The artistic, cultural and gastronomic heritage of Italy is truly immense and allows us to designate numerous interesting destinations where it is possible to spend a wonderful weekend, with family, friends or your other half. In this list, we have selected the 10 best towns to visit in Italy at any time of the year, from North to South, with useful tips and suggestions for a short weekend getaway.
A city brought to the fore in recent years for the presence of numerous Hollywood stars who have fallen in love with the beauty of its lake, Como is a real unmissable pearl of Northern Italy. Not to be missed: the Silk Museum to learn all about the textile tradition of the industrious Lombard town. To admire also the Duomo, the Palazzo Broletto, the headquarters of the municipality, the Baradello Castle and the splendid Villa Olmo.
From Como you can enjoy boat tours and explore the charming coastal villages and their monumental villas: Tremezzina with its Balbianello villa, Tremezzo with Villa Carlotta, Bellagio, the pearl of the lake, and Menaggio, with its lakefront rich in flower gardens and palm trees. And again, for all those seeking a more romantic destination, Varenna, with the footbridge suspended over the lake known as “the walk of lovers”.
Perugia is the capital city of Umbria, the green heart of Italy. Among history, beautiful landscape, delectable cuisine and traditions, Perugia is a town that has so much to offer to its visitors. In Piazza IV Novembre you can find Fontana Maggiore, the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, and Palazzo dei Priori. Passing through the medieval Via Maestà delle Volte and going down the old aqueduct street, in addition to enjoying a spectacular view, you will reach the Etruscan Arch. A stop to some local restaurants, perhaps hidden ones, is a must in order to indulge in the fabulous Umbrian cuisine.
Not to be missed: National Gallery, Corso Vannucci, Palazzo dei Priori, Fontana Maggiore, Rocca Paolina, Cathedral of San Lorenzo, Piazza IV Novembre.
The world-renowned Umbria Jazz Festival is held in July and December, while the Eurochocolate festival takes place every October.
Lucca is one of the richest in history and charm Italian cities. It is famous for its ancient walls, still perfectly preserved, which completely surround the historic centre. This charming Tuscan town is composed of numerous streets, mostly pedestrian, which allow its visitors to fully immerse themselves in a medieval setting. Beautiful is the Duomo, Piazza Anfiteatro, oval in shape, with numerous outstanding buildings overlooking it.
Not to be missed: Cathedral of San Martino, Guinigi Tower, Basilica of San Freviano, Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, Church of San Michele in Foro, Muse of Lucca, Palazzo Pfanner.
Tuscany boasts numerous cities of art, and Pisa is one of the most important. The monumental, artistic and historical heritage of Pisa is due to the fact that, during the Middle Ages, it was one of the four great maritime republics. The most famous attraction is undoubtedly the Leaning Tower, also called the Bell Tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
Piazza dei Miracoli, named after Gabriele D’Annunzio, is a Unesco heritage site and includes, in addition to the Tower and the Cathedral, the Baptistery of San Giovanni and the Camposanto Monumentale. At Piazza dei Cavalieri there are historic buildings such as Palazzo dell’Orologio, built where once was the Torre di Muda, Palazzo dei Cavalieri and the church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri.
Not to be missed: Duomo and Leaning Tower in Piazza dei Miracoli, Monumental Cemetery, Baptistery of San Giovanni, Piazza dei Cavalieri, Church of Santa Maria della Spina, Museum of Sinopias, Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli Natural Park.
Once every four years, Pisa hosts the Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics. During the summer, other important historical re-enactments are held such as the Game of the Bridge and the historical Regatta of the Palio di San Ranieri.
Matera is famous for being one of the oldest cities in the world and above all for the well-known “sassi” which occupy the eastern part of the city: tunnels, small squares, streets and stairways rise above a rocky outcrop. But what are exactly these famous “sassi”? They are districts consisting of houses and caves obtained from excavations in the tuff, located close to a deep gorge, the Gravina.
The particular position has preserved them, over the centuries, from the sieges of the enemies. La Civita, the heart of the old town, houses the bell tower of the Cathedral, which stands 50 meters high. Also to be discovered is the typical local cuisine, simple but genuine and tasty.
Not to be missed: Sassi di Matera, Cathedral, Church of Santa Maria di Idris, Park of Murgia Materana, Museum of Contemporary Sculpture MUSMA, Church of Saints Peter and Paul.
Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Multi-ethnic and multicultural, this Italian city was the port of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and today it is open to a future of science and technology. Trieste is located right on the border with Slovenia, from there you can visit the nearby Postojna Caves, which can be visited by an internal train following a path made of stalactites, stalagmites, arches and limestone formations boasting almost baroque shapes. Another interesting site is the Predjama Castle, located right inside a karst cave. Both are about 50 kilometres away from Trieste.
Not to be missed: Piazza Unità d’Italia, Miramare Castle, San Giusto Castle and the historical cafes frequented by Saba, Joyce and Svevo, as well as the Bora Museum.
The Mole Antonelliana, the Egyptian Museum housed in the Palace of the Academy of Sciences, the Cinema Museum, the Renaissance Cathedral, the Baroque church of San Lorenzo and the eighteenth-century Basilica of Superga: these are just some of the attractions that Turin has to offer. Framed by immense parks, including the famous Valentino Park, the city is also famous for the numerous Savoy residences, a well-protected UNESCO site: Palazzo Reale, Palazzo Carignano, the Stupinigi hunting lodge.
Not to be missed: Mole Antonelliana, Egyptian Museum, Cathedral, Cinema Museum, Royal Palace, Valentino Park.
The city of Romeo and Juliet is considered to be the homeland of love, but Verona is much more than this! Of course, through the medieval streets, it is possible to reach Juliet’s House, very popular with tourists, with its famous balcony. There are also high fashion shops, numerous cafes and artisan shops, the famous Arena, Piazza Bra and much more.
Not to be missed: Arena of Verona, Juliet’s House, Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza Bra, Piazza dei Signori, Torre dei Lamberti, Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, Ponte di Castelvecchio.
Getting lost in the historic centre of Lecce, with its alleys, winding streets and baroque palaces will be an enchanting experience. Do not miss the Basilica of Santa Croce, a symbol of the city, the Roman Amphitheater and Piazza Duomo. Spring and summer months are the best time to visit Lecce.
You can stay in the Salento area by the sea, enjoy the marvellous beaches of this unique area of Puglia and participate in a typical Taranta night, a typical dance.
Not to be missed: Basilica of Santa Croce, Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, Piazza Sant’Oronzo, Roman Amphitheater, Lecce Castle, Faggiano Museum, Porta Napoli, historic centre.
Salerno is a delightful coastal city in Campania, with an extensive coastline named Lungomare Trieste. Here you can take pleasant strolls together with locals, as well as in the historic centre: once you reach the end of Piazza Portanova you can continue into Via dei Mercanti where alleys intersect with dozens of shops. The Cathedral, preceded by a marble staircase and two animal sculptures that guard it, is certainly worth a visit: in Gothic style, it recalls the Angevin style.
Not to be missed: Cathedral, Minerva Garden, Arechi Castle, Lungomare, Provincial Archaeological Museum.
Daniela De Luca is CEO at Home in Italy. Home in Italy is a luxury villa rental company offering high end holiday villa experiences throughout the best regions of Italy since 1993.