Planning to visit the dream destination of Italy, but aren’t sure where to start? This guide will provide you with the most spectacular famous landmarks in Italy to plan the perfect trip around. You can even live in a campervan for a few months to see them all.
While there are plenty of wonderful Italian hidden gems, it is equally important to check out the more touristy ‘must-see’ places. In this guide, you’ll find lots of historical places in Italy as well as natural and cultural landmarks throughout the country.
Throughout this article, you’ll also find many pro tips for visiting these important places in Italy. So, without further ado, let’s discover the most famous places in Italy.
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🌟 The Most Famous Landmarks in Italy
1. The Duomo of Florence (Florence Cathedral)
Explored by Pam of The Directionally Challenged Traveler
Florence is a city filled with breathtaking architecture, and one of the best things to see there is the Duomo of Florence, one of the most important monuments in Italy. Duomo is an Italian word for a cathedral or Catholic church where the bishop is located.
Construction of the Duomo started in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio with the goal of holding 30,000 worshippers. While the entire complex is stunning, the highlight is the dome. It was built around 1417 by Filippo Brunelleschi. Since the dome is 140-feet wide, Brunelleschi had to create new tools and techniques so it wouldn’t collapse.
In 1334, Giotto di Bondone designed the bell tower (or campanile). It has seven bells and is made of geometric shapes that could exist either as a group or individually. You can climb 463 steps to the top of the Duomo for wonderful views, or climb Giotto’s Bell Tower instead to get a close-up aerial view of the Duomo.
No matter which one you climb, you’ll be rewarded with amazing details both inside and out! For an amazing view of the Duomo and Florence as a whole, visit the Piazzale Michelangelo. You’ll see the entire city and will be in awe of the stunning architecture of Florence.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Solo Experience Hotel (⭐️ 9.1) — This hotel is only 400 yards from the Duomo and offers cozy rooms with stunning views of Piazza San Lorenzo.
2. Colosseum, Rome — One of the Most Famous Places in Italy
The Colosseum is not only the main symbol of Rome, it’s also one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. In fact, this historic monument of Italy has almost 2,000 years of history and gives visitors an extraordinary glimpse into life during the Ancient Roman Empire.
Construction of the Colosseum took place between 72 AD and 80 AD, and after it was built, it effortlessly took the title of the greatest amphitheater in the Roman world. Standing 57 m (187 ft) tall and 156 m (511 ft) wide, it served as the main entertainment venue of the Roman Empire, allowing more than 50,000 people to watch the infamous gladiators fight each other (or exotic animals).
The games went on for over 500 years until the 6th century. Since then, the structure was hit with earthquakes, lootings, and bombings during WWII. Though this amphitheater provided great entertainment for the Roman people, it also has an often overlooked dark side.
In fact, over 500,000 people and 1 million wild animals have lost their lives during the gladiator battles, and the gladiators themselves were treated like slaves — marginalized people without rights to citizenship.
🔥 Pro Tip: The Colosseum is one of the most popular attractions in Italy, so unless you book tickets in advance, you will be standing in line for hours. This 3-hour Colosseum Walking Tour will allow you to skip the line. 🏡 Where to stay nearby: Colosseum Corner (⭐️ 9.7) — This hotel offers spectacular views of the Colosseum right from the room windows.
3. The Leaning Tower of Pisa — A Very Famous Monument in Italy
Explored by Krystianna of Volumes & Voyages
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most iconic structures worldwide and hands down one of the most famous attractions in Italy. This tower is located in Piazza del Duomo in the town of Pisa, one of Italy’s best places to explore. This city is only a short train ride away from the popular Florence and Cinque Terre.
The tower stands at 186 ft (56 m) tall and its construction first began in the late 12th century. Soon after that, workers realized that they’ve built it upon marshy land, and the building started to lean. To make up for it, they made the side that wasn’t leaning slightly higher so that it evened out. This went on for ages, which is why the tower is still leaning today.
Besides taking the classic Leaning Tower of Pisa photo, visitors are welcome to go inside the tower and climb all the way to the top for a short fee. There are breathtaking views of the surrounding area from up there. In Piazza del Duomo, you should also check out the Pisa Cathedral, which was built even before the tower.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Rinascimento Bed & Breakfast (⭐️ 9.7) — This hotel's rooms come with beautifully painted ceilings which take you right back to the Renaissance era.
4. Rialto Bridge, Venice
Explored by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan
The Rialto Bridge in Venice is one of the most famous spots in Italy. It is the oldest of the four bridges across the Grand Canal and connects the districts of San Polo and San Marco. This bridge is named after the nearby Rialto Market, which has served as the main food market in Venice for the past 900 years.
Building a bridge at this spot was a top priority, as it would make it easier for merchants to bring their wares to the market. When Rialto was first built in 1173, it was the only place where you could cross the large canal that snakes for 3.8 km (2.3 mi) through the center of Venice.
That 12th-century version was a pontoon bridge, but it has been rebuilt several times over the centuries. The covered bridge you see today was finished in 1591. Its unusual design was highly criticized, and architects of the time predicted that it would collapse. So far, though, it has stood the test of time.
The bridge’s central walkway is lined with shops on either side. This is some of the most expensive real estate in the city, so prices tend to be high. If you’re more interested in the views than the shopping, avoid the central staircase and stick to the two outer pathways along the railings.
🔥 Pro Tip: Ristorante Da Mario Alla Fava is a great place to eat nearby. Though a bit pricey, it offers a spectacular setting and traditional Venetian fare, including some great options for vegetarians and vegans in Venice. 🏡 Where to stay nearby: H10 Palazzo Canova (⭐️ 9.3) — This affordable 4-star hotel offers a terrace bar with a stunning panorama of the surrounding canals.
