11 Most beautiful cities in Italy that you need to visit

From Rome to Florence and every where in between. Italy is filled with the most beautiful cities towns and villages.

Wander along the cobblestone streets with the smell of delicious food in the air, the sun warming your skin and the atmosphere of the Italians mingling in the Piazzas.

In most places a city is just a city. But when you’re in Italy every city is different, from the mountain cities to the coastal cities, there is a city for everyone and every city will leave you wanting to return time and time again.

Below you will find the 11 most beautiful cities in Italy, what you need to do in each city and why it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Pick out the cities that inspire you and add them to you bucket list, or even better, start planning your dream Italian trip.

A pinterest graphic for the most beautiful cities in Italy

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Most beautiful cities in Italy

Arezzo

Martina & Jürgen, PlacesofJuma

The courtyard of a Piazza in Arezzo

visit to Arezzo is one of the best highlights in Italy. This town is a real hidden pearl of Tuscany and should not be missed on any round trip! The beautiful medieval town is only 1 hour’s drive south-east of Florence and is therefore easy and quick to reach by car, but also by public bus. Guided tours are also available if you prefer to travel in groups. 

The city of Arezzo is famous in Italy for its ceramics and metal processing. Crafts and jewellery have always been produced here, which has brought great prosperity and wealth to the city. Hard to believe, but ten tonnes of gold are processed here every month. A stroll through the city reveals countless shops selling the finest jewellery and beautiful ceramics, such as the world-famous Aretin vases.

Beautiful and absolutely worth a visit is definitely the historic old town, as the center is full of interesting places to visit. Particularly pretty and a real highlight is the Piazza Grande, a breathtakingly beautiful main square and a really unique popular photo motif. It slopes downwards at an angle, creating an almost surreal backdrop.

Also worth seeing are the numerous interesting museums and the beautiful churches, where art treasures and masterpieces by famous artists such as Piero della Francesca or Giorgio Vasari can be admired.

Bari

Samantha, Sam Sees World

White buildings on cliffs above turquoise waters

Bari is the capital of Puglia and one of the most up-and-coming cities in Southern Italy. It is full of great things to do, see and experience and is also one of the prettiest cities in Italy. This vibrant travel destination sits along the shores of the Adriatic Sea and offers the perfect getaway full of beaches, churches and beautiful architecture. 

Bari is a very unique place to visit due to its history. It is said the first people settled here in the year 2000 BC and due to its location, it has seen a ton of different denominations since this time from Romans to Normans and more. Beyond its history, it is relatively undiscovered. Many people visit Italy and flock to all the same touristy cities, whereas Bari welcomes fewer tourists with all the same charm. 

Getting to Bari is most easily done by plane! There is an international airport just a few km from the city and you can find super cheap flights from all around Europe to here. You can also get here by train, bus or even boat. 

To get the best photos walk through the old town in the morning before everyone is out or take a boat trip and photograph the city from the water. You will want to savour many memories from this magical city.

Bologna

Lori, Travlinmad

Bologna’s is most renowned as the “Food Capital of Italy”, and with good reason. But it’s also known for its network of stunning covered porticoes, making it one of the most beautiful cities in Italy

Within the city there are over 38km (24 miles) of continuous medieval porticoes that have been in existence for 1,000 years.

In 2020, because of their cultural and historical significance, Bologna’s porticoes were recommended for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Throughout Bologna you’ll find preserved medieval buildings juxtaposed with shops, cafes, and private residences, and the entrances to most all of them will be covered by porticoes.
This laid-back city is one of Italy’s best old towns and is known by its nickname — “La Dotta, La Grassa e La Rossa” (“The Educated, the Fat, and the Red”).

Most visitors come to Bologna for the fantastic regional food and wines, but there’s much more to see and do in Bologna than eat. Strolling the streets by day with the aromas of foods being prepared in restaurants and friendly greetings all around gives a sense of what’s important in the city. 

Night time is especially magical in Bologna. The city seems to come alive with friends gathering in piazzas to eat, chat, or simply to enjoy some wine. Throughout the historic center, portico lights mesmerize with glowing shades of orange and gold. This is a great time for photo ops, and be sure to bring a tripod. Bologna is stunning at night.

