If you are planning that dream destination to Italy, but you are finding it hard to narrow down where to start? You are on the right place, and this guide will point you to the most incredible Italian landmarks.
The Historical Landmarks in Italy are packed with UNESCO World Heritage sites that attract millions of visitors every year, including incredible Roman ruins, Baroque churches, medieval castles, and historical cities.
While the Natural Landmarks in Italy offers stunning landscapes, plenty of natural wonders, and marvelous lakes to visit in Italy that will just take your breath away!
This is your one-stop guide for the top landmarks in Italy. It is packed with very helpful insider tips on things to look out for during your visit to the best Italian Landmarks. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this awesome guide!
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- The Most Beautiful Tuscany Villages and Hill Towns
- Most Dreamy Accommodations in Tuscany
- Stunning Coastal Towns in Italy
- Famous Landmarks in Italy
- 1. COLOSSEUM: One of the most recognizable Italian Landmarks
- 2. TREVI FOUNTAIN: A romantic landmark in Rome
- 3. PANTHEON: One of the most unique historical Italian Landmarks
- 4. VATICAN CITY: The most important religious Italian landmarks
- 5. POMPEII: A fascinating Italian landmark
- 6. DUOMO DI MILANO: One of the most impressive Italian Landmarks
- 7. DUOMO IN FLORENCE: One of the most iconic Italian landmarks
- 8. PONTE VECCHIO IN FLORENCE
- 9. PISA TOWER: One of the most famous monuments in Italy
- 10. CANALE GRANDE VENICE: One of the most important Italian landmarks
- 11. BRIDGE OF SIGHS: One of the most famous landmarks in Venice
- Historical Italian Landmarks
- 12. CLIFF TOWN OF TROPEA: A stunning must-visit Italian landmark
- 13. SICILY TAORMINA AMPHITEATRE: Italian Landmarks with the history and views
- 14. VALLEY OF TEMPLES IN AGRIGENTO: Iconic archeological landmark in Sicily
- 15. HERCULANEUM: One of the most well-preserved historical Italian Landmarks
- 16. ETRUSCAN NECROPOLIS IN CERVETERI: A must-visit Italian landmark nearby Rome
- 17. OSTIA ANTICA: A underacknowledged historical Italian Landmark
- 18. TRULLI VILLAGE OF ALBEROBELLO: One of the most iconic landmarks in Italy
- 19. PALAZZO REALE TURIN: An important historical landmark in Italy
- 20. DUOMO DI MODENA: A stunning Romanesque architecture
- 21. BASILICA DI SAN PETRONIO: An Impressive gothic Basilica in Bologna
- Natural Landmarks in Italy
- 22. DOLOMITES: One of the most stunning natural landmarks in Italy
- 23. LA MADDALENA ARCHIPELAGO: An amazing site in Sardinia
- 24. AMALFI COAST: A breathtaking Natural Italian Landmarks
- 25. BORROMEAN ISLANDS: A real jewel of a landmark
- 26. LAKE COMO: An iconic natural landmark in Italy
- 27. LAKE ORTA: Natural Italian landmarks in the Piemonte Region
- 28. LAKE GARDA: The largest lake in Italy
- 29. MOUNT ETNA: The most recognizable natural landmark in Sicily
- 30. STROMBOLI VOLCANO – One of the most iconic natural Italian landmarks
- Travel Tips to visit the Italian Landmarks
- Italian Landmarks Conclusion
- Travel Insurance for your trip
Read More: 30 Dream Destinations for your Bucket List
Famous Landmarks in Italy
1. COLOSSEUM: One of the most recognizable Italian Landmarks
An icon of Rome and the entire country, and one of the most important Italian landmarks is the Colosseum. This is an impressive feat of architecture that has lasted centuries.
Built-in only a decade by over 60,000 slaves (mostly Jewish), it was unlike anything ever built before. The Colosseum could seat over 50,000 people who would come from around Italy to watch the gladiator fights, animal fights, and even battles re-enacted!
Some of the gladiator tournaments would last a few days. The emperor sponsored free food for attendees to entice them to stay for the entire festival.
One fun fact about the Colosseum, that many people don’t know, is that it was built on top of Emperor Nero’s manmade lake. Upon his suicide in 68 CE, Emperor Vespasian wanted all traces of Nero gone, so he commissioned an arena to be built on the lake. His plan was to create positive memories for the people of Rome.
PRO-TIP: Since it’s one of the most popular destinations in Rome, you now need a time slot to visit the Colosseum. This helps with social distancing and crowd management and I recommend booking your tour to the Colosseum in advance.
Read More: 20 Most Beautiful Coastal Towns in Italy
2. TREVI FOUNTAIN: A romantic landmark in Rome
The number of heritage sites, churches, and monuments in Rome is overwhelming. Out of all the religious and historic landmarks in Italy, the Trevi Fountain is one of the most Romantic sites.
There are amazing facts about the Trevi Fountain, such as that it was originally a freshwater supply, connected to two aqueducts in ancient Rome.