5. Trevi Fountain, Rome — A Famous Landmark in Italy
The magnificent Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) is hands down one of the most famous tourist attractions in Italy. At 26 m (85 ft) tall and 49 m (160 ft) wide, this Baroque-style fountain was built on top of the aqueduct Acqua Vergine, one of Rome’s most important ancient water sources.
Before the Trevi Fountain was built, a much smaller and simpler fountain stood in its place. Then, in 1629, to demonstrate the capital’s cultural finesse, Pope Urban VIII commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to start redesigning the fountain into the masterpiece that it is today.
The Trevi Fountain was completed in 1762 and its design beautifully depicts Roman gods. It is only customary to toss a coin into the fountain when you visit. Legend has it that tossing one coin means you’ll come back to Rome, tossing two means you’ll fall in love when you’re back, and tossing three means you’ll get married here.
Whether or not you believe this legend, the coins go towards a great cause. Roughly €3,000 get thrown into the fountain every day, and all of them are collected every night to be donated to a local charity that gives food to those in need.
🔥 Pro Tip: Visit this fountain early in the morning to enjoy it in peace and to take photos. It gets overwhelmingly crowded during the day, making it difficult to even walk around. 🏡 Where to stay nearby: Otivm Hotel (⭐️ 9.0) — This hotel features a rooftop bar with a breathtaking view of Piazza Venezia and other monuments nearby.
6. St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
Explored by Elisa of France Bucket List
The St. Peter’s Basilica is the heart of the Catholic Church, where the pope celebrates mass and many other Catholic holidays. It is located in Vatican City — so not on Italian soil — but any trip to Italy would be incomplete without seeing the Vatican’s main sights.
Built in the 16th century, the St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed on the spot believed to mark the burial place of St. Peter. Before the construction of the current Basilica, other buildings stood in its place and have been home to all popes except during the Avignon Papacy, when the Catholic Church was ruled from Avignon.
Built in the Renaissance style, the St. Peter’s Basilica that visitors see today is the result of many contributions by different architects sponsored by different popes. Perhaps the most outstanding element of the Basilica is Michelangelo’s dome, which was inspired by the Florence Cathedral’s dome, designed a century earlier by Brunelleschi.
Make sure to climb up the dome (cupola) of the Basilica to get an unbelievable view of the entire St. Peter’s Square. It takes around 550 steps to reach the top, but you can take an elevator for half of the journey. Do this climb in the morning (before exploring the Basilica itself) to avoid the long lines and crowds!
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Vatican Style Guesthouse (⭐️ 8.9) — This accommodation offers large, comfy suites complete with jacuzzi.
7. Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano)
Explored by Sophie & Adam of We Dream Of Travel
In the heart of Milan, towering over Piazza di Milano, is the impressive Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathderal), one of the most important landmarks in Italy. This grand Gothic cathedral dates back to 1386 and took nearly 6 years to complete. With a capacity of 40,000 people, it is the largest church in Italy and the second largest in Europe.
No Milan itinerary would be complete without admiring this impressive architecture. Considering its size and location, it’s pretty difficult to miss! A stroll around the city will likely bring you to Piazza del Duomo, where you can marvel at its spectacular exterior and sheer size. However, one of the best experiences in Milan is a visit to the rooftop of the cathedral.
The rooftop is decorated with ornate spires and sculptures and the terrace covers nearly the entire roof. As well as getting a better look at the intricacies of the roof, you will also be rewarded with stunning panoramic views over Milan.
Ensure you purchase a ticket that gives you access to both the rooftop and the cathedral. While the rooftop is arguably the most impressive part of the cathedral, the decorative interior is still absolutely worth a visit.
🔥 Pro Tip: The Duomo di Milano is the most popular attraction in Milan and as such gets very busy. It is worth booking your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. 🏡 Where to stay nearby: Montenapoleone Suites (⭐️ 9.1) — This hotel offers units with hot tubs for a relaxing treat after a long day.
8. Pompeii — A Famous Tourist Attraction in Italy
Explored by Mal of Raw Mal Roams
Pompeii is one of the most significant archaeological sites in the world. It consists of a whole city dating back to 79 AD which has been literally buried alive when volcano Mount Vesuvius suddenly erupted, causing large-scale devastation in the surrounding areas.
Pompeii had been buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash for years until a surveying engineer discovered it in the 18th century. Today, you can learn a lot about the extraordinary lives of the people of Pompeii thanks to the many artifacts that have survived the years.
During a visit, you will learn that the people of Pompeii spoke many languages, traded with remote parts of the world, and even had fast-food restaurants. To truly bring all of Pompeii’s juicy secrets to life, visit with an expert guide.
The best base for exploring this famous landmark of Italy is Naples, where you can also find a good range of accommodations and restaurants. Another excellent base is the coastal resort of Sorrento, located in the Bay of Naples. Both places are well connected, with a direct train that takes under an hour.
🌟 Recommended guided tour: Pompeii: Small-Group Tour with an Archeologist (⭐️ 4.9/5) — Discover Pompeii's history with an expert archeological guide and skip the long ticket lines.
🏟 More Historical Landmarks in Italy
9. Scaligero Castle, Sirmione (Lake Garda)
Explored by Paulina of Paulina On The Road
The Sirmione Castle (AKA Rocca Scaligera or Scaliger Castle) is one of the most famous monuments in Italy. It’s located in the resort town of Sirmione in Lake Garda in northern Italy. It is a unique example of an ancient port fortification built primarily as a shield against invaders and local attackers.
This castle was founded by lord Mastino della Scala in the 13th century. In the main area of the fortress, you’ll find a tiny museum with local discoveries from the Roman era and a few old artifacts. This castle is also worth visiting thanks to its surroundings, which are filled with stunning landscapes and a large moat, where ducks and swans can be seen playing.
