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25 Places to See in Italy

While Rome, Venice and Florence are the big crowd pullers in Italy, there are plenty of other great destinations to visit. Here are our 25 travel tips on what to do in Italy.

Lake Iseo

Lake Iseo, lies between the better known Como and Garda lakes. There are many ways to make the most of Lake Iseo, such as walking a few kilometers up to see Pyramids of Zone (naturally-formed pillar formations), taking the ferry to the island in the lake, Monte Isola, visting the Palazzo Tadini art gallery in Lovere and sampling some Franciacorta, the locally produced sparkling wine.

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Pisa

Pisa is one of the first destinations that comes to mind when you are thinking about Italy. But Pisa features a lot more than just its extremely famous leaning tower. You can visit Palazzo Gambacorti, lots of churches including Santa Maria della Spina, explore the gardens (especially Giardino di Scotto), and stroll along the banks of the Arno River. You might also want to take a tour inside of University of Pisa, one of Italy’s oldest universities.

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Bergamo

Not far from the lovely Lake Iseo, lies the ancient city of Bergamo, easily accessible as Ryanair fly into Bergamo, althought they say it’s Milan).  It’s a terrific choice for people who love historical towns and Renaissance Architecture. In the old town you’ll find the four-gated town square Piazza Vecchia, which contains important buildings such as Palazzo della Ragione.

 

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Piazza Vechia, Bergamo

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Bassano del Grappa

The name Bassano might remind art fans of Jacopo Bassano (also known as Jacopo dal Ponte).  The famous Italian painter loved Bassano del Grappa so much that he took the town’s name as his last name. Bassano is best known for its wooden bridge Ponte Vecchio and the alcoholic drink Grappa it manufactures.  Grappa contains about 35-65 % alcohol and its taste might remind you of the the Turkish trademark Raki. There are several interesting museums (The Museo degli Alpini, Museo della Cermica, The Civic Museum), and many churches (San Donato, The Church of San Francesco, The Church of St John the Baptist and The Cathedral of Holy Mary).

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Ponte Vecchia by Patrick Denker

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Trieste

Close to the border with Slovenia, Trieste became a part of Italy after World War 1. Before, it belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867–1918), so to many visitors, Trieste feels more Austrian than Italian.Trieste is famous for its beautiful beaches, its museums (Sartorio, Castello di San Giusto, Revoltella, Ferroviario) and the opera season at the Verdi Theatre.

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Piazza d’Unita, Trieste

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Bologna

I have been to Italy twice, and I managed to see the lovely Bologna during my second visit. I was in Bologna for a workshop and got a chance to see Piazza Maggiore up close. A walk around the square will also give you the chance to explore Basilica of San Petronio, the City Hall Building, the Portico dei Banchi and the Palazzo del Podestà.You might also want to rent a bicycle. Amanda’s post highlights the essential things to do in Bologna, including the Ducati, Lamborghini and Ferrari Museums.

what to do in Italy

Piazza Maggiore by night by Alessandro Capotondi

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Ferrara

Ferrara was my first stop (before moving on to Bologna after a couple of days). I was there as a part of an international workshop; and despite the fact that the workshop took most of the day time, I still had more than a few hours to explore the town during the evening and our lunch breaks. Ferrara has broad streets, gorgeous old buildings and palaces and very friendly people who gladly help you remember your rusty Italian. It was a lot of fun walking around town, mingling with the locals and sipping cocktails at a tiny bar downtown. Ferrara is only 50 km from Bologna, and if you decide to visit, make sure to see Castello Estense, City Hall, the Casa Romei and Palazzo dei Diamanti (Diamond Palace).

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Ferrara by jakuza

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Siena

My uncle and cousin went on an Italian tour last summer, and even though they have been to many cities, Siena quickly became their favorite. Located in the Tuscany region, Siena is best known for the Palio Horse Race (a traditional horse race held twice a year). You should also visit the cathedral (Duomo), which was originally meant to be the largest in the world, Palazzo Pubblico (a building that’s a perfect example of medieval architecture), Casa di Santa Canterina (House of Saint Catherine) and Pinacoteca Nationale (National Picture Gallery) .

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Preparations for the Palio by One for RM

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Vieste

The town of Vieste on the Gargano peninsula in Puglia, is well known for its outdoor food market where you’ll be tempted by local specialities such as smoked mozzarella doughnuts in the photo below. What about buying provision to take a picnic to one of the nearby beaches.

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Vieste Market by Kimberly Sullivan

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Lucca

Cycling around the town walls is one of the best ways to see this Tuscan town.  Our editor Karen found the most delicious and value for money meal at Trattoria da Sergio’s 10-euro menu. However you should prepare yourself for waiters who don’t speak English, so you may not know what you are ordering. We’ve plenty more tips on what to do and see in Lucca.

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Illuminated frieze in Lucca gate arch

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 Otranto

Sometimes one wonderful image can be tempting enough when you are deciding on your to-visit list, and the photo below did just that for me. In addition to enjoying the sea in Otranto, you can visit the famous cathedral.

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Photo courtesy of www.viaggioadriatico.it

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Gaeta

Gaeta is in Lazio, central Italy. It is an ancient seaport city and it features fine examples of medieval architecture. You can take in the view while walking through the seafront and sample some offerings from the famous fish market.

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Gaeta by Kimberly Sullivan

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Termoli

With its population a little over 30,000, Termoli can be a great stop for those who like the combination of old and modern styles. The center has reserved its medieval look, surrounded by the newer buildings. It is a popular vacation spot for Italians.

