Italy is one of the most exciting destinations in Europe. In the country on the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean flair meets alpine mountains and historical sights. In fact, you can spend an unforgettable vacation full of joie de vivre and nostalgia among lush green vineyards, rugged coastlines, fragrant cypresses and olive groves, snow-covered mountains or ancient ruins. The special longing destination accommodates numerous possibilities for an exciting trip through Italy. During your trip you will discover special Italian cities. From rustic insider tips to well-known metropolises to important architectural masterpieces, everywhere you will feel the sociable looseness of the locals. In addition, you have the plus point of being able to enjoy the world-famous cuisine. In short, it’s “La Dolce Vita”! Now you can get inspiration for your vacation in Italy, let your mind wander and get to know only 36 of the best cities to visit in Italy.
Mantua is located in Lombardy, Italy. It enchants with historical city center surrounded by artificial lakes, which were once built to defend the city. Lively, full of sights – Mantova shows the autentic side of Italy. Mantua is located in the flat Po Valley between fields, farms and businesses.
The city center is medieval and the most important sights are Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza Sordello, Mantua Cathedral, Sant’Andrea Church, Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), Palazzo del Te and the House of Rigoletto. The city of Mantua can be easily explored on foot within a day. Mantua can be easily reached by bicycle from Lake Garda along the Mincio River. The nature reserve Parco del Mincio also attracts in the surrounding area away from mass tourism.
In the very south of Italy, in Puglia, is Taranto. It is located on the Ionian Sea, on the Gulf of Taranto, which is the inlet between the “boot heel” and the “sole” of the Apennine Peninsula. Taranto is called the “city of two seas” because two peninsulas in the Gulf of Taranto separate the Ionian Sea into the Great Sea and the Small Sea.
Taranto has many testimonies of the past. The old town is located on an island. There you can admire the remains of a Doric temple, dating back to the 4th century BC, as well as the remains of the Acropolis. The Castello Aragonese has a history of over a thousand years and extends triangularly into the sea. The impressive structure served to defend the city and at times as a prison. The hypogeum in the old town is located 14m under the street and has an area of 700m². It is divided into three levels.
In the new Taranto, the National Archaeological Museum is the most important attraction. The necropolises in today’s New Town consist of burial chambers and rock tombs spread over various sites. The Lungomare promenade in New Taranto and the marina attract many visitors.
Ravenna is one of the oldest cities in Emilia-Romagna and rich in history. It is located about ten kilometers from the Adriatic coast and has about 160,000 inhabitants.
Ravenna is best known for its Byzantine-influenced art in the form of mosaic products and embroidery, as well as its architecture, also Byzantine, which had a strong influence on the buildings of the Lombard pre-Romanesque period.
Eight buildings in the city that belong to precisely this Lombard pre-Romanesque period, including the church of San Vitale and the mausoleums of Theoderic and Galla Placidia, have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1996.
In addition, Ravenna has many other interesting museums, churches, city gates and other sights that can be discovered during a visit.
Catania on the island of Sicily, in the land of rich nature, art and culture, makes many a dream come true. Traces of the past, natural phenomena, a mixture of old and new makes the Catania vacation a dreamlike experience. The charming sea invites you to enjoy, the landscape is fertile and lush, a lush green of the forests and its elevations enchant the place.
Impressions, leisure activities and historical sights enrich the vacation days in Catanis. Dreams that sink into the sea do not exist here. A generous life and bustle with a lot of heart and friendliness causes a wonderful flair.
In addition to magnificent churches and squares, Catania preserved the Elephant Fountain with its obelisks as a landmark of the city. Renowned artists such as the composer Bellini play an important role for Catania. The house where he was born, in Piazza San Francesco, contains works of his oeuvre. An 18th century cathedral administers his tomb.
A little north of the cathedral, the Abbey of Sant’Agata astonishes. Not uninteresting is the Ursino Castle, built in 1240 for Frederick II, his royal residence and at the same time one of the largest prisons. A valuable impression of the sights is offered by the Benedictine monastery of San Nicola with its large dome in Baroque style.
Cremona is a city in Lombardy, Italy, on the left bank of the Po River in the middle of the Po Valley with 72,672 inhabitants. The city became famous in particular for the Amati, Bergonzi, Guarneri and Stradivari families of violin makers.
Cremona was founded in 218 BC by the Romans as an outpost against the Gallic tribes. The commune of Cremona was then mentioned for the first time in a document of 1098. Since then, the new possessions had to defend themselves in several wars against the neighboring municipalities.
The beautiful city is not only known for its violins, but also delights with its sights. Among the most important and beautiful places are the Cathedral, the Palazzo Comunale and the Violin Museum.
Bari as a province and city in Puglia has long since evolved from an insider tip to a popular vacation destination. The cultures of past centuries meet modern Mediterranean life in Bari in a region whose gentle, green hills slope down to the Adriatic Sea.
