The 11 Most Beautiful Cities in Italy
It’s hard to narrow down the most beautiful cities in Italy, but here are my favorite! With a pleasant Mediterranean climate and prime locations near picturesque villages and vast vineyards, you’ll find plenty to do in and nearby these historic cities.
Not to mention all you can eat in Italy. Enjoy freshly made pasta, the fresh flavors of Italian gelato and an extensive after dinner with a glass of Italian wine. Already in the mood for vacation?
Enjoy my picks for the best cities in Italy for a nice weekend break!
11 Beautiful Cities to Visit in Italy
The romantic city of Verona is located in northern Italy. The city is especially famous for Casa di Giulietta, the home where Shakespeare’s Juliette would have lived. Although it’s famous balcony was only added in the 20th century, you feel like Juliette when you stand on the balcony.
From here, you can look down into the courtyard where the amount of tourists may negate the romance. Need some romantic help? According to legend you will find happiness in love when you touch the right breast of the bronze Julia statue in the courtyard of Casa di Giulietta.
Verona has even more to offer besides these Shakespearean highlights. Stroll through the lively streets to Piazza delle Erbe for example. The forum of the city was once to be found on this market square. When you now walk across the square you almost always see a market. There is plenty to see on this square, so be sure to take a seat on one of the terraces and enjoy watching people.
Piazza Bra is also a beautiful square, and even one of the largest in Italy, where people watching is a party. Many restaurants and terraces behind which colorful buildings come form the street scene. When you are here, be sure not to miss Palazzo Barbieri and Palazzo Della Gran Guardia. Both are impressive buildings that border Piazza Bra.
One of my best memories is watching an Opera in the age-old Arena. Although I didn’t understand a word of it, it was completely romantic!
As the largest port city, Genoa in north-west Italy is a pleasant, lively destination. Thanks to its location, Genoa already played an important role at the time of the Roman Empire, so there is still a lot of history to see when you walk through the streets.
Thanks to their port, Genoa has been a prosperous city over the centuries. You can still see that when you walk past the many palaces. Palazzo Reale is one of them. In this 17th-century palace, now also a museum, the frescoes and other artifacts are particularly well preserved. Palazzo Reale is an impressive appearance both inside and out.
Just like in most Italian cities, Genoa also has a town square. You immediately look your eyes out at Piazza de Ferrari. Your attention is drawn to the center: a large, well-kept fountain. There are various sights around Piazza de Ferrari.
Discover one of the other grand palaces, Palazzo Ducale and the Carlo Felice theater, rebuilt after the Second World War, as you walk across Piazza de Ferrari. Walk as much as possible (with a gelato in your hand, of course) from one location to another and on the way look your eyes out in the atmospheric Italian streets and alleys that give Genoa color.
The location of Bologna is wonderful for city trips and longer trips. The city with a rich cultural and historical center lies at the foot of the Apennine Mountains. A trip to the area around Bologna is therefore just such a picture as Bologna itself.
The very first signs of Bologna date from the first century BC. An unreal idea that the streets you walk on have seen so much already. Equally unreal are the well-preserved buildings that have formed the old town for centuries.
Stroll around Piazza Maggiore with an ice cream in hand towards the famous Torre degli Asinelli and Torre Garisenda. Climb the Torre degli Asinelli and enjoy a spectacular view of Bologna. Near the two towers you will find Museo della Storia di Bologna. Don’t miss this museum if you would like to discover more about the history of the city in an interactive way.
End the day with a plate of fresh pasta on one of the terraces and enjoy the sun shining over “La Rossa.” The reflection of the sun on the many red bricks that form the center of the city gives a beautiful sight. Moreover, you immediately understand where the title “La Rossa” comes from.
Florence, the capital of the famous Tuscany region, can almost be called an open-air museum. In 59 BC, Julius Caesar founded Florence as a place to live where his soldiers could go after their service.
Florence eventually developed into a renaissance city. It is still one of the most important Italian cities when it comes to art and construction from that period. The Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) is one of the most distinctive buildings in the city, still to be visited and also typical of the recurring architectural style.
One of the sights that should not be missed during your visit to Florence is Palazzo Pitti. Italy has a lot of beautiful palaces and also in this city it is worth to visit one. Palazzo Pitti once started as the home of a very prosperous family and has even been Napoleon Bonaparte’s home for a while. Admire the huge building with your own eyes and walk into the Boboli Gardens afterwards. In these gardens you can escape from the bustle of the city.
Milan is primarily known as an important fashion and football city, but it certainly has more to offer. The city in northern Italy is one of the most important cities in the country, because many large companies are located here. In addition, the Italian stock exchange is also in Milan.
The city is filled with impressive historic buildings such as the Duomo Santa Maria Nascente. In one of the largest Roman Catholic cathedrals in the world you hardly know where to look as rich as the cathedral is built.
The so-called Golden Quadrangle is located in the Monte Napoleone district. The name already indicates that you need a nice bank account for the stores in this Milan shopping area. A nice area to walk through and look around. To stay in the shopping theme you walk towards Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The question remains whether the stores are more affordable there. What this location offers at least affordable (free) is the view of the richly constructed passage. The large glass dome and the mosaic floor inlaid with special marble provide a beautiful picture that no luxury store can beat.
