One of the top travel destinations in Europe, Italy never fails to bedazzle its visitors. Delicious food, beautiful landscapes, and incomparable artwork are only some of the main reasons why travelers from all over the world decide to visit the Bel paese. In Italy, every corner hides a bit of history or an art masterpiece and this is why, with so much to offer, picking what to see and where to go can be overwhelming. To make it easier for you, here are some tips to plan a trip to Italy on your own.
Planning a trip to Italy: Most popular places to visit in Italy
With some 2770 years of history under its belt, Rome is a must for anyone traveling to Italy for the first time. You can’t possibly think of leaving the country without visiting the vestiges of the Roman empire, from the Colosseum to the Roman Forum to the Baths of Caracalla. Among the other things to see in Rome is the huge art collection enshrined within the Vatican walls gathered by the different popes throughout the centuries, the astonishing Renaissance palaces, residences of local noble families, the beautiful piazzas, the mosaic-embellished churches, all while enjoying a bit of Roman dolce vita.
The cradle of the Renaissance, Florence is one of those places to visit at least once in a lifetime. Rich in art and history, strolling around the streets of the capital of scenic Tuscany means soaking in a treasure trove of immortal artwork and architecture jewels. Once in Florence, don’t miss the Uffizi Gallery to see paintings from important artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Titian, Caravaggio, and Raphael. Before leaving, visit the beautiful Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, Palazzo Pitti, and stroll along the scenic Ponte Vecchio.
Romantic and of overwhelming beauty, Venice will enchant you. The first place to visit is the glorious Piazza San Marco, where you will see the San Marco Basilica, Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), the residence of the Doge since the 9th century and seat of the Venetian Parliament, and the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower). Stroll around the Grand Canal, Ponte di Rialto bridge, and take the boat to another area, the Ghetto, Europe’s oldest Jewish quarter. If you are in Venice around Carnival time, enjoy the beautiful celebrations and the masks that love to pose in front of the cameras.
Italy’s financial hub, Milan is also a vibrant and historical city. After visiting its main landmark, the Duomo, stop for a coffee in the trendy Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II before heading to the medieval fortress Sforza Castle. Before leaving Milan, visit Santa Maria delle Grazie church to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous mural The Last Supper.
A series of spectacular seaside villages in the Liguria region, Vernazza, Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Corniglia, and Manarola are part of the famous Italian Riviera. Enlisted by UNESCO in 1997, the Cinque Terre offer beautiful landscapes, scenic hiking trails and centuries of history. Not far from the Cinque Terre and worth a visit are the main city of La Spezia and the nearby town of Levanto.
Wild, rich in history, and framed by stunning pristine beaches, the Italian island of Sardinia always ensures a great holiday. Among the most popular destinations are the region’s capital Cagliari, the northeastern medieval town of Alghero, the VIP beaches of the Costa Smeralda, Sassari, and Oristano. Sardinia is also famous for the archaeological ruins it’s dotted with, from the nuraghi, Bronze-age castles all around the island, and the ancient necropolis known as fairies’ houses and giants’ tombs.
The southern Italian island of Sicily offers beautiful landscapes and a fascinating history and architecture. Start your visit from its capital, Palermo, dubbed as Italy’s “most Arab city”, where you will see a beguiling mix of Arab, Roman, Greek, Norman architectural styles. Among the other popular places in Sicily is Agrigento, with the nearby Greek vestiges of the Valle dei Templi, Siracusa, the charming buildings of Catania, Ragusa, and the beautiful Taormina.
Best time to visit Italy
Italy has four seasons and a mild climate. Depending on the type of holiday you are looking for, any time is good to visit. For a relaxing beach holiday, head to Italy in summer and enjoy its shoreline in regions like Sardinia, Sicily, or Puglia. Spring and autumn have milder weather and allow pleasant walks around urban streets, while winter can get cold, especially in northern Italy where the first snowfalls kick off the regions’ ski tourism.
Angela Corrias is a freelance journalist, blogger, and photographer who travels and works between Italy and Afghanistan with her husband. Her work appeared in different publications around the world such as Al Jazeera, Forbes Travel Guide, Global Times and Diplomatic Observer. She is one-half of travel blogs Chasing The Unexpected and Rome Actually that she regularly updates with her husband.”