Bari, as the capital of the province of the same name and of the region of Puglia, together with five other administrative districts, forms the heel of the Italian boot on the Adriatic. Due to centuries of occupation by Arabs, Normans and other peoples, Bari displays a varied architecture. Evidence of the cultures can be seen, for example, in the 11th century Basilica of San Nicola. Several rulers have left their traces in this church. In the museum “Tesoro di San Nicola” valuable gifts to the church are kept.
The Castello Svevo di Bari dates back to the Middle Ages. Over a stone bridge you enter the immense fortress, which you should take a day to visit.
The metropolis of Vicenza in northern Italy impresses with Italian lightness and Mediterranean flair. Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio left his mark on it by creating grandiose buildings that are still the destination of visitors from home and abroad. Named “City of Palladio” by UNESCO and marveled by travelers, Vicenza invites to interesting discovery tours.
Vicenza, capital of the province of the same name, is located in the Italian region of Veneto about 65 km northwest of Venice. The first traces of settlement here date back to the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, and in 157 BC the Roman city was given the name Vincentia. After many centuries of sieges and reconstructions, the architect Andrea Palladio managed to make his mark on Vicenza with his incredible buildings.
Under his supervision, villas, palaces, statues and sacred buildings were built, many of which have survived the centuries and are still important landmarks in the city today. These include, for example, the Palazzo Barbaran da Porto and the Basilica Palladiana.
Even Goethe was enchanted by Vicenza on his famous “Italian Journey”, and he describes his impressions in said work. Today, guests traveling to the capital from all over the world spend many days discovering the incredible sights for themselves.
Far beyond the borders of Italy, Vicenza is known not only as a fashion metropolis, but also as a jewelry manufactory. Over 1,000 goldsmiths live and work in the city.
In northern Italy, in the eastern Po Valley, is the city of Ferrara. The city is located on the right bank of the Po River and is crossed by the tributary of the Po, the Po the Volano. Ferrara is located in the Emilia-Romagna region and is the capital of the province of Ferrara. Ferrara has about 135,000 inhabitants.
Ferrara is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, as the University of Ferrara was founded in 1391. Ferrara is an important economic and cultural center. Ferrara is the bicycle city of Italy. Almost 90% of the inhabitants use bicycles as a means of transportation. There are many bicycle-friendly streets and roads in the city, and many bicycle rentals.
Ferrara does not date back to Roman times, like most Italian cities. Ferrara was first mentioned in 754 AD and belonged to the Exarchate of Ravenna.
The historic center of Ferrara is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The extension of the city center was designed by court architect Biagio Rossetti and is considered the first modern urban planning in the world. A 9 km long city wall surrounds the city center. It is almost undamaged. The Castello Estense dates back to the time of the Este family. It has several moats.
The cathedral in Romanesque-Gothic style was built in the 12th century. Its tower (campanile) was never completed. Several noble palaces date from the Renaissance period. The Palazzo dei Diamanti got its name because its facade is studded with many white and pink marble prisms that shine like diamonds in the sun.
On the southeastern coast of Sicily is the ancient city of Syracuse, capital of the province of the same name. The city is located at the mouth of the rivers Anapo and Ciane. The 40-hectare island of Ortygia forms the core of the old town.
A narrow passage separates the island from the mainland. Ortygia has two natural harbors. The bridge Ponte Nuova connects Ortygia with the mainland. Syracuse has about 124,000 inhabitants.
The area around Syracuse was already populated in 1400 BC. Greek settlers from Corinth founded the city of Syracuse on the island of Ortygia in 734 BC.
Syracuse is a World Heritage Site. The fountain Fonte Aretusa is located on the island Ortygia and served as a source of fresh water even then. The center of the old town is Piazza Archimedes. It is framed by palaces from the 14th to 16th centuries, which include the Clock Palace, Palazzo Montalto and Palazzo Lanzo. The center of the square is the Fountain of Artemis.
The Temple of Apollo dates back to the 6th century BC. The remains of it can still be visited. At the southern tip of Ortygia is the Castello Maniace. The cathedral dates back to the 7th century A.D. and was built by rebuilding a temple. In the ancient new town there is an archaeological park, with an amphitheater where shows are still held in the summer.
The port city of Livorno is an austere Tuscan beauty with many facets. On the one hand, it is a world-famous trading city, on the other hand, a place of many historical sights. Countless canals that crisscross the old town also gave it the nickname “Venezia Nuovo”. Just like its sister in the northeast of Italy, Livorno is characterized by a lively atmosphere and Italian joie de vivre.
Livorno is one of the largest port cities in Italy and is located in the west of the Tuscany region directly on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
In 1421, the city was sold to Florence. Finally, around 1570, the Medici commissioned famous architects such as Buontalenti and Pieroni to design Livorno as the “ideal city” and rebuild it accordingly. As a result, marshes were drained and the connection between Livorno and Pisa known as the “Navicelli Canal” was built. The city attracted more and more merchants and businessmen and became the flourishing commercial center of the region.
