Looking for the absolute prettiest cities in Italy to add to your bucket list? Then look no further. From big cities, coastal towns and hidden gems, this article has everything.
I asked travel writers to contribute to this article to add their picks on prettiest places to visit while in Italy. There is a wide range of options – but all the cities are spectacularly beautiful.
Prettiest cities in Italy
Sitting just off the coast of the Sorrentine peninsula in southern Italy, the luxurious island of Capri, Italy is one of Italy’s prettiest destinations and a popular destination among European jetsetters and A-list celebrities.
Depending on the time of year, a boat trip around the island is the perfect way to explore and see the famous grottoes, including its most famous — the Grotta Azzurra, or Blue Grotto. Swimming in the sea is also an unforgettable experience.
Can it really get prettier than Venice? The city of love is one of the most well known old towns in Italy but that doesn’t mean it is any less beautiful. In fact, it only goes to show that this romantic city certainly has that wow factor which makes people flock here from all around the world.
Located in northern Italy, Venice is built across 100 small islands and has no roads! The turquoise canals which weave their way through the historic buildings are the primary form of transportation and the best way to see the most beautiful angles of this pretty town.
Colorful 800 year old buildings line the canals which are connected by detailed arched stone bridges and frequented by romantic gondolas steered by standing gondoliers. Bellissimo!
The best part about this scenic town is that the whole city is incredibly pretty. There are plenty of great places to stay in Venice and they generally all have a unique view of the town. The best time to visit Venice is during the vibrant Carnival which is held in the week before shrove Tuesday. During this time you will see people wearing intricate costumes and decadent masks whilst enjoying the festive atmosphere of the event.
Bellagio is situated at the center of the lake and offers spectacular views over the nearby lake and mountains. It’s yellow, red and white houses and charming little streets are a pleasure to visit as are the two very different gardens (belonging to Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni). Without a doubt, visiting both gardens should be on your list of things to do in Bellagio and I recommend you allocate at least a couple of hours for each.
This Italian town is the luxury destination par excellence. People have been visiting Bellagio for centuries, and what for the longest time was a destination for the wealthy, in time has become more and more accessible to the masses as well.
But even today, spending the night in Bellagio comes with a price tag. The good news, however, is that this magical town can easily be visited on a day trip from Milan.
What’s certain is that whether you decide to spend a few days here or just a few hours, you are guaranteed to spoil your senses and leave enriched by all the otherworldly beauty you’ve witnesses.
One of the prettiest places in Italy is Riomaggiore for sure! Riomaggiore is one of the villages that together form Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is an amazing area in the country of Italy! You find here a lot of beautiful things, and that’s why there are also many Instagrammable places in Cinque Terre.
Riomaggiore, specifically, is great to visit and there are several reasons for that. First of all, there are many picturesque houses in the village. The collection of these houses is wonderful to see. Also, the houses are very colorful, which together makes Riomaggiore look very happy! Another great thing about this place is that its history dates back to the 13th century.
This is incredible! Furthermore, you can find a lot of small restaurants in the main street of the place. Here you can taste delicious authentic Italian food. What’s great about Riomaggiore as well is that there are many viewpoints.
For example, there is a viewpoint near the small harbor of the village from where you can see a large part of the village! Also, you can get a view of the sea from the harbor, which is great! This small harbor is another great thing about Riomaggiore as you find here many traditional fishing boats that look very charming!
Another one of the best things to do in Riomaggiore is to go hiking to the other places of Cinque Terre. These hiking trails have beautiful views of the sea and the landscape surrounding the villages!
In southern Italy is located a hidden gem which is titled as one of the most beautiful places in that country. Castelmezzano is a mountain village with stunning nature, hiking trails, charming stone buildings, and its place for one of the top speed zip-lines in Europe.
Castelmezzano in the Basilicata region is known for its scenic views over the valley of Basento. A view from a town center looks like a postcard: clusters of colorful buildings and dolomite hills in the background. It’s a very laid-back town because it’s not so overcrowded with foreign tourists.
One of the main spots to look at Castelmezzano is the church Mother Church of Santa Maria dell Olmo, a famous landmark Gradinata Normanna, and the city center square for the best view of the town.
Castelmezzano is surrounded by beautiful nature and dolomite hills. Around the area are several hiking trails like Via Ferrata Salemm and Seven Stone Path. Through hike trails, you can also visit the beautiful neighboring village Pietrapertosa.
Probably the most thrilling activity in Castelmezzano is its high speed zip line Volo’dell Angelo. It’s one of the fastest ones in Europe, where speeds reach up to 120 km/h. It starts from the Castelmezzano with one zip line to the neighboring village Pietrapertosa and with another zip line it takes you back to the starting town.
