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The Very Best To See and Do In Italy

Travelers Today       By    David Thompson

Updated: Oct 05, 2021 10:18 AM EDT

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The Very Best To See and Do In Italy

(Photo: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay )

Crunchy cheesy pizzas, delicious pasta, stunning architecture, wonderful past, world-famous artists and breathtaking views are all enjoyable experiences that anyone can have in Italy. This charming European peninsula seduces visitors with the warmth and hospitality of locals, a plethora of attractions and plenty of historical sites.

Besides, after so many months of lockdown, most of us have been bitten by the travel bug and feel the urge to expand our horizons and see the world and Italy seems to have the charm, warmth and variety of attractions to make it a perfect destination for those interested in historic places, delicious food, stunning landscapes and awesome experiences overall.

As of August 6, 2021, Italy's Green Pass is required for trains, planes, indoor dining, concerts, visits to museums and other activities. Visitors from the US can show the CDC vaccination card instead. Unvaccinated Americans are required to quarantine for five days while vaccinated tourists must take a COVID test before entering the country.

Whether you have plenty of time to explore the different Italian regions or prefer to focus on the most important cities for your first visit or explore a certain region in depth, we have compiled the very best things to see and do in Italy, from the must-visit things in Rome or Milan to the lesser famous Verona or Siena.

Moving around Italy is relatively easy. Airports and comfortable trains connect the most important cities and the country is known for having some of the finest roads in Europe. Despite Italians are known for driving quite dangerously and foreign drivers are advised to know the local traffic laws, drive carefully and invest in a thorough rental insurance policy that provides them coverage against any risk, it's true that in these post-Covid times, renting a car and driving your way through the country is one of the safest ways to explore Italy while ensuring social distance to the best possible.

Rome

Formerly the capital of the Roman Empire, today Rome is the capital of Italy and a must-visit destination for anyone spending some time in this boot-shaped country. It's bursting with history and there are plenty of interesting things to see and do here.

Rome is one of the most vibrant cities in Europe and it's definitely worth enjoying. You can admire the remnants of one of the most important ancient civilizations in the world during the day and enjoy its cheerful and vibrant atmosphere during the night. The city is packed with magnificent sights you've seen in movies or read about in school books countless times.

Needless to say, the Colosseum, the Pantheon or the Roman Forum are usually packed with tourists but they are definitely worth the crowds. Climb up the magnificent Spanish Steps and don't leave Rome without throwing a  coin and wishing well at the Trevi Fountain.

While in Rome, take advantage of your time there and wander through the city's most charming and quieter neighborhoods such as Monti or Trastevere. Admire art at world-class museums such as the Borghese or the Capitoline Museums, explore Piazza Navona, see the Arch of Constantine, dine at a trattoria or walk by Campo de Fiore!

Vatican City*

An independent state within the city of Rome, the Vatican City is a must-see in Italy. Within its walls, there are enough attractions to keep you busy for several days.

You must see the impressive St Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Palace is home to magnificent rooms exquisitely decorated by the greatest artists of their time, and priceless collections displayed in more than twelve museums. You can also admire objects brought back by missionaries, vintage cars, modern religious art by Dali, Matisse or Munch, Papal carriages, and much more! While visiting the Vatican Palace take your time to admire the Raphael Rooms, the Capella Nicolina and the Appartamento Borgia.

The exquisite Vatican Gardens will invite you to take a relaxing stroll, explore the interesting Etruscan and Egyptian Museums and see ancient books at the Vatican Library.

Milan

Known as the Italian capital of fashion and famous for its magnificent Duomo, Milan is another highlight in any trip around Italy. There are plenty of interesting spots around the city such as the canals around Navigli, which are most enjoyable at sunset. There's a fascinating cosmopolitan outlook and a vibrant food scene in Milan and ancient buildings sit next to modern skyscrapers and the night scene is lively and fun.

One of the main reasons why tourists flock to the city are its excellent shopping opportunities. Design lovers can't miss visiting the Quadrilatero D'Oro district while fashion lovers will find high street shops, outlets and boutiques everywhere around town.

Milan is the capital of the Lombardy region and Italy's financial center. It has a rich religious history. The Duomo of Milan is an imposing gothic cathedral that towers over the city's main square. It's one of the most visited landmarks in the country  and one of the largest churches in the world. It's possible to climb to its rooftop to get a closer look of the intricate spires and the famous golden Madonnina statue. Besides, from up there you can enjoy an incredible panoramic view of Milan. Across the Piazza del Duomo you can reach Santa Maria Delle Grazie, a church and convent that is home to Da Vinci's Last Supper. The Chiesa di San Maurizio is home to notable frescoes and Milan's archaeological museum.

Art lovers can't miss the delightful Villa Reale, where two of Milan's best secular galleries are located. You can admire works by some of today's best artists at the Contemporary Arts Pavilion or see masterpieces from the XIX and XX centuries at the Modern Art Museum next door. Pinacoteca di Brera, just a few blocks away, has paintings by Caravaggio and Raphael. If possible, wear your best outfit and enjoy an opera or ballet performance at Teatro alla Scala.

Venice

No trip to Italy would be complete without spending some days in the beautiful city of Venice. Meandering canals, cobbled streets, gondolas and magnificent palaces and water-buses all contribute to the magic of this incredible Italian city.  

Despite it's usually packed with tourists, you won't want to miss Piazza San Marco and its incredible Basilica, the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge or Campanile and Doge's Palace. Take your time to explore quieter lanes and waterways as well and mingle with the locals. Also visit the islands of Burano and see its brightly colored house or the island of Murano famous for its glass production.