Buontalenti and Pieroni built Livorno Cathedral in Piazza Grande, the center of the old town. The surrounding area is lined with other churches worth seeing. Cantagallina built the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista. On an octagonal plan, the Chiesa di Santa Caterina was built in “Venezia Nuovo”.
The center of the Salento peninsula in the extreme south of Italy is the baroque city of Lecce with its historical sights. In the university town of Lecce, which is also a center of the wine and tobacco trade, the Mediterranean way of life of southern Italy pulsates.
The cityscape of Lecce is characterized by baroque buildings from the 16th to 18th centuries, built from the soft tufa stone of the surrounding area. The foundation of the city in the extreme south of Italy dates back to the 13th century BC. According to legend, Malemnius founded Lecce in 1211 B.C. Evidence of the city’s history is rare, but the buildings indicate glorious times. The city experienced its heyday during the Western Roman Empire and in the late Middle Ages since the 14th century.
In Lecce, visitors will find numerous testimonies to the city’s long history. The oldest building is the Roman amphitheater in Piazza Sant’Oronzo. The only structure of its kind in Puglia, it was discovered and uncovered in the 1930s among other historic buildings. Visitors will also find buildings with beautiful Baroque facades throughout Lecce’s city center.
One of the most beautiful of these features the Basilica of Santa Croce. In Piazza del Duomo stands the Cathedral of Sant’Oronzo, whose interiors are as richly decorated as its facade. Otherwise, visitors should not miss the Baroque palaces in Via Libertini, the Bishop’s Palace and the Palazzo del Seminario.
Como attracts many visitors mainly due to its picturesque location on Lake Como. Located in the Swiss-Italian Ticino, it rests nestled in the Alps. The year-round pleasant climate also speaks for a stay in the city of about 85,000 inhabitants. Thus, thanks to fall winds, extreme temperatures are not reached even in summer. The mild climate also results in lush vegetation. In this interplay of colorfulness and alpine scenery, the alpine lake forms a popular vacation spot, which serves especially for recreation and relaxation.
The landmark of the city is certainly the Como Cathedral. Its construction was begun in 1396 and was completed with domes only in the 18th century. The Gothic facade gave it its current appearance in the 15th century. A great number of works of art adorn the exterior of the cathedral.
Two famous sons of the city were depicted in life size on the main portal: Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger. Not far from the cathedral is San Fedele, a 12th century church. The north portal of this inconspicuous church is on the street of the cathedral, and inside there are still some remains of the medieval church furnishings.
The southern Italian city of Matera is one of the oldest cities in the world. Its cave settlements, the Sassi, date back to the Middle Ages and are among the most important rock settlements in southern Europe. Since 1993, the Sassi of Matera have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The small town of Matera is located in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, which has so far been spared from mass tourism. Its breathtakingly beautiful location above the deep valley Gravina di Matera and its beautiful old town with countless caves make Matera a real tourist highlight.
The Sassi (rocks) of Matera are cave settlements carved in tufa, connected by a gigantic network of alleys and squares and by underground caves and passages. Once you have looked at the Sassi of Matera from the new town, you will not soon forget the sight. In the cave dwellings, which were cut deeper and deeper into the rocks over time, man and cattle lived together in a very confined space.
After the last inhabitants had left the Sassi and moved to newly built residential areas, the cave settlements were left to themselves for a long time and were thus exposed to decay. It was not until the 1980s that the historical value of this unique cave town began to be recognized and restoration of the district began. Today you can find exclusive hotels, trendy restaurants and original cafes in the Sassi. Artists and creative people maintain their studios and workshops here.
23. Martina Franca
Martina Franca is a fascinating town that almost seems to have sprung from an advertisement for Italy as a vacation destination. In the middle of the Valle d’Itria, the town is one of the most important commercial centers in the southern part of Puglia. Once, many businessmen and noblemen were attracted to the city, of which the magnificent palaces in the beautiful old town still bear witness today. Numerous churches were also built in the Baroque style in the cultural capital at that time. Surrounded by a magnificent landscape, Martina Franca towers over the Itria Valley and offers a fantastic panoramic view.
Thanks to its elevated position, Martina Franca overlooks the valley with its olive groves, orchards and vineyards. The town was inside a city wall with four gates and 24 watchtowers until 1861. Only the four baroque gates still remind us of that time. Outside the former city wall, new districts were built in the 19th century, where you can also admire some magnificent buildings.
In Piazza Roma stands one of the most beautiful palaces of Martina Franca, the 17th century Palazzo Ducale. The most striking features here are the iron balconies and the baroque facade.
Continue to Piazza Plebiscito, where you can see the real highlight of the city. The sand-colored facade of the Basilica di San Martino, built in 1747, is very elaborate. It was consecrated at that time to the patron saint St. Martin, who is also depicted on a relief at the entrance. Those who are interested in the Baroque style will find other beautiful sacred buildings in Martina Franca.