Additionally, the castle has steps that lead up to its ramparts and towers, from where you can get a magnificent view of Lake Garda. Be sure to also stop by the other main attractions in Sirmione, such as the Grotte di Catullo and the Santa Maria Maggiore church. You can also shop for top organic cotton brands around town.
🔥 Pro Tip: The best time to visit Sirmione is between April and June, when the town is less crowded and more peaceful. 🏡 Where to stay nearby: Hotel Marconi (⭐️ 9.5) — This lakeside hotel is in the Old City and offers breathtaking views of Lake Garda.
10. Sassi di Matera, Puglia — One of the Most Famous Sites in Italy
Explored by Stacy of What Stacy Did
Located on the border of Basilicata and Puglia, the ancient city of Matera is a true gem and one of the most interesting historical sites in Italy. Its history dates back tens of thousands of years and on the surface, very little has changed.
In fact, besides Petra in Jordan, Matera is the second-longest continuously inhabited settlement in history. The city looks so unchanged that it was used as the main film set in Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ.
Matera is famous for its sassi, the historic heart of the city made up of cave dwellings built into the mountains. These caves dwellings remained untouched until 1952, when the government ordered them to be evacuated due to poverty and disease that spread there. Sadly, the peasant population lived in these caves with their large families and animals in pretty poor conditions.
After the evacuations, Matera went from ‘the shame of Italy’ to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and even the European Capital Of Culture in 2019. There truly is nowhere else on earth quite like the Sassi di Matera and it is an absolute must-visit landmark in Italy.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Locanda Di San Martino & Thermae Romanae (⭐️ 8.8) — A fantastic cave hotel that offers a superb hydromassage indoor swimming pool, sauna and Turkish bath.
11. Ancient Greek Theater, Taormina (Sicily)
Explored by Veronika of Travel Geekery
The beautiful town of Taormina in northeastern Sicily is home to the majestic Ancient Greek Theater, one of the most famous locations in Italy. Originally built in the 3rd century BC, the purpose of the theater was to host dramatic and musical performances, as well as gladiator battles. The Greeks built it straight into the rock of Taormina’s hillside.
Later, the Romans expanded the theater by adding columns, statues, and decorative features. While there are still some musical performances hosted at the venue nowadays, it mostly serves as an ancient tourist destination — one that’s remarkably preserved.
Thanks to the positioning of the Greek Theater, the views you get from there are absolutely stunning. In fact, you can see the Mediterranean coast spreading out into the distance and, on a clear day, even Mount Etna.
The entrance to the theater costs €10. If you’re visiting Taormina on a day trip by car, don’t forget to leave the car at a designated parking lot outside the city borders.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Hotel Sirius (⭐️ 8.5) — This hotel offers a stunning outdoor pool and terraces with breathtaking views of the Sicilian coastline.
12. Civita di Bagnoregio, Viterbo
Explored by Jade of The Migrant Yogi
Civita di Bagnoregio is one of the most beautiful hidden gems in Tuscia, a region of Italy just north of Rome. What makes Civita di Bagnoregio so special is its location — it is situated atop a tall plateau of volcanic tuff, and, due to the effects of erosion, is something of an island completely surrounded by land. If you find yourself in Rome, visiting is an easy day trip.
It is not possible to reach Civita di Bagnoregio by car — one must traverse the long pedestrian bridge on foot, so as to preserve the fragile nature of the hilltop village. Don’t expect any tour buses, either. Once you reach the end of the bridge, you must pay a nominal fee of €5, which goes toward the preservation of this magnificent place (and also helps out the few permanent residents with communal taxes).
Unfortunately, Civita di Bagnoregio is in a perpetual state of danger due to wind and stream erosion. As such, it is affectionately known as La Città Che Muore (‘the Dying Town’) by its 12 permanent residents. In fact, there are more feline residents on this island than humans!
While Civita di Bagnoregio was once a town, due to the buildings around the perimeter crumbling down the edges of the cliff, it is now a mere village. Be sure to respect the fragile nature of this place so that it can continue to be enjoyed for years to come!
🌟 Recommended guided tour: Civita di Bagnoregio: The Dying City Walking Tour which includes pick-up, drop off, round trip transfer, lunch, and entrance tickets.
13. The Trulli of Alberobello, Puglia — The Most Unique Historical Places in Italy
Explored by Stacy of What Stacy Did
Alberobello is a small village nestled in the Itria Valley of the Puglia region in Southern Italy, and it is most famous for its trulli houses. These unique little white structures with their conical roofs and local limestone walls are an icon of Puglia — you won’t find them anywhere else in the world. They dot the Puglian landscape, but nowhere more so than in Alberobello.
Alberobello is in fact awash with trulli; there are over 1,500 of them there and they attract tourists the world over. These conical houses are so distinctive and individual that UNESCO added them to their World Heritage List in 1996. Needless to say, they’re truly some of the most remarkable historical landmarks of Italy.
So, how did these unique buildings come to be in Puglia? Trulli date back to the 1500s, when the Acquaviva family ruled this region of Puglia. The family wanted to avoid paying property taxes to the king, so they ordered the local peasants to build their houses without mortar so that they could be dismantled quickly should the king decide he wanted to do an inspection.
Thankfully, despite being designed to be easily pulled down, there are still a large number of trulli intact. Today, these iconic buildings are incredibly popular as places to stay as many of them have been turned into hotels.
🔥 Pro Tip: Arrive early to Alberobello (before 9 am) if you want to enjoy it in peace as it does get very busy during the day with coaches of tourists. 🏡 Where to stay nearby: Trulli Caroli (⭐️ 9.5) — This unique accommodation has the best food and the most hospitable hosts.
14. Two Towers, Bologna
Explored by Kate of Our Escape Clause
In the early Middle Ages, the Italian city of Bologna was home to over 100 skyscraper-esque towers, thin and tall, that reached skyward to create an impressive skyline. Today, only 22 of those towers remain, and by far the most famous of them are Bologna’s Two Towers, which stand near the center of the city.
