Italy - Top 10 Places to Visit

Italy is the world's most visited country and so for us to create a list of just ten was bloody hard - and will always be controversial - but these are our favourite places, in order. 

10. Polignano a Mare

A relatively unknown town in the south of Italy.  Poligano a Mare is located approximately 30 minutes south of Bari by car and is the perfect base to explore the south east of Italy.  Soak in the amazing cliff topped buildings that overlook the ocean in Polignano a Mare; appreciate the unusual architecture of the trulli homes of Alberobello; go underground and walk through the amazing 'all-natural' caves of Grotte di Castellana; stroll through the picturesque white streets of Locorotondo - there is honestly something for everyone here.

Highlight: eat dinner in the cliffs of Polignano a Mare at Restorante Grotta Palazzese.  A must!

Polignano a Mare

Grotte di Castellana

Restorante Grotta Palazzese

Want to know more about Polignano a Mare?  Visit our guide here.

9. Lake Como

There is good reason why many celebrities call Lake Como home.  First and foremost.. the incredible natural beauty of the area.  Imagine a stunning blue lake as a centrepiece, surrounded by rugged mountains.  Hundreds of luxury hotels and old, elegant villas surround the lake.  Simply relax and enjoy a glass (or bottle) of the region's best wines in your own villa, or visit one of the 'old money' villas such as Villa del Balbianello or Villa Carlotta. 

Highlight: visit the stunning Villa Monastero in the beautiful town of Varenna.

Lake Como - Varenna

8. Venice

No list of the 'best Italian towns' would be complete without Venice.  The thing about Venice is that it is unique - where else in the world can you walk along 170 canals with not a car in sight, all the while revelling in the amazing, grandiose architecture?   

Highlight: walk along the Grand Canal before simply getting lost in the backstreets of Venice.

Venice: The views from the bell tower surprisingly hide the canals separating the islands of Venice.

Venice: The views from the bell tower surprisingly hide the canals separating the islands of Venice.

7. Tropea

Tropea is located towards the sole of Italy's boot and has an incredible old town perched above the crystal blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.  Visit Stromboli, an active island volcano, at night to see the lava flows lightening up the night sky or simply spend an afternoon relaxing on the beach before digging into the delicious Southern Italian food!

Highlight: immerse yourself in the local culture by booking a cooking class and learn how to cook like a true Calabrian.

Tropea - Beach view of the old town

Tropea - Beach view of the old town

Tropea - The view of the crystal clear waters from the Old Town

Want to know more about Tropea?  Read our personal guide here.

6. Matera

Located in the south of Italy just above the arch of Italy's boot, Matera is one of the oldest, constantly settled towns in the world.  Matera's two Sassi districts can draw their history all the way back to the Patheolithic period (100,000 years ago!). The Sassi district or La Citta Sotterranea (the Subterranean City) is famous for its cave like dwellings which have been carved out of the limestone hills.  Some dwellings, and even chapels, go as deep as three stories down into the mountain.

Highlight: watch the sunrise over the Sassi District for a truly magical experience. 

Matera - The beautiful limestone dwellings built into the side of the hill. 

Want to know more about Matera? Visit our guide here.

5. Florence

Renaissance Florence is an art major's paradise with amazing galleries like the Accademia (the statue of David) and the Uffizi Gallery, not to mention the spectacular Duomo in the heart of Florence.  Everywhere you go in Florence is visually pleasing from the beautiful Ponte Vechicco bridge to the amazing Boboli Gardens!  Walk about a kilometre out of the main tourist area for authentic Italian food (without the tourist tax)! 

Highlight: watch the sunset over the orange terracotta roofs of Florence from Piazza Michelangelo. 

Florence: The view of Florence at sunset from Piazza Michelangelo.

Florence: The view of Florence at sunset from Piazza Michelangelo.

4. Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is made up of five colourful fishing villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.  The steep cliffs and colourful buildings makes hiking between the towns an absolute must.  There are no cars allowed in the towns; they are only accessible by hiking, by train, or by boat.

Highlight: hike between Vernazza and Monterosso before enjoying a cold beer on the beach.

Cinque Terra - The view of Vernazza

Portofino: The view from Castle brown

3. Tuscany (countryside)

Tuscany brings up images of green rolling hills, hilltop towns and, of course, vineyards.  Add to this the simple but incredible cuisine and wine and Tuscany could be one of the most perfect places in the world.  The renaissance town of Sienna is a must as well as a quick visit, and obligatory photo, to the Leaning Tower of Pisa; ride a bike along the walls surrounding Lucca or simply stay in an agritourismo or countryside villa for a week.

Highlight: enjoy a wine while soaking up the views of the Tuscan countryside from the hilltop town of San Gimignano.

San Gimignano - The view from one of the many bell towers in San Gimignano of the Tuscan countryside. 

2. Rome

You could spends weeks and months in Rome and still be surprised by what you find.  These big three are a must: 1. St Peter's Basilica and its Duomo, 2. the Colosseum, and 3. the Vatican Museum which includes the Sistine Chapel.  After that there are the amazing catacombs on Via Appia, the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain just to name a few.  

Highlight: climb the Duomo at St Peter's Basilica for incredible views of Rome before visiting Michelangelo's masterpiece located in the Sistine Chapel.

1. Positano

Positano could be Italy's most picturesque town, with beautiful colourful houses sitting somewhat preceriously on the steep cliffs rising from the ocean below.  Situated on the Amalfi Coast there is a mountain of things to do such as visiting the blue grotto in the exclusive island of Capri, wandering through the exquisite garden of Villa Cimbrone in Ravello, luxury shopping, or simply lying on the beach before a delicious seafood dinner. 

Highlight: hike the Path of the Gods from Bomerano to Positano for unmatched views of the Italian coastline.