Northeast of the Lombard fashion metropolis of Milan lies the historically rich commercial city of Bergamo with its historic old town. Bergamo is the center of the province of the same name in northern Italy and a beautiful university city. The upper town with its historic center attracts the most visitors and is a protected historical monument.
Within the old city walls, Bergamo’s old town has many historical sights and beautiful squares to discover. The most beautiful and historic buildings are located around Piazza Vecchia on the hill of the old town, which is free of traffic and invites you to stroll and linger. The upper town of Bergamo is one of the most worth seeing places in Lombardy.
The city on the mountain looks back on a busy commercial history. The Gauls, Celts, Romans, Milanese or the Franks shaped the cultural epochs of the metropolis. To this day, the Città Alta has been preserved and attracts many Italian vacationers. Bergamo is a city with an interesting cultural history, which is also reflected in many culinary specialties from the region.
Polenta, as a traditional dish, plays a special role in the bourgeois eating habits. Since the end of the 19th century, the funicular railroad has connected the lower town (Citta Bassa) with the high town. The means of transportation is still very popular among citizens and tourists. A second funicular connects the upper town with the San Vigilio hill. With the funicular you can reach the castle of Bergamo. From the castle you have a great view over Bergamo and the region.
The large city of Cagliari is considered the heart of Sardinia and impresses with its Mediterranean climate. Cagliari is especially popular with visitors for its historical sights, picturesque harbor and quiet, well-kept beaches.
Directly on the gulf of the same name lies the beautiful port city of Cagliari. With about 160,000 inhabitants, the city is the largest city on the island of Sardinia. The highlight of the city is the historic old town, known as Castello. In addition, Cagliari has many quiet stretches of beach, which invite you to spend relaxing days by the sea.
Magnificent sacred buildings characterize the image of the city, including especially the impressive cathedral, the landmark of Cagliari. Favored by the pleasant climate, the magic of Italian nature is also evident here in a blooming plant splendor.
The old town of Cagliari is one of the most beautiful parts of the city. From here, vacationers have a magnificent view of the calm waters of the Gulf. The city’s many small squares with their cozy cafes and restaurants, as well as the historic buildings, make a stroll through Castello unforgettable. The most popular event in the city is the festival in honor of St. Ephesius, which is celebrated with a procession from the old town to the port.
In South Tyrol, too, you can already get a whiff of Mediterranean air: for example, if you make your way to the northern Italian city of Bolzano. Located at the foot of the Alps in the border triangle of Italy, Switzerland, Austria, the city offers excellent air, mountains, green landscapes as well as a mild climate. Here the traveler can spend a wonderful relaxing vacation.
Bolzano, with its population of about 103,000, is therefore often visited by people who, for example, have a very stressful job and simply need some relaxation. Couples’ trips also often go to the southern Italian city. Here it is usually quiet and dignified. Nevertheless, Bolzano itself has a lot to offer. Among other things, there are numerous castles, palaces and churches to discover. Bolzano also offers nice shopping opportunities.
A special feature of Bolzano is the fact that here the Mediterranean-Italian culture meets the German-Austrian culture. Accordingly, German is even partly spoken in Bolzano, even though the city is located in the intergenic territory. All in all, about 75 percent of the inhabitants of Bolzano state that their mother tongue is Italian, while about 25 percent consider German to be their mother tongue. Thus, Bolzano is a linguistic-cultural peculiarity in Italy as well as in the territory of South Tyrol.
The city of Parma has a population of about 200,000, is located about 85 km northeast of Bologna on the Po Valley, and is known today primarily for its food industry.
Home to Prosciutto di Parma ham and Parmesan cheese Parmigiano Reggiano, as well as the headquarters of pasta producer Barilla, the city is a leading economic center of Emilia-Romagna and Italy.
In addition, the city has more than 2,000 years of history and many monuments such as the Cattedrale Santa Maria Assunta, the Baptistery of San Giovanni and Palazzo Pilotta. Not far from the city you can visit the imposing castles Rocca di Fontanellato and Castello di Torrechiara.
Perugia is not only the largest, but also one of the most beautiful cities in Umbria. From the old town, situated on a 450m high hill, you have a fantastic view of the peaks of the Appenine Mountains, the surrounding villages and Lake Trasimeno.
Perugia was founded by the Etruscans in the 6th century and quickly developed into one of the most powerful cities of the Etruscan Empire. Today, imposing buildings such as the Etruscan city walls with the Porta Marzia and the Porta Trasimena as well as the Arco Etrusco still bear witness to this heyday and can easily be discovered during a walk through the cobblestone streets.
The heart of Perugia is Piazza Grande, where one of the most important monuments, the medieval fountain Fontana Maggiore, stands. Right next to it is the magnificent Palazzo dei Priori, where you can admire the collection of paintings of the National Gallery of Umbria.