Built in the 12th century, the Two Towers consist of Asinelli Tower and Garisenda Tower. They’re famous not only for their height but also for the fact that they lean. In fact, Asinelli Tower is a much taller (though not more ornate) leaning tower than the more famous one in Pisa.
You can climb Asinelli Tower as well, which will reward you (498 long steps) later with absolutely magnificent views of Bologna and of the shorter Garisenda Tower that stands next to it. As only a limited number of people are allowed to climb Asinelli Tower at a time, be sure to book a time slot in advance before arriving.
Also be aware that the climb will test the endurance of people who are scared of heights. With that said, the views are worth the effort it takes to experience this remarkable Italian landmark from its best angle!
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Hotel Corona d'Oro (⭐️ 8.9) — This hotel features a stunning interior design and also offers free bikes.
15. Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence — One of the Top Attractions in Italy
Explored by Carla of Travel By Carla Vianna
No Italy travel itinerary is complete without a stop in Florence — and no trip to Florence can go without a sunset at the Piazzale Michelangelo. The Piazzale Michelangelo is a famous plaza that sits atop a hill overlooking all of Florence. Visitors flock there at all hours of the day for a postcard-worthy view of the Tuscan capital and its iconic sites like the Duomo, Santa Croce, and Bargello & Badia.
Piazzale Michelangelo was founded in 1869 by Florentine architect Giuseppe Poggi. It was originally intended to showcase copies of Michelangelo’s artworks, which is why a bronze replica of his iconic piece David is found nearby.
Today, the square is teeming with tourists and photographers looking for the best view of the city. At sunset, couples and groups of friends can be seen sharing bottles of wine while waiting for one of the greatest spectacles in all of Italy to begin.
Watching the sun color the city and the surrounding Tuscan countryside in shades of orange and gold is truly a sight to behold. Florence is a city that’s already magnificent at face value. Seeing it from above at Piazzale Michelangelo simply multiplies the charm factor.
🔥 Pro Tip: It’s best to arrive early to snag a seat on the steps leading up to the view. Don’t forget to stop by a local shop to grab a bottle of Tuscan wine! 🏡 Where to stay nearby: Plaza Hotel Lucchesi (⭐️ 9.0) — This hotel has a breathtaking rooftop pool with a panoramic view of the historical monuments nearby.
16. The Byzantine Mosaics, Ravenna
Explored by Dhara of It’s Not About the Miles
If you’re a fan of history, art, or culture, then you’ll definitely want to put Ravenna on your itinerary for Northern Italy. The Ravenna mosaics are renowned all over the world for being the best in the Western Hemisphere. They’re also some of the most interesting historic landmarks in Italy.
Located in the Emilia-Romagna region in northeast Italy, the city of Ravenna is home to no less than eight monuments listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The monuments showcase the city’s stunning mosaics and were all built during the 5th and 6th centuries, when Ravenna was an important seat of the Roman Empire.
Six of the eight Ravenna UNESCO sites are located in the historic core of Ravenna, and can be toured on foot and in a day. The remaining two are short taxi or car rides away. The two most beautiful monuments are the Basilica di San Vitale and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, located just steps from each other.
You will be awestruck by the beauty and scale of the mosaics in the Basilica di San Vitale. Covering huge swathes of space, the mosaics show various scenes, including the most famous ones of Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora.
🔥 Pro Tip: A single combined ticket is the most cost-effective way to see all the sites. You can buy them at any of the sites (except the Arian Baptistery, which is free), or at the Ravenna Tourist Information Center. 🏡 Where to stay nearby: Palazzo Bezzi Hotel (⭐️ 9.2) — This affordable hotel has a charming rooftop pool, a wellness center, and a free gym.
17. Old Town of Alghero, Sardinia
Explored by Réka of Pairound The World
The charming city of Alghero is located in the northwestern part of Sardinia and is one of the most famous sights in Italy. Alghero is far from an ordinary city, and the secret lies in its history. The walls and bastions surrounding the Alghero’s Old Town were built by the Aragonese between the 14th and 16th centuries.
Hundreds of years of Spanish influence can still be felt in the city to this day. In fact, a lot of buildings in the Old Town have Catalan flags waving in the wind. It is truly a unique experience to wander an Italian city where the Algherese Catalan is the mother tongue of a quarter of the population.
The Old Town of Alghero will enchant you. Walking around, you’ll come across winding cobblestone streets, houses with small windows, colorful clothes hanging outside to dry — some truly Italian sights. Then, you turn the corner and see the Catalan flag on the wall of a local pizzeria where you can order Crema Catalana (Catalan Cream). It may throw you off at first, but you’re definitely still in Italy!
The local cuisine is an amazing mixture of Sardinian and Catalan cuisines, and there are plenty of delicious dining options in the Old Town. Be sure to also walk down to the harbor and get a ticket for a cruise. Whether it’s dolphin watching, snorkeling, or cruising to the nearby Neptune’s Caves, it’ll be an unforgettable experience!
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Double B Maison De Charme (⭐️ 8.8) — This hotel offers a spacious suite with a jacuzzi as well as a rooftop terrace with a view.
18. Valley of the Temples, Agrigento (Sicily) — One of Italy’s Points of Interest
Explored by Alexandrina of EarthOSea
The Valley of the Temples is one of the most well-preserved archaeological complexes in the world and is located in the small city of Agrigento in Sicily. It is full of artifacts and incredible ancient monuments, including the remains of seven Doric order temples.
The most beautiful and well-kept one is the Temple of Concordia, which was built in the 4th century BC and turned into a church in the 6th century. This played a large role in preserving the structure.
