33 Most famous landmarks in Italy

In 2019 Italy received about 65 million tourists, making it the 5th most popular destination in the world, only behind France, Spain, the USA, and China. The number and diversity of landmarks in Italy are one of the main reasons for its worldwide popularity. There are famous landmarks and lesser-known ones, there are natural landmarks and human-made landmarks, and there are religious and non-religious… there’s something for everyone in Italy.

In this article, we will explore the most famous landmarks in Italy, both natural and human-made. From the Uffizi Galeries and Fontana de Trevi to the Vesuvius! Yet, Italy is so packed with popular monuments, historical buildings, and lovely natural areas, that’s almost impossible to mention them all in a single post.

We have visited Italy several times and know the country well. Still, to elaborate a comprehensive we have invited a few fellow bloggers to contribute with some of their favorite landmarks in Italy.

Famous landmarks Italy – Rome

Fontana di Trevi

By Paulina from Ukeveryday

If you are looking for the most popular fountain in the world and the largest Baroque fountain in Rome, visit Fontana di Trevi. It is located in Trevi district and it attracts many visitors every year. This masterpiece was designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi. However, many other artists including Giuseppe Pannini have worked on this beautiful landmark of Italy.

It is relatively easy to find Fontana di Trevi in Rome. There are plenty of bus stops near this iconic fountain from the 18th century. A few of them include: Corso, L.Go Chigi or Tritone/Fontana Di Trevi. It takes just a few minutes to walk to Piazza di Trevi, where the fountain is located.

Fontana di Trevi is a perfect place to visit during riposo, which is equivalent to the Spanish Siesta. When some of the shops, churches, and museums close you can still enjoy exploring the Eternal City of Rome. This is one of the most beautiful attractions in Italy and it is also free to visit.

Fontana di Trevi is one of the places in Rome where you can also help charity. Many visitors throw the coins over their shoulders to the fountain. According to legend, this will guarantee you returning to Rome. Every evening, coins are collected and donated to one of the charities.

Fontana di Trevi at night
Fontana di Trevi, one of the most beautiful landmarks in Rome Italy

Spanish Steps

By Kenny Chow from Knycx Journeying

There is one other place in Rome that’s frequently visited and photographed by visitors and it’s the Spanish Steps. If you are on a walking tour in Rome, it is easy to find the landmark because it’s located between the Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, within walking distance from other famous Roman Landmarks like the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, or Piazza del Popolo. 

The steps were built between 1723 and 1725, and it got famous not only because it is beautifully designed, but also it had a deep connection to many artists, painters, and poets who seek their inspiration and muse right here. The steps connect the two Piazza with Trinità dei Monti at the top, to the Fountain of the Boat at the bottom. 

Spanish Steps is an open space that welcomes visitors for free. Many visitors come here every day to just sit down, enjoy a gelato, take in the atmosphere, and enjoy the breathtaking view of Rome at the top of the steps. Not many of them would know that in 1986, protests broke out when the fast-food chain Mcdonald’s opened their first restaurant in Rome right here and faced an instant protest as it was viewed that the restaurant had ruined the beauty and elegance of this attraction. The protests led to an international Slow Food movement three years later.

Fountain at the Spanish steps
Beautiful landmarks in Italy

Villa d’Este

By Laura from Laura the Explorer

Villa d’Este, located in the town of Tivoli in greater Rome, is a 16th-century villa most famous for its Italian Renaissance gardens that feature an incredible system of fountains. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este and designed by renowned papal architect Pirro Ligorio, with construction starting in 1560.

Explore the frescoes, apartments, and vialone of the villa, which after many years in the Este family, went into decline until being restored by Cardinal Gustav von Hohenlohe in the 19th century. The villa attracted many famous artists, writers, and musicians, before becoming the museum it is today.

From here, head outside to the terraced garden and walk amongst the spectacular series of fifty-something fountains, all of which are fed by an extensive network of canals diverted from a nearby river, with the hundreds of spouts, jets, and waterfalls all powered purely by gravity. One of the most iconic features of the villa is the Fountain of the Organ, a beautiful structure that contains a world-first water-powered organ mechanism to produce musical performances.

These beautiful gardens and fountains have inspired and influenced garden design across Europe. The easiest way to reach the villa is via train from either Rome’s Tiburtina or Termini Stations to Tivoli Station (the trip takes about an hour). From here, it’s either a 15min (1km) walk up to the villa, or you can catch a local CAT bus line 1 or 4 to Piazza Garibaldi.

The beautiful Villa D'Este, one of the most famous Italian landmarks
Famous landmarks in Italy

Altare Della Patria

By Ophelie from Limitless Secrets

Altare Della Patria is one of the most famous landmarks in Rome, Italy. It was built at the end of the 19th century and inaugurated in 1911 as a tribute to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king after Italy’s unification. It’s also called the Victor Emmanuel II National Monument, or Vittoriano.

