Italy is a destination rich in blockbuster attractions, unforgettable monuments, soaring cathedrals, burial tombs, mosaics and frescoes, and the ruins of past civilizations – all with their own schedule of opening hours, admission costs, and discount categories! How many of the 45 famous landmarks in Italy can you fit into your next Italy itinerary?
Italy Landmarks Map
Check out this travel map of Italy and see which famous Italian landmarks are near your planned holiday spot.
The symbol of Turin, Mole Antonelliana, towers over this northern Italian city. Mole in Italian means a monumental building and its architect, Alessandro Antonelli, was determined to make it an iconic Italian landmark.
The Mole Antonelliana is the world’s tallest unreinforced building as it has no steel girders. It was commended in 1863 and finished in 1889 and for a while, it was the world’s tallest building. It was built as a Jewish Synagogue but the Jewish community pulled out of the project as Antonelli kept increasing the height (and cost and time) of the Mole.
The bombing of northern Italy in World War II somehow missed the structure and it is now the home of the National Museum of Cinema. The enormous four-sided dome has the first Fibonacci numbers lit up by red neon lights ( a work called Flight of the NUmbers) by Mario Merz.
The panoramic terrace is 85 meters high and is open to the public. You get there by climbing up the stairs within the great dome (known as the Cupola Ascent) or by taking the elevator.
Prices: €8,00 for the panoramic lift, €11,00 for the museum Hours: Wednesday to Monday 9:00 pm-8:00 pm. Cupola ascent beginning at 10.20 am limited days and hours only.
Milan is the gateway to the Lakes District and the Italian Riviera. Beguiling Lake Como, Lake Garda, and the Cinque Terre are a mecca for their summertime beaches, historic castles, and lakeside towns, and even for their Christmas festivals. Both Lake Como and Lake Garda are easy day trips from Milan.
Duomo of Milan
Duomo di Milano or Milan Cathedral is a Catholic Church in the heart of Milan, Italy. It’s the best Gothic architectural structure and also the largest church in the country. It is in Plaza del Duomo, four minutes away from Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
The initial construction began in 1386 under the order of the Duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti. He dreamt of building the most remarkable church on earth. His dream was fulfilled almost six centuries later, in 1965.
The Archbishop of Milan resides and conducts functions in this church. Thus, it’s a landmark of enormous significance and is one of the most famous Italian buildings.
The roof is decorated with hundreds of delicately made spires and statues. The entire structure is made of a unique pinkish-white marble. It produces a mesmerizing hue when the sun’s rays fall. The main spire ends at a height of 108.5 m. On top of this spire is the famous golden statue of Madonnina.
There is no entrance fee for the church. However, you need to pay €3 to enter St. Charles Crypt and an additional €9 to access the roof. If the stairs are tiring, buy a ticket for the elevator for €13.
by Ruma at The Holiday Story
Prices: €3,00 for the Crypt, €9,00 to access the roof, €3,00 for the elevator Hours: Daily 9:00 am-7:00 pm
Petroglyphs of Valcamonica
You may not have thought of Valcamonica as one of the most famous places in Italy but it is increasingly on the tourist map of hidden Italian gems! Located in Valcamonica in the Lombardy plain, this ancient collection of prehistoric petroglyphs contains inscriptions of more than 140,000 drawings carved over a period of 8,000 years.
Considered one of the greatest assemblies of prehistoric petroglyphs in the world (about 140,000), the rock drawings are spread over six parks that together are a UNESCO World Heritage site. These rock drawings include figures depicting themes related to hunting, agriculture, navigation, magic, and war, and also contain geometric figures.
The carvings were made by using a hard sculpting rock to hit the softer stone of the valley floor, and some archaeologists speculate that the sound of the two stones striking each other was a means of communing with deities or performing sacred rites.
It’s a wonderland of extremely ancient early human art and if you’re in northern Italy, don’t miss these incredible petroglyphs.
Prices and Hours: Vary according to the park you visit
Romeo and Juliet Balcony in Verona
Though the character of Juliet Capulet was conjured from William Shakespeare’s imagination, thousands of tourists flock to see the balcony in Verona where it is said she was wooed by Romeo.
The balcony is part of the “Casa di Giulietta,” or House of Juliet, and features a bronze statue of Juliet in the courtyard. It is customary for visitors to touch the statue for good luck in love (specifically her right breast) and to post letters and vows to the balcony’s supporting walls.
In fact, some even send mail to “Juliet” seeking romantic advice—which is answered by a local volunteer group!
Price: Courtyard is free, and entrance to the house costs a small fee; Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:30 am-7:30 pm, and Mondays 1:30 pm-7:30 pm
Arena di Verona
The real star of Verona is one of the best-preserved ancient buildings in the world. This impressive Roman amphitheater was built in AD 30 and once had a seating capacity of nearly 30,000 people.
It was originally designed to host circus shows, gladiator competitions, and equestrian events just outside of early settlement walls. Since its construction, the structure has long impressed visitors to Verona and was even described in 1483 by Giovanni Antonio Panteo as being “more than human” in its design.
During the artistic boom of the Renaissance, it was used as a venue for large-scale opera performances, a tradition that carries on to this day.
Price: €10,00 Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:30 am-7:30 pm, Monday 1:30 pm-7:30 pm
Palazzo Ca’ D’Oro
Considered to be one of the finest residential palazzos in Venice the Gothic Ca’ D’Oro (or “House of Gold”) was built in the 1420s by a father and son duo, Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon. It is truly one of the most striking Venice landmarks.
While the house was named for its once-ornate façade, little of its original exterior detail remains. Featuring two stories of balconies and a ground-floor loggia, this structure boasts Gothic arches and columns as well as quatrefoil window designs.