In the Valley of the Temples, you can also find the temples of Juno (Hera in Greek) and Zeus, both of which are very famous in Greek mythology. The Temple of Zeus was the biggest temple of them all, but unfortunately, there isn’t much left of it today except for some columns, which were carved to look like giant atlases (sculptures in the form of a man).
Right next to the Temple of Zeus are the remains of the Temple of Heracles, another one of the biggest temples in the Valley. Last but not least, there are the Temples of the Dioscuri — Castor and Pollux, which unfortunately haven’t been very well-preserved.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Hotel Villa Athena (⭐️ 9.1) — This hotel allows you to get gorgeous closeup views of the temples right from the rooms and they also have an outdoor pool.
19. Piazza del Duomo, San Gimignano
Explored by Lori of Travlinmad
Dating back to the 12th century and probably long before, this town is known for its tall towers in Piazza del Duomo, the historic center of politics and religion. These towers were originally built between the 12th and 14th centuries by the ruling families of Florence as signs of their wealth and power.
Inside the Piazza del Duomo, you’ll also find the Basilica Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta, which is worth a look inside, and the Torre Grossa, a 177 ft (54 m) tall tower which you can climb to the top. Your efforts will be well-rewarded with the most magnificent view of the city and the surrounding countryside!
One of the best ways to explore San Gimignano is on foot, and the narrow cobblestone streets will not only lead you to Piazza del Duomo but also to the adjacent Piazza della Cisterna, a triangular-shaped plaza with a central octagonal-shaped well.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: B&B I Coppi (⭐️ 9.4) — This gorgeous hotel features a lovely garden and a rooftop terrace.
20. Ponte Vecchio, Florence — One of the Most Famous Places to Visit in Italy
Explored by Nicky of That Anxious Traveller
Florence is filled with some of Italy’s most iconic sights — and just as important as all those nude statues and enormous cathedrals is the Ponte Vecchio, the famous bridge that has straddled the Arno River since 1345. If you visit without putting a walk across this bridge on your Florence itinerary, then you simply haven’t done Florence properly.
Ponte Vecchio is quite literally in the heart of the city, connecting the gorgeous city center with the headquarters of the historical ruling family, the Medici’s Palazzo Pitti. In fact, if you squint hard, you’ll be able to see the enclosed passageway of Vasari’s Corridor stretching across the tops of the bridge’s buildings, which allowed the Medicis to cross the river without being seen!
The shops on the bridge originally belonged to various butchers, but after the Medicis got tired of animal corpses being dumped into the river, it was decreed that only goldsmiths and jewelers could set up shop there. It’s remained the same to this day, with so many gold items in the windows that the bridge itself actually begins to shine gold in the reflection!
Being one of Florence’s most popular sights, the bridge does tend to get pretty busy. If you’re looking for that perfect photo, however, get there early in the morning — alternatively, head to the neighboring bridge of Ponte Santa Trinita for a great view.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Locanda De' Ciompi (⭐️ 9.3) — This hotel is set in a beautiful 17th-century Florentine building and the hosts are super friendly.
21. Piazza del Duomo, Lecce
Explored by Paul of The Two That Do
Amongst the countless famous landmarks of Italy, Lecce’s stunning Piazza del Duomo is often overlooked. However, boasting numerous fine examples of Baroque architecture, it fully deserves to be on any Italy bucket list.
The gorgeous town of Lecce, often referred to as the ‘Florence of the South’ due to the splendid architecture of its Old Town, is located in Puglia, in the heel of Italy. With origins dating back to Emperor Hadrian, Lecce is a city with over 2,000 years of history.
The Piazza del Duomo in Lecce was built in the early 15th century and is located in the western part of the Old Town. Unusually, this square is fully enclosed on three sides with access only possible from the northern side from Via Giuseppe Libertini. As you enter the piazza via this small gateway, it opens before you — enhancing its grandeur.
Standing in the center of the piazza, surrounded by architectural delights such as the Lecce Cathedral, the adjacent Campanile (Bell Tower), and the Bishops Palace, you will be inevitably struck by its sheer beauty.
🔥 Pro Tip: Visit in the early hours of the morning when few others are around; despite its stately nature, you will also feel an intimacy not experienced at many other such landmarks. 🏡 Where to stay nearby: Sui Tetti Luxury Rooms (⭐️ 9.0) — This hotel offers a magical panoramic terrace with a hot tub.
🌿 Famous Natural Landmarks in Italy
22. Mount Etna, Sicily — One of the Major Landmarks in Italy
Explored by Réka of Pairound The World
At 3,350 m (10,990 ft) high, Mount Etna is an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily, Italy. You can go up to around 2,920 m (almost reaching the top), sit down on the small lava stones, look around, and enjoy the amazing silence around you. It’s truly a life-changing experience.
If you’re getting there by car, the highest point you can drive to is the Rifugio Sapienza Hotel (⭐️ 8.6) at 1,900 m high. You can also reach this hotel by bus from Catania, which would take around 2 hours (a return ticket costs €7). Usually, there’s one bus in the morning to take you to Etna and the same bus in the afternoon can bring you back to Catania.
From the Rifugio Sapienza Hotel, you can continue your journey up Etna to around 2,500 m with a cable car. Once you get off the cable car, you’ll see a small restaurant where you can buy some sandwiches and hot drinks. From there, you can continue your journey up to 2,920 m high with 4×4 buses and a guide (you’re not allowed to go up without a guide).
Be sure to always check the weather forecast on the day you want to do this trip because if it gets windy, the cable car won’t be running. The weather in Etna can be very different from Catania, so bring a warm jacket and some sunscreen.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Rifugio Sapienza Hotel (⭐️ 8.6) — This hotel is right next to the cable car going up to Etna and also offers free ski storage.
