It’s not possible to see everything that Italy has to offer in one trip. What follows is a selective taste, in no particular order, of the country’s highlights of Top 20 Places Not to Miss When Visiting Italy.
Outstanding buildings and ancient sites, spectacular natural wonders, great food and idyllic beaches.
01- CENTRO STORICO DI ROMA
There’s so much to see in Rome that wandering the city’s fantastic old centre can yield a surprise at every turn, whether it’s an ancient statue or a marvellous Baroque fountain.
The Eternal City’s main attractions are in the heart of the centro storico.
From Rome’s best preserved pagan temple-turned-church, the Pantheon to the best display of Baroque art at Piazza Navona.
02 – DUOMO DI MILANO
It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world.
The Duomo was recently under major renovations and cleaning for several years, obscuring the west front with scaffolding. Works were finally completed in 2009, revealing the newly-cleaned facade in all its glory.
03 – PIAZZA SAN MARCO – VENICE
Crowded or not, this is one of Europe’s grandest urban spaces and home to Italy’s most exotic cathedral.
As the largest square in the city and the only one given the designation of “piazza” (the others are all referred to as “campi”), St. Mark’s Square has always been the location of important government buildings and other facilities central to the goings on in Venice.
The centrepiece of the piazza is, of course, the magnificent St. Mark’s Basilica.
04 – POMPEI AND HERCOLANUM
Probably the two best-preserved Roman sites in the country, destroyed and at the same time preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.
05 – DUOMO FLORENCE
The cathedral named in honour of Santa Maria del Fiore is a vast Gothic structure built on the site of the 7th-century church of Santa Reparata, the remains of which can be seen in the crypt.
06 – SIENA’S PALIO
“Piazza del Campo” is still used today for the well-known Palio horse race which is one of the most famous popular Italian manifestations. It takes place every year on July 2 and August 16.
The Palio is run to celebrate the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary.
07 – CINQUE TERRE
These five fishing villages are shoehorned picturesquely into one of the most rugged parts of Liguria’s coastline and linked by a highly scenic coastal walking path.
Cinque Terre, which means Five Lands, comprise the five small coastal villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso located in the Italian region of Liguria. They are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
08 – FOOD IN EMILIA ROMAGNA
This region is known as Italy’s gastronomic heart, home to Parma ham, parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar – all of which are on view at Bologna’s marvellous indoor food market.
09 – THE LAST SUPPER
Leonardo da Vinci’s mural for the refectory wall of Santa Maria delle Grazie is one of the world’s most resonant images.
10 – THE UFFIZI – FLORENCE
One of Italy’s most celebrated collections of art, and – in a city not exactly short on things to see – Florence’s most essential attraction.
11 – DUOMO ORVIETO
One of the country’s finest cathedrals, with a marvellous fresco cycle by Luca Signorelli.
12 – PARCO NAZIONALE D’ABRUZZO
Italy’s third-largest national park, and probably its wildest, with marvellous walking and wildlife.
13 – TUSCAN HILL TOWNS
The classic profile of a Tuscan hill-town is many people’s Italian ideal. Montepulciano, Montalcino and San Gimignano are some of the most beautiful.
14 – THE DOLOMITES
The spiky landscape of the Dolomites is a perfect hiking country, covered in dramatic long-distance trails.
15 – THE ITALIAN LAKES
If you can escape the hordes, this region is one of Italy’s most beguiling, with stunning scenery and plenty of activities from windsurfing to walking.
16 – VATICAN MUSEUM – ROME
The largest and richest collection of art and culture in the world. You’d be mad to miss it.
17 – MATERA
A truly unique city, sliced by a ravine containing thousands of Sassi – cave dwellings gouged out of the rock that was inhabited till the 1950s.
18 – SARDINIA BEACHES
There are plenty of places to sun-worship in Italy, but Sardinia’s coastline ranks among one of the most beautiful.
19 – AMALFI COAST
Everyone should see the stunning Amalfi Coast at least once in their life.
20 – SICILY’S GREEK RUINS
The ancient theatres at Siracusa and Taormina are magnificent summer stages for Greek drama, while the temple complex at nearby Agrigento is one of the finest such sites outside Greece itself.
What place would you like to not miss? Let us know!