Rome is perhaps the most famous city break destination in Italy. And rightly so, because the city is a nice mix of historic buildings, delicious food, atmospheric streets and all combined with (usually) nice weather.
The Colosseum, Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain are some of the famous sights when you think of Rome. Certainly not skip, because they are all dreamy locations in Rome. Throw a coin in the fountain, imagine yourself in ancient Rome when you stand in Roman Forum and admire the immense amphitheater where many battles took place.
As the largest city in Italy, Rome has a rich history. According myth, Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus in 753 BC. Many years later, the city became an important papal location.
You can still find the papal back in Rome. At least, in the Vatican City, completely surrounded by Rome. The Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world and very easy to visit when you are in Rome. It is a popular destination, so keep in mind the amount of traffic and plan ahead. This way you avoid having to stand in line for hours in front of the iconic St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Italian city of Trieste lies on the border of Slovenia. On the spot where the Cathedral of San Giusto sits, was founded in the 1st century AD. Emperor Vespasian then gave it the name Tergeste, and so the rich history of this city began. Both during the First and Second World War, many Italians and Slovenes fled in both directions, giving the inhabitants of Trieste very different backgrounds.
In addition to the cathedral of San Giusto you will also find the castle of San Giusto in Trieste. Easy to visit together, because they are a stone’s throw from each other. When you walk through the streets of Trieste and head towards the castles, you immediately see that the view of the city is becoming more beautiful.
Miremare Castle, for example, lies on the Gulf of Trieste, which is an exceptional sight from the castle itself, but also when standing outside the castle. It is an impressive place where it is hard to imagine that people actually lived here.
Not far from Verona is the lagoon that we call Venice. If you have ever been to Venice of the Netherlands, Giethoorn, you will immediately understand where that title comes from when you arrive in real Venice. It is a special city with many bridges that makes the road to the other parts of Venice accessible. On the water, seeing Venice is of course also possible, but is especially recommended when it is a little quieter in the city. It is therefore a destination that you better visit outside the high season due to crowds.
Although the city is known as an expensive destination you can see a lot without spending money on sights. Stroll around St Mark’s Square, admire St Mark’s Basilica from the outside and immediately see the impressive Doge’s Palace when you’re on St Mark’s Square.
If you want to go somewhere, be prepared so that you don’t have to waste much time waiting. That does not apply to the most beautiful churches that are scattered in the neighborhoods of Venice. Take a look at Il Redentore designed as a thank you for the end of the plague epidemic or the first Renaissance church in Venice: Chiesa di San Michele in Isola.
Naples is one of the port cities in Italy and also the largest in southern Italy. Just like many other port cities, Naples has a rich history. In addition, the city has endured several eruptions of Vesuvius. The same volcano covered nearby Pompeii under a thick layer of volcanic ash. You can drive from Naples to Pompei in around 30 minutes, which makes it easy to combine the two during your visit to southern Italy.
That Naples is a special destination is evident when you walk into Galleria Borbonica. Once laid out as a tactical underground route through which the royal family could escape, it has since been well restored, so that you can now look your eyes out. Above ground Naples shows itself from a beautiful side when you visit Castel Nuovo. The large medieval castle is in a colorful location in Naples, which makes it a spectacular whole.
The island of Sicily is located in southern Italy. Although it is an autonomous region, it still belongs to Italy and the capital Palermo should certainly not be missing in the list of the most beautiful Italian cities.
History also goes far back in Palermo. Around 7th century BC, it was founded as a colony that formed the basis for Palermo now. Over the centuries, many architectural styles have been reviewed, which means that Palermo has many interesting sights.
One of the most beautiful places in Palermo is Piazza Pretoria, located in the historic center of the city. On the square stands the Fontana Pretoria, an impressive fountain decorated with many statues. The nickname Piazza della Vergogna also comes from those images. Namely, it means “square of shame” which refers to the fact that almost all of the images are naked. Walk from Piazza Pretoria towards Santa Caterina, a beautiful church that borders Piazza Bellini on the other side.
The lovely city of Sorrento is located on the Sorrentina peninsula. As part of the Amalfi coast, Sorrento also has a beautiful green environment and a rich (cultural) history. Although it is a popular destination, there is also a certain calmness from this southern location. Take a leisurely stroll through the sunny, colorful streets, enjoy local wines on the terraces and also taste the local snacks and dishes such as olives and citrus fruits.
Villa Comunale, the largest park in Sorrento, is a relaxing place to walk through. Look out over the bay and enjoy the view. Museum Correale also has such a beautiful view. In addition to a collection of works by artists, the building itself is also worth a visit. The museum is an old patrician villa where you can enjoy the bay at Sorrento from the terrace. Admire the cathedral of Sorrento for another beautiful piece of Italian architecture.
And there you have it: the eleven most beautiful cities in Italy. But I could still includea whole lot, what about Lucca, Rimini, Sienna, Lecce, Perugia, and San Gimignano?
In short: you can enjoy yourself in Italy for years and you are not bored. Lots of fun!
What do you think is the most beautiful cities in Italy?
General Travel Tips
- For accommodation, I always check Airbnb or Booking.com for the best prices.
- If your insurance at home doesn’t cover travel, you may want to look into SafetyWing for an affordable option.
- I always recommend checking Get Your Guide for the best tours in Europe and Tiqets for specific attraction deals.