If you’re staying in Venice or Florence, Bologna is between the two and just a one-hour train ride from both, and a short taxi ride from Bologna’s international airport.

Florence

Roxanne, Faraway Worlds

A view over the Duomo and Florence

The jewel of the Italian Renaissance and the capital of Tuscany, Florence is one of the most visited places in Italy. Once the home of Leonardo di Vinci and the poet Dante Alighieri, Florence has a fascinating history and the beautiful architecture of the city helps to tell its story.

The Duomo (cathedral) is the most distinctive landmark in the city, its domed roof rising high above the other buildings. Other popular places to visit are the Ponte Vecchio (the old bridge), the Uffizi Gallery and Michelangelo’s David at the Academia.

While you can tick off the above attractions in a couple of days, Florence has enough to see to justify a longer trip. The Boboli Gardens across the river are a wonderful place for a picnic (the Mercato Centrale is a great place to stock up on supplies), with gorgeous views over Florence.

To see some of the remarkable ancient art from Etruscan and Roman archaeological sites, visit the National Archaeological Museum in Florence – the collection there is very impressive.

Of course, the best way to enjoy the city is by walking through the cobblestone streets, drinking local wine and eating Tuscan food. Grab an espresso in the Piazza di Santo Maria Novella and people watch for a while.

Visit a market in the Piazza Santo Spirito during the day, or head over in the evening for good restaurants and nightlife. Go for a walk along the Arno and savour the relative peace. And, when it’s time for a break from the city, there are many beautiful Tuscan villages just a short train trip away.

Padua

Jacoba, Op reis met Co

Padua in Italy

When you’re traveling to Northern Italy, you will of course visit famous cities like Milan, Verona and Venice. But have you ever considered visiting Padua? This is a pleasant university town, which is located between Verona and Venice. Padua has a large train station and is therefore really easy accessible by train.

In Padua, you’ll find the largest square in all of Italy. On this square, called Prato della Valle, there are no fewer than 78 statues. It’s an amazing sight! In addition, there are many more beautiful things to see in Padua, such as the large Basilica di Sant’Antonio. This church has several buildings and is a popular place for pilgrims to visit. Not far from this church, you’ll find Orto botanico di Padova, this is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world.

It’s also fun to stroll around through the narrow streets in the Jewish Quarter and find some of the amazing hidden street art. In the center of town, you’ll find the large squares Piazza della Frutta and Piazza dei Signori. Both are wonderful to see and to explore. There are also many great restaurants in Padua to try some real Italian food. Because Padua is a university town, most eateries are very affordable.

As you can see, there is a lot to see and experience in Padua. The best thing? Padua is not (yet) discovered by large crowds of tourists, so you’ll experience the real Italian life.

Parma

Astrid, The Wandering Daughter

Diners sitting outside restaurants in a colourful street in Parma

The city of Parma lies in the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy. It’s a university city, but it’s also a city with rich culinary traditions. Parmesan cheese hails from Parma, as does prosciutto ham! For food lovers, adding a visit to Parma into your Italy itinerary is an absolute must. 

One of the highlights of Parma is the Palazzo della Pilotta. This complex houses a theater, museums, and a library. The Parco Ducale is also a beautiful and relaxing place to spend an afternoon. 

If you have access to a car, spend a day or two exploring the Musei del Cibo. This collection of museums dispersed throughout the villages surrounding Parma is dedicated to various types of food, from pasta, wine, tomatoes, and ham. The museums are small, but the exhibits are packed with information. And some museums will even offer tastings! 

Additionally, spend a day visiting one of the many dairies located around Parma. You’ll have a chance to learn about the production process that goes into making authentic Parmesan cheese.

The best time of year to visit Parma is between the months of May to September. The city itself is quite walkable, and there is a bus system available. However, to really experience the city and its environs, having a car is ideal. The city and its surrounding area is extremely photogenic. Take a walk through Parma around golden hour to take the best pictures.

Ragusa

Soumya, Stories by Soumya

A view over the city of Ragusa in Italy

Ragusa in south-eastern Sicily is one of Italy’s prettiest cities. Charming streets lined with flower-laden balconies, impressive Baroque monuments, and a picturesque setting make Ragusa a must-have on every Sicily itinerary.

