Is there anywhere in the world as easy on the eye as Italy? From art-filled cities to heart-stopping coastlines and gorgeous landscapes, you could criss-cross the country at random and come across thousands of stunning sights. Here’s our list of Italy’s most beautiful places – as voted by you.
This Renaissance beauty Florence has it all. For starters, there’s the glorious architecture – who could resist the cheerful pink-and-green facade and famous cupola of the Duomo, the photogenic Piazza della Signoria with its statement statuary, and the Ponte Vecchio’s jumble of shops spanning the river Arno? For most, though, Florence’s biggest draw is its staggering hoard of world-class paintings, frescoes and sculptures: according to UNESCO, 30 percent of the world’s most important works of art can be found here. With so many beautiful museums to choose from, make sure you're not spending time waiting in line but instead book skip-the-line tickets ahead of time, for example for the Leonardo Interactive Museum.
Best for central location: NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa
Best for staying just outside the city: Hotel Mulino Di Firenze
Tuscany has no shortage of winsome hill-towns but San Gimignano stands tall above the rest for its distinctive skyline, bristling with medieval towers, and its remarkably intact historic centre, a gorgeous assemblage of honey-coloured stone buildings. Its winding backstreets hold frescoed churches and Gothic palazzi, and beyond the city walls on all sides, the hills are blanketed with vineyards and olive groves. Explore the vineyards on a private walk and tasting lunch.
Best for location to historic centre: Leon Bianco
Best for staying just outside the city: Hotel Casolare Le Terre Rosse
With a more down-to-earth feel than glitzy Como, but with plenty of class, Lake Garda is the largest of Italy’s spectacular lakes. Rugged mountains encircle its deep blue waters, with boats zipping between the pretty towns that hug the shore. You could base yourself here for a week or more – choose between luxury spas and faded waterside hotels – or day-trip it from Milan. Whatever you do, make time for a Spritz overlooking the lake, preferably at sunset. Or take a cruise out on the lake and enjoy an afternoon sipping Prosecco and nibbling pizza.
Best for historical location: Hotel Eden Sirmione
Best for a little luxury: Du Lac et Du Parc Grand Resort
The Amalfi Coast is wildly beautiful, and the few towns strung along its length are ideal vantage points for taking in the coast’s dazzling ensemble of craggy cliffs, lush forests and dramatic seascapes. Chichi Positano, a dramatic huddle of pastel-coloured houses tumbling down to the sea, is the pick of the towns. Its centre is a warren of stepped lanes framed by pink bougainvillea and lined with smart boutiques. You can visit as a day trip from Naples or base yourself in town for a few days. When staying longer, don't forget to take a walk along the Paths of the Gods, overlooking Positano.
Best for style on a budget: Hotel Savoia Positano
Best for a little luxury: Hotel Villa Franca Positano
With its crystalline seas, white-sand beaches and hidden rocky coves, Puglia is many Italians’ favourite place to soak up the sun in the summer months. Its interior is just as beautiful, with wooded hills, wildlife-rich lakes, and endless olive groves: the region produces around 40 percent of Italy’s olive oil. There's so many things to do, but highlights include street food tours in Lecce and sailing trips along the coast.
Best for visiting Gallipoli: Palazzo Mosco Inn - Dimora Storica
Best for visiting Bari: Palazzo Calo
The legendary island of Capri, beloved of the emperor Tiberius, any number of artists and writers in search of inspiration, and legions of modern-day celebrities, has star appeal in spades. Away from its twin centres, Capri Town and Anacapri – bursting with designer boutiques and chic cafés – picturesque lanes wind past Roman ruins and grand villas, with staggering views over the deep blue Mediterranean. If you want to discover all that the deep blue Mediterranean has to offer like the many Grottos of the coast, make sure to book your priority boat tour tickets ahead of time.
Best for staggering views of the Mediterranean: Capri Tiberio Palace
Best for central location: Villa Silia
No one forgets their first glimpse of Venice. However many times you’ve seen it in pictures, you can’t prepare yourself for the sight of a city of stately marble palazzi sitting pretty atop a dazzling green lagoon. Mesmerizing in sunshine, moodily atmospheric when wreathed in mist, colourful at Carnevale, unforgettable when it floods: Venice is never anything short of a knockout. For those of you who think they have seen it all, join one of the walking tours where you will discover the most unusual and hidden places Venice has to offer - book ahead to secure your spot.
Best for great central location: Hotel Papadopoli Venezia - MGallery by Sofitel
Best for boutique style on a budget: Maison Venezia UNA Esperienze
These five fishing villages of Cinque Terre, wedged into steeply terraced cliffs along a stretch of craggy coastline on the Italian Riviera, take the top spot for the unvarnished beauty of their pastel-painted houses and diminutive harbours filled with fishing boats. The hiking trails that thread between the villages are some of the world’s most scenic, taking you past vineyards and olive groves, with dramatic seascapes at every turn. Consider taking a guided hike to learn more about the surroundings.
Best for a little luxury: La Torretta Lodge
Best for style on a budget: Cinqueterre Residence
Despite Verona’s spurious Shakespeare connections – Juliet’s much-visited balcony is a twentieth-century fabrication – there’s plenty to love about this city. It’s chock-full of Roman ruins, not least the legendary Arena, the hulking amphitheatre in the centre of town that puts on summer opera performances under the stars; and its historic piazzas and buzzing thoroughfares are ideal for people-watching with the obligatory gelato in hand. And if that leaves you craving for more, take a gelato making workshop to learn all about the secrets of Italian ice cream and be able to make it at home.
Best for a little luxury: Hotel Accademia Verona
Best for a a little historical romance: Lady Capulet Apartments
Unashamedly a holiday resort, Sorrento enjoys a privileged perch on the Bay of Naples’ lofty southern peninsula, as well as a gloriously long summer season. Its labyrinthine historic centre holds plenty of Baroque and Renaissance buildings, and its hub, Piazza Tasso, is a fun place for an aperitivo. For a touch of indulgence, head to one of the glamorous clifftop hotels’ terrace bars: the perfect vantage point to take in that view.
Best for views from the clifftops: Grand Hotel de la Ville Sorrento
Best for a little luxury: Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria