Places To Visit In Italy

by pkmcr

I had the very good fortune to live in Rome and be able to explore the wonderful country of Italy for nearly three years. Here I share my favorite places to visit in Italy!

When friends ask me which places to visit in Italy my initial response is to say start at the top and keep on going! Haivng spent three years living in Rome, traveled widely across Italy and going back for numerous short and long vacations you might guess that I love Italy!

After much thought I have come up with my list of 5 places to visit in Italy that you really must see. Some may take you a week or two to explore whilst others you can spend a long weekend exploring.

So whether you are looking for a short break or have all the time in the world I hope that you will find somewhere on my list that will excite you enough to say "Andiamo!" (that's Italian for "Let's go!")

My Favorite Places to Visit in Italy

Come and Explore Italy With Me!

It is not surprising that some of the grandest and best known sights in Italy are found in Rome. But Italy has much more to offer than just one city, even a city as spectacular as Rome. There is probably no country on earth with more art galleries, opera houses, museums and other palaces of culture per head of population than Italy.

Italy's beauty isn't all manmade. For those who yearn for open spaces and delightful, sun drenched countryside, you can hope for few places prettier than the five picturesque towns of Cinque-Terre in Liguria, the greenery of Campania, or the grape vines and sun baked earth of the Chianti growing region in Tuscany.

These delights attract an astonishing 42 million visitors to Italy every year, making it the fourth most visited country in the world. Whether you are being led by your heart, your mind or your taste buds, Italy offers it all!

Are you ready? Then Andiamo!

Rome - The Eternal City!

The City Of The Caesars and The Popes

It was the Romans who first united Italy, conquering the ancient free cities that dotted the Italian peninsular one by one, and forging them into an Empire that dazzled the world for over half a millennium.

From the soaring granduer of San Pietro (St Peter's Basilica) to the narrow streets of Trastevere; from Piazza Navona to the amazing Spanish Steps how does one choose places to visit in this amazing Eternal City! Well here are just a few of the major attractions in Rome that will surely delight you.


The Colosseum was built as a huge entertainment complex, a place where Romans could come and watch gladiatorial fights, beast hunts, mock battle re-enactments and other bloodthirsty sports, laid on for them by the State. One of the best known ancient monuments in the world, it has survived nearly 2,000 years of turbulent history, including earthquakes, fires and invasions.

Arch of Titus

Fifteen and a half metres wide and thirteen and a half metres high, the Arch of Titus was built of white marble, and shows scenes from the sack of Jerusalem on its side. These include a graphic image on its south panel showing legionaries carrying away the Temple treasures, including the seven-branched menorahcandelabra and silver trumpets. These are rare images which tell us how these famous treasures must have looked, making the arch a remarkable link with one of the most dramatic and famous events of ancient history.

Trevi Fountain

The fountain marks the spot where 2,000 years ago the Aqua Virgo - (the Aqueduct of the Virgin) - one of Rome's ancient aqueducts, used to disgorge its pure water from a spring many miles outside the city. The aqueduct served Rome for 400 years, until the Goths cut off its supply. As a reminder of this ancient connection, Salvi's design included a young girl pointing at the spot where the aqueduct used to end.

St Peter's Square and Basilica

St Peter's Square in the Vatican is the open space in front of St Peter's Basilica - where crowds gather to see and be blessed by the Pope. Technically St Peter's sits at the heart of The Vatican State which is a completely separate state and is therefore the State within the City.

One hundred and fourteen metres wide and with a surface area of of 22,000 square metres, St Peters is large enough to hold 20,000 worshipers!

Within this massive cathedral are no less than forty five altars and eleven chapels, decorated by ten thousand square metres of mosaics, and countless artistic treasures. One of these, and perhaps among the most famous, is Michelangelo's Pieta, an evocative sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding a dead Christ in her arms.

The Must Have Guide To Rome

Rick Steves' Pocket Rome

As the name suggests this guide to Rome fits neatly into your pocket and for me is the must have guide to the Eternal City. It's also available in Kindle Format which is how I tend to take Travel Guides, as well as my holiday reading, with us now.

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Milan - City of Fashion and Culture

The center of the fashion world and also the most cosmopolitan city in Italy, this Northern Italian metropolis has everything: great food, world class architecture (both ancient and modern), and one among world's most widely known football teams.

