Top Travel Destinations – Located in Southern Europe, this boot-shaped country is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations for a number of reasons that include art treasures, trendy fashion, stunning landscapes, passionate people and top-class cuisine. Italy offers so much to see and do that it would take a lifetime to explore. An overview of the best places to visit in Italy.
Table Of Content
- 1 1. Turin
- 2 2. Ferrara
- 3 3. Urbino
- 4 4. Sicily
- 5 5. Cinque Terre
- 6 6. Rome
- 7 7. Tuscany
- 8 8. Venice
- 9 9. Pompeii
- 10 10. Amalfi Coast
- 11 11. Milan
- 12 12. Italian Lake District
- 13 13. Naples
Turin must be one of Italy’s most unsung cities. While most travelers to Italy head to the triptych Rome-Florence-Venice, Turin appears to remain off the tourists’ radar. It seems that, nowadays, the city is merely associated with the automobile industry. Indeed, it is here that Agnelli, the founder of Fiat, chose to build his automobile empire.
However, that would be forgetting that eight decades earlier another dynasty, not an industrial one, but a royal one, chose Turin as its capital. Nineteenth century Turin was also a favorite among intellectuals and artists, such as Nietzsche, who liked the city for its austere elegance, its atmosphere, its literary cafés, and its food.
Ferrara is a beautiful university town best explored on foot or by bike, with plenty of stops for food along the way. Photo: Catherine Edwards
The region of Emilia Romagna was named the best place to visit in Europe by Lonely Planet this year. The Local takes a look at one of its underrated gems, Ferrara, and offers six great reasons why you should make time to explore this small but perfectly formed medieval town.
Walls for walking
The perfect way to get your bearings is to take a tour of the incredibly well-preserved medieval city walls. The views change as you travel round the city, from ancient battlements to peaceful greenery.
It takes around an hour to do a full circuit, after which you can duck down the picturesque cobbled streets of the city centre, a Unesco World Heritage site. Via delle Volte is the oldest of these roadds, made beautifully Instagrammable thanks to the vaults built to link workshops and warehouses.
You can also take in the route on bike, the preferred form of transport of many locals.
Plenty to eat
This advice holds true wherever you are in Italy, but when in Ferrara make sure to sample as many of the local specialties as possible.
First, you’re going to want to try the city’s signature dish of pumpkin-stuffed ravioli, cappellacci di zucca, served either with herbs and butter or delicious meaty ragu. Mop up the sauce with the local cross-shaped variety of sourdough bread, coppia ferrarese. Alternatively, meat lovers can tuck into salama da sugo, a kind of sausage, or pasticcio ferrarese, a macaroni and meat sauce-filled pie, which might sound strange but tastes delicious.
Those with a sweet tooth won’t be disappointed when they visit the local bakeries: the upmarket Leon d’Oro, the well-stocked Pasticceria Cioccolateria Chocolat and Pasticceria Dario, and brioche specialists Cornetteria Los Cornetteros are perfect spots for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up.
Italy is my favorite country in Europe. It is a magical place with overwhelming offerings of art, culture, and cuisine in every city. Most itineraries will give you several days and a list of attractions for major cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice, but smaller, quieter places are often neglected. This is a shame, as these small towns can truly put an outsider in touch with the heart and soul of Italy and its people.
Urbino is one of those towns. A hilltop town growing out around a Renaissance palace, it has historical significance as the birthplace of Raphael and modern-day importance as a hub for international students, via the University of Urbino. It’s small size and large population of students make it a low-cost and enjoyable stop for any traveler who is seeking a quiet, friendly city in which to spend a few days of rest.
The city of Urbino has been mentioned in recorded history since the Gothic Wars of the 6th century, but its rise to prominence would come in the mid-1400s under the leadership of Duke Federico da Montefeltro, a.k.a Federico III. A lover of humanities and the arts, Federico filled his court with Renaissance thinkers and artists, including the artist Raphael’s father, Giovanni Santi. Raphael himself was born in Urbino in 1483.
Later wars and dispossessions would lead to Urbino’s changing hands between nobles several times before being absorbed into the Papal properties, and later becoming part of the modern Republic of Italy.
Urbino is located in the Marche region of Italy, in the province of Pesaro and Urbino (PU). Urbino is not connected to the Eurail system, so unless you are traveling in your own car, the easiest way to get there is by bus.
The nearest bus station is located just outside the train station in the nearby town of Pesaro. Bear in mind that this is not a heavily-traveled tourist spot, so not every local will be able to give directions or advice in fluent English. Should you find yourself unable to decipher the bus schedule, the best people to ask for help will be off-duty bus drivers, who can usually be found near their vehicles, smoking a quick cigarette between drives.
In Sicily the summer is long and sybaritic—warm weather comes early and leaves late—and the travel experience especially rich: Greeks, Romans, Arabs, along with most every European power in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, left their mark on the island’s culture, art and architecture.
5. Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre is a collection of five towns along the Italian Riviera; Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia and Riomaggiore, each one more charming than the next. There are a million reasons to be enchanted by this remarkable part of the Italian coastline. These are many reasons you have to visit the Cinque Terre ASAP.
