From the ski fields of the Aosta Valley in the north to the craggy coastal stretches of Sicily in the south, the shimmering beaches of the Rimini Riviera in the east to the olive-spotted mounts of Sardinia in the west, Italy is unquestionably one of the most enthralling, bucket-list and beautiful destinations on the planet. However, the beautiful back country aside, the urban areas of the famous Boot are another major draw. In fact, there are oodles of awesome Italy cities to visit, going from the likes of the Eternal City of Rome to the rough-and-ready metropolis of Naples. Here’s a look at some of the best…

Italy cities to visit…

Italy cities to visit
Rome | © Crabs Move Sideways

Rome

No matter if you come in search of Caravaggio or da Vinci, to trace the footsteps of Cicero or to wonder at the crumbling Roman Forum, sip coffees in al fresco cafes or delight in the culinary excellence of the Eternal City, Rome certainly has you covered. There can be no better start for any visitor than with a jaunt through the narrow streets of Old Rome, ringed by the meanders of the Tiber and buzzing with Piazza Navona and the clambering medieval homes of Campo de’ Fiori. Between these two beautiful squares is where you’ll discover the iconic Parthenon, concealing the tomb of one Raphael, master of the High Renaissance. Just to the east and the Spanish Steps rise over the babbling Trevi Fountain, giving way to the Villa Borghese and Piazza del Popolo with churches loaded by Caravaggio pieces. Nice.

Italy cities to visit
Naples | © Alexandra Svatikova/Flickr

Naples

The legendary home of pizza, Naples sprawls out like a great urban mass under the shadow of Vesuvius. It’s the greatest metropolis of southern Italy, and boasts some of the world’s most awesome ancient Roman ruins. Pompeii is – of course – a must, while Herculaneum has all the same haunting ruins and petrified human bodies, just without the crowds. Back in the city of Naples itself and there’s the maze of alleyways that makes up the Spaccanapoli. Here, pizzerias hide beneath age-stained facades, Baroque churches glower over the pavements and scooters purr and pulse between the streets. The Naples National Archaeological Museum is a must for lovers of ancient Rome too, while romantic Vomero offers local trattorias and enchanting churches aplenty.

Italy cities to visit
Milan, Italy | © Jess Wood/Flickr

Milan

Fashion and art are commonly held to be Milan’s two great strengths. But to reduce Italy’s second-largest metropolis to simply those two categories is to do it a certain injustice. Yes, there’s the bucket-list sight of the Last Supper to check out, hidden between the apses of the mysterious Santa Maria delle Grazie church. And there’s that gorgeous Gothic Duomo too (be sure to take a stroll over the roof). The fashion week is always a big hit too, while the boutiques of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II draw jet setters like iron filings to a magnet – albeit a bespoke Prada magnet gilded in gold! Those things aside though, Milan also has a fine cuisine, with risottos and roasted veal and fine Lombardy come Piedmont wines by the bucket list. The nightlife ain’t bad either, with bars by the bucket load in charming Navigli district.


Italy cities to visit
Bergamo | © Crabs Move Sideways

Bergamo

Draped over the foothills of the Italian Alps just a short jaunt by road or rail from the centre of Milan, Bergamo is oft overlooked by travellers making a trip to the Italian Boot. Those who linger a while though are in for a treat. For one, there’s arguably one of the most awesome old towns of any Italy cities to visit: The great Citta Alta that comes ringed with formidable bulwarks built by the Venetians. The Piazza Vecchia is the heart of the action here, towered over by the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and awash with enchanting trattorias and Italian coffee shops (a great place for people watching). If you’re feeling adventurous, take a stroll higher up the hill to the area of San Vigilio. Beautiful views of the Lombard plains unfold on all sides, the Alps rise like crags to the back and there are some excellent bistros on offer below the castle (there’s also a funicular to the top!).

Italy cities to visit
Venice | © Crabs Move Sideways

Venice

Venice is a city that hardly needs an introduction. Famed for its canals and artistic masterworks, the grand Piazza San Marco (one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe) and the eminent Doge’s Palace, the city has long been a hub for artists, poets, explorers and the like. The Grand Canal that cuts through its heart is a real wonder to behold. It’s been painted by Picasso and eulogised by Shakespeare, both of whom depicted the beautiful Rialto Bridge and the gorgeous adornments that mark it. Venice has boomed with tourism in recent decades no doubt, and its tight-knit streets are still chock-a-block with visitors in the summer months. Escaping the fray into the Lido (the city’s artificial beaches) is a great choice, or heading for the beautiful island of Murano, while not coming here at all is surely not an option!#

Italy cities to visit
Palazzo Reale di Torino | © Victoriano Javier Tornel García/Flickr

Turin

Turin is the ancestral home of Italy’s kings and queens. Ringed on all sides by the rising snow-mantled peaks of the Piedmont Alps, it’s got more palazzos than you can shake a priceless bottle of Barolo red at (on second thoughts, don’t shake!). The Royal Palace of Turin showcases some of the most elegant court rooms of the House of Savoy, while the Museum of the Risorgimento in the Palazzo Carignano chronicles the national movement for the unification of Italy during the 19th century. The heart of the town is overshadowed by the pinnacle of the soaring Mole Antonelliana – one of the major landmarks of Turin and home to the tallest museum on the planet. Oh, and then – of course – there’s the great Turin Shroud, only shown on set dates of the year in this truly rich option of Italy cities to visit.

Italy cities to visit
Bologna | © Yuri Virovets/Flickr

Bologna

Italy’s self-proclaimed culinary capital is actually about much more than just maroon-red veal steaks and mouth-watering bolognaise sauces, although they are a real treat, no doubt. In fact, this 1,200-year-old city at the heart of the beautiful Emilia-Romagna region is a great many other things: Italy’s oldest university town; arguably its best-preserved medieval center (for a city at least), and one of the country’s liveliest, edgiest urban areas (we’ve got the tens of thousands of students to thank for that!). Start with a tour of the red-brick Centro Storico here, weaving betwixt the babbling fountains, the arcades of the great Piazza Maggiore and the two leaning Towers of Bologna. Then, head out to mingle with students in the bars of the University Quarter, or make a beeline for the country, where the rugged peaks of the Apennine Mountains give way to the hill towns of Marche.

Italy cities to visit
Florence | © gωen/Flickr

Florence

Last but certainly not least on our list of the finest Italy cities to visit is Florence. After a brilliant Golden Age in the Renaissance, it’s difficult to find somewhere in Europe – nay, the world – where the artistic influences of this mighty city state didn’t permeate. Just peak into the rooms of the Uffizi Gallery and you’ll see it for yourself: Botticelli; da Vinci; Filippo Lippi; Bellini; Raphael; Michelangelo – the list goes on! Then there are the meanders of the beautiful Arno River to stroll along, crossed by the iconic medieval Ponte Vecchio. Meanwhile, the center of the city is home to one of Italy’s most magnificent Duomos, rising like a great masterpiece from amidst the tight-knit alleys and enticing rows of cafes and trattorias all around it. It’s surely one of the best Italy cities to visit.

 



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Of course, no list of Italy cities to visit could possibly count all the awesome places on The Boot! If you’ve got any places to add, we’d love to hear them in the comments!