The Ca’ D’Oro was originally designed for the Contarini family but upon its completion in 1430, it changed ownership just before the turn of the 19th century during the Napoleonic occupation of Venice.
After several deleterious renovations which removed pieces of the courtyard and balconies as well as a staircase, the building came into the possession of Baron Giorgio Franchetti, who restored some of its original design before leaving the building to the state in 1922.
Price: €10,00 Hours: Monday to Saturday 8:15 am-7 pm, Sunday and public holidays 9 am-7 pm
Built in 1591 by Antonio da Ponte, the Rialto Bridge is one of Italy’s most famous landmarks. The bridge is located in Venice’s historic city center just a 5-minute walk north of the picturesque St. Mark’s square.
Spanning the Grand Canal and connecting the San Marco and San Polo neighborhoods, the Rialto Bridge is one of the best places to visit in Venice.
Two white marble ramps lead up to a central portico with shops lined on each side. The stone bridge construction by da Ponte took 3 years to build and followed the wood pontoon predecessor to win a design challenge put on by the city. The white stone Renaissance design is considered an engineering and architectural masterpiece.
The Rialto bridge is free of charge to cross and make sure to explore the many shops lining the bridge, full of jewelry and souvenirs. Stop and admire the Grand Canal as one of the most beautiful views in Venice
by Haley at Haley Blackall
Prices: free Hours: always open
St. Mark’s Square
The main public square of Venice, Italy, Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square in English, is the social, religious, and political center of Venice.
Located on the south side of the island of Venice where the Grand Canal meets the Venice lagoon, this iconic square & gathering place dates to the 12th century. The square is dominated by St Mark’s Basilica built in the 9th century to house the remains of Apostle St. Mark that had been brought from Alexandria, Egypt.
If you look closely at the church’s center gable, you can see a statue of St. Mark along with Venice’s emblem: a lion with wings.
The history of the cathedral and the remains and relics it contains are fascinating and weave a dramatic tale of grave and treasure robbing. Today, visitors can take a tour of the cathedral and spend an entire day sightseeing around the square, or take a gondola ride from the Square through the lagoon.
Backpacks and photography are not permitted inside the Basilica. Admission to the Basilica is free, but there are nominal fees to enjoy the museum, the Pala d’Oro, and the Treasury — from 2 – 5 euros.
After your day of sightseeing on the Square, reserve a table at Bar All’Angolo or Cafe Florian and enjoy apertivo, or stroll the Cicchetti bars along the nearby alleys for a taste of authentic Venetian food.
by Lori at Italy Foodies
Prices: Pala d’Oro and the Treasury €2 – 5,00 Hours: Seasonal opening times apply
Bridge of Sighs
Another of the most well-known Venice landmarks is the Bridge of Sighs. This iconic bridge built out of white limestone by architect Antonio Contino in 1600 is one of the most famous of the 400 or so bridges of Venice.
The Bridge of Sighs joins the Doge’s Palace to the prison across the canal and was once described by Lord Byron as holding “a palace and a prison in each hand” (1812).
While it was initially named for the prisoners’ sighs as they caught one of their last glimpses of freedom on the way to their cell or execution chamber, today it has significantly more romantic connotations: it is customary to kiss your loved one while passing under the bridge via gondola.
You can only walk across the Bridge of Sighs if you book a tour of the Doge’s Palace.
Price: €80,00 for a gondola ride, or $32.99 minimum for a tour of the Doge’s Palace Hours: daylight hours for gondoliers, or by reservation with the Palace if you are willing to queue for a long period.
Mosaics of Ravenna
The Ravenna mosaics are considered the best in the west. Worldwide, they are considered second only to those in Istanbul. So if you are planning a trip to northern Italy, make sure you put Ravenna on your itinerary.
Located in the northeastern region of Emilia-Romagna, Ravenna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains no less than eight monuments, each a spectacular example of Ravenna’s famous mosaics.
At the very top of the list is the Basilica di San Vitale, where the apse is covered with stunning mosaics, including depictions of Emperor Justinian and his courtiers, and Empress Theodora and her ladies-in-waiting.
Nearby, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia contains some of the oldest mosaics in the city. It has a gorgeous mosaic sky ceiling, with gold stars. Each of the other sites contains significant mosaics as well, in jewel colors and intricate detail.
You can visit six of the eight monuments on a walking tour of the city center. The remaining two are short drives from the city center, and you can take a cab if you do not have a car. A combination ticket that covers all the sites is the most economical way to see all the sites.
by Dhara at It’s Not About the Miles
Prices: €10,50 Hours: Daily 9:00 am-6:45 pm
The five medieval villages on the Ligurian Coast called the Cinque Terre are some of the most beautiful villages in the world. They perch on tiny outcrops along the Ligurian Coast with the Cinque Terre National Park, olive groves, orchards, and ancient fortifications on the other side.
The whole coastline has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. How to get to Cinque Terre is half the fun (it is possible to get there by boat and train), and choosing where to stay in Cinque Terre is difficult as each of these lovely villages has its own charm.
The five towns of the Cinque Terre are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Riomaggiore, and Manarola. The houses in these villages are a riot of colors and seem to be stacked upon each other and leaning towards the sea!
The most popular village is picturesque Vernazza which has an old octagonal church by the water (Santa Margherita d’Antiochia), hiking trails to the other villages above the town, a castle, and two lovely beaches.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the 7 wonders of the medieval world. It is a marvel to observe and one of the most iconic landmarks in Italy.
Construction began in 1173 and was completed in 1372. The bell tower stood upright for 5 years, however, after the completion of the third floor in 1178, the tower started leaning due to the soil under the foundation being soft and unstable. At one point it leaned 17 feet at the top. Modern engineers have stabilized it and it now leans 12 feet at the top.
Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa is an easy train ride from Florence or Cinque Terre. Admission is 18 euros for a basic ticket. You can also add the baptistry to your ticket.
One of the best parts of visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the photo opportunities. There are some great spots! It truly is one of the most beloved architectural mistakes!
by Lisa at Planning Away
Price: €18,00 Hours: Daily 9:00 am-10:00 pm
Michelangelo’s David Statue
Can a statue be a landmark? It can when it is one of the most iconic artworks in the world, this impressive statue is 14 feet in height and was originally created at the turn of the 16th century to depict David, the Biblical hero.
It took forty men four days to move the statue of David from Michelangelo’s workshop, and for years he was displayed in the political heart of Florence, the Piazza Della Signoria. In 1873, the statue was eventually moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia to protect it from further weathering.
Today, Michelangelo’s David statue attracts millions of visitors each year and is considered one of the most masterful renderings of the human form ever captured. Don’t miss out on one of the most captivating Florence landmarks on your next trip!
Price: €12,00 Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 am-6:15 pm
Duomo of Florence (Duomo di Firenze)
If you’re looking for the most iconic landmarks in Italy you have to add the Duomo of Florence to your bucket list. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the most recognizable sights in Italy, thanks to its huge domed roof and Giotto’s bell tower which stand tall above the rooftops of Florence.
Located in the historic center of Florence on the Piazza del Duomo, this cathedral was begun in 1296 and was completed by 1436. Combined with Giotto’s Campanile ( bell tower in Italian) and the Baptistery, it forms the cathedral complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most popular attractions on any Italy itinerary.
With its Gothic Revival facade, the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi (which to this day remains the largest brick dome ever constructed), and its rich history, this is one of the most important landmarks you can visit in Italy.
Entrance to the cathedral is free, but you can do a guided tour if you want to learn the history of this iconic attraction.
While entrance to the cathedral is free, you will have to pay 18 EUR for entrance to the other attractions; the Dome, Bell Tower, Crypt, Baptistery, and Museum. No Italy trip would be complete without a trip to Florence and its Duomo.
by Greta at Greta’s Travels
Prices: Free for the cathedral, €18,00 for other attractions Hours: Cathedral open 10:00 am-4:00 pm
South of the Piazza Della Repubblica, bridging the north part of Florence, Italy to the south over the Arno River is the Ponte Vecchio or Old Bridge. This Florentine landmark is one of the most historic and original structures in Florence and also one of the most picturesque.
The bridge’s history dates to the 8th century though the current bridge was rebuilt following a flood in 1345, and even withstood the ravages of WWII bombings.
From the 1300s, there were all types of shops and tradesmen along the bridge, including butchers and fishmongers, and tanners, whose “industrial waste” caused a pretty rank stench. But around 1600, King Ferdinand I decreed that only goldsmiths and jewelers be allowed to have their shops on the bridge.
Today, visitors can stroll the jewelry shops, art dealers, and souvenir stalls, or relax on the strip of grass underneath the bridge.
Depending on how many days you’re spending in Florence, you can explore the history and sites along the Arno more in-depth on a guided boat tour of the Arno, or one of several guided walking tours that take you to hidden passageways known only to locals.
by Lori at Travelin Mad
Price: Free Hours: Always open
Galleria degli Uffizi (Uffizi Gallery)
Located in the heart of Florence just off the shores of the Arno River, this remarkable museum first opened its gallery doors in 1769, in time with the Italian Renaissance.
Once a private gallery for the Medici family, a ruling family in Florence, the building is magnificent and the museum contains some of the oldest and most revered pieces of art in the world.
Within its walls are works by Botticelli, including his “Birth of Venus,” art by Giotto and Paolo Uccello, three pieces by Leonardo da Vinci, and one by Michelangelo.
Perhaps the museum’s most compelling feature, the paintings are all arranged chronologically, so visitors can examine the evolution of art over time. Time your visit carefully, this is one of the most visited museums in the world!
Price: €20,00 Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:15 am-6:50 pm
Towers of San Gimignano
56 km south of Florence in the region of Tuscany lies the town of San Gimignano and its famous medieval towers.
During the Renaissance period, the town of San Gimignano was well-positioned on one of the major pilgrimage routes. The families of the town benefited from their town’s position and became wealthy merchants. As their riches grew their desires also grew and they wanted to build palaces to show off their new wealth and newfound power.
The town walls restricted the building of palaces and the families instead built towers. A plague ravaged the town in 1348 and it did not fully recover till the 19th century when it became a tourist destination.
72 towers were built during the Renaissance period and to this day unfortunately only 15 remain. The walled town of San Gimignano is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The entrance fee of Euros 9 per person to climb the 250 steps up the 54m high Torre Grossa (Big Tower) is well worth it. The views are outstanding over the Tuscan countryside. The ticket also includes admission to the Civic Museum.
By Jane and Duncan at To Travel Too
Prices: €9,00 Hours: 10:00 pm-6:00 pm but times vary seasonally
Duomo of Siena
Siena’s magnificent Duomo and its sprawling cathedral complex are a must-visit in Italy for those with an interest in Gothic architecture and a desire to see an incredible collection of priceless artwork, created by many of the Renaissance’s greatest artists.
The Siena cathedral alone draws many people to visit Siena and should not be left off any Siena itinerary
The Duomo is one of Italy’s best examples of Romanesque-Gothic architecture, and many will recognize the unique exterior of the cathedral, which is clad with striking white and greenish-black ‘striped’ marble and covered with ornate statues and gargoyles.
