the museum of the fascinating symbolist German Painter, Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach.
For a quieter experience than Capri Town, and access to some great hiking trails, make sure you head up to the second town on the Island, Anacapri. We wanted to walk up but there are no paths on the road and it is extremely busy with traffic. The buses get crammed, so you may want to get up early or splash out on a taxi.
From the town, you can get a bus down for a boat to the most famous site on the Island, The Blue Grotto; a spectacular sea cave (again, be prepared for it being busy). Also make time to appreciate the impressive grounds and architecture of Villa San Michele. We ran out of time but, if you want some fantastic views, you can get the chairlift up to Monte Salaro too.
By Gemma from A Girl and Her Dog on the Road
Explore Pienza and the Tuscan hills
If you have ever read Under the Tuscan Sun or seen the movie of the same name, the rolling hills of southern Tuscany will be familiar. This iconic landscape – of ancient hilltop towns, cypress trees and vines as far as the eye can see – is worthy of any bucket list.
At the heart of this region, Pienza is a hilltop town designed in the image of the perfect town by its most famous resident Pope Pius II in the early 15th century. Here you will find cobbled streets leading to pretty piazzas, a grand palazzo and impressive Duomo. You can easily spend a day wandering through this romantic town stopping to admire views of the surrounding countryside. Even the street names are romantic. On Via del Bacio (Kiss Street) shuttered windows look down on plant pots cascading with colorful geraniums in one of those perfect Italian scenes you’ve no doubt dreamt of.
Exploring the surrounding countryside in the Val D’Orcia is an adventure filled with wine, thermal baths and yet more pretty towns. Montepulciano and Montalcino can be seen from viewpoints in Pienza. Some of Italy’s best wines, including Brunello di Montalcino, are made in the areas surrounding those towns. One of the best things to do is stop for a long leisurely lunch matched to the wines and enjoy the beauty of the cypress trees swaying in the warm Tuscan sun.
Both Pienza and the Val D’Orcia region are on UNESCO’s world heritage list for their outstanding beauty and preserved structures and landscapes. You can easily visit this part of Tuscany on a day trip from Florence or as a stop as you make your way south from the Renaissance city to Rome.
By Katy from Untold Morsels
Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most popular tourist sites in Rome, and in all honesty I wasn’t expecting much out of my visit. It’s just a fountain after all, right? However, when I got there I was legitimately impressed by its size and detail. Constructed in the 1700s, its scale is enormous and it really is beautiful. Legend has it that if you toss a coin into the fountain, you’ll return to Rome someday. So when you get there, make your way close to the edge (you’ll likely have to fight through some crowds), turn your back to the water, and loft a coin of your choice over your shoulder. There are a few tiered steps heading down to the base of the fountain, and if you can find a spot there, it’s a great place to eat a gelato. I’d recommend going at night if you want to avoid the crowds. There were a lot fewer people there after dark and the LED lighting installed a few years ago really brings it to life at night. Regardless of what time of day you visit, you’ll definitely want to make time to fit it in during your Rome itinerary.
Visit Italy’s top art gallery
The Uffizi Gallery in Florence has been on Italy bucket lists since aristocrats coming of age in Europe would take part in a Grand Tour. However, as the name Uffizi (which means “offices” in Italian) indicates, it was not even originally built to be an art gallery. Originally this building was built by the infamous Cosimo de’ Medici so he could centralize all administrative offices of Florence and surrounding territories in one place – likely to keep them under his controlling eye. It was Cosimo’s eldest son, Francesco I, who took the first steps and began using the upper floors to display the Medici family’s impressive art collection.
Over time, the art collection of the Uffizi grew until some was transferred out to other galleries, and still not all can be displayed at once. There are so many artistic treasures to see, it’s hard to pick out some for special attention. But, to give you an idea of the caliber of art within the walls, be sure to see: Botticelli’s Primavera and his Birth of Venus. It will be crowded around these but they are beautiful and filled with symbolism – definitely must-sees. Also see Leonardo da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi and his Annunciation; they are simply beautiful. Michelangelo’s Holy Family is the only of the panel paintings the artist finished later in life that we still have today. (There is also a wonderful story that Tondo, who commissioned the painting, complained about it when it was finished. So, Michelangelo jacked up the price! In the end, the patron could do nothing but pay the high price.)
Today, the Uffizi Gallery is the most visited art gallery in Italy. In the height of tourist season the line to get inside the Uffizi can stretch hours long so I strongly suggest you buy a timed ticked ahead of time to skip the line.
By Megan from Wandertoes
Visit the San Fruttuoso Abby
San Fruttuoso, Liguria
San Fruttuoso is a tiny bay on the Italian Riviera that should definitely be on your Italy Bucket List. The only way to get there is by boat or on foot; there are no roads. It is framed by steep, forested cliffs towering behind and beside it. What makes the cove even more beautiful, though, is the San Fruttuoso Abbey. This is a lovely golden-colored tenth century Benedictine monastery with a tower and arches underneath that the sea enters. There is a small museum inside that provides information about the abbey’s history. You can climb the tower for views over the bay below. There are also several tiny seafood restaurants that make a delightful spot for lunch, as well as deck chairs and beach umbrellas that you can rent (the beach is pebbly). The water is emerald green and refreshingly cool – especially after a hike.