Located on Piazza Venezia near the Capitoline Hill in Rome, you cannot miss its impressive structure of 135 m (443 ft) wide, 130 m (427 ft) deep, and 70 m (230 ft) high! The architecture of Altare Della Patria is a neoclassical interpretation of the Roman Forum. It offers an agora on three levels, a big staircase, and a portico with Corinthian columns. At the top in the center, you will find an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel. Its spectacular proportions and style are so stunning that it’s one of the best photo spots in Rome!

Since 1921, an altar of the goddess Rome and the Tomb of the Italian Unknown Soldier has been set up inside the Victor Emmanuel Monument.

You can visit the Altare Della Patria every day for 12 euros. Once you reach the top of the monument, you will be able to enjoy an amazing panoramic view of Rome!

Altare Della Patria
Italy famous landmarks – Altare Della Patria

Forum Romanum

By Džangir Kolar from Dr Jam Travels

Forum Romanum is an archeological site in the city of Rome. It is rectangular flat land located between two hills, Capitolium and Palatium, covering an area of 2 ha (4.9 acres). It was a central square in Ancient Rome.

Here you can find layers of remains from different periods. In the 7th and 6th century BC, under the Roman Kingdom, it was drained from a swamp, laid pavement, and served as a marketplace.

Later there was built Comituium-meeting place, the first temples and king’s place. In Republic time, for the next 5 centuries, numerous temples were built (Saturn, Concord, …) and the Forum gained in importance as a political spot. In the Imperial era, it gradually lost importance. Still, it got new additions like Arch of Augustus and Basilica of Maxentius.

In medieval times it crumbled to ruins and in Renaissance, marble was scavenged from Forum. Later interest in this part of Rome increased and became an inspiration for many artists and architects.

You can visit Forum Romanum daily from 09:30 AM to 07:15 PM and the last admission is one hour prior to closing time. Best value tickets are those that include also Colosseum and Palatin hill. Take yourself one day and enjoy these 3 attractions. The ticket price starts at 21 €. The high season is April to September, but off-season can be an even better choice as it has fewer crowds.

Forum Romanum
Impressive Roman Landmark

Pantheon

By Lisa from Travel Connect Experience

The Pantheon is one of the most architecturally stunning buildings of ancient Rome and also the best preserved. Emperor Hadrian had it built in about 120 AD, on the foundations of a pre-existing temple. The structure consists of a rectangular pronaos adorned with 16 massive granite columns that introduce the only room that has instead a round plan.

  • The architecture of the monument has three special characteristics:
  • the distance from the floor to the top of the dome is identical to the diameter (the room could contain a sphere);
  • the only window is the oculus, a round opening in the center of the dome;
  • the dome is made as a mold, filled with at least seven castings of different building materials

In terms of width, the dome is second only to that of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. The building, consecrated by Hadrian to “all the gods” (pan-theon), was converted into a Christian church in the 7th century.

The Pantheon is the most interesting monument to visit in Rome for free. Inside there are the tombs of the first two kings of Italy and the painter Raphael Sanzio. The niches on the walls had to accommodate the statues of Roman deities, now lost. The Pantheon is located in the historic center of Rome, which is a UNESCO site. You can reach it on foot from the Piazza di Spagna or Colosseo metro stations.

The Pantheon is of the most famous landmarks in Rome italy

Colosseum

By Emma Morrell from Wanderlust and Wet Wipes

Making up part of the UNESCO-recognised historic center of Rome, the Colosseum was built under the Flavian emperors of the Roman Empire between A.D. 70 and 72.

Found right in the middle of the city near other famous Italian landmarks in Rome such as the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the Pantheon, this stunning, world-renowned structure is one of the top things to do in Rome.

This enormous four-story oval ruin was once an amphitheater that held popular events such as gladiator battles, chariot races, executions, mock battles, and processions. Much of the damage that can be seen today was caused during the great earthquake of 1349 but it is still possible to visit much of the building including standing on the top tier, walking through the underground tunnels, and standing on the arena floor.

It is a truly humbling experience to literally stand where other people stood so many centuries before. Its proximity to so many other ruin and places of interest make it incredibly easy to include as part of any trip to Rome.

Rome Colosseum
The Colosseum in Rome is the most famous landmark in Italy

Famous Italian Landmarks – Veneto

St Mark’s Square, Venice

By Mayuri from ToSomePlaceNew

Venice is a city in northeastern Italy famous for its canals and gondolas. The most famous square in Venice is St. Mark’s Square or San Marco Piazza, which is located in the center of the city. This Italian landmark is a must add to your itinerary, even you only have one day in Venice.

The square is named after St. Mark the Evangelist, who is the patron saint of Venice. The square is a popular tourist destination and is home to several landmarks, including the Basilica of San Marco, the Doge’s Palace, and the Campanile di San Marco.

The Basilica of San Marco is a Venetian church that can be traced back to 829 (consecrated in 832). The church is famous for its Byzantine architecture and for its gold mosaics. 

