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Italy Vacation: 6 Must-See Cities Of Italy

Updated on December 6, 2010

Italy vacation: Where to go

If you're traveling to Italy, you've got some difficult (and fun!) choices to make. There are so many fabulous places to visit on your Italy vacation, that it's simply impossible to see them all. When you have to start narrowing it down, here are 6 Italian cities that you'll surely want to see. If you can fit them into your vacation plans, they're well worthwhile!

Must-see cities of Italy - The most fascinating Italian cities

The evening lights of Rome reflect off the river

1. Rome

Rome is the largest city in Italy, and it's also the capital of the country. It has countless ancient monuments, such as the world-famous Colosseum, where thousands of years ago, gladiators fought here to the death. In those days, Rome was the center of a vast empire, and the Roman Forum was a major power center of the ancient world. You can walk today in the very places frequented by Julius Caesar and Roman emperors like Caesar Augustus.

The city also has a wealth of more modern art and fountains. At the famous Trevi Fountain, it's said you will return to Rome if you toss a coin in. But not only does Rome feature ancient wonders and many centuries of art. It is also a vibrant citywith an inimitable zest for life. You'll also enjoy wonderful Roman regional cuisine, with dishes like Saltimbocca and Pasta Carbonara.

2. Florence

Known for its art, Florence is a gorgeous city brimming with palaces and Renaissance architecture. This was the birthplace of the Italian Rennaisance, and leading artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo worked here. You can see Michelangelo's famous masterpiece, The David here - the original is in the Academia Gallery, while a reproduction stands outside in the elements in one of the city's main squares.

The Duomo towers over the red roofs of Florence, giving the city its unique skyline. The Ponte Vecchio is another unique landmark - it's a bridge over the Arno River, that has shops hanging off the sides of the bridge. These have served many purposes over the centuries, but today you'll find some spectacular jewelry shops there - just browsing is amazing. And while you might want to avoid summertime (see When to go to Florence), if you're there when it's hot outside, there are many gelaterias to tempt you with their cool gelato offerings.

3. Milan

Considered by many to be Italy's most sophisticated city, Milan is a major finance and fashion capital. Whether buying or just window shopping, you can see the cutting edge of high-fashion in the designer shops in this city. Milan is always in the lead, so the trends you see here may show up back home awhile later, and you can say you saw it here first!

The 500 year old Gothic Duomo is one of the largest churches ever built, and it's quite a sight to behold, with an incredible array of sculptures and spires. If you love castles, the Castello Sforzesco is a huge fortified castle, which survived many a battle in its centuries-long history. Today it is home to several museums. And the most famous sight of all is probably the painting by Leonardo da Vinci - The Last Supper. It's a mural on the wall of Santa Maria della Grazie, and if you want to see it, make arrangements in advance - it can be sold out ahead of time!

Gondolas in Venice
Gondolas in Venice

Gondolas in Venice

4. Venice

Linked by a series of canals, Venice is a feast for the eyes. It's a truly a unique experience. As there are no cars or trucks in the city, you can enjoy being a pedestrian in Italy. There are many narrow, winding, cobbled streets to stroll, with small courtyards tucked away here and there, and frequent bridges over the canals. The other way to get around is by boat - either on a vaporetto (like a boat bus), or on one of the traditional and romantic gondolas.

St Mark's Square is world famous, with its cathedral of golden mosaics dominating the scene. It's a large square, and you can sit and relax, enjoying a real cappuccino as you watch the people go by. You can also visit the smaller outer islands, and watch glass blowers at Murano, or lace making on Burano.

5. Verona

If you would like to see Juliet's house, made famous in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, then Verona is the city to visit. Juliet's house is a medieval house and its name in Italian is Casa di Guilietta. Thousands of people from all over the world flock to visit it each year, and you can imagine the forlorn lovers and their tragic story.

But that's not all Verona has to offer. Verona dates back to Roman times, and there's a Roman amphitheater here that dates from 290AD. It can easily house 20,000 spectators today - the Romans did things big! There is also a summer open air opera festival featuring night-time performances.

6. Pisa

Just about everyone has heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and you can visit it at - you guessed it - Pisa. Although it must have been an embarrassment to its builder, it's the lean that makes it one of the most famous landmarks in the world. The tower was starting to lean a bit too much, so there has been restoration work to stabilize it and keep it at an angle where we can enjoy it for centuries to come.

Italy vacation video

Planning your trip to Italy

So when you visit Italy, don't forget to visit one or all of the above cities. Now that you have an idea of what each city offers, you'll be able to have fun planning your next trip!

Books for your Italy Vacation - Guides to Italian Cities

Photo credits

Flickr: Rome - S. Pietro at sunset, RaSeLaSeD - Il Pinguino

Flickr: The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Tuscany, Italy, Eustaquio Santimano

Flickr:Garden in Verona/Italy, Thomas Frejek

Flickr: Sunset over Florence, stevehdc

Flickr: Gondolas in Venice, Eustaquio Santimano

Thanks for visiting! Any comments? - Any comments, questions, feedback, suggestions?

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    • profile image

      mjbarnes53 5 years ago

      I want so bad to go to Italy some day. Thanks for this look at Italy

    • spartakct profile image

      spartakct 5 years ago

      Nice lens! this is one of places in my list!

    • profile image

      NYThroughTheLens 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      Very nice ... good work on cross-promoting your other Italy lenses!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Fabulous!

    • Nowran profile image

      Nowran 6 years ago

      The must-see sights are helpful. Especially for the less well-known places