If you want to explore the historic center of the Umbrian city, you can reach it in a very modern way. In the south of Perugia, there are long escalators that take visitors through the underground vaults of the Rocca Paolina and directly to the popular promenade, Corso Vannucci. Elegant boutiques, international clothing chains and traditional cafés such as Pasticceria Sandri are lined up here, inviting visitors to stroll and stop for a bite to eat. Things are a bit quieter in the narrow streets: Small grocery stores sell local specialties and cozy trattorias offer all kinds of culinary delights. In one of these alleys is also the beautiful Teatro Morlacchi, where concerts, theater and opera performances take place.
The port city of Palermo has much to offer for both bathers and culturally interested individual travelers. Beautiful sea bays and excursion destinations on mountain heights offer relaxation from everyday stress. Numerous sights such as churches, theaters and public places invite you to visit.
The capital of Sicily is the fifth largest city in Italy and the largest in Sicily. Palermo is located directly on the northern coast of Sicily on the Mediterranean Sea.
Palermo has a large number of magnificent buildings. Among them is the Cathedral of Palermo, with cathedral treasury and crypt. It was built in the Norman-Arabic style in 1184/1185. The Norman Palace is of the same architectural style. Formerly a royal palace, Palazzo Reale is now the seat of the Sicilian Parliament. It is considered one of the most beautiful European palaces.
For opera lovers, a visit to the Teatro Massimo in Piazza Giuseppe Verdi is worthwhile. Built in the classicist style, the Teatro is one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. In the center of the city is Palermo’s city hall with a large forecourt, Piazza Pretoria.
Here stands the great Fontana Pretoria, a beautiful Florentine fountain. Along Via Roma, many stores and boutiques provide a rich shopping experience. Also worth seeing are the two markets in Palermo dar. The selection of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and typical dishes is huge and very exotic. La Vurcira and Mercato Di capo convey to every vacationer the typical Sicilian hustle and bustle and life.
Framed by the Tuscan coast and the Garfagnana Mountains, Lucca is a city full of romance and contradictions. The pulsating heart of the old town, the impressive sights and the excursions into nature offer plenty of variety for art lovers, shopping enthusiasts and nature lovers. In addition, Lucca is home to one of the best olive oils Italy has to offer.
Early settlers recognized the extraordinary location between mountains and sea, which still makes Lucca a popular destination today. Centuries of changing rule have left their historical mark, making the small town a precious jewel of the Italian coast. To get an overview of the medieval town center, a walk along the city walls that frame the center is a good idea. From here, a wide view opens on the heart of Lucca as well as on the surrounding majestic mountains.
There is much to discover on a tour of Lucca. Among the oldest buildings in the city is the Cathedral of San Martino, located in the large Piazza San Martino. Piazza San Michele still has real Roman character. Once the inhabitants gathered here in the Forum, today it is considered one of the most distinguished areas of the city, because here are famous buildings such as Palazzo Pretorio.
The name Turin stands for the capital of the province of the same name in northwest Italy. It is a bit further to the sea from here, but the surroundings and the city itself quickly make up for this distance. Turin needs only a few minutes to leave a lasting impression on visitors.
Turin became famous primarily for its car manufacturing, as it is home to the Fiat plant, whose zippy small cars are so often associated with the laid-back life in Italy. Vacationers can get an overview of the city’s expanse atop the Lingotto Building, from which even the Alps can be seen on a clear day. The cityscape itself is characterized by grand palaces, castles and residences of former rulers. Turrets, battlements, columns and illuminated masterpieces of architecture appear again and again during a city walk through Turin.
The landmark of Turin is the structure of the Mole Antonelliana with the impressive height of 167 meters. With the Palazzina di Caccia Stupinigi, Turin is home to a building that is marked as a World Heritage Site. The reason for this can already be seen from the outside, as the palace seems to have sprung from a Walt Disney story. Things get exciting at the Duomo di San Giovanni of Turin, because the church building houses the famous Shroud of Turin: an artifact that has preoccupied church officials and conspiracy theorists for centuries.
Siena, the city in the center of Tuscany, according to legend, was founded by Senius, son of Remus and nephew of Romulus. It is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Over the centuries, Siena has maintained its wonderful atmosphere and is now a vacation destination for visitors from all over the world, who come to see its spectacular monuments and enjoy the Tuscan lightness that can be felt in every corner of the city.
Over the centuries, Siena developed into a jewel of Tuscany. Magnificent sacral buildings were erected and villas, castles and palazzi still characterize the cityscape today. The landmark of the city is the Cathedral of Siena, a magnificent example of Gothic architecture. Its foundation stone was laid at the beginning of the 13th century and is a work of art made of white and black marble.
The Gothic Palazzo Chigi houses Siena’s music conservatory, the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, while the Museum of Contemporary Art is located in the Palazzo delle Papesse. Spectacular temporary exhibitions attract visitors from all over the world.