The interior of the cathedral is as impressive and intricate as the outside – make sure not to miss the incredible Piccolomini Library, Donatello’s Statue of St John the Baptist, and four separate sculptures that were created by a young Michelangelo.
In terms of admission, the best value for money is to purchase the OSI Pass, which permits visitors to enter all parts of the cathedral complex, namely the cathedral itself, the Piccolomini Library, the Baptistry, and the cathedral museum, the Crypt, and the Facciatone viewing terrace. Tickets cost approximately €18-20 including booking fees.
by Isabelle at Issy’s Escapades
Prices: €18 – 20 Hours: Weekdays 10:30 pm-5:00 pm, Sundays 1:30 pm-5:00 pm
Piazza del Campo
The Piazza del Campo is located in the picturesque Tuscan city of Siena and is certainly one of the most beautiful landmarks in Italy.
This former market square has always been the center of the old town and even today visitors are amazed by the fabulous ambiance of this square. It is a favorite meeting place for tourists, but many locals also come here to enjoy their coffee or Aperol.
But not only the Piazza del Campo is breathtaking, but also the attractions and buildings around the square create a unique panorama. Worth visiting is the Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall, and the imposing Torre del Mangia, the 102-meter-high tower that rises high above the roofs of the old town and from where you can experience a breathtaking view of Siena.
Another highlight directly on the Piazza del Campo is the beautiful Fonte Gaia fountain with its many ornaments and details. The piazza is famous for the horse race Palio di Siena, which has been held in the main square since the Middle Ages. This unique event takes place twice a year, on 2 July and 16 August.
by Jürgen & Martina at Places of Juma
Price: Free Hours: Always open
Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi
Located in Assisi, a holy city for Christians and followers of Saint Francis, the town and its surrounding area have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 2000.
It has been described by UNESCO as a singular example of continuous history from Umbrian-Roman times to the modern-day.
The World Heritage Committee included the Basilica dedicated to Saint Francis as well as several other sites relevant to the Franciscan Order due to their stemming from “human genius”—in other words, they are sites significant to art history.
Italy celebrates the humble Saint Francis as its patron saint on October 4 every year, and the remains of the “mendicant of Assisi” attract thousands of religious pilgrims annually.
Price: €8,00 Hours: schedule changes seasonally—visits inside the Basilica are limited to 30 minutes
Perched atop a hillside overlooking Assisi, this ancient structure dates back at least to 1174, when it was first mentioned in the historical record.
The fortress’ location holds sacred significance to locals and once played an important role in defending the surrounding area.
This didn’t stop it from enduring a turbulent history, however—the castle was destroyed in 1198 by Assisans in order to prevent it from being turned over to a papal governor, and it was later enlarged and modified over the next several hundred years by various significant historical actors, including Pope Pius II.
It wasn’t until the 1600s that the fortress was abandoned in a nearly intact state and has since been open to visitors and tourists.
Be sure to catch the view of the Umbrian Valley from the lofty “Maschio” tower!
Price: €6,00 Hours: Every day from 10 am–
Castel del Monte
This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century near Bari, which is on the eastern edge of the “heel” of Italy’s “boot.”
This mathematical and astronomical marvel uniquely blends medieval military architecture, northern European Cistercian Gothic styles, and influence from the Islamic Orient to create a perfect octagonal shape.
The Germanic Emperor sought to combine Eastern and Western ideologies, and frequently brought scholars to his court from throughout the Mediterranean.
His humanist influence on this remarkably preserved castle can still be felt to this day—and the castle even appears on the back of the Italian version of a one-cent Euro coin!
Price: €7,00 Hours: Every day 10:00 am-6:45 pm
Etruscan Tombs of Tarquinia
Tarquinia is an old city in the enchanting Italian region of Tuscia. Tarquinia’s claim to fame lies in immaculately preserved ancient Etruscan tombs and necropolis. As such, UNESCO designated Tarquinia, once an epicenter of ancient Etruscan and Roman life, a World Heritage Site in 2004.
Thousands of tombs have been excavated, some of which still have yet to be explored.
Historians have been able to reconstruct Etruscan life with the paintings on the tomb walls. This is significant due to the fact that there are no written records – Etrucan history is told only by the paintings. Using iron oxide, lapis lazuli dust, and charcoal, they portray feasting couples.
Among the oldest tombs (from the 6th century B.C.) portrays a scene of fishermen while dolphins play and colorful birds fly above. Many of these paintings depict the raw, powerful sexuality of the Etruscans.
Some of the most popular and well-known Etruscan tombs at Tarquinia include the Tomb of the Bulls, the Tomb of the Augurs, and the Tomb of the Leopards.
Located just 100 kilometers north of Rome, the trip to Tarquinia makes for a perfect day trip. You can check out the tombs and necropolis every Tuesday through Sunday from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm.
Admission is 6€ for adults, 3€ for those 18 to 24 years old, and free for those 17 and under. Alternatively, you can purchase a dual ticket for the Tarquinia National Museum and the Etruscan Necropolis for 8€.
by Jade at The Migrant Yogi
Prices: €6,00, 3€ for those 18 to 24 years old, and free for those 17 and under. Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:30 am-7:30 pm
Etruscan Necropolis of Cerveteri
About 50 km away from Rome’s historic center and close to the Tyrrhenian coast lies the largest burial site in the Mediterranean area, the Necropolis of Cerveteri, locally known as “Necropoli della Banditaccia”.
The archaeological site stands out not only for its extension, 450 hectares but also for the state of conservation of its thousands of tombs, which are all accessible and can be visited independently.
The city of the dead was built by the Etruscans, who had a rich cult of the underworld and of the afterlife. The Etruscans flourished in central and northern Italy centuries before the Romans conquered them thanks to a more aggressive army.
