Italy: picturesque cities

The 30 best cities in Italy

Italy belongs to the list of countries for which tourism is an important part of the economy. The industry brings substantial income, as it satisfies the most diverse demands of guests of the state. There is something to see for lovers of architecture and antiquity: from Rome to Florence, where unique sights of the past are preserved.

Avid romantics necessarily visit Venice and Verona. Fans of relaxing holidays can easily choose one of the beaches of Positano. The gourmets and wine connoisseurs will appreciate the cuisine of Sorrento. Religious tourism, such as pilgrimages to the Vatican, plays an important role. Developed infrastructure helps to get to the exotic corners and enjoy the comfort, even in provincial Italy.

The main tourist cities in Italy

List of the most popular cities for cultural and educational tourism.

All roads, as you know, lead to Rome – a city where history and modernity collided and tightly intertwined. Here you can find the oldest European aqueduct, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, many emblematic squares and over nine hundred churches. It has a rather small area of urban development since ancient times, especially when compared to other capitals. Another peculiarity is that it is a pleasant place to visit at any time of the year.

Population 2,872,800 (2018)

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Venice

The fact that Venice is slowly going underwater only adds to the city’s popularity. More than a hundred islands have become one, and it’s common to travel between them on gondolas or riverboats. Numerous bridges and frescoes are the main attractions of the city, where every detail is associated with an important stage of history. The city also plays host to the Venice Film Festival, a world-class event.

Population 259,939 (2019)

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Milan

Milan does not get tired of competing with the capital for the title of the most popular city in the country. In addition to architectural sights from the past, there are enough modern trends. Milan is the center of high fashion. As the shows of famous designers and simple shopping attracts tourists every year. The La Scala Theater has held its position for decades. And soccer is a second religion for local and visiting fans.

Population 1,366,180 (2018)

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Florence

Created as a cultural and commercial center, Florence continues to be one. At various times, prominent Italian citizens have lived and worked here: da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, Dante and others. Galleries, cathedrals, palaces and squares are the main targets of tourist groups. They acquaint you with the spirit of the city, quite cozy and green, given the density of buildings.

Population 380,948 (2018)

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Sorrento

Another Italian city located on the coast. Its development has been influenced by different peoples and countries, so there’s plenty of color here. Visitors take away with them porcelain figurines produced by a small manufactory and liqueurs. Neapolitan music, popular all over the world, was born here. Seafood dishes and olives grown nearby are the region’s calling card.

Population: 16,405 (2018)

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Verona

Verona owes its popularity mainly to Shakespeare. The fictional characters of his Romeo and Juliet have made the city one of the romantic centers of the world. Another reason for the endless flow of tourists is the architecture. Several epochs and styles get along perfectly well together. The streets are lined with Roman and Medieval buildings and monuments, as well as churches and palaces from later periods.

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Population 257,993 (2018)

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Positano

After World War II, many artists from various countries, including the USSR and Germany, moved here. They were the ones who brought the city to the world’s attention. Sunny weather, mountain scenery and long beaches keep tourists coming all year long. The commune is the perfect place for a sedate vacation: unhurried walks, a couple of hours on the beach and local cuisine.

Population – 3,913 (2018)

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Naples

Naples’ close proximity to Vesuvius doesn’t stress tourists one bit. But the crime situation in the streets has become legendary and may scare away some potential visitors to the city. Naples is home to special music and pizza. Here is very noticeable juxtaposition of modernity and architectural monuments of different periods. The resulting contrast is a highlight of the region, which advocates diversity.

Population 956,183 (2019)

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Turin

The fourth most populous city in Italy. Several palazzos and castles here are on the UNESCO heritage list. John the Baptist Cathedral houses the shroud of Christ. The museum of Egyptian culture is one of the highlights of the city but it is still a popular tourist attraction. Soccer is important in the life of the city as the club Juventus is based in Turin.

Population 875,698 (2019)

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Palermo

The Palermo Royal Palace is a multitude of styles brought together: the Arab approach, the work of Constantinople masters, the symbiosis of wood and stone, not to mention the uniqueness of the interior decoration. There are about three hundred churches, cathedrals and former monasteries in the city. They also belong to different eras. A grim but unique attraction is the underground cemetery with eight thousand burials.

The population is 663,770 (2018)

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Ischia

A small volcanic island located in the Bay of Naples. The sights here are mostly natural, but there is an exception – an ancient fortress, rebuilt into an Aragonese castle. Tourists are more attracted by the thermal springs, the health resort using them as well as sulfide silt mud, a botanical garden and volcanic emissions of water vapor.

Population 62,027 (2009)

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Bologna

Despite its constant development and sprawl, Bologna has preserved the atmosphere of the old city. The local university is one of the most respected in Europe. Tourists never miss the numerous piazzas with their arches, unique architecture and monuments. In the vicinity of the city there is a monumental cemetery, which is more like an object of art.

