20 Cities in Italy

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Italy is a beautiful country with spectacular scenery, cities full of art and culture, and a cornucopia of excellent food and wine. The history of the land stretches back thousands of years to the ancient Roman Empire and it’s the birthplace of the Renaissance, starting in Florence in the 14th century. The cities in Italy each have a distinct flavour. Rome is the city to discover Roman culture while the influence of the Greeks is evident in the south of the country, particularly on the island of Sicily. Tuscany is the place for lovers of the Italian Renaissance and Milan is for fashionistas and fast cars, with many fashion houses based here.

Italy is heaven for art lovers; you will find art galleries galore. After all, the country was home to some of the most famous artists in the world, such as Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Donatello, and Raphael. Italian museums house sculptures, frescoes, and other artefacts from ancient Roman times to the Renaissance and beyond. The best museums are in Italian cities such as Rome and Florence, but you will also find museums off the beaten track and tucked inside churches.

In the cities of Italy, there is an assortment of architectural styles, from ancient Rome to the present day. In Rome, for example, you can visit the Colosseum and Pantheon, dating back to ancient Rome, the Trevi Fountain, built during the Renaissance, and the Spanish Steps from the Baroque era, dating back to the 17th century.

Food is another reason to visit Italy. Each region has its specialities, for example, Naples is the birthplace of pizza. Pasta and risotto are second to none, and polenta, gnocchi, cured meats, and seafood are all popular. Try gelato or Italian ice cream. You won’t have tasted anything so good. So, you’ve decided to visit Italy but are not sure where to go? Here are the top cities in Italy to tick off your bucket list.  

Cities in Italy

20 Italian Cities To Visit

1- Rome

Skyline Of Rome, Italy. Panoramic View Of Rome
Rome is at the top of the list of major cities in Italy.

We have to start with Rome, the capital city of Italy, often called ‘The Eternal City’ because of its historical, artistic, and cultural heritage.

It is a city buzzing with life as well as traffic.

It is one of the most congested city centres in the world and the traffic is intense and unpredictable.

Crossing the road is a challenge not least because scooters appear out of nowhere honking their horns.

Driving in Rome is not for the timid.

When I was there, I walked everywhere, but there is public transport.

If you are interested in ancient Rome, there is plenty to keep you occupied, starting with the Colosseum. 

It was an amphitheatre that was once Rome’s main source of entertainment used for gladiatorial contests, animal hunts, executions and dramas based on Roman mythology.

Other Roman highlights include the Roman Forum, an ancient city that has been well preserved so you will get a good idea of what life was like so many years ago.

The Pantheon was once a temple to the ancient gods and is a large concrete dome with an opening that allows light to reflect onto the dome’s walls.

It is beautiful.

Climb to the top of Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome, to get fantastic views of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

The Trevi Fountain has beautifully carved statues and if you throw a coin over your right shoulder into the fountain and make a wish, it should come true.

Mine did!

Rome is also home to stunning cathedrals, museums and art galleries but there is no way that you can see this city in a day.

2- Venice

Aerial Panoramic View Of Venice City
Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.

Venice is famous for its canals and gondolas.

It is a beautiful city in Italy to visit but if you go in the heat of the summer, it can be a little smelly.

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit.

A gondola ride is highly recommended but you can also walk through the city’s winding streets.

Walk along the Rialto Bridge for lovely views of Venice and visit one of the squares, such as Piazza San Marco or Campo Santa Maria Formosa.

Piazza San Marco is very famous and is a lovely place to sit and people-watch with a coffee but be prepared to pay top dollar for the privilege.

You will find many museums and art galleries in Venice, such as the Gallerie dell’ Academia and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection houses her collection of 20th-century modern art with masterpieces ranging from Cubism and Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism.

The Gallerie dell’ Academia shows paintings by such artists as Bellini, Titian and Mantegna.