The Doge’s Palace is a palace located in St. Mark’s Square that was once the residence of the Doge (administrator) of Venice. The Campanile di San Marco is a tower located in St. Mark’s Square, which offers mesmerizing views of the square and of the Riva promenade! 

These iconic structures make the square an important religious and historical landmark. It has a history that is reflected in the time when Venetian crusaders brought back shiploads of treasures to the city!

St Mark's Square in Venice

Bridge of Sighs, Venice

By Claire from Tales of a Backpacker

The Bridge of Sighs is an important landmark in Venice, close to St Mark’s Square, and one of the most popular free things to do in Venice.  It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Venice and it was built in 1600 over the Rio di Palazzo behind the Doge’s Palace.

The bridge connects the prison with interrogation rooms in the Palace and was given its name supposedly because this was the last breath of fresh air that prisoners had before heading to prison, or that the prisoners would sigh at their last view of beautiful Venice from the bridge.

In reality, from inside the enclosed bridge, the prisoners wouldn’t have seen much through the small barred windows on the bridge – so perhaps fresh air instead of views would be more likely to elicit a sigh from the poor souls! You can cross over the Bridge of Sighs and see for yourself if you buy tickets for the Doge’s Palace.

These days, the Ponte dei Sospiri (as it is in Italian) is a tourist attraction, with visitors to Venice lining up on the adjacent bridge – the Ponte della Paglia – to take photographs as gondoliers steer their boats underneath the pretty white stone bridge. 

Bridge of Sighs in Venice
Venice Landmarks Italy – Bridge of Sighs

Doge’s Palace, Venice

By Lyndsay from The Purposely Lost homepage

The Doge’s Palace is one of the most famous landmarks in Italy. Built in the 14th century, Palazzo Ducale is where the doges–the leaders of the Republic of Venice–resided. This palace was used as a residence for the doges until Napoleon overtook the Venetian Republic in 1797; however, until Venice was unified with Italy in 1866, the palace was used for administrative offices, exhibitions, and cultural institutions. 

Located on the Grand Canal, the Doge’s Palace is just off Piazza San Marco, adjacent to Basilica di San Marco. You can walk there or take a water taxi to any of the San Marco stops. Today, the palace is a museum open to the public during the day. 

Inside, you can find spectacular artworks, frescos, and furniture original to the site, great rooms, and halls where different government functions were once carried out, and make sure to walk through the Bridge of Signs to see the former prisons.

The captivating Doge's Palace in Venice
The stunning Doge’s Palace

Burano

By Lavina Dsouza from Continent hop

Located about nine kilometers from Venice lies the island of Burano. One of the most colorful islands in Italy, Burano is one of the best places to visit while near Venice as not only is the island full of colorful houses, it is also very famous for its handmade lace.

The best way to get to Burano is by Vaporetto or a water taxi. It takes about 40 – 45 minutes to get from Venice to Burano and many taxis run throughout the day till evening from Venice. It is worth spending at least a day here wandering around the streets while visiting the local church; museums are an excellent way to get acquainted with the local life in this part of Italy.

Not only Venice but the whole lagoon is a UNESCO World Heritage site as if you’ve been to Venice you’ll realize that living by the canals and going about day-to-day life here is quite intriguing, even fascinating.

The houses are built in an informal style with terracotta roofs colored in bright colors. A few houses were constructed in the Venetian Gothic style architecture although it is more famous in Venice.

Beautiful reddish houses in Burano
Italian landmarks Venice

Verona Arena

By Tamason Gamble from Travelling Book Junkie

While Verona may be best known for its connection to Romeo and Juliet, this Roman amphitheater, located in the historic heart of the city, is a sight to behold. As you walk in through the old gates and into Piazza Bra your eyes are automatically drawn to perhaps the best-preserved arena in all of Italy.

Built in 30 AD, it predates the Colosseum in Rome, and at one time would have been located outside the city. It is only as Verona has grown and developed that the outskirts of the city reached this iconic Italian landmark meaning that it is centrally located for anyone to visit.

Made from locally sourced stone from Valpolicella, it did originally have three tiers of arches and although it is, in comparison, diminutive in size, it is still an awe-inspiring piece of architecture that at one time would have been home to circus acts, dancing, and music as well as many blood sports.

Fierce animals and condemned prisoners would have fought to the death here, and it is these shows that would draw the biggest crowds. Now though, the arena is used for far more civilized events including concerts for well-known artists and opera performances each summer.

Outside of showtimes, you can still visit this historic monument and wander the stalls for around 10 Euros, although be warned that it is not open to the public on a Monday.

Exterior of the Roman Arena in Verona
The Verona Arena is one of the most impressive Roman landmarks in Italy

Best landmarks in Italy – Tuscany

Duomo Florence

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore known simply as Florence‘s Duomo is one of Italy’s most famous landmarks and one of the most visited sites in the world. The Cathedral was finished in 1436, taking 140 years to be built. It was a major project that involved several famous artists, the main architects were Arnolfo di Cambio, Filippo Brunelleschi, and Emilio De Fabris, but it also involved Giotto, Donatello, and other famous artists of the era.

