If you ever get the chance to explore the biggest landmarks in Italy, go for it! It’s an adventure that can even rival exploring the whole world. I kid you not, everything in Italy, even the average stuff, is fantastic. Therefore the attractions that are on the next level, the biggest Italian landmarks, they are completely mindblowing.
Until you get the chance to see them in person, the best thing you can do is check them out virtually. I have to warn you, though, there’s a chance your wanderlust would rise so much that you may rush and buy plane tickets as soon as you’ve finished reading.
From global icons to fairytale towns, buckle up for a journey like no other because here are the best landmarks in Italy.
The Colosseum, Rome
There isn’t a landmark more fitting to start the list with than the Colosseum. The ancient Roman arena is not only one of the biggest Italian landmarks but also a globally recognized symbol and one of the biggest attractions in Europe.
Opened in 80 AD, the Colosseum was an arena for gladiator contests, animal fights, and, believe it or not, sea battles.
Wait, what? Sea battles???
Yes, the crazy Romans liked to flood the amphitheater and simulate famous sea battles. When I was there, the arena didn’t look even close of being big enough for battleships, but I guess they used small boats.
The Roman Forum
And speaking of the Colosseum, we can’t miss the Roman Forum. Located right across the famous amphitheater, Forum Romanum was the ancient city’s original central square.
Since all main temples and administrative buildings were built there, you can imagine how impressive are the ruins we have today.
Situated inside the forum is also Palantine Hill. The centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome was, according to the legends, the location of the cave where the she-wolf Lupa saved the founders of Rome – Romulus and Remus.
Trevi Fountain, Rome
The most famous fountain in Italy and the world, Trevi is one of those places that will drop your jaw to the ground. Standing 26.3 meters (86 ft) high, the Baroque-style masterpiece of a fountain was finished in 1762 and attracts millions of visitors today.
To be honest, I believe there’s not a single guest of Rome who skips Trevi. The fountain is situated in the center of town and offers a sweet deal to its visitors – a return to the Eternal City in exchange for just a coin. I mean, who can resist such an offer?
Check out what happens if you throw more than one coin in Trevi’s waters and some other fun Romans facts.
See Also: The Best Landmarks in Greece
St. Peter’s Cathedral, Vatican City
Yeah, yeah, I know, Vatican City is another country; it can’t be a home to any Italian landmarks. Even though technically you’re right, the whole Vatican ‘country’ is inside Rome, and all of Rome’s visitors (and locals, I presume) treat it as just another of the Eternal City’s neighborhoods. But what a neighborhood that is!
You won’t be surprised to find that one of the top attractions in Vatican City is a church. St. Peters Cathedral is not just a church, though. It’s the church of churches! The prime temple of the catholic religion and home of the Pope, the cathedral is a place like no other. Carefully designed and constructed by the best architects and artists in the country’s history, it’s one of those attractions you just can’t leave out of your Roman itinerary.
The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City
To complete the amazing experience we just had inside the St.Peters Cathedral, we pay a visit to the outstanding Vatican Museums and my favorite man-made place in the world – the Sistine Chapel.
Founded in the early 16th century, the Vatican Museums are the fifth-largest museum globally and display the works from the immense collection amassed by the Catholic Church through the years.
The museum journey ends in the Sistine Chapel. Pope’s private chapel is the most incredible temple on the planet. Its walls and ceiling are decorated by some of the greatest artists in history, including Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo Da Vinci. Even though the chapel is always full of tourists, the place emits such incredible energy that you won’t regret a single minute inside.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
It’s time to continue our search for the biggest landmarks in Italy, this time out of Rome. The next one we find is in Florence, the birthplace of the renaissance period.
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most prominent art museums in the world, displaying masterpieces from renowned Italian artists, including Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Leonardo da Vinci.
With more than 2,000,000 visitors per year, the Uffizi Gallery is among the most visited museums there are and something you should definitely check out, even if art is not your thing.
See Also: The Most Amazing Landmarks in Spain
Ponte Vecchio Florence
Ponte Vecchio, also known as the Old Bridge, is one of Florence’s most prominent attractions. A favorite place for photographers, Ponte Vecchio was commissioned by the controversial Medici family somewhere around 996 AD (old bridge indeed).
The Medicis used to rule over Florence for years, and since they were often in danger of attacks, they needed a safe passage over the Arno River.
Today the bridge is a popular tourist attraction, therefore full of souvenir shops and, well, tourists. It’s still pretty cool to walk over it, though and looks quite good on pictures.
Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence
You didn’t think I would miss the signature basilica of Florence, did you? Santa Maria del Fiore was completed in 1436 after 140 years of construction. It was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome and is a prime representative of Florence’s UNESCO-recognized historical center.
The basilica is one of the largest in the country, and for a few centuries, held the record for the biggest dome on the planet.
Also known as Duomo di Firenze, the church is among the most visited attractions in Florence and a global symbol representing Italy’s most signature period – the renaissance.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The leaning tower of Pisa is (alongside the Colosseum) the most recognizable landmark in Italy. Located on the Square of Miracles (Piazza dei Miracoli), the leaning tower stands at over 50 meters (164 ft) high and attracts millions of tourists each year.
Constructed between the 12th and 13th century, the peculiar tower used to stand straight but, since it was built on mushy grounds that couldn’t hold its weight, started to tilt a few cm per year. In 1990, the tilt hit the danger zone approaching 5,5 degrees which required closure for more than a decade so the tower can be safely reconstructed and fortified.