The city is famous for seafood, with bigoli in salsa (pasta in an anchovy sauce) and risotto alnero de sepia ( risotto cooked with cuttlefish ink) being very popular.

The Gallerie dell’ Academia is at Calle delta Carita 1060 300123. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is at Dorsoduro 701 – 704 30123. 

3- Florence

Florence - Aerial View Of The City
Florence is one of the most stunning cities in Italy to visit.

It’s easy to see why Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.

You get the city’s best view from Piazzale Michelangelo, so get a coffee and take in the atmosphere.

The historic centre of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage site and here you can visit sites such as the Palazzo Vecchio and the Cathedral of Santa Maria.

The Statue of David, a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture carved by Michelangelo, is housed in the Galleria dell’ Academia.

It is a massive 5.15 metres (17 ft) high.

If you are an art lover, the Galleria Uffizi houses sculptures from ancient Rome and sculptures and paintings dating from the Middle Ages to modern times.

Here you will find The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli.

For fresh air and a commune with nature, head to the Boboli Gardens, a perfect example of an Italian Garden on a hill behind the palace created in the 16th century.

Tuscan cuisine features fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.

The foundation of all dishes is locally produced olive oil and everything is cooked in olive oil, which is typical of the Mediterranean diet.

The Galleria Uffizi is at Piazzale degi Uffizi 6 50122

4- Siena

Aerial View Of The Medieval Village Of Pienza Siena
Siena is one of the top cities to visit in Italy if you’re a James Bond fan. It is featured in Quantum of Solace.

Close to Florence is the city of Siena, which is a beautiful Mediaeval city with stunning squares.

The Piazza del Campo has spectacular architecture, including the Torre del Mangia, a bell tower built in the 14th century.

If you’re willing to climb over 400 steps, you will get magnificent views over Siena.

The tower is 87 m (285 feet) tall. Skip the line and order your ticket with a guided city tour.

Palazzo Pubblico houses frescos, paintings, and sculptures dating back to the 14th century.

The unusual shell-shape Piazza del Campo is home to a twice-annual horse race dating back to Mediaeval times.

In the Piazza del Duomo, you will find the Duomo of Santa Maria, an outstanding Romanesque-Gothic church that houses works by Michelangelo and Donatello.

5- Naples

Skyline Of The City Of Naples
Naples is one of the must-see cities in Italy and is famous for its pizza.

Naples is famous for inventing the Margherita pizza created in 1889 to honour Queen Margherita and Italian unification.

The pizza has just three colours, and they are of the Italian flag: tomatoes (red), mozzarella (white) and basil (green).

Pizza created in Naples is the best in Italy, so don’t leave Naples without trying one.

The city has a beautiful historic centre where you can visit the Cathedral of Naples and the 12th-century Castle Ovo, which has two towers offering spectacular views.

The National Archaeological Museum is worth a visit as it holds many artefacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Naples is in a beautiful setting with views over the Vesuvius volcano on one side and the sea on the other.

The National Archaeological Museum is at Piazza Museo 19 80135.

6- Palermo

Aerial View Of Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Palermo is one of the cities in Sicily, Italy. Remember The Godfather?

Palermo is the capital of the island of Sicily and is a mixture of cultures, including Norman, Italian, and Arabic.

You will find Byzantine mosaics, Baroque buildings, Arabic domes, and Norman monuments and mosaics.

Palermo is busy and can get very hot in the summer, so you may want to do sightseeing early in the day.

Don’t miss going to the Cappella Palatina, the royal chapel of the Norman Palace.

It is a mixture of Byzantine, Norman, and Fatimid architectural styles. Inside you will see some stunning Byzantine mosaics.

If it gets too hot for you in the city, head to one of Palermo’s beaches and cool down in the sea.

Palermo is famous for street food and the city’s morning market, Bailaro, in the centre of town, is the place to go for the best.

Try the ragu stuffed rice balls, arancini or panzerotti, which are mini calzones.

