If you are looking for the best cities to visit in Italy, here is a short list of some of the best places in Italy and why they are most see destinations!
Italy. The word itself conjures visions of rolling hills, majestic coastlines, mouth-watering cuisine, and luscious wines. Italy is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west, and the Ionian Sea to the south. Italy is a long peninsula that resembles a tall boot. There are two major mountain ranges, the Alps and the Apennines.
Becoming a unified country in 1861 with an area of 116,305 square miles that includes the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. Its area is only slightly larger than the state of Arizona and has a population of over 60 million people.
Italy was at the forefront of the Renaissance artistic movement as is evidenced in an abundance of art and architecture. Italy spawned such artists as Donatello, Michelangelo, DaVinci, and Titian.
The Italians are also world-renowned for high fashion. The industry is centered in Milan with many of the famous designer houses – Versace, Ferragamo, Gucci, Valentino, Prada, Armani, and many more.
For a country with such historical, artistic, and gastronomical significance, it is difficult to determine the top cities to visit. Following are some of my favorite cities with notable places to visit, art to view, and foods to savor.
The Amalfi Coast – Positano
The Amalfi Coast is a 50-kilometer stretch of coastline and sheer cliffs. The rugged coastline has many small beaches and pastel-colored fishing villages with a mesmerizing coast road that winds past terraced vineyards, sumptuous lemon groves, and grand villas. Positano is a 75-mile drive south from Naples.
Positano is known as a vertical town, built on the side of a cliff. There is one road which twists down through the town and up to the main road. Visitors and tourists explore via a series of stairways and side passageways. View a dazzling feast of colors in Positano – from the sparkling blue of the sea to the white, pink, and yellow Mediterranean houses, and the silvery grey of the pebble beaches.
Positano is a small town with many interesting sights to see. Not to be missed is the majolica-tiled dome of the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta where there is a Byzantine-inspired icon of a black Madonna which dates back to the 18th century.
Discover Positano’s ancient history with a visit to the Museo Archeologico Romano. Learn about Positano’s links with Roman history while viewing fragments of the original architecture and decorations.
Relax on Positano’s two beaches, the Spiaggio Grande and Fornillo Beach. Spiaggio Grande is one of the largest beaches on the Amalfi Coast and the two beaches are linked by a coastal path which leads past ancient watch towers.
For a small town, Positano has many restaurants from which to choose. You can dine on seafood, Mediterranean or European fare, international cuisine, and pizza. Choose fine dining, local cuisine, or moderately-priced restaurants – you are sure to delight and savor your dining experience.
Capri is an island in the Bay of Naples. It is famous for its upscale hotels, rugged landscape, and shopping for designer fashions and limoncello. It has stunning natural beauty and amazing cuisine.
Capri is a small island with a vast number of things to do. One of the top attractions is the Blue Grotto, a dark cavern where the sea grows an eerily, electric blue. The glow is the result of sunlight streaming through an underwater cave and has been enticing visitors since the time of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.
The Piazzetta is a world-famous public square with a clock tower and four different cafes which are full of tourists and locals all day long. It is a place to see and be seen.
The Faraglioni is an immense rock formation which consists of three separate limestone stacks. They are large enough to view from Positano on a clear day. You can swim near them from the Da Luigi beach club or sail through them on a boat tour.
Explore the Villa Jovis, the best preserved of Roman Emperor Tiberius’ villas on the island. Near the entrance to Villa Jovis is Astarita Park which is built on a series of terraces above the sea. The villa is located on top of the cliffs and provide views of the Bay of Naples, the Bay of Salerno, the islands of Ischia and Procida, and the Sorrentine Peninsula.
From Anacapri, the second of the towns located on the island, visit the second ancient Roman site, the Villa Damecuta. The ruins consist of a tiny medieval fort and a point to overlook the entire Bay of Naples.
Capri has a reputation as a late-night town. Dinner frequently starts after 10:00 p.m. and nightclubs don’t open until after midnight. Dance the night away at one of the island’s famous nightclubs and discos.