Several projects were launched in an attempt to beautify the fountain, and eventually, Italian architect Nicola Salvi won the commission in a design contest and began the construction in 1732. The project was completed in 1762 and remained so for more than 250 years – a 26-meter high, 20-meter-wide Baroque-style fountain that we see today.
The fountain was featured in many iconic love comedies, including Roman Holiday, La Dolce Vita, and Three Coins in the Fountain. The award-winning movie has left quite a legacy because now, any first-timers simply must throw a coin (or three) when they visit the fountain.
It is believed that throwing one coin over your shoulder guarantee a return trip to Rome, two coins would find love, and three coins symbolize wedding bells. Over 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain every day, and the money has been donated to the needy in Rome.
PRO-TIP: Make sure you plan in advance your Rome itinerary in order to take advantage of visiting the amazing Rome Landmarks. You can book a private tour in Rome to visit all the main sites, including the Trevi Fountain.
3. PANTHEON: One of the most unique historical Italian Landmarks
As you explore Rome on foot, you absolutely cannot miss a visit to the Pantheon, one of the unique historical landmarks in Rome.
First commissioned in around 118AD by famed Roman general Marcus Agrippa, it burned down shortly thereafter and was rebuilt in 126 by Emperor Hadrian. Interestingly, you can see Agrippa’s name inscribed in large letters on the front, despite the fact that the building he designed burned to the ground.
While originally built as a temple to the pantheon of Roman gods (hence the name it is best known by, today it is a basilica, formally called the Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs.
The Pantheon is one of the best-preserved ancient buildings in the city and one of the most important Italian landmarks and has been in constant use as a temple and church since its construction.
While you’re here, enjoy the statuesque Corinthian columns and marvel at the beautiful dome– actually, the largest unreinforced concrete dome on earth, which is quite a feat of engineering given how old it is. Inside, be sure to check out the notable Italians buried here, including King Vittorio Emmanuele II, the first king of a united Italy, and famed painter Raphael.
There are so many fun facts about Rome landmarks, and the Pantheon is one of them. Curiously, the oculus, or the hole at the top of the dome, is actually open, which means that you can see rain entering the building, though strategically-placed holes in the floor keep it from getting slippery.
PRO-TIP: The Pantheon is a church, so entry is free, but be sure that your shoulders and knees are covered, in accordance with entry rules for churches in Italy.
4. VATICAN CITY: The most important religious Italian landmarks
Located in the center of Rome, Vatican City is not just a historical attraction – it’s actually the smallest independent state in the world, making it the most important religious Landmark in Italy.
It’s also home to the Pope, and houses many of Italy’s greatest treasures. Ancient sculptures and tapestries, as well as Michelangelo’s iconic masterpiece, can be found right here.
St Peter’s Basilica – the most important building within the Vatican – was built all the way back in the 4th century. It was rebuilt in the 16th century, and remains the second largest building in Christendom!
Not only is Vatican City a historic place of pilgrimage, but it’s also perhaps the most impressive monument to Catholicism – which influenced so much of history and culture – in the world. If you’re visiting Rome, it has to be on your bucket list of the best landmarks in Italy to visit.
PRO-TIP: While you could spend days here, your best option is to join a guided tour of the Vatican. You’ll learn so much more about the historic artifacts and the people behind them. A tour takes about 3 hours and includes a stop at St Peter’s Basilica. It’s the perfect amount of time to fit everything into one exciting morning.
5. POMPEII: A fascinating Italian landmark
Pompeii would have to be one of the most popular and fascinating Italian Landmarks for both domestic and international visitors.
Around 3 million tourists annually visit the site with many making a day trip from Rome. The easiest way to get to Pompeii is via train from Rome and Naples.
During your visit, you will see the villas, and the Amphitheatre, walk the streets, explore the red light area, and more of this ancient city.
Pompeii is world-famous as a snapshot of history, it gives you a sense of what it would have been like to live, works, and play in the times of the Romans.
The town was engulfed with lava from the nearby Mount Vesuvius in 79AD and has since been excavated over the last 2 centuries since being rediscovered. The dig continues into today as they unearth more buried treasure.
PRO-TIP: I recommend you spend around 3-4 hours at Pompeii for you to see the best parts of the Pompeii site. You can get a guided tour at the ticket office, which will hastily show you the major sites and explain their history. You can also book a tour of Pompeii with an archeologist and learn so much more about these Italian Landmarks.
6. DUOMO DI MILANO: One of the most impressive Italian Landmarks
Duomo di Milano (or Milan Cathedral) is easily one of the most impressive landmarks in Italy. Towering over Piazza di Milano, this magnificent gothic cathedral has dominated the heart of the city since 1386.
Today it remains the largest church in Italy and the second largest in Europe, with a capacity of 40,000 people. If you’re visiting Italy then Duomo di Milano is a must-see on your Milan itinerary The splendid exterior can be viewed from many vantage points, however, it is well worth visiting its spectacular rooftop.
Atop this grand cathedral, you will discover ornate spires and sculptures covering nearly the entire roof. In addition to the intricacies found here, a visit to the rooftop will also provide stunning panoramic views over the city.