The result is stunning – one of the most beautiful Cathedrals of the world, a building made with white and polychrome marble panes in the shades of green and pink. The facade is extensively worked in a Gothic revival style. And a breathtaking dome constructed by Brunelleschi, it is the largest brick dome ever. Even today engineers don’t know how Brunelleschi was able to do it, he is classified as a genius.

If the Cathedral wasn’t enough in the Piazza del Duomo you will find the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile made also with marble and are stunning. The Cathedral complex is all classified as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Needless to say that it attracts thousands of tourists and to visit it you may have to wait for hours.

You can visit the Duomo for free but to the dome, Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile is required a ticket for each.

Baptistery, Giotto's Campanile, and the Cathedral in Florence very early in the morning
The Baptistery, Giotto’s Campanile, and the Cathedral very early in the morning

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Ponte Vecchio which means the old bridge is the postcard image of Florence. It is a historic and picturesque bridge on the Arno river. It remotes the Roman empire in 123 AD and it used to be made of wood but in 1218 it was rebuilt in stone, it is 32 long and has 3 arches.

This medieval stone bridge nowadays is a pedestrian bridge on one of Florence’s tourist landmarks. Tourists love to marvel and take pictures of the Ponte Vecchio plus it connects two of the major tourist attractions of the city, Palazzo Pitti and the Piazza del Duomo. On top of the bridge, you will find several jewelers shops, art dealers, and souvenir sellers. And a bronze bust of Cellini, great Florentine sculptor, and master goldsmith. In the past, there were Butchers, tanners shops on top of the bridge. But in 1595 for hygiene and prestige reasons they only allowed jewelers and goldsmiths that endure to nowadays.

One of the coolest features of the bridge is an enclosed passageway called, Vasari Corridor. It was commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici, in 1565, that wanted a safe passageway from the Palazzo Pitti, where he lived, to Palazzo Vecchio, the government palace. He had a private corridor all the way from the palace to his offices passing through the city and the bridge. How cool is that?

beautiful Ponte Vecchio over the Arno river
The beautiful Ponte Vecchio is one of the most famous bridges in the world

Uffizi Galleries

The Uffizi Galleries are one of the most impressive galleries in the world. It houses the works of renowned artists like Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci Raphael, Caravaggio, and many others. 

Besides the extraordinary works of art in the Uffizi Gallery, it is one of the oldest museums in the world. In the 16th century, it opened by request and from 1864 it was officially open to the public. It is a reference to all the artists and intellectuals in Europe.

The Uffizi Galleries building used to be the offices of Florence magistrates, hence the name (uffizi means offices in Italian), and was commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici, Duke of Florence in 1560. The artwork of the Gallery also comes mainly from donations of the Medici family to Florence.

Due to its monumental artwork and historic importance, it is a major landmark when visiting Italy. We advise you to buy the tickets in advance due to the quantity of tourist that visits the gallery. The entrance fee is 18 euros.

The exterior of the Uffizi Galeries, with Palazzo Vecchio in the background
The exterior of the Uffizi Galeries, with Palazzo Vecchio in the background

San Gimignano

By Martina from PlacesofJuma

One of the most beautiful landmarks in Italy is definitely the historic center of San Gimignano. It is located in the heart of Tuscany, 50 kilometers south of Florence. Famous is the picturesque town center, which is also on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is dubbed the “medieval Manhattan”. The main attractions here are mainly the numerous medieval towers, which form a backdrop as if from another world.

Some of these towers are up to 50 meters high and 14 of the former 72 towers are still well preserved today. Due to its good state of preservation, the entire city center of San Gimignano has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. This city preserves numerous architectural and artistic Italian masterpieces from the 14th and 15th centuries. If you are looking for the best landmarks in Italy, this place must be on any bucket list!

A walk through the old stone streets of the historic old town is truly incredibly beautiful. At almost every corner you will discover a monument, a landmark, and also find countless opportunities to taste a glass of local wine or other delicacies. Really recommended is to try the ice cream at Gelateria Dondoli in the main square, Piazza della Cisterna. It has already been crowned the ice cream world champion twice!

San Gimignano and its medieval towers
San Gimignano from a distance

Tower of Pisa

The leaning tower of Pisa is one of Italy’s most famous landmarks. Who hasn’t seen tons of photos with people hugging and pushing the tower?

The leaning tower of Pisa is the bell tower of the Cathedral and is placed behind the Cathedral. It is covered and adorned with marble making it very beautiful. The tower is 55,86 m high and was completed in 1372. The tower, the Cathedral, baptistery, and cemetery are classified as UNESCO world heritage sites.

