20 Places To Visit in Italy – A Must-See List!
Italy is the cradle of Renaissance cultural movement that gave birth to magnificent works of art, architecture, literally masterpieces, scientific breakthroughs and innovations in societal relations. Taking a vacation to Italy is a rare opportunity to see magnificent works of art by renowned Renaissance artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michaelangelo, ancient ruins, the center of Catholicism and iconic landmarks. Italy is also a place where the beauty of the Mediterranean coast, pristine resorts, distinct wines and cuisine make it almost impossible to decide which places to visit in Italy first.
We are faced with a nearly impossible task of narrowing down to top 20 places to visit in Italy. Please see below our selection for your consideration.
1. Roman Colosseum – Absolutely on the top of places to visit in Rome, Roman Colosseum is the priceless heritage left by long lost Roman Empire. According to ancient Roman Colosseum facts, this spectacular amphitheatre was used as arena for merciless gladiator games. Due to active preservation efforts, only guided tours are allowed.
2. Pantheon – Another iconic surviving ancient site that was originally built as a Temple to All Gods and used today as a Catholic church and Royal tombs of magnificent architectural and art significance. Pantheons architecture is very symbolic and meticulously executed, especially its system of arches allowing the structure to withstand thousands of years of wear.
3. Trevi Fountain, Rome – One of the most photographed fountains in the world never ceases to amaze with the grandeur of its baroque style. According to the local tradition, if you toss coins in the fountains, you are bound to return to Rome.
4. St Peters Square and Basilica in Vatican City – Visiting the Vatican is one of the sacred experiences for many Catholics arriving here daily from all over the world. This independent state owns 110 acres of land and houses 800 official residents. Among its premiere attractions you will find St Peter’s Square and Basilica, which is considered the largest Catholic Basilica in the world. St Peter’s Basilica houses some of the most accomplished works of art by Bernini, Raphael and iconic Michelangelo’s Pieta marble sculpture.
5. Apostolic Palace in Vatican City – The official Papal residence in Vatican City houses Papal apartments, Vatican museums and chapels, including the world famous Sistine Chapel bearing masterpiece frescoes completed by outstanding Renaissance masters like Michelangelo, Botticelli and Pinturicchio to name a few. Among the most iconic Sistine Chapel paintings, you will find a ceiling fresco The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo which is by far his most famous work of all time.
6. Grand Canal Venice – Venice is the premier destination in Italy that rests almost entirely on water with over 150 canals that could be explored by taking water buses or taxis. The Grand Canal is the “father” of all canals in Venice and must be experienced at least once by taking a romantic gondola ride. Along the ride you will be passing by many important architectural draws of Venice resting on the banks of the Grand Canal.
7. Piazza San Marco, Venice – St Marks Square is one of the most popular squares in Italy gathering millions of tourists arriving here annually from all parts of the world. Its characteristic arcades create intricate architectural design. Touring St Marks Basilica, Doge’s Palace and Museo Correr are sure to keep you busy all day.
8. La Scala Opera House – Teatra alla Scala is one of the premier places to visit in Italy which has been receiving the finest opera singers from around the world. An average La Scala tour lasts approximately an hour and allows visitors to see its majestic hall, auditorium and La Scala Theatre Museum displaying original costumes, objects, sculptures, art and documents pertaining to its history.
9. Duomo di Milano – Grotesque gothic style cathedral that took nearly 600 years to build is one of the most breathtaking architectural creations in Milan. Since so many different artists were involved in its design and creation, the cathedral lends to a multitude of exterior and interior décor elements.
10. Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan – This church is included in UNESCO World Heritage Sites list and its walls bear the images of one of the most distinguished Leonardo da Vinci’s works of art, The Last Supper. This mural masterpiece is completed on the walls and ceiling of the Convent’s refectory. According to historical data, it took Leonardo da Vinci a little bit over two years to finish his work.
11. Leaning Tower of Pisa – The architectural creation that went wrong and became one of the best places to visit in Italy draws millions of annual visitors. The Tower has been defying the laws of gravity for many centuries and is now leaning at 3.97 degrees angle with constant efforts made to reinforce its structure. If you dare, climb all the way to the top to see spectacular views of the city of Pisa.
12. Uffizi Gallery, Florence – The epicenter of Renaissance art heritage and one of the main reasons to come to Italy, Galleria degli Uffizi is jammed with hundreds of timeless artistic masterpieces like The Birth of Venus painting by Botticelli, Bacchus by Caravaggio, Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, Holy Family with the Infant by Michelangelo, Gallery of Statues and hundreds of others. Don’t try to conquer Uffizi all in one day, concentrate on one artist or time periods.
13. Accademia Gallery, Florence – To continue exploring the cultural riches of Florence make your way to the Academia Gallery to see magnificent sculptures by Michelangelo including his famous 4 meter tall David, the essence of masculinity; works by Giambologna, Botticelli, Perugino and others.
14. Il Duomo Florence – One of Italy’s iconic attractions readily recognized all over the world, Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the main churches in the country. Its Gothic style façade and interior is richly decorate with ornate designs, sculptures, mosaics, stained glass and wall to ceiling frescoes completed by outstanding artists of the Renaissance era.
15. Siena Piazza del Campo – In the center of Tuscany region you will find a perfect medieval town with its signature attractions, Piazza del Campo. The grandeur of this majestic fan shaped square could be appreciated if you walk around its vicinity and enjoy eating at a variety of restaurants facing the Piazza. Fountain of Joy is another notable draw depicting Madonna surrounded by Virtues positioned around the rectangular shape of the fountain.
16. Amalfi Coast – Located in the southern part of Italy on the Sorrentine Peninsula, Amalfi coast is by far one of the best places to visit in Italy. Mediterranean climate combined with spectacular beaches, lovely fishing villages, lemon orchards and great cultural attractions. The best way to get to the Coast is to take a boat or ferry since the roads are narrow and parking is non-existent. Most Amalfi Coast tours are offered either by boats or buses.
17. Pompeii – No vacation to Italy is complete without seeing the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii that was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius Volcano thousands of years ago. Today this iconic landmark is frequented by over 2 million visitors every year to see recovered from underneath of ashes houses and villas with wall frescoes, temples, theatres and even human remains that were cast out of hollows left in the layers of ash allowing the skeletons to be preserved.
18. Naples – One of the most popular destinations for Italy vacations, Naples is also one of the oldest cities in Europe offering incredible cultural riches, breathtaking coast and historical sites to visit. Among its notable attractions visitors will find stately San Carlo Theatre, Naples Aquarium and Piazza Matteotti.
19. Italian Riviera – Stretching along the Lugurian Sea Coast, the most exquisite resorts of Italy draw millions of foreign tourists. Among the most popular places to visit in Italy visitors love choosing Genoa, the center of the Italian Riviera boasting rich cultural heritage, bustling art scene and signature cuisine. San Remo, Portofino and Cinque Terre are other popular resorts at the Italian Riviera.
20. Sicily – The largest of the Mediterranean islands separated from the “toe” of Italy’s boot shaped peninsula by Straits of Messina. As a result of foreign domination over the centuries, Sicily has developed a wide array of cultural footprints left by Romans, Greeks, Arabs and even Normans. Palermo is Sicily’s capital and its main cultural hub with marvelous architecture, cathedrals, piazzas, magnificent Sicilian cuisine and plenty of other things to do in Sicily.