PRO-TIP: As it is such a popular Italian landmark, it is recommended to purchase your ticket online in advance to avoid disappointment. Ensure you get a ticket that includes access to both the rooftop and the cathedral. While the rooftops are perhaps (arguably) the most impressive part of the cathedral, the elaborate interior is also worth a visit.
READ NEXT: 2-Days Perfect Milan Itinerary
7. DUOMO IN FLORENCE: One of the most iconic Italian landmarks
One of the best Italian landmarks in the city of Florence is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, or the Duomo as it is commonly known.
It is located in the middle of the city and it is one of the most recognizable structures in the Florence skyline. It is a must-visit landmark to visit and a great start for any perfect itinerary in Florence.
The cathedral was completed in 1436 during the Renaissance period when the Medici family ruled the city. Besides the Duomo, you find here the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile. These are all made in the same architectural style.
Climbing to the top of the Duomo is really worth your time. It is one of the highest buildings in the city, so from there you have an amazing view. In short, the Duomo is an Italian landmark that is really worth visiting!
PRO-TIP: You can enter the gothic cathedral for free and see the beautiful interior and appreciate the stunning art. When you want to go to the Baptistery, visit the museum, or climb to the top of the Duomo you have to pay an admission fee. I recommend going on a small group tour to the dome, as you have the opportunity of amazing views and photos from there.
8. PONTE VECCHIO IN FLORENCE
The medieval stone bridge Ponte Vecchio, built-in 1345, is one of the most unique landmarks in Florence.
It is also the only bridge crossing the Arno river that survived the bombings during World War II. The beautiful bridge, which looks like it is full of cute little pastel houses plastered on the wall, was actually the first bridge used as a defense system over the Arno river.
Today it is packed into most tourists’ Florence itinerary, not only for the exceptional photo motive it makes but also for the exclusive jewelry shops and antique boutiques that can be visited on a leisurely walk across this famous bridge.
Ponte Vecchio is easy to spot, as it is situated in the historic town of Florence. You can also see it from the popular viewpoint of Piazzale Michelangelo, where you should definitely go for a panoramic view of the city and river.
PRO-TIP: A great option if you are visiting Florence, is to go on a 2-hour guided tour with a small group, and get to visit some of the most amazing Italian Landmarks in the city.
Read More: 17 Most Incredible Towns in Tuscany
9. PISA TOWER: One of the most famous monuments in Italy
One of the most famous landmarks in Italy is the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Spending a day in Pisa is very easy, and you can plan as a day trip from Florence, as it’s right on the coast in the Tuscany region and well-connected to the country’s train routes.
Pisa is one of the most popular towns in Tuscany, and there are three major historical landmarks within the city located on the grounds of a massive field called the Piazza dei Miracoli – the Baptistry, the city’s Cathedral, and the Leaning Tower.
The Leaning Tower is a freestanding bell tower to the nearby Cattedrale di Pisa. After the second floor was added in 1178, the building started to tilt due to an unbalanced base. The building retained a 5.50-degree tilt from upright by 1990, but after work was completed in 2001 to strengthen its base, the Tower now stands comfortably at a 3.97-degree tilt.
PRO-TIP: Make sure you take a picture angled to pretend to hold the Tower up or take the time to purchase tickets and climb the stairs up to the top for a beautiful view of the city below.
Read More: How to Travel from Rome to Tuscany + Best Day Trips
10. CANALE GRANDE VENICE: One of the most important Italian landmarks
The 4-kilometer-long Grand Canal in Venice is the main waterway of the lagoon city. Running from San Marco Basilica to Santa Chiara Church, it divides the city into two parts.
The Grand Canal is not only a famous landmark in Italy because of its major importance as a water-traffic route. What makes it very well-known is also the fact that there are centuries-old palaces on both sides of the water. Many of them date back to the 13th century and are therefore important remains of the Venetian Republic.
The best way to see most of it is to either walk from one end to the other or – if you want to have a more different perspective – do a gondola ride in Venice. Swimming is allowed, neither in the Grand Canal nor in any other part of the historic center.
Almost exactly in the middle of the waterway, you find another iconic sight of Venice: Rialto Bridge. If you decide to do a gondola ride along the Grand Canal, you’ll probably pass under it.
Moreover, during your Venice itinerary, don’t miss out to go on top of the bridge – preferably at sunset. It’s a wonderful experience seeing the sun go down, leaving a golden glow on the Grand Canal.
PRO-TIP: You can book a 35-minute gondola ride in advance, as I highly recommend doing. Even if it sounds too touristy, you are in Venice, and you don’t want to miss this opportunity.
11. BRIDGE OF SIGHS: One of the most famous landmarks in Venice
One of the most beautiful bridges in Italy, the Bridge of Sighs in Venice exemplifies the splendor of what La Serenissima (the Republic of Venice) was during its years of glory. It is certainly one of the most remarkable landmarks in Italy.