Newly-weds, honeymooners or couples in love will find here a very special retreat. Just walking hand in hand across the several bridges or riding a gondola can be truly romantic experiences!

Going on a gondola ride in the canals of Venice can be touristy but it's one of the most iconic experiences you can enjoy here and it allows you to admire the city from a totally different angle. Another interesting experience you may enjoy is visiting Venice during the Carnival. People come from all corners of the world to take part in this annual event and see the elaborate Venetian masks and people of all ages wearing fancy costumes.

Venice, a pedestrian-friendly city, is bustling all year round. Piazza San Marco is a great starting place. Two of the city's most striking buildings Basilica di San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale rub shoulders at the east end of the square. The Basilica is one of the finest examples of Byzantine influence, with its ornate golden mosaics and elaborate domes. And as you glide the S-shaped Grand Canal in a gondola, you'll pass by the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, beneath the iconic Ponte Rialto and pass the Gothic-style palac Ca'd'Oro.

Make sure you don't leave Venice without seeing the Chiesa Santa Maria dei Miracoli, a XV-century marble church, The Bridge of Sighs or visiting the islands of Murano and Burano. Art lovers can admire worlds by Veronese, Titian and other famous Venetians at Galleria dell'Accademia or enjoy an opera performance at the Teatro La Fenice.

Florence

Blessed with a plethora of historical and artistic attractions, Florence or Firenze is an absolute must for anyone planning a trip to Italy. Amongst the places you can't miss are San Lorenzo Basilica and the mausoleum of the Medici family, the fantastic Uffizi art gallery, the complex of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, Baptistery and Bell Tower, Santa Maria Novella Basilica and cloister, the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens and the Palazzo Vecchio. Home to some of the best museums in Italy and Europe, there's plenty to see, admire and enjoy here!

Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region and it played a prominent role in Medieval European history as the epicentre of Renaissance. Dotted with a plethora of cultural and historical attractions, it's one of the major art hubs in the continent. Besides, together with Milan, it's one of the Italian fashion capitals with top brands such as Gucci, Chanel, Prada or Cavalli based here. 

Art lovers have plenty of museums to visit. To start with, there's the Uffizi Gallery where you can admire Michelangelo's David: a 17-feet-tall-white-marble statue that is absolutely imposing. Other important cultural venues are the National Archaeological Museum, the Museo Galileo and the Galleria dell Accademia.

The Duomo of Florence stands out because of its breathtaking beauty. Officially named Santa Maria del Fiore, the neo-Gothic style can be seen in the facade which is decorated with marble panels in the shades of pink, green and white. It's possible to climb to the top of the dome and admire stunning panoramic views of the city. With the same ticket you can also access the Baptistery and Giotto's Bell Tower.

Piazzale Michelangelo is also an interesting place to visit. From there you get incredible views of the city's skyline and it's especially beautiful at sunset as the last rays of sun shine over the dome of the Duomo.

The Piazza della Signoria, the main square, is home to beautiful buildings and sculptures such as Ammanati's Fountain of Neptune or Cellini's Perseus with the Head of Medusa. Take your time to stroll the city and walk over the Ponte Vecchio that spans over the Arno River that runs through the city.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, Italian for "Five Lands" refers to the five coastal towns of Corniglia, Monterosso, Manarola, Vernazza and Riomaggioere that are connected by a cliffside hiking trail known as the Sentiero Azzurro. With their iconic colorful houses perched on top of steep cliffs and the deep blue sea below them they just have to be part of your Italian bucket list. As you hike the Sentiero Azzurro you'll walk past olive groves and vineyards. If walking the 12 km is too much for you or you simply want to lie back and enjoy the views you can ride the hop-on-hop-off train ticket.

Another great way to explore it and have a better chance of stop offs and taking great pictures is by going on a road trip. Take your time to admire the lovely views and try some delicious local meals from any of the quaint fishing villages along the way.

Riomaggiore and Vernazza charm tourists with their narrow streets and picturesque atmosphere. Riomaggiore is the most eastern town and it's the last of the Cinque Terre. Vernazza will seduce you with its small port and colorful houses; it also has some of the best hikes in the area. Manarola is the oldest village and home to Cinque Terre's wine region. Corniglia is the only one that isn't connected to the sea and it can be reached by a staircase of over 350 steps. Monterosso is the largest of the 5 towns and it has a large sandy beach that is great for swimming and other water sports.

Sicily

No list of top places to see in Italy would be complete without mentioning Sicily: the largest Mediterranean island and home to Mount Etna (one of the world's most active volcanoes), splendid beaches, delicious food and interesting historic past. With plenty of things to see and do, Sicily is a must visit destination in the country.

Located in the south of Italy, the island invites you to unravel your adventurous spirit. Get ready to dive into crystal clear lagoons, explore ancient ruins, take pictures from the cliffs of Madonie Regional Park, and trek volcanic landscapes.

History lovers will love their stay in Sicily. You can admire some of the world's best-preserved Byzantine mosaics standing next to magnificent Greek temples and Roman amphitheaters with the sight of lava flowing from Mt Etna in the background. Some of the most important monuments to admire are: the Greek Temple at Segesta, the Roman Villa del Casale which is the most important Roman monument in Sicily and it's famous for its brilliant mosaics depicting a variety of scenes, Baroque palazzos and Norman churches.

While in Sicily, don't miss the chance of exploring Palermo, Siracusa, Catania and the Etna region.  

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Hotels.com Loved By Guests Awards 2018

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