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Things to do in Italy

Things to do in  Italy

Welcome to Italy

Well-known for its boot shape, Italy boasts a staggering number of renowned pieces of art, an abundance of UNESCO World Heritage sites, and welcomes visitors with a warm, friendly atmosphere. Let a private or small-group tour with an expert guide show you how to walk in Caesar's footsteps through the Forum in Rome. Take a gondola tour of Venice to glide by the city's classic architecture. Stare in awe at the colorful frescoes in the Vatican Museums’ Sistine Chapel one day, and hike the Path of the Gods along the Amalfi Coast on another. Italy is an art lover's paradise, where masterpieces by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Raphael await. Learn about the birthplace of the Renaissance in Florence, and admire the Botticellis in the Uffizi Gallery. Then switch gears to explore hilltop villages in remote parts of Tuscany, or browse for the latest fashions in Milan. Foodies flock to Italy to taste pizza in its hometown of Naples. You can also take a cooking class to learn the secrets of Italian cuisine, like gnocchi and tiramisu in Sorrento, or risotto with prawns in Venice. And then there's the wine—book a wine tour to the Frascati region of Rome for reds and dessert wines, or head to Florence for Chianti. Meanwhile, other tours let you take in a Venetian concert or drift in a boat on Lake Como.

Top 10 attractions in Italy

#1
Cefalù Cathedral (Duomo di Cefalù)

Cefalù Cathedral (Duomo di Cefalù)

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Though the giant, craggy La Rocca may dominate the Cefalù skyline, the Cefalù Cathedral (Duomo di Cefalù) competes for that attention. The Norman-style church was constructed starting in 1131, prompted — according to legend — by Roger II, who, during a shipwreck at sea, promised God that if he survived, that he’d construct a church right in this very place. Today’s cathedral is noted for its fortress-like exterior, and for its interior mosaics, particularly the lavish Christ Pantokrator mosaic.The grand mosaic is complemented by a relatively humble interior, which makes the contrast all the more striking. Almost just as important as seeing the inside of the church is experiencing it from the outside from the palm tree-filled plaza. It’s the perfect place to grab pizza, coffee or an ice cream — you might pay a premium for it, but the splendid views and free cathedral-entry more than make up for it.More
#2
Maddalena Archipelago (Arcipelago della Maddalena)

Maddalena Archipelago (Arcipelago della Maddalena)

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For deserted lagoons, turquoise waves, and fabulous beaches, set sail for the Maddalena Archipelago (Arcipelago della Maddalena), just off the Costa Smeralda. The group of seven islands and dozens of islets between Sardinia and Corsica is a national park, with crystalline waters for diving and unspoiled coastlines.More
#3
Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta (Duomo di San Gimignano)

Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta (Duomo di San Gimignano)

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Taking prize place beside the Town Hall on Piazza Duomo, the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta (Duomo di San Gimignano) ranks among most impressive monuments of San Gimignano’s UNESCO-listed historic center.Behind its comparatively reserved façade, the church’s main claim to fame is its exquisite frescos, which date back to the 14th and 15th centuries, and remain remarkably unrestored. The bold colors and painstaking detail bring to life iconic biblical scenes including Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark, the Garden of Eden and dramatic depictions of Heaven and Hell, with highlights including works by Bartolo di Fredi, Lippo Memmi, Benozzo Gozzoli and Taddeo di Bartolo.Adjoining the church, the small Museum of Sacred Art includes more works taken from the Duomo and other San Gimignano churches, including a Crucifix by Benedetto di Maiano and the ‘Madonna of the Rose’ by Bartolo di Fredi.More
#4
Trapani and Paceco Salt Pans Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Integrale Saline di Trapani e Paceco)

Trapani and Paceco Salt Pans Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Integrale Saline di Trapani e Paceco)

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The Natural Reserve on the Sicilian coast from Trapani to Marsala is set aside for multiple uses, from collecting sea salt to preserving wildlife. The salt pans are still used to harvest sea salt, using the same methods that have been used for centuries, which include the use of some historic windmills. There is also a museum, set in a former salt mill, that is dedicated to the salt harvesting history in the area.As a haven for wildlife, the Trapani and Paceco Salt Pans Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Integrale Saline di Trapani e Paceco) has been under the direction of WWF Italy since 1995, and visitors can often see more than 150 species of birds here. Among them, look for flamingoes, cranes, storks and osprey.More
#5
Sassi di Matera

Sassi di Matera

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A European Capital of Culture, the UNESCO-listed Sassi di Matera are one of Basilicata’s most fascinating destinations. The cave dwellings and caverns carved into the hillside of Matera date from prehistoric times and were inhabited until the 1950s. Today, they host unique hotels, restaurants, churches, and museums.More
#6
Orvieto Cathedral (Duomo di Orvieto)

Orvieto Cathedral (Duomo di Orvieto)

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Orvieto’s magnificent cathedral (Duomo di Orvieto) can be seen from miles around, its soaring facade and spires towering high above the rooftops of the clifftop town. Once you get closer, you can take in its intricate external mosaics and stonework, rose window, bronze doors, and sumptuous Signorelli frescoes inside.More
#7
Miramare Castle (Castello di Miramare)

Miramare Castle (Castello di Miramare)

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The extravagant 19th-century Miramare Castle (Castello di Miramare) is set on the Grignano promontory above the Gulf of Trieste and has beautiful interiors and 54 acres of grounds and botanical gardens. Home to the Habsburg family until the 20th century, this sumptuous noble residence offers a fascinating glimpse into royal life.More
#8
Colosseum

Colosseum

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The Colosseum has been a symbol of Rome since 80 AD, and today it’s a top monument in Italy. Some 50,000 spectators once gathered in the amphitheater’s tiered seats to watch gladiatorial games, and though parts of its original marble facade were pilfered over the years to build the likes of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum remains remarkably intact 2,000 years later.More
#9
Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno)

Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno)

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The powerful figure of Neptune appears in many fountains around Italy, including the Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno) in Messina. The Messina version was completed in 1557 by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli.Montorsoli designed the Neptune figure to face the city of Messina from its original position near the harbor. The fountain was moved to its currently location in Piazza dell’Unità after it was damaged.Neptune stands above a tiered fountain in the Messina square, holding his signature trident over the sculpted figures of two sea monsters representing two particularly treacherous rocks near Messina’s harbor. Neptune’s hand originally reached toward the city in a gesture of protection, though in the fountain’s current location his arm reaches toward the sea. Many tours of Messina’s city center include a stop at the fountain.More
#10
Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi)

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi)

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Birthplace of St. Francis and one of Italy’s most atmospheric hill towns, Assisi is best known for its glorious Basilica of St. Francis. The UNESCO-listed pilgrimage site is a treasure trove of medieval art. Visit the soaring upper church, the somber lower church, and Francis’ tomb in the crypt.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Italy

Rome by Golf Cart Private Tour

Rome by Golf Cart Private Tour

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All about Italy

When to visit

Italian summers are best spent at the beaches of Sardinia and Sicily, but festivals like La Tomatina, Rock in Roma, and the Palio horse races offer good reasons to head inland. The sun shines through fall, making it ideal for city sightseeing—or truffle hunting and wine tasting in Tuscany—while Venice’s legendary Carnival is worth braving the cold for.

Frequently Asked Questions

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