Italy, known as the Bel Paese or beautiful country, is a land of unparalleled beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. From the ancient ruins of Rome to the stunning Amalfi Coast, Italy offers a plethora of experiences for travelers. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a food lover, or a history buff, there’s something for everyone in this diverse and enchanting country. In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through the 25 best things to do in Italy, showcasing the country’s most iconic landmarks, cultural treasures, and hidden gems.
Explore the Colosseum in Rome:
No visit to Italy is complete without stepping into the ancient world at the Colosseum. This iconic amphitheater, dating back to AD 70-80, hosted gladiator contests and public spectacles. Marvel at its grandeur and imagine the roar of the crowds that once filled this historic arena.
Wander through the Vatican City:
Home to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican City is a must-visit destination for art and history enthusiasts. Admire Michelangelo’s masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and explore the vast collections of the Vatican Museums.
Stroll through the Historic Center of Florence:
Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, boasts a historic center that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander through the charming streets, visit the Uffizi Gallery, and marvel at the Florence Cathedral and its iconic dome designed by Brunelleschi.
Admire the Leaning Tower of Pisa:
Pisa’s iconic Leaning Tower is a symbol of architectural miscalculation. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the city, or enjoy a leisurely picnic in the nearby Campo dei Miracoli.
Discover the Beauty of Cinque Terre:
The Cinque Terre, a cluster of five picturesque villages on the Italian Riviera, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hike the scenic trails that connect the villages, savor fresh seafood, and take in the breathtaking views of the Ligurian Sea.
Indulge in Art at the Uffizi Gallery:
Located in Florence, the Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous art museums in the world. Home to works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, and Raphael, it offers a comprehensive journey through the evolution of Italian art.
Sail Through Venice’s Canals:
Venice, the city of canals, is a unique and romantic destination. Take a gondola ride along the Grand Canal, explore the narrow alleyways, and visit St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace.
Hike Mount Vesuvius and Visit Pompeii:
For a blend of adventure and history, hike to the summit of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that famously destroyed Pompeii in AD 79. Explore the remarkably preserved ruins of Pompeii and witness a snapshot of ancient Roman life.
Experience the Magic of the Amalfi Coast:
The Amalfi Coast is a haven of natural beauty with its dramatic cliffs, colorful villages, and crystal-clear waters. Drive along the coastal road, visit Positano and Amalfi, and indulge in delicious local cuisine.
Marvel at the Sistine Chapel:
Located within the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel is a masterpiece of Renaissance art. Admire Michelangelo’s frescoes, including the iconic “Creation of Adam,” which adorn the chapel’s ceiling.
Visit the Roman Forum:
Step into the heart of ancient Rome at the Roman Forum, a sprawling archaeological site that once served as the center of political, religious, and commercial life. Explore the ruins of temples, basilicas, and government buildings.
Take a Gondola Ride in Venice:
Venice’s waterways are an integral part of its charm. Experience the city from a different perspective with a romantic gondola ride through its canals, passing under picturesque bridges and past historic buildings.
Admire the Duomo in Milan:
Milan’s Gothic cathedral, the Duomo di Milano, is a stunning architectural masterpiece. Climb to the rooftop for panoramic views of the city or explore the cathedral’s interior, adorned with intricate sculptures and stained glass windows.
Sample Authentic Italian Gelato:
Indulge your taste buds with the creamy delight of authentic Italian gelato. Whether in Rome, Florence, or a quaint seaside village, savor the rich flavors of this beloved frozen treat.
Discover the Ancient City of Herculaneum:
Often overshadowed by Pompeii, Herculaneum is another ancient Roman city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Explore its well-preserved ruins, including intricate mosaics and colorful frescoes.
Hike the Dolomites:
Nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers will find paradise in the Dolomites. Hike through breathtaking alpine landscapes, explore charming mountain villages, and enjoy panoramic views from some of the most scenic peaks in Europe.
Immerse Yourself in the History of Assisi:
Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, is a charming hilltown known for its medieval architecture and spiritual significance. Visit the Basilica of St. Francis and stroll through the narrow streets lined with medieval buildings.
Tour the Amalfi Cathedral:
Nestled in the heart of Amalfi, the Amalfi Cathedral is a stunning example of medieval Italian architecture. Admire its intricate facade, climb the grand staircase, and enjoy panoramic views of the town and coastline.
