Top 25 Attractions & Things To Do In Italy

A motherland of artists and scientists that changed the shape of the world, home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, and a kaleidoscope of bewitching vistas - Bella Italia! From the staggering antiquities of Rome and the alluring romance of Venice to the rolling hills of Tuscany and the cosmopolitan flair of Milan, the country is a bottomless well of attractions. On the basis of user ratings, Open Travel has compiled a list of top 25 things to see or do on your Italy Vacations. It will help you fill your itinerary with all that's symbolic and representative of a country that may well be studied forever, but still not entirely explored.

  1. 1

    Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi)

    Location: Agrigento, Italy

    Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi)

    Photo by louievsatx

    Welcome to Sicily and one of its most awe-inspiring attractions. The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento is an extensive archaeological site containing the well-preserved remains of various Doric temples dating from the 5th century B.C. In accord with a standard criteria for both Greek and Roman temples, all structures face the east so that the statue of a god housed inside would be illuminated by the rising sun. The site being nested on a ridge overlooking the town, the term "valley" is obviously a misnomer, but it quite aptly captures the vastness and grandeur of the place.

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  2. 2

    Cinque Terre

    Location: Liguria, Italy

    Cinque Terre

    Photo by Rob Inh00d

    A National Park and Unesco World Heritage site, allegedly the cleanest area of Italy and a mesmerizing jewel in the Ligurian crown - the Cinque terre (5 lands) escape any description. The five adorable villages precariously nested on the rugged cliffs of the Italian Riviera - Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia, and Riomaggiore - sprawl along the scenic portion of the azure coast between Levanto and La Spezia. Brimming with olive groves, vineyards, hiking trails and tranquil coves, the place oozes romance and relaxating ambiance. A definite must!

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  3. 3

    Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi)

    Location: Florence, Italy

    Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi)

    Photo by cfwee

    The reputation for being one of the finest universally acclaimed museums of all time comes courtesy of masters the likes of Giotto, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Dürer, Rembrandt and Rubens. Their timeless works are proudly displayed on the top floor of the majestic Palazzo degli Uffizi in Florence, whose wings shelter a narrow courtyard facing the Arno River. Does the gallery really need any further recommendation?

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  4. 4

    Colosseum (Colosseo)

    Location: Roma, Italy

    Colosseum (Colosseo)

    Photo by ∞ Jacopo

    The greatest remnant of the antiquity, the archetypal amphitheater, an engineering wonder, the epitome of architectural excellence, a standing proof of both the grandeur and the cruelty of the Roman world - the Colosseum has been dubbed myriad ways, but there's just no way of grasping their meaning until you see the blues of the sky through the perfectly curved arches. Designed to hold 50,000 spectators eager to watch the bloody spectacle, today it annually draws around 5 million willing to verify its world-acclaimed magnificence and never fails to make them catch their breath.

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  5. 5

    Sassi di Matera

    Location: Matera, Italy

    Sassi di Matera

    Photo by Bönisch

    Carved out of white tuff rock and baked by the Mediterranean sun, the Sassi form a city complex of prehistoric dwellings, many of which are mere caves located on the rooftops of other houses. A maze of underground labyrinths and caverns hides relics of such distant a time that one finds it hard to believe the city was built by men. Hailed to be an outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, the Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera have been classified by UNESCO as a legacy left by allegedly the first human residents in Italy.

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  6. 6

    Ancient Pompeii

    Location: Pompei, Italy

    Ancient Pompeii

    Photo by malkav

    Back in AD 79, Vesuvius was just a large hill to those who lived around the today's bay of Naples. Little did they realize that the immense cloud that cast over the eastern sky on a sunny August afternoon heralded the end of the prosperous Roman town, and the birth of splendor that its ruins are endowed with today. The excavations offer a glimpse into Roman life in the 1st century, frozen at the moment it was wrecked with pyroclastic flows and buried under layers of ash. The well-preserved forum, the baths, many houses, and some suburban villas gloriously testify to dramatic events that claimed as many as 2,000 lives and went down in history as the most devastating volcanic eruption ever.

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  7. 7

    Amalfi Coast to Capri Boat Excursion

    Location: Amalfi, Italy

    The Amalfi Coast is a holiday paradise, ideally to be stayed in for as long as possible. The range of the Lattari mountains, directly exposed to the sea, forms an indented coastline with multicolored villages growing out of Mediterranean vegetation. Rich in history, culture and folklore, this portion of Italy may take weeks to explore. Yet mission 'Amalfi Coast in one day' is also possible if you book a private boat tour with an experience captain who will cruise from one staggering spot to another, serve drinks, and often steer away from the coast deep into the sea until you reach Capri, where, after some ample time to roam the island, you will be able to dive straight off the boat into the sparkling blues of the Mediterranean.

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  8. 8

    Historic Centre of Siena (Centro storico di Siena)

    Location: Siena, Italy

    Historic Centre of Siena (Centro storico di Siena)

    Photo by jurvetson

    Siena may not equal Florence, its perennial rival and neighbor to the north, in overall artistic achievement, but its exuberance and charm make it a place that no other can compare. Centered on Piazza del Campo - the venue for the splendid Palio horse race - the historic district is a receptacle of 12th century Gothic, a lustrous mirror of the Middle Ages, and a work of art that blends with the surrounding urban landscape. Brimming with pearls of architecture and cultural highlights, including the Duomo, the Palazzo Salimbeni, and The Pinacoteca Nazionale, the Historic Centre of Siena is a transcendent trip back in time, ideally to be taken in summer.

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  9. 9

    Vatican

    Location: Roma, Italy

    Vatican

    Photo by juanRubiano

    Although Vatican is an entirely separate state, the access to its magnificent collections is only through Rome. Centered on the splendid St Peter's Basilica and Piazza San Pietro, it is the spiritual hub of the Catholic world and one of Rome's most eagerly visited areas. Subsequent popes called upon the best masters to enhance and decorate the Catholic capital of the world, turning it into a work of art both inside and on the outside. Every day people come in droves to peer into the impressive Vatican Palace, muse over The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel, and delight in the riches of several pontifical galleries, even if it takes queuing for hours.

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  10. 10

    Saint Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)

    Location: Venice, Italy

    Saint Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)

    Photo by TracyElaine

    Chosen to be the final resting place of Saint Mark the Evangelist, Basilica di San Marco enshrines the country's history and serves as the dearest symbol of Venice. Located just off the Grand Canal, the gleaming basilica dominates Piazza San Marco and ceaselessly stuns with its immense richness. With the origins as a Byzantine church, it was developed over the years, and today the influence of different styles in decoration manifests itself at its most impressive. Complex mosaics mix with precious marbles, outstanding bas-reliefs, and even Oriental adornment to produce a whole that is simply one of a kind and unrivaled.

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  11. 11

    Roman Forum (Foro Romano)

    Location: Roma, Italy

    Roman Forum (Foro Romano)

    Photo by wili_hybrid

    Resting in a valley between the Palatine and the Capitoline hills, Roman Forum is by far one of the most significant archaeological sites in the world. The heart of the empire gives you an incredible feeling as you literally stumble upon it on your hasty walk around Rome. The awe-inspiring panoramic view of the entire complex can be seen from the terraces of Campidoglio, but standing down there among the imposing ruins and imagining the place busy with Roman daily routines is a thrilling trip in time as well as an enlightening moment of consciously placing yourself in the world's history.

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  12. 12

    Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra)

    Location: Capri, Italy

    Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra)

    Photo by dottorpeni

    The emblem of Capri and an unbelievable experience even if judged on a world scale, the Grotta Azura hasn't been named so without a good reason. As the sun sneaks in through the small opening, a neon blue reflection illuminates the cavern and a silvery light emanates from any object immersed in its waters. The vault has an average height of 7 meters rising to 14 towards the back of the 60-meter long cavity known already by the Romans. Just imagine yourself watching this spectacle of light and water from a maximum 3-person rowing boat gently rocking inside.