Due to the unstable soil and the structure’s weight, the tower started to incline even before it was totally built. Nowadays it has 4º inclinations but in 1990 the inclination was even bigger 5,5º. To reduce its tilt the tower undertook several remedial works, engineers state that it is now stabilized for at least 200 years.

Besides its tilt the tower has another curious feature, it is the site where Galileo Galilei performed his experience and dropped 2 cannonballs with different weights.

You can visit the tower and climb its 251 steps for 18€ but you should buy your ticket in advance as the tickets are limited.

The leaning tower of Pisa

Famous landmarks in Italy – Sicily

Valley of the Temples

By Marjut from The Smooth Escape blog

The Valley of the Temples is a UNESCO-listed archaeological site and one of the most famous attractions of Sicily. It is regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of Doric-style architecture in the world and should be a part of every Sicily itinerary

The valley, which was home to the ancient Greek town Akragas, contains the remains of seven temples built between 600 BC and 400 BC. The most impressive structure in the valley is the Temple of Concordia, which boasts an exceptionally well-preserved facade decorated with giant columns. 

Other notable sights in the park are the Temple of Juno, the Temple of Heracles, and the statue of fallen Icarus. In addition to the ruins of the temples, the park also contains the beautiful Kolymbethra Garden where the residents of Akragas used to cultivate various kinds of fruit and vegetables. With its lush vegetation and fragrant almond, citrus, and fig trees, it’s a lovely place for a stroll after exploring the ancient ruins.

The Valley of the Temples is located just outside the town of Agrigento on Sicily’s south coast and can easily be reached by car, bus, or train from the island’s capital city Palermo. On the first Sunday of every month, you can visit the valley free of charge.

Valley of the temples in Sicily
Valley of the Temples, the most impressive landmark in Sicily

Mount Etna

By Annabel Kirk from Smudged Postcard

Mount Etna is located on the Italian island of Sicily. It is a huge mountain – over three thousand meters high – and can be seen from many places around the island. If you’re flying into Catania, you often get a good view of the smoldering volcano on your way in.

Mount Etna is an active volcano that has shaped Sicily over the centuries – many towns and cities have been destroyed and rebuilt because of the volcano. Despite its regular eruptions, there have been very few fatalities as the lava tends to flow quite slowly and the eruptions have not been too aggressive.

The volcano can be reached by day trips from many of the towns and cities in eastern Sicily such as Catania and Taormina. There are many hotels close to Etna too – ideal for visitors looking to spend several days hiking in the region. The soil is very rich and it is an important area for growing grapes so there are some good vineyards and wine hotels.

There is a cable car which takes tourists to the summit of the volcano, but it is better to hire a guide and explore the mountain – there are beautiful routes to hike where you can see vast lava fields and lava caves.

If you’re visiting Italy with kids, Mount Etna is a brilliant destination – there is so much history and geography to learn about.

Snow-capped Etna Volcano in Sicily
Snow-capped Etna Volcano in Sicily

Taoromina

By Caroline Muller from Veggie Wayfarer

The little village of Taormina is located on the eastern side of the island of Sicily. What draws flocks of tourists each year is not so much the quaint village, rather the ancient amphitheater (Theatro Greco) from which a perfect view of Mount Etna can be witnessed. Construction on Theatro Greco started in the 3e century BC, and at its peak could seat up to 5400 spectators. During the warm summer months, it is possible to watch an ancient Roman play on this UNESCO World Heritage site.

The closest city to Taormina is Catania (55 kilometers). Use Catania as a hub to catch the train (Catania Centrale to Taormina Giardini) or to rent a car. Entrance tickets for the historical site of Taormina cost €13,5 and can be purchased either online or at the entrance of the site. The best time of day to visit the Theatro Greco is around sunset, witnessing the sun dip into the sea from the steps of an ancient Greek theater is the stuff dreams are made of.

Aside from the ancient amphitheater, you can also visit the town of Taormina itself. Taormina is one of the most charming Sicilian villages on the east coast of the island and well worth a visit. Walk from Porta Catania to Porta Messina through Corso Umberto, dotted with plenty of little bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops.

Famous Italy Landmarks – Bologna

Bologna Twin Towers

The twin towers are the most iconic landmark in Bologna and one of the most famous in Italy. Despite being known as twins, the Asinelli and Garisenda towers aren’t twins at all. They were built by competing families between 1109 and 1119, and the competition and their initial similarity originated the name.

Located in the heart of the city, close to the central square, they were built in the middle ages with mostly a military function. However, they also expressed the social status of the families that built them. They are particularly famous for their height, tilt, and narrow shape which make them look like they are leaning even more.

With 97 meters, Asinelly Tower is the tallest of the two. It is possible to climb the 498 stairs to the top and enjoy the amazing views of the city. It is one of the best places to see the famous red rooftops of Bologna.

Garisenda Tower is right next to Asinelly, but at 47 meters it is much shorter. It is mostly known for its inclination due to the subsidence of its foundations. In fact, Garisenda used to be taller, but it was lowered to prevent it from collapsing.