Explore the Trulli of Alberobello:
The town of Alberobello in Puglia is famous for its unique trulli, conical-roofed houses that date back to the 14th century. Wander through the UNESCO-listed Trulli district and learn about the history and architecture of these charming structures.
Taste Wine in Tuscany:
Tuscany is renowned for its wine, and a visit to this region wouldn’t be complete without a wine-tasting experience. Explore vineyards in Chianti, Montepulciano, or Montalcino, sampling some of Italy’s finest wines.
Visit the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence:
Home to Michelangelo’s iconic statue of David, the Galleria dell’Accademia is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. Marvel at the perfection of this Renaissance masterpiece and explore the museum’s other treasures.
Relax at Lake Como:
Surrounded by picturesque villas and lush landscapes, Lake Como is a serene escape in northern Italy. Take a boat cruise on the lake, explore charming towns like Bellagio, and enjoy the tranquility of this idyllic destination.
Experience the Palio in Siena:
The Palio, a historic horse race held twice a year in Siena’s Piazza del Campo, is a thrilling spectacle. Immerse yourself in the excitement of this medieval tradition, where neighborhoods compete for honor and glory.
Discover the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento:
In Sicily, the Valley of the Temples is a vast archaeological site showcasing well-preserved ancient Greek temples. Marvel at the Temple of Concordia, one of the best-preserved Doric temples in the world.
Savor Truffle Delicacies in Umbria:
Umbria, known as the “Green Heart of Italy,” is a haven for truffle lovers. Indulge in the rich flavors of truffle-infused dishes, attend truffle festivals, and explore the charming hilltowns of this underrated region.
Italy’s allure lies in its ability to seamlessly blend ancient history with modern charm, picturesque landscapes with bustling cities, and delectable cuisine with world-class art. Whether you’re captivated by the ruins of Rome, enchanted by the romance of Venice, or mesmerized by the natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast, Italy offers an endless array of experiences for every type of traveler. So, pack your bags, embrace la dolce vita, and embark on a journey to discover the 25 best things to do in this enchanting country.
Explore the Underground City of Orvieto:
Delve into the depths of Orvieto, a charming hilltown in Umbria, and discover its underground city. Explore the intricate network of caves, tunnels, and wells that date back to the Etruscan era, providing a fascinating glimpse into the region’s history.
Visit the Sassi di Matera:
Matera, in the southern region of Basilicata, is renowned for its ancient cave dwellings known as Sassi. Wander through the narrow stone streets, visit cave churches, and appreciate the unique architecture that has earned Matera a UNESCO World Heritage designation.
Sail to the Islands of Sicily:
Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, boasts a diverse landscape and rich cultural heritage. Take a ferry to the Aeolian Islands, explore the ancient ruins of Selinunte, or relax on the beautiful beaches of Taormina.
Experience the Venice Carnival:
If you have the chance to visit Italy in February, don’t miss the Venice Carnival, a grand celebration of masks, costumes, and revelry. Join the festivities in St. Mark’s Square and witness the elaborate and colorful costumes that harken back to the city’s rich history.
Marvel at the Trevi Fountain in Rome:
Rome’s Trevi Fountain is not just a stunning Baroque masterpiece; it’s also steeped in tradition. Legend has it that throwing a coin into the fountain ensures your return to Rome. Join the crowds, make a wish, and contribute to the preservation of this iconic landmark.
Take a Bike Ride in Lucca:
Lucca, with its well-preserved Renaissance walls, is a delightful city to explore by bike. Rent a bicycle and ride along the tree-lined walls, taking in views of the city and enjoying the charming atmosphere of this Tuscan gem.
Discover the Beauty of Lake Garda:
Italy’s largest lake, Garda, is surrounded by picturesque towns and landscapes. Explore the medieval Scaliger Castle in Sirmione, take a boat ride to the charming town of Malcesine, and savor the breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Visit the National Archaeological Museum of Naples:
For a comprehensive journey through the art and history of Southern Italy, visit the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. Admire artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as an impressive collection of ancient Greek and Roman art.
Attend the Opera in Verona’s Arena:
Verona’s Roman Arena is not just a historic amphitheater; it’s also a stunning venue for opera performances. Plan your visit during the summer opera season and experience the magic of a live performance in this ancient setting.
Explore the Gargano National Park:
Nature enthusiasts will find paradise in the Gargano National Park in Puglia. Hike through lush forests, discover hidden caves, and enjoy the stunning coastal landscapes that make this region a haven for outdoor activities.
