Italy

Top Reasons to Visit Italy


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Italy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with tens of millions of visitors heading there worldwide. But why do so many people flock here and then return again year after year? Read on to find out some of the top reasons to visit Italy.


1. To enjoy the Italian food

If you’re a foodie then there’s no better place to visit than Italy. There’s a reason Italian restaurants can be found all over the world, but it’s impossible to appreciate just how good Italian food actually is until you eat it in Italy.

From pasta and risotto, to meat and fish dishes and delicious desserts, Italian food is heavenly. Plus, with every town and region having its own specialities and even its own pasta shapes, it’s actually very diverse and impossible to get bored of. From carbonara in Rome, to ossobuco in Milan to arancini in Sicily, there’s so much more to Italian cuisine than what you find at home. It’s all simple but so so delicious.

2. To marvel at the history

Italy is a history lover’s paradise and there’s no better place to revel in history than in Rome. Known as the Eternal City, it is one of the most historic cities in the world.

Home to the Pantheon, the best-preserved ancient Roman building in Rome completed around 126 A.D, as well as the Colosseum, i.e. the largest ancient amphitheatre in the world. Completed in 80 AD, it is a marvel of engineering and a must-visit in the city.

There’s also the archaeological site of Pompeii, buried under metres of ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D, and so much more.

Rome Colosseum
Colosseum in Rome – Image via Dreamstime

3. To explore the cities

Cities in Italy are unlike anywhere else. With beautiful architecture, historic buildings and stunning churches at every turn, you won’t find any shiny new skyscrapers here. Even Milan, the economic capital of Italy, is still a beautiful and lively city with the beautiful Duomo at its centre and of course, a vibrant shopping and fashion scene.

Florence (seen below) is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Surrounded by the hilly Tuscan countryside and on the banks of the Arno River, it’s known for Renaissance art and architecture and monuments.

Bologna is one of the most underrated cities but has a beautiful historic centre and an amazing food scene.

Venice is an incredibly unique city known for its canals and gondolas and is a popular romantic destination.

And of course, it goes without saying that Rome is one of the best cities in Italy, if not the world.

Florence skyline at sunset
Florence skyline – Photo © Rudi1976 | Dreamstime.com

4. To visit the dramatic coastal towns

For many, the image that comes to mind when thinking of Italy is small colourful houses perched above turquoise blue water. To see this in person, head to the coastal towns of Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast.

Cinque Terre is a pretty collection of old seaside villages on the Italian Riviera coastline in the northwest of Italy. In each of the five villages, colourful houses cling to steep terraces leading down to harbours filled with fishing boats. Hiking between the villages is the perfect way to see the picture-perfect Italy you’d always imagined.

The Amalfi Coast is another iconic Italian destination known for its stunning coastline, colourful villages with narrow streets, and pebble beaches. Head to Positano, the most famous and iconic town along the coast.

Beautiful villages of Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre – Image via Dreamstime

5. To eat the best pizza of your life

Yes we may have already mentioned Italian food once (or twice!) on this list, but the pizza in Italy deserves a spot of its own. The city of Naples is where this worldwide famous food was invented and the pizza here is simply unbeatable.

Sold all over the city for as little as a couple of euros, pizza here can be a street-side snack folded up and eaten on the go, or eaten at a sit-down restaurant with a knife and fork. Either way, with the doughy Neapolitan crust, gooey centre and high-quality toppings like buffalo mozzarella, it’s mind-blowingly good! It’ll be the best pizza of your life for sure!

6. To enjoy gelato

Gelato in Italy isn’t just ice cream, it’s a whole other level of creamy deliciousness. Try the pistachio, one of the most popular flavours, or nocciola (hazelnut).

Of course, gelato can be enjoyed all day long, but it’s late at night when you’ll often find the longest queues of locals, with some gelato shops staying open until at least midnight.

Just beware, after trying gelato in Italy you’ll never be able to enjoy normal ice cream as much again!

7. To hike in the mountains

In the north of Italy in the Italian Alps sits the Dolomites mountain range. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is Italy’s most beautiful mountain range and arguably one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes in the world.

Home to towering peaks, sheer cliffs, green valleys and pristine lakes, the Dolomites are a must-visit for mountain lovers.

Tre Cime - Dolomites - Italy
Dolomites – Image by @mikecleggphoto

8. To relax on beautiful beaches

Italy isn’t known for its beaches, but head to the Italian island of Sardinia and you’ll find some beautiful sandy beaches which won’t be covered with hordes of tourists like more well-known beach destinations such as Spain and Greece.

Spiaggia di Porto Giunco in the popular Italian holiday town of Villasimius is one of the most beautiful. With stunning turquoise water and white sand, it really is a postcard-worthy beach, especially when viewed from the tower on the southern end.