In the middle of the roaring city center of Rome rests, as if in an oasis, the ancient remains of the Roman empire of power. Nestled among pines, oleanders and broom bushes, the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Capitol lie draped before the visitor as if on a stage.
Rome, the eternal city on the Tiber, built on seven hills in Lazio, is Italy’s number one tourist magnet. About five million travelers a year are attracted to the center of the former world empire. Today, Rome is still the political center and, with 2.7 million inhabitants, the largest city in Italy.
Its rich historical heritage is reflected in an immense variety of theaters, churches, museums, villas and parks that would indeed take a vacationer an eternity to visit. But this is not the only reason why visitors return to Rome again and again. Between lively venues and quiet old town alleys, Rome has an unspoiled, casual everyday and street life.
Today, things are more peaceful than they once were in the Colosseum on the Piazza di Spagna in the car-free old town. Along with the flower market “Campo de’ Fiori”, the baroque Piazza Navona and the Dolce Vita fountain “Fontana di Trevi”, it is the romping place for romantics and lovers. Sitting, looking, kissing is a tradition there. The Via del Corso in the immediate vicinity entices you to stroll along the noble designer and jewelry stores.
Within Rome is the Vatican City. As an independent and smallest state in the world, its territory includes St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Palace and the Vatican Museums. St. Peter’s Basilica attracts tourists from all over the world, especially at Easter time.
Among the many popular destinations in Italy, the name Trieste rarely appears. This may be due to the fact that the port city has a peripheral location, which most have not yet recognized as an advantage. All the better, because Trieste remains an affordable destination on the Adriatic Sea, which convinces with imposing buildings and a charming city center.
For many centuries, the Italian Trieste belonged to the Austrians, who had an ideal access to Italy through the large port. This period allowed the university city to flourish, as the foreign rulers pushed the construction of palaces and opera houses. Nevertheless, Trieste never managed to rise out of the shadow of great cities like Venice or Rome.
However, this was also an advantage, because even today there is an extraordinary flair here, which is underlined by the cheerfulness and friendliness of the inhabitants. In addition, vacationers can change countries quickly and easily, because it is only a few kilometers to Slovenia.
The location of the capital of Friuli-Venezia Giulia is unique. Located in a wide sea bay, it is protected from strong winds and offers a scent of sea and freedom.
Pisa as a destination offers many sides that want to be discovered. History and modern life meet here harmoniously. Seemingly irreconcilable contrasts merge in Pisa into a magical vacation setting.
Probably the most important and imposing square in Pisa is the Square of Miracles, the “Piazza dei Miracoli”, in the north of the city. The cathedral with the Leaning Tower as a free-standing bell tower, the Baptistery, the enormous cemetery complex of the Camposanto and two museums are located in this square. The construction of this ensemble was begun in 1064 from white Carrara marble.
Important works of art from the 11th to 14th centuries are kept in the Cathedral Museum. There are four medieval districts: San Francesco includes the residences of the Medici and Borghese. In San Martino, one walks among magnificent palaces and gardens. In Sant’Antonio, the attraction are the paintings of the “Murales” by Keith Haring. In Santa Maria are the Medici Arsenal, the Botanical Garden and the University of Pisa.
Pisa is home to a university and two colleges, which are among the best teaching institutions in Italy. About half of Pisa’s 90,000 inhabitants are students. During the semesters, the atmosphere in the city is correspondingly lively, cheerful and bustling.
The alleys and squares of Pisa, with their numerous cafés and restaurants, offer wonderful places to enjoy Tuscan cuisine.
Even Goethe was fascinated by the authentic port city of Naples and the charming landscape of the surrounding province. Whatever the traveler is looking for – a walk on the beach, archaeological sensations, culinary highlights or eventful shopping tours – Naples delights its guests. But one may also simply “just” relax perfectly here, at the foot of the famous Vesuvius.
The Naples region is the most inviting example of the typical Italian, warm ambience. Small alleys wind between historic buildings and lead to world-famous buildings such as the Cathedral of San Gennaro, attraction of tourists for the annual Miracle of the Blood.
Countless small artisan workshops and souvenir stores offer material reminders of an unforgettable stay in the heart of the port city. Besides famous attractions such as Castel Nuovo, Santa Chiara, Palazzo Reale and Galleria Umberto, there are dozens of underground catacombs and unique museums to wander.
Naples is also the name of the region surrounding the lively port city on the gulf of the same name. Towering over everything, the famous Vesuvius dominates the wonderful view. The active volcano just a few kilometers outside the city kept the city’s inhabitants on tenterhooks during its last eruption in 1944. In 79 BC, it caused the sinking of Pompeii.
For friends of culinary delights, the Neapolitan cuisine offers a unique taste firework of spices and fresh ingredients. Nowhere else in Italy are delicious pizzas, homemade pasta and fresh seafood served in a grandiose and loving way.
The industrial and university city of Modena, with its beautiful historic city center, is the third largest city in Emilia-Romagna with a population of just under 190,000.