See Also: The Best Landmarks in Portugal
Canale Grande, Venice
I can bet everything I have there’s no person on the planet who hasn’t heard about Venice. The canals, the gondolas, the colorful buildings, the romance! Venice is so unique compared to anywhere else and often overwhelms first-time visitors with its magical setting.
The central Venetian canal, Canale Grande, is 4 km/ 2.5 miles long and hosts hundreds of gondolas and water taxis. It’s used by every visitor and local in town on a daily basis, which means it’s easily the busiest non-trading canal on the planet.
St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice
Venice may be famous for its canals, but the symbolic city wouldn’t be the same without its most prominent square and its Basilica – St.Marks.
Once used as a private chapel of the Doge of Venice (their equivalent of King), the whimsical temple became public property in the early 19th century. Often ranked as one of the most beautiful churches in Europe, a visit to St Mark’s is a mesmerizing bucket list experience that no Venice visitor should miss.
Roman Arena in Verona
Built in the first half of the 1st century AD, the Verona Arena is one of Italy’s largest and well-preserved ancient amphitheaters.
Just like its big brother, the Roman Colosseum, Verona Arena used to host gladiator battles, animal fights, and various local events. Unlike the Colosseum, though, Verona Arena is still in operation. Every year the amphitheater is used to host large-scale opera events.
Psst: did you know Verona was Shakespear’s favorite Italian city? Learn more about it and other fun Italian facts here.
Located between Naples and the Amalfi coast, the ancient archeological site of Pompeii is one of the most infamous areas in the world.
Devastated by the anger of the Vesuvius volcano in 79 AD, the ancient city of Pompeii was buried under so much volcanic ash that the horrible last moments of its citizens remained forever encapsulated in time.
While the tragedy was obviously horrible for the ancient Romans (especially for the citizens of Pompeii), this tragic event gives us the best possible view into the everyday life of the ordinary Romans, making it one of the top archeological landmarks in Italy.
The Duomo in Milan
One of the most awe-inspiring constructions, not only in Italy but in the entire world, the Duomo is also one of the slowest constructions ever. Like in the whole history of mankind ever! How much did it take to be made, you ask?
Just six centuries!
It may have taken a while, but at least the job was well done. The Duomo is the 4th largest church globally and features the most impressive fine ornamented gothic exterior you’ve ever seen.
If you ever find yourself in Milan, don’t skip a trip to the Duomo’s roof, either. It lets you enjoy the fine details from up close and presents a great panorama of the square in front of the church.
The Amalfi coastline, with its rugged rocks and spectacular beaches, is the premium sea retreat area in Italy. Featuring plenty of picturesque villages overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, Amalfi is the go-to place for plenty of millionaires, celebrities, and European aristocracy.
Stretching from Positano to Salerno, Costiera Amalfitana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, attracting over 5 million tourists every year.
Cinque Terre is a group of five small towns on the Italian Rivera and also one of the most picturesque destinations in Europe.
Situated around 100 km (62 mi) south of Genoa, the pastel-colored towns suspended on the cliffs create a dramatic but also pleasing image that captures the imagination of millions. While world-famous, the villages and (especially) the area around them are not that well-developed, making hiking trails and boats the only way to move from one town to another.
Valley of the Temples, Sicily
Argintetno’s Valley of the Temples is the largest archeological site on Earth (13 sq km/5 sq miles). Dating back to the 5th century AD, the valley is dotted with seven Greek temples, the most famous being – the Temple of Concordia.
Concordia is so well-preserved that most people are astonished to find out it was built over 1500 years ago. It looks hardly a hundred (or two)!
The other temples in the valley are the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Heracles, the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of Hephaestus, the Temple of Asclepius, and the Temple of Zeus.
Speaking of landmarks in Italy, we can’t skip Mount Etna. The infamous volcano is located on Sicily’s east coast and is Europe’s largest and most active volcano.
Its last eruption was in February 2021, and it was the fourth one in the last 20 years. When Etna is not blowing streams of hot lava, it’s actually quite an exciting place to explore. It may sound dangerous to some, but tours over Etna, either by foot or 4×4, are the region’s most popular activity. As someone who loves to climb volcanos, all I can say is – go for it!
The Italian Alps are the most famous mountain range in Europe. Every winter, millions of winter sports enthusiasts flock to the spectacular mountains to enjoy a vacation like no other.
The most prominent area of the Italian Alps is the Dolomites. Considered the most stunning natural landmark in Italy, the Dolomites are not only picture-perfect but also feature 18 peaks higher than 3,000 meters (9842.52ft) which make them the dream destination for landscape photographers and rock climbers alike.
We finish our tour around the best landmarks in Italy with a fairytale village that looks like nothing else on Earth – Alberobello.
Situated in Southern Italy’s Puglia region, most of the houses (named Trulli) in this charming little town are built in a peculiar and authentic local way. They are blinding white, made out of limestone boulders, and feature either a pyramidal, domed or conical roof.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, the Trulli’s origin goes back all the way to the 16th century. During the time, the house taxes were paid on the number of roofs your home has, so the region’s clever ruler came up with a design that will save the village plenty of cash.
While the Trulli are not exclusive to Alberobello, the town is made entirely out of them, submerging you into a white fairytale you’ve never experienced before.
That’s all from me, I hope these 20 Italian landmarks managed to inspire you.
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