14 Places to put on your Italy Bucket List

14 Places to Put on Your Italy Bucket List

Home to beautiful villages, stunning beaches, amazing nightlife, unspoiled countryside, long history and some wonderful cultures, Italy is without a doubt a place on everyone's bucket list. There are so many places to visit, so many different cultures and food and wine that you will take a lifetime to explore all this country.

The only problem is where to start with. Most of the times, people forget to explore some of the hidden, not so famous places. I have put together a list of 14 best places to visit in Italy. So grab your passport and get ready for a viaggio memorabile.

1. Cinque Terre: -

The Cinque Terre(five towns) is a string of 5 fishing villages namely Monterozzo, Vernassa, Corniglia Manarola and Riomaggiore. The easiest way to get to these 5 villages is by train. There are trains which connect these 5 villages directly with Genoa, Pisa and Rome. 

Although you can explore these villages in one day, I would recommend spending at least 3 to 4 days here. This will allow you to enough time to get to know the intricate twists and turns of these villages.

There are numerous things that you can enjoy in these exotic villages. Manarola is known for its famous grapevine Sciacchetra and Punta Bonfiglio which offers some of the most fabulous views of the island and a bar with a playground. Riomaggiore is known for its romantic sunset sights. Monterosso is famous for its beaches. Similarly there are many worth visiting sights in Corniglia and Vernazza as well.

The accommodations in Cinque Terre are quite expensive and oversubscribed. So make sure you do your bookings well in advance. If you are on a budget, you can try La Mala in Vernazza, Hotel La Spiaggia in Monterosso, Hotel Marina Picolo or Ostello 5 Terre, both in Manarola.

2. Florence: -

Florence is the birthplace of Renaissance and is located in the heart of one of the most beautiful regions in the world, Tuscany. The major attraction in the city being Santa Maria del Fiore, a famous cathedral known for its marble exterior and huge interior that holds about 20,000 people. Climb up its Bell Tower to enjoy the amazing view of the city.

Florence is also an ideal place for shopping in Italy. Visit Mercato Centrale which is a perfect place to buy souvenirs, antiques, food and some genuine leather goods.

Visit some of its many museums like the Galleria delgi Uffizi and Galleria dell' Academia to see some of the famous renaissance artwork including paintings, sculptures and tapestries.

3. Siena: -

Siena is one Italy,s beautiful medieval cities which every tourist aims to visit on their trip to Tuscany. It is famous for its Palio, that takes place twice a year and its characteristic narrow streets flanked by brick buildings.

This historic city is listed as a UNESCO World heritage site and is filled with beautiful and interesting places to visit. Start from Piezza del Campo, which is one of the biggest medieval squares in the world and also hosts Palio Horse race every year between July 2 and August 16.

Visit the Cathedral, known for its beautiful interior: the floor, full of esoteric symbols and religious stories; the Piccolomini library with freacoes by Pinturicchio; the Piccolomini Chapel, to witness some of Michelangelo's fine carvings.

You can also visit the Baptistery, located just behind the Cathedral, Torre del Mangia, the Public Palace of Siena and The Civic Museum. 

And one thing you should not miss in Siena, is its amazing food. You can try some of the traditional dishes like delicious croutons, pappardelle pasta and grilled meat coupled with some great wines like Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Montepulciano. You can also enjoy desserts like cantucci biscuits, ricciarelli, panforte and cavalluccii.

4. Pisa: -

Pisa is located on the central-western part of Tuscany, covering a stretch of coastline, wide plains and rolling hills that include Colline Metallifere to the south. 

Without a doubt, your first stop should be Compo dei Miracoli complex. This UNESCO World heritage site is a great appeal for tourists. The white structures of the Duomo, the Baptistery, the Camposanto Monumentale and the Leaning Tower standing out against the green lawn is a beautiful sight to watch. Make sure you reach early in the morning so that you can get some great pictures.

You can then visit Piazza dei Cavalieri, a wide elegant space decorated by Giorgio Vasari, but is now home to Italy's top University, Scoula Normale Superiore di Pisa.

After a tiring day, relax yourself in the thermal baths of San Giuliano terme, Uliveto Terme or Casciana Terme. These thermal baths are known for their therapeutic qualities.

5. Venice: -

Italy's floating city, Venice is made up of 118 small islands separated by canals and connected by bridges. The city is known for its beauty, arts and architecture. 

The best way to explore the city is without maps, just walking down the cobblestone streets into any alley you like and going back in time to experience the medieval feel this city has.

The best thing you can do here is taking a Gondola ride in the Grand Canal. These rides can be as expensive 100 euros, but they are totally worth it.

Next, visit the Saint Mark's Basilica and witness the great Byzantine Style architecture of the city. Explore the cathedral's surrounding area, Piazza San Marco, the largest square in the city and  a great meeting place. It is surrounded by cafes, museums, shops and some of city's best architecture.