A great day trip is to take a boat to Portofino then hike for about two hours alongside the Mediterranean Sea then down some switchbacks to San Fruttuoso Bay. A cool dip, lunch and an afternoon relaxing on the beach is the perfect way to round out the day. You can take a boat back to Rapallo later in the afternoon. Of course, if you don’t want to hike for two hours, boats do go directly from Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino to San Fruttuoso Bay. There are also boats from Cinque Terre.
By James from Travel Collecting
Visit Murano’s authentic glassblowing shops
Murano, one of the many islands within Venice’s expansive lagoon, is renowned worldwide for its artisan glass and glassblowing shops. Nearly every shop on the island has different varieties of glass pieces and sculptures, yet it may take a little extra perusing to ensure the glass is truly made in Murano. Look for the artisan’s glassmaking setup within view of the main shop inside, as well as the distinctive “Murano” stamp, which can be found on the bottom of authentic pieces. Wandering the meandering streets within the island’s center can yield some great, local finds, such as Padoan Armando’s shop at 21 Calle Barovier or the busier Glass Blowing Shop at 13 Riva Longa. The oldest shop on the island is the Compagnia Venezia Murano Glass Company, dating back to the late 1800s, and it’s worth taking a look at their elaborate pieces, including chandeliers and centerpieces. Don’t miss taking a tour of the glass museum to learn the history behind Murano’s glassmaking traditions, dating back centuries. To beat the crowds, we suggest visiting in the off-season, outside of summertime, and spending the night on the island itself. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how few people will be on the island after the last vaporetto leaves for the evening – sunrises will be all yours, and you’ll get first entry as soon as glass shop doors open.
By Christa from Expedition Wildlife
Hike one of the deepest canyons in Europe
A return back to nature is one of the most obvious perks of visiting Sardinia. The second-largest Italian island offers some amazing hiking and climbing opportunities that absolutely need to be explored.
The Gola di Gorropu canyon is tucked under the large Supramonte karst massif that spreads between provinces Ogliastra and Nuoro. The Flumineddu River has been relentlessly making its way deep into the gorge, eroding, sculpting and carving through towering 500 meter walls, and leaving behind a gorgeous natural masterpiece.
There are basically two main routes to reach the gorge entrance. The easier one starts in Ponte S’Abba Arva, and the more challenging one begins in Passo Ghenna Silana. Both of these tracks take somewhere between 1½ and 2 hours (one way) to complete. You should choose according to your fitness level. Please also note that sturdy shoes are essential for this hike!
Entering the canyon is quite a unique experience. You are welcomed with a slightly cold breeze and towering vertical walls that attract your gaze towards the sky as you journey into the gorge. Be prepared for quite a lot of rock hopping and climbing. Boulders become more immense and the path becomes more difficult and dangerous the further into the canyon you progress.
I invite you to consider swapping azure Sardinian beaches with exploring this dramatic and breathtaking gorge for a day. The landscape under the steep vertical limestone walls is just so wondrous and full of powerful historical traces. The hike to Gola di Gorropu is a journey to discover one of the deepest gorges in Europe, and should definitely be on your bucket list!
By Mateja from Matejalicious
Visit the Borromean Islands in Lake Maggiore
Piedmont and Lombardy
Lake Maggiore is one of the lesser known Italian Lakes, a quiet paradise known as Italy’s Garden of Eden and you really need to visit The Borromean Islands (Isole Borromee) located within its waters. The islands were places for aristocrats, evident in their lavish design curated and owned by the wealthy Borromeo Family. Now one of the most popular places to visit in Lake Maggiore, a flag is ceremonially flown atop the gardens of Isola Bella whenever the family returns to the islands.
This small cluster of islands only occupies an area of 50 acres and each has its own individual character. Located one hour by train from Milan to Stresa or across the water by ferry from Laveno-Mombello (you can take your car too for 26 Euros) the islands are easy to access from Stresa. Boat trips will take you to the three main islands: Isola Madre, Isola Bella and Isola Pescatori for as little as 12 Euros per person.
Isola Madre: Best known for its beautiful botanical English inspired gardens, Isola Madre is also the largest of the Borromean Islands.
Isola Bella: Isola Bella boasts a baroque palace with an intricately designed grotto, walled gardens with white albino peacocks and a fishing village. Entrance to the palace and gardens are priced at 16 euros per person and, those looking to explore the gardens of Isola Madre and Isola Bella can purchase combined tickets for around 20 euros. A real highlight to any trip to the Borromean Islands, the palace and gardens are well worth a visit.
Isola Pescatori (otherwise known as Isola Superiore): Isola Pescatori, as the name suggests is best known for its cuisine, from fresh seafood to classic Italian dishes. It’s a rather special island as it is the only one to be inhabited all year round by the 25 inhabitants (recorded to live there in 2018.)
After experiencing The Borromean Islands for yourself, you may wish you resided as one of the lucky 25 inhabitants!
Read more about Lake Maggiore by clicking here.
By Jaz from The Life of a Social Butterfly
See the artifacts at the National Museum of Archaeology
The National Museum of Archaeology in Naples is one of my favorite museums out of the many I’ve visited over the years. Many of the artifacts removed from Pompeii and Herculaneum over the years ended up at the museum. You can walk through gallery after gallery of the frescoes removed from their original buildings after being uncovered in the ruins. Some of them are still in incredibly good shape. You can also see mosaics (including the original ‘cave canem’ one, which translates to “beware of the dog”), pieces of furniture and other items found in the ruins. There is even a whole gallery of phallic themed talismans that were evidently popular there. Some of them are quite entertaining. Aside from the Pompeii and Herculaneum artifacts, you can enjoy paintings, massive sculptures, and an Egyptian gallery including mummies.