Population 389,261 (2018)

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Genoa

Italy’s largest port is located in Genoa. Palazzi dei Rolli is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture is in many ways typical of a city in the north of the country. The surrounding area is rich in places of interest. The largest aquarium in Europe is located here. And the marble tombstones of the Staleno cemetery are no less valuable and majestic than the city’s monuments.

Population 580,097 (2018)

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Cagliari

The historic center of Cagliari will not leave anyone indifferent. It is a place where you can find modern stores, cozy restaurants with local cuisine and wines, as well as architectural monuments. The Archaeological Museum is a great place to find out more about the history of the region. There is also a botanical garden and art festivals. The rest of the time tourists spend mostly on the beaches, if the weather allows.

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The population is 154,267 (2018)

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Catania

Catania is located at the foot of the volcano Etna. The city was built mainly in Baroque style of dark volcanic stone. The Cathedral Square is the heart of Catania. From it diverges wide and narrow streets, where you can find a chaotic order of churches, fountains, statues and other beauties. The fish market is a standout addition to the local flavor.

Population 311,584 (2019)

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Syracuse

There are not many historical monuments in Syracuse. The most important ones you can get around in less than a day. These include Piazza Arquimede, Syracuse Cathedral, Temple of Apollo, Arethusa Fountain, Grottichelli Necropolis, Maniace Castle, Gothic Theater and others. There are museums focusing on different time strata. The city is also famous for its drama festival held in May and June.

Population 121,171 (2019)

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It’s not just the Falling Tower. Numerous palaces, cathedrals and simpler buildings decorated with frescoes, and galleries created during the heyday of the Medici family are the true face of the city. Local cuisine will test the taste buds of gourmets, as it is often spicy and flavorful. Pisa is quieter than other tourist centers. It is less crowded, but in demand.

Population 90,118 (2018)

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Lucca

A city for those who like to follow not only all the famous tourist routes. In the middle of the plain of the Serca River, you can admire nature and sights and escape the hustle and bustle of metropolitan cities. A special pride of the locals is the Guinigi Tower with its oaks growing directly on the upper ground. The fortress walls and fortifications are better preserved here than in any city in Italy.

Population 89,243 (2018)

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Padua

The outskirts of Padua are a concentration of villas once owned by the Venetians. The city itself is the resting place of the remains of St. Luke, the author of one of the Gospels. Fans of astronomy can look in detail at the many frescoes on the subject. The palace and defensive redoubts are also perfectly preserved and accessible to visitors. And the botanical garden of Padua is on the list of UNESCO monuments.

Population 212,224 (2019)

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Rimini

The city is considered the center of the Romagna Riviera. Rimini has many beaches with a wealth of entertainment and parks within walking distance. The cuisine is simple and at the same time colorful: Parma ham and mortadella sausage are beyond compare. Antiquity lovers can explore the ruins of the amphitheater or the arched bridge from the time of Tiberius. There are also churches and one of them houses a part of the relics of Nicholas the Wonderworker.

Population 150,590 (2018)

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Trieste

Externally it looks quite modern, although it still has some of the imprints of past centuries. Tourists are interested in the ruins of ancient Greek buildings, the tomb of pretenders to the Spanish throne, several castles, one of which was built on the basis of a Venetian fortress. The beach of Trieste is divided for vacationers by gender, which is an exceptional case in Europe.

Population – 204,338 (2018)

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Lecce

The buildings in Lecce are invariably eye-catching. No matter what period they belong to, there’s something appealing about the architecture of the entire city. The ancient amphitheater isn’t idle: artists are still performing in it today. The Basilica of Santa Croce is a little more modest externally, but the interior painting is striking. “Politeama Greco. – an old theater with a great sound. As for the cuisine: it is traditionally “poor”, simple and hearty.

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Population 95,269 (2018)

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San Gimignano

The development of San Gimignano has largely stopped in the Middle Ages, if we talk about the expansion and density of buildings. Well preserved are the walls and stone towers, from a distance resembling skyscrapers. There are fourteen of them, the tallest reaching fifty meters. The historic center of the city is rich with frescoes and marvelous buildings of different periods. And the local museum consists of ten galleries.

The population is 7,743 (2018)

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Salerno

A seaside city with a rich history. The mild climate allows you to relax on the sea almost all year round, albeit in a different quality. The natives are hospitable and love to bargain. Under the sale of souvenirs and other stores is an entire street. Attractions are varied: numerous palaces, the Mercatello Park, Minerva Garden, fragments of an ancient waterfall, the Areca fortress and others.

Population – 133,970 (2018)

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Perugia

A picturesque city immersed in greenery. The panorama of the area makes an impression, but in fact the streets here are quite narrow. There is little architecture that is valuable from a historical point of view. Although there are churches built in different centuries. St. Lawrence Cathedral houses the wedding ring of the Virgin Mary. The many shops open throughout the city add to the buzz. The locals like to hold festivals.