Especially in the age of Instagram, Cinque Terre has become an integral part of visiting Italy. While most travelers will visit all five Cinque Terre villages, those with less time might find themselves asking, “Which Cinque Terre village is the prettiest?” Though the answer is most definitely up for debate, Manarola makes a very strong contender.
Manarola is the second-to-last Cinque Terre village, sitting in between Corniglia to its north and Riomaggiore to its south. It used to be connected to both these villages by the famous Sentiero Azzurro, or Blue Trail, which once connected all five villages. The most famous part of this trail was the Sentiero dell’Amore, or Path of Love — an easy, flat path along the water between Manarola and Riomaggiore.
Unfortunately, due to landslides, the portion of the Sentiero Azzurro surrounding Manarola, including the Sentiero dell’Amore, has been closed while under reconstruction for almost a decade. But fortunately, there are other trails available from which to arrive in Manarola, namely the path from Corniglia through Volastra, which passes through picturesque vineyards and provides unbelievable panoramic views.
Once in Manarola, spend some time wandering in and out of cute shops while soaking in the ambiance. Take a dip in the ocean if you fancy, or simply watch from a distance as others take their turns jumping from the cliffs. Regardless how you spend your day, be sure to stick around until sunset, which is when Manarola truly shines.
What you can’t miss when visiting Rome is of course the Forum Romanum and Colosseum where you get to know everything about the ancient Romans. Don’t also forget to enter Vatican City and admire the stunning paintings in the Sistine Chapel and the beauty of the St Peter’s Basilica.
If you want to go out for a drink or need to find a good restaurant, the neighborhood Trastevere is the place to be!
What makes Rome so unique is the combination of art, architecture and history which is a combination not often found in a city. Rome is definitely a place everyone should have visited at least once in their lives!
Riva del Garda
Riva del Garda (more often known as just Riva) is at the northern tip of Lake Garda, wedged between the water and the beginnings of the Italian Alps. The setting is absolutely stunning; grey cliffs at either side, a picturesque center full of historic buildings and a beautiful lakeside promenade, perfect for relaxing.
A trip to Riva means embracing a more serene pace of life, governed only by the schedule of the ferries that take you to other parts of the lake during the day, and in the evening, by aperitivo time.
This part of Italy was often fought over by rival powers, and like many of the towns around Lake Garda, Riva has a castle to protect it, known today as the Rocca di Riva and home to the town museum. Riva’s other standout landmark, the Torre Apponale clock tower, was originally part of a medieval fortress and was first mentioned in 1273.
The lake around Riva is a popular spot for windsurfing and stand up paddle boarding, while you can also go rock climbing, mountain biking and paragliding nearby.
This part of Italy is heaven for walkers, with routes for all abilities. If ferry-hopping around the lake is more your style, you can easily take day trips to other beautiful towns on Lake Garda like Sirmione with its romantic castle, thermal spas and Roman ruins, or Malcesine with its cable car up Monte Baldo.
Helen on her Holidays
Taormina belongs to the prettiest cities in Sicily and the whole of Italy. It offers the most perfect blend of ancient architecture and beautiful seaside.
Most visitors entering Taormina’s Old Town gates head first to the Ancient Greek Theater, a stunning amphitheater built by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC and later modified by the Romans. It’s quite well preserved and offers the most fascinating views of the Ionian Sea down below. Nearby Mount Etna often peeks through the clouds too!
The main walking street of Taormina – Corso Umberto – is lined with pretty houses and you can count on quite a few beautiful stone churches. Walk at least to Piazza IX Aprile to see most of them, or even further until the Porta Catania.
A scenic cable car ride down the hill then takes you to Taormina’s beaches. There are a few of them, but the prettiest one is inarguably Isola Bella.
It features a little islet of the same name that you can walk to when the tide is low. The little island is a protected nature reserve so a small fee is collected. From there, you can admire the views of Taormina’s seashore and the hillside rising above.
Referred to as the “Crown Jewel of the Italian Amalfi Coast.” And .. with good reason. This picturesque town fills with tourists each year because of how breathtakingly beautiful it is.
One of the main attractions, aside from the towering beautiful architecture, is the beaches. Unlike other beaches with perfect sand, the beaches here are ground with pebbles. Spiaggia Grande Beach is the most notable place in Positano and recognizable in any photo of the area.
Aside from the beaches, you can walk the beautiful city, eat your weight in Italian food (like seafood risotto, eggplant parmesan and pasta, of course), go shopping, visit the museums, boat on the Mediterranean or just leisurely enjoy your stay in Positano.
The Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy is famed for its beautiful architecture. Although many compete for the title, one of the prettiest cities is Ravenna.
