10 Best Cities To Visit In Italy: Your 2024 Italian Destination

Explore Beyond the Extraordinary: Italy's Hidden Gems and Culinary Wonders Await
Written By: Andrea Spallanzani
Reviewed by: Rick Orford
How & Why We Created This Article

This article has been reviewed and fact-checked. We live in Italy and travel throughout the country to help you make the best choices for your trip. To provide the highest quality content, portions of this article have been written using assistive AI tools for help with spell-checking, grammar, and translation.

Last Updated March 4, 2024
In this article, you'll learn about Italy's:
  1. Underrated Destinations: Beyond its famous cities like Rome and Venice, Italy is home to lesser-known gems such as Catania, Ravenna, and Bologna, each offering unique experiences from volcanic landscapes to exquisite Byzantine mosaics and unparalleled culinary delights. These cities provide a deeper dive into Italy's rich cultural and historical tapestry.
  2. Culinary Diversity: Italy's regional cuisines are a major draw, with cities like Naples known for pizza, Bologna for mortadella and parmesan, and Catania for fresh seafood. This culinary diversity showcases the country's wide range of flavors and traditions, offering something for every palate.
  3. Balance of Old and New: Cities such as Turin, Milan, and Ravenna exemplify Italy's ability to preserve its ancient heritage while fostering innovation and modernity. From Milan's fashion scene to Turin's automotive industry, Italy blends its historical roots with a contemporary edge, enriching the visitor experience.

Looking for the best cities to visit in Italy? As someone who was born in Italy and lives here in Modena, this is not the most straightforward question. Italy is not only home to historically famous artists like Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci but also to many world-famous cities on every traveler’s bucket list.

But beyond Venice, Florence, and Rome, a list of underrated Italian cities is waiting to be uncovered. Have you heard of Sicily’s volcanic slopes? What about the scenic Adriatic coastline? Those are just some of it. You can find picturesque hilltowns, vibrant port cities, and medieval masterpieces with culture and history around every corner.

Here, we will cover 10 fascinating Italian cities that should be on your travel bucket list and things to see and do in each destination. Let’s get started and add these Italian locales to your itinerary!

Verona the Medieval bridge

Top 10 Best Cities in Italy To Visit in 2024

Let’s get started with the first Italian city on our list.

10. Catania, Sicily

Catania and Mount Etna

Coming in at number ten on our list of best Italian cities is the town of Catania over on the east coast of Sicily. Now, Catania might not be on too many North American travelers’ radars, but trust us, this place has some unique vibes worth exploring.

Catania the Greek Theatre

Founded in the 8th century BC, Catania has a history in spades. The city lies at the foot of Mount Etna that is visible pretty much everywhere in Catania. Even after rolling through here three times now over the past few years, we’re still coming across new architecture and landmarks that blow our minds like the Cattedrale Saint Agatha. And you can’t miss out on Ursino Castle, a 13th-century jewel that takes you back to Catania’s medieval days. There’s also an ancient Greek theater located right in the heart of the city!

Catania the Sant'Agata Duomo

If you like shopping, Catania has you covered with Via Etnea and its rows of local boutiques and eateries. Oh, and speaking of eats, you absolutely have to check La Pescheria market for its fresh seafood and other products. Then chow down on local foods like pasta alla Norma and finish it off with a classic cannoli dessert. You may also explore Siciy’s capital, Palermo if you’re craving more adventures. 

9. Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna

The small city of Ravenna has an amazing history, having once served as the capital city of the Western Roman Empire. Despite being a small city, Ravenna attracts over 3 million visitors every year. Today, Ravenna’s past can be seen through its impressive collection of early Christian and Byzantine-era mosaics. 

Ravenna San Vitale mosaics

The mosaics date back centuries and contain dazzling color, pattern, and detail that have been well preserved. The Basilica of San Vitale is home to vivid Biblical imagery and exotic Middle Eastern motifs. The nearby Mausoleum of Galla Placidia contains perhaps some of the oldest and finest mosaics in Ravenna.

Ravenna Sant'Appollinare Nuovo church

Wandering the town, you’ll also find Ravenna’s Roman and Byzantine infrastructure remains, such as the Porta Serrata gate and the San Giovanni Evangelista rotunda. With such beautiful Byzantine treasures, it’s no wonder Ravenna has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Some of the best places to see in Ravenna:

Basilica of San VitaleFamous for its impressive Byzantine mosaics from the 6th century AD, considered among the best in the world.
Galla Placidia MausoleumSmall mausoleum with magnificent mosaics from the 5th century AD, honoring Galla Placidia.
Basilica di Sant’Apollinare NuovoOriginally commissioned in the 6th century with stunning interior mosaics.
Neonian BaptisteryOctagonal baptistery from the 5th century, decorated with biblical mosaic scenes.
Domus dei Tappeti di PietraArchaeological site showcasing well-preserved Roman villa floors.
Mausoleum of TheodoricImpressive 6th century mausoleum with a massive 230-ton stone dome.
National MuseumMuseum with various historical and artistic artifacts collected by monks.
Tomb of DanteSimple tomb holding the remains of medieval poet Dante Alighieri.
Arian BaptisteryEarly Christian baptistery with intricate mosaic designs inside.
Basilica di Sant’Apollinare in ClasseBasilica with beautiful 6th century mosaics, located just outside Ravenna.