The necropolis can be divided into three parts that present different types of burial. The part with an entrance fee for adults (€6.00) is studded with tumulus tombs, real dwellings of different dimensions according to the social status of the deceased, and built with tuff bricks
.Inside, for the tombs of eminent people, an antechamber where objects of daily life were kept and an inner chamber with beds dug in the stone to house the bodies.
The part of the necropolis known as the “The Pond”, free admittance, has tombs dug into the ground, all connected to each other by tiny channels. Instead, the “Way of the Underworld”, also free admission, is a road dug into a wall of tuff.
Walking along, you will find to the right and left hundreds of tombs carved into the rock on several levels, all to explore.
To visit this incredible landmark in Italy you need at least half a day. The part of the necropolis for which you need a ticket is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sunday mornings.
By Lisa from Travel Connect Experience
Prices: €6,00 and up Hours: Friday to Sunday mornings
Designed to be a place for the Roman Emperor Hadrian to reside in 117 AD, this UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tivoli is a living monument to the once immense power of Ancient Rome.
Consisting of a structure with three exedrae, a four-sided portico, a fishing structure, a Nymph Stadium, thermal water baths, and a bodyguard’s vestibule.
These impressive interlocking structures are situated around natural sulfur water springs and were originally close to four main aqueducts built to supply water for Rome.
This collection of ruins was once quite an impressive campus for Hadrian to entertain visitors at his baths, Ancient Greek Theatre, Maritime Theatre, and more.
Price: €14,00 Hours: 9 am to one hour before sunset
Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica
There are many Landmarks in Italy, but St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is at the same time a landmark of the Vatican, Rome, and Italy, and one of the major symbols of the Catholic Church.
Along with being able to visit the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, your trip to Vatican City will be a truly memorable experience!
The works on St. Peter’s Basilica started in 1506 on the foundation of Old Basilica, which was in a bad state. The construction took over 100 years. It was completed in 1615. Its believed that Basilica stands on the burial place of St. Peter.
St. Peter’s Basilica was designed by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and others. Its structure is that of a Latin cross with a dome at the crossing, which covers the shrine of St. Peter the Apostle.
Inside the Church, we can admire the building itself as well as mosaics and sculptures like The Pietà by Michelangelo, Stairs of Angels (Scala Santa), and many more.
Interesting facts about the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica are that the Vatican is the smallest country globally, and the Basilica is the biggest church in the world. The Basilica takes up almost 5% of the area of Vatican City.
One should visit St. Peter’s Basilica at least once to experience the atmosphere and rich history of St. Peter’s Basilica. Entry to Basilica is free, and I would advise visiting in the morning to enjoy its glory without crowds of Pilgrims.
by Ania at The Travelling Twins
Prices: €10,00 to climb the dome of the Basilica Hours: Check times for Vatican Museum openings and papal audiences
Despite their somewhat misleading name, these steps were not originally funded by the Spanish, but by a French diplomat named Étienne Gueffier; their name instead comes from the Spanish Embassy which would have been located at the base of the steps.
This world-famous 138-step stone staircase dating back to 1725 spans from Rome’s Piazza di Spagna up to the base of the Trinità dei Monti church.
Captured in Audrey Hepburn’s and Gregory Peck’s hit romantic movie “Roman Holiday” in 1953, these steps have long attracted people-watchers, artists, and photographers alike.
Fortunately, in 2015 the monument underwent a significant restoration project, returning the steps to their former magnificence after years of heavy footfall and weathering.
Price: Free Hours: Always open
While the number of heritage sites, churches, and monuments in Rome can be overwhelming, the Trevi Fountain stands out from the crowd as a must-see and the most-visited landmark in the city.
It was originally the source of ancient Rome’s freshwater supply, connecting to two aqueducts. Through the centuries a number of renovation projects were undertaken to beautify this important tourist attraction.
It was eventually completed by an Italian architect Nicola Salvi, who won a commission in a design contest and set off the final reconstruction in the year 1732. The project took 30 years and was completed in 1762, with a 26-meter high and 20-meter-wide Baroque façade that withstands the test of time for more than 250 years – and this is what modern-day tourists see today.
You may ask, why has a fountain gained so much fame in the eternal city? It was because the fountain was featured in many memorable films, novels, and art culture, in particular, in Roman Holiday, La Dolce Vita, and Three Coins in the Fountain.
That’s how the legend started, as many believed that any first-time comers in Rome should throw a coin over their shoulder into the fountain, and they will be guaranteed a return visit to Rome in the future. With two coins, they will find love, and three coins symbolize wedding bells.
Over 3,000 euros are thrown in the fountain every day, and that money is collected and donated to help the needy in Rome.
by Kenny at Knycx Journeying
Price: Free Hours: Always open
One of the top ancient attractions in Rome and the most famous landmarks in Italy is the Pantheon. No one knows exactly when the first Pantheon was built, but it is close to 2000 years ago. As the structure burned a couple of times, today’s building was rebuilt in 120 AD.
Legend says that the original Pantheon was dedicated to one of Rome’s founders, Romulus, and built on the exact same spot where he ascended to heaven.
The Pantheon is the only building that old and of such size that has survived for so long, still being incredibly fascinating and beautiful. This is a must-visit on any Rome itinerary.
Entry is free and its interior is decorated with marble, statues, and wall paintings. All lit up by sunlight flowing through the round hole in the middle of the ceiling.
