When someone mentions traveling to Italy, what is the mental image that comes to mind?
How about undulant verdant hills in dreamy soft-focus, banded with rows of grapevines? Cyprus trees that line a meandering road, vanishing into the distant horizon? A rustic dinner table in the open air, abundant with the freshest local ingredients that have been coaxed into culinary perfection by talented chefs? And don’t forget the passionate conversation that flows like vino…
Yes, that is the “painting” that most people conjure when asked to describe their dreams about traveling to Italy. And it’s an amazing masterpiece. It truly is.
But Italy offers so much more than just a few chapters from someone else’s memoir.
It can be gorgeous and relaxing, yes, but also exciting, educational, and of course, delicious!
For their first trip to Italy, most travelers opt for a fairly common route intended to discover all the rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and culinary traditions that they’ve always read about, or heard about from other people’s travel stories.
Rome, for example, is an open-air museum, as well as being an ideal destination for enjoying the best of Italian cuisine. From the majesty of the Vatican to the local charm of Trastevere, Rome is probably the most diverse city in Italy.
Another stop on the standard tour is Milan. The fashion capital that never sleeps: dynamic, lively, it is ideal for those who love getting lost in shopping and trendy nightclubs. And let’s not forget Leonardo’s Last Supper fresco and the incredible architecture of Milan’s main cathedral. .
More refined still is Florence, where culture and history can be experienced in every corner. Between art and monuments, you are constantly submerged in its Renaissance atmosphere. It’s a small city, but absolutely packed with treasures.
Naples, the land of Partenope, is one of the most visited cities in the South of Italy, between the sea and volcanic landscapes, it’s an explosion of joy and colors. And flavors!
Perhaps the most unique destination in Italy (or anywhere) is Venice; La serenissima, The Queen of the Adriatic. It is the most romantic destination in which to get lost in the charm of wandering canals, gondolas, and the elegant decay of its stately palazzi.
So there it is; the proverbial “tour de force” through the most famous cities and sites. Some tour companies will offer this itinerary over the course of just one week! Don’t blink, or you might miss something.
But there are 20 regions in Italy, and each one has something amazing to offer. Let’s slow down a bit now and look at each one.
Traveling To Italy Through Its 20 Regions
A map to rediscover Italy, region by region, on the trail of the most unusual itineraries, or retracing the classic ones with new eyes. Here are our travel ideas to discover (or rediscover) places, stories, events, food, and countless traditions of this beautiful country.
From the majestic mountains of the Aosta Valley to the thousand colors of Sicily; from the nature of Friuli Venezia Giulia to the crystalline sea of sunny Puglia; passing through Tuscany, the Marche and other “mutated lands,” wounded by the experience of recent earthquakes. Here are a few “seeds” to help you decide where to go on vacation in Italy.
Valle d’Aosta is a region in Italy that enjoys an excellent position in the Italian Alps. During the winter season, guests can enjoy skiing and snowboarding while during the summer they can go hiking and biking.
The main town in Valle d’Aosta has its own distinctive character, and is surrounded by mountains on three sides. The region also has an international airport at its capital, which makes it easy to get in and out of.
There are also some well-maintained historical sites and Roman ruins to visit. There are a number of cities within the region including Aosta, Courmayeur, Saint Vincent, and Zermatt.
Piedmont is the northernmost region of Italy and has a reputation for fine wines and great food. Its capital, Turin, is located in mountainous terrain. The area has been settled since ancient times, and even had its own kingdom for a period of time. Today, most tourists explore the cities of Turin and Cuneo, but there are many beautiful places to visit in Piedmont.
There are a number of opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing. There are also several museums that visitors can tour during their stay, including the Museo Egizio in Turin.
The magical Lake Orta, the Piedmontese shore of Lake Maggiore, the austere Turin and the vineyards immersed in the colorful Langhe.
Liguria stretches from Milan to the French border and includes the islands of Capraia, Montecristo, Elba, and Giglio. It has some of the best coastal towns in Italy. The region has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers.
