The most beautiful cities in Italy
Italy is a country in which one falls in love at first sight. Here you want to forget about all the problems and enjoy the fullness of life. The Apennine Peninsula welcomes tourists with bright sunshine, expressive southern language and striking beauty of the cities. Each place beckons with its own special and unique charm. The most beautiful cities of Italy are competing with each other for the palm and attention of travelers.
It’s very difficult to single out the most attractive places. What cities in Italy are the most beautiful – everyone decides for himself, based on personal tastes. Still, some places will leave an indelible impression on all who visited them.
This colorful and crowded city enjoys sunny weather and picturesque views. Perugia is built in a mountainous area and from afar it looks like the steps of a grand staircase. Natural viewing platforms were created by nature. The large terrace of the covered market offers a spectacular view of the lower quarters, where life thrives.
The local streets and arches inspired the great Goethe. The city of sunshine is bathed in the jets of the medieval Fountain of Maggiore. The Great Fountain is considered the most beautiful in Italy.
Propped up against the shoulder of a falling tower seeks to most tourists. And only a few know the secret of Pisa’s charm. The magic of the city is revealed to travelers in the early rainy morning.
The streets are deserted and deserted. Woven into the Gothic and Romanesque motifs of marble lace cathedrals. Piazza dei Cavalieri, washed by the rain, greets tourists quietly and solemnly. It is guarded by the palazzo della Caravana, the palace of the knights. The yellowed marble of the Church of San Michele in Borgo tells the story of Pisa’s ancient history.
Another city on the Apennine peninsula is famous for its falling towers. In the 13th century there were about 200 “towers”. Each rich family built a tower according to the principle: the higher – the more prestigious. Today there are about 20 of them left. Tourists can climb the Garizenda and Asinelli and feel the pleasant coolness of freedom. The view from above is a red carpet of rooftops, which is why the “city of towers” is called “Bologna Red”.
This city is fascinating with its ancient beauty. Here is the oldest university in Europe. This city inspires young people. About half a million residents of Bologna are students.
The city of palaces amazes with the luxury and splendor of medieval buildings. Genoa is called the capital of European culture. Over 40 buildings are protected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The well-preserved medieval city center is the largest in Europe.
The luxurious interiors of the White, Red, Royal and other palaces fascinate tourists. Even the Church of St. Peter’s is more like a rich mansion, which inside is filled with the soft light of white marble. The central street, Via Garibaldi, is considered the most beautiful road in Europe. The charm of the city is given by the atmosphere of the ancient seaport.
Naples is a place where the frame is prettier than the picture: the beauty of Naples is inconceivable without its natural surroundings. The waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the towering volcano Vesuvius make this corner of the “Italian boot” more picturesque.
The coast of the Bay of Naples is so beautiful that it has spawned a host of legends and proverbs. One story tells that it was here that the sirens lured Odysseus and his companions with their voices. And the expression “to see and die” originally did not refer to Paris, but to Naples. Not for nothing did the locals sing the beauty of the coast in the famous “Santa Lucia”.
Eternal blooming, sophisticated lady – such epithets allow Florence to claim the title of “The most beautiful city in Italy”. It’s an ideal place for walking tours. The birthplace of the Renaissance is so densely packed with sights that a term has emerged: the “Florence syndrome.” Tourists lose their heads. Even those who have never held a camera become photographers.
The city of spring is an open-air museum. Florence’s cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, is stunning in size and beauty. The marble cladding of the church shimmers with the original Italian colors: red, white and green. The dome of the cathedral once housed all 90,000 inhabitants of the city. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The famous Michelangelo said to the architect: “I will not be able to surpass you”.
Only love can overcome everything. Verona proved it. The city is saturated with an atmosphere of love. Tourists all over the world come here to see Juliet’s famous balcony. Another pretty place is Ponte Pietra. From the “Stone Bridge” opens up an amazing panorama of the city. This is a corner of heaven on earth.
In the evening, music lovers will enjoy the voices of the best opera singers. The romanticism of the performances lies in the fact that one of the decorations is the starry sky. The Arena di Verona is an ancient amphitheater of pink marble. It is the largest opera house in the open air.