Outside the Pantheon, you can enjoy the busy square surrounded by pastel-colored houses and expensive restaurants. Towering in the middle of the square is a unique fountain, perfect for people watching and admiring the grand Pantheon from the outside.
by Linn at Brainy Backpackers
Prices: €13,00 and up Hours: Friday to Sunday 2:00 pm-6:00 pm
One of the most important landmarks in Italy is the Roman Forum. Located at the heart of ancient Rome, this former marketplace was the Roman Empire’s center of power.
Because of its importance, it was home to many temples that are now visible thanks to ongoing excavations. In addition, you can see some well-preserved arches as well as the Curia, the former seat of the Roman Senate.
Visiting the Roman Forum is a marvelous experience as you can imagine what life in Ancient Rome must have been like. But please be mindful of the fact that the ruins are very delicate, don’t try to climb or sit down on any of them.
With the combined ticket for the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and the Palatine Hill, you get access to the most important landmarks not only in Rome but in the whole of Italy.
The entire area is an absolute must when you visit Rome, so make sure you take your time for this opportunity to find out more about Ancient Rome.
You can easily spend more than an hour in the Roman Forum alone so if you visit all three sights included in the ticket make sure to relax in one of the vegan-friendly eateries in Rome afterward.
by Nina at Lemons and Luggage
Prices: €16,00 and up Hours: Vary seasonally
The Colosseum is a defining feature of Rome, and one of the most impressive buildings still standing from the ancient Roman Empire. It’s an architectural marvel that has stood for over 2,000 years and still remains one of the most visited sites in Italy.
The Colosseum was intended as a gift to the Roman people and was primarily built as a venue for “the games” – public spectacles such as animal hunts or gladiator battles where hundreds would die at a time.
Aside from the games, it was also the home of performances and public entertainment and remains the largest amphitheater ever built. Construction started around 70 A.D. by Emperor Vespasian and continued for the next decade.
Visiting the Colosseum allows you to fully appreciate the huge scale of the structure. The arena floor area is around two hectares and, at capacity, the stadium could fit over 50,000-80,000 people across four levels of seating.
Entry to the Colosseum is 16 euros, which includes entry to the other great Rome landmarks – the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. For an additional two euros, you can book a time slot online (compulsory during Covid19). For access to the underground and upper levels, you’ll need to book the full experience tour for 24 euros.
by Roxanne at Faraway Worlds
Prices: €16,00 and up Hours: Daily 10:30 am-7:15 pm
When you visit Italy for the first time, you’ll probably choose Rome. Ostia Antica is an easy trip out of Rome, but tourists are often overwhelmed by the Eternal City and miss out on Ostia Antica.
If you can spare a few hours from visiting all the famous places in Rome, it will be like stepping back in time, directly to the streets of the Roman Empire. Ostia was the commercial port that serviced Rome in ancient times. Goods came by sea to Ostia and were transferred to Rome by the river Tiber.
When the city was abandoned it was gradually covered by land. Today, Ostia Antica is the best-preserved Roman City, even better preserved than Pompeii or Herculaneum.
You can get a pretty good idea of how Romans lived at that time, more so than in busy Rome.
Wander the cobbled streets, visit the theater and the two-story houses, admire the Roman mosaics in the Baths of Neptune and make your way to the forum. You can see the bakery, the fishmonger’s shop, and a Thermopolium, a place where they served food and drinks. The different shops in the forum area have mosaics in front of the entrance, depicting their trade.
All in all, a trip to Ostia Antica is the best way to complete your Roman holiday.
Ostia Antica is easy to reach on the train from Porta San Paolo (Piramide) station in Rome. It’s a short walk from the train station to the park entrance. An entrance ticket costs 12€.
by Anda at Travel for a While
Prices: €12,00 Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:30 am-6:00 pm
Also called “Maschio Angioino,” or Angevin Keep, this impressive Medieval Renaissance fortress was built in the late 1200s near the port of Naples.
It was named Castel Nuovo (translating to “new castle”) in order to distinguish it from another neighboring fortress, but the structure was entirely rebuilt in the 1400s by Alfonso V of Aragon in the imposing Medieval Renaissance style visible today.
With five cylindrical towers encapsulated by tall stone walls, the main entrance is beneath an ornately decorated triumphal arch made of white marble.
In addition to admiring the castle’s construction, visitors can view a collection of paintings and frescoes inside, including some by Giotto.
Price: €6 Hours: Monday to Saturday 8:30 am-6 pm, Sunday 10 am-1p
Herculaneum is an archaeological park depicting an ancient city in Campania, Italy that was destroyed following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius volcano in 79 AD. Herculaneum is a lesser-known site than Pompeii making it a less busy option to visit and only takes 2-3 hours.
Despite being smaller than Pompeii, Herculaneum is still one of the most important places to visit in Italy. The ancient city is located closer to Mount Vesuvius and was impacted first during the fateful eruption.
Being buried under 16 meters of ash helped preserve the ruins to a brilliant standard. You can see homes with their colorful frescos and internal architecture still intact. Somewhat eerily, you can even see wonderfully preserved skeletons of the villages who were fleeing to the beach now forever frozen in time.
A tour of this site is often one of the top things to do in Naples as it is only 5 miles southeast of the city. If heading there by public transport, take a train to Ercolano Circumvesuviana and it is just a 10-minute walk to the park.
Entrance prices start from 17 Euros and you have the option to pay for a guided tour or an audio tour if you want to truly immerse yourself in Herculaneum’s history.
by Kerry at VeggTravel
Prices: €13,00 and up Hours: Friday to Sunday 2:00 pm-6:00 pm
Italy is a country with several active volcanoes where eruptions still occur. Pompeii is a Roman city that was buried alive when the Mount Vesuvius volcano erupted on October the 24th, 79 AD.
The entire city was frozen in time until it was discovered and historians continue to learn more about the Roman lifestyle.