Visit the Italian sunflower fields
Umbria and Tuscany
Everyone knows about the tulip fields in Amsterdam and the cherry blossoms in Japan. At the right time of year, your Instagram feed will explode with photos of girls in pretty dresses posing in front of colorful flowers. But if you want to enjoy blooms without the crowds, why not visit the Italian sunflower fields instead?
During the summer, the landscapes of Umbria and Tuscany are bursting with the sunny yellow hues of millions of gorgeous sunflowers. They stand tall in their fields, turning their faces slowly as the sun moves across the sky. Seeing these huge carpets of yellow as you drive across the glorious rolling countryside in the sunshine is one of the best things to do in Umbria or Tuscany.
The sunflowers usually bloom between mid-June and early August, but for your best chance and maximum flowers, aim for late June to early July. You’ll need a car, but if you’re planning on renting one anyway, then a trip to see the sunflowers is easily done. Simply drive until you see a field you like the look of and stop! Though be careful – Italian drivers can be a bit crazy on those windy country roads, so make sure you pull off the road properly and park safely.
And if you do decide to visit, please do so responsibly. These flowers are someone’s livelihood, so don’t pick them, make sure you walk carefully between the rows, and don’t trample them. If you take care, though, you’ll soon be able to make your Instagram followers jealous with your gorgeous sunflower photos!
By Bella from Passport & Pixels
Visit historic Genoa
Visiting Genoa is off the radar for most visitors to Italy, but for those venturing in the region, it is worth a stopover or stay as a hub to the various coastal cities and beautiful landscapes. Genoa, once the thriving and wealthy city state trading all around the spice route and other international locations became very prominent and rich traders created impressive and ornate palaces around the city that today make up a rich UNESCO World Heritage Site in the city and areas that these palazzos are located. The city also has a gorgeous and historic old central district with a distinct cathedral, grand piazzas and other impressive architecture you can wander through and really enjoy this well lived-in city that isn’t tourist driven, but filled with so many treasures. You will also love the delicious food featuring excellent seafood and local specialty dishes from the region that boast amazing fresh ingredients from the land and sea. Do make some time to visit Genoa and you will be pleasantly surprised at how incredible this historic city and attractions are to explore and enjoy.
By Noel from Travel Photo Discovery
Go paragliding over the Dolomites
The Dolomiti Mountains in northern Italy are home to some of the most spectacular mountains in Europe, and what better way to see them than from above? If you’ve dreamed of going paragliding once in your life, then this is the place to do it!
The guys from Paragliding Tandem Gardenafly are world-record-holding paragliders. They are located in St. Ulrich in Val Gardena, a popular valley catering to all kind of budgets with awesome hiking in every direction. One thing that is really great in Val Gardena is that a lot of the accommodations offer free bus tickets, so you don’t even have to drive and pay for expensive parking at the lifts.
There are several areas you can start from, depending on the weather and your sense of adventure. In some places the starting point is basically a jump off a cliff, in others a smooth run down a meadow. The views are jaw dropping and thermals determine the lengths and height of the flight. If you are unsure how long or far you would like to go, you can just talk to the pilots about this. They are usually happy to let you decide once you are in the air and know how you feel about the whole thing. All starting points can be reached by lift, so you don’t need to hike up or carry any of the equipment. You will be equipped with a jumpsuit and goggles and the pilots offer to take photos with their GoPro which you can buy for a fair price.
By Eva from Not Scared of the Jet Lag
Admire the sea from the balconies in Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare, Puglia
The salty smell of the sea, the wind waving in your hair and the sun warming up your skin will make you think about holidays and will make you feel relaxed. If you add on top of this some Italian ice cream, some narrow streets and some great landscapes, you will feel like you’re in heaven! And that is the feeling you will have in Polignano a Mare.
After parking your car in the city center and taking a picture with the famous Lama Monachile Cala Porto beach from the bridge Ponte di Polignano, you can start to explore the old town. The narrow streets and old white buildings that protect you from the sun will make you want to get lost here. You will not know if you are on a public street or in someone’s yard, but that won’t stop you from wandering. And your best discovery will be the balconies over the sea. From point to point, the narrow streets end on these balconies. After walking with no purpose on the small alleys, finding such a balcony and seeing the blue waters will be like a breath of fresh air. Also, the view will make you search for them. From one balcony you can see the Lama Monachile Cala Porto beach from a different angle and from another one you can see the Grotta Palazzese restaurant.
The balconies over the sea are not marked on the map, so searching for them becomes a real treasure hunt in Polignano a Mare!
By Corina from Another Milestone
See the glittering Ravenna mosaics
Art lovers and UNESCO World Heritage Sites enthusiasts can’t miss the magnificent Ravenna mosaics on their Italy bucket list. The city is slightly out of the way between Venice and Bologna, but it’s well worth the detour.
The mosaics date back to the early Christian age when Ravenna held a prominent role. In the 5th century, the city was the capital of the Western Roman Empire. After a short period of Barbarian domination, in the mid-6th century, Ravenna became the seat of the Byzantines after their conquest of Italy.
The evidence of this golden age, thousands of glittering cubes, can be admired in the decoration of eight monuments, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Don’t feel put off at the idea of eight locations. Five of them, namely the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Neonian Baptistery, the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, and the San Vitale Basilica are all within easy reach in the center of Ravenna, and you can visit them in one day. Furthermore, you can admire the five sites buying a single ticket for less than 10 euros.