Just an hour’s train journey south of Bologna, Ravenna is less crowded, and easier to walk around, but still packed with history and culture. The city’s terracotta and ochre buildings open out onto picturesque piazzas filled with coffee shops, boutiques and restaurants.
Ravenna, however, is not just a pretty place filled with shops, it is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage sites.
While the outsides of the buildings are beautiful, the insides of many of the notable buildings are stunning. Ravenna’s buildings are filled with intricate mosaics, many dating back to the Byzantine and Roman Empires of the 5th and 6th Century.
Look out for the octagonal Battistero Neonaino, or Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo with its arches and mosaic ceiling or the frescos and mosaics of Basilica di San Vitale dating back to 525AD. Each one is awe inspiring.
Ravenna is not just full of religious buildings. The tomb of one of Italy’s most famous poet and authors, Dante Alighieri is in the city. Despite being born in Florence, Dante chose to live in Ravenna and his tomb in Via Dante Alighieri.
The Marina di Ravenna is also worth a visit. White sandy beaches and the oldest seaside resort on the Adriatic. It also has some of the finest seafood restaurants.
The Silver Nomad
Verona is undoubtedly one of the prettiest cities in Italy. Featuring gorgeous architecture and a rich history, fair Verona served as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The city does exude romance everywhere you go, so be prepared to be enchanted when you visit.
The historic center of Verona is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the best things to do in Verona are located in this walkable heart of the city.
Here you will find the gorgeous Arena, Verona’s Roman amphitheater that is still a venue for concerts and shows. Verona’s many churches offer beautiful frescoes to admire, and its plazas are lively places to wander.
Of course you have to stand at Juliet’s balcony when you visit Verona! But everywhere you go in the historic core, you will see many pretty balconies in Verona.
Verona is built on both sides of the Adige River, and the pretty Ponte Pietra is a great place from which to admire the beautiful buildings on either side. You can also take the funicular to the courtyard of the hilltop Castello San Pietro, for panoramas of the city’s red rooftops. It’s a beautiful place to visit in the evening, to watch the lights come on.
Verona is also known for its food and wine, so bring your appetite when you visit. Risotto all’amarone is a striking fuschia color and features the famous local wine.
Not About the Miles
With a mild coastal climate, all-night parties, a 15km long sandy beach and picturesque landscapes, Rimini is the most popular resort in Emilia-Romagna. However, this charming beach town is also home to important historic sites more than 2000 years old.
The symbol of Rimini is the Bridge of Tiberius, one of the most beautiful and oldest Roman bridges in the world. But this is not the only artifact that connects Rimini to the Romans.
Other remains from that period are: The Arch of Augustus, The Roman Amphitheatre, The surgeon’s house or Piazza Tre Martiri. The golden medieval era also left its traces around the city. Some medieval must see sights in Rimini are Castle Sismondo, The Malatesta Temple and Piazza Cavour, the heart of the city.
Borgo San Giuliano, a charming district just outside the walls of the old city, is still overlooked by most of the tourists. Its colorful houses stand along winding cobbled alleys. As a tribute to Federico Fellini, who was born in Rimini, the walls are adorned with scenes from his movies.
As part of Emilia-Romagna, Rimini inherits a rich culinary tradition, to which it adds its own character, marked by the flavors of the sea. Some of the most popular dishes are handmade pastas with white truffles, porchetta rabbit and, of course, a fresh seafood grill. All of them and more can be found at Osteria de Borg.
Rimini is accessible by plane, with Federico Fellini International Airport just 5.2 kilometers away. It also has good bus and train connections with Bologna and other Italian cities. The city is a great starting point for several day-trips, including one to San Marino, a splendid European microstate.
Travel with a Spin
Palermo is a truly gorgeous city and a must see on any trip to Sicily. Nested on the northern most coast, the capital of Sicily is a coastal city, where historic buildings meet the turquoise waters edge.
Palermo has long been known as a melting pot of cultures, where west meets east, with a good dose of Arabic inspired architecture thrown in. Elegant Renaissance buildings jostle with colorful Byzantine decor and the churches are simply sublime, filled with intricate Baroque art and heavily spiritual.
Just one of the stand out attractions is the re-built 12th century Cathedral of Palermo, that stands on what was the site of a mosque. The building is a unique blend of medieval and gothic architecture alongside the distinctive symmetry and tile-work of the Moors, and internal neoclassical decor which will take your breath away as you step inside.
Second only to the cathedral is the Palace of the Normans, home to kings of Sicily throughout the rule of the Normans and all rulers since. The highlight of this imposing building is the Palatine Chapel, considered one of the finest of the Arab-Norman chapels, with stunning Byzantine mosaics and rich Arab-inspired details in the inlaid stone floor and the detailed ceiling.
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