23. The Beaches of Positano, Amalfi Coast
Explored by Chrysoula of Travel Passionate
The colorful town of Positano lies perched on a cliffside of the Amalfi Coast, with terracotta-roofed houses tumbling down the hillside towards the water. This really is one of the most picture-perfect places in Italy, allowing travelers to wander through the Ancient Roman villas and fresh boho boutiques of the town before stopping to dine al fresco on the coast.
There’s a wide choice of stunning beaches in Positano, including Laurito, Arienzo, Fornillo, and the popular Spiaggia Grande. You can go for a swim in the sea and enjoy the majestic views of the town from the water. If you’d like a sunbed, make sure to either book it in advance or to get to the beach early.
From the Spiaggia Grande beach, you can also take amazing boat tours. This is the very best way to take in the photogenic landscape of the town and the surrounding cliffs. A short day-cruise will allow you to feel the breeze in your hair while you admire the azure Amalfi Coast waters and the colorful architecture beyond.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Casa Nilde (⭐️ 9.5) — This hotel offers rooms with balcony seaviews and is a short walk to the beaches.
24. Lago di Braies, Dolomites
Explored by Kat of Wandering Bird
Lago di Braies is a gorgeous lake in the Prags Dolomites in South Tyrol, Italy. It is one of the highlights of any Dolomites itinerary. You can visit Lago di Braies in 10 minutes or stay an entire day, hiking the area and enjoying the incredible scenery. It’s entirely up to you.
This lake is surprisingly easy to find and there’s plenty of parking provided nearby. You don’t need to book parking in advance, but don’t forget to pay for your ticket. As with all of Italy’s famous landmarks, you need to be clever about when you visit. Let’s face it — this lake is one of the most photographed places in Italy. Thousands of people visit every day during the summer, and that’s not an exaggeration.
Tour buses arrive constantly, flooding the entire area with new and excited visitors. You’ll see girls in exotic dresses, couples and influencers looking for that perfect shot, and hundreds of tourists trying to find the exact right angle. If you arrive after 9 am, forget it.
🔥 Top Tip: Consider sleeping in a camper by the lake so that you can be there for sunrise or sunset, when the area is a lot quieter and you can take your time to find the best shot. 🏡 Where to stay nearby: Hotel Lago di Braies (⭐️ 8.6) — This is the only hotel located right at the lake and it offers absolutely breathtaking views.
25. Lake Como — One of the Most Famous Landmarks in Italy
Explored by Paula of Paula Pins The Planet
Lake Como is a stunning lake town in Italy, and it has been a playground for the rich and famous for centuries, dating back to Roman times. Located at the foothills of the Alps in Northern Italy, not far from the Swiss border, Lake Como is one of Italy’s top attractions.
Lake Como is easily accessible from Milan and Lugano by train, which runs hourly and tickets are as low as €5. Known as the “golden triangle” and clustered in the middle of Lake Como are the towns of Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio. There are also many stunning smaller villages around.
The majority of visitors stay in one of those three towns, and if you opt to be in any of the smaller villages along the lake, you’ll need to rent a car as the ferries only run to the main towns. A trip to Lake Como will involve seeing beautiful villas, picturesque towns, and stunning Swiss Alps scenery.
Como is also known for its spectacular Baroque mansions, such as Villa Olmo, a gorgeous neoclassical 1797 mansion with jaw-dropping panoramic views of Lake Como. You can also catch the ferry and cruise past the villas along the lakeside. This gives you a chance to admire the stunning views along the lake.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Villa Vinicia (⭐️ 9.4) — This elegant hotel offers a hot tub and an outdoor pool with mountain views.
26. Mount Vesuvius
Explored by Anda of Travel For A While
Mount Vesuvius is one of the most recognizable natural landmarks of Italy. Those images of Naples Bay, dominated by the dormant volcano appear in almost every yearly calendar, postcard, and magnet in Southern Italy. And who could deny its attraction?
The volcano is a symbol of the destructive power that crushed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum 2,000 years ago. At the same time, the volcanic soil provided the perfect conditions for growing fruits and vegetables. Not to mention the wine that came out of the region’s grapes. People have ignored the dangers of the volcano for hundreds of years to benefit from its rich soil.
A hike on the Vesuvius is the best way to see Naples Bay from the highest point. The walk up to the crater takes about 30 minutes and you can do it regardless of your fitness level. Just walk slowly and bring some water with you as there are some steep slopes along the way!
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Dream House Pompei (⭐️ 9.5) — This hotel has a very dreamy terrace complete with a jacuzzi and a stunning view of Mount Vesuvius.
27. The Viewpoint in Manarola, Cinque Terre
Manarola is one of the oldest towns in Cinque Terre, a beautiful coastal area in Liguria. This ancient town is one of the five villages that make up the unique Cinque Terre, with the other four being Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Monterosso al Mare.
While each of the five villages has its unique charm, Manarola stands out for its iconic postcard-worthy viewpoint — the vistas you’ll get there are truly the most spectacular ones in all of Cinque Terre. To reach this viewpoint, head over to the walkway below the Nessun Dorma Restaurant.
From there, you can see a beautiful facade of Manarola as a whole; its bright and colorful houses built on the cliffside right next to the sea. This viewpoint is truly one of the most breathtaking famous landmarks in Italy and a magical place to watch the sunset too.
During your time in Manarola, be sure to also explore the hiking trails in town. The most popular one is the incredibly scenic Via dell’Amore (‘Love’s Trail’), which connects Manarola to its neighboring village of Riomaggiore.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: La Torretta Lodge (⭐️ 9.3) — This dreamy hotel offers gorgeous seaviews and a free hot tub.
28. Blue Grotto, Capri — One of Italy’s Most Famous Landmarks
Explored by Lori of Travlinmad
The breathtaking isle of Capri off the Sorrentine peninsula in Southern Italy is known for its celebrity sightings, high-end designer shops, and casually elegant eateries. Tucked into the nooks and crannies of the island’s volcanic rocky coastline is a series of caves and grottos, perfect for exploring and swimming.