Genoa, the capital of Liguria, an ancient Maritime Republic, is a tenacious city that has been able to rise again every time, even from the recent devastating floods and after the dramatic collapse of the Morandi Bridge.
Portofino is an ancient fishing village located on a promontory with breathtaking views over the surrounding sea. Its cobblestone streets are lined with restaurants and boutiques.
The province of La Spezia is home to the Cinque Terre, one of the most characteristic areas of the region: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, which are crowned by Levanto to the west and Portovenere to the east. Five villages perched along the coast, in a fairytale landscape with 36 square kilometers of rocks overlooking the sea.
And if the small villages are not enough, there is the romantic Via dell’Amore, carved into the rock overlooking the sea.
Lombardy is a region in northern Italy with its capital in Milan. The word Lombardy comes from Longobardia, the medieval name for the northern part of Italy, which was once conquered by the Lombards.
Lake Como is located in the northern part of Lombardy. The best part of Lake Como is its landscape, which appears to be taken out from a fairy tale book. This place attracts tourists from all over the world. And it’s not just the landscape that will capture your heart – you will also
The are many reasons to visit Bergamo and its symbolic master, Gaetano Donizetti. There is a new Donizetti Opera festival in the days around the composer’s birthday for those who love opera music.
Veneto is an area of Northern Italy that is known for its rich culture and history, as well as its beautiful landscape. The area has hosted many powerful empires throughout the years, including the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and of course The Venetian Republic.
The city of Venice is located on a group of 118 small islands, and it gives its name to the whole region known as the Venetian Lagoon. The city itself is built on wooden piles, which are driven deep into the muddy lagoon floor and topped by platforms of marble.
It’s one of the most romantic cities in Europe: striking architecture, beautiful gondolas, seafood restaurants and unique experiences await you in this special city.
Trentino and South Tyrol
Over 220 mirrors of water and a crown of Alpine peaks interrupted by thermal springs: Trentino boasts extraordinary natural landscapes, while South Tyrol is, by history and tradition, closer to Tyrol than to Italy. From the Dolomites, a World Heritage Site, to the wonders of the provinces of Trento and Bolzano, this area is unique, and often feels more Austrian than Italian.
Inhabited by Italians and Ladin and German-speaking minorities, Trentino is nestled in the Dolomites, a World Heritage Site since 2009, and is transformed on the shores of Lake Garda, which guarantees the area a microclimate that makes it suitable even for Mediterranean flora.
Nature is completed with the vestiges of the past and with the trends of the future: together with the alpine refuges and castles perched on it, you can visit prestigious art exhibitions and you can learn the production techniques of Italian sparkling wine exported all over the world.
Friuli Venezia Giulia
Friuli Venezia Giulia is a small region, famous for its great wines and beautiful landscapes.
The capital, Trieste, is a wonderful place to visit. It has a unique architecture style and is surrounded by the blue waters of the Adriatic sea. This area has a rich history and to explore it you should go to the museums in Cividale del Friuli or the Civic Museum in Trieste.
Also not to be missed is Udine, elegant and a little reluctant, to be discovered calmly by stopping to enjoy a tajut, the local aperitif. Friuli, however, is also sea (with sandy coasts to the west, rocky and full of caves to the east) and mythical mountains such as the Karst.
And, above all, it offers a lot of culture, to be found in the territories on the border with Austria and Slovenia, where the Central European flavor is felt both in the spoken language and in the cuisine. Thanks not only to geography but also to the complex history of the region.
Emilia-Romagna is a region of Italy, so you can enjoy the food and the culture. You can visit Parma to see the birthplace of Parmesan cheese, Bologna to see one of the oldest universities in the world, Ravenna for its Byzantine mosaics and Ferrara for its Renaissance architecture.
And the cuisine is the most famous part of this region: Parmigiano Reggiano and Parma ham are just two of the many gastronomic excellences that the whole world envies.
You can also take day trips to Modena, Busseto and Poggio Rusco. For nature lovers, you can visit Parco Sasso Simone e Simoncello in Casalgrande Padana, where you can hike through lush forests.