7- Lecce

Roman Amphitheater Of The City Of Lecce, Italy.
Lecce is one of the lesser-known cities to visit in Italy.

Lecce is in southern Italy in the region of Puglia is nicknamed Lecce Baroque because you can see signs of Baroque architecture dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries all over the city.

The Cathedrale de Lecce is a must-see for the building itself and its setting in the Piazza del Duomo.

This square is one of the most beautiful in Italy and is a Baroque masterpiece.

The cathedral has a bell tower; from here, you will get spectacular views of the Adriatic Sea and over the city.

The Basilica di Santa Croce is worth seeing.

It is very different, with carved sheep, dodos, cherubs, and beasts writhing across the facade. The inside, however, is more conventionally Baroque.

In the Central Piazza Oronzo, you will find a Roman amphitheatre surrounded by Baroque and modern buildings.

Part of it is sunken but it gives you a glimpse into ancient Roman history, with an eerie quietness about it compared to the hustle and bustle elsewhere in the city.

You will see all the above on a Lecce walking tour.

8- Perugia

Perugia aerial view of red buildings
Perugia is one of the charming cities in Italy to tick off your bucket list.

Perugia is the capital of the Umbria region in central Italy and is well-known for the defensive walls built around the city centre in the 14th century.

Visit the Priori Palace dating back to the 13th century, a masterpiece in Gothic style that houses regional art from that time to the present.

As in most Italian cities, you will find beautiful squares such as the Piazza IV Novembre featuring Fontana Maggiore, a marble fountain with carvings of zodiac signs and biblical scenes, a strange combination.

The Gothic cathedral in the square features many Renaissance paintings and frescoes.

In the historic centre of Perugia is the Paolina Fortress, built in the 16th century.

It has a ghostly feel, with spaces that were once houses, street markings and subterranean tunnels.

In Perugia, the Etruscan Arch was constructed in the third century BC, one of the two surviving gates from the Etruscan wall around Perugia. It is an impressive sight and is almost intact.

9- Milan

Aerial View Over Milan Italy
Milan is one of the best cities to visit in Italy for fashion and food.

Milan is the centre of Italy’s financial and fashion institutions.

Here you will find many well-known high-end fashion designers, such as Gucci and Prada, so you can come away with beautiful clothes if you have the money.

These luxury boutiques are housed in the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping mall.

Italy’s oldest active shopping mall is an extravagant 19th-century glass-topped tunnel that is lively and busy.

Come here to browse or buy and have lunch in one of the high-quality restaurants.

If you are more interested in Milan’s past, stroll through the city’s historic centre and visit the Cathedral of Milan and the Sforza Castle.

The Pinacoteca di Brera Art Museum contains an excellent collection of Italian paintings from the 13th century to the recent past.

Milan is renowned for its delicious northern Italian cuisine, such as risotto alla Milanese and ossobuco.

The Pinacoteca de Brera Art Museum is at Via Brera 28 20121.

10- Pisa

Pisa, Italy. Aerial View Of City Streets
Pisa is one of the most popular cities in Italy to visit.

Pisa is famous for its leaning tower, the Torre Pendente, which you can climb for magnificent city views.

The 296 steps are no mean feat to conquer. 

You will find plenty to keep you occupied in the historic centre of Pisa, including the Cathedral of Pisa and the Baptistry, over 20 historic churches, and a few Mediaeval palaces.

In Pisa, enjoy traditional Tuscan cuisine, such as ribollita, a traditional bread and vegetable soup, and cinghiale, wild boar in a ragu served with pappardelle pasta.

11- Turin

Aerial View Of Turin
Turin is one of the safest cities in Italy and the country’s first capital.

Turin is in northern Italy and is the capital city of Piedmont. The Alps rise to the city’s northwest, providing a beautiful backdrop.

This refined city has stunning Baroque buildings and magnificent squares such as Piazza Castello and Piazza San Carlo.

