As the birthplace of pizza, gelato and pasta, Italy is perhaps best known for its mouthwatering food, though it also has much more to experience. Wander through ancient cities filled with historical ruins and relax at glamorous coastal resorts.
Among Italy’s biggest tourist hotspots are Venice, Rome and Florence, each offering iconic sights and world-class museums, from canals to the Colosseum to the Uffizi Gallery. Travelers in search of rugged coastlines and gorgeous beaches head to the islands of Capri or Sardinia, while food-obsessed visitors head to Bologna. For romance and open-air opera, venture to cobbled Verona, the setting for Shakespeare’s timeless love story, Romeo and Juliet.
The Vatican City in Rome is another tourist favorite, with art-loving visitors arriving in droves to marvel at Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel frescoes. If you are planning a visit to this holy enclave, dress modestly and come in the afternoon to avoid the large morning rush.
South of Naples is the scenic Amalfi Coast. Discover colorful mountain towns and picturesque former fishing villages, such as Positano. For a more rugged coastal escape, head north to the UNESCO-listed Cinque Terre, five pastel-painted clifftop villages on the Ligurian coast.
Tuscany in central Italy is another much-loved vacation destination. Stroll around hilltop medieval towns such as the multi-towered San Gimignano and sample some of the region’s famous wines, including Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico. Tuscany is also home to Pisa, famed for its leaning tower.
Italy has an efficient public transportation system. Getting around the country is relatively easy. Ride trains and buses between the larger cities or rent a car to explore more rural areas and remote villages. Ferries run between the ports of the mainland and the small outlying islands. Two major airports serving Italy are Fiumicino Airport in Rome and Milano-Malpensa Airport in Milan.
Uncovering all the charms of the “big boot” of Italy could take years. Pick your favorite spots for your first visit and plan your trip now.