8. Turin, Piedmont

Next on our list of best cities to visit in Italy is Torino, the capital of the Piedmont region in the Northwest of Italy. It also was the first capital of unified Italy, making it a city steeped in rich history and architecture. Torino is nothing less than grand, with its famous Royal Palace situated right in the city center as a nod to its royal past.

Torino the Valentino Castle

Torino is also known as the automotive capital of Italy, serving as headquarters for Fiat. You can actually visit Fiat and even go up on the roof to walk along the test track they built–it’s pretty cool.

If you’re visiting Torino, you must see the Royal Palace, a symbol of the city’s regal lineage. With its lavish rooms and sprawling art collections, it transports you into the privileged lifestyle of the House of Savoy dynasty. And, of course, if you’re keen on religious artifacts, the Turin Cathedral is home to the hotly-debated Shroud of Turin.

Torino Italy the Royal Palace

However, one of Torino’s most acclaimed attractions is likely the breathtaking Egyptian Museum, which holds the second-largest Egyptian collection globally, next to the Cairo Museum. It takes about two to three hours to see everything properly. We strongly advise buying skip-the-line tickets beforehand as the museum gets incredibly busy with almost no chance of walk-in entry.

Torino Egyptian museum

7. Siena, Tuscany

Siena is #7 on our list of best cities in Italy and sits atop a hill in central Tuscany with a picturesque medieval town center that earned UNESCO distinction. Narrow brick streets lead to sites like the magnificent Gothic Cathedral in the historic Piazza del Campo, also home to the Palio di Siena horse race each summer.

Siena the Duomo

Thousands flock to witness the famous Palio races in July and August when jockeys representing different neighborhoods competitively race around the packed dirt track surrounding Piazza del Campo. It offers visitors a window into one of Italy’s time-honored traditions.

Siena Piazza del Campo

Beyond its splendid architecture and ancient Tuscan rituals, Siena is an excellent home base for exploring Tuscany’s famous wine regions, thanks to its central location. It sits within the classic Chianti countryside, while the prestigious Brunello-producing area of Montalcino also lies nearby. Seina has a lot to offer! 

6. Bari, Puglia

No top 10 list in Italy would be complete without mentioning Bari, the capital of Italy’s Puglia region, located directly on the Adriatic Sea coastline. Its prime seaside location lends itself to summer beachgoing, including at the aptly named “Pane e Pomodoro” beach, meaning “Bread and Tomato.”

Bari San Nicola

Beyond its shoreline, Bari rewards visitors with a rich history reflected through architecture from ancient to modern. The maze-like old city centers around the Basilica di San Nicola, housing the remains of St. Nicholas and dazzling with its ornate design. In contrast to the historic quarters, a more contemporary Bari flourishes with upscale shopping, cafes, and restaurants.

Bari the old city

As an Adriatic port city, Bari emanates a vibrant energy, especially once summertime arrives. Locals and visitors embrace the weather and seaside location by dining al fresco at the city’s many outdoor restaurants and cafes.

5. Milan, Lombardy

Milano, or Milan, is the financial capital of Italy. It is located in the Lombardia region, in the north of Italy. Milan is also Italy’s fashion and design capital, and maybe of the entire world. It attracts over 10 million visitors every year. In the city, you’ll find all the best clothing designers, high-end shopping, and fabulous restaurants.  

You’ll find both innovation and history in the City of Milan. Fashionistas and culture lovers flock here for the chic boutiques and modern towers reflecting Milan’s future focus. Yet among the lively bars and luxury hotels lie artistic treasures–the magnificent Gothic Duomo, da Vinci’s Last Supper mural, and the La Scala opera house.

Piazza Duomo Milan and is one of the best cities in Italy to visit

Don’t just glance at the medieval masterpieces; explore within them too, like the Duomo’s 4th-century crypt and rooftop views. Milan also excels at refined pleasures, from Michelin-star dining to high fashion shopping quadrangles, but also relishes everyday delights–cheer at football matches with locals, wander the Navigli canals, or linger in charming squares as the sun sets.

4. Verona, Veneto

Verona is located in the Veneto region in the northeast of Italy. You’ll notice that Verona strikes the perfect balance between monumental ancient ruins and intimate old-world romance. As the storied setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the city feels steeped in tragic love stories and poetic whispers from the past – oops, I’m starting to sound like Shakespeare now. 