Savor seafood and maritime gastronomy blended with Mediterranean flavors and international dishes. While dining, most restaurants provide spectacular views of the Bay of Naples and the mainland.
Rome, the Eternal City, is Italy’s capital city. It is a sprawling, multinational city with nearly 3,000 years of breathtaking art, culture, and architecture. Walk down literally any street to discover ancient ruins with the modern city built up around them. You could spend weeks in Rome and still not have enough time to explore all that Rome has to offer.
The Coliseum is the iconic symbol of Rome and sits in the heart of downtown. Completed in 80 A.D. and primarily used as an entertainment venue where Roman citizens watched gladiators fight to the death or fight dangerous predators. It is doubtless one of the world’s greatest monuments, despite its bloody history.
The Roman Forum is a series of fascinating ruins and arches located near the Coliseum. It was once the political and religious heart of the Roman Empire. Gaze upon the ruins of ancient temples, government buildings, and shrines.
The Pantheon was completed during the early second century A.D. and dedicated to the “pantheon” of Roman gods. Admire the beauty of the Corinthian columns and the vast size of its dome – which remains the largest unsupported dome in the world to this day.
It was converted to a church in the seventh century, and that helped it survive destruction after the fall of the Roman Empire. It is constructed of Roman concrete – an amazing material whose recipe has mysterious origins.
St. Peter’s Basilica and the Museums of Vatican City are not technically in Rome but in the independent city-state of Vatican City contained entirely within Rome. Appreciate the vast St. Peter’s Square, designed by Bernini in the 17th century.
Tour St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel to marvel at the extensive collection of masterful artworks, including Michelangelo’s Pieta. The crowds are also quite vast at the Vatican, so give yourself plenty of time to plan your trip to at least visit the highlights in the treasure trove of art and history.
Other sites to see include the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the Galleria Borghese. Give yourself time to just wander the streets and discover ruins and buildings that are not on the popular tourist maps. Rome is an incredible city with amazing wonders around every corner.
A true Roamn culinary experience has to include carbonara. This dish is made with egg yolk, Pecorino Romano, pancetta, and freshly-ground black pepper over spaghetti noodles.
It is a simple dish that is both creamy and truly delicious. Rome is known for its way of preparing artichokes. Try them either Carciofi all giudia – blanched in lemon water then deep-fried in olive oil or Carciofi al Romana – braised in white wine, water, and oil. Your taste buds will appreciate these Roman treats.
Stresa is not one of the most popular Italian tourist destinations, but it is a charming resort town located on the shore of Lake Maggiore. There are only 5,000 inhabitants and Stresa first appeared in historical documents around 1000 A.D. Italy was ruled in part by the Borromeo family since 1441 and completely reunited under their rule in 1653.
Stresa overlooks the three Borromeon Islands which have botanical, artistic, and historical appeal. Explore the islands of Bella and Madre to view extravagant palaces and rare plant gardens. Gaze upon the wild peacocks, parrots, and pheasants as they roam free. Also visit the Isola dei Pescatori, a quaint, old fishing village and one of the most scenic spots on Lake Maggiore.
Discover the Villa Pallavicino, a perfect example of a mid-nineteenth century palace. It also contains a 50-acre zoo with more than 40 different species of mammals and birds.
Stresa’s waterfront offers unforgettable views and an elegant and captivating waterfront. Meander through the town and shop at the captivating shops and boutiques.
Stroll along the lakeshore to view the Art Nouveau hotels or ascend to the top of Mount Mottarone for a panoramic view of the area. Mount Mottarone is known as the “Mountain of Two Lakes” as it is located between Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta. If you take the cable car up Mount Mattarone, stop off at Alpino and wander through the Alpinia Botanical Gardens.
Stresa is sure to delight all your senses, so wander off the beaten path and enjoy this charming lakeside town.
Positano, Capri, Rome, and Stresa are only four of Italy’s incredibly diverse landscape. By all means, please take the time to explore each of these gems, but, if you have the time, feel free to explore all of Italy’s delightful towns, cities, and regions. You never know which one might become your favorite! Arrivaderci!