The lavish Ravenna mosaics often contrast the sober external architecture of the early Christian buildings. And the scenes are a blend of the iconography stemming from the cultural and religious powers controlling Ravenna at the time: Roman, Arian, and Byzantine. Let your eyes linger along the walls, up to the domes, and take in one of the most beautiful ancient sites in the world.
By Simon from Wild About Travel
Tour the beautiful Miramare Castle
Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Miramare Castle deserves a spot on any Italy bucket list. It’s a unique attraction in a unique place in the country. The castle is located in Trieste, a great city in an interesting spot in northern Italy. It’s very close to the Slovenian border, but was also part of Austria for a time. So it has influences from other cultures and you can feel this in its food, architecture, and overall vibe.
Miramare Castle was built in the 19th century when the city was under Hapsburg rule. The beautiful, gleaming white castle sits on the Gulf of Trieste surrounded by forest. It’s very different from anything else we’ve seen or visited in Italy. You can tour the inside of the castle or just experience the meticulously kept, beautiful grounds for free. Either way, you can enjoy yourself for hours relaxing in this idyllic spot. We also recommend walking along the water, admiring the beautiful views across the gulf.
The castle is located just about a half hour from the city center of Trieste and is easy to reach by public bus or train. It’s a nice escape from the busyness of the city. Although Trieste is one of our favorite cities in Europe and we highly recommend putting it, and a visit to Miramare Castle, on a northern Italy itinerary.
By Sarah and Justin from Travel Breathe Repeat
See a performance in an ancient Roman amphitheater
In the city that is well-known for love, Verona has a lot to offer. When visiting this small city, one of the must-sees is the Verona amphitheater. Located at the magnificent Piazza Bra, the amphitheater is a majestic site that can’t be missed. The main road heading into Verona, Corso Porta Nuova ends right at Portoni della Bra which then opens into the Piazza and the main walking district.
The amphitheater is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world and continues to host events including opera and music performances today. Built in the first century, the amphitheater was able to accommodate up to 30,000 people for spectator sports. Today, the theater holds approximately 15,000 and has performances year-round, particularly opera performances. The amphitheater is deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Touring the arena is available as are private tours to view the inside. Even if not visiting the interior, walking around the exterior is a great way to see the immense beauty and architectural wonder of one of ancient Rome’s largest amphitheaters. Numerous cafes, shops, buildings and restaurants surround the amphitheater and a park in front of it is a great place to relax for a bit and provides a great vantage point for pictures.
By Diana from The Elusive Family
Take a Vespa tour of Rome
What’s the best way to see all of Rome? On the back of a Vespa of course! Riding a Vespa in Rome is a classically local experience that you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Italy! If you’ve always wanted to see Rome by scooter but were too nervous to drive one yourself, this is a great option. Hop on the back of a bike as a guide whizzes you through the city stopping at the most famous sites in Rome as well as some great hidden gems that only the locals know. A Vespa tour is a great way to see all of Rome at a glance, so I recommend doing this on your first day. It’s also a must if you’ve only got one day in Rome. The guides are all very knowledgeable and will not just show you a good time, but also make sure that you learn interesting facts and history about the beautiful city of Rome.
By Vanessa from Wanderlust Crew
Relax on tiny Ventotene Island
Tyrrhenian Sea, Latium
Ventotene is definitely an underrated Italian island. It is mainly visited by local tourists. The island is the smallest of the Pontine Islands and is situated in the Tyrrhenian Sea between Rome and Naples. If you are looking for typical Italian mixed with tranquil island atmosphere, this is the place to go. There are no more than 700 inhabitants on the island.
There are hardly any cars on the island so walking the streets is a pleasure. There are a few souvenir shops, restaurants and of course those Italian bars that serve fabulous coffee. The island is only three kilometers long and less than one kilometer wide, so you will not be exhausted by walking around.
Ventotene has a small beach where you can lay down on your own towel or rent a parasol and sunbeds. There are also kayaks for rent, and the paddle around the large rock in front of the beach and the rocky sides of the island is enjoyable. If you want some activities other than just relaxing on the beach or wandering the streets looking for ice cream, there are boat trips that take you around the island. Some trips also take you to the neighboring uninhabited island of Santo Stefano which used to be a prison. There are also a couple of dive centers on the island. In September there is a large hot air balloon festival, Santa Candida and the island is pumping with life.
By Linn from Brainy Backpackers
Eat pizza in Naples
I’m a huge fan of pizza, so when I visited Naples – the birthplace of the delicious pies, that was the only thing I considered for dinner. There are several highly rated pizza places in town, but I headed straight for L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. Their woodfired pizzas are legendary and the line for a table outside the door was well-deserved. I never eat plain pizza at home, but since their only offerings were margherita or marinara, I went with that and it was absolutely mind-blowing. The dough was perfect, the sauce was perfect, the cheese was perfect. I’d wait in line for an hour for that every time. Oh, and it was shockingly affordable – definitely the cheapest dinner I had in Italy. If the wait at da Michele is too long, other highly recommended pizza places are Starita and Sorbillo. Wherever you decide to dine, it would be a shame to leave Naples without sampling some of its delicious pizza.