Ragusa, along with 7 other charming towns of Sicily, forms a cluster called the Late Baroque Towns of Val di Noto. These towns were all reconstructed after the devastating earthquake of 1693 in a Baroque style that was unique to both Italy and Europe. The style came to be known as Sicilian Baroque and Val di Noto was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.

As you stroll down the lanes of Ragusa, you will notice beautiful Baroque cathedrals, office buildings adorned with monsters and masks, and exquisite balconies overladen with flowers. Be sure to step into Duomo di San Giorgio which is one of the most impressive monuments in Ragusa. Not very far away is the elegant Donnafuguta Castle that has an interesting history behind it.

Another thing about Ragusa that makes it so appealing is its scenic location. Old Ragusa or Ragusa Ibla is located on the top of a hill that rises sharply from the valley below. You can have beautiful views of the old town from the hills of Ragusa Superiore or the New Town both during day and night. 

Rome

Linn, Brainy Backpackers

trevi fountain in rome

Rome is by far one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. The incredible history and massive historic buildings dominating the historic center makes it necessary to at least spend 4 days in Rome to see the main attractions.

Start with the Colosseum where the gladiators used to fight in front of thousands of eager spectators and go passed the triumphal arch on your way to the Roman Forum showcasing the ancient Roman Empire’s splendor.

Make your way to the Trevi Fountain to throw in a lucky coin before walking the Spanish steps to the largest green space in Italy’s capital city, Villa Borghese.

Wandering down to Piazza del Popolo you can window shop through the largest shopping street in Rome, Via del Corso. Skip right to be amazed by the enormous Pantheon, grab a pizza al taglio (pizza to go) on the way to Piazza Navona where you can sit down, and people watch or just let yourself get amazed by the colossal architecture surrounding you.

The St. Peters Basilica and the Vatican deserve a whole day alone. Unless you enjoy standing 2 hours in a queue, it’s recommendable to buy skip-the-line tickets to save time that can be used for getting lost in the beautiful streets where another grand architectural masterpiece awaits around every corner.

Make sure you bring an extra battery for your camera, so you don’t run out, as there are no places you won’t want to click a photo in this city.

Getting to Rome is easy, after all, all roads lead to Rome! There are two international airports that connect with the rest of Europe and both roads and train lines are well connected with the rest of the country. Once in Rome, you can easily get around by metro and bus. That said, most of the main attractions are at a walking distance, but with cobblestoned streets, make sure you have comfortable shoes.

Turin

Liv, Livguine

A view over the city of Turin towards the mountains

Sophisticated, regal and a culinary paradise, Turin is one of the prettiest cities in Italy. It was home to the Royal family of Savoy for a century and the first official capital of Italy. The city centre is truly stunning with an almost Parisian-vibe thanks to the Savoy influence. Think palaces, castles and charming portici or covered walkways.

Turin is at its finest in Autumn when many fruits from the land are in season. The wine harvest gets going (don’t forget the region is home to the famous Barolo), and the coveted white truffle comes out. The city is often covered in the infamous nebbia or fog (from which their regional grape Nebbiolo takes its name) and it gives the whole place a mysterious, romantic feel.

When visiting Turin you can’t miss a stroll around Piazza Castello to see the Palazzo Reale (make sure to see the gardens), and Palazzo Madama (home to the several Savoy Queens); Porta Palatina, the Ancient Roman gate; the Quadrilatero, which is the oldest medieval part of town; Porta Palazzo, the biggest open-air market in Europe; Piazza Vittorio Veneto; a walk along the River Po; a walk up to the Monte Dei Cappuccini for a beautiful view over town; and a trip on the train to the Superga Basilica which watches over the city. For more ideas, take a look at this guide on spending a weekend in Turin.

Don’t forget to indulge in some of the region’s famous foods in Turin too. Think the bicerin drink, agnolotti del plin, brasato al Barolo, battuta al coltello and bagna cauda just to name a few.

Turin should be a must on any traveller to Italy’s itinerary, but it is often overlooked in favour of more well-known destinations. You can easily reach Turin from Milan via the high-speed train in just over an hour or add it to a trip to the South of France, through Liguria and into Piedmont. There is also a small airport in the city with connections from other Italian and European cities.