The famous La Scala is the eternal rival of the Arena di Verona. The most famous opera artists sing here. Milanese sense of beauty is innate. Residents of the informal capital of Italy love to live with taste.
Milan is the center of world fashion. On the streets a lot of beautiful girls. Even the famous Cathedral in Milan flaunts fashionable marble lace towers. This third largest Christian church in the world is gorgeous and elegant. The cathedral is especially exquisite because of the white marble of which the walls were erected.
The city on the water is loved by tourists, so you should visit it in the off-season. Crowds of gawking visitors do not interfere with the atmosphere of this unique place. Many travelers believe that Venice is the most beautiful city in Italy. The place is like a fairy tale theater set. Here are the secrets of many generations.
Venice is famous for the canals, over which the 400 bridges. On the “water streets” gondolas quietly glide. It seems that you can hear the gentle whisper of lovers. The largest “water street” – the Grand Canal – is framed by the facades of marble palaces. Time itself flows between these buildings. Once you reach St. Mark’s Basilica, you can see the most beautiful square in the world. It is Piazza San Marco.
The list of the most beautiful cities in Italy is headed by the capital of the southern country. Here, every stone breathes history.
Greatness of Rome emphasizes the visiting card of the capital – the Colosseum. Flavius amphitheater even today amazes with its beauty. Power and strength emanate from the symbol of imperial authority. Enjoy the magic of light effects in the “Temple of all the gods”. In the center of the grandiose dome is the famous “Eye of the Pantheon”. It seems that the temple is the center of the whole world, because there are no other sources of light.
There are so many sights in Rome that a week is not enough time to see them. It will be a real journey through time. The eternal city combines centuries-old culture and modernity.
The list of the most beautiful cities in Italy is not limited to ten cities. This sunny country wonderfully combines the magic of architecture with the picturesqueness of nature. Every corner, every village will open its charm to travelers. And again, it will seem that the most beautiful city in Italy – is the one where you have not been.
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10 Italian cities you’ll fall in love with at first sight
I’ve traveled around a good portion of Italy, having been to most Italian regions and almost every major city in the country more than once. I love the grandeur of Rome, the cozy beauty of Florence, the liveliness of Milan and the impossibility of Venice, but with this post I want to tell you that in endless Italy there are many other cities, which I am sure you will fall in love with at first sight.
You have no idea how difficult it was for me to choose from the dozens of Italian cities that I know and love equally, some measly ten of them. I wanted to tell you about cities, first of all, not so well-known to the mass tourist, secondly, about cities that perhaps say more about Italy than their no less worthy neighbors, and thirdly, about cities different. About chaotic and respectable, southern and northern, large and tiny, but equally my favorite and equally deserving of your attention. I hope I succeeded.
- To see the benchmark city of Italy;
- learn that spaghetti bolognese does not exist in nature, and try tagliatelle al ragu.
I will never tire of telling you about Bologna, my favorite city, where I had the opportunity to live a little. I’m very lucky that fate brought me to Italy and to Bologna in particular. Why do I consider it a reference? It is a city neither large nor small, neither metropolitan nor provincial, a city of balance, with as many progressive students as there are adults and older people clinging to the past. Bologna is a city of the best cuisine in Italy (don’t argue!), a city of beautiful architecture (Aristotle Fioravanti was the chief architect here), a city of marvelous museums (one museum of the master of stingy still life Giorgio Morandi stands for nothing) and, besides, it is a convenient transportation hub that allows you to quickly get to many other interesting Italian cities.
In Russia Bologna is mostly remembered because of bolognese (which are not very popular in Italy), bologna cloth (for which Italians don’t have much love) and spaghetti bolognese. Remember, friends, that thin spaghetti cannot, under any circumstances, be combined with a rich meat sauce. To it, called al ragu in Bologna, a flat, wide tagliatelle pasta is appropriate. And that’s what you should look for on the menus of Bolognese restaurants.
- See Byzantine mosaics;
- try piadina, the local alternative to pizza.