Population 166,189 (2019)

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Siena

The center of Siena is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The old city is beautifully preserved, its narrow streets and cramped buildings are the face of the region. It is in Siena that the Palio, a horse racing competition in the square between the Siena contradas, is held. The event is divided into two dates. The city is the birthplace of the painting school of the same name, which has its own traditions.

Population – 53,901 (2018)

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Taormina

In Taormina you can find something amazing and ancient at every turn. Most of the churches were built between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. Well preserved are the Greek Theatre, the Naumachium and the Odeon, the latter having geographical features that distinguish it from similar structures. Squares, castles and towers are in varying condition: some fully functional, some in need of reconstruction.

Population 10,872 (2018)

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Bergamo

The city is divided into two halves: the old and the new. The two halves are located at different heights and are connected by a funicular railway. Bergamo has many sights: the fortress wall, the Colleoni Chapel, the Baptistery, the Covered Staircase, the city palace and others. It is noteworthy that with such a rich and diverse collection of interesting objects, the city is not included in most tourist itineraries.

Population 121,896 (2019)

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Cinque Terre

The union of the five settlements is called Cinque Terre. Here, vehicular traffic is almost completely forbidden. In one of the villages it is allowed, but with restrictions. Among the must-see sights are the statue of Neptune, of impressive size, the Aurora Tower, the local confectionery and wine cooperative, the Capuchin monastery and the Path of Love. Walking between them is worth admiring the beauty of nature.

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Vatican City

The city-state of Vatican City is the residence of the Pope. Pilgrims flock to the enclave governed by the Holy See from all over the world, regardless of religion. The main attractions are predictably associated with Catholicism: St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Library and others. The city is also interesting because of its decoration and traditions. Residents here are few, and they have special passports.

Top 16 cities in Italy to visit

Italy's major and beautiful cities to visit: The Roman Forum

Roman Forum (photo: @etnominanudatenemus)

The former capital of an ancient civilization, Rome to this day is called nothing less than “the eternal city.”

Italy's major and beautiful cities to visit: a night view of Rome from above

View of Rome at night (photo: @julian_h501)

Ancient and modern, majestic and shabby, cozy and dazzling Rome is the capital of Italy and one of the most beautiful cities in the world and Europe, absolutely a must-see.

Florence

Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit: The dazzling architecture of Florence

The dazzling architecture of Florence (photo: @ozgurcegeziyoruz)

One of the most beautiful cities in the world, Florence is the capital of the region of Tuscany, which in turn is considered one of the most beautiful regions of Italy.

Italy's big and beautiful must-see cities: Santa Maria del Fiore

Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence (Photo: @lero_velikanova)

It was in Florence that the heyday of the Renaissance began, which later turned the ancient city into a real open-air museum.

Venice

Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit:The architecture of Venice

Architecture of Venice (photo: @yunyun_simanjuntak)

Another Italian museum city that is considered by many to be the most beautiful city in the world.

Big and beautiful cities to visit in Italy: Rialto Bridge in Venice

Rialto Bridge in Venice (photo: @heradventureswithhim)

Venice, standing on water, dazzles and falls in love with tourists, of whom there are many times more than locals.

Milan

Big and beautiful cities to visit in Italy: The Cathedral of the Nativity in Milan

Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in Milan (photo: @francisleek)

The main city in northern Italy, one of the major capitals of world fashion, which every six months reveals to the world the main trends on its catwalks.

People come here to see for themselves the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, the very Duomo, and, of course, for a tourist run through the main boutiques of Milan, which is considered the capital of Italian fashion shopping.

Naples

Big and beautiful cities to visit: The port of Naples and the view of Mount Vesuvius

Naples port and view of Vesuvius (photo: @imma.mnc)

For some, Naples is Italy’s dirtiest and most dangerous city, while others see only the good and call it the country’s colorful gastronomic capital. They make the best Italian pizza, the best Italian coffee, come here for beach vacations and shopping in Neapolitan outlet stores.

Bologna

Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit: A view of Bologna

View of Bologna (photo: @cranky.kz)

Italy’s main university city and the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region.

Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit: Piazza Maggiore in Bologna

Piazza Maggiore in Bologna (photo: @rwrightfeats)

A bird’s eye view of Bologna, it’s a monochrome city with terracotta roofs that invites you to stroll through its cozy, colorful streets and have a pleasant time on the terraces with a glass of lambrusco.

Big and beautiful cities to visit in Italy: Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa

Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa (photo: @alessandra.gervasi)

15 minutes from the resort of Livorno or 1 train ride from Florence and you’re in Pisa, where the very “falling” tower is located.