Constructed in order to connect the Doge’s Palace to the Nuove Prigioni, (the new prison building), the bridge’s sole purpose was to transition charged prisoners from the trial room to the final jail cells. As dire as that might sound, over the years countless sentimental narratives emerged trying to interpret the story behind the bridge’s name.
The most common version recounted that prisoners would sigh as they took the last glimpse out on the beautiful Venetian lagoon. Other more romantic versions recount that the bridge was named after the cry of grief from loved ones below who would watch as prisoners took their last steps toward freedom.
To this day, there are still romantic legends associated with the bridge— It is said that love will last into eternity if you kiss your loved one in a gondola from below.
Whatever the case, the bridge certainly has come to embody the grand ideals of the powerful republic that Venice once was. I mean, even Casanova was imprisoned here!
PRO-TIP: You can get the best views from Ponte Della Paglia, but a guided tour of the Doge’s Palace and Prisons will take you right onto the bridge. In just a couple of hours, you will get a glimpse into the history that made Venice the remarkable city that it still is today.
Historical Italian Landmarks
12. CLIFF TOWN OF TROPEA: A stunning must-visit Italian landmark
Tropea is a spectacular landmark in Italy and one place that should be on your bucket list. Located at the seaside on Costa Degli Dei, Tyrrhenian sea, South West region of Italy – Calabria (toes of the boot). The legend, Tropea was founded by Hercules.
On arrival in town, you will walk through Centro Storico, an old part of town with narrow and cobbled streets.
The main attraction here is the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Romania, with Virgin Mary as a patron protecting the town from earthquakes and even bombing in WWII.
When you arrive at up to a 60-meter high cliff view will open to the strip of sand beaches, the Sanctuary of Saint Mary ‘del Isola on an island connected to the mainland, and the beautiful turquoise sea. Now you would like to swim in that beautiful water. For that, you have to descend around 150 steep stairs.
Before you go swimming, turn around and admire the town on the cliff, one of the most Instagrammable photos from Italy.
PRO-TIP: You can choose one of many beaches (Spiaggia Michelino, Rotonda Beach, …) to enjoy swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing on fine sand, or just relaxing in the shade of a parasol. alternatively, you can take a taxi or bus. You can also go on a Tropea boat trip for the incredible views.
13. SICILY TAORMINA AMPHITEATRE: Italian Landmarks with the history and views
The Greek amphitheater, or Teatro Antico di Taormina, is set up high on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and it is a must-visit landmark in Sicily.
There are views also of the volcano Mount Etna. As with many of the monuments in Sicily, the current brick-built structure is from Roman times but the origin of the theatre is Greek. There are a semi-circular seating area and a stage with the remains of ornate columns.
The theatre is the second largest of its kind in Sicily. If you’re visiting Sicily with kids, it’s the perfect destination to introduce children to Sicily’s incredible history – the ruined structure is theirs to explore.
The theatre is still in use today for both classical performances and modern music concerts. Visitors should allow an hour or more to explore the theatre.
PRO-TIP: There is a charge to enter, children under 18 can visit for free. If you want to continue your adventure in the area, you can visit Mount Etna during the sunset for incredible views from there.
14. VALLEY OF TEMPLES IN AGRIGENTO: Iconic archeological landmark in Sicily
Visiting the Valley of Temples in Agrigento is one of the best things to do in Sicily. Located on the west coast of the island, this temple complex is an iconic Greek archaeological site overlooking a picturesque Sicilian valley.
Valle Dei Templi, as it is locally known, is home to some of the most ancient Greek temples in the entire world. The Temple of Concordia is one of the best-preserved. Right by its side, lies a fallen statue of Icarus, the son of Daedalus, which accentuates the mythical vibe of the site.
Various other shrines including an old Temple of Hercules and the intriguing Temple of the Dioscuri dot this lesser-known UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy.
Nearby is the Archaeological Museum of Agrigento filled with ancient Greek artifacts if you wish to dig deeper.
Make sure you carry lots of water and a good pair of shoes because there is a lot of walking around and it can get really sunny and hot during the day.
PROT-TIP: You can easily club your trip to the Valley of Temples with a tour of the early Christian necropolises that are found behind the Temple of Concordia. Add to that a short getaway to the botanical gardens of Kolymbetra and you have a wonderful itinerary.
15. HERCULANEUM: One of the most well-preserved historical Italian Landmarks
Visiting the town of Herculaneum, the most well-preserved historical site in the world, is like traveling in a time-capsule back to the lives of the Ancient Romans living in the year 79 A.D.
On the fatal day that Mt Vesuvius erupted cloaking the nearby town of Pompeii in a deadly cloud of gas and ash, the popular seaside town of Herculaneum was buried in a 16 – 20m layer of pyroclastic molten rock and mud.
The extent of the flow changed the geography of the land forever and extended the coastline by a kilometer.
While instantly killing the residents, the super-heated pyroclastic flow ensured that the buildings and their contents would remain intact, making Herculaneum such a fascinating place to visit.
As well as the upper level of buildings (which were destroyed at Pompeii), objects such as furniture, statues, painted walls and tiles, jewelry, textiles, and even items of food managed to survive at the Herculaneum.