Ravenna has shone with Byzantine mosaics for centuries. It was once the capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and so it has preserved the sturdy, rough-brick mausoleums and basilicas, which sparkle inside with the many colors of the most elaborate mosaics. The contrast between the primitive forms of these buildings with their loophole-like windows and the real picturesque paintings unfolding on the walls, ceilings and floors is stunning. Dante, buried, by the way, in Ravenna, Klimt, whose style was greatly influenced by mosaics, Bloch, Byron, Oscar Wilde were fascinated by this city, which, unfortunately, not many tourists know about.
While in Ravenna, you should pay attention to one of the typical dishes of the region – piadina. It is an unleavened flatbread, traditional to these places, which becomes a variation on the sandwich theme when served together with cheese, arugula, tomatoes or prosciutto.
- See the architecture of Andrea Palladio;
- taste grappa in its homeland, Bassano del Grappa.
Many Italian cities are like boxes: narrow streets, stark stone houses, minimal greenery and open spaces. Vicenza is very different. This city is filled not only with admirable architecture by the outstanding Andrea Palladio, but is full of greenery and breathes nature. Palladio has been called one of the most influential architects of the world. A late Renaissance master, he worked influenced by the best examples of ancient architecture, giving classical elements a new sound, was the founder of all the architecture of classicism and later trends, which we see in great number and splendor throughout the world. Moreover, Palladio paid great attention to the combination of building and landscape, which is why it is appropriate to call Vicenza not only an architectural but also a landscape reserve. My favorite place in Vicenza is the Teatro Olimpico, a small, toy-like theater with a shady little garden, where gravel crunches underfoot, greenery curls along the walls, water gurgles in the fountain, white-skinned sculptures hide in the foliage
It’s best to spend one day in the city and then rent a car and arm yourself with a map to see the Palladian villas, a UNESCO heritage site. Palladio was a much sought-after architect, and so in the hills surrounding Vicenza you will find villas built by him for the nobility. The most famous are the Villas Contarini, Rotonda, Foscari and Emo.
By car you can also easily reach the town of Bassano del Grappa, for grappa, a traditional Italian distillate. A visit to the small Poli museum, dedicated to the production of grappa, do not miss the Nardini distillery with a picturesque terrace, located on an old bridge overhanging the quiet river.
- See one of the most beautiful castles in Italy;
- buy truffles and taste pasta strozzapreti.
Perhaps the most beautiful castle I have ever seen in Italy is in Urbino. When you drive up to the city, lost in the hills of the Marche region, you get a magnificent view from the car (or bus – they didn’t build a railroad here): at the very top of another hill, you suddenly see the pointed towers of the palace of the Dukes of Urbino, the Palazzo Ducale. The city seems to rise out of the green and blue sky, and looks surprisingly unified, resembling a bizarre sandcastle. The Duke Federico da Montefeltro, who ruled in the XV century, did his best. The competition between Italian cities at the time was not a joke: the rivalry could be both armed and with artistic overtones. Like Este in Ferrara and the Medici in Florence, the Montefeltro was a patron of the arts, creating ideal, practical hothouse conditions for poets, artists and scholars, trying to outdo his neighbors. The duke’s favorite city, Urbino, was worked on by the best architects of his time.
Urbino was the birthplace of Raphael. The artist lived here for the first seventeen years of his life; it is believed that the harmonious beauty of his hometown had a major influence on the development of his style.
The Marche, where Urbino is located, is a real mushroom region: the local truffles are as famous as those of Piedmont. Don’t miss the opportunity to take home a truffle sauce for bruschetta or pasta and be sure to try strozzapreti pasta – small strips of dough twisted with a string. The history of this name is chilling. According to one legend, it comes from the shoelaces with which the local anarchists once strangled the priests. And the pasta was so named by thrifty restaurateurs who were fed up with priests eating in their establishments and not paying. In short, if you’re in Urbino, order strozzapreti.
- to see Italy, which is not Italy at all, but as if it were Austria;
- to drink excellent beer.