San Vito Lo Capo in Sicily and Tropea Beach in Calabria are other beautiful beaches which are almost unknown by foreign tourists but popular amongst in-the-know locals. And did you know even Venice has a long Sandy beach at Venice Lido? If you want some beach time, Italy can definitely deliver.

Villasimius beach
Beach destinations – Photo © Erix2005 | Dreamstime.com

9. To wander the canals of Venice

A visit to the magical city of Venice really is reason enough to visit Italy because it’s one of the most unique cities in the world. A city constructed over the waterways and connected by a network of canals, you won’t find any cars or roads here. Everything is transported by boat, including people.

The best way to enjoy Venice is to simply wander along the canals, passing over the many bridges and stopping to relax at a cafe in one of its small squares. St Mark’s Square is undoubtedly the most famous point of the city, with the beautiful St Mark’s Basilica at one end. Afterwards, cross the Rialto Bridge and watch the gondolas float down the Grand Canal.

Venice and Gondola rides
Canals of Venice – Image by team / @mikecleggphoto

10. To enjoy aperitivo

Aperitivo is a cultural ritual in Italy. A pre-meal drink specifically meant to whet your appetite, wandering through the streets of Italy in the early evening you’ll find many locals sitting outside sipping an alcoholic drink alongside small snacks. Grab a beer, glass of prosecco or wine, or try a traditional Italian aperitivo cocktail like Campari or Aperol Spritz.

One of the best places to enjoy aperitivo is in Milan, especially along the canals of Navigli, where the bars often offer a full buffet of pizza, focaccia and other Italian snacks to accompany your drink. The only problem is remaining hungry for dinner!

Aperitivo drinks
Aperitivo – Photo © Ron Zmiri | Dreamstime.com

11. To see the most beautiful churches

From the Duomos in Milan and Florence to St Mark’s Basilica in Venice to St Peter’s at the Vatican, Italy is home to some of the most beautiful churches in the world. The Duomo in Milano is actually Italy’s largest cathedral and can hold up to 40,000 people inside.

Whilst the famous ones are incredible, never miss a chance to just stop in any small church you pass. Even smaller unknown churches in Italy undoubtedly turn out to be way more impressive than you’d find elsewhere.

Duomo in Milan at night
Milan Cathedral – Photo © Ekaterinabelova | Dreamstime.com

12. To visit the smallest country in the world

Sitting in the middle of Rome, Vatican City is the smallest country in the world at just 0.49 square kilometres. With the Pope as its head, it is a fully independent nation-state despite only having a population of not much more than 800 people. Within lies the famous St. Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica, and also the expansive Vatican Museums where the Sistine Chapel is located.

Within Italy you’ll also find another microstate, that of San Marino. The fifth smallest country in the world and said to be the world’s oldest surviving republic, it offers beautiful, historic architecture, rolling hills and fortresses.

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Vatican at night
Vatican City – Photo © Valentin Armianu | Dreamstime.com

13. To climb a volcano

Italy is home to a number of volcanoes which, despite many still being active and routinely erupting, can be visited and climbed.

Vesuvius just outside of Milan is probably Italy’s most famous volcano known for burying the city of Pompeii in 79AD, it remains the only active volcano on mainland Europe.

There’s also the mighty Mt. Etna on the east coast of the Italian island of Sicily. Standing at 3,357m in elevation, it is the highest active volcano in Europe.

14. To visit the Italian lakes

In the north of Italy at the base of the Italian Alps you’ll find the Italian lakes, one of the most beautiful regions of Italy.

The three main lakes are Lake Maggiore, Lake Como and Lake Garda.

Lake Como is famous for its magnificent lakeside villas and incredible gardens, as well as its beautiful lakeside villages such as Bellagio. It’s a popular holiday spot for the rich and famous and earned fame as the home of Hollywood star George Clooney.

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and the northern end of the lake is particularly stunning sitting at the foot of the Dolomites mountain range. It provides some excellent hiking and outdoor activities.

Lake Maggiore, straddling the Swiss border, is the least busiest of the three, but with beautiful countryside and equally stunning lakeside views, it’s great to visit for those looking for more peace and tranquillity.

High views of Lake Como
Lakes and towns in Italy – Image via Dreamstime

Summary

With amazing food, a rich history, a beautiful coastline, pretty villages and gorgeous and diverse scenery, there are so many reasons to visit Italy. Whichever reason draws you to visit, you’re sure you’ll find many more reasons to stay.


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Author

Written by

Sophie Small

Sophie has been travelling around the world since September 2019. Originally from London, she lived and worked in Vietnam for 4 years before deciding to pursue her passion for full time travel. She loves exploring new destinations, adventure activities and sampling local cuisine. Sophie has travelled all over Central and South America, Asia, Europe and many other regions. She shares her pictures on her Instagram and her portfolio sophiesmall.contently.com. [Read full bio]

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