Visit the historic nuraghi castles
Visiting a nuraghe is one of the top things to do in Sardinia and for sure an unforgettable experience to have in Italy. The Italian island of Sardinia is dotted with thousands of these Bronze-age stone castles, to the extent that they are the symbol of its ancient history and most important archaeological relics.
Some nuraghi are inland, while others can be found along the coast. They all date back to thousands of years ago and served different purposes. Some were worship places, some strongholds, most the main building of an entire village. These mysterious constructions have been standing for so long no matter what weather conditions or historical period, and still today historians are researching and debating on their origins and functions.
Some of the best-kept nuraghi are “Su Nuraxi” in Barumini, a huge complex in southern Sardinia founded around 1400 BC, “Nuraghe Santu Antine” in Torralba (Sassari province), and “Nuraghe Losa” in central Sardinia near Abbasanta and Ghilarza towns. Usually cone-shaped, the nuraghi are built entirely with large stones piled up on top of each other without any use of cement-like material to glue them together.
By Angela from Chasing the Unexpected
Bike around the cycling hotspot of Lucca
Cycling around the city walls of Lucca, the picturesque town in Tuscany, is definitely a worthy option for your Italian bucket list. Perched on the Serchio River, Lucca is known for its beautifully preserved Renaissance walls that circle the historic city center. The walls were originally used as a rampart for military purposes, but when defense became unnecessary, the walls became a popular cycling and walking promenade.
We rented our bikes from a local rental agent and set off on a hot July day to conquer the 4.9 kilometer loop. Despite the heat, we often felt a welcome breeze and enjoyed the shade of the trees that line the ramparts. There was a café and numerous carts selling gelato at which we enjoyed a brief respite. We were very glad to see numerous water fountains lining the walls!
Lucca is a well-known cycling destination in Tuscany, and we saw large groups of lycra-clad cyclists heading out of town toward the flat coastal plains around Lucca. Lucca is the base for several pro cycling teams.
The views across the Tuscan hills from atop the Lucca city walls was epic! Rolling green olive fields can be seen for miles from the top of the walls. There were also great views from walls of Lucca’s beautiful city center.
By Lesley from Freedom56Travel
Relax on the beach in Costa Rei
Costa Rei, Sardinia
With such a long coastline, Italy has many incredible beaches. However, there is no place like Sardinia when it comes to beaches and clear waters, and if you visit you should make it a point to spend at least a day relaxing in the sun. I recommend going to Costa Rei, one of the nicest beaches in Sardinia. It’s a very long, wide and sandy beach characterized by fine golden sand and very clear waters, with the occasional rock formation that keeps the landscape varied.
There are various access points to the beach in Costa Rei. Most of them are very easy to reach, which makes it ideal for families with children and the disabled as well. The beach is well serviced. There are kiosks and small restaurants and bars where you can have a light meal, a drink or an ice-cream, and places where you can rent any sort of beach equipment. You’ll also find companies that organize guided boat tours along the coast, as well as activities such as fun tubing and other water sports.
Costa Rei tends to be exposed to the wind, so it is a good place to hang out for people who like kite surfing or wind surfing. It can get crowded in the summer months, though never overwhelming. If you prefer having the entire beach to yourself, opt to go in May or in October – the weather is still nice, it is not nearly as hot, and you’ll have a much more solitary experience.
You can easily reach Costa Rei from Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, driving on the SS125. There are two exits you can take. There also are regular direct buses. It takes between 1 and 2 hours to get there, depending on traffic and mode of transportation.
By Claudia from My Adventures Across the World
Tour the papal fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo
Castel Sant’Angelo is one of the most fascinating buildings in Rome. Originally constructed as a mausoleum for the Roman emperor Hadrian and his family, over the centuries its usage has evolved to serve many different functions. It was converted into a fortress which served as a stronghold against the Visigoths. Due to its proximity to the Vatican City, it was taken over by the church and turned into a Papal fortified castle. There was even a covered passage built so that he could escape there in the event of an attack, and the castle did indeed serve as a refuge during the Sack of Rome. The lavish apartments were decorated in the event that the Pope had to make a lengthy stay there in the case of a siege. Visitors can tour the interior and the ramparts. The building was also used as a prison for a time. The inside has beautifully decorated rooms and living quarters – you can even look into the bedroom used by the Popes. Outside, you can grab a light meal at the café on one of the upper levels or keep climbing to the very top. From up there, you can see the statue of the archangel Michael who supposedly appeared above the fortress. You’ll also love the aerial views of the Vatican to one side and the heart of historic Rome to the other with the Tiber River flowing just below you. You can plan your visit here.
Visit scenic Lake Maggiore
Piedmont and Lombardy
Lake Maggiore is the second largest of Northern Italy’s Lake District. The area is often referred to as Italy’s Garden of Eden and is full of incredible things to see and do. You will find a cobalt blue lake, snowcapped Alps, cafes, galleries, gorgeous villas, and gardens. One of the best things to do is when visiting Lake Maggiore is riding the Mottarone Cable Car. The cable car departs from the Lido in Stresa and is well worth the short 20-minute ride to Mt Mottarone for incredible panoramic views of the Po Valley and The Alps. The first stop on the trip up is the Alpine Botanical Garden for terraced viewpoints of the Borromean Islands. From here you can hike through woods back down to Stresa or transfer to a chairlift for a 5-minute ride to the summit. The summit provides 360-degree views of the Alps and seven lakes, including, Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta, Lake Mergozzo, Lake Varese, Lake Comabbio, Lake Monate and Lake Biandronno. This is a great spot to fly a kite and enjoy a picnic lunch. Adventure lovers will enjoy the Alpyland alpine coaster hurling them down 328 feet at speeds up to 24 mph. It is approximately a 3.5-hour hike down the mountain from here, or, take the cable car back.