Trento is the best proof that Italy has it all. How many cultures it has absorbed, how different, but at the same time, how similar the different regions of the country! If you go to Trento by train, after Verona and its flat surroundings, it will dive into a tunnel, and when it comes out, you will find yourself as if in another country. Here you can already feel the breath of the Alps, the macons of churches become rounded, frescoes bloom on the walls of palaces, much brighter than in the same Verona, the waters of the Adige river become even faster, and on the hillsides between which it runs, there are terraces of vineyards. It’s almost Austria: schnitzel in restaurants neighbors with pasta, strudel with tiramisu, but all much tastier than over the mountains, and life in Trento is not in the Austrian way, but in the Italian active and fun.
You can go to Trento for beer: in the years when bottles from trendy Kraft breweries have not yet become dearer to Italians than the eternal Peroni, in Trento, taking advantage of the proximity to Austria, a wide variety of beers were brewed. The most famous breweries in the region are Antica Birreria Pedavena (where you can take a tour), Birra del Bosco, and in Abbazia della Birra you can buy almost all the beers that are produced in the area.
- Fall in love with the most unloved Italian city in Italy;
- Taste probably the best coffee in Italy.
Trieste has the fate of Italy’s most unloved city. In fact, almost throughout its entire history, it has never been Italy. It was a free imperial city, a seaside resort of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, attracting many nobles who flocked here from dank Vienna to spend the winter months. For the Italians, however, Trieste’s incorporation into Italy was a matter of honor – and as a result, they got the city in 1954. However, they could not fall in love with it – it’s too different from the rest of Italy. Vienna on the sea – so you can describe Trieste, which is very dear to my heart. When you come here, you feel that you discover a part of Italy where most Italians have never been. The feeling of being a discoverer is valuable, and it is doubly valuable in an Italy that has been explored up and down by tourists.
What I love about the people of Trieste is their unforgettable devotion to the sea. Do you know how it is? People live all their lives by the sea and don’t even bathe in it once a season. Every weekend, they bolt a folding chaise longue to their old motorino and head for Barcola, the long, pine-covered promenade along the sea. There are no sandy beaches here – you go down into the water directly from the embankment by a metal staircase, and then, having had enough of swimming, drink on their cots, standing in the blessed and fragrant shade of pines, spritz, white wine with mineral sparkling water.
Also, Trieste may be the capital of the best coffee in Italy. At least many people believe that it is here where the Italian and Austrian coffee traditions came together to the delight of all coffee lovers. Stop by La Bomboniera, a pastry shop that has been open since 1836, and order a cup of coffee and a lettere d’amore, a love letter as thin as writing paper and as sweet as a declaration of love.
Also in Trieste, in the romantic castle of Miramare, Joyce wrote his Ulysses.
- See “Little Paris”, the most French city in Italy;
- taste the famous Turin chocolate.
Turin, Italy’s fourth largest city, is only an hour and a half by train from Milan. It is called the most French of Italian cities and the most Italian of French cities. The reason for that is the Savoy dynasty that ruled here for several centuries and the huge impact it had on the development of the city. Turin is also the first capital of the united Italy and home to such Italian symbols as Fiat, Nutella, Martini, Cinzano and Lavazza. If the legend is to be believed, the Holy Grail is hidden in the vicinity of Turin. It is also home to the greatest relic of the Christian world – the Shroud of Turin. Moreover in Turin was born the slow food movement. There is a magnificent film museum, a car museum, several stunning modern art collections and Egyptian antiquities museum. And all of this is framed in an elegant frame of stylish historic cafes, chic squares, delightful palazzos, and baroque cathedrals.
Since for centuries Turin is considered one of the European chocolate capitals, one of the most popular souvenirs is chocolate in the form of bars, handmade sweets, chocolate liqueur. In Piazza della Consolata, don’t miss the city’s oldest cafe, Al Bicerin, opened in 1763. It is in Turin, by the way, compared to other Italian cities, that the greatest number of ancient cafes survived, where you can taste the exquisite pasticcini mignon cakes with different fillings, cakes, vermouth, whose homeland is the capital of Piedmont. What else? Gruyotti chocolates with a large content of ground hazelnut mass, coffee with Nutella, which, incidentally, is also produced in Piedmont… Sweet city!