Venice

Tom & Zi, Craving Adventure

Gondolas tied up on the canals in Venice at sunset

Venice is known under many different nicknames like “La Dominante”, “Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Water”, and “City of Romance”. They all in one way or another describe this city’s incredible beauty.

So what is it that makes Venice so unique? Well, for starters it consists of many small islands connected by footbridges, the primary method of transport is by boat on the canals, there are no cars allowed in Venice, and there are only a handful of places in the world with the same density of architectural masterpieces from the renaissance period. Add a lively vibe, a buzzing bar scene, delicious Italian food, friendly people, and the chance to get serenaded while floating on the canals in a gondola, and you’ve got yourself the perfect weekend trip location.

All of this makes Venice one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, but ever since many people have been limited in their possibilities to travel due to COVID-19, Venice is no longer swarming with tourists, and even animals like dolphins have been sighted in its waters. So if there ever was a perfect time to visit this city of romance, it is now!

There are many ways to get to Venice, but the boat and the train are by far the easiest and the car the least convenient as cars are not allowed into the city. The train takes you all the way into Venice, and there are many water taxis in the area that drop you off on Venice’s islands. There are even water taxis going to and from the other side of the Adriatic to the Slovene Coast!  By plane is also a great option, as there is a water taxi service between the airport and Venice.

When it comes to photography the options are almost endless, but make sure to go out shooting in the early morning or close to sundown. Most of the city, and especially the older and more picturesque buildings are built from white stone or marble. Once the sun starts hitting stronger, the light gets reflected by this white stone everywhere and getting a good shot becomes a lot harder.

Viterbo

Claudia, Strictly Rome

An alley way in Viterbo one of the most beautiful cities in Italy

Viterbo is a beautiful small city in Lazio, located about 100 km from Rome, and a perfect place to visit on day trips from Rome.

Albeit being so close to the Italian capital, the main city in Tuscia (a region that comprises the north of Lazio, parts of Umbria and parts of southern Tuscany) is significantly lesser known, and has retained all of its local character.

The city enjoys a unique history and charming atmosphere. The main attractions are all in the historical center of town, still surrounded by perfectly kept protective walls.

As Viterbo was a papal town for about 24 years in the 14th century, you will be able to spot the Papal Palace and, not far from it, the beautiful Duomo of San Lorenzo and the Church of Santa Maria Nuova. San Pellegrino is the main historic quarter, and a great place for a walk – picture cobbled alleys and antique buildings.

To relax, plan a visit to the Terme dei Papi – incredibly budget friendly historical thermal baths.

The easiest way to reach Viterbo is by car but if you don’t want to drive there are direct trains to Viterbo Porta Romana station departing regularly from Roma Ostiense. The trip takes about 2 hours.

Have you been to Italy before? Let me know in the comments below which city you think is the prettiest in Italy?

Fiona xoxo

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My BEST Travel Resources

Here are my favourite travel resources for planning travel like a pro

Flights: To find the best flights I always search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. For even cheaper flights, fly mid week and pack in a carry on!

Accommodation: I always use booking.com (I love their price match and flexible cancellation policies) or Airbnb (if I want a little more space) to book trip. If you prefer hostels, I suggest Hostelworld.

If you are new to Airbnb you can get an awesome discount using this link

Travel Insurance: After a few hairy moments on my travels, I ALWAYS purchase travel insurance. It may seem like a big cost now, but if the worst happens, it will save you a lot of money and heartache. I personally use World Nomads (and love them!), but I recommend that you do some research to find the insurance company that suits your needs.

Tours: While I prefer to travel independently, I do love doing some tours once I’m in a destination. It is a great way to find out history, hidden gems, taste local food and get a local insight into your destination. I always use Viator to book my tours.

Train Travel: If you are planning on taking the train in Europe, I cannot recommend the Eurail enough! Check out The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass to find out why

Car Hire: Planning an epic road trip across the US or through Europe, or anywhere! Check out Europcar, they are my go to for car hire all over the world!

Luggage Storage: Some times when we are travelling our check in and check out times don’t match with our departure times so we have to put our luggage into storage. Stasher Luggage Storage is the biggest Luggage Storage Network across the UK, France and Germany

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