By Sherrianne from OutOfOffice.Blog
Taste Barolo & Barbaresco Wine in Piedmont
Although many have heard of wine tasting in Tuscany, true wine lovers need to head further north for the King and Queen of Italian wines. Although Piedmont doesn’t have the same fame as Tuscany, Piedmont is full of wineries producing top-quality Italian reds, including Barbaresco and Barolo. Barolo is often considered one of the best Italian reds. As you weave along Piedmont’s picturesque hills that are filled with Nebbiolo (and other grapes) along two-lane roads, you might be surprised that Piedmont’s wineries lack the tourists found elsewhere in Italy’s most famous locations. In Piedmont, you can visit some of the most prestigious wineries in the world with some planning. These wineries are often still family-owned and unlike many wineries in Tuscany that are used to large tourist groups, you’ll get the personal experience in Piedmont when doing a wine tasting at a winery. You can also taste wine within the Enotecas within the most famous wine towns of Piedmont where the best vintages are presented (for a few euros!) to you by an expert who will explain the differences between the wine. At every moment, you feel like you’re a millionaire, no matter your budget.
By Karen from Wanderlusting K
Admire the towers of San Gimignano
San Gimignano, Tuscany
They call it the “city of beautiful towers” and for a reason. As soon as you approach San Gimignano, you will notice the outlines of the high-rises on the skyline. Wait! Skyscrapers in Tuscany? How is this possible? Towers and tower-houses were quite popular in the Middle Ages in Italy. They were a sign of prosperity and influence and the powerful families were competing to see who would build the highest tower. By the end of the 14th century there were 72 towers in San Gimignano, however today only 12 of them have survived.
With its whopping 54 meters, Torre Grossa is the highest tower in San Gimignano. You can go on top of the tower for a breathtaking view of the Tuscan landscape. The Manhattan of the Middles Ages has its very own twin towers – the Salvucci Towers, and you can even stay in one of them, as it’s turned into a hotel. One of the towers was helped to grow taller by no other than the Devil himself. The owner was gone and when he came back, he noticed that the tower was taller. Of course, it was the Devil’s work, and this is how the tower got its name – Torre del Diavolo (Tower of the Devil).
San Gimignano is an adorable medieval city, one of those places that you have to visit when you are in Tuscany. It can be easily reached from Florence or Siena, which makes it a perfect destination for a day trip. The historic center of San Gimingano, together with the Medieval towers, is on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy.
By Daniela from Ipanema Travels
See Michelangelo’s David sculpture
Often considered the most impressive statue in the world, the masterpiece that is Michelangelo’s David truly needs to be seen to be believed. Standing at a looming 17 feet tall, the energy that springs forth from David makes it seem nearly impossible that he is merely a well-crafted piece of marble: no detail is overlooked, down to the veins that line his arms, and the statue is a truly awe-inspiring sight.
David is housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, a museum that was built specifically for him! The atrium David sits in today was designed with the statue’s permanent home in mind.
The Galleria dell’Accademia is small – David is its masterpiece, and outside of seeing him, you’ll need only an hour or so to see the rest of the museum. You’ll find some of Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures here, as well as an interesting musical instrument exhibit, but the star of the show is quite obvious.
The lines to visit the Galleria dell’Accademia can be incredibly long – consider purchasing a skip-the-line ticket to ensure you don’t end up wasting valuable hours of what might only be a couple of days in Florence by standing in line!
If you can’t make it to the Galleria dell’Accademia, there are a few copies of David that you can see for free around Florence, including in the Piazza della Signoria and at the Piazzale Michelangelo–but to be perfectly honest, they pale in comparison to the real thing.
By Kate from Our Escape Clause
Shop in Italy’s capital of fashion
Milan is the capital of fashion in Italy. Every year there’s a very important event, the Milan Fashion week: the most important designers introduce their new collections to the press and the city gets crowded with models, celebrities…and tourists! Shopping for designer clothes is a must-do, even if you’re spending only one day in Milan. Many travellers visit with one empty suitcase that they fill with brand new Italian clothes after a long shopping spree!
One of the best places to find designer clothes in Milan is known as “Il quadrilatero della moda.” It’s an area full of classy showrooms, designer shops and Michelin-starred restaurants, located in the city center. The Italian name comes from the fact that this area is surrounded by four important streets: Via Monte Napoleone, Via Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia.
Another good place where you can shop for designer clothes in Milan is Piazza Gae Aulenti, a new district, not too far from the “Bosco verticale” (Vertical Garden) and under the tallest skyscraper in Italy, the Unicredit Tower. Piazza Gae Aulenti is perfect if you also want to stop for lunch. There are many nice cafes and small restaurants at the nearby Corso Como.
If you are looking for huge discounts on clothes, makeup and shoes, consider spending a few hours at the biggest shopping district in Milan: CityLife. You will find shopping options for every pocket, and then restaurants, cute cafes and gelato kiosks. You can get there easily, hopping on the Metro Line 5: there’s a “Tre Torri” station right under the shopping district so you won’t have to walk too much!