Just outside of Naples, the excavated city is open to tourists for an entrance fee. If you’re in Italy, a day trip to Pompeii should be at the top of your list for its incredible history that’s remarkably well preserved.
You’ll learn all about lifestyle, food, entertainment, commerce, business, politics, sports, transportation, and so much from Roman times.
There is a small fee to enter and additional fees for a guide. A guide is recommended if you’d like to learn the stories of the Roman lifestyle and cut the crowds.
Pompeii is one of the most important Roman sites and it draws visitors from around the world. So, avoid the free entrance day and plan your day accordingly.
By Jyoti from Story at Every Corner
Price: €16,00 and up except for free entrance days Hours: Daily 9:00 am-7:00 pm in summer
Villa Rufolo is a must for those visiting Italy’s glorious Amalfi Coast. It is located in the small town of Ravello, which sits high up on the cliffs above the sea, unlike the more popular sea-level villages of Positano and Amalfi.
In Ravello, you will find stunning ceramic shops and an adorable central square, but the real star of the show is the town’s famous villa. Villa Rufolo was built by one of Southern Italy’s most prominent dynasties at the time. In its heyday, the villa was said to have had more rooms than days of the year.
But today, the property is most well known for its exquisite gardens, which are so beautiful that they inspired some of Richard Wagner’s final operas before his death and is a site for beautiful Amalfi Coast weddings. Entry into Villa Rufolo is €7 per person, and it will not take more than an hour to explore, making it very easy to squeeze into your Italy itinerary.
If you can, time your visit to Villa Rufolo between the late afternoon and early evening so that you can experience the magic of the sun’s rays breaking through the mountains.
But regardless of what time you visit, the villa’s stunning views over the sea and the coastline will be a highlight of your time in Italy.
by Em at That Travelista
Price: €7,00 Hours: Every day 10:00 am-6:45 pm
Sassi Di Matera
Matera, in Basilicata (southern Italy), is internationally famous as the city of the Sassi, cave dwellings where people lived from the Paleolithic until the 1950s when the city became known as the “shame of Italy” because of the terrible living conditions in the Sassi.
After a much-needed restoration, the Sassi became an actual jewel and now hosts beautiful homes and boutique hotels for a unique stay in the city. The restoration work was such that the Sassi of Matera was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
Since then, the city’s fame grew, and – thanks to the landscape’s resemblance to Palestine – Mel Gibson picked it as the filming location of his masterpiece The Passion of the Christ.
Needless to say, one of the best things to do in Matera explore the Sassi. Make sure to wander around the Sasso Caveoso and the Sasso Barisano, which correspond to the historic center and are divided by Civita Hill.
Throughout town, incredible views will abound. But for an incredible sunset experience make sure to head to the Parco Della Murgia, where you’ll find several rock-hewn churches. When the sun goes down, the bells start ringing and the atmosphere is truly unique!
By Claudia at My Adventures Across the World
Prices: Free Hours: Always open
The central Puglian town of Alberobello isn’t the only place you’ll encounter the iconic Trullo houses in the region, but it’s certainly home to the highest concentration of them!
Head to the old town of Alberobello to be swept into another world. The cone-shaped roofs and whitewashed walls are reminiscent of a smurf’s village, and as you duck into the cafes & stores housed within, you’ll be further enchanted by the storybook feel.
The Trulli village dates back to the 15th century when they were constructed mortarless, of dry stones, in order to avoid local property taxes as they weren’t seen as permanent structures. But despite the odds, they’ve stood the test of time, and are a joy to experience.
Be sure to wander up through the town to the Trullo church, and for a truly unique place to stay in Puglia, you could even rent your very own Trullo for the night! Opposite the old Trulli village, you’ll find the ‘newer’ area of Alberobello, which shouldn’t be missed either, stop here to spot hidden Trullo between the houses, browse the museums, and have lunch in a shaded square.
by Nadine at Le Long Weekend
Prices: Free Hours: Always open
Castello di Gallipoli
This striking Italian landmark is situated on a peninsula at the entrance to Old Town Gallipoli overlooking the marina, the fish market, and the Ionian Sea.
It’s accessible by bridge from the mainland and exploring its fortified walls, towers, cannons, moat, tunnels, and passageways is one of the top things to do in the Salento region of Puglia, Italy
Gallipoli Castle has a long, rich history and has been occupied, sacked, destroyed, and rebuilt by waves of invaders and occupiers since 265 BC when it was originally constructed as a fortress to protect the Salentine peninsula and its trade routes.
Its current imposing architecture is heavily influenced by the Normans, Byzantines, French, and Spanish but most significantly by Francesco di Giorgio Martini, the famous Italian architect, painter, and military engineer who was born in 1439. He oversaw the design of many of Italy’s most important fortifications.
In modern times, the galleries of Gallipoli Castle’s soaring stone interior host art shows, cultural and historical exhibitions, archeological artifacts, readings by visiting authors, and even music concerts. Admission is 5 Euros.
by Michele at A Taste for Travel
Prices: €5,00 Hours: Daily 10:00 am-11:30 pm
There is around 7000 nuraghe in Sardinia – though research shows there used to be around 10000 at the peak of the Nuragic civilization. These mysterious ancient megalithic constructions date back to a period between 1900 and 730 BC, and had several functions – they were used as homes as well as military structures.
The best-kept nuraghe in Sardinia is Su Nuraxi, Sardinia’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While there are many that are just as impressive, this is the best to visit as extensive research has occurred (and is ongoing) on the site, and the site is also easily accessible on day trips from Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia.
The village was inhabited between 1600 BC and the 3rd century AD, has four towers connected by a wall, and is completely surrounded by what appear to be homes – although temples and assembly rooms have also been identified. Su Nuraxi is located in Barumini, a small town about 45 minutes’ drive from Cagliari.
