Italy is at the top of most people’s bucket lists. However, most travelers only ever visit the main Italian cities (as in those that are most culturally relevant, like Rome). There is a lot more to Italy than just these places though. That said, Italy’s most famous cities are famous for a reason and are still fantastic places to visit.
If you are planning a trip to Italy and have no idea where to go, then this post has you covered. Here are the top nine Italian cities you need to see once in your life.
As mentioned in this post’s introduction, Rome is a very popular city. To be honest, it’s pretty obvious why. Rome was the former center of the Roman Empire, and also the birthplace of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican, although its own city-state, is located in the heart of Rome. You can see all Rome has to offer by getting a Romapass on your next trip there. The Romapass guarantees access to the Vatican, Colosseum, and many other interesting places.
Rome is a beautiful city with great weather throughout the year, so add it to the top of your bucket list.
Milan is another iconic Italian city, perhaps most famous for its many fashion boutiques (and the fact that many Italian fashion designers are from, or chose to live in, Milan). However, there is a lot more to Milan than fashion. Like many major Italian cities, Milan has a rich history. Its beautifully ornate streets abound with Renaissance-fronted buildings, churches, and ancient sites. If you have never been, then one thing you should know is that the city’s extremely expensive. If you are on a budget, Milan is not the best place for you to visit.
Venice is second only to Rome in terms of beauty. It is an incredibly unique city. Rather than roads, it has a canal network. If you travel to Venice during the winter, then you can get around very affordably. During summer when most travelers are visiting the city can be somewhat expensive. One way to mitigate costs is to stay in a small bed and breakfast, instead of a hotel. Also, rather than using the city’s canal network to get around, hire a bicycle and ride the footpath system that winds through the city.
It would be impossible to compile a list of Italy’s best cities without mentioning Florence, one of the birthplaces of Renaissance art. If you have never been there before, then you will be taken aback by the city’s immense beauty. Like Milan, it can be expensive to visit, and like Venice, the best way to save money is to stay on the city’s outskirts, ideally in a small bed and breakfast. Staying in a bed and breakfast also allows you to get the true Italian experience, staying with ordinary working people and eating with them, rather than in a luxury hotel and restaurant.
Naples is a city that has gotten a bad reputation over the years, mainly due to the crime that goes on there. However, Naples is a very safe city. Travelers have absolutely nothing to worry about. The crime that does take place is in isolated areas and never affects tourists. One of Naples’ most beautiful areas is Forcella, Naples’ historic center. Naples has some incredible churches, beaches, and landscapes. If you have the time, then consider trekking out into the countryside and checking out what’s on offer there. You can find some great cafés and restaurants in the villages and townships surrounding Naples.
Pisa is most famous for its leaning tower, however, there’s a lot more to the city than that. Every year, millions visit just for the tower. If you are planning a trip to Italy then why not visit and see everything else that’s on offer? Pisa is most famous for its delicious culinary scene. If you want to sample the most authentic food there, then consider eating at smaller family-owned cafés and restaurants. Small restaurants tend to cater to locals, which means you will get an authentic taste of true Italian cooking.
Palermo can be found in Sicily, an island a stone’s throw from mainland Italy. Palermo, like Naples, has developed a bad reputation because of the organized crime influence there. However, it is nonetheless a fantastic place to visit. If you have never been before, then you will love it. The Palermo Cathedral is where most people go, however, be sure to check out the royal tombs, too. The Massimo Theatre is worth a visit if you like opera, as well. Palermo is a reasonably affordable city to travel in. You can save money by staying in a more rural part of Sicily, though.
Pompeii is near Naples. It is a city made famous because of the volcanic eruption that happened there many centuries ago. Mount Vesuvius, which overlooks Pompeii, erupted one day, and killed many of the city’s residents. You can actually visit Pompeii and walk through the ruined city streets. You can reach Pompeii in a few hours from Naples. If you are visiting Naples and want to check Pompeii out, then consider renting a car. Renting a car will make it easier for you to get to Pompeii because you won’t have to rely on taxis or public transport.
Mantua is a city that’s relatively unknown to most non-Italians, however, it is Italy’s ‘Capital of Culture.’ You can find various museums, galleries, and opera houses in the city. The culinary scene is great there, too. Mantua is located in Lombardy, Italy’s northernmost region. Also in Lombardy is Lake Como, one of the most beautiful lakes in all of Italy. If you are visiting Mantua then it’s a shame not to see Lake Como, too. Mantua has some great lakes around it as well.
Italy is a very interesting country. It has remained relevant throughout history. If you have never been, then consider visiting the cities mentioned here. All of these cities are easy to get to, reasonably affordable to travel in (and if not you can stay on the outskirts), and breathtakingly beautiful.