Our Favorite Places
to Visit in Italy

Our Favorite Places
to Visit in Italy

For many, a trip to Italy is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Trying to visit an entire country inside of a week is an overwhelming task. Instead of trying to "see it all," consider focusing on an itinerary that features the "best of" Italy. Visiting the major cities of Florence, Rome, and Venice, you'll find you get a genuine taste of this iconic country.

Still, before choosing your tour to Italy, you should familiarize yourself with the lay of the land. It's actually a pretty large country, covering some 116,000 square miles. Italy is divided into five main regions: the Northwest Region, Northeast Region, Central Region, South Region, and the Island Region. Even more, each of these is then divided into at least 20 smaller regions. So it's good to know where you want to go.

Suppose you already have in mind the cities and landmarks of Italy you want to see and the experiences you want to have. In that case, it's a good idea to find a trip that covers the regions you'd like to visit. Let's say you've always wanted to eat gelato in Rome; then, you'll want to focus on the Central Region of Italy. You know you have to see Cinque Terre's colors, so you'll want to visit the Northwest Region. Looking to celebrate an anniversary with a gondola ride through the canals of Venice? Make sure the tour you pick travels through the Northeast Region of Italy.

Luckily, most guided vacations cover the top sites and destinations. You can be in Rome one day and Venice the next. Taking a tour of Italy means you don't have to plan how to get to each region to see what you want. And, fortunately, if you fall in love with a specific area, you can plan your next trip to discover even more of what the region offers. Because it's true, you'll find you can never get enough of Italy once you go.

Top Travel Destinations in the Northwest Region of Italy

Vernazza, Cinque Terra, Italy

Cinque Terre

If you're looking to visit Cinque Terre, you'll head northwest to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cinque Terre translates to "Five Lands," the small coastal villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. Famous for the colorful, cliff-hugging houses, overlooking the blue sea below, Cinque Terre is also the best place to try Italian anchovies. The small fish are prepared here in such a unique way that they've earned a regional distinction – similar to the wine classifications of Italy. You can spend time in the charming and picturesque fishing village of Manarola, then cruise along the rugged coast to explore Monterosso's medieval quarter and popular sandy beach. 

Lake Garda in the Lake District, Italy

The Acosta Valley

If you want to see the Alps while in Italy, you're going to want to travel to the Acosta Valley. Italy shares a border with France and Switzerland. If you've seen pictures of the Swiss Alps, imagine similar on the Italian side of the border – jagged peaks and beautiful scenery. You'll also get to take in exquisite views of the Alps while visiting Italy's Lake District.

Italy Lake District Como Mountains Town Water Landscape Colorful Houses Daytime Sunny Alps

The Italian Lakes

Italy's exquisite Lake District is home to scenic Lake Como, Lake Garda, and Lake Maggiore. The Italian Lakes have been a favorite summer retreat in Italy for centuries. Visit the charming town of Baveno, Italy, on Lake Maggiore's shores. Soak up the picture-perfect setting of Italy's largest lake, Lake Garda, with its 13th-century Scaliger Castle and the Grottoes of Catullus. One of the best parts of visiting the Italian Lakes is sampling the delicious local olive oils and cheese at local markets.

Milan Cathedral at night, Italy

Milan

Synonymous with "fashion," every couture-lover will want to plan a stop to Milan during their Italian voyage. Not into fashion? Milan also shines when it comes to art and culture. Here you'll find Leonardo Da Vinci's famed "The Last Supper" as well as the La Scala Opera House and one of the world's largest Gothic cathedrals.

Top Travel Destinations in the Northeast Region of Italy

Gondola and hat hanging on pole, Venice, Italy

Venice

Of course, one of the main draws of a visit to Venice is a gondola ride through the Grand Canal, complete with singing gondoliers. A city built on canals, many believe there is no place in Italy more beautiful than Venice. Located in Northeast Italy, Venice is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea and is actually made up of an archipelago of more than 100 islands connected by breathtaking bridges and canals. Often revered as one of the most romantic cities in Italy, Venice's architecture is complemented by pleasant temperatures year-round.

The Best Things to Do in Venice
Italy Bologna Kissing Towers Asinelli Garisend Street Buildings

Bologna

Bologna is known for its "Kissing Towers," Asinelli and Garisend, which lean towards each other, seemingly poised to embrace. Perhaps it's better known for the famous and delicious bolognese sauce - named for the city. It's no wonder, though, as many incredible foods are made here, including salamis, balsamic vinegar, and the much-beloved parmesan cheese. Bologna's Piazza Maggiore is home to the Fountain of Neptune and the Basilica di San Petronio. Both absolutely not to be missed. 

Italy Verona Juliet Balcony Shakespeare Ari Fam Building (1)

Verona

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene...A beautiful city and the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. On the edge of the city of Verona, you'll find a theater that resembles Rome's colosseum - performances now held only by candlelight. Walk the narrow cobblestones streets lined with high-fashion shops and you'll most likely find yourself in the center of town at the Piazza. Drinking water still pours out of fountains and the stalls offer everything from trinkets to fruit. Of course, as you are in Verona, you should stop by Juliet's balcony. Notes and messages line the walls to the courtyard where Juliet's statue stands, bronze under the small balcony.