Museums abound housing unusual objects covering subjects as diverse as football, chocolate, coffee and cars.

With its soaring spire, the Mole Antonelliana’s 19th-century tower houses the interactive National Cinema Museum.

In Turin, you can try exceptional local wines such as Nebbiolo and Dolcetto and the sparkling wines Asti Spumante and Moscato d ’Asti.

12- Verona

Aerial view of Blue Hour In Verona City Centre, Italy
Verona is one of the most popular cities in Italy.

Verona is the city of love.

Perhaps you have read William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet?

Verona was his inspiration and he set the tragedy here.

What better place to come for a romantic break, though hopefully, your romance won’t end as badly as it did for Romeo and Juliet!

The city is built on the Adige River and has a beautiful historic centre.

Here you will find the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore and the Arena of Verona, an enormous amphitheatre built in the 1st century.

It is well-preserved and now hosts concerts and operas.

Verona has many traditional fairs and markets, such as the Fiera di Verona and the Mercato Coperto, where you can taste local produce and wine.

As in all of Italy, the cuisine is delicious in Verona. Local delicacies include fish from Lake Garda, such as pike, polenta, risotto, gnocchi and tortellini.

13- Bologna

Bologna View Of The City From Top Of Tower
Bologna is one of the famous cities in Italy, especially for its food culture.

Bologna is in the north of Italy in the Emilia-Romagna region and houses the world’s oldest university, built over 2000 years ago.

It is a beautiful city with buildings coloured yellow, orange, and red, with terracotta roofs.

Stroll through the historic centre on a walking tour and visit landmarks like the Two Towers and the Basilica of San Petronio.

The Piazza Maggiore is a lovely place to sit with a coffee and admire the Medieval and Renaissance buildings.

In the Piazza del Nettuno, you will find the Fountain of Neptune, a massive fountain with a statue of the god of the sea, trident in hand.

It won’t surprise you that Bologna is where the Bolognese sauce was invented. Try the tagliatelle al ragù or the lasagna alla Bolognese.

14- Ferraro

Ferraro is close to Bologna and is noted for the beautiful Renaissance buildings erected by the Este family, who ruled this region from the 1300s to the 1600s.

Visit the Este Castle, which appears to be on an island with a moat and magnificent private chambers.

The Este family also built the Diamonti Palace, which is clad in marble blocks shaped like diamonds and houses the National Picture Gallery.

The 12th-century Roman Catholic Ferrara Cathedral is dedicated to Saint George in the city’s centre.

It has a three-tiered façade representing Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture and a marble bell tower.

The Diamanti Palace is at Corso Erole d ’Este 21 44121. The Este Castle is at L. go Castello 44121.

15- Ravenna

Ravenna is in the Emilia-Romagna region in the north of Italy.

It isn’t far from the sea so you can have a day trip to the beach and enjoy seafood delicacies at one of the many restaurants.

The highlights of Ravenna are the beautiful mosaics covering many of the buildings, which provide excellent photo opportunities, especially the 6th-century Basilica di Sant – Apolinare Nuovo and the octagon-shaped Basilica de San Vitale.

To the north of the centre of Ravenna, you will find a spectacular Gothic stone tomb, the Mausoleo de Toredorico, built for King Theodoric the Great in the 6th century.

The Basilica de San Vitale is at Via San Vitale 17 48121. The Basilica di Sant’ Apolinare Nuovo is at Via de Roma 53 48020.

16- Urbino

Castle Urbino Italy
Urbino is one of the best cities to live in Italy.

If you want to escape the tourist trap but still want a taste of historic Italy, head to Urbino in the centre of the country.

It is a walled city well-known for the Palazzo Ducale, built in the 15th century.

The National Gallery of the Marcho is inside the palace and paintings by Titian and Raphael are featured here.

Raphael was born in Urbino and you can visit his home.