The twin towers are the two most famous towers in Bologna, but they are far from being the only ones. Bologna used to have more than 100 towers, and today it still has about 20 medieval towers, all built with similar purposes between the 11th and 13th centuries.

The leaning towers of Bologna
The leaning towers of Bologna

Alma Mater Studiorum

The Alma Mater Studiorum, or the University of Bologna, is one of the most famous institutions in Italy and a crucial organization in Bologna. Founded in 1088 it is the oldest university in operation in the world. Its creation and development were pivotal for the growth and importance of Bologna.

The best university building to visit in Bologna is the Archiginnasio Anatomical Theater. Constructed in the 16th century in the heart of the historic center, this palace was the seat of the University until 1803. Before that, the lessons were held in private houses, religious venues, and even in public squares.

Teatro Anatomico is the most fascinating room of the Archiginnasio. Made in carved wood by Antonio Levante in 1637 to teach anatomy, it was there that corpses were dissected and the first scientific studies of the human body occurred. The building is the municipal library since the 19 century and it holds more than 500 000 texts and 12 000 manuscripts.

Alma Mater Stodiorum may not be the most spectacular Italian landmark in this list, but it is surely one of the most influential landmarks as it gave rise to the creation of high institutions of learning around Europe, and then the world.

Anatomical Theater of the University of Bologna
Archiginnasio Anatomical Theater

Iconic Italian Landmarks – Turin

Royal Palace of Turin

By Natalie Deduck from The Best of Turin

Turin is an incredible city in Northern Italy, and despite its historical and economic importance, it’s still an upcoming destination for international tourists. One of the reasons travelers are adding Turin to their travel list is to glance at the magnificent palaces and royal residences from the Savoy dynasty, being the Royal Palace of Turin the most visited one. 

The Palazzo Reale di Torino, as it’s called in Italian, dates from the beginning of the 16th Century. In the mid-1600s, it went through a renovation when the famous Chapel of the Holy Shroud was built. Yes, you read it right, the Holy Shroud is kept in Turin.

Being the house of the Savoy dynasty for over 200 years, the palace has other incredible features, such as a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci displayed at the palace’s library and the Royal Amory.

Turin’s Royal Armory is one of the biggest museums dedicated to military weapons. It was created in 1832 and houses over 5000 items. One of the most famous items of the collection is a sword carried by Napoleon Bonaparte in battle.

The Turin Royal Palace is a museum with different rooms, galleries, and an impressive garden. No surprise, it’s a UNESCO Heritage Site, one that you must visit when traveling in Italy. The palace is huge, so it is good to read this Royal Palace of Turin Guide before visiting it.

The Royal Palace is located in the heart of Turin, easy to access with public transportation, and there is private parking nearby. It’s open for visitors from 8:30 am to 7 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Keep in mind that you will need at least half a day to explore it, and you can’t bring tripods inside and no flash photography.

Exterior of the Royal Palace of Turin
The impressive Royal Palace of Turin

Mole Antonelliana, Turin

By Or from My Path in the World

Located in the heart of Turin’s historic center, the Mole Antonelliana is one of the most emblematic landmarks in the northern Italian city. The 167.5 meters (550 feet) building is a Neoclassical work of art designed by Alessandro Antonelli.

Its construction began after the unification of Italy in the 19th century. Turin was the first capital city of the unified Kingdom of Italy, and its Jewish community finally enjoyed full civil rights, so the Mole was originally erected to serve as a synagogue. But as the project got too expensive and didn’t fit the appearance of a synagogue, the Jewish community rejected it.

Throughout the years, the building had different uses. Today, it houses the remarkable National Museum of Cinema, the world’s tallest museum, and one of the best places to visit in Turin. It will take you through the history of cinema, from shadow theatre and the first lenses to the blockbusters and movie stars of the 21st century.

It is highly recommended to purchase your ticket online to avoid the long lines and visit during weekdays. You can also get a ticket to take the lift to a panoramic viewpoint on the top of the building, but be sure to book it in advance as daily visits are very limited.

Unique Mole Antonelliana in Turin

Italian Landmarks – Campania

Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples

By Dan from Urban Abroad

If you are planning to visit some of Italy’s most famous landmarks then you should remember to add Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples to your list. As the largest square in Naples, you’ll find a number of the city’s most important cultural events are held here. Since it faces other spectacular buildings such as San Francesco di Paola and the Royal Palace, the site is a true gem.

With the exquisite stonemasonry surrounded by intricate structures, the Piazza, which draws on historical influences from both the Greeks and the Romans, is also a quintessential meeting location for the Neapolitans. No matter whether you have 2 days in Naples or you’re visiting for the day, you simply can not miss it!

Since this square is situated in one of the quieter parts of Naples’s historic center, you can enjoy a walk around admiring the architecture in tranquility. The square is also close to the famous Gran Caffe Gambrinus where you can enjoy an espresso before or after your visit.

