Italy’s breathtaking vistas, storied past, and delectable cuisine have established it as a sought-after destination for both travelers and backpackers. With an endless array of experiences to be had, planning a visit to Italy can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, one of the most invigorating ways to discover this fascinating country is by embarking on its most scenic routes. Whether you yearn for spectacular ocean views, idyllic countryside landscapes, or monumental historical landmarks, Italy offers an itinerary to match every traveler’s preferences. In this article, we will delve into some of Italy’s most remarkable routes, promising to appease your wanderlust and etch indelible memories into your heart.
1. Medieval Italy Route: Venice-Padua-Ferrara-Bologna-Florence-Rome
A journey through medieval Italy is a journey through a time of knights, castles, and incredible artistic and cultural achievements. The Venice-Padua-Ferrara-Bologna-Florence-Rome route is a fantastic way to explore some of the most stunning medieval towns and cities in Italy, each with its unique charm and character.
- Venice: A Romantic City built on water, with stunning canals, bridges, and landmarks such as St. Mark’s Basilica and the Rialto Bridge. It is located in northeastern Italy and is built on a group of small islands in a lagoon and is known for its stunning canals, beautiful architecture, and rich cultural heritage. It is situated on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by bridges, with the Grand Canal running through the heart of the city. Venice is often referred to as the “City of Bridges,” the “City of Canals,” and the “Floating City.” One of the main attractions in Venice is St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), the largest and most famous square in the city. Finally, Venice is famous for its cuisine, which is based on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and features a mix of Italian and Mediterranean flavors. Some of the must-try dishes in Venice include seafood risotto, spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams), and fritto misto (mixed fried seafood).
- Padua : Padua (Padova in Italian) is a charming city located in the Veneto region of Italy, just 40 km west of Venice. With a history dating back over 3,000 years, Padua is known for its beautiful architecture, rich cultural heritage, and prestigious university. The city’s historic center is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with charming narrow streets, elegant squares, and beautiful palaces. Visitors can explore the Piazza delle Erbe, the oldest square in Padua, which is home to an outdoor market selling everything from fresh produce to clothing and souvenirs. Padua is also famous for its university, which was founded in 1222 and is one of the oldest universities in the world. The university’s Botanical Garden, established in 1545, is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world and is a must-visit for plant enthusiasts. Ferrara is also known for its traditional cuisine, which includes specialties such as cappellacci di zucca (pumpkin-filled pasta), salama da sugo (a type of sausage), and the famous bread known as coppia ferrarese.
- Bologna: Bologna is a city in northern Italy, located in the region of Emilia-Romagna. It is the capital city of the province of Bologna and is home to nearly 400,000 people. The city is renowned for its medieval architecture and rich culinary traditions, making it a popular destination for tourists from around the world. Bologna is also home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, the University of Bologna, which was founded in 1088. Bologna’s historic center, which dates back to the 13th century, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is known for its network of porticos (covered walkways) that stretch for over 38 kilometers, providing shelter from the sun and rain. The most famous of these is the Two Towers (Due Torri), which are a symbol of Bologna and offer stunning views of the city. Bologna is also famous for its food, which includes dishes such as lasagne, tortellini, and tagliatelle al ragù. The city is home to a number of traditional food markets, such as the Mercato di Mezzo and the Mercato delle Erbe, where visitors can taste local specialties and shop for fresh produce.
- Ferrara : Ferrara is a city located in northern Italy, in the region of Emilia-Romagna. It has a rich history and cultural heritage, with a well-preserved medieval city center that has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ferrara was founded by the Etruscans in the 6th century BC, and was later ruled by the Romans, the Goths, and the Byzantines. One of the main attractions of Ferrara is its historic center, which is surrounded by walls built in the Renaissance period. The center is home to many beautiful palaces, churches, and other landmarks, such as the Estense Castle, which was the residence of the ruling Este family.
- Rome: Rome is the capital city of Italy and is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and unique culture. It is located in the central-western part of the country, on the banks of the Tiber River. Rome is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe, with a history that spans over 2,500 years. Rome is known for its stunning architecture, including iconic landmarks such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. The city is also home to many museums and art galleries, including the Vatican Museums, which house some of the world’s most famous artworks. As the center of the Roman Empire, Rome played a crucial role in the development of Western civilization. It was the birthplace of the Roman Republic, and later became the center of the Catholic Church. Rome has also been the site of many important events throughout history, such as the Renaissance, the unification of Italy, and the founding of the European Union.