Visit the Capitoline Museums in Rome:
The Capitoline Museums, located on Capitoline Hill in Rome, house an impressive collection of classical sculptures, ancient artifacts, and Renaissance art. Marvel at iconic pieces like the Capitoline Wolf and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the museum’s terrace.
Trek the Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast:
For avid hikers, the Path of the Gods (Sentiero degli Dei) on the Amalfi Coast is a must-do. This scenic trail offers breathtaking views of the coastline and the Mediterranean Sea, making it a memorable and rewarding hiking experience.
Visit the Bargello Museum in Florence:
The Bargello Museum, housed in a medieval palace in Florence, is a hidden gem for art lovers. Explore its impressive collection of sculptures, including works by Michelangelo and Donatello, in a less crowded setting than other Florence museums.
Take a Dip in the Blue Grotto on Capri:
Capri’s Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra) is a natural sea cave illuminated by a captivating blue light. Accessible by boat, venture inside to witness the magical interplay of sunlight and water, creating an enchanting atmosphere.
Participate in the Palio della Balestra in San Marino:
San Marino, a small independent republic surrounded by Italy, hosts the Palio della Balestra, a crossbow competition held twice a year. Immerse yourself in the medieval ambiance, watch the archers compete, and enjoy the unique traditions of this historic event.
Admire the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence:
Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio, located in the heart of the city’s historic center, is a fortress-like palace that has served various purposes throughout history. Visit the palace’s impressive chambers, including the Salone dei Cinquecento, adorned with stunning frescoes.
Explore the Archaeological Park of Paestum:
The ancient Greek city of Paestum, located in southern Italy, is home to well-preserved temples dating back to the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Wander through the Archaeological Park to marvel at the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Athena, and the Temple of Neptune.
Ski in the Dolomiti Superski Area:
During the winter months, the Dolomiti Superski Area becomes a paradise for skiers and snow enthusiasts. With over 1,200 kilometers of slopes, it offers a diverse range of skiing experiences amid the breathtaking landscapes of the Dolomite Mountains.
Discover the Tarot Garden in Tuscany:
Artist Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden (Giardino dei Tarocchi) in Tuscany is a whimsical sculpture park inspired by the tarot cards. Explore the vibrant and surreal sculptures set amidst the Tuscan countryside, creating a unique and magical experience.
Experience the Festa della Sensa in Venice:
The Festa della Sensa is a traditional Venetian celebration that takes place on the first Sunday of June. Join the festivities, including a procession of boats to the Lido, where the Doge performs the “Marriage of the Sea” ceremony, symbolizing Venice’s maritime power.
Hike to the Sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo in Puglia:
The Sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo, perched on the Gargano Peninsula, is a pilgrimage site and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hike to the sanctuary, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Taste Balsamic Vinegar in Modena:
Modena is renowned for its traditional balsamic vinegar, aged to perfection in wooden barrels. Take a guided tour of a local vinegar producer, learn about the intricate production process, and savor the rich flavors of this culinary treasure.
Visit the Cathedral of Palermo:
Palermo’s Cathedral is a testament to the city’s diverse history, with elements of Norman, Arab, and Gothic architecture. Explore the cathedral’s interior, admire its intricate mosaics, and climb to the rooftop for panoramic views of Palermo.
Attend the Venice Film Festival:
Film enthusiasts should plan their visit to coincide with the Venice Film Festival, one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. Experience the glamour of the red carpet, attend screenings, and immerse yourself in the cinematic atmosphere of Venice.
Explore the Amalfi Paper Museum:
The Amalfi Paper Museum is a unique attraction that provides insight into the ancient art of papermaking. Discover the history of paper production in Amalfi, see antique paper machinery, and even try your hand at creating your own handmade paper.
Italy’s charm lies not only in its iconic landmarks and renowned attractions but also in its ability to surprise and delight at every turn. Whether you’re exploring the ancient ruins of Rome, hiking through the Dolomites, or savoring the flavors of regional cuisine, each experience contributes to the rich tapestry that is Italy. With its diverse regions, each offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, Italy continues to captivate and inspire travelers from around the world. As you embark on your journey through the Bel Paese, be prepared to uncover hidden gems, indulge in culinary delights, and immerse yourself in the timeless allure of one of the world’s most enchanting destinations. Buon viaggio!