If you're planning your first trip to Italy, you may be undecided as to which cities to visit. It's a tough decision, for good reason—Italy's cities offer an enticing mix of scenery, historic and ancient sites, museums and of course, great cuisine and ambiance. What's more, Italy's major cities can easily be visited by train.
The amount of time you have in Italy will likely dictate how many places you can visit there. Many travelers choose the classic itinerary of Rome, Florence, and Venice, perhaps with a side trip through Tuscany. Yet there are so many great places to discover in Italy, it's hard to narrow down any list of "best" cities. But try we must! These are our picks for the top ten Italian cities, each with its own special character and appeal.
Rome is the capital of Italy and most likely, your first stop in the country. Rome offers a dazzling variety of sights and experiences. At every turn, you'll discover ancient monuments, ornate medieval and Baroque churches, beautiful fountains, art-filled museums, and Renaissance palaces. The ancient Colosseum is one of the most iconic sites in the world, and modern Rome is a bustling and lively city and has some excellent restaurants and nightlife. Saint Peter's Square and the Vatican City are also easily visited when in Rome.
Unlike anyplace else in the world, Venice is a unique city built over the water in the middle of a lagoon. Venice is one of Italy's most beautiful and romantic cities as well as one of the most popular for visitors to Italy. The heart of Venice is Piazza San Marco with its magnificent church, Saint Mark's Basilica. There are numerous museums, palaces, and churches to visit, and wandering along Venice's canals and getting lost in its maze of narrow streets is always enchanting. Venice is in the northeast of Italy and historically was a bridge between East and West—its architecture retains a Byzantine feel not really found elsewhere in Italy.
Florence is one of Italy's most important Renaissance architectural and art centers. Its Duomo and Baptistery are magnificent but crowded with tourists, as is the large piazza. Florence has several excellent museums with many famous paintings and sculptures, including Michelangelo's "David" and Botticelli's "Birth of Venus." There are also Medici palaces and gardens. Florence is in the region of Tuscany and is the gateway for exploring Tuscany's smaller cities and countryside.
Milan, one of Europe's wealthiest cities, is known for stylish shops, galleries, and restaurants and has a faster pace of life than most Italian cities. It also has a rich artistic and cultural heritage. Its Gothic Duomo, with its beautiful marble facade, is magnificent. Da Vinci's painting ofThe Last Supper is one of Milan's top attractions and La Scala is one of the world's most famous opera houses.
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Capri has charmed royalty, artists, and celebrities alike with its gorgeous beaches, many gardens, and restaurants. Situated in the Bay of Naples, Capri is a year-round destination that is bursting with tourists every summer. Be sure to get on the water to explore the sea caves (Blue Grotto is a must) and rock formations. On land, consider visiting the famed Villa San Michele before enjoying some high-end shopping, excellent pasta, and a limoncello. Or two.
Naples is one of Italy's most vibrant cities. It lies on the coast south of Rome and is the most important city in southern Italy. Naples retains much of its Baroque character and is a starting point for trips to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Amalfi Coast. It holds many historical and artistic treasures, and is famous for its pizza and desserts!
Bologna is known for its beauty, wealth, cuisine, and left-wing politics. Its flat streets are lined with arcades, making it a good walking city in every kind of weather. It has one of Europe's oldest universities. a nice medieval center, and several attractive squares, lined with buildings with porticoes. Bologna is the biggest city in northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region and its Piazza Maggiore is one of the biggest squares in Europe. Even among Italians, it's considered the culinary capital of the country.
Verona is most recognized as the setting for "Romeo and Juliet" but it's also famous for its Roman Arena (the third-largest in Italy and the venue for a top opera festival. Verona has a good medieval center, Roman remains, an interesting castle complex, and lots of high-end shopping. It's the fourth most visited city in Italy and well worth a stop on a northern Italy train travel itinerary.
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A popular day trip from Rome, Orvieto is a striking hill town in Umbria. It's built on volcanic plateau with near-vertical cliff faces and has a long, rich history. One of Orvieto's main highlights is the Duomo. It took close to 400 years to complete and is a masterpiece of medieval architecture. There's also a network of caves and tunnels underneath the city that have been in use for more than two millennia. Tours of Underground Orvieto are available; they leave daily and last for 45 minutes.
Built into a seaside cliff in the middle of Italy’s gorgeous Amalfi Coast, Positano is now a popular resort destination perfect for romance. Its mild climate make this a year-round destiantion but Positano most crowded from April to October. Beyond strolling through town admiring the colorful houses vistors can enjoy fresh seafood, do some shopping at boutiques, or relax at pebble and sand beaches. There are also several hiking options from Positano that follow the coast or go deeper inland.
Turin (Torino),in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, is a major cultural hub with excellent museums, elegant shops, and good restaurants. There are also some very nice examples of Baroque architecture and historic palaces, famous coffee houses, artisan workshops, and streets with covered arcades.
Genoa is Italy's principal seaport, located in Liguria on the northwest coast of Italy. Genoa has a fascinating modern aquarium, an interesting port area, and a historic center said to be the largest medieval quarter in Europe, with a wealth of churches, palaces, and museums.
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Perugia, in central Italy's Umbria region, is a very cosmopolitan city and home to two universities. It hosts a world-famous jazz festival in the summer and its University for Foreigners is a great place to learn Italian. It's a walled city on a hilltop with great views over the valley and has several important monuments and a good central square. Its history goes back to the 9th century B.C.
OK, the Cinque Terre is technically five villages but considering that the group as a whole is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, all of them are worth a visit. And they're so close to together that visitors can walk from one town into the next without much effort. This popular tourist destination is famous for the colorful buildings, fresh seafood, impressive hikes, and stunning views. Corniglia is smallest and one of the least crowded villages (it lacks sea access) while Monterosso is the largest and busiest.
