What are the most beautiful places in Italy? You voted for the loveliest Italian cities, unmissable towns and lovely regions and we created the definitive list of Italy's top 10 best places to visit. Now take a look at what to see and do and where to stay, according to the Italy experts at Rough Guides.
1. Florence for its artists' grandeur
Nestled in the heart of Tuscany, Florence is a city that exudes elegance and artistic grandeur. From the magnificent Duomo and the iconic Ponte Vecchio to the world-famous Uffizi Gallery, every corner of Florence is a feast for the eyes and a testament to the Renaissance period. It is also home to celebrated museums, historic markets and magnificent gardens.
- For easy sightseeing: An easy walk from the Uffizi and Ponte Vecchio, five-star NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa is a good central choice for sightseeing. But if you want to wake up to views of the Arno choose a riverside room at Pontevecchio Relais in the heart of Florence.
- For family holidays: Family-run Hotel Nizza might be two-star but it doesn't feel like a budget choice. All rooms are cosy, well-furnished and en-suite. The staff are helpful and its central Santa Maria Novella location makes for easy city.
Where to stay in Florence
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2. San Gimignano for stunning medieval towers
Tuscany is famous for beautiful hill towns but few are quite as stunning as San Gimignano. Here a dramatic skyline of medieval towers gazes out over the gorgeous, rolling Tuscan countryside. Strolling through its cobbled streets, visitors are transported back in time, surrounded by ancient architecture and the charming Tuscan countryside.
Discover the town's historic centre with its winding backstreets and honey-coloured buildings, as well as frescoed churches and grand gothic palazzi.
- For easy sightseeing: Stay at romantic 11th century Leon Bianco on Piazza della Cisterna in the heart of San Gimignano. Or enjoy the countryside at Hotel Casolare Le Terre Rosse on the ancient pilgrim route of Via Francigena just outside San Gimignano.
- For local heritage: If immersing yourself in San Gimignano's heritage is the dream, then L'Antico Pozzo in the town centre will suit you perfectly. Here you can look forward to four-poster beds and high ceilings in a tastefully restored Palazzo, parts of which date back to the Middle Ages,
- For boutique stays: Leon Bianco sits right on the main square so its rooms are ideal for people watching. Originally a 14th-century mansion, but now with a lovely roof terrace, it's a good choice for a boutique hotel vibe cut through with historic charm.
Where to stay near San Gimignano
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3. Tuscany: for stunning vineyards
The idea of Tuscany as an idyll of olive groves, vineyards, hill towns and frescoed churches may be clichéd, but it is largely true. Late medieval Tuscany was the birthplace of Italian culture and in many ways remains the essence of what travellers imagine Italy to be.
Ask a sample of middle-class Northern Europeans to define their idea of paradise and the odds are that a hefty percentage will come up with something that sounds a lot like Chianti. Life in Chianti seems in perfect balance: the landscape is a softly varied terrain of hills and valleys; the climate for most of the year is sunny; and on top of all this there’s the wine, the one Italian vintage that’s familiar to just about everyone.
One of the best ways to explore the true wonders of Tuscany, is visiting one of the many vineyards. Some of the top wineries are:
- Azienda Agricola Malenchini
- Azienda Agricola Villanoviana
- Camigliano Castle
If you like wine tasting, check WineTourism, where you can directly book the best wine tasting experiences.
4. Lake Garda — one of the most beautiful places in Italy to sail
Lake Garda is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Italy. It's home to the country's largest lake, encircled by dramatic mountains. It is not only a visual delight but also a haven for water sports enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Sailing across Lake Garda offers a breathtaking experience with its tranquil beauty. Taking a day trip here is one of the best things to do when visiting Milan.
- For boutique stays: Handsome Villa Sostago is a wonderful boutique hotel in the hills just above Gorgnano. The rooms are lovely, the grounds spacious and there's even a pool and an excellent restaurant. But the remarkable lake views are what really sets Sostago apart.
- For lakeside views: Almost as well known for its restaurant as its cosy rooms and welcoming atmosphere, Hotel Monte Baldo hugs the lakeside in Limone Sul Garda. All rooms are en-suite and the staff couldn't be more friendly and helpful.