The main attraction of the old city center is Piazza Grande with the Romanesque Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo e San Geminiano and its 88-meter-high freestanding bell tower (Torre Ghirlandina).
Modena is also home to the automobile manufacturer Maserati. Not far from the city, however, are the other major Italian car companies Ferrari in Maranello, Lamborghini in Sant’Agata Bolognese and Pagani in San Cesario sul Panaro. Another export hit of the city is the famous balsamic vinegar Aceto Balsamico di Modena.
The major Italian city of Genoa is the capital of the Liguria region and has about 800,000 inhabitants. Due to the numerous historical sights throughout the city and the many cultural institutions, the city is one of the most popular destinations in Italy. The picturesque old town of Genoa is the largest in Europe and impresses with its imposing buildings. Among the most impressive attractions are the boulevards Le Strade Nouve with the Palazzi dei Rolli. Also worth seeing is the city’s old port, where visitors will find many small cafes and inviting restaurants to linger in comfort.
Genoa’s lighthouse is located on the San Benigno hill high above the city. Due to its elevated position, it can be easily seen from any direction and should definitely be visited during a stay. With its height of 77 meters, the tower is the highest European lighthouse and has two large viewing platforms. Visitors have a fantastic view of the old town and the port of Genoa from here.
Via di San Lorenzo is the main street of the old town. Visitors will find here mainly small stores and boutiques that score with Italian specialties and souvenirs. From the old town there is also a direct passage to the old port and Piazza De Ferrari with its famous fountain. Last but not least, guests can visit the historic fortifications of Genoa in the old town as well as the city wall from the 12th century, which is well preserved in large parts.
“And love dares what love can do,” says William Shakespeare’s masterpiece Romeo and Juliet. In Verona, the northern Italian setting of the world’s best-known love story, people still dare what love can do today. Preferably on Juliet’s balcony and forever. For many tourists it is cult to marry on the balustrade of Juliet’s residence. There, where Romeo once swore his love to her on a ladder at night.
Even today, Juliet, the adored one, receives letters delivered to the “Casa di Giulietta”, one of Verona’s landmarks. There is no doubt that Verona, along with Venice, is considered “the” destination for romantics. And those who don’t want to get married can enjoy a relaxing weekend in the UNESCO-protected old town with its numerous galleries, museums and churches.
Verona also stands for passion like no other city because of the opera. The world-famous festival takes place every July to September in the “Arena di Verona” in the historic center at Piazza Brà. Every two or three days, classics such as Verdi’s Nabucco, La Traviata and Rigoletto or Puccini’s Turandot and Tosca are performed in the ancient amphitheater, which is 140 meters long and 110 meters wide.
A stone’s throw from the arena and Julia’s home, the marble-paved Via Mazzini beckons visitors to take a stroll. It is the link between Piazza Brà and Piazza delle Erbe. The latter was a marketplace and meeting place in the Middle Ages. From this era you can still find here old buildings, frescoed facades and fountains. Together they create a noble shopping ambience.
Once, as today, a seaside resort on the Italian Adriatic with roots from a time beyond imagination. Between the historic squares and alleys of the city, modern life rages, delighting culture lovers and seaside vacationers alike.
In 268 BC, Rimini was founded by colonists who were commissioned by the Roman Senate to secure this strategically important place. Rimini was framed by Ariminus, which today is called Mareccia, and another river, which today runs underground. The city was therefore attackable only from land. The Montanara city gate was built for defense. It was rebuilt from original bricks on what is now Via Garbibaldi and is one of many ancient structures in the city.
Life in Rimini can be felt in the Roman Piazza Tre Martiri and the medieval Piazza Cavour, popular meeting places for locals and visitors. The 18th-century fish market across from Palazzo dell’Arengo is home to many small cafes and restaurants. Lovingly restored, the huge Sismondo Castle dating from 1437 is used as a venue. The Malatesta Temple is a Renaissance monument to the love of the ruler Sigismondo and his wife Isotta.
Rimini has about 250 beach resorts. People gather here day and night for swimming, sunbathing, eating, drinking and partying.
Lively Milan in northern Italy blends modernity, musical traditions and fashion all in one. Its historic commercial center, the magnificent 19th-century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, is like an opera house in itself. It is a wonderful place to stroll and store. The refined robes of Armani, Gucci, Versace or Valentino can be found in these richly decorated halls as well as in the luxurious shopping street Via Monte Napoleone. Those who shop posh in Milan also love to show off their new clothes in the evening in the elegant restaurants and casual bars.
The world-famous opera house “La Scala” is also a must for culture fans. Passion is celebrated here and the grand entrance is guaranteed, just like the Italian way of life. Those who do not come to “Milano” for shopping, like to visit the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie with da Vinci’s world-famous “Last Supper”, the Milan Cathedral or the fortress of the Dukes of Milan “Castello Sforzesco.