You can get to the Piazza by subway, and since it is located along the toled, you can reach the seaside area by passing through the square too. All in all, this is one top tourist attractions of the city so be sure to stroll through both day and night to experience the landmark in its full glory.

Famous landmarks in Capania Italy  Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples
Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples

Mount Vesuvius, Campania

By Diana from The Globetrotting Detective

Mount Vesuvius is one of the three active volcanoes in Italy. The 17,000 years old volcano is situated right next to the city of Naples in Campania in the southwestern part of the country.

Around three million people live in close proximity to Mount Vesuvius. Therefore, it is listed as one of the most dangerous active volcanoes in the world.

One of the most destructive volcanic eruptions of mankind actually occurred here in AD 79. This is when the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius demolished and buried two ancient Roman cities, Pompeii (check below) and Herculaneum.

Today, Vesuvius is in a dormant phase but it is still the second most active volcano in the world. Eruptions and earthquakes are the most common activities of Mount Vesuvius. Even though Mount Vesuvius is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, it’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in Italy.

The best way to get there is with the shuttle bus operated by the company called Vesuvius Express in Naples. You have to go there to buy the ticket for the shuttle bus (15 €) and the entrance ticket for the Vesuvius National Park (12 €).

Hiking Mount Vesuvius is fun for both children and adults. The hike starts at the entrance of Mount Vesuvius National Park. You can walk to the main crater of Vesuvius situated at an altitude of 1,281 meters and walk around it.

It’s an out-of-the-word experience that you will never forget.

main crater of Mount Vesuvius , one of the most famous natural landmarks in Italy
The main crater of Mount Vesuvius 

Pompeii, Campania

By Lori Sorrentino from Travlinmad

Italy abounds with famous landmarks to visit, and without question one of the most famous is the historic city of Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. Located in the Campania Region of southern Italy, a visit to Pompeii is an ideal day trip by train from Rome, Naples, or Sorrento.

The ruined city of Pompeii – believed to have been first established in the 8th or 9th century BC – covers 163 acres and at one time was home to about 20,000 people. In 79AD nearby Mt. Vesuvius violently erupted sending a cloud of hot gases and ash that obliterated the city killing all who were there, and even some in nearby towns. 

Since being discovered in 1748, the ruins have been continuously excavated by archaeologists, giving us glimpses into the art, architecture, and culture of this impressive city. Perhaps no other landmark in Italy elicits such curiosity and romanticism as Pompeii.

The site can get very crowded in summer when loads of bus tours stream into the city. A much better time to visit is in the shoulder season of April and May, and October when temperatures are more moderate and it is not nearly as crowded.

If you have more than a passing interest in the local history and early culture, hire a guide at the gate or arrange one ahead of time when planning your visit to Italy.

Ruins of Pompeii - famous landmarks in Italy
Ruins of Pompeii

Italy Famous Landmarks – Other locations

Cinque Terre, Liguria

By Nadine Maffre from Le Long Weekend

Italy’s Cinque Terre is an area of 5 beautiful coastal villages set on the Italian Riviera. Named a UNESCO site due to its stunning setting and unique heritage, this is a truly magical part of the country to discover for yourself.

To get there, take the train or ferry boat from nearby La Spezia, and jump off at Monterosso al Mare. This is the largest of the five villages, and where you’ll find the most beautiful beach in the Cinque Terre.

From Monterosso, it’s possible to hike to the next village, Vernazza, and doing so awards you with a spectacular view of the village (as shown in the photo). If you do want to hike through the citrus groves and vineyards, you do need to plan this in advance and buy a Cinque Terre Card which allows you access to the national park hiking trails.

From Vernazza, continue your journey by foot or train to Corniglia which is the only Cinque Terre village that’s set slightly away from the coast. Nearby, Manarola and Riomaggiore both offer spectacular sunset views and rocky sunbathing spots.

You’ll only need a day to get a good taste of the Cinque Terre but stay a while longer to truly soak up the magic of the area.

 Vernazza, one of the Cinque Terre
Vernazza, one of the five villages known as Cinque Terre

Duomo Milan

The Cathedral of Milan is a landmark you can’t miss when visiting Italy. It is the biggest Cathedral in the Italian Republic and the second largest in Europe. It is impressively big, but also full of details and covered with white marble.

Though its construction process was quite curious. It took 6 centuries to be completed, starting in 1386 and it was only totally finished in 1965. With a big list of architects and engineers – even Napoleon Bonaparte had a role in its construction.

Inside the Cathedral you will find numerous monuments, artworks, and an imposing organ – the largest in Italy, five organ cases with 15,800 pipes.

You can visit the Duomo of Milan for 5€ plus you can even visit the rooftop. From there you have a fantastic view of the city and admire the 135 stone pinnacles of the Cathedral.

Milan's Duomo, or Cathedral
The iconic Milan Cathedral

Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Umbria

By Diane Bishop from SlowStrollTravel.com

Located in the rolling hills of Umbria, each year millions of visitors come to Assisi, Italy, to visit the Basilica of Saint Francis. 