Juliet's Balcony in Verona - #4 on the list of best cities in Italy

Anyway, in Verona’s center, you’ll find Piazza Bra with postcard-perfect cafés and street performers flanked by high-end shops. Meanwhile, Juliet’s tiny balcony remains the city’s star-crossed lover landmark for selfies and posting poetic love notes on its courtyard walls.

Verona the Roman Arena

You can find one of the best-preserved Roman arenas in the world, so perfectly preserved that it is still used today for operas and concerts. In fact, we went to an Elton John concert a few years ago, and being in the area felt like we were living in a different time–it felt so ethereal.

Verona Piazza Erbe

If you’re into food and wine, Verona is also known for its Amarone wine and, like Siena, is the perfect base camp for wine tasting in the Veneto area. Even those only passing through will likely mesmerized by Verona’s enduring and irresistible romance.

3. Lecce, Puglia

Lecce lies in southern Italy’s Puglia region, earning its moniker as the “Florence of the South” for the ornate Baroque architecture of its churches and palaces, much like Florence’s Uffizi Gallery and Rome’s Colosseum.

Lecce the beautiful Baroque

The local limestone gives the city a glowing, homogenous aesthetic, its lavish decorative details chiseled with flair. Lecce’s liveliness emanates from its structures and people, whose warmth entices visitors to slow down and embrace the art of living well.

Lecce the Duomo

Meandering narrow streets lead to cafés rimming the storied Piazza Duomo and its impressive cathedral. Like a postcard come to life, Lecce proffers discovery around every corner.

2. Naples, Campania

Naples is arguably one of Italy’s most captivating cities. As the capital of the Campania region, it acts as a major port and gateway to famous areas like Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, Santa Maria, and the island of Capri. Yet Naples deserves recognition in its own right as a vibrant, living hub of culture. We make a point of visiting this dynamic city at least once a year.

Monastero Santa Chiara

Walking Naples’ historic streets overwhelms the senses with captions of sights, sounds, and, yes, smells. It overflows with a level of color and commotion unmatched elsewhere in Italy. Locals fill the air with Neapolitan dialect and personality. Impromptu street music and entertainment could surprise you on any given corner.

Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius

Beyond its palpable energy, Naples claims several culinary firsts. As the birthplace of pizza, the city takes its reputation for exceptional versions of the classic Neapolitan style seriously. You could easily taste-test pizzerias straight through several days. We always budget generous time to sample the region’s fresh seafood, breads, cheeses, and, of course, wine.

1. Bologna, Emilia-Romagna

As the lively capital of Italy’s culinary epicenter, Bologna attracts with its liveliness around art, history, and, let’s face it…food! Forget diets when surrounded by the world’s longest porticoes filled with gourmet deli counters displaying parma hams, mortadella bursts, and aged parmesans. The place invites slowing down to savor—espressos at a marble-topped cafe, handmade pasta at tiny holes in the walls, or leisurely al fresco dining beneath grand arcades.

Bologna Panorama

This vibrant university city also overflows with artistic and architectural marvels from its Etruscan founding onwards. By the year 1088, Bologna University arose as Europe’s first institution to grant degrees. Walking tours pass through preserved medieval quarters with highlights like:

  • The iconic Due Torri – Bologna’s two leaning towers that form the city symbol
  • Basilica di San Petronio – begun in 1390 with ancient sundial lines, making it over 630 years old
  • Fountain of Neptune drawing upon Roman mythology
  • Salaborsa Library with a transparent floor revealing ancient ruins below

Beyond the vibrant historic downtown stuffed with food shops, Bologna also claims the world’s longest continuous arcade walkway with 3.5 km and 666 arches long—the arcade of San Luca in Bologna.


What is the #1 city to visit in Italy?

Rome is Italy’s best place for first-timers to visit, but if you’re not a first-timer, you can follow our list above.

What is the cheapest airport to arrive in Italy?

The cheapest city to arrive in Italy is Milan, served by Milan Malpensa Airport.

How do I choose where to go in Italy?

Can’t decide where to go in Italy? For fashion and skiing, head north. For adventure and sun, go south or to the islands. Or visit both regions.

Should I skip Florence or Venice?

Florence offers a more authentic experience with fewer crowds and Venice has historic wonders and easy island access.

What is the best way to travel to multiple cities in Italy?

The best way to travel to multiple cities in Italy is by train.

Final Words

Italy’s dazzling diversity shines in these 10 fascinating destinations, from stunning architecture to mouthwatering cuisine. Beyond the classic sites, a thrilling trove of culture and history awaits. So, which alluring locale will you explore next? There’s only one way to decide—start planning your Italian adventure. Ciao!