Take some time and visit the smaller islands of the city. Murano is known for its glass makers, Burano for its canal lines colorful houses and Lido for its restaurants beaches and shopping centers.

6. Rome: -

The once capital of Roman Empire and the present capital of Italy, Rome is known for its Roman ruins, incredible architecture and world class art including Michelangelo's famous painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. 

Take a guided tour through Vatican museums and Saint Peter's Basilica so as to proper insight of the rich history of Vatican.

St. Peter's Basilica

Next, you can visit the identity of Rome, the Colosseum. The largest amphitheater in the world is the best place to take a glimpse back into Italy's history The other amazing place to visit is the Pantheon, known for its spectacular design, proportions, elegance and harmony.

The other places you can visit are the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona. 

7. Milan: -

The shopping center of Milan is full of Renaissance architecture and incredible cathedrals. 

Visit the identity of Milan, Duomo of Milan, which is the largest gothic cathedral in the world. The construction began in 1386 and it took almost 500 years to complete it. It is an impressive sight from inside and outside and also offers a great vantage point from the roof.

Visit one of the oldest shopping malls in the world Galleria Vittario Emanuele II. It is the largest shopping arcade in Europe and is known for its luxury shops and elegant cafes.

If you like to enjoy some Renaissance artwork, you can visit Santa Maria delle Grazie, home to Leonardo da Vinci's amazing fresco of The Last Supper. Else you can visit Sforza Castle, which is home to a bunch of museums, one of which contains Michelangelo's last sculpture, Rondanini Pieta.

8. Amalfi Coast: -

Amalfi Coast is a string of 15 towns that are bound by Tyrhennian Sea on the one side and Lattari Mountain range on the other. Every year more than a million tourists visit Amalfi Coast to experience its beautiful landscapes and cultures and sample its mouth-watering cuisine. 

Start your journey from Sorrento, which is considered as the starting point of Amalfi Coast. Known for its amazing views of oceans, diving, sea fishing and food, Sorrento is a place where you can arrive with no plans and still have a great time. Also make sure you grab a bottle of Limoncello, when you visit here.

Visit Positiano, a place which features in almost picture of Amalfi coast. It is mainly known for its delightful pastel-colored houses. And an important thing, be prepared to climb a LOT of steps when you are here, especially if you want to enjoy the beach and take some spectacular views from the top. 

A trip to Amalfi coast won't be complete without a stopover at Amalfi. Head straight to the famous Marina Grand Beach to relax and soak some sunshine. While you are here make sure you grab an espresso and some home made cake to enjoy a complete Italian experience.

Another must visit site while you are in Amalfi coast is Minori. Also called as the "City of Flavors", Minori is a perfect destination for a foodie. Make sure you try N'dunderi (dumpling made of ricotta) and Scialatielli (fresh pasta ribbons).

The other major towns in Amalfi coast are Atrani, Capri, Ravello, Praiano and Maiori.

9. Pompeii and Herculaneum: -

Pompeii and Herculaneum offer an amazing window to what life in Rome must have been like around 2000 years ago. Both these cities were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD covering the cities with thick layer of stones, ash, lapilli(glassy lava) and flood of volcanic mud. But as they say, Whatever happens, happens for Good !!! , the remains of these cities were well preserved under the covering of lava.

You can wander around the lanes of these archaeological sites viewing whats left over of their houses, shops and some incredible buildings like a large 20,000 people amphitheater. Some of the major attractions here include the Capitolium, the temple dedicated to the triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.

Pompeii was a popular holiday resort for rich Romans.

10. Naples: -

Naples is a magical place where colors, flavors, cultures and history are intertwined in a charming mix of knowledge, joy and fun. Naples used to be the capital of a powerful kingdom and it has kept its regal status. There are royal palaces, churches and museum filled with some amazing artwork. Wandering through the small streets of the city, you will feel like you have traveled back in time. The best way to explore Naples is by joining free tours given in Naples.

Start with Naples Harbor, a perfect place to get the feel of the vibrant city. Enjoy the beautiful views across the bay to Vesuvius and plenty of cafes and ice cream shops.

Next head on to National Archaeological Museum to see the world's finest collection of antiquities, most of which are from the early excavations from Pompeii.

One of the finest places to visit in Naples is Piazza del Plebiscito, which is the main square in Naples. It features the Royal Palace and Basilica Royal, which are among the must visit places in Naples.

The other historic places to visit in Naples are San Gennaro Catacombs, Castle Nuovo, Cappella Sansevero, Castle del'Ovo, San Domenico Maggiore and the Naples Cathedral.

Naples is also famous for its street food. Being the birthplace of pizza, it becomes the first thing to try in Naples. Try Pizza Margherita, Fritti and Sfogliatella.

11. Sicily: -

Sicily is the largest island in Mediterranean Sea and is separated from the mainland of Italy by Strait of Messina. Many visitors come to Sicily to enjoy its unique cuisine, temperate climate, sandy beaches and archaeological wonders. 