The capital of Tuscany, Florence, was the cradle of the Renaissance and of the most significant artistic, literary and scientific productions produced since the fourteenth century. It is universally known as a treasure trove of art. Some works adorn the streets of the center and can be contemplated simply by walking around the city, from the Ponte Vecchio to the Duomo on which Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome stands.
The rivalry between Pisa and Florence, or Pisa and Livorno, seems to date back to 1284 when the Maritime Republic of Pisa was defeated by Genoa in the battle of Meloria. Since then, proverbs and jokes between rival cities have followed one another to the present day.
Pisa is famous all over the world for its Leaning Tower, located in the marvelous Piazza dei Miracoli together with the Cathedral and the Baptistery, the symbol of the city.
Siena is also one of the Tuscan cities of art that deserve a visit. And not only because it is the historic site of the Palio, scheduled twice a year in Piazza del Campo, but also for the beauty of its churches and monuments. It is no coincidence that they call it “the city of the Gothic”, so much so that it was recognized as a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1995.
Rome. Extraordinary pole of international attraction, the “eternal city” has always guided the development of the whole region. The immense artistic heritage hosted by the capital is unparalleled: the historic center, the extraterritorial properties of the Holy See and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, are just an example of its wonders, included among the assets protected by UNESCO.
All of Lazio boasts archeological sites of great value. Like the Roman excavations of Ostia Antica, the temple of Hercules in Cori, the temple of Jupiter Anxur in Terracina or the Etruscan excavations of Vulci, the Necropolis of Tuscania and that of Cerveteri.
Characteristic are the small villages scattered throughout the region, such as those of Civita di Bagnoregio, Calcata, Castel Gandolfo (still the Pope’s summer residence), Sermoneta and Greccio.
Perugia, the capital of Umbria is a perfect set of shapes, colors, monuments that unfold street by street. Its historic center, surrounded by walls, stands on a hill in the middle of the green and can be reached from the lower city with the lifts.
When you see Orvieto in the distance, you seem to see the natural continuation of the hill on which it stands. At the end of one of the main streets of the city (corso Cavour) we discover the well of San Patrizio, 165 feet deep with one-way spiral ramps built for mules.
Not far from Perugia, it is the religious center of Umbria, as well as the City of Peace, Assisi. Here lived St. Francis (patron saint of Italy) and Santa Chiara and still today most of those who reach Assisi do so for religious and devotional reasons.
Beyond Urbino, the city of Raphael, a Unesco heritage site, and Recanati, the city of poetry that gave birth to Giacomo Leopardi, there are the whole hinterland of wines and typical products and an Adriatic coast that offers sandy beaches and equipped and the suggestive Conero Riviera.
The capital of the Marche, Ancona, owes its name to its particular geographical position. It was the Greeks of Syracuse who called the city “Ankon”, which in Greek means elbow, due to the characteristic shape of the promontory on which it stands. And it is precisely from its origin that Ancona takes the epithet of “Greek city.”
Stretching out towards the Adriatic Sea, it has one of the largest Italian ports, but it is also a city of art with a historic center full of monuments, testifying to its millenary history.
There is the capital, L’Aquila, wounded by the earthquake and close to the Gran Sasso, but also the lively Pescara that animates the coast with its large and well-equipped beach. From Chieti, the ancient theater, to the characteristic Trabocchi on the sea to the national parks with wild animals, discover your itinerary between sea and mountains, art and history, in Abruzzo.
Diving is quite popular as well, with popular dive sites including Aquarium and Torre del Cerrano. These wrecks were created by the Chianciano volcanic eruption.
Pescara. Half destroyed by the bombings of the Second World War, the city is now almost entirely rebuilt and is the most important center of the entire region in terms of economy and services. However, traces of the past remain, which attract tourists attracted to the city by the organized beaches.
Among the most visited places is certainly Casa D’Annunzio, in Corso Gabriele Manthoné, where Gabriele D’Annunzio was born in 1863 and which since 1993 has become a museum.