A visit to the site of Herculaneum provides you with the opportunity to explore the homes and businesses of the people who lived there some 2,000 years ago.
PRO-TIP: You should plan to spend 2 – 4 hours exploring Herculaneum and the nearby museum and a great option is to go on a private tour to take advantage of learning about the history of this fascinating Italian Landmark.
16. ETRUSCAN NECROPOLIS IN CERVETERI: A must-visit Italian landmark nearby Rome
Although somehow eclipsed by the presence of nearby Rome, the massive Etruscan Necropolis of Cerveteri should be on your list of historical landmarks to see in Italy.
The Etruscans inhabited and civilized central Italy centuries before the Romans and were later conquered and subjugated by them. It placed crucial importance on the journey of the soul after death, which is why they built such extensive and structured cities of the dead.
Cerveteri, a few kilometers from the Tyrrhenian Sea, is the most spectacular necropolis in Italy from an architectural point of view. It takes a whole day to explore it properly.
Past the entrance to this large area, free of charge, you can visit a second necropolis excavated in the tuff, called Necropolis of the Pond. The last part is the Via Degli Inferi, a path dug into the rock in the open air, with tombs on the right and left, which leads to the ancient walls of the acropolis known as “Caere”.
PRO-TIP: The necropolis is divided into 3 parts. The most famous one, which includes hundreds of tumulus-shaped tombs, can be visited with an €8 ticket and consists of a guided tour of 45 minutes. You can also go on a tour from Rome.
17. OSTIA ANTICA: A underacknowledged historical Italian Landmark
Are you looking for one of the best, yet underacknowledged, historical landmarks in Italy? If so, then head to Ostia Antica, 19km west of Rome.
Once the prosperous seaport for Ancient Rome, Ostia Antica developed into a thriving and vital city and was home to 80,000 people at the height of its prosperity. However, its fortunes started to decline in the 4th Century AD and the city was abandoned by the 10th Century.
Visit Ostia Antica for the opportunity to walk amongst spectacular archaeology with a local archaeologist, which opens a window into what everyday life was like at the height of the Roman Empire.
There are houses, apartments, temples, bars, public baths, workshops, stores, and – of course – latrines. Ostia Antica is not a huge site but you should allow two hours to see the highlights.
PRO-TIP: As with many archaeological sites, there is little shade and it can get hot. Make an early start to avoid the hotter time of day, wear a hat & sunglasses, apply sunscreen, and don’t forget to bring a bottle of water with you. It is recommended to hire a 3-hour tour with a local archeologist.
18. TRULLI VILLAGE OF ALBEROBELLO: One of the most iconic landmarks in Italy
The Trulli of Puglia is one of the most iconic sights in the Southern Italian region, and nowhere are they more concentrated than in the town of Alberobello. Constructed in the 14th century using a mortarless method, they were originally built this way so they could be easily dismantled and thus avoid having to incur tax.
Of course, these days many of these conical roofed houses have been lovingly restored and developed into cozy dwellings – some of which are available to rent on Airbnb – so there’s no intention of ever dismantling them again!
The Trulli village in Alberobello is a wonderful way to get acquainted with the buildings, and it’s a very unique and special place to visit.
An afternoon is often ample time to visit the village, but be sure to cross over to the main center of Alberobello as well, as you’ll find a beautiful historical old town with many more architectural influences displayed.
PRO-TIP: You can simply walk among the rows of Trulli, pop into the petite shops and cafes housed within, or visit the Trullo church. If you prefer, you can dive more into the history by going on a walking tour with a local guide.
19. PALAZZO REALE TURIN: An important historical landmark in Italy
There’s a good reason why Palazzo Reale is one of the most important historic Italian landmarks. Before Italy became one country in 1861, several small kingdoms were governed independently.
When they united, Victor Emmanuel II, the ruler of Sardinia-Piedmont was chosen to be the first monarch of Italy, and Palazzo Reale in Turin became the royal palace.
Palazzo Reale is an elegant 16th-century palace that was modernized by Baroque architect Filippo Juvarra in the 17th century. The stunning former palace of the House of Savoy is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and it became a museum in 1946.
Exploring Palazzo Reale is one of the things to do in Turin not to be missed. Elegant 17th-century paintings, furniture, and decorations are displayed inside the museum, and visitors can take a tour of the palace to see the throne hall, royal apartments, ballroom, and gallery.
A portrait of Leonardo da Vinci hangs in the Royal Library, and the Royal Armory has an impressive collection of weapons. As there’s a lot to see, plan to spend at least half a day in Palazzo Reale but history fans may want to put aside the entire day to explore the palace and surrounding area.
PRO-TIP: While you are in town, a very popular and recommended way to explore Turing is to go on a magic Tour to learn more about the dark arts and black magic.
20. DUOMO DI MODENA: A stunning Romanesque architecture
Modena is a town known for “fast cars and slow food”. The city is home to high-end automobile manufacturers Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. It’s also home to Osteria Francescana, a three-star Michelin restaurant, ranked the best restaurant in the World.