- Florence: Florence is located in the Tuscany region of central Italy and is known for its rich history, stunning art and architecture, and picturesque countryside. The city was a center of the Italian Renaissance and is home to iconic landmarks such as the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Ponte Vecchio. Florence is also famous for its traditional Tuscan cuisine, particularly its Florentine steak, made from locally sourced Chianina beef, and its traditional pasta dishes such as pappardelle al cinghiale (pasta with wild boar sauce). The city is also renowned for its gelato, with many shops offering a wide variety of flavors., as well as its world-renowned Chianti wines.
2. Naples & Amalfi Coast Route: Naples-Pompei-Positano-Amalfi-Ravello
Amalfi Coast is a picturesque stretch of coastline in southern Italy with colourful villages, turquoise waters, and stunning cliffs. The region stretches along the Tyrrhenian Sea from the Gulf of Salerno to the Gulf of Naples and is characterized by its steep cliffs, rocky shoreline, and crystal-clear waters.
- Naples is a vibrant and historic city in southern Italy, known for its delicious pizza and rich cultural heritage.It is home to many important historical and cultural sites, such as the ancient Roman city of Pompeii and the Naples National Archaeological Museum.With its beautiful waterfront, bustling markets, and lively nightlife, Naples is a must-visit destination for travelers to Italy.
- Pompeii is an ancient Roman city located near Naples in southern Italy, famously destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. It was buried under volcanic ash and preserved for centuries, providing a unique glimpse into daily life in ancient times. Today, Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts millions of visitors each year to its remarkably preserved ruins, including ancient houses, theaters, and public buildings.
- Positano is a picturesque cliffside village on the Amalfi Coast, known for its colorful buildings, stunning views, and upscale boutiques. It has a beautiful beach and is popular with tourists in the summer months, who come to enjoy the clear waters and warm Mediterranean climate.
- Amalfi is a charming coastal town on the Amalfi Coast, known for its beautiful beaches, historic architecture, and stunning scenery.It is home to the beautiful Amalfi Cathedral, which dates back to the 11th century, and the Cloister of Paradise, a tranquil garden that was once part of a medieval monastery.With its crystal-clear waters, lush vegetation, and rocky cliffs, Amalfi is a great place for hiking, swimming, and exploring the natural beauty of the region.
- Ravello is a small hilltop town on the Amalfi Coast, known for its beautiful gardens, peaceful atmosphere, beautiful architecture, historic villas, and stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. It is home to the famous Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo, two beautiful estates that date back to the 11th and 13th centuries respectively. With its peaceful atmosphere, beautiful architecture, and stunning scenery, Ravello is a great place to escape the crowds and relax in the beauty of the Italian countryside.
3. Tuscany Route: Florence-San Gimignano-Buonconvento-Siena-Montalcino
Tuscany is a beautiful region located in central Italy, known for its picturesque landscapes, historic towns, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine. The region is home to several historic cities, including Florence, Pisa, and Siena, each of which boasts stunning architecture, world-class museums, and vibrant cultural scenes. Tuscany is also famous for its rolling hills, olive groves, and vineyards, which produce some of the best wine and olive oil in Italy.
- Florence: The capital of Tuscany and a center of Renaissance art and architecture, including the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Ponte Vecchio. Florence is also famous for its traditional Tuscan cuisine, particularly its Florentine steak, made from locally sourced Chianina beef, and its traditional pasta dishes such as pappardelle al cinghiale (pasta with wild boar sauce). The city is also renowned for its gelato, with many shops offering a wide variety of flavors., as well as its world-renowned Chianti wines.
- San Gimignano: A medieval hilltop town famous for its 14 towers, which offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside. San Gimignano, is often referred to as the “Town of Fine Towers.” It is also known for its well-preserved medieval walls, gates, and narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants. The town’s historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visitors can explore its many museums and art galleries, including the Civic Museum, which houses a collection of medieval and Renaissance art. San Gimignano is also famous for its wine, particularly its Vernaccia di San Gimignano, which is made from the Vernaccia grape grown in the surrounding hills. Visitors can sample the wine at local wineries and wine shops throughout the town. Overall, San Gimignano is a charming and picturesque town that offers visitors a glimpse into Italy’s medieval past. Its towers, walls, and narrow streets transport visitors back in time, while its wine and local cuisine provide a taste of Tuscany’s rich culinary traditions.