Big and beautiful cities to visit in Italy: Piazza Miracoli in Pisa

Piazza dei Miracoli (photo: @pulcedoc)

Along with the piazza, the cathedral and the baptistery, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Verona

Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit: a bird's eye view of Verona

View of Verona (photo: @viabrpelomundo)

Verona, located in northern Italy between Milan and Venice, is not as rich in attractions as other major Italian cities of historical or cultural significance. Nevertheless, it has a romantic appeal that attracts tourists, because Verona was the home of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

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Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit: Piazza Bra and the Arena di Verona

Piazza Bra and Arena di Verona (photo: @carobek)

Verona is also often referred to as “little Rome” for its picturesque streets that invite travelers for a stroll.

Turin

Big and beautiful cities to visit: Royal Palace of Turin (Castello Ducale di Agliè)

The Royal Palace in Turin (Castello Ducale di Agliè) (photo: @doc_p00l)

Along with Milan, Turin is considered one of the major cities in northern Italy, in addition, it is a major cultural center of the country. Turin is home to 15 royal residences listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Big and beautiful cities to visit in Italy: Piazza San Carlo in Turin

Piazza San Carlo in Turin (photo: @gabriellafuzio)

In addition to history and architecture lovers, the city attracts students and entrepreneurs, foodies and lovers of active nightlife. In 2006 Turin was the capital of the Winter Olympics.

Genoa

Big and beautiful cities to visit in Italy: Piazza Ferrari in Genoa

Piazza Ferrari in Genoa (photo: @chiara_caspani)

Genoa is the main city of the Italian region of Liguria, a major port of the Mediterranean and one of the most controversial cities in Italy.

Big and beautiful cities to visit in Italy: the bright architecture of Genoa

The vibrant architecture of Genoa (photo: @theonlywilliam)

It harbors the beautiful and the dangerous, combining ancient architecture and a high crime rate in the old port area due to the large number of migrants.

Perugia

Large and beautiful cities in Italy to visit: the medieval architecture of Perugia

View of Perugia (photo: @and.capitano)

The capital of the Umbria region, Perugia is geographically located in the heart of Italy and is landlocked. It’s halfway between Rome and Florence, and it’s worth stopping here if you’re traveling through Italy by car.

Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit: the medieval streets of Perugia

Medieval streets of Perugia (photo: @dani.bellu)

Perugia has many beautiful ancient churches and many tourists note that it bears little resemblance to other Italian cities. Perugia is one of the smallest cities in the world with a metro.

Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit: the fountain in the center of Bari

Fountain in the center of Bari (photo: @massimodanza)

The capital of Puglia, Bari is located on the Adriatic Sea, so it is a major Italian resort.

Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit: vibrant and cozy Bari

Bright and cozy Bari (photo: @chimera__2901)

Like all cities in southern Italy, Bari is famous for its delicious local cuisine, colorful streets and hospitable residents.

Siena

Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit: Piazza del Campo in Siena

Piazza del Campo in Siena (Photo: @ _speedofsound90)

One of the main cities in Tuscany, Siena attracts tourists primarily for its perfectly preserved medieval center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit: Siena Cathedral

Siena Cathedral (photo: @ser_bose)

Siena’s main attraction is the fan-shaped Piazza del Campo.

Catania

Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit: the view of Etna volcano in Catania

View of the volcano Etna in Catania (photo: @pietrocarus)

Catania doesn’t often appear in lists of interesting cities in Italy, and for good reason. This Sicilian port is very rich in museums and architectural sights, offering also all the possibilities for a beach holiday.

Italy's big and beautiful cities to visit: the streets of Catania

The picturesque streets of Catania (photo: @odiolacioccolata)

Catania’s landscape is adorned by the volcano Etna, which is less than 20 km from the city.

Palermo

Big and beautiful cities to visit in Italy: Palermo Cathedral

Palermo Cathedral in Independence Square (photo: @gretaru)

The capital and main city of Sicily, Palermo is located on the northern coast of the island.

Big and beautiful cities to visit: Piazza della Shame with a fountain in Palermo

Piazza Pretoria or Piazza of Shame with a fountain in Palermo (photo: @stefania2793)

Palermo has nearly three hundred churches, beautiful squares, magnificent palazzos, beautiful city fountains, and lots of beautiful streets and gardens that are so pleasant to walk through.

Lecce

Big and beautiful cities to visit in Italy: The Roman amphitheater in Lecce with the Column of St. Oronzia

Roman amphitheater in Lecce with the Column of St. Oronzia (photo: @picciora)

Lecce, located in the Puglia region, is called the city of Italian Baroque, as well as the “Southern Florence”.

Big and beautiful cities to visit in Italy: Basilica of Santa Croce in Lecce

Santa Croce Basilica in Lecce (photo: @3dent_tours)

It’s small but very beautiful, with a mass of architectural landmarks, among which the Basilica of Santa Croce stands out.

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