In between the supercars and the high-end dining, stands the icon of the city, the Duomo di Modena. Consecrated in 1184, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption and Saint Geminianus is a stunning example of Romanesque architecture.
Standing alongside the Duomo is the 280-foot-tall Torre Della Ghirlandina, or bell tower. Both buildings are designated World Heritage Sites.
Back on the ground, art lovers won’t want to miss the interior of the Duomo. Works of art dating back to the 13th century, from Modenese artists Antonio Begarelli and Guido Mazzoni adorn the walls of the Duomo. When visiting the Duomo, make note of any religious ceremonies or holy days as no visits are allowed during these times.
PRO-TIP: You can go to a 3-hour cooking class and after filling up on incredible Modena food, head over to Torre Della Ghirlandina and climb the 496 stairs to burn off a few calories. When you reach the top of the tower, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Modena.
21. BASILICA DI SAN PETRONIO: An Impressive gothic Basilica in Bologna
Bologna is an Italian city with a great well-preserved historical center. Among many great structures, the most impressive is the gothic Basilica di San Petronio in Piazza Maggiore.
It is dedicated to the city’s patron San Petronio, fifth-century bishop of Bologna. This is the 10th largest church in the world and the larger among churches built of bricks by volume with 258,000 m3. It is 132 meters long and 66 meters wide, the height reaches from 45 meters up to 51 meters.
To begin building this church they had to demolish one whole block of buildings. The first brick was laid in 1390. And they were building it for many centuries. But it is still not finished until today. Front Facade was meant to be in marble. Currently, it is finished less than half of it, and it features many great works of art, from the main altar to 22 side chapels.
PRO-TIP: So when you visit Bologna don’t forget to go to Piazza Maggiore and admire this Basilica’s exterior and interior. You can also join a local tour on a 2-hour guided walk to visit the main landmarks in Bologna.
Natural Landmarks in Italy
22. DOLOMITES: One of the most stunning natural landmarks in Italy
In northeastern Italy, you’ll find one of the country’s most incredible natural landmarks in Italy, the Dolomites.
This magical mountain range includes is certainly one of the best places to go hiking in Italy. With 18 peaks over 3000-meters, characterized by their unique jagged peaks, sheer cliffs, and lush valleys tucked away in between.
The Dolomites are an exceptional destination to visit year-round. The warm spring and summer months are a popular time to visit, as the valleys are green, wildflowers are in bloom, and the weather is mild.
There are some incredible hikes in the area, with tracks ranging in length and difficulty.
From December to March, the Dolomites are a popular Italian winter destination. The mountains are covered in fresh white snow, making it the perfect place for outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, and even snowshoeing.
PRO-TIP: Regardless of the time of year, you should plan to spend at least a few days exploring the Dolomites. Or you have the option to take a full-day tour from Venice if you are short on time. You’ll also find several charming villages throughout the area where you can cozy up and relax after a long day of exploring.
Read More: 15 most amazing hikes in Italy
23. LA MADDALENA ARCHIPELAGO: An amazing site in Sardinia
Located in the northern part of Sardinia, La Maddalena Archipelago is one of the most beautiful natural landmarks in Italy. It’s mainly known for being home to the splendid Spiaggia rosa di Budelli.
This pink beach is a very unique natural wonder! It was placed under the protection of La Maddalena National Park which means that visitors are not allowed to walk on it. Sadly, people used to steal the sand so actions had to be taken.
That having been said, you can still see it from a boat! There are ferry services that operate between Palau, the nearest coastal town, and the main island of La Maddalena. However, the best way to explore the archipelago is by going on a boat tour.
The beaches in La Maddalena are spectacular, especially the ones on Santa Maria island and Spargi. You can also go snorkeling.
The water is crystal clear and there are loads of fish. If you opt for a day tour, you will definitely visit Spargi. Most people head straight to the beach but on the left-hand side of the dock is a walking path. Make sure to hike up to the top. The views are fantastic! You can even see Corsica!
PRO-TIP: If you have a bit of time ahead of you, it’s worth staying on La Maddalena island for a few days. If you are short on time, book your accommodation in Palau and opt for a day tour. You can see all the highlights of the National Park in one day.
24. AMALFI COAST: A breathtaking Natural Italian Landmarks
Amalfi Coast is located on the northern coast of the Salerno Gulf in the south of Italy. You have the option to visit the Amalfi coast on a trip from Naples with all-inclusive.
It’s a stunning natural landmark in Italy, where you can see a big mountain near the blue sea, loaded with an incredible amount of Italian varicolored houses, which form small and cozy streets with friendly inhabitants.
The beginning of this wonderful coast took place in the 10th century when the independent state Duchy Of Amalfi was situated right there. Later, the city of Amalfi and its coast were controlled by the Principality of Salerno — a south Italian state. Which was formed in the 9th century out of Benevento’s Principality after a civil war — till the Republic of Pisas had occupied the territory.