- See the most beautiful Duomo in Italy;
- taste panforte, a traditional Tuscan dessert.
If you’ve made it to Florence and think you’ve seen all the most beautiful, delightful and unusual things in Tuscany, take a bus to Siena! Why come here? If only to see the most beautiful (to me, definitely!) Duomo, Italy’s cathedral. The Duomo in Siena – it’s airy white-pink-gold marble facade with flashes of bright mosaics and slender, seemingly from a distance striped and black and white high Campanilla, which near – look closely, if you are not afraid of going blind from the beauty – turns out to be decorated with green and pinkish marshmallow marble. And Piazza del Campo, the piazza plate surrounded by dark red, austere palazzos, which becomes the site of annual competitions during the Siena paglios? And the endless flags and contrada figures, the district-teams into which the city is divided to participate in this equestrian feast, looking at you from the walls of the houses? The snail and the owl, the dragon and the giraffe, the porcupine and the turtle…
When you find them all (I’ll tell you – there are 17), stop by Nannini’s pastry shop to try panforte (or panpepato), a dessert made of nuts, dried fruit, honey and lots of spices. The panforte, which resembles a dense loaf, keeps well and makes a wonderful gift for those waiting for you at home.
- See the most textured city in Italy;
- taste pizza in its homeland.
Naples is a very beautiful and incredibly desolate city with stunning views of Vesuvius and Capri, with narrow, dark and graffiti-painted alleyways where laundry is thickly hung between houses, with stunningly beautiful baroque churches and trays of fresh fish, with street musicians and the smell of coffee. Peter Weil, whose travel notes I consider one of the best examples of this genre, wrote about one of the cities he visited in the spirit that true, penetrating love requires an imperfect object and, preferably, its neglect. This is what Naples is all about!
Its great charm is that the city lives its own life, not that of a tourist, and therefore you very often feel like you’re the only gawker with a camera in the whole neighborhood. The streets are full of homeless people, beggars, migrants, and others who want to know what clock you’re wearing by asking what time it is. The city is amazingly textured – all rough, uneven, in a web of cracks, contrasting and crazy beautiful in terms of architecture (not for nothing is its center under UNESCO protection).
Naples is, of course, the pizza. It is believed that its prototype in the form of flatbread with tomatoes appeared here in the early 16th century. The pizza was a meal for the poor; centuries later, at the close of the century before last, Queen Margherita of Savoy fell in love with it. In honor of her, as you might guess, pizza was named Margarita. How not to mess up by ordering pizza? Under no circumstances divide it – one pizza per person. Never order wine with it – Italians believe that drinks with gas (Coke or beer) help it digest better. Afraid you can’t handle a huge pizza? Get it on the street, al taglio, in a square piece. But only for lunch! For dinner, pizza is eaten round and sitting down. Don’t get confused!
- See the most respectable city in Sicily;
- go to one of the most colorful fish markets in Italy and enjoy plenty of sea urchins, caponata, and cheese.
Syracuse is definitely the most respectable city in Sicily, and Sicily is a kind of Italian homeland, without visiting which you do not understand why Italy is so. When you’ve had your fill of the chaotic nature of Palermo and the stark, even depressing beauty of Catania, come here, a clean and bright city by the sea. The historic center of Syracuse is on an island: the promenade that surrounds it offers beautiful views, while locals fish from the city walls. At the center of this island center are elegant squares with first-rate baroque temples, narrow and colorful but not at all dangerous streets full of terraced cafes. Syracuse is alien to the resort bustle – there are no beaches, and so even at the height of July heat the citizens lead a sedate, measured life, going out after sunset to flirt and exchange news.
It’s a different city when you find yourself at the market! On piles of huge white eggplants, phantasmagoric-sized peppers, over bastions of cheese and fortresses of vats with fresh fish, the hands of traders, mostly men, fly up in expressive gestures, and calls fly out to buy the best, the freshest. To eat sea urchins right off the counter? Taste the finest caponata, an appetizer of vegetables? Choose the tastiest cheese? The market in Syracuse is the soul of the city.