Visit the best attraction of Sicily, the Valley of Temples. Located in Agrigento, it is one of the most outstanding examples of Greek art and architecture. It is the largest archaeological site in the world with seven temples in Doric style dating back to 5th century BC.

Syracuse in Sicily, was once considered as the most important city of the Western world and is mentioned in Bible, writing in Cicero and in the myths ans legends of many civilizations. The oldest part of the city is situated on the island of Ortiga, and is filled with temples, historic churches and important archaeological sites, including the necropolis that dates back from 1270 BC.

You can also visit the town of Erice, situated on the summit of Mount Erice. Get to the town by cable cars from Trapani. You can enjoy some stunning views of the city of Trapani which lies almost half a mile below the town.

Next you can visit Sicily's capital city, Plamero. It is known for its boisterous street markets, first class museums and historic churches. The top attraction being Catacombe de Cappucini, an underground maze of open crypts below the Capuchin monastery. There are almost 8,000 mummified human remains which are a bit creepy but extremely well preserved.

If you are an adventure lover, you can go on a hike to Aeolian island or skiing on Mount Etna in winters.

12. Sardinia: -

Sardinia is well known as a paradise in the heart of Mediterranean. It is a large island that lies to the southwest of the Italian peninsula. Its sunny coasts and white sandy beaches are the major tourist attractions.

Start with Alghero. Situated on the northwest coasts, Alghero still shows traces of its Catalan past. Experience the Gothic style historic center with the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Guillot Palace and the 14th century Church of San Francesco, the Coral Museum and a long bay overlooking the emerald sea. As afternoon fades into evening, climb the walls built by Spanish to protect the city against the attack by sea and join the locals for an evening promenade to watch the sunset over the Mediterranean.

Alghero Walls

Rent a car from Alghero to head to your next destination, Bosa. Travel along the coastal road and enjoy one of the most beautiful road trips. Bosa is known for its romantic charm, lively traditions and colorful houses that climb up the hill. The top of the hill is dominated by Malaspina Castle built by a Tuscan family in 12th century. Take some time to walk the old streets, where the modest little houses mix comfortably with the grand noble homes.

Get into a ferry from port Palau for half hour and reach your next destination, Archipelago de na Maddalena. The main attraction is the national monument, the home of Giuseppe Garibaldi, revered as the father of Italian state for his leadership in the fight of unity and independence. The other end of the island has several beaches, for which Sardinia is famous for.

Apart from this you can also visit some historical sites like Nuraghe su Nuraxi, Arzachena prehistoric sites, Giant's grave and many many more.

13. Turin: -

Turin is one of Italy's most unsung cities. Turin actually served as the first capital of Italy and has been a major cultural and economic center of the country. Once the Roman Empire collapsed in Western Europe, Turin was occupied by different nations and empires.

The Royal Palace of Turin is a magnificent building built in the 16th century. Inside the palace is a myriad of richly decorated rooms with a style and elegance you would expect from a Italian Royal Palace.

Turin is also Italy's capital of chocolate. The famous Gianduja, a hazelnut and chocolate paste at the origin of Nutella was created here. Another chocolate-based icon of the city is the Bicerin, a favorite drink among Italian and European aristocracy, made of espresso coffee, chocolate and whipped cream. 

The next attraction in the city is Turin Egyptian Museum, this fantastic museum is located in the center of Turin. Dedicated to ancient Egyptian archaeology and history, this museum is a history buffs dream and contains a huge number of artifacts and displays. 

Also visit the Cathedral of San Giovanni Batista, the National Cinema Museum, Porta Palatina and Santuario di Santa Maria Consolatrice.  

14. Assisi: -

Assisi is a small town in central Umbria and approximately half way between Rome and Florence. The town is located on the slopes of Mount Subasio at approximately 400m height. It is entirely built in the white and rose stone of the mountain and it is characterized by narrow, steep and winding alleys which have preserved their charm over the years. 

The most famous and probably the most impressive attraction in Italy is the Basilica of St. Francis. It is divided into upper church and lower church. The main artistic stars of the church are the frescoes by Giotto and his school members which depict different scenes from St Francis' life.

The next famous attraction is Rocca Maggiore, a medieval fort built in 12th century and it sits on hill far above Assisi. The only way to get there is a hike from Assisi. It is a challenge but consider it as price to enjoy the spectacular views of Spoleto Valley and Assisi. 

Walk up Corso Mazzini to Piazza del Comune to enjoy the medieval palazzi and beautifully preserved Temple of Minerva. It is great place to just sit on the stone steps to do soak in the Assisi atmosphere while eating a gelato.  

One thing you should not miss in Assisi is Osteria Piazetta dell'Erba restaurant. The restaurant offers traditional Italian cuisines with a added modern twist making it more delightful.

So what do you think ?? Which places would you like to visit on your trip to Italy ??

If you need help with planning a trip to Italy, read my post Italy on train for 2 weeks

If you like would like to read more about Italy, its culture, festivals, history check out my other posts. I have placed the links here.


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