Molise is a region of central Italy. It is the only Italian region having no sea coast. The small size of Molise makes it the perfect destination for those looking to explore Italy without the hassle of large crowds and high costs.
Molise offers a wide range of cultural, historical and natural attractions making it one of the most beautiful regions in Italy; its rolling hills are covered with vineyards and olive groves.
Campobasso, whose historic center has an original fan-shaped structure, with stairways and alleys that revolve around the Monforte Castle, has Lombard origins, and should be discovered on foot, to observe the many palaces and Romanesque churches that meet along the viale delle Rimembranze.
Isernia. The second province of the region, established in 1970, has a very ancient history, evidenced by archeological sites such as Isernia La Pineta, nominated in 2006 in the UNESCO World Heritage List, or the Necropolis of the Quadrella.
If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation in Italy, Puglia is the place to go. This region of Italy has beautiful beaches and shorelines, charming cities, and ancient ruins. No matter where you go, you’ll find great food and hospitality. Best of all, the weather is beautiful year-round!
Puglia is located in the southern region of Italy and is one of the regions rich with history and culture. There are many beautiful places to visit such as the town of Alberobello which has small towers (built in the 14th century) that are made from dry stone walls and give the place its unique charm.
From the top of these towers, you can have a breathtaking view of Puglia’s countryside. The town is also known for its trulli which are buildings made of dried stone with a conical roof and white-washed exterior.
Lecce is nicknamed “The Florence of the South.” It is enough to get lost in the alleys of the city to admire the palaces, monuments and churches built in the white and luminous Lecce stone, but an obligatory stop is certainly the Basilica of Santa Croce.
The pulsating center of the city is Piazza Sant’Oronzo, where you can admire the Roman Amphitheater and the Palazzo del Sedile, used over the years for various institutional uses and now used for art exhibitions and exhibitions.
Going up the Ionian coast you first meet Gallipoli, which with its crystalline sea and lively nightlife attracts young tourissts, especially in the summer. Then there is Porto Cesareo, with its golden beaches and enchanting sea, which is part of one of the largest marine protected areas in Italy.
White beaches and turquoise sea, villages carved into the rocks, parks and castles perched on top of mountains shrouded in silence, Basilicata looks like an enchanted country.
The small villages on the hills seem perfectly in tune with the landscape, so much so that at times it feels like looking at a painting. It may be for the lights, it may be because people here are hospitable and overwhelming, but you fall in love with Basilicata.
Matera, the city of the Sassi, chosen as the European Capital of Culture 2019, is a small jewel carved into the mountains, where time seems to have stopped.
You cannot go to Campania without seeing Naples, the capital. Founded by the Greeks with the name of Partenope, Naples is the emblematic city of the region: lying at the foot of Vesuvius, it stretches out over the sea, rich in artistic and natural beauties and densely populated. Its entire historic center has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco for the high concentration of palaces, villas, monuments and, in general, evidence of its ancient history.
Of the numerous archeological sites in Campania, the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum, on the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites, are undoubtedly the most famous. Pliny the Younger had already left evidence of the tragic eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. from which the two cities were buried.
Reachable within a day from Naples, the Royal Palace of Caserta is the largest royal residence in Europe and is on the Unesco list of world heritage assets.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Amalfi Coast takes its name from its historically most important city: Amalfi, but just as famous – thanks also to the cinematic storytelling – are Positano, Ravello and Vietri.
The ideal way to admire the area in its entirety is to do it from the water, by boat (tours can be booked). But also walking along the paths overlooking the sea among olive trees and brooms is equally fascinating. From the Amalfi Coast, in summer you can book tours to Capri, one of the most exclusive tourist destinations in Italy.
Often neglected by the great tourism routes, Calabria ended up in the spotlight of the whole world in 1972, thanks to the discovery in the sea of two imposing bronze statues, among the most significant masterpieces of the fifth century BC, which became famous as the Riace Bronzes.
Also worth a visit in Reggio Calabria is the Civic Art Gallery. Among the works on display ranging from the 15th to the 20th century, there are paintings by Antonello da Messina and Mattia Preti.