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Tremoli by Kimberly Sullivan

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Milan

While Milan, the fashion (and football) capital of Italy. You can access the roof Duomo di Milano (cathedral) for views over the city and then do some shopping at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. If you enjoy art, The Last Supper and Michaelangelo’s Pieta Rondanini are must-sees.

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Milan Cathedral by Marcus Cederstrom

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Ovindoli

Abruzzo’s Ovindoli is a good choice both for winter (skiing, sledding, snowboarding and ice-skating),  and summer sports (hiking, horse-back riding, biking) and it is less than 90km away from Rome.It is especially popular with skiiers and snowboarders, regarless of their levels. However you might want to brush up on your Italian a bit before your trip, as it is not one of the spots frequented by foreigners.

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Ovindoli by Kimberly Sullivan

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Civita di Bagnoregio

Civita di Bagnoregi  consists of two towns: Civita (a unique medieval town that is losing its buildings due to the tufa stones  the houses were built on; hence earning the name the dying city) and Bagnoregi, the municipality the residents of the old part (Civita) moved to for safety reasons. Bagnoregio visitors can enjoy both parts by scaling the steep bridge between the two parts.

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Photo via by Kimberly Sullivan

Arco

If you love rock climbing, or want to try it, don’t miss the chance of trying the various climbing routes of Arco in the north of Italy. And if you’ve just finished rock climbing in warm weather, you might want to swim in Lake Garda, a beautiful lake not far from Arco.

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Arco by Lindsay Sydenham

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Genoa

Genoa has one of the largest historic centres in Italy. .Andy enjoyed a sunset walk along Porto Antico (the old harbour) and the nightlife at Piazza delle Erbe. Genoa has two modern art museums, if you want something more contemporary.

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Genoa by Andy Hayes

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Lake Trasimeno

Lake Trasimeno is a large lake near Perugia.  While it is possibe to swim in the lake, you need to walk quite far from the shoreline for the water to be deep enough.  You can get great views of the lake from the old town of Passigione sul Trasimeno on the north eastern lake shore.

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The shore at Lake Trasimeno

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Assisi

The Umbria hilltown of Assisi is best known as the birthplace of St Francis (San Francesco). You can visit the Basilica di San Francesco built in the 13th century; the church’s frescos were carefully restored after earthquake damage in 1997. Kimberly recommends that you also see the Basilica di Santa Chiara, the San Rufino Duomo and the 14th century Rocca Maggiore castle.

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Photo courtesty of  Basilica di San Francesco

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Naples

Naples is an ancient city established by the Greek around the 9th century BC. Naples is famous for its cuisine (pizza), history, music (Neapolitan music rich with mandolin and guitar) and culture. It lies close Mount Vesuvius.  Must-see landmarks include the Piazza del Plebiscito (main square), Royal Palace, Castel Nuovo, Naples National Archaeological Museum, Museo di Capodimonte and the Cathedral of Naples.

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Naples by antmoose

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Verona

Verona will no doubt remind Shakespeare fans of Romeo and Juliet. Verona makes an impression by its combination of the historical and modern architecture and the variety of activities available (such as operas, fairs, shows and more). You should drop by the Verona Arena, Arco dei Gavi (Arch of Gavi), Porta Borsari, and the churches Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, Basilica of San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Antica and Sant’Anastasia.

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Photo via Brian Hillegas

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Padua

Padua (or Padova in Italian) is a mid-sized city that’s 40 km from Venice. Not only is it close to Venice, but its accommodation options are also cheaper than the gondola city. Padua’s best known landmark is the 800-year-old University of Padova, having had prominent lecturers (such as the astronomer Galileo Galilei). In addition to the university, you might also enjoy Scrovegni Chapel (a church containing a  Western mural paintings), Palazzo della Ragione (Palace of Reason – an impressive medieval town hall building full of frescoes inside), Palazzo del Capitaniato,(where Venetian governors reside, Basilica di Sant’Antonio da Padova (the resting place of the Saint, featuring beautiful works of art), Prato della Vale (one of the largest squares in the continent) among others. And don’t forget to drop by the Pedrocchi Café, which used to be frequented by Lord Byron and other important literary figures. Also worth noting for Shakespeare fans is that Padua is the main location of his play Taming of the Shrew (which was adapted to modern day in the Heath Ledger movie 10 Things I Hate About You).

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by elycefeliz

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Pompei

One of the most ancient towns of Italy, Pompei has historical significance in more ways than one. Pompeii’s first inhabitants lived a lot like Italians today, having built theaters, swimming pools, a hotel and restaurants and more impressively, having obtained running water in buildings. However when the volcano Monte Vesuvius exploded, it burned and buried the town with its citizens. The ruins (Pompeii) remain to be one of the city’s most popular attraction. The town was later rediscovered in the 18th century.

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Pompeii by lyng88

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Turin

One of Northern Italy’s bigger cities, a trip to Turin (Torino in Italian) gives you the chance to visit many art galleries, opera houses, palaces, gardens, squares and more. My to-do list for Turin includes visiting Peyrano Fabbrica (the chocolate factory that comes with a variety of chocolates in their shops), exploring the National Museum of Cinema (the cinema museum shouldn’t be missed by movie fans), walking over the river (River Po), joining the underground tour, walking inside the Turin Cathedral, the Palazzo Madama, and the botanical gardens of Turin University (Orto Botanico dell’Università di Torino).

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Turin via dfbarrero

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