Where to stay near Lake Garda
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5. Positano one of Italy's iconic picturesque villages
Positano is a hillside town on the Amalfi Coast that is instantly recognisable for its pastel-coloured houses that tumble down the hillside and hug the waterfront. This charming village offers magnificent coastal views, inviting beaches, and winding streets lined with quaint shops and restaurants.
The picturesque beauty of Positano has attracted artists and writers for centuries, who have been inspired by its enchanting atmosphere and breathtaking vistas. It is a place where one can unwind, soak up the sun, and indulge in the delights of Italian coastal living.
- For beaches: Hotel Pupetto sits on Furnillo Beach and offers direct access to the sands. Book a room with a sea view if you can. But if not, the hotel also has a wonderful, sunny terrace overlooking the Mediterranean.
- For vintage Positano: For a terrace of your own and views to match, Buca di Bacco is vintage Positano. Set on Spiaggia Grande, the town's main beach, the hotel also offers more modest rooms, still charming, but without private terraces.
- For great views: Hotel Palazzo Murat is in the heart of Positano, yet only a few minutes from beaches. The hotel pool has great views over the town rooftops and most of the good-sized, well-equipped rooms are in the Palazzo's modern extension.
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6. Puglia — or the Florence of the South
Located in the sunny south of Italy, Puglia is a region blessed with a diverse landscape. It is best known for its white sand beaches, secret coves, clear seas and quaint architecture. Puglia is a hidden gem that captivates visitors with its rustic charm and unspoiled beauty.
Affectionately known as the "Florence of the South", this lesser-known region maintains an undiscovered quality that gives the area a charming quality. While here, discover the area's famous olive oil and dazzling historic towns.
- For olive groves: Masseria Il Frantoio just outside Ostuni, is a traditional farmhouse surrounded by olive groves. Meals are created from the estate produce and room rates include access to several lidos on local beaches.
- For beaches: Hotel Seggio is located in the heart of Old Town Vieste. Here you get the choice of relaxing by the pool or its private beach and its own lagoon. This is a fantastic place to stay for sea views.
Where to stay in Puglia
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Off the coast of Naples, the enchanting island of Capri captivates visitors with its rugged cliffs, hidden grottoes, and breathtaking views. This island is easily one of the most beautiful places in Italy.
Once beloved by Emperor Tiberius, today its mix of ancient monuments, pretty towns and beaches inspires a similar passion in the hordes of celebrities who descend here each summer. The island's natural beauty is exemplified by the famous Faraglioni rock formations and the striking Blue Grotto, a sea cave illuminated by an ethereal blue light.
Whether exploring the charming town of Anacapri, strolling through the vibrant Piazzetta, or basking in the beauty of the island's stunning vistas, Capri is a true Mediterranean paradise that leaves a lasting impression.
- For sea views: If you want spectacular Mediterranean views and rooms with terraces and balconies stay at historic Capri Tiberio Palace.
- For peaceful stays: Choose peaceful Villa Silia for its pretty garden and sea views, minutes from Capri Town and the Blue Grotto.
- For a stay at an iconic hotel: Villa Eva in Anacapri has almost cult status on the island. Stay here for light and spacious rooms, individually designed and scattered around the leafy, green hotel gardens. Another much-loved feature is the grand piano-shaped swimming pool.
Where to stay on Capri
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8. Venice — Italy's "Floating City"
Venice, often referred to as the "Floating City," is an enchanting destination in northern Italy that holds a special place in the hearts of travellers. Built on a lagoon and crisscrossed by a network of canals, Venice is a unique city where gondolas glide gracefully along the waterways and ornate palaces rise majestically from the shores.
From the iconic St. Mark's Square with its stunning Basilica to the romantic Rialto Bridge, Venice exudes a timeless charm that is hard to resist. Exploring its narrow alleyways, visiting the art-filled churches, and experiencing Venetian cuisine are all part of the magical allure of this extraordinary city.
- For a stay with a view: Hotel Ai do Mori is just a few steps from the square. It's one of the most expensive one-star hotels in Venice, but considerably cheaper than any other hotels in this area, and several rooms have spectacular views.