In addition to touring a charming medieval village that was home to St. Francis, you will be able to see magnificent art from some of the great artists in the 13th and 14th centuries, including Cimabue, Giotto, and Pietro Lorenzetti. 

St. Francis was a Catholic friar who gave up a life of wealth and took a vow of poverty after seeing visions from God as a sick child. Known for preaching sermons to animals and praising all creatures, St. Francis lived in Assisi from 1181 until his death in 1226. 

The majestic Basilica was built in the 13th century to commemorate the saint who established the Franciscan Order. With massive walls, small windows, and rolls of arches called arcades, the Basilica is said to have established many of the typical characteristics of Italian Gothic architecture. The ornate rose window in the Basilica has been called “the eye of the most beautiful church in the world.”

The Basilica consists of two churches, known as the Upper Church and the Lower Church, where St. Francis’s remains are interred in a crypt.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, you can travel to Assisi by train or car. It is about two hours from Rome and two-and-a-half hours from Florence. A taxi or bus will transport you from the train station or the car parks to the historic town, which is about three miles up a steep hill. From the heart of the town, you can easily walk to the Basilica or take public transportation.

Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Umbria

Via Garibaldi, Genoa

By Noel Morata from Hawaii Travel and Lifestyle

One of the stunning Unesco sites not so well visited in Italy is Genoa especially the fine palaces and grand street Via Garibaldi which showcase the might and prestige of the city. At its height, Genoa was one of the significant trading city-states in the country that traded with the world and created a powerful and wealthy aristocracy.

You can see this walking down Via Garibaldi with magnificent villas that have been converted into living museums, hotels, banks, and other tourist-oriented buildings that the public can visit.

Established as a Unesco World Heritage site, the grand boulevard of Via Garibaldi and the palazzos are stunning to walk through. This historic street is filled with impressive architecture, museums, and villas open for the public to visit with over 42 restored villas in the city. 

Each palazzo is richly detailed with the finest artisans of the area hired to create the latest fashion trends of Rococo, Renaissance, and Baroque palaces that were in vogue at those particular timeframes. The noble families of the city were registered into roles or “roli” designating which villas were allowed to host important guests to the city during Genoa’s peak and influence in the country.

Now you can visit many of these impressive villas and also stroll down the Via Garibaldi from the ocean and all the way down to the main Piazza de Ferrari in the center of the city.

Interior of one of the many palaces in Via Garibaldi

Alberobello, Puglia

By Emily from London city Calling

Alberobello is a beautiful and unique little town nestled amongst the olive groves of southern Italy’s Puglia region. In 1996 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site due to being the only town in the region still made up entirely of distinctive Trulli buildings.

Trulli are small mortarless houses made with white limestone boulders and featuring peculiar domed roofs. They are symbolic of the surrounding Valle d’Itria. The unusual structures date back to the 16th century when local rulers wanted to avoid paying property taxes to the King. At this time, taxes were based on the number of rooftops. So the rulers ordered local peasants to build houses without mortar so that in the event of a royal inspection they could quickly be dismantled. This is how trulli were created.

On a visit to Alberobello, you’ll be able to see over 2,000 historic Trulli tightly packed together. Some remain family homes, while others are being used as shops, restaurants, cafes, museums, and even accommodation. The town is small so you can easily visit it on a day trip. Or make it an overnight stay so you can sleep inside a trulli and experience the romantic little town at its quietest while glistening with fairy lights.

Alberobello sits in Puglia’s Valle d’Itria and can be reached by car, train, or bus from the surrounding cities such as Bari, Brindisi, Lecce, and Martina Franca.

The unique Trulli of Alberobello
The unique Trulli of Alberobello

Dolomites, northeastern Italy

By Lori Sorrentino from Italy Foodies

If you’re looking for must-see Italian landmarks, few are more impressive than The Dolomites, made in northeastern Italy by Mother Nature herself. Named for the carbonate rock dolomite, their light color is the reason for their nickname, the Pale Mountains.

The towering peaks are part of the Southern Limestone Alps which rise majestically above the alpine lakes and valleys of South Tyrol, one of Italy’s most beautiful regions. So beautiful in fact, they were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

This part of Italy is a snow-lovers paradise, although summer is one of the best times to hike the Dolomites on well-trodden trails through lush vineyards (South Tyrol is a prolific wine-producing region) and mountain passes. A hearty lunch at a mountain hut makes for a perfect day.
Perhaps the most famous of the breathtaking Dolomites views are the three distinctive peaks of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Getting to the Dolomites is easiest by train or car, and roads are easily navigated during warmer months. Book your overnight stay at a local spa hotel or quaint B&B. There are plenty to choose from though the Hotel Ambra Cortina D’Ampezzo is a favorite and offers quick access to the local sites.

Beautiful lake in the Dolomites mountains

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33 Most famous landmarks in Italy

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