It’s Ridiculously Pretty
Pastel houses stacked on top of each other, clear deep blue water, a lush green mountain range… it is almost impossible to describe how beautiful it is here. The romantic poets and authors from Shelley, Byron to D.H. Lawrence have all tried. The skies can go from bright blue to soft pink to inky dark. You can stand on the high cliffs in Corniglia and get a bird’s eye view or have a drink in historic center of Vernazza. Everywhere you look is gorgeous.
The Food is Amazing
Seafood is what is on the menu here. These five towns were originally fishing villages and that tradition remains strong in the cuisine of the Cinque Terre. Anchovies have been the primary staple since Roman times. Don’t be afraid, they are delicious. You will find them marinated in lemon and olive oil, and battered and fried. The pasta sauce that is most representative of the Liguria region is pesto. Dark green and aromatic, it is the essence of summer. Thick, salty, olive oil slicked, focaccia is eaten here as a breakfast pastry, an afternoon or even a midnight snack.
They have Limoncello
The Amalfi Coast and Capri might get all the Limoncello attention, but some people say that the sweet, alcoholic, lemon liquor is actually from Liguria. It is sometimes called Limoncino here. This part of Italy has plenty of lemon groves. The town of Montersso even has a lemon festival on the third Sunday of May every year. Italians take their after dinner drinks very seriously and believe it is an essential part of digesting your meal. Don’t say no to an icy cold shot of limoncello that is offered at the end of your meal. It is good for you.
Formerly the capital of the Roman Empire, Rome today is the government seat and capital city of Italy. Located in the country’s central region of Lazio, Rome is a vast and complex city that is both historic and modern at the same time. Best known for housing ancient Roman structures and the Vatican City, Rome has endured for more than 2,500 years as an important center for culture, power and religion. From ancient romantic plazas to stunning cathedrals and Renaissance architecture, there is so much to see and do in Rome, that it could take months or even years to see it all.
Italy’s most famous region, Tuscany conjures images of beautiful rolling hills, olive groves, vineyards and cypress trees. The many pleasures of Tuscany include tasting wine in Chianti, simply relaxing in hill towns such as San Gimignano or exploring Renaissance art in Florence. The medieval city of Siena also holds excellent works of art while its historic center is one of the most popular places to visit in Italy. Elba, the largest of several Tuscan islands, offers great beaches while Pisa is world-famous for its Leaning Tower.
One of the best places to visit in Italy, 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.
Of the canals, the Grand Canal is most famous and divides the city into two sections. Picturesque waterways and historic architecture make Venice one of the most romantic cities in the world. Venice is often crowded but well worth visiting to see its magnificent landmarks like Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica, Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge. One of the most popular things to do is to take a gondola ride along one of its many canals
One of Italy’s most visited tourist destinations, Pompeii is a famous Roman city which was buried under several feet of volcanic ash for nearly 1,700 years after the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Excavation of Pompeii began in 1748, and the site is yet to be totally unearthed.
The site is located near the modern city of Naples. A tour of Pompeii offers a fascinating insight into the everyday life of the ancient Roman world. Visitors can walk along the ancient streets to see the remains of bakeries, brothels and baths.
10. Amalfi Coast
Situated in Italy’s southwestern region of Campania, the Amalfi Coast is known for its extraordinary beauty that makes it one of Italy’s top tourist destinations. Stretching 30 miles along the southern side of the Sorrento Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast is prized for its picturesque coastline that features shimmering bays, craggy cliffs, lemon tree gardens, multicolored villas and ritzy resorts.
One of the most romantic and posh towns along the Amalfi Coast is Positano with its beautiful pebbled beaches, pastel houses and scenic mountains. One of the larger towns, Amalfi, features lovely plazas lined with restaurants while the town of Ravello is favored for its beautiful villas of gardens and art works.
Nearly destroyed from heavy bombing during WWII, Milan has since reconstructed and now shines as one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. Widely regarded as a mega fashion center teeming in designer shops, Milan also attracts many to its surviving world famous treasures like Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, The Last Supper, the La Scala Opera House, the Castello Sforzesco and one of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. Nonetheless, Milan sometimes appears less Italian compared to the country’s predominantly historic cities and more of a glamorous city with modern architecture.
12. Italian Lake District
The Italian Lake District stretches across Northern Italy. The southern ends of most of the lakes are relatively flat but the northern ends are mountainous as the lakes reach deep into the Alps. Popular with tourists for over 100 years, the Italian Lakes combine good weather with attractive scenery.
Garda is the largest lake, and offers stunning scenery, especially in its mountainous northern stretches. Como is equally stunning, with forested slopes rising directly from the water’s edge. Further west, Maggiore is less popular yet just as beautiful, with several popular family resorts.
One of the busiest metropolitan cities in the country, Naples is the capital of the Campania region in Southern Italy. The city of Naples offers a treasure trove of art works and historic sites as well as a vibrant atmosphere of shops, restaurants and nightlife venues.
Many favorite Italian foods originated from here such as pizza, spaghetti and parmigiana. These dishes are taken seriously in Naples and usually feature fresh, locally grown ingredients. As it is nearby famous sites like the Bay of Naples and Pompeii, Naples presents an ideal base to stay while exploring the area.