There are other museums to visit in Urbino, including the Museo Diocesano Albani, which houses religious artefacts dating back to the 13th century.

The Palazzo Ducal is at Piazza Rinascimento 13 61029. The Museo Diocesano Albani is at Piazza Pascoli 1 61029.

17- Genoa

Genoa Aerial Cityscape, Liguria, Italy
Genoa is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and a gateway to the Ligurian Coast.

If you want to be near the sea and enjoy city life, head to Genoa, the maritime capital of the world for over 700 years.

The port is the second-largest in the Mediterranean, and many cruise ships stop here.

The highlight of the Old Harbour is the Aquarium, the largest in Europe. Here, you will find 15,000 animal specimens and 200 vegetal species.

The height of Genoa’s power was between the 11th and 17th centuries when crusaders and traders sailed to the city.

The best architecture in the city dates back to this time and the Cattedrale of San Lorenzo is considered one of the best structures with its Gothic facade and Romanesque arch interior.

When it comes to food, Genoa is famous for cheese focaccia, pesto pasta, salt cod, vegetable pies, and tripe.

18- Parma

historic building in Parma in Emilia Romagna
Parma is one of the best cities in Italy for gastronomic traditions.

When many of us think about Parma, Parmesan cheese and Parma ham will come to mind, but while Parma has been made famous through these foods, it has much more to offer the visitor.

The buildings and squares are splendid, especially Parma Cathedral, a beautiful Romanesque Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

In the Palazzo della’ Pilotta, you will find works by Correggio and Canaletto.

Parma Cathedral is at Piazza Duomo 43121. Palazzo della’ Pilotta is at Piazza della Pilotta 3 43121.

19- Lucca

Historical Medieval Town Lucca With Old Buildings And Towers, Tuscany, Italy
Lucca is one of the best cities in Italy to visit for art and architecture.

Lucca is in Tuscany and has the Serchio River running through it.

It has a historic Old Town, built during the Renaissance, surrounded by well-preserved walls.

On top of these walls are tree-lined paths where you can walk or cycle with a great view over the city centre.

Lucca was the birthplace of the composer Giacomo Puccini, who is famous for his operas.

You can visit the house where he was born as it is now a museum with artefacts from his life.

The Piazza San Martino in the city centre is worth visiting on a walking tour.

It often holds cultural events and there you will find Lucca Cathedral with beautiful artwork.

Cassa ali Puccini is at Corte S Lorenzo 9 55100.

20- Ragusa

Panoramic View Of Ragusa Ibla
Ragusa is one of the top cities in Italy to explore for Sicilian Baroque architecture.

Ragusa is a city on the island of Sicily and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It is the birthplace of the Sicilian Baroque, and the Duomo of San Giorgio is a prime example.

You do need to go inside and see the stained-glass windows and paintings.

It interestingly features in the Italian TV series Montalbano which has been shown worldwide.

In the modern part of town, you will find the 18th-century Ragusa Cathedral, a Roman Catholic Church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. Inside, there is a museum housing religious relics and art.

Ragusa has its own food style, so joining a market tour and cooking class is a must-do.

Dishes are rich in cheese and legumes, and desserts are popular. They have their own traditional bread, pane di pasta dura which is hard dough bread.

The Duomo di San Giorgia is at Piazza Duomo 97100. Ragusa Cathedral is at Piazza S Giovanni. 

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Irena Nieslony was born in Windsor, England but now lives on the island of Crete, Greece, in a small village called Modi near the city of Chania. She has visited 32 countries in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa. Her favourite country is Tanzania as she loves wildlife and was lucky enough to see ‘The Big Five”. She also loves Egypt, as ancient history intrigues her, the southern states of the US and the cities of Memphis, Nashville, and New Orleans for music. She has a B.A. Honours degree in English and Drama from Westfield College, University of London. She has been writing for over 13 years and has 13 novels, 7 short stories and thousands of articles published.