One of Europe’s most alluring destinations, Italy is known for many things. From its mouth-watering food and world-class art to its fabulous fashion and iconic buildings. The best way to experience them all is by exploring this country’s many beautiful cities. So here’s our pick of the best cities to visit in Italy.
As the seat of the Roman Empire, Rome is packed with ancient icons. The Colosseum, Pantheon and Roman Forum mix with pretty piazzas, stunning fountains and hundreds of street side cafes.
Spend your days discovering the sights – not forgetting the Vatican! Then, by night, sample the cuisine that Italy is so famous for. Try and step away from the tourist areas to discover this city’s delicious local pizzerias and neighbourhood trattorias.
Those who entered our #WhatsYourWorldWonder photography competition got the chance to win a trip to the Colosseum and seven other world wonders. Take a look at this selection of Italy entries to see more of this incredible site.
With its gondola-filled canals and beautiful architecture, the ‘floating city’ of Venice is unlike anywhere else in the world. It’s most famous for its Grand Canal and the Piazza San Marco, where you’ll find the stunning St Mark’s Basilica.
However, many would argue the magic of Venice is simply getting lost among it all. So take some time away from map reading to see what hidden gems you can discover down this city’s lesser-walked streets.
‘My favorite thing to do in Venice is grab a bottle of wine and plastic cups from the nearest store and take a gondola ride down the canals. Although it’s expensive, you can haggle on the price and length of the ride! The “official” rate for gondolas is 80 euros for 40 minutes, so make sure you don’t get ripped off. I’d also recommend getting lost along the canals and avoiding the tourist traps of the Rialto Bridge or Piazza San Marco if you’re planning to get dinner.’
– Victoria, Pommie Travels
A global capital of fashion and design, Milan is certainly not short of shopping opportunities. A must visit being the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, an elegant 19th century arcade that’s Italy’s oldest shopping mall.
But Milan has much more to offer besides this. The city is home to Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ and spectacular structures such as the Milan Duomo (cathedral). There’s also La Scala, one of the most famous opera houses in the world.
Capital of Tuscany, Florence is undoubtedly one of Italy’s most romantic cities. Set either side of the River Arno, its centerpiece is its iconic Duomo, with its magnificent Renaissance dome.
Home to world-class art museums such as the Uffizi Gallery, Florence is the place to go if you’re looking to see the works of Leonardo da Vinci or Sandro Botticelli. Head to Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset to also enjoy breathtaking views over the city’s red terracotta roofs.
Famous for its food, Naples was the birthplace of pizza. So no trip to this Italian city would be complete without sampling a slice. Once you’ve eaten your fill, check out the National Archaeological Museum of Naples or the 13th-century Gothic cathedral.
The vibrant Spaccanapoli district is well worth a visit, with its winding streets filled with shops and churches. Naples is also a great base for visiting Pompeii, Herculaneum and the beautiful Amalfi Coast.
Although Pisa is most famous for its leaning tower, there’s much that tourists don’t know about this destination. It’s home to one of the most elite universities in all of Italy, with the student population meaning there’s a lively cafe and bar scene.
There’s also food markets, incredible gelato and stunning sunsets over the River Arno. The beaches are also just a 15-20 minute journey away, so you can cool off in the Mediterranean after exploring.
One of Italy’s most underrated cities, Bologna has much to offer visitors. Set in a medieval grid-like pattern, its beautiful, colonnaded streets lead to impressive churches, graffiti-embellished piazzas and tempting restaurants.
Southwest of the city centre, the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca boasts panoramic views over the city. Bologna also has a great aperitivo scene, with both young and old taking to streetside trattorias for pre-dinner drinks and snacks.
Made famous by Shakespeare, the city of Verona was the setting of Romeo and Juliet. Their tragic story comes alive here, with visitors able to see Juliet’s famous balcony alongside among many other places that featured in the play.
The city is also filled with Roman ruins, countless churches and many bustling coffee shops. The surrounding region boasts some of Italy’s finest wine, as well as the beautiful Lake Garda.
Found in Italy’s famous Tuscany region, Siena offers plenty of architectural gems. Its UNESCO-listed centre boasts the Piazza del Campo, which is considered one of the finest medieval squares in Europe.
Highlights include the Siena Cathedral and the beautiful Fonte Gaia, which is the city’s largest fountain. Torre del Mangia boasts fabulous views over the city. Although be warned it’s a 400-step climb to the top of this iconic tower.
Gateway to the Italian Riviera, Genoa was one of the greatest trading powers in the world in medieval times. Its history is still evident in its medieval core, which offers a tight network of atmospheric streets.
Discover artisan shops, tucked-away churches and historic eateries, where you can enjoy more of Italy’s most famous dishes. Interestingly, the city is also home to Europe’s first bank and Italy’s oldest football team. As Genoa is still a working port, you can easily enjoy day trips out along the coast.