The most famous of them all is the Grotta Azzurra, or the Blue Grotto — one of the most popular attractions of the region. Taking a boat tour to see the unusual glowing blue water in the cave is an experience not to be missed.
You can join a small boat tour for a nominal fee of around €20/$25 USD or charter your own private boat, but no matter how you get there, you will eventually have to transfer to a much smaller rowboat, while your bigger ride waits outside.
Carrying just a few passengers at a time, you’ll need to lie down flat in the boat so it can fit inside the narrowest entrance. If seas are rough, boats may opt not to enter for the safety of passengers, but if you’re blessed with good weather, an amazing treat awaits you inside.
As you glide through the entrance, the sunlight rays from the rocky bottom illuminate the water and the water glows the most beautiful blue. It’s truly an amazing sight and an experience you’ll never forget.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Casa Di Capri (⭐️ 9.2) — This hotel has an amazing ambience, is close to tons of shops, and is a 10-min walk to a local beach.
29. The Cliffs of Polignano a Mare
Explored by Anda of Travel For A While
Polignano a Mare is a small town close to Bari in the Italian region of Puglia. It is famous for its white-washed houses hanging on top of gigantic limestone cliffs. You can easily reach Polignano on a 30-min train ride from the Bari Centrale Station or via car if you’re planning a road trip in Puglia.
Start your visit at the Roman Bridge, which was a part of the ancient Via Traiana leading to Rome. From the bridge, you’ll get the first glimpse of the most famous spot in Polignano a Mare: Cala Monachile.
Cala Monachile Beach, nestled between high cliffs, is stunning from any point of view. It’s also a good place to go for a swim and explore the caves beneath the cliffs of Polignano. Just take care as you walk, as the pebbles on the beach aren’t too friendly with your feet.
After the beach, explore the rest of Polignano a Mare at your leisure. It is a charming place with decorated alleys and beautiful sea views everywhere. You’ll find many coffee shops and restaurants along the way too. For a unique experience, book a table at Grotta Palazzese, a beautiful restaurant hidden in a cave above the sea.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Masseria Le Torri (⭐️ 9.6) — This hotel has a super charming ambience with a stunning outdoor pool and views of the sea.
30. Cala Luna, Sardinia
Explored by Claudia of Strictly Sardinia
Cala Luna is a small cove located on the Gulf of Orosei, on the eastern coast of Sardinia. Considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Sardinia, it’s the kind of place that requires a bit of an effort to get to — but it’s completely worth it.
There are no roads that can take you to Cala Luna. You can only get there by boat. Alternatively, you can reach it by hiking as there are various trails that will take you there. The most popular one starts in Cala Fuili, a small cove a few kilometers outside of Cala Gonone.
Cala Gonone is the best starting point for visiting Cala Luna. The beach is free to access, and there’s just one place where you can rent pedal boats or kayaks. On the left-hand side of the beach, there are a few beautiful caves that provide shelter from the sun and the heat.
Children love Cala Luna for its beautiful clear waters, but keep in mind that the water is immediately deep so watch out if they can’t swim! For excellent seafood, be sure to head to Il Pescatore in Cala Gonone — reservations recommended.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Hotel Cala Luna (⭐️ 8.6) — This beachfront hotel has a beautiful terrace with sunbeds and offers incredible coastal views.
🏙 More Famous Buildings in Italy: Past & Present
31. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan
Explored by Vaibhav of The Wandering Vegetable
Named after Victor Emmanuel II (the first king of the Italian kingdom), the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the most famous buildings of Italy to see on a European itinerary. Designed in 1861, it proudly wears the badge of being Italy’s oldest shopping mall.
This royal-looking shopping arcade has all the top luxury brands and couture stores under a single roof. The arcade, besides being filled with expensive clothing and jewelry stores, is also home to bars, cafes, restaurants, and the elegant Galleria Vik Hotel (⭐️ 8.4).
The Galleria, which took 12 years (1865-1877) for architect Giuseppe Mengoni to build, acts as a connecting link between the Piazza del Duomo and the Piazza della Scala, two other famous attractions in Milan. It used to be and still is an important meeting and dining place for locals in Milan, who throng here during weekends to chill and socialize.
This famous Italian building has two glass-vaulted arcades intersecting to form an octagon. You can spot several beautiful frescoes and arches on the walls that transport you back to the glorious old days. The Galleria comes alive at night and is busy most days of the week. It’s a paradise for those who love shopping and a must-visit if you’re in Milan.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Galleria Vik Milano (⭐️ 8.4) — This hotel is right inside the Galleria and offers gorgeous panoramic views of the mall.
32. Colored Houses of Burano, Venice
Explored by Claire of Tales Of A Backpacker
Burano is an island in the Venice Lagoon and makes a wonderful day trip from Venice. Although it’s no longer the hidden gem it once was, if the crowds in Venice get too much, then this is the perfect escape.
Traditionally a fishermen’s island, Burano’s houses are all painted bright colors so that the fishermen could spot their own houses as soon as the island came into view after their voyage. Burano is also famous for its lace-making traditions. You can visit the Lace Museum on the island or catch a lace-making demonstration in one of the shops.
The joy of Burano is in exploring the streets and admiring the colorful houses. As with Venice, Burano is crisscrossed with canals, and the bridges built over them make perfect spots to take photos and see the houses in their full glory.
You could stay on Burano Island for a couple of days, but most people prefer to stay in Venice and take a day trip to Burano, also dropping by Murano Island for glass-making demonstrations. From Venice, you could arrange a tour to Burano or catch a Vaporetto water bus to the island, which takes about an hour.
🌟 Recommended guided tour: Murano and Burano Tour by Boat (⭐️ 4.6/5) — Discover the lace-making and glass blowing traditions of Murano and Burano on a leisurely 5-hour tour.