Must-See Sights in the Central Region of Italy

The governmental seat and capital of Italy, Rome is simply a must-do for every tourist. Besides housing famed ancient monuments like the Colosseum, Rome is also home to Vatican City, the central geographical home to Catholicism and home of the Pope and hierarchy of the Catholic faith.

For the artist in you, Florence is world-renowned as a center for art. Many of the museums are free to visit, and most showcase an impressive assortment of canvas, stone, and other mediums. 

Of course an absolute must-see in the central region of Italy is the Basilica Papale e Sacro Convento di San Francesco d'Assisi. The lower church holds the Tomb of St. Francis of Assisi and you can see how the saint lived his modest life. The upper church sits high above the town. Among the treasures of the basilica is the colorful ceiling and Giotto’s frescoes that tell the story of St. Francis of Assisi.

Colosseum in the evening, Rome, Italy

Rome

The governmental seat and capital of Italy, Rome is simply a must-do for every tourist. Besides housing famed ancient monuments like the Colosseum, Rome is also home to Vatican City, the central geographical home to Catholicism and home of the Pope and hierarchy of the Catholic faith.

The Best Things to Do in Rome
Aerial view of Assisi, Italy

Assisi 

Of course an absolute must-see in the central region of Italy is the Basilica Papale e Sacro Convento di San Francesco d'Assisi. The lower church holds the Tomb of St. Francis of Assisi and you can see how the saint lived his modest life. The upper church sits high above the town. Among the treasures the basilica is the colorful ceiling and Giotto’s frescoes that tell the story of St. Francis of Assisi.

Italy Tuscany Hillside Cypress Trees Lake Vineyard Castle Sunset

Tuscany

In the Central Region of Italy, you'll find perhaps the most beloved of Italy’s smaller regions, Tuscany. The area is probably what most people imagine when they picture Italy outside its cities with its rolling hillsides topped with those famous cypress trees. The gorgeous landscapes here are home to some of the best vineyards and olive groves in the world. While traveling through Tuscany, it's imperative that you try the lush and complex Chianti, considered one of the best red wines in the world. Along with the art mecca of Florence, Tuscany is where you'll find Pisa and the Square of Miracles, home to the incredible Leaning Tower and beautifully sculpted marble Cathedral.

Duomo in Florence, Italy

Florence

For the artist in you, Florence is world-renowned as a center for art. Many of the museums are free to visit, and most showcase an impressive assortment of marble, canvas, stone, and other mediums. Plus, it's here that The Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell'Accademia hold their iconic treasures. The marvels of Florence also include the striking Piazza della Signoria with its impressive sculptures and palazzi, the multi-colored marble Duomo and Baptistery, and the artistic contributions of the Medici you'll find at every turn. 

The Southern Region of Italy

Been there, done that? If this isn’t your first trip to Italy, or if you’re just looking for a bit of a different flavor to your travels, Italy isn’t made up of just the big three tourist cities. Check out these gorgeous cities in Southern Italy. 

Italy Naples Bay Of Naples View From Castel Dell Ovo

Naples

Situated on the sea in southern Italy, Naples is the birthplace of Italian dining staples like pizza, spaghetti, and parmigiana, so it makes a great place to enjoy authentic cuisine. Also offering a vibrant shopping and dining scene and pleasant temperatures well into the fall, this is a great place to visit in the offseason.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi Coast

If you want the best beaches in Italy, almost every expert will tell you these are the shores to see. Located in the south of Italy, the Amalfi Coast is highly regarded for its picturesque vistas and ritzy resorts. This is certainly the place to see and be seen.

Columns in Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii

A great side trip on your visit to Rome, Pompeii is famed for being lost under several feet of volcanic ash for more than 1,700 years following a massive eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. While the excavation of the site began in the 1700s, excavation is not yet complete. This means each visit has the potential to showcase a new Pompeii. A walk through the cobbled streets offers an unaltered look into Italy’s past.

The Island Region of Italy

Been there, done that? If this isn’t your first trip to Italy, or if you’re just looking for a bit of a different flavor to your travels, Italy isn’t made up of just the big three tourist cities. Check out these gorgeous cities in Southern Italy. 

Valley of the Temples, Taormina, Sicily, Italy

Sicily

While there are other islands in Italy worth the visit, if you're looking for an Island adventure, don’t rule out Sicily. The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea is separated from the mainland by a simple 2-mile ferry ride. Sicily is rich in art and cultural history. Famous for its fresh, island fare, the island smells of sunshine and lemons. In fact, if you've seen a photo of lemons in Italy - more than likely, you're looking at an image of somewhere in Sicily. While on the island don’t miss out on seeing Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano. If you’ve already been to Italy, you might want to consider a trip focused on the history and culture of this incredible island.