A few kilometers from Reggio Calabria is Scilla, of Homeric memory, is worth a visit, with the characteristic seaside village of Chianalea, declared one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
Gerace is a perched village (the name comes from the Greek Jerax and means sparrow hawk) with the castle overlooking the Ionian coast to the south. In Stilo you will be enchanted by the Cattolica, a splendid Byzantine church, and the Monastery of San Giovanni Theristis, a Byzantine-Norman jewel, as well as the only place in Italy where Greek Orthodox monks from Mount Athos, in Greece, live permanently.
Palermo and the Arab village of Monreale, but also the temples of Syracuse and Agrigento, up to Trapani, the city of the wind, the quaint charm of Taormina, and the wonderful Egadi and Aeolian islands. Travel itineraries to discover another Sicily
Sicily offers in one place all the interests that can be sought in a tourist destination: from the wonderful sea, to cities of art, from literary itineraries, to those in nature.
Stretching over a wide inlet at the foot of Mount Pellegrino, Palermo was in ancient times one of the most flourishing cities in the Mediterranean area. Despite the signs of long-lasting neglect, today it is an extremely fascinating city that hides authentic art jewels, inherited from Arab, Norman and Spanish periods of splendor.
Syracuse and the Archeological Park of Neapolis. Due to the quantity and importance of its monuments it is considered one of the most important archeological areas in Sicily, as well as, with its 240 thousand square meters of surface, one of the largest in the Mediterranean.
With its 1300 hectares, the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997, is the largest archaeological site in the world.
Visiting Trapani and its picturesque salt flats is enough must-see on the Western coast of Sicily.
Islands and Archipelagos of Sicily
Aeolian Islands. In addition to Stromboli and Vulcano, 5 other islands are part of the archipelago administratively included in the metropolitan city of Messina: Salina, Alicudi, Filicudi, Panarea and Lipari. All of volcanic origin, they take their name from the god of the wind Aeolus.
Egadi. The archipelago is made up of the islands of Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo, and the islets of Formica and Maraone. This is the largest Marine Protected Area in Europe and there is a huge variety of fauna, including the Caretta Caretta turtle and the rare and precious monk seal.
Pantelleria. Called the black pearl of the Mediterranean, it has volcanic origin and is made up of rocky landscapes surrounded by a cobalt sea.
Lampedusa. Together with Linosa and Lampione, it forms the Archipelago of the Pelagie, from the Greek Pelaghiè, or high seas islands.
In Sardinia, the dialogue between nature, pristine beaches and urban centers scattered throughout the territory is continuous. This allows visitors to reconcile different needs and make the same holiday more varied and rich.
Cagliari welcomes one of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia, the Poetto, a summer destination for many tourists and all Cagliari residents.
Alghero, is the Catalan city characterized by high Spanish walls and a panoramic promenade designed by the same architect who designed the famous Ramblas of Barcelona.
In Gallura, in the north-east of the island, is the famous Costa Smeralda, which every year attracts millions of tourists to its most renowned centers such as Olbia, Santa Teresa di Gallura, Porto Cervo or San Teodoro.
On the opposite side of the island, around the Sassari area, there are other places of rare beauty. From Castelsardo, an ancient stronghold overlooking the sea, there are white sandy beaches that are famous throughout the world, such as La Pelosa or Stintino, which stretches towards the island of Asinara.
Oristano, on the other hand, is the largest city and the starting point for discovering the west coast of Sardinia. In sharp contrast to the social life of the north, here nature is wilder, with Mediterranean scrub shrubs and gigantic cliffs overlooking the blue of the sea that alternate with sandy beaches.
Italy Travel Summary
Grab a cappuccino and relax. Poke around the blog or flip through the photo gallery or check out our itineraries. Get into that Mediterranean state of mind. For us, travel is more than our job; it’s also our favorite leisure pursuit.
We’d love for you to travel with us, of course, but we also welcome your thoughts on Italy, food, art, culture, or travel in general. Leave a comment on one of our blog posts or shoot us a quick email. A presto!