33. Juliet’s Balcony (Casa di Giulietta), Verona — One of the Most Famous Structures in Italy
Explored by Wendy of Wendy In The Wind
One of the most sought out places of interest in Verona was born from the pages of Romeo and Juliet — Juliet’s Balcony (Casa di Giulietta). This is where visitors can find the infamous balcony that Juliet supposedly stood upon while Romeo declared his love for her. While the jury is still out on whether the love story is true or not, the balcony is available for public view.
Nestled in the side of a medieval building, the balcony overlooks a small courtyard where a bronze statue of Juliet stands. It is said that anyone who rubs the right breast of the statue will have luck in love.
Lining the walls in the courtyard are thousands of letters addressed to Juliet asking for guidance and love advice. But be careful; there is now a €500 fine for anyone who’s found sticking things on the walls because so many people use gum to make their letters stick, which is making the building deteriorate.
The balcony is accessible through a museum that displays artifacts and props from film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet. The cost to enter the museum and stand on the balcony is €6, and tickets can be purchased at the door or online in advance.
🔥 Pro Tip: Visit early in the morning when they first open; during this time, there are very few visitors, which means a better chance for that photo op of you reenacting Romeo and Juliet. 🏡 Where to stay nearby: Hotel Milano & SPA***S (⭐️ 9.1) — This stunning hotel offers an incredible spa and a panoramic sun terrace.
34. Duomo di Siena (Siena Cathedral), Siena
Explored by Aswani of A Charming Escape
The Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena) is a 13th-century medieval church located in the beautiful city of Siena. It is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Tuscany and one of the must-visit famous monuments of Italy.
This cathedral was built between 1215 and 1263 and is a classic example of Gothic and Romanesque architecture. While the exterior details, the facade, and the accompanying bell tower are all beautiful, the interior of the cathedral is even more impressive.
Unlike the Duomo of Florence, the Siena Cathedral is filled with intricate details and artworks by Donatello, Michelangelo, and Bernini. The striped black and white marble pillars also make this cathedral impressive to look at.
While you’re inside the cathedral, be sure to look in all directions, including the gorgeously frescoed ceilings and the floor filled with great mosaics. Some of the must-see attractions inside the cathedral are The Feast of Herod by Donatello, Saint Paul by Michelangelo, the impressive Piccolomini library, and the chapel of St John the Baptist.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Residenza d'Epoca - Palazzo Borghesi (⭐️ 9.5) — This unique hotel features original fresceos in the rooms and is set in one of the oldest buildings in town.
35. Strada Nuova, Genoa
Explored by Noel of Travel Photo Discovery
The city of Genoa in the Ligurian coastline is one of the most famous places in Italy to visit. It became very wealthy when nobles built gorgeous palaces around the city, particularly in the historical UNESCO areas around the famous Strada Nuova (or “New Street”). Today, this street is truly one of the most stunning famous sites of Italy.
Walking along this beautiful boulevard, you’ll see some elaborate palaces lined on both sides, with stunning architectural details and flourishes that are still intact and worthy of their UNESCO World Heritage status.
It is easy enough to explore the entire Strada Nuova on its own and even stop by many of the villas there, some of which are now living museums. Other palaces on Strada Nuova have been converted into hotels and tourist-oriented venues, and you can easily pop in and get a glimpse of their gorgeous interiors.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: Hotel Le Nuvole Residenza d'Epoca (⭐️ 9.1) — This hotel offers rooms with stunning modern décor and painted ceilings.
36. Torre del Moro, Orvieto — One of the Best Historical Sites in Italy
Torre del Moro is a 47-meter (154 ft) high tower in the city center of Orvieto, one of the most ancient cities in Italy that dates back to the 9th century BC. Built in the 13th century, this tower is a special landmark of the region because if you climb the 250 steps to the terrace, you’ll be rewarded with the most stunning 360° panoramic views of the entire city.
The tower stands in the heart of Orvieto on Via del Duomo, a street that will also lead you to the majestic Duomo di Orvieto (Orvieto Cathedral). Both the exterior facade and beautiful art inside this cathedral are worth checking out; they’re truly brilliant from every angle.
A 10-min walk from the tower is the Pozzo di San Patrizio (Well of St. Patrick), and you can go all the way down to the bottom of this historic well. There are also tons of cafes and restaurants around Torre del Moro — you won’t be out of things to do when you’re in the area!
Orvieto is also famous for its abundance of vineyards and local wine. Walking around the historic center, you’ll come across a lot of shops offering you to taste their wine. You can also buy some locally produced truffles and olive oil to bring back as souvenirs.
🏡 Where to stay nearby: La Casa Bianca (⭐️ 9.6) — This cozy apartment is incredibly stylish and offers an breathtaking mountain views.
🗺️ Planning Your Trip to Italy’s Famous Places
- ✈️ Find the best flights to Italy with Skyscanner
- 💸 Get reliable travel insurance from World Nomads
- 🚖 Book your private transfer from the airport with Expedia or Get Your Guide
- 🏨 Find the best accommodations on Booking.com
- 🧔🏻 See the famous places of Italy with a guide via Get Your Guide or Viator
- 🚗 To rent a car for road trips, get the best deals on Rentalcars.com
- 🎒 Pack an anti-theft backpack, a universal adapter, and a power bank
- 📚 Read Lonely Planet Italy and Rick Steves Italy 2020 Travel Guide
- 📸 Bring the best photography gear (including these must-have Sony lenses!)
🔮 Travel Insurance for Italy
Having travel insurance gives me peace of mind, and I highly recommend getting it because let’s be real — the last thing we want on any trip is for accidents and mishaps to get in the way. I use a service called World Nomads and can highly recommend them — they offer affordable prices, great coverage, and a reliable 24/7 on-call service.