Here are some of the major attractions in Milan

The Last Supper

Painted between the years 1495-98, the Last Supper shows Jesus and his twelve disciples gathered together to eat the night before he was betrayed. In a scene described in all four gospels, it captures the moment when Jesus announces that he will shortly be betrayed, and the shock, anger and disbelief on the disciple's faces.

Given the amazing story of damage and botched repair jobs, it's a small miracle that the painting has survived.

Cathedral (Duomo di Milano)

This towering, gothic cathedral is the fourth largest in the world, at 157 metres long and 92 metres wide, and took an astonishing five centuries to be completed. (Some work actually continued up to 1965, though by then the main body of the cathedral was already finished.) This imposing tribute to religion is the number one tourist destination in Milan, with most of the city's nearly two million visitors annually seeing it.

La Scala

Fancy a night at the opera? If so this is THE place to go. No other opera house in the world can claim to be more authentic, more cultured, more magnificent than La Scala!

The first Teatro alla Scala on this site was inaugerated in 1778, since which time a veritable pageant of operatic stars have appeared on its stage. Its list of Principal conductors/Musical directors includes such famous names as Arturo Toscanini, Claudio Abbado, Ricardo Muti, and Daniel Brenboim, and the list of operas premiered here includes Puccini's Turandot in 1926, and his Madame Butterfly in 1904, Verdi's Falstaff in 1893, and his Otello in 1887, as well as works by Rossini, Salieri and Bellini.

Naples - Capital of Southern Italy

No other city in Italy, or perhaps in the world, is as musical as Naples, where songs burst forth now and again in the streets. You might be concerned about going if you have heard the phrase "See Naples and then Die." But don't fret it isn't a premonition! It actually reflects the view that Naples was so truly beautiful as a city that nowhere else needed to be seen after one had been there.

Some of the major tourist attractions in Naples include:

Palazzo del Municipio and Piazza del Plebiscito

Piazza del Plebiscito, one of Europe's grand squares, is only a short distance from Naples' port at Molo Beverello. Its dignified expanse is embraced on one side by the 1817 church of San Francesco di Paola, whose proportions recall Rome's Pantheon. The Royal Palace on the opposite side dates from 1600. A pinkish orange facade adds warmth to the square and accentuates its majestic proportions.

Palazzo Reale

Palazzo Reale features the Royal Apartmentswith opulent furnishings and the 1768 Teatrino di Corte court theater. Researchers often use the palace library, Biblioteca Nazionale, one of the most important in Italy with over two million books plus rare manuscripts. If the upstairs terrace is open, there's a sweeping view of the Bay of Naples.

Castel Nuovo

Castel Nuovo, or New Castle, set the stage for Charles I of Anjou, who began the castle in 1279 to serve the needs of the expanding Angevin court. "New" indicates that it was built later than Castel dell'Ovo and Capuano. The triumphal arch on the facade in ivory-colored marble dates from 1443; the niches above hold the Four Virtues. Archangel Michael, the warrior angel that still has a strong cult following in Campania and Abruzzo, is on the typanum.

Teatro San Carlo

Teatro San Carlo and La Fenice in Venice, is considered one of Italy's three major opera houses. Opened in 1737, its many illustrious artistic directors included Gioacchino Rossini and Gaetano Donizetti. The 3,000-seat theater is also home to a ballet school. Its traditional season runs from October-June but the opera often sponsors summer events around Naples.

Fodor's The Amalfi Coast, Capri & Naples (Full-color Travel Guide)

Discover Naples and all the surrounding areas with Fodor's excellent guide which again comes in a Kindle version making it even easier to take with you!

Assisi - Make Sure To Taste The Wine!

Assisi is one of my favorite hill top places in all of Italy and as well as visiting all the sights do make sure to taste the local wine. But be warned I have never found it to travel well. So that sounds like ample reason to sample a glass or two whilst there doesn't it?

While the town's a zoo during the day, it's a delight during the night. Assisi after dark is nearer to a place Francis could call home. There's a lot more to Assisi than just St. Francis and just what the tour groups see.

Here is what you should see in Assisi:

The Roman Amphitheater

A lane named Via Anfiteatro Romano skirts the comfortable neighborhood built around a Roman amphitheater-a reminder that Assisi used to be an important Roman town.