- Buonconvento: It is a medieval village in Tuscany, Italy, known for its historic architecture and excellent cuisine. It is located on the ancient pilgrimage route, Via Francigena, and offers visitors a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Tuscany. The town is situated in the region of the Val d’Orcia, which is a picturesque valley known for its rolling hills, vineyards, and cypress trees. In addition to its architecture, Buonconvento is also famous for its food and wine. The town is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, and its restaurants and cafes serve traditional Tuscan cuisine. Buonconvento is a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside. The town is located near the Ombrone River, and there are several hiking and biking trails that wind through the hills and valleys of the Val d’Orcia.
- Siena: Siena is a historic and charming medieval town famous for its Gothic Architecture, Historic Center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its vibrant culture, including its art, cuisine, and festivals. Some of the main attractions in Siena include the Piazza del Campo, a large public square that is considered one of the most beautiful in Italy, Piazza del Campo, the Palazzo Pubblico and the Gothic cathedral. The Torre del Mangia, located next to the Palazzo Pubblico, is a 14th-century tower that stands 88 meters tall and offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside. Aside from its historic landmarks, Siena is also famous for its cuisine, which features local specialties such as pici pasta, ribollita soup, and Chianti wine.
- Montalcino: It is known for its beautiful landscapes, historic architecture, and world-renowned wines. The town is situated on a hilltop overlooking the surrounding countryside, which is characterized by rolling hills and vineyards. Montalcino is a hilltop town located in the Tuscany region of central Italy, about 120 km south of Florence. It is most famous for its production of Brunello di Montalcino, a red wine made from Sangiovese grapes, which is widely regarded as one of Italy’s finest wines. In addition to its famous wine, Montalcino is also known for its traditional Tuscan cuisine, which features hearty dishes made from local ingredients such as wild boar, mushrooms, and truffles.
4. Sicily : Palermo-Agrigento-Licata-Pozzallo-Noto-Syracuse-Catania-Taormina
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, located off the southern coast of Italy. The island has a unique blend of cultures due to its strategic location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean. It has been ruled by various civilizations throughout history, including the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Normans, resulting in a diverse range of architectural styles and cultural traditions. Sicily is also known for its stunning natural beauty, from its pristine beaches and rugged coastline to its active volcano, Mount Etna.
- Palermo: Located on the north coast of Sicily, Palermo is the capital city of the island. It is a melting pot of cultures, influenced by the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Normans throughout history. Palermo is known for its stunning architecture, bustling markets, and delicious street food, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler to Sicily.
- Agrigento: Agrigento is a city located on the south coast of Sicily. It is known for its well-preserved ancient Greek temples and ruins, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These temples are among the best-preserved examples of ancient Greek architecture in the world, making Agrigento a popular destination for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts.
- Licata : Licata is a picturesque seaside town located on the south coast of Sicily, Italy. It is famous for its pristine beaches, beautiful marina, rich history, and cultural heritage. The town is nestled between two beautiful beaches, Marianello and Mollarella, both known for their crystal-clear waters and golden sand. The beaches are a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, offering a range of water sports activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Licata is also home to several notable landmarks, such as the Castel Sant’Angelo, a medieval fortress built in the 16th century, and the beautiful Cathedral of San Giuseppe, with its impressive Baroque architecture.
- Pozzallo : Pozzallo is a charming seaside town located on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy. The town is also an important port, with regular ferries to Malta and Tunisia. Pozzallo has a rich history and is home to several historical sites, including the Torre Cabrera, a 15th-century tower that served as a lookout for pirates and enemy invaders. The town’s main square, Piazza della Rimembranza, is a great place to relax and take in the local culture, with several bars and restaurants offering traditional Sicilian cuisine. The town is famous for its Carnival celebrations, which take place in February and feature colorful parades and costumes. The festival attracts visitors from all over the world, making it one of the most popular events in Sicily. Pozzallo also has a thriving fishing industry, with fresh seafood available in the local markets and restaurants.
- Noto : Noto is a stunning city in the southeastern part of Sicily, Italy. The town is situated at the foothills of the Iblean Mountains, approximately 32 Kms to the southwest of SyracuseIt’s a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s known for its stunning Baroque architecture, which was rebuilt following an earthquake in the late 17th century. The city is home to many breathtaking buildings, including the Noto Cathedral, which was reconstructed in the 18th century. Across from the cathedral is the Palazzo Ducezio, which now serves as the town hall and features the magnificent Hall of Mirrors embellished with gilding and stuccos. The Palazzo Nicolaci is another must-see attraction.
