Things to Do in Italy - page 2
With over 26,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts gathered between the 18th and 20th century, Turin's Egyptian Museum (Museo Egizio) houses one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world. The galleries were extensively enlarged, renovated, and reorganized, reopening in 2015, and the result is both spectacular and engaging.
Italy’s idyllic island of Sardinia is known for its beaches and turquoise waters, which encircle beautiful inland parks and natural areas. One of the most important is Molentargius - Saline Regional Park (Parco Naturale Regionale Molentargius - Saline), a wetland of shallow pools once used to harvest salt that now hosts a wealth of bird life.
The captivating former Greek and Roman city of Syracuse wasn’t actually founded on Sicily, but on a tiny island just offshore called Ortygia. Connected by two bridges to the mainland and modern expanse of the city, Ortygia is where you’ll find Old Town highlights such as the Duomo, Temple of Apollo, and Fountain of Arethusa.
One of the most remote and beautiful beaches on Italy's Sorrento coast, the Baths of the Queen Giovanna (Bagni della Regina Giovanna) is set along the rocky cliffs of Capo di Sorrento near a dramatic natural stone arch and the ancient ruins of a Roman villa. This stretch of coastline and its natural pool are accessible only by foot or private boat.
Milan’s Duomo (duomo di Milano) is a much-loved symbol of the city. The most exuberant example of Northern Gothic architecture in Italy, the cathedral and its spiky spires and towers dominate Piazza del Duomo, the city's beating heart. One of the highlights of a visit to the cathedral is the view from the roof, where you can scope out Milan from the highest terrace surrounded by statues. On a clear day, it’s possible to see the Italian Alps.
There is a distinctive rock formation on a promontory near Cagliari that, because of its shape, is known as Devil’s Saddle, or Sella di Diavolo in Italian. The promontory overlooks the city’s popular Poetto Beach.
The easiest way to see Devil’s Saddle is simply by visiting the beach, but there are also hiking trails along the promontory for a more close-up look. Hikers can walk along what began as an ancient Roman road and can climb up to one of the points on Devil’s Saddle.
Among the sights to see near Devil’s Saddle are the remains of a Roman cistern, an 11th-century monastery, and fortifications from World War II. There are even Punic ruins to see that date from the 6th century BC, before the ancient Roman era. A Punic temple was built on the promontory, dedicated to the Goddess Astarte. For many visitors, though, the main draw is the panoramic view from the top of the hill.
In 402 AD, during the latter days of the Western Roman Empire, Ravenna was made its capital, so it is fitting that this lovely city has some of the most important religious sights dating from the early days of Christianity. Now UNESCO-listed with all the other glorious mosaic showstoppers in the city, theBasilica of San Vitale (Basilica di San Vitale) dates from the mid sixth century; work started on it in 526 at the behest of Ecclesius, Bishop of Ravenna, and it was consecrated in 547. However, the Byzantines conquered Rome in 540 and took over the construction of the octagonal marble basilica. The resulting internal decoration is believed to be the finest example of Byzantine art in the world, executed by unknown master craftsmen over many years and liberally coating the interior with bejeweled mosaics. Detailed Biblical scenes contrast with depictions of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, ornamented with stylized patterns in green, red and gold, while the cupola is adorned with Baroque frescoes added in 1780 by artists from across northern Italy.
The Basilica of St. Clare (Basilica di Santa Chiara) in Assisi is dedicated to Saint Clare of Assisi, the founder of the Order of Poor Ladies, today known as the Order of Saint Clare. After she passed away in 1260, Saint Clare’s remains were transferred to the church and buried under the high altar. Her tomb was discovered again in 1850 and eventually, her skeleton was moved to a shrine in a newly built crypt of the basilica. It remains on display today in the east end of the crypt.
The exterior of the basilica is notable for its horizontal stripes of pink and white stone and its campanile, which is the tallest in Assisi. Inside, the walls of the dimly lit nave are now white, although they were covered in frescoes until the 17th century. Elsewhere in the church, frescoes dating to the 13th and 14th centuries still remain. To the south of the nave is a small chapel that holds the 12th century crucifix that is said to have spoken to Saint Francis of Assisi. The high altar is surrounded by a colonnade of 12 polygonal columns that date to the 15th century.
With its placid waters lined by rolling vineyards and olive groves, Lake Trasimeno (Lago Trasimeno) is one of the most picturesque corners of Umbria and a popular day trip destination. Take the ferry to one of the lake’s three islets, relax on its beaches, or explore the lakeside towns of Castiglione del Lago and Passignano sul Trasimeno.
The Uffizi Galleries (Gallerie degli Uffizi) houses one of the world’s most significant collections of art, drawing in more than a million annual visitors who wish to cast eyes upon its many masterpieces. Set in the heart of Florence, the museum contains the works of artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and Giotto, among others. It is the premier place to view Italian Renaissance art and is the most-visited museum in Italy.
More Things to Do in Italy
Set on the tip of a promontory jutting out into the waters of Lake Garda, and guarded by the fairy-tale-like Scaliger Castle, Sirmione is one of the most picturesque villages in Italy’s northern lake district. Explore the town’s postcard-perfect center and sights such as the nearby Roman Grottoes of Catullus.