- For San Marco: Rosa Salva is a well-designed, but not too expensive, hotel in the city centre. Rooms are spacious and decorated in soft metallic tones, natural wood and leather. Soundproofed windows are an added attraction in the busy San Marco area.
Where to stay in Venice
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9. The legendary villages of Cinque Terre
Discover the five fishing villages which make up Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. Perched precariously on cliffs overlooking the turquoise waters of the Ligurian Sea, these villages offer a picturesque and unforgettable experience. Here you'll find a mix of pastel houses, tiny harbours and dramatic seascapes. This is truly a postcard-perfect destination and one of the most beautiful places in Italy.
Those in the know tend to avoid driving Cinque Terre's narrow, crowded roads. Walking is the preferred option and you'll find scenic hiking routes networked around each of the villages.
- For quiet luxury: Understated luxury is a Cinque Terre signature, so indulge in some of that with a stay at La Torretta Lodge in Manarola.
- For sea views: Alternatively make your trip all about the sea and book a room with a view at Hotel Due Gemelli in Riomaggiore.
- For indulgent stays: Hotel Porto Roca is the place to stay in Monterosso, if you aren't on a budget. It's the village's top hotel and overlooks both beaches and hills, offers beautifully decorated rooms with stunning views and also has a gorgeous infinity pool.
- For family stays: La Scogliera in Riomaggiore offers two well-equipped apartments and sits right on the waterfront and close to the train station. A good choice for families, the apartments face the sea and have views of local cliffs which are popular with divers during summer.
Where to stay
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10. The romantic city of Verona
Verona, a city steeped in history and romance, is another Italian gem that captivates all who visit. Known as the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Verona offers a blend of ancient Roman architecture and medieval charm.
The well-preserved Roman amphitheatre, Arena di Verona, hosts spectacular operatic performances, while the beautiful Piazza delle Erbe invites visitors to explore its vibrant market square. With its cobblestone streets, elegant palaces, and relaxed atmosphere, Verona is easily one of the most beautiful places in Italy.
- For romantic stays: Indulge yourself in the sheer romance of Verona with a stay at the evocatively named Lady Capulet Apartments.
- For music lovers: Welcoming Torcolo is a two-star hotel within 100m of the Arena, just off Piazza Brà. It has been run by the same two sisters for more than 30 years and is a firm favourite with music lovers during Verona's opera season.
- For five-star luxury: Due Torri is Verona's best known five-star hotel. All supremely comfortable bedrooms are lavishly decorated in 19th century Imperial style with opulent, pink Veronese marble bathrooms. And the church of Sant'Anastasia is right next door.
Where to stay
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The lovely southern town of Sorrento sits on a clifftop above the Bay of Naples. A vintage seaside resort with a long summer season, it's known as a captivating town that boasts stunning vistas, fragrant citrus groves, and a charming old town.
While here, enjoy panoramic views of Mount Vesuvius, indulge in the region's famous limoncello liqueur, or take a boat trip to the nearby islands of Capri and Ischia. Sorrento's idyllic location and Mediterranean charm make it a perfect base for exploring the Amalfi Coast and the historic ruins of Pompeii.
- For great views: To make the most of the views in Sorrento, think about staying at clifftop Grand Hotel de la Ville.
- For peaceful stays: Hotel Bristol has remarkable views over the Bay of Naples from its rooftop pool and bar. The hotel's upper rooms are most peaceful and some feature their own private jacuzzi.
- For boutique stays: Maison La Minervetta is Sorrento's top boutique hotel. Perched on the cliff overlooking Marina Grande it has a lovely lounge terrace with sea views. The rooms are gorgeous and the grounds contain a plunge pool and jacuzzi.
Where to stay
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Prefer to leave planning and booking to experts? Have a look at some sample itineraries. Both Complete Italy or Italy Itineraries offer inspiration. All Tailor Made Trips can be modified together with your local expert, then booked for a stress-free holiday.
This list could truly go on. There are countless beautiful places in Italy. Ready to start planning your trip? Check out the Rough Guide to Italy.
If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Italy without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.
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