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  13. 13

    Grand Canal

    Location: Venice, Italy

    Grand Canal

    Photo by llamnudds

    Taking the vaporetto #1 (water bus) along the Canal Grande is like going back through centuries of history. The famous Venetian waterway meanders more than 3,5 km through all six districts of the historic center, revealing gems of architecture strung along both its banks between Ferrovia and the ultimate station at Piazza San Marco). The impressive facades of Renaissance palaces rub shoulders with richly embroidered Gothic arches, extensive frescoes adorn historic tenements, and marble mixes with gold. Numerous landmarks, such as Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and the Rialto Bridge, never cease to provoke admirable sighs on the way.

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  14. 14

    Leaning Tower of Pisa (La Torre di Pisa)

    Location: Pisa, Italy

    Leaning Tower of Pisa (La Torre di Pisa)

    Photo by M4rvin

    It's not an optical illusion, nor have the architects imagined it so crooked. No sooner had the tower reached the the third storey than the construction started sinking into the ground due to a poorly laif foundation and the leaning first became obvious. The works ceased, and it wasn't until after 90 years that the campanile was completed. Today is keeps sinking at the regular rate of about 1mm a year, and even the weightiest of minds are not able to say with certainty what the future will bring for this Italian curiosity and an undisputable masterpiece of architecture.

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  15. 15

    The Last Supper

    Location: Milano, Italy

    The Last Supper

    Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.
    And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
    And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
    And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
    --Matthew 26

    Dan Brown's bestseller has done both good service and a bit of an ill favor to the 15th century mural painting adorning the very back wall of the dining hall at Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. On the one hand, it brought extra attention to the excellent work of Leonardo, but on the other, misinformed the readers as for terminology. Was The Last Supper a fresco, as Brown calls it, the world wouldn't have to tremble on seeing the image fade and peel. Instead, the master chose to experiment with a new technique, which ended up in the painting being destroyed shortly after it had been completed, and is partly the reason why the mural is so famous. Superbly reconstructed, it is there for you to confront myth with reality.

     

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  16. 16

    Duomo - Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

    Location: Florence, Italy

    Duomo - Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

    Photo by bongo vongo

    Noted for its distinctive dome and expressive colors, Santa Maria del Fiore dominates the skyline of Florence and reflects the collective efforts of several distinguished artists, who endowed the monument with the status of a structural masterpiece, a complete and highly aesthetic creation, as well as an exquisite example of harmony in decoration. Yet the cathedral is far more than just an extraordinary piece of art. It is a great pride and a symbol as dear to Florentines as the Notre Dame to Parisians. While the cathedral's grandeur is best captured from afar, the walk up to the top will definitely add to your appreciation of the place.

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  17. 17

    Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)

    Location: Roma, Italy

    Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)

    Photo by ZeroOne

    In the maze of narrow, meandering streets, Rome hides a sparkling jewel held to be a triumphant example of Baroque finesse and the natural artistry of water- one of the world's most stunning fountains and a work of art in one. Trevi is not just a cold piece of marble. The play of light, shade and wind makes it move in a mesmerizing rhythm that the hypnotized public yields to subconsciously, and even if a tight agenda draws them away for a while, they go to all lengths to see the astounding spring once again. Legend has it you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the water, tossing it over your shoulder with your back to the fountain, but frankly, given sights as this, no lucky charms are necessary to make you come back highly likely.

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  18. 18

    Assisi

    Assisi

    Photo by Roby Ferrari

    Around 5 million visitors annually have turned the little town in Umbria into a thriving tourist hotbed that St. Francis himself wouldn't definitely call ascetic. Having lived a life of profound opulence, the later patron saint of Italy gave it all up to found a Franciscan order and beg on the streets. The story is truly astounding, and it is the phenomenon of this Friar Minor that attracts crowds to Assisi. The 13th-century Basilica di San Francesco, with the sacred relics of Francis and magnificent frescoes documenting his life, as well as numerous other churches, Roman ruins, sacred shrines, and winding medieval streets make up for a nearly mystical experience under the auspices of UNESCO.

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  19. 19

    Mount Vesuvius

    Location: Napoli, Italy

    Mount Vesuvius

    Photo by sigkyrre

    Once planted with vineyards, unsuspected of any evil, and adding to the picturesque backdrop of ancient Pompeii, Vesuvius turned out to be a destructive companion rather than a benign element of the awe-inspiring landscape. Today, although not erupting, the truncated cone looms over the Bay of Naples, and large-scale evacuation plans are on immediate standby. A short, undemanding hike takes you to the crater of the ill-famed mount. The view it commands from the top is truly marvelous.