Set on the eastern coast of Sicily, Mt. Etna (Monte Etna) is among Europe’s tallest (and the world’s most active) volcanoes. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013, the volcano has shaped Sicilian history and continues to impact life on the island today. Visitors can explore the mountain’s smoldering volcanic craters and lava fields.
The only trullo built on two levels in the UNESCO-listed village of Alberobello, the Trullo Sovrano is one of the most striking examples of the unique stone dwellings with conical roofs. Learn what it might have been like to live in one as you explore the re-created period living area, kitchen, and bedroom inside.
The Ligurian town of Portofino is popular with visitors for its pastel-colored buildings, but it's also home to an important protected marine area – the Portofino Marine Reserve (Area Marina Protetta di Portofino). The site covers just under 350 hectares of the sea off the coast around the whole promontory (not just the town), and was established in 1999. It is known for its diverse sealife, and its protected status helps ensure those populations remain.
Different parts of the protected area include Zone A, where everything from boating and anchoring to diving is prohibited, and Zone C, where there are far fewer restrictions on activities. In some places, visitors are more than welcome to swim and even kayak, stand-up paddleboard or dive.
One of Taormina’s most spectacular sights is its 2nd-century Greek Theatre (Teatro Greco), which, despite its name, is actually an ancient Roman amphitheater built in the Greek style. Sitting high above the coast, the theater has beautiful views over Taormina, the Sicilian coastline, and Mount Etna.
The symbol of Capri—and one of the island’s most striking natural features—this trio of soaring rock spurs jutting out from the waters of the Mediterranean are a dramatic sight from both land and sea. Take in their craggy beauty from one of the island’s many scenic overlooks, or sail past on a boat tour.
Siena’s central Piazza del Campo is one of the most beautiful and famous squares in Tuscany. This sweeping, shell-shaped space is anchored by the magnificent Palazzo Pubblico (home to the Museo Civico) and soaring Torre del Mangia tower, and hosts the historic Palio di Siena festival each July and August.
The Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra) is one of the most famous attractions on the beautiful island of Capri, located in Italy’s Bay of Naples. This unique sea cave gets its name from the bright blue light filtering through the water by way of an opening below sea level. To enter the cave, visitors board a small rowboat and duck as they enter through a low opening. Once inside the cave, you’ll marvel at the glowing turquoise light.
A cluster of the island’s unique limestone edifices dating from between the Bronze and Iron ages, this 3,500-year-old Nuragic village is one of the most captivating megalithic sites in Sardinia. Tour the main towers and meeting hut to learn about the enigmatic Nuragic culture and its striking architecture.
A sprawling mass of ruins, the Roman Forum (Foro Romano) was once the center of ancient Rome, with temples, courts, markets, and government buildings in full swing until the 4th century AD. While all that remains today is an array of ancient columns and arches, the forum is one of the most important archaeological sites in Italy, and excavations occur to this day. Aside from a lesson in Roman history, visitors can get a great view of the Eternal City from the overlooking Palatine and Capitoline hills.
According to folklore, sirens once inhabited this small group of islands known as Li Galli or Le Sirenuse. But today, it’s intrepid travelers who find their way through the placid waters and scenic coastal landscapes to the three major land masses of this archipelago: La Castelluccia, Gallo Lungo and La Rotonda.
Gallo Lungo is one of Li Galli’s most popular destinations, thanks to historical roots as a home to a monastery, and later a prison. In the mid-1990s, it became privately owned by Giovanni Russo and today, offers deluxe accommodations to travelers able to afford the steep price tag. Luckily the quiet waters that surround this iconic island are open to the public, which means even visitors who will never set foot on the shores are able to at least catch a glimpse of Gallo Lungo during a swim.
With its lively piazzas, Gothic monuments, and well-preserved city walls, the Siena Historic Center (Siena Centro Storico) is one of Italy’s most impressive medieval cityscapes. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995, the old town is an open-air museum of striking historical architecture, including the Piazza del Campo and the Gothic cathedral.
The 13th-century Fontana Maggiore is undoubtedly the main attraction in Piazza IV Novembre and not only because of its size. The huge area was built in the late 1270s and sits in a prominent location between Perugia's cathedral and the Palazzo dei Priori. It was sculpted by a father-son team from pink and white marble. They depicted scenes from the Old Testament, legends about the founding of Perugia, as well as symbols of the city.
The construction of the fountain was part of a host of city-wide renovations marking Perugia's becoming autonomous, which is why many of the symbols on the fountain promote civic pride. The piazza itself is named for the day World War I ended in Italy.
For centuries, Mantua’s vast Palazzo Ducale was the seat of the Gonzaga dynasty, one of the most powerful during the Renaissance. Explore dozens of the palace’s sumptuous rooms (there are 500 in all), admiring art and lavishly decorated halls such as the whimsically frescoed Camera degli Sposi.
- Things to do in Rome
- Things to do in Naples
- Things to do in Florence
- Things to do in Venice
- Things to do in Milan
- Things to do in Pompeii
- Things to do in Salerno
- Things to do in Messina
- Things to do in Positano
- Things to do in Trieste
- Things to do in Croatia
- Things to do in Slovenia
- Things to do in Umbria
- Things to do in Tuscany
- Things to do in Lazio