Do you still have some doubts about visiting this location? Just imagine red and orange houses, an ancient Roman Catholic cathedral in the Piazza del Duomo, and also breathtaking Amalfi Drive. This road runs along the Amalfi Coast stretch between the southern Italian towns of Sorrento and Amalfi.
Check out local exquisite handmade ceramics, wander through the tiny streets of Atrani village, take a look at sculptures, and breathe in the fresh air at the gardens of Villa Cimbrone. Spend a couple of days in this place to discover its inner beauty, hidden among churches and charming piazzas.
PRO-TIP: It’s interesting to go there at midday, but if you want to get new impressions and try some fantastic mood — you need to be there precisely in the evening when the whole city fills with the warm orange light of the street lamps.
25. BORROMEAN ISLANDS: A real jewel of a landmark
Lago Maggiore, the smallest of the three main lakes in northern Italy, often gets overlooked as a visit-worthy destination. But with a jewel of a landmark like the Borromean Islands, it is a must-have on any Italian bucket list.
This group of islands is situated near the city of Stresa, and most of them are still owned by the Borromeo family since the 16th century, hence the name.
The three islands that are open to the public during the spring, summer, and early fall months are Isola Bella, Isola Madra, and Isola dei Pescatori (also called Isola Superiore).
While both Isola Bella and Isola Madre are home to stunning 16th and 17th-century palaces and gardens, the tiny Isola dei Pescatori is the only inhabited island filled with restaurants, shops, and even hotels (and it has never belonged to the Borromeo family).
PRO-TIP: The islands are easily reachable by ferry or boat from Stresa, and one day is perfect for exploring all of them comfortably. Or you can go on an Islands hop-on hop-off boat tour to explore this amazing Italian Landmark and area.
26. LAKE COMO: An iconic natural landmark in Italy
Lake Como is one of the most iconic natural Italian landmarks which draws travelers from around the world, any time of the year, and with a good reason.
Clustered in the middle of Lake Como are the villages of Bellagio, Varena, and Menaggio plus many other stunning lakeside villas and nearby mountains.
A perfect Lake Como Itinerary can be done as short as 1 day up to 3 days, or you can include Lake Como in your Milan Itinerary.
The views are stunning, nestled in the foothills of the Alps, where the rich and famous spend their vacation in luxurious villas, and we, the visitors, enjoy the incredible lakeside towns.
Lake Como resembles an inverted “Y” shape, and it’s the third-largest lake in Italy. Measuring 46 km in length, it is nestled in the foothills of the Alps in the Lombardy region.
Explore the villas and towns, go on boat trips across the lake and enjoy the great laid-back lifestyle of Lake Como, are some of the many activities you can do.
PRO-TIP: The southern shore of Lake Como is just 32 miles (51 km) from Milan and it’s very easy and cheap to travel from Milan to Lake Como by train. Or you also have the option to take a day trip from Milan and explore the best of Lake Como.
27. LAKE ORTA: Natural Italian landmarks in the Piemonte Region
Lake Orta is one of the most beautiful Italian lakes located in the north of Italy in the region of Piemonte.
Pella, a quiet village on the west shore of the lake offers a relaxing holiday, while the small town on Orta San Giulia is more touristy and busy.
While in Orta San Giulio make sure to take a boat and go to the island middle of the lake. The island is 400 meters from the Orta San Giulio’s waterfront. There are frequent ferries which cost only 3 euros 50 for a return trip to the island.
Orta San Giulia is also home to Sacro Monte di Orta, one of the world’s UNESCO heritage sites. To visit this roman catholic complex you should walk uphill from the town center for 20 minutes. When you get to the top, you will be rewarded with a great view of the lake.
PRO-TIP: This lake is one of the hidden gems in the country that many international tourists haven’t discovered yet. There are various towns and villages around the lake which can be visited for a day trip from Milan or Turin. You can also go on a 4-Day Northern Italy Tour from Milan if you want to explore this incredible Italian landmark and region.
28. LAKE GARDA: The largest lake in Italy
Lake Garda 110 miles west of Venice in northern Italy is arguably the most stunning natural Italian Landmark. There are few places across Europe that can match the beauty of the shimmering deep blue water, the surrounding verdant hillsides, and the snow-capped mountains of the Dolomite mountain range.
Combine this natural splendor with historic villages such as Sirmione and Riva del Garda and you have the perfect destination for a weekend or week-long break.
How better to spend a weekend than strolling cobbled streets, exploring centuries-old castles, and enjoying a glass of wine with a local pasta dish from a lakeside restaurant? The Lake’s efficient ferry service enables tourists to base themselves in one village and easily visit two or three others.
Lake Garda is also ideal for the more active as one of Italy’s outdoor sports capitals. As well to the obvious watersports of sailing and windsurfing the surrounding region is a haven for road and mountain bikers, hikers, and even mountaineers.
PRO-TIP: A great way to visit is to go on a cruise on Lake Garda with drinks where you can hop aboard a historical sailboat for an alternative half-day Lake Garda cruise. Relax, swim, drink wine, and soak up the enchanting landscapes.