By Danila from Travelling Dany
Seek romantic advice at Juliet’s balcony
Located in the heart of Verona, Italy amidst gorgeous ruins and delicious pizza is Casa di Giulietta – Juliet’s House. Not at all the background for Shakespeare’s beloved tragedy, Juliet’s House brings the fantasy of the story, coupled with utmost romance to thousands of visitors each year. They flock by the group to get photos beside the beautiful dame whose bosom is worn down by such adoration. Letters cover the walls as they leave them attached with chewing gum. And those seeking the real history of this beloved woman enter the house and learn further of this matriarch that attracts the brokenhearted and those in love for her hypothetical advice. Want that quintessential balcony pic? In order to grab a photo on the famous balcony, you must purchase museum tickets. You cannot access it any other way. Upon admission, head upstairs first as the lines for this picture do get quite lengthy. Once there, grab your snaps and then head down through the museum and learn further of Giulietta’s life and history. See preserved furniture, costumes, and artifacts before writing a letter for the wall or using the computers to submit a question seeking advice. Although in the film Letters to Juliet, secretaries responded to each letter, including the one lost behind a brick for 50 years, don’t expect one here in real life. I went in 2014 and am still waiting with bated breath for her reply…
By Janine from Fill My Passport
Visit a cat sanctuary in Roman ruins
The ruins in the sacred area of Largo Argentina mark the location where Julius Caesar was stabbed by his rival, Brutus, in 44 BC. Now the ruins are home to a shelter for cats. The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary is committed to reducing the feral cat population (which is a problem in Rome) through sterilization efforts. The cat sanctuary also cares for homeless sick and injured cats, and once the cats have recovered, they can be adopted. While some cats are not eligible for adoption, due to their illness or disability, they are given a fantastic life living in the Largo Argentina ancient ruins while being taken care of by the volunteers at the cat sanctuary.
Tourists visiting Rome may come across the Largo Argentina ruins and will be able to see the cats running around (or sleeping!) throughout the ruins. Those who would like to see the kitties up close or learn more about what they are doing to help the feral Roman cat problem, visitors can the visit the cat sanctuary as it is open daily. Entry to the cat sanctuary is free, but visitors can opt to “adopt from a distance” if they would like to donate to the non-profits efforts.
By Andrea from One Savvy Wanderer
Tour historic Lecce
At the heart of Salento, Lecce is by far one of the most beautiful cities in all of Puglia. Rich in history, and bursting with Baroque architecture, it’s somewhat of an underrated gem in Italy’s deep south. Wandering through the old city doors, you’re almost transported to another era. Yet the quirky boutiques and trendy cafés are most certainly a telltale sign of the city’s modern appeal. Crumbling façades create juxtaposition against more recent additions to the city, but it has managed to retain its charm despite keeping up with modern demands.
The most incredible sights can be found in the city center. It’s here you’ll find a half buried, but still incredibly intriguing Roman amphitheater set within the Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the small but stately church of San Marco, the 12th century Lecce castle, and the brilliantly detailed church of San Matteo (be sure to venture inside to see the twelve stone statues of the Apostles).
Due to its strategic position, Lecce makes a great base to stay in Puglia. It’s just a stone’s throw from some of the best beaches in the region, and there are plenty of nearby towns and villages worth exploring too. Allow yourself around 4-6 days to get to know the city and its surrounds.
By Nadine from Le Long Weekend
Enjoy the secluded beauty of the Costa dei Trabocchi
Three National Parks, one Regional Park and 38 Nature Reserves – that’s Abruzzo, to you. About half of the territory is listed as a protected environment – earning this the title of “greenest region in Europe.”
And yet, tourists are not really flocking to Abruzzo…it largely remains unknown and off the beaten path – to Italians and foreigners alike. So if you are looking for a real hidden Italian gem, that’s where you have to head to.
Abruzzo is not only mountains and green hills, the place I want to tell you about is the Costa dei Trabocchi (Trabocchi Coast), the perfect place for die-hard beach-goers. The Trabocchi Coast is a the coastal stretch about 70 kilometers long between the towns of Ortona and San Salvo marked by the presence of several 17th century traditional “fishing machines” – the trabocchi, indeed.
But what does a trabocco look like? Imagine a wooden platform built on stilts right on the sea, anchored in the rocky seabed, which you can reach only via wooden and wobbly suspension bridge. Then add to it two or more antennae that stretch out towards the sea and a few fishing nets (called trabocchetto, hence the name), and you have a trabocco.
The antennae could be manually operated from the platform, so local fishermen were able to fish without venturing out to the sea on rocky boats and risking their lives in rough seas. The top places to go for a swim are to be found near these trabocchi:
- Turchino (San Vito Chietino Marina)
- Punta Cavalluccio (Rocca San Giovanni)
- Punta Rocciosa (Fossacesia Marina)
- Cungarelle (Vasto).
The sea is amazing – clean and crystal clear, while the beaches are often uncrowded, unless it is Sunday. I can guarantee there won’t be any tourists there, just locals. For a special experience, book a dinner on a trabocco, as most have now been turned into fancy seafood restaurants. Places are limited and usually you can’t order a-la-carte (there’s no room for a large kitchen on a trabocco), but I can assure you that the food is to die for.
By Augusta from Mini Me Travel
See Milan’s famous Duomo
Milan is an often overlooked city in Italy but there is so much to do there. The Milan Duomo is a bucket list place for anyone who visits Milan. Based in the center of town in the Piazza del Duomo, the Duomo of Milan tells a story of Milan. Work began in the 14thcentury and it is built in the Gothic architecture of the time including the basilica and the spires the period is famous for.