The site is open year-round and can be visited on guided tours in a selection of languages that depart regularly from the information and ticket desk and that last up to two hours.
by Claudia at Strictly Sardinia
Prices: €14,00 for guided tours only Hours: Daily 9:00 am-8:00 pm
Cathedral of Monreale
Built by William II in the 1100s in Palermo, this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site is perhaps the most significant dedication of Norman influence in all of Sicily.
Eastern Byzantine influence covers over 6,000 square meters of the cathedral in ornate mosaics, and the awe-inspiring nave features marble floors, Gothic arches, an ornately painted open roof truss, and biblical characters. The surrounding garden and cloister feature 26 arches on all four sides of the grounds supported by 228 double columns, each pair decorated distinctly from the next.
This Arab-Norman cathedral also features an elaborate exterior, with a carved bronze door created by Italian sculptor Bonanno Pisano and carved and colored inlays in textured arches and columns.
“Monreal” translates to “royal mountain,” made even more “royal” by the presence of this historic cathedral.
Price: €12,00 and up Hours: by reservation
Teatro Antico di Taormina
Taormina’s ancient theater was built by the Greeks and renovated by the Romans and is one of Sicily and Italy’s most spectacular landmarks. From its seats, you can see Mount Etna smoldering in the background while to your left lies the beautiful Bay of Naxos and Isola Bella making an incredible setting for all kinds of performances.
An important cultural center for the town of Taormina, you’ll find mosaics and ancient relics collected over the centuries at the theater museum.
The arena was built in the 3rd century B.C. and at its peak, it could hold over 5,000 spectators who came to watch musical performances, plays, and gladiatorial battles in the custom-built theater. Once a stop on European Grand Tours, today you can visit and explore the archaeological site and admire the views or, in summer, watch a performance by international artists.
Opening hours are from 09:00 am to 16:00 pm with later times in summer. Tickets cost €13.50 for adults which is a small price to pay for one of the best views in Italy.
by Katy at Untold Italy
Prices: €13,50 Hours: Daily 9:00 am-4:00 pm, with extended hours in summer
Temples of Agrigento (Valley of the Temples)
Agrigento boasts eight ancient ruins in its remarkable Valley of the Temples. It is best known for the Temple of Concordia, an ancient Greek temple that was built between 440-430 BC on the southern coast of Sicily.
One of the best-preserved Doric temples in Sicily, the Temple of Concordia is regarded as one of the best-preserved Greek temples in the world, outside of the Parthenon. Named for the Roman goddess of harmony after Concordia was alluded to in an unrelated Latin inscription found nearby.
The Temple of Concordia was built on a solid platform much like its neighbor, the Temple of Juno, which still has visible scorch marks from ancient flames celebrating the goddess of fertility.
Prices: €10,00 Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30 am-10:00 pm
Villa Romana Del Casale
About one and a half hours east of Agrigento and the legendary Valley of the Temples, on Sicily’s west coast, is the Villa Romana del Casale. The villa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of many in Sicily one of the world’s great cultural crossroads.
Resembling more a palace than a villa, the site is a well-excavated Roman structure dating from the 4th Century CE. It houses the largest, most complex, and best-preserved collection of Roman mosaics in the world.
The villa was damaged at various times throughout its history until it was totally abandoned in the 12th century. A landslide then covered the main sections of the villa and buried it where it remained for centuries.
Throughout the 20th Century, archeologists excavated the villa. They unearthed the mosaics that had survived relatively intact and restored them as much as possible. The result may not be the villa’s former glory, but at least we can imagine what a wonder this place must have been in its heyday.
by Talek at Travels with Talek
Prices: €10,00 and up Hours: Daily 9:00 am-6:00 pm, stays open longer in summer
Val Di Noto
Val di Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a cluster of 8 charming towns in south-eastern Sicily built in the Late Baroque architectural style.
Stunning architecture and interesting history make Val di Noto one of the most fascinating places to visit in Italy.
In 1693, a devastating earthquake destroyed the ancient settlements of Val di Noto, some of which dated back to the 7th century BC. 8 major towns – Ragusa, Modica, Scicli, Noto, Palazzolo, Catania, Caltagirone, and Militello Val di Catania – and several smaller ones were reconstructed in a combination of Baroque and Renaissance architectural styles from the mainland.
Local elements were thrown in. What resulted was the unique Sicilian Baroque architecture that is believed to have been the last flowering of Baroque art in Europe. Today, Val di Noto forms an important part of any Sicily itinerary.
Whether you are a lover of architecture & history, or simply a fan of quaint Sicilian towns, you are going to enjoy walking through the character-filled lanes of Val di Noto and adoring their richly sculpted Baroque surfaces. Be sure to notice the grinning masks, winged cherubs, and the abundant use of colored mosaics.
If you do not have time to visit all 8 towns, I highly recommend Ragusa (also look out for breathtaking views) and Modica (do not forget to taste the ancient Aztec chocolate here) for a quick but insightful Sicilian Baroque tour.
by Soumya at Stories by Soumya
Prices: Free Hours: Always open
- Planing a trip to Cinque Terre? Check out How to Get to Cinque Terre
- Where to Stay in Cinque Terre: A Guide to Choosing Your Favorite Village – read about the best accommodation options in each of the villages of Cinque Terre and its surrounds
- And for a comprehensive post on the iconic village of Vernazza, read Vernazza Italy: The Colorful UNESCO Masterpiece of Cinque Terre.
- There are so many things to do in Cinque Terre, Italy. See all of the best things to do in the Cinque Terre, from Get Your Guide