- Syracuse : Syracuse is located in the southeast corner of the island of Sicily, next to the Gulf of Syracuse beside the Ionian Sea. The city was founded by ancient Greeks in 733 BC and later became one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world, producing famous philosophers and mathematicians such as Archimedes. The city is famous for its rich history, which is evident in its many ancient ruins and landmarks, including the Greek Theater, the Roman Amphitheater, and the Ear of Dionysius. The island of Ortigia, the historical heart of Syracuse, is home to many beautiful Baroque-style buildings and winding streets that lead to picturesque piazzas. The city also has a rich culinary scene, with traditional Sicilian cuisine that features fresh seafood & local produce.
- Catania : Catania is a vibrant and lively city located on the eastern coast of Sicily, Italy. It is the second largest city on the island after Palermo and is situated at the foot of Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe. The city has a rich history dating back to ancient times and is famous for its stunning Baroque architecture, including the UNESCO-listed Catania Cathedral and the majestic Palazzo Biscari. Catania is also known for its bustling fish market, beautiful public parks, and lively nightlife. Additionally, the city serves as a gateway to nearby attractions such as Taormina, Siracusa, and Mount Etna.
- Taormina: Taornima is a charming hilltop town located on the east coast of Sicily. It is known for its breathtaking views of the sea, historic Greek theater, and beautiful beaches. Taormina’s main attraction is the ancient Greek theater, which is still used today for concerts and performances. The town’s picturesque streets and stunning views make it a popular destination for tourists and honeymooners.
5. Cinque Terre Route: Monterosso al Mare-Vernazza-Manarola
Cinque Terre is a picturesque coastal region in Liguria, Italy. The name Cinque Terre, which means “Five Lands,” refers to the five small fishing villages that make up the area: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The villages are perched on rugged cliffs and surrounded by terraced vineyards and olive groves. They are connected by a scenic hiking trail, which offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its colorful houses, narrow streets, and delicious seafood. Visitors can explore the villages on foot, by boat, or by train. Each village has its own unique character and attractions, such as the sandy beaches of Monterosso al Mare, the charming harbor of Vernazza, and the panoramic views of Corniglia. The region is also famous for its delicious wines, including the white Cinque Terre DOC wine and the sweet Sciacchetrà dessert wine.
- Monterosso al Mare: This is the largest village in Cinque Terre and is located at the northernmost end of the region. It has a long sandy beach and is known for its lemon trees and vineyards. The town is known for its colourful houses, and ancient historical landmarks. Monterosso al Mare is the largest of the five Cinque Terre towns. Visitors can take a stroll along the waterfront promenade, hike the scenic trails in the surrounding hills, or simply relax on the beach and soak up the Mediterranean sun.
- Vernazza: Vernazza, positioned as the fourth town towards the north, stands out for its authentic “fishing village” vibe on the Italian Riviera. This car-free town is renowned for its refined houses and is the sole natural port of Cinque Terre.It is also home to a 16th-century castle and a beautiful church.
- Manarola: This village is located on a rocky outcrop and is known for its colourful buildings and scenic views. It is the second-smallest of the famous Cinque Terre towns frequented by tourists, with a population of 353. Manarola, possibly the oldest town in the Cinque Terre, boasts the 1338 San Lorenzo church as its cornerstone. The local Manarolese dialect is slightly distinct from nearby dialects. “Manarola” is a dialectical evolution of “Magna rota” from Latin, meaning “large wheel” due to the town’s mill wheel, or “Magna roea” in the Manarolese dialect. Tourist attractions in the region include a famous walking trail between Manarola and Riomaggiore (called Via dell’Amore, “Love’s Trail”) and hiking trails in the hills and vineyards above the town.
- Corniglia: This village is located on a hilltop and is the only village in Cinque Terre that is not directly adjacent to the sea. It is known for its narrow streets and terraced vineyards. Unlike the other four villages, Corniglia is not directly on the sea but is situated on a rocky promontory about 100 meters above sea level. To reach the town, visitors must climb a long flight of stairs or take a shuttle bus. Despite its smaller size and lack of beachfront, Corniglia is known for its picturesque charm and stunning views of the surrounding coastline. The town is also famous for its terraced vineyards and production of Sciacchetrà, a sweet dessert wine
- Riomaggiore: This village is located at the southern end of the region and is known for its narrow streets and colourful houses and buildings built along the rugged cliffs that overlook the Ligurian Sea. It is also home to a 14th-century castle and a beautiful church. The village is characterized by narrow alleys, steep stairways, and a small harbor. The Church of San Giovanni Battista, located in the main square, is one of the main attractions in Riomaggiore. The village is also famous for its locally produced wine, Sciachetrà, which is made from grapes grown on the terraced vineyards that surround the village.