This Cathedral is one of the most famous gothic cathedrals in Europe. Inside you can visit the Cathedral and see the statues, stained glass window, tapestries and paintings. I would also recommend a visit to the crypts and the museum in the Duomo.
You can also climb to the top of the Duomo which is a trip that is truly unforgettable. You can climb the stairs or by a separate ticket for 10 euros to take the elevator to the top. At the top you will see the beautiful turrets and spires of the Duomo. On a clear, beautiful day you can see the Alps from the top!
Tip: visit one of the bars around the square to have an Aperol Spritz and take in the views of the Duomo.
By Nicole from Travelgal Nicole
Visit the fortified Angevine-Aragonese Castle
One of the most fascinating places to visit in Italy is Angevine-Aragonese Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Gallipoli, Puglia on the Ionian coast. Although Gallipoli is most often used as a jumping off point for exploring the sunny beaches and historic inland cities of the Salento Region of Puglia, the city’s fortified Castello Angioino is a unique attraction well worth adding to your bucket list. The most striking feature of this impressive 13th century Byzantine castle is its location on an island in Old Town Gallipoli, accessed via the Ponte Citta Vecchia bridge from the mainland.
Given Gallipoli’s strategic location, the castle was a heavily fortified stronghold and its ramparts, towers and buttresses circled the island on raised stone walls. Today, it’s possible to walk those walls along a pretty promenade that passes bastions named after saints as well as lookouts and even a white sandy beach that’s enjoyable to swim in during the hot summer months. The interior of the castle is open for tours and often hosts exhibits of artworks or cultural displays.
By Michele from A Taste for Travel
Visit the historic Trulli homes
Just walking around Alberobello is like walking into a fairy tale – it really is unbelievable. The historic Trulli are gorgeous limestone houses with coned rooves that date back to the 14th century. Originally, they were temporary shelters, but now they are the main attraction in Alberbello, which is located in Puglia, Italy right down outh on the heel of the “boot.”
Alberobello itself is one of the 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy and attracts thousands of tourists each year. You can find the Trulli all over Alberobello and surrounding towns. It may seem strange that people would want to live in a hut-like home, when there are so many modern options available, but people do. You can even rent out a Trulli to stay in during your visit to the Puglia region. It is a great way to get the true authentic experience.
There are plenty of traditional Pugliese restaurants that serve up specialties such as the famous “Orrechi” pasta. There are also lots of cafes and little market stalls around. The closest major city to Alberobello is Bari, the capital of Puglia. Here you can arrive by train from most places in Italy, or by ferry from Croatia and Greece. Alberobello is the perfect place to visit for any traveller wanting to explore Puglia and have a real traditional Italian experience.
By Chontelle from Mum’s Little Explorers
Wander through the historic Bologna porticoes
Bologna is one of Italy’s most fascinating cities with so much of its medieval architecture still intact, and almost 40 km (25 miles) of historic covered porticoes protect the sidewalks in the historic city center. Originally built starting in the 13th century to accommodate the growth of the University and a fast-growing urban population, the porticos were basically the protruding upper stories of buildings. Most of these enlarged overhanging upper floors were supported by wooden beams and a few can still be seen on Via Marsala. The later gothic and renaissance periods saw the porticoes integrated into the structure of the buildings themselves. Although some cities in Italy banned porticoes, Bologna instituted rules making them mandatory as public spaces. Included in the rules was a stipulation requiring them to be at least seven feet high to accommodate a man riding a horse. Some of the most interesting porticoes are in the Piazza de San Stefano with porticoes from both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Piazza Maggiore with porticoes on three sides, and the unusual wide portico on Strada Maggiore which dates to the 14th century. There are a lot more, and whether the sun is blazing hot or it’s raining, walking around the city to see the different styles and adornments is one of the most interesting things to do in Bologna, especially on your first visit. The porticoes have been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (pending a decision in 2021) and would make a fantastic addition to the list.
By Lori from Travlinmad
Descend through 2000 years of history at the Basilica San Clemente
If Rome is, according to the locals, an archaeological lasagna, then the Basilica San Clemente is quintessentially Roman. At the first glance, its ceiling is laden with bright gold, and its frescoes with the cheerful, rosy flesh of Baroque angels. However, despite these later embellishments, the church is actually ancient – you can see how much just by opening the door to the lower archaeological levels.
Once you descend the stairs, you will probably feel yourself in a crumbling layered cake. There are dim frescoes and austere saints of the 4th century church, which served as a foundation for the present Basilica. Once you pass through them and descend lower still, you’ll find the dark halls of the earlier Roman Mithreum – a sanctuary where the gentlemen of the aging empire once threw banquets in honor of Mithras. This cult of a bull-god, a resurrected warrior of light, became an inspiration for many people throughout the ages, from Roman soldiers serving in Northern England (who brought it to Rome in the first place) to fascist philosophers in the postwar world. It originated in Persia, though.
Follow the signs, you will find a stunningly well-preserved succession of halls, once belonging in a house of a 1st century Roman nobleman. The rooms are quiet now, save for the sound of the warm underground spring, that once must have provided the owner with a rare luxury of one’s own baths. The floor, though, is slightly disfigured, but we have to blame the Great Fire of Rome here.
Address: Via Labicana, 95, 00184′
By Anastasia from History Geek in Town
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