Italy has many beautiful and historic cities worth a visit. Travel to cities is best done by train as driving in Italian cities may be very difficult and the extensive Italian train system is inexpensive. Most city centers are well-suited to walking and parts of the city centers may be closed to transportation. Large Italian cities generally have good public transportation, too. Check the distances between cities with our Distance Calculator.
1. Rome – Roma
Piazza del Popolo picture by James Martin
Rome is the capital of modern Italy. Rome is full of history everywhere you look. It has many ancient monuments, interesting medieval churches, beautiful fountains, museums, and Renaissance palaces. Modern Rome is a bustling and lively city and has some excellent restaurants and nightlife. The Vatican and St. Peter’s are also found in Rome.
2. Venice – Venezia
Basilica San Marco © by Martha Bakerjian, licensed to About.com Venice is a unique city built on water in the middle of a lagoon. Venice is one of Italy’s most beautiful and romantic cities as well as one of the most popular for visitors to Italy. The heart of Venice is Piazza San Marco with its magnificent church. There are many museums, palaces, and churches to visit and wandering along Venice’s canals is interesting. Venice is in the northeast of Italy and historically was a bridge between East and West.
3. Florence – Firenze
Ponte Vecchio © by Martha Bakerjian, licensed to About.com
Florence is one of the most important Renaissance architectural and art centers. Its Duomo and Baptistery are magnificent but crowded with tourists as is their large piazza. Florence has several interesting museums with many famous paintings and sculptures. There are also Medici palaces and gardens. Florence is in Tuscany.
4. Milan – Milano
Picture of Milan Duomo ©2006 by James Martin
Milan, one of Europe’s richest cities, is known for stylish shops, galleries, and restaurants and has a faster pace of life than most Italian cities. It also has a rich artistic and cultural heritage. Its Duomo, with its beautiful marble facade, is magnificent. La Scala is one of the world’s most famous opera houses.
5. Naples – Napoli
Castel dell’Ovo © James Martin
Naples is one of Italy’s most vibrant cities. It lies on the coast south of Rome and is the most important city in southern Italy. Naples has recently undergone some renovation but still retains much of its old character. It holds many historical and artistic treasures.
Roman Arena © Martha Bakerjian, licensed to About.com
Verona is known for the story of Romeo and Juliet and for its Roman Arena, the third largest in Italy and the venue for a top opera festival. Verona has a good medieval center, Roman remains, and an interesting castle complex. It’s the fourth most visited city in Italy and well worth a stop on a northern Italy travel itinerary.
7. Turin – Torino
Turin Picture ©2006 by James Martin
Turin, host of the 2006 Winter Olympics, is a major cultural hub with excellent museums, elegant shops, and good restaurants. There are also some very nice examples of baroque architecture and historic palaces. Turin has many historic cafes, artisan workshops, and arcades. Turin is in the northwest of Italy, between the Po River and the foothills of the Alps.
Bologna Picture © James Martin
Bologna is known for its beauty, wealth, cuisine, and left-wing politics. Its streets are lined with beautiful arcades, making it a good place to walk even in the rain. It has one of Europe’s oldest universities and a nice medieval center. There are several attractive squares, lined with buildings with nice porticoes. Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy.
View of Perugia © by James Martin
Perugia is a very cosmopolitan city and home to two universities. It hosts a world-famous jazz festival in the summer and its University for Foreigners is a great place to learn Italian. It’s a walled city on a hilltop with great views over the valley and has several important monuments and a good central square. Its history goes back to the ninth century BC. Perugia is in the center of Italy and is the capital of the region of Umbria.
10. Genoa – Genova
Genoa Duomo © James Martin
Genoa, on the northwest coast of Italy, is Italy’s principal seaport. Genoa was a 2004 European Culture Capital; money flowed into the port city made famous by Columbus and now it’s a better place than ever to visit. Genoa has a fascinating aquarium, an interesting port area, and a historic center said to be the largest medieval quarter in Europe, with a wealth of churches, palaces, and museums.