Parma may not be on most tourists' radar but the Northern Italian city offers noteworthy food, architecture, and art. Foodies will delight in tasting Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Parma ham in addition to stuffed pasta. Meanwhile, architecture lovers will be spoiled by the wide-ranging styles on display here. Especially the pink marble Baptistery. That's in addition to a museum of artifacts from the Middle Ages and a national gallery of art with collections spanning 600 years.
Traveling by Train in Italy
Travel between big cities is best done by train as driving in Italian cities may be very difficult and the extensive Italian rail system is fairly inexpensive. Most city centers are well-suited to walking and parts of the city centers are closed to cars without permits. Large Italian cities generally have good public transportation, too.
Rome is a great place to start in Italy. Not only does it have one of the largest international airports in Italy, but it is also centrally located, making it easy for day trips. Rome is home to an incredible regional cuisine, local culture, rich history, and breathtaking architecture.What is the most luxurious city in Italy? ›
As of October 2022, Milan was by far the most expensive city in Italy to rent a dwelling. In fact, people wishing to rent an apartment or a house in the city were expected to pay almost 21 euros per square meters. Following in the ranking, came Bolzano and Venice with 19 and 17 euros per square meter.What is Italy's most visited city? ›
Rome. With 25 million of foreign visitors a year, Rome is in the lead in the charts of the most loved Italian cities by the tourists that come from all the world. Among Colosseum, St Peter's Basilica and Trevi Fountain, the Italian capital remains the Eternal City for excellence.What is the best month to travel to Italy? ›
Italy's best travel months are May, June, September, and October. They're also the busiest and most expensive time to visit (with the north remaining just as busy throughout midsummer). Crowds aside, these months combine the convenience of peak season with pleasant weather.How many days in Italy is enough? ›
Although there is enough to do in Italy to fill a week, we recommend a stay of at least ten days for a complete Italy experience. However, if you've only got a couple of days in Italy, you will still be able to cover many of the main highlights of the country.How many days should I spend in each Italian city? ›
Fit in as much as you like in the time you have available, but remember that the suggested 2 and 3 day rules are the minimum number of days that I suggest you stay. If you have more time or if you like to take things a little slower, then you should add a day to each city and another 1 or 2 to the areas.What is the 1 most beautiful city in the world? ›
1. Rome, Italy. At number one you voted Rome as the most beautiful city in the world. With its thousand-year-old buildings such as the Forum Romanum or the Colosseum, beautiful piazzas and world-class art – not to mention Vatican City – we are certainly not surprised.What is the most beautiful small town in Italy? ›
Neive, located in Piedmont, is considered one of the loveliest villages in Italy. It has it all: narrow cobblestone streets, medieval architecture and colorful flowers climbing the stone walls of quaint cottages. Most people don't visit Neive to experience this charm, though; they come to drink its famous wines.Where do the rich and famous live in Italy? ›
Tuscany. Tuscany remains one of the most popular (and expensive) areas to buy a house in Italy among ex-pats. Foreign investors are particularly attracted to the so-called 'golden triangle' of Florence, Siena and Volterra, where, as is well known, the most expensive properties in Italy are located.Where do most millionaires live in Italy? ›
Milan is the capital of the Lombardy region in northern Italy and is the wealthiest city in Italy.
Half of Italy's multi-millionaires live in Milan.
Setting the divide at earnings over €533,000 – that's the top 0.01 per cent of the population – we find 54 per cent of them in Milan. Rome comes in at second place, but the INPS report points out that they do not reach even one third of the Milanese multi-millionaires.
As a general rule, Italy is considered one of the safest countries in the world to travel in. The city with the highest crime rate in Italy is Milan. The tourist spots in larger cities are carefully patrolled, but petty crime, (pickpockets, purse snatching, etc.) can be a problem—like in any big city.How can a US citizen move to Italy? ›
Americans must have an entrance visa which should be obtained at an Italian consulate before coming to Italy, in order to remain in Italy more than three months and gain resident status. This procedure will take several weeks to complete so it is advisable to apply well in advance of the departure date.What is the most popular destination in Italy? ›
Venice. One of Italy's top travel destinations, Venice is a unique city in that is built upon a lagoon surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. Located in northeastern Italy, Venice is an archipelago of 118 islands all connected by hundreds of beautiful bridges and scenic canals.What is the most visited place in Italy? ›
1. Rome. With 25 million of foreign visitors a year, Rome is in the lead in the charts of the most loved Italian cities by the tourists that come from all the world. Among Colosseum, St Peter's Basilica and Trevi Fountain, the Italian capital remains the Eternal City for excellence.Where do the rich vacation in Italy? ›
One of the best locations for luxury tourism in Italy is undoubtedly Gordone Riviera. It is located on the shores of Lake Garda in the province of Brescia.
The Top 10 Most Visited Cities In The World:
Paris (Total International travelers: 19.10 million) London (Total International travelers: 19.09 million) Dubai (Total International travelers: 15.93 million) Singapore (Total International travelers: 14.67 million)
1. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia. What is this? The Great Barrier Reef is one of the undisputed best vacation spots for anyone who wants the opportunity to glimpse one of the most incredible marvels of nature.What is the most beautiful region of Italy? ›
Tuscany is one of the most popular regions to visit in Italy – and with good reason; it boasts not only the romantic renaissance city of Florence, but the medieval city of Siena, the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the renowned Chianti wine region.What is the most crowded city in Italy? ›
Rome is most populous cities of Italy. With 2.8 million inhabitants, the capital of the country put ahead Milan and Naples.
Calabria. The southernmost region on Italy's mainland, Calabria is one of the least visited places in the country, especially by foreign travellers.