Ahhh, Italia! There is so much to see in this beautiful country, boasting a rich history and unparalleled tradition. Planning a trip to Italy can often be overwhelming because of all the unique and wonderfully diverse destinations. From ancient cities to trendy metropolitan areas to sleepy rustic villages, there is something for every personal taste and preference in this European country. When visiting Italy, be sure to leave ample time to stop and enjoy the incredible ambiance. In addition to its vast array of things to see and do, the country's welcoming atmosphere encourages visitors to interact with the locals and immerse themselves in the vibrant culture of the region. You will most certainly miss the incredible beauty of the country and its residents if you are always hurrying to check the next tourist item off of your list. To help narrow down your choices, here is a list of Italy's best cities to visit and the attractions and qualities that make them so special:
1 - ROME
An Italian vacation should begin in this historic and culturally significant city. As the largest city in the country, Rome also features over 2,500 years of unbridled history. From the majesty of the ancient Colosseum to the Forum to the Pantheon, visiting Rome is like stepping back in time. No visit to Rome is complete without a stop at Vatican City to see St. Peter's Square and the Sistine Chapel. On your way out of Rome, be sure to stop at the Trevi Fountain to throw a coin over your left shoulder, guaranteeing your return.
2 - VENICE
As one of the most unique cities in the world, Venice should not be overlooked on any Italian vacation itinerary. Built entirely on canals, the waterways are both modes of transportation as well as scenic byways. The venerable St. Mark's Square and Doge's Palace will leave visitors breathless. With no cars or busses, the tranquility of Venice cannot be denied. After a nightcap of a peach bellini, you will most likely find yourself once again taking in the beauty of St. Mark's Square and its roving musicians.
3 - MILAN
This trendy and chic metropolitan area is most known for its eclectic fashion and cosmopolitan vibe. In addition to being the financial capital of Italy, Milan is also the capital of fashion. From little boutiques tucked away all over the city to high-end fashion houses, Milan is a shopping mecca. The city's Duomo delivers stunning rooftop views, making the trip to the top extra rewarding.
4 - FLORENCE
One trip to Florence and you will quickly realize why the city has been the inspiration for so many of the world's greatest pieces of artwork. The charm of the city lies in its cobbled streets and stunning architecture highlighted by the Duomo and the Rialto Bridge. The Palazzo Vecchio is the ideal place to gather on a beautiful day to take in the splendor around you. Step inside the museums to get a look at masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s statue of David housed in the Accademia and a bevy of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael in the Uffizi Gallery. Be sure to leave room for the famous Florence gelato.
5 - SIENA
As the heart of the Tuscan region, the Old World charm of Siena is on full display throughout the town. The pulse of Siena is felt in the Piazza del Campo, a popular place for tourists and locals to gather. As one of Europe's largest Medieval squares, the Piazza is a great place to sip a cappuccino or enjoy a glass of Chianti. The city's Duomo is a prime example of Gothic architecture. Be sure to also go inside to take a look at all of the treasures hanging from the walls.
6 - CINQUE TERRE
If you are wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Italian city life, look no further than the Cinque Terre region. This string of five villages on the western coast of Italy delivers stunning views of the water and rugged coastline. Visitors can hike between the five villages and experience each area's unique vibe. Because the Cinque Terre is actually a protected national park, there is little traffic and yachts and bigger boats cannot dock in the villages, keeping the area preserved and pristine. Watching the sunset over the aqua waters in Cinque Terre while eating some of the region's pesto lasagna is a sensual activity that must be experienced once in a lifetime.
7 - LAKE COMO
The splendor and majesty of Mother Nature are on full display in the Lake Como region of Italy. In addition to the stunning lake, the area boasts views of the Rhaetian Alps. The upscale resort city makes it a perfect getaway for those looking for a premium travel experience. The cuisine of Northern Italy is different than its other regional counterparts, making it an attraction in itself. With a focus on cream sauces, hearty meats, and rich cheeses, this cuisine differs from the tangy red sauce and thin pizza favorites in the southern region of Italy.