The word belissimo comes to mind when you think of a lot of things that are Italian. Is it the amazing cuisine? Is it the fine contours of a Ferrari, or the cinematic creations of Fellini? Is it the graceful skill on the soccer field? Is it all the great art and history that oozes from the nooks and crannies of every single town and village? Yes, there is an intangible beauty — something romantic, aesthetically pleasing, and innately satisfying — about Italy that makes it a prominent resident on most people’s travel bucket lists.
If you’re thinking of a visit to rediscover la dolce vita, and want the best taste of the country in a limited space of time, we’ve narrowed down some of the best cities in Italy that can help you enjoy a fulfilling and unforgettable trip. So, vieni! Tour around with us for a slice of pure magic.
Ah, Roma! Why is that you make us fall in love with you every single time? We know it’s the obvious stop for visitors to Italy but its beautiful monuments, intricate Baroque churches, pristine fountains, and Renaissance palaces are simply timeless and will keep you coming back for more. Plus, who wouldn’t want to visit one of the most iconic sites in the world — the Colosseum? Don’t forget a visit to Saint Peter’s Square and Vatican City, and enjoy the Italian pace of life by sitting in a café or cozy restaurant and sipping on a delicious espresso or a glass of vino while watching the city go about its business.
You’re one serene gondola ride away from falling in love with Venezia! Built on a canal system that forever surrounds you with the sounds and water, this city boast a Byzantine architectural feel that’s not found anywhere else in Italy. While you’re not being serenaded on the water, you can needle your way through the labyrinth of charming narrow streets, and even take in major attractions like the astounding Saint Mark’s Basilica in the central Piazza San Marco. Don’t forget to also snap a few shots of the picture-perfect Ponte di Rialto bridge that connects the San Marco and San Polo districts of Venice, and to dig in to a hearty plate of the Venetian specialty risi e bisi — a soupy, thick risotto with peas and pancetta!
It’s not a big surprise why William Shakespeare chose to set Romeo and Juliet in the captivating city of Verona. Its well-maintained Roman ruins, including the large arena that still hosts operatic and other musical performances, are a big draw for visitors, while its medieval architecture embodied by many churches and the impressive Castle Vecchio are incredible to behold. You can spend hours walking through its bustling piazzas to visit other great sites like the towering Torre dei Lamberti, the lush and intricately manicured Giusti Gardens, and the little 14th century balcony and residence that’s popularly known as Juliet’s House.
While Neapolitan pizza is well known throughout the world, leave some room in your belly for some of the other great delights you can feast on in this city. Where do we start? There’s the local classic pasta alla Genovese (pasta with stewed veal and onions) and the very popular cuoppo (fried nuggets of fish or squid usually served in a paper cone). And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you must simply try the sfogliatelle (shell-shaped pastry usually stuffed with a variety of sweet fillings) and struffoli (deep-friend balls of dough covered with honey). And it’s not just the food that makes Naples special; there are some amazing museums to visit and history buffs would love springboarding into the nearby sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, while the city is also a great starting point to explore the scenic Amalfi Coast.
Art and architecture are key highlights of Florence. There are many works to admire, from the magnificent Duomo cathedral, the Baptistery of St. John, and the Palazzo Vecchio. Don’t miss out on the Uffizi Palace and Gallery — home to some of the greatest artwork Italy has produced, featuring creations from artists such as Botticelli, Da Vinci, and Raphael. The Gallery of the Academy of Florence is another important museum that houses masterpieces such as the original David sculpture by Michelangelo. If walking around all those art galleries has made you hungry, make sure to savor the local specialty bistecca alla Fiorentina (a T-bone cut of steak traditionally cooked over chestnuts for a smoky flavor) and some of the best gelato in Italy (in our opinion!). As the capital of the Tuscany region, it’s also a great place to base yourself as your explore its quaint villages and countryside.
The capital of the Emilia-Romagna region has a lot to attract visitors. The heart of Bologna is the Piazza Maggiore, which houses several prominent buildings like the Pallazo d’Accursio, the Palazzo del Podesta, and the Basilica di San Petronio. Make sure to visit the city’s very own leaning towers of Asinelli and Garisenda, which also give you great panoramic views of the city’s layout. The Archiginnasio, which was once one of the main buildings of the University of Bologna, is home to the famous Anatomical Theatre, which is completely made from wood and is well worth a visit. Even most Italians agree that Bologna is the culinary capital of Italy, and thus it’s essential that you try the tortellini, local proscuitto, and of course, world-renowned Bolognese when in town.
One of the oldest cities in Italy, enchanting Perugia’s history goes back to the time of the ancient civilization of the Etruscans. There are plenty of gems like the very old yet impressive architectural feat that is the Etruscan well and the very informative Museo Archeologico that will attract those who take their history seriously. For those who just love marveling at awe-inspiring churches and other ancient buildings, there are many sites to see like the unfinished San Lorenzo Church, the colorful Oratorio di San Bernardino, and the inspiring Church of San Pietro. The city is also well known as the host of the world-famous Umbria Jazz Festival, which takes place in July each year. Make sure to also stop by for a tour of the famous Perugina Chocolate Factory and you’ll get to sample some delicious creations by their master chocolatiers. Foodies must also make it a point to try the truffles, the salsiccia secca (dry sausage), pecorino (sheep’s milk) and caciotta (cow’s milk) cheeses, and porchetta (herb-filled pork roast), which are all simply divine.
Are you inspired to delve your senses into Italy? Follow this list for some of the most amazing and unique cities that will leave you with the unforgettable taste of magic. Buon viaggio!
Have you visited any of these cities in Italy? Share your experiences with us in the comments.