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  20. 20

    Aosta Valley (Valle d'Aosta)

    Location: Italy

    Aosta Valley (Valle d'Aosta)

    Photo by Roby Ferrari

    The smallest and least populous province of Italy, drained by Alpine rivers and clad with flowery meadows is a mountainous territory that it's hard not to fall in love with. It goes without saying that, with the concentration of Monte Bianco, Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn slopes, Aosta Valley is a heaven on Earth for all enthusiasts of outdoor endeavors. But most importantly, it oozes so natural charm and grace that regular skiing and hiking become spiritual experiences only enriched with physical activity. Plus there's a galore of things to do for those who are not on easy terms with sport.

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  21. 21

    Lake Como (Lago di Como)

    Location: Lombardy, Italy

    Lake Como (Lago di Como)

    Photo by zumzum

    Covering an area of 146 square kilometers, Lake Como's virtues don't boil down to vastness by any means. The amalgamation of romance, history, scenic beauty and the wealth of tradition make it so alluring that even celebrities die to have their own slice of this delicious Lombardian cake. Crowned with alpine peaks and underpinned with juicy foliage, dotted with quaint villages and monument-packed towns, tickled by raging torrents and gentle rivers, the area is both an ideal base camp and a stunning holiday destination in itself. Como is more than just a lake. It's a pulsating heart that has given life to beauty in its purest sense and will surely fill you lungs with invigorating air.

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  22. 22

    Chianti Wine Route

    Location: Tuscany, Italy

    Chianti Wine Route

    Photo by francesco sgroi

    The fact that Chianti sits between Florence and Siena makes it good enough a reason to rank the region high on your itinerary. Together they make for a highly aesthetic combination of art, history, and culinary delights. Yet Chianti is a worthwhile destination in its own right down to its world-class beverage and the settings in which it is produced. The Chianti wine routes snake through rolling hills, bucolic villages, flower-clad towns and medieval castles, stopping at numerous vineyards, whose owners are more than happy to show visitors around and share with them the secrets of vinification. Delicious!

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  23. 23

    Frasassi Cave (Grotte di Frasassi)

    Location: Ancona, Italy

    Frasassi Cave (Grotte di Frasassi)

    Photo by Kessiye

    Even Italy gets a rainy day from time to time, and if your beach plans do fall through by any chance, plunge into the Frasassi Gorge for a journey to the center of the Earth. A 75-minute route through one of the most spectacular Karst complexes in the world, fitted with comfortable walkways and theatrical lighting, is a remarkable experience of natural creation featuring multi shaped stalagmites and stalactites, a thrilling chill, and single drops of water cutting through universal silence. Not to be missed under any circumstances.

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  24. 24

    Trulli di Alberobello

    Location: Alberobello, Italy

    Trulli di Alberobello

    Photo by Verity Cridland

    Bizarre limestone dwellings with gray, cone-shaped roofs, built entirely without the use mortar and whitewashed each year dot the province of Bari and Taranto, yet are unknown in the rest of the world. Those are trulli, perhaps the finest examples of which are to be found in the commune of Alberobello. Adorable little buildings flank narrow winding streets, sending you straight into the realm of your fairytale-induced childhood dreams. It is here that you can see the fruit of prehistoric construction techniques that have survived intact and still function in the contemporary world.

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  25. 25

    Pizza in Naples

    Location: Napoli, Italy

    Pizza in Naples

    Photo by pnoeric

    It doesn't really matter where exactly you have your pizza as it's indecently good virtually everywhere in Naples. Whether you follow the crowds at lunchtime or step into a quaint little place in the suburbs, you'll be seduced by the looks, teased by the smells, and pleased by the taste. Just pick a décor you find inviting, and enjoy the thing at it's most exquisite. In the birthplace of pizza you can afford the luxury of choosing a restaurant based on a whim, rather than recommendations. They're ALL recommendable!

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