So much to see and do in Italy. Of course you will likely start with Venice, Florence and Rome, what we knowlingly call The Big Three. (Wink. Nudge.) You may have gotten into the Tuscan countryside or the Amalfi Coast. If you’re lucky (and/or savvy), you’ve dug more deeply into these places. Or you’ve ventured a little further afield.
Check out our Italian Bucket List, places you really shouldn’t miss. Some are little towns that might not make the main itinerary. Some are special neighborhoods in our favorite popular cities. Others are big cities in their own right, but ones that tourists tend to overlook. We hope there are some wonderful places on our list that you might not have considered or even heard of.
Tucked into the southern end of the Cinque Terra in Liguria, this is one of our favorite little fishing villages. Its harbor is welcoming, and its main street is flanked by charming shops and restaurants. It is one of the five villages linked by train and hiking trail and a perfect jumping off point to explore all of the Cinque Terre.
Brunello has quickly risen to rock star status in the premium wine sector, replacing Barolo as Italy’s most prized wine. Visit the beautiful hilltop town of Montalcino to sample the wine in its many cantinas and gaze out over the medieval town walls to the valley of vineyards below.
Assisi is on everyone’s list for good reason. But beautiful Spello has many of the same appeals without the hordes of pilgrims and tourists. A prim hilltop town with excellent restaurants, glorious churches and stunning views, this is one to add to your itinerary!
Rome has so much to offer, you can understand why travelers flock there from all over the world. Trastevere is one of our favorite Roman neighborhoods because it really is a village within the city. An easy stroll across the Tiber on the Ponte Sisto wll deliver you into the heart of its pedistrian-zoned cobblestone streets, charming squares and historic churches.
High above the Amalfi Coast, Ravello is a stand-out along this heavenly stretch of Campanian coastline. High above sea level, its lush gardens, lavish villas and dramatic promenades offer some of the most memorable views of the coast and its cliffside villages.
On the theme of heights, try Fiesole for a dramtic view over Florence‘s domes and rooftops. A treasure in its own right with a history that dates back to the Etruscans and the ruins and museums to prove it, Fiesole is a quick city bus ride from Florence and a world away.
Only in a country as densely packed with history and culture as Italy could a city of this sublime beauty and importance fall off of the tourist radar. Explore the city’s cathedrals and the endless arcades of its historic core. You’ll see very few tourists and get a beautiful view of real life and commerce, Italian style. And have we mentioned the food?
It’s hard to imagine a historic town more perfectly preserved than Lucca, in the north of Tuscany. Its historic core is filled with impressive piazzas, stately palaces and memorable churches. Lucca is also a biker’s paradise, its narrow lanes filled with cycles. The ancient town walls are topped with a long trail for walkers or cyclists to explore.
We love Venice. But hop a boat to Burano to get a more laid-back feel for life in the lagoon. The island’s economy grew up around its lacemaking, but we love it for its colorful streetscape. Explore its small side lanes and enjoy its brightly painted houses.
It may not be for the faint of heart, but Naples is alive! It makes about anywhere else on earth seem dull by comparison. Enjoy pizza where it was invented, walk the narrow streets of the Spanish Quarter and take in the countless art and archeological treasures of the city’s museums, palaces and churches. It doesn’t get richer than this.
Few towns span ancient and contemporary with the elegance and dignity of Spoleto. Explore its ancient Roman amphitheater, or check out the best contemporary music and performance art at the annual Spoleto Festival, when cultural luminaries from around the world crowd its narrow streets and historic squares.
The Val d’Orcia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural beauty. In this most beautiful part of Tuscany, Pienza stands out as perhaps the prettiest hilltown of them all. A historic papal town, its prim flower-filled alleys are picturesque. If its art-filled churches don’t pull you in, the local pecorino cheese will.
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See you in Italy! Buon viaggio!