Everything you’ve heard — and dreamed — about Italy is true: this is a beautiful country that celebrates food, friendship, and art. Whether you’re gazing up at Michelangelo’s “The David” marble statue in Florence or looking down at Amalfi’s rugged coast from above, sense of place is in every region. Signature dishes served at restaurants are crafted from local ingredients while local customs easily draw travelers in. One could spend a month exploring Italy and still not scratch the surface. Thankfully, each metropolis—including Florence, Rome, Venice, and Naples—flaunts walkable, charming streets and is a breeze to navigate.
Things to Do in Florence
This Tuscan city is for art lovers. Beyond “The David” — at Galleria dell’Accademia — are dozens of other museums showcasing paintings that are analyzed in art schools. This includes Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and Carravaggio’s “Bacchus,” both at Uffizi Gallery. Walking over the Ponte Vecchio means killer views and proximity to unique gelato flavors. Landmarks famous for centuries are well worth a jaunt, such as the Duomo cathedral (definitely climb to the top of the Cupola for the best view of Florence) and Pitti Palace. Splurge on a FirenzeCard (85 euros) and you’ll get access to 78 museums over a 72-hour period.
Things to Do in Rome
It may sound cliché, but you’ve got to do it: toss a coin into the Baroque-style Trevi Fountain, which dates back to 1732. Per the legend, three coins tossed stands for your return to Rome, new romance, and a marriage proposal. And the Colosseum —oval-shaped and built of travertine limestone in 70 AD — what you’ve seen in the photos is the real deal up close. Block off an entire day for the Vatican City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All that Italian food you enjoy back home has serious roots in Roman trattorias. Dishes you’ll want to try include antipasti to start and carbonara or cacio e pepe as a main.
Things to Do in Venice
One of the first things to know about Venice — a group of 100 tiny islands in the Adriatic Sea — is that you’ll be traveling only one of two ways: on foot or by water, via picaresque canals that have long defined this Northern Italian city. Water taxis are the main form of transportation. St. Mark’s Square is a landmark (go early to avoid crowds) anchored by Caffè Florian, the world’s oldest continually operating café, in business since 1720. Must-sees are St. Mark’s Basilica with its gilded domes, the Gothic-style Doge’s Palace, and the island of Murano, where the world’s finest glass is made. Stray off the beaten path with a visit to the student-centric, boho-chic Campo Santa Margherita neighborhood, home to the University of Venice and its namesake square. But don’t even think about skipping the famous Bridge of Sighs or Rialto Bridge.
Things to Do in Naples
This coastal region in Southern Italy is famous for its pizza — prepared in a strict Neapolitan style, with specific kinds of tomatoes and mozzarella; don’t miss a slice. Hike a portion of Mount Vesuvius via the “Valley of Hell” or “Along the Cognoli” loops or the “Monte Somma” crossing. Your reward? Stunning vistas of the Gulf of Naples. Get a glimpse of royalty at Royal Palace of Naples (built during the 17th Century), or view Roman remains at Naples National Archaeological Museum and frescoes by Giotto at Castel Nuovo. Pompei, just outside of Naples, in the Campania region, offers an excuse to drive south along the coast.