29. MOUNT ETNA: The most recognizable natural landmark in Sicily
Mount Etna is the most recognizable landmark in Sicily, standing majestic on the Eastern part of the island. The highest active volcano in Europe has been included in Unesco’s World Heritage list. Its constant volcanic activity makes it a hazard to live close to the volcano but at the same time the soil there is rich and fertile.
Hiking around the craters is a great activity and you will have the chance to enjoy amazing views of the surrounding area all the way to the sea. Another idea is to combine hiking on Mt. Etna with a local wine tasting. There are quite a few vineyards on the slopes of Mt. Etna producing great wines.
PRO-TIP: One of the best things to do in this part of Sicily is to take a tour of Mount Etna. You can take the bus from Catania to Sapienza Refuge and then go hiking or take the cableway higher to almost 3000 meters altitude.
30. STROMBOLI VOLCANO – One of the most iconic natural Italian landmarks
One of Italy’s three active volcanoes, Mount Stromboli is also one of the most iconic natural landmarks in Italy.
Part of the Aeolian Islands off the coast of northern Sicily, Stromboli has a classic cone shape and is in many ways an archetypal volcano. Incredibly, Stromboli is in a constant state of eruption, hence why it was given the nickname ‘Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’ to describe the flashes of lava you can often spot from neighboring islands.
There are several villages on Stromboli, all with guesthouses and restaurants scattered around beautiful black-sand beaches. A day on Stromboli involves walking around the villages and shopping for skincare products made from volcanic pumice stone, before retiring for an aperitif at one of the bars overlooking the sea.
Don’t miss seeing the Sciara del Fuoco, a huge depression on one side of the volcano created by lava flow.
PRO-TIP: When night falls, you can summit the volcano on a guided hike to see the crater up close. Boots, poles, and flashlights are available to hire from the shops near the cathedral. Note that hikes may be called off if the volcano is particularly active. Alternatively, you can watch the plumes of smoke and pops of bright-red lava from the comfort of a boat stationed off-shore.
Travel Tips to visit the Italian Landmarks
You are about to see the best landmarks in Italy. Still, before we jump to these amazing destinations, it is important to highlight some must-know Italian Travel Tips to ensure that your trip to Italy is a truly magical experience:
- TIPPING IN ITALY: Italians are not big tippers, and the service is generally added to restaurant bills, but if it is not, a Euro is fine in trattorias and pizzerias, up to 10% in restaurants.
- SKIP THE LINE IN ITALY: Italy is littered with awe-inspiring landscapes and famous buildings, but in some of these places such as the Colosseum and Vatican Museum, entrance queues are the norm. You can buy your skip-the-line tickets in advance and make much better use of your time.
- BE AWARE OF THE PICKPOCKETS: While personally it never happened to me, I already saw other tourists being a victim of pickpockets in large cities. I love my Kipling bag as it is a crossbody and comes with many safe compartments.
- WATER IS FREE: Carry a portable water bottle with you or a camelback, and use the public fountains to refill your water bottle.
- PREPARE TO BEAT THE HEAT: Summer in Italy is hot! Carry hair bands, a cute hat, and good pair of sunglasses, and tons of sunscreen.
- BRING YOUR CAMERA: The Italian sights and Landmarks are incredible, so don’t forget your camera, or check some great options for great value here
- BE PREPARED TO WALK A LOT: You will have to dress comfortably for sightseeing because you will be walking a lot, practical shows are a must such as these shoes that I absolutely love.
- PACK APPROPRIATELY: Always pack less than what you think you need, as you will probably do some shopping while you’re there. If you want to get into Basilicas e churches, play it safe and cover your knees and shoulders.
A few items that can make your Milan 2 days trip safer:
I love this Anti-Theft crossbody bag is a great option to keep your cards, IDs and cell phone protected. It has slash-resistant body panels and a shoulders strap, which secures your belongs
This Backpack Anti-Theft comes with a USB charging port and with a laptop compartment, plus many compartments making it a safe and a great day pack to walk around with your belongings safe and protected. It is also a great option for a hiking daypack.
Travel Insurance for your trip
I never leave my home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. Things can go wrong, and you don’t want to get stuck paying tons of money if you get sick or have an accident without travel insurance.
World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover their trip essentials. Especially if you are like me, travel insurance is ideal for adventurous travelers. Travel smarter and safer – You can do your quick quote below and find out how little you can pay for the essential benefit of Travel Insurance for your next trip!
Italian Landmarks Conclusion
I hope this list of some of the most amazing Italian landmarks gave you some inspiration on where to start or some places you want to add to your bucket list.
If you have any questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment below and I will be happy to answer.
If you are planning a trip to Italy, here are some articles you may want to check:
- Most Beautiful Tuscany Villages & Town
- How to travel from Rome to Tuscany
- Dreamy Accommodations in Tuscany for every budget
- 20 Most Beautiful Italian Coastal Towns
- Complete Guide to the Best Hikes in Italy
- 2-days Milan Itinerary
- Lake Como 1-3 days itinerary
- Travel from Milan to Lake Como by Train
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