Cathedral of San Rufino

While from the front the church is an unremarkable mixture of 17th- and 18th-century Baroque and Neoclassical, the back side (near where you enter) has lots of points of interest. The striking glass panels on the floor reveal foundations preserved from ninth-century church that once stood here.

Arches and Artisans

Spot the three medieval town gates. The gate within the road behind the church dates from 1265. Toward the town center, an arch marks the site of the Roman wall. These 3 gates represent the town's 3 walls, illustrating just how much the city has grown since ancient times.

Temple of Minerva/Christian Church

Assisi happens to be a spiritual center since ancient times. The Romans worked hard to create this first-century B.C. Temple of Minerva, a centerpiece of the city. Notice the columns that dig into the stairway. In ancient times, the steps went down-about twice as far as they go now-to the main drag, that has gradually been filled in over time.

Truly Beautiful Assisi At Sunset

Assisi at Sunset
Assisi at Sunset Account

A Timeless Journey Through Umbria and Tuscany, and Beyond

On the Road with Francis of Assisi: A...

Marvel At Ostia Antica

So having left behind the majesty of Rome to explore the rest of Italy we head back towards the Eternal City and to our final stop on this whirlwind tour of Italy.

Ostia Antica is truly amazing! I had the enormous pleasure, more years ago than I care to recall, of seeing The Three Tenors (the Spanish singers Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras and the late Italian singer Luciano Pavarotti) sing together in the ampitheater. But although you won't be able to experience that there are some truly wonderful things to see.

It's not like Rome doesn't have enough ruins. It's a massive living museum, with history hidden around every corner. Some might think, why even bother leaving Rome? But just 30 minutes from Rome you've Ostia Antica, which is an entirely different story. Ancient Roman houses, amphitheaters and shrines are like a living museum.

Walk the main street, the Decumanus Maximus. The Roman statues that line the walkways are there in such perfect condition that you will feel as if you are walking with the ancient Romans themselves! You will be also tempted to take a dip in the Baths of Neptune, that are crowned by an intact mosaic of the sea god.

If you're a theater fan, you will love Ostia's amphitheatre ' whose structure continues to be so stable that you'll be able to take your place within the stands as 3,500 Roman spectators once did when it was initially constructed.

Fodor's Rome: with the Best City Walks & Scenic Day Trips (Full-color Travel Guide)

Fodor's Rome: with the Best City Walks & Scenic Day Trips (Full-color Travel Guide)

Packed with landmark sights, world-renowned museums, awe-inspiring churches, fabulous trattorias, and, of course, the Vatican, Rome is a city that's worth returning to over and ...

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Fodor's Rome: with the Best City Walks and Scenic Day Trips (Full-color Travel Guide)

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Places To Go Italy

Which Of The Places To Go in Italy Would You Most Like To Visit?
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Updated: 10/11/2014, pkmcr
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blackspanielgallery on 06/28/2015

You suggest a long and busy trip. That would be so wonderful of a trip to take.

pkmcr on 10/12/2014

@jptanabe sounds like you both had a wonderful time. I suspect Venice will get it's own page at some point in the not too distant future.

jptanabe on 10/12/2014

Was just talking with my daughter about Italy! We both went to Florence, and I went to Assisi - loved it. She made it to Rome but not Venice, and I went to Venice but not Rome. So we each want to visit the other. Surprised you didn't feature Venice here... Reading this makes me want to go back to Italy soon!

pkmcr on 10/11/2014

@WriterArtist thanks ever so much for the kind comment and I hope that you get to see them!

WriterArtist on 10/11/2014

You have definitely put the staple locations that are a MUST for any tourist. I wish to see all these places especially Rome.

pkmcr on 10/11/2014

@Mira thanks for the lovely feedback. You are right a Tour guide with pictures is always a delight and it's one of those things one has to balance as to whether you want the ease and convenience of a Kindle version of the full colour version - or maybe even both!

Mira on 10/11/2014

I really enjoyed this. I have only been to Milan and Venice in Italy. Keep dreaming of Tuscany, after seeing that beautiful light in so many movies and reading about its wines. Your tour was enticing. I think I will pick up a travel guide soon. (You're probably right about reading them on Kindle, although there are things to be said about quality photos and maps.)

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