Milan’s cityscape is characterized by banks, stores and publishing houses. They are employers not only for people from the Lombardy region, but from all over Italy. Quite a few weekend commuters have a second home here, quite a few fashion students and design students from all over the world are drawn here. The business metropolis is correspondingly creative, modern, party-loving and urban.
The lagoon city of Venice appears fairytale-like and surreal. Built on millions of wooden piles around 500 AD, it gives the impression of floating on the water. Venice is rich in history, charm, art and traditions. Playful domes, noble palaces, gondolas and liners characterize the image of the water-washed city. The splendor of a playful Renaissance architecture meets the visitor here at every turn. Especially since Venice is small enough to be explored on foot.
Seen from the air, the silhouette of Venice resembles a fish formed by 118 small islands. Running through the middle of this “fish” is the Grand Canal, the city’s longest and most beautiful waterway. It runs like a four-kilometer-long snake under Venice’s 400 bridges. One of them leads to the magnificent St. Mark’s Square in the old town. Where spices and luxury goods once arrived by ship, making the republic of “La Serenissima” (“The Most Serene”) unimaginably rich, travelers from all over the world now arrive.
Despite of millions of visitors a year, Venice’s 60,000 inhabitants maintain their traditions. For a chat, mostly men meet in small bars, away from St. Mark’s Square, for an “ombra”. This is the name given to the local prosecco, which is drunk both as an aperitif and with food. It is accompanied by fish and meatballs, baccal (stockfish), octopus, polenta and mussels. If visitors want to experience an authentic Venice, they should try these delicacies away from San Marco, despite its architectural beauty. And explore on your own in small alleys what is genuine and typical.
If you want to experience genuine Italian life, Cesena is the best place to do it. With its piazza, the central fountain from the Renaissance, the narrow streets and the terracotta roofs, Cesena seems to have sprung from a glossy magazine for Italian travel.
Yet the town south of Ravenna in Emilia-Romagna is anything but a tourist stronghold. On the contrary, in the small town on the Savio River, you’re unlikely to come across any guided tour groups. Occasionally, an individual tourist will stray into Cesena.
It is actually surprising that the town is hardly mentioned in any travel guide, since Cesena is home to the oldest library in Europe that is open to the public.
The Biblioteca Malatestiana was donated in the 15th century by the Malatesta family, who also had their castle built in Cesena. As the most influential family in the region, the Malatesta furnished the library according to the most modern criteria of their time.
A particular feature is that even today the reading room does not have modern lighting or a heat source. But instead, the Biblioteca Malatestiana boasts ancient manuscripts that are unique in the world.
The Malatestina family has left its unmistakable mark on Cesena. This becomes particularly clear when visiting the Rocca Malatestiana, the seat of the family. The castle is slightly elevated above the town, surrounded by cypresses and pine trees. The family built their fortress in the 15th century. Over time, thick defensive walls were added, generously surrounding the area and transforming the dwelling into a bulwark.
With just under 400,000 inhabitants, Bologna is the seventh largest city in Italy and the capital of Emilia-Romagna. It is located about 60 km from the Adriatic coast at the foot of the Apennines.
The city has three nicknames, which together very aptly describe its character. “La Rossa” (The Red) because of its red brick buildings, “la Dotta” (The Scholar) because of its famous university and “la Grassa” (The Fat) because of its substantial food.
Among the most important monuments of Bologna are the two towers Torre Garisenda and Torre degli Asinelli, the central square Piazza Maggiore, the churches of San Petronio and San Pietro, and numerous arcades and museums.
On a hill outside the city center, near Casalecchio di Reno stands the impressive sanctuary Santuario della Madonna di San Luca.
Anyone who has ever visited the Renaissance metropolis of Florence knows that the Tuscan city of art on the Arno usually presents itself in two guises. During the day, it is firmly in the hands of tour groups and excursionists. In the evening, when it is quiet, it belongs to the romantics. Lovers like to walk on the historic bridge “Ponte Vecchio” and look for a friendship ring in one of the numerous jewelry stores.
Many art and language students living in Florence are drawn out into the night by moonlight, guitar in hand. Then they sing extensively in the city’s squares and palace staircases. A glass of Chianti and some almond pastries are part of the celebration.
For centuries, Florence has attracted artists and art enthusiasts from all over Italy. But it was the dynasty of the Medici merchant family that made the artistic boom of this Tuscan city possible in the early 15th century. Some claim that it was under the Medicis that the modern age began in Europe. Thanks to the politically influential patrons, they used their free spirit and wealth to bring ingenious talents to the city-state of the time.
These include, for example, the universal artists Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, the poet Boccaccio and the architect Brunelleschi. The latter’s masterpiece is the complex and world-famous dome construction of Florence Cathedral. These artists inspired and surpassed each other in their works, making Florence the engine of the art world of the time.
Today the unique legacy of the Medici can be admired in the “Uffizi”. The treasury of this family houses, among others, world-famous paintings such as the “Birth of Venus” by Boticelli or “The Annunciation” by da Vinci.