The Most Beautiful Towns in Italy

Visiting Positano, on the Amalfi Coast, should be at the top of your Italian itinerary
Visiting Positano, on the Amalfi Coast, should be at the top of your Italian itinerary | © mauritius images GmbH / Alamy
Photo of Mary Jane Dempsey
2 September 2021

Most travels to Italy are limited to three particular cities – Rome, Florence and Venice. Nevertheless, this country contains a number of stunning towns with curious histories; here are some of the most beautiful worth adding to your itinerary.

Keen to visit Italy but not sure where to go? Take your pick from Culture Trip’s specially curated 10-day Northern Italy trip or our action-packed 10-day Sicily adventure.

Siena

Architectural Landmark
Map View
View of Siena
Siena is full of historical and architectural gems just waiting to be discovered | © rudi1976 / Alamy Stock Photo

With a historic center that’s been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Tuscan city of Siena is situated on three hills. Famous for its 17 contrade, or neighborhoods, who compete in the Palio horse race twice a year in Piazza del Campo – the main square of the city, which is shaped like a shell with scalloped edges. Expect to find beautiful, historic architecture and a uniquely neighborhood vibe. Interested in visiting? You can do so with Culture Trip by joining our specially curated 10-day Northern Italy tour.

Todi

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Todi, Umbria, Italy
Todi, Umbria, Italy | © BERTOLISSIO Giovanni / hemis.fr / Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Situated on the east bank of the Tiber River, Todi is noted for having the ability to reinvent itself through time. The city is located in Umbria and you can find many castles just by walking through the center. After being damaged during World War II, the Todi Castle has recently been renovated and is definitely worth a visit.

Palmanova

Building
Map View
Palmanova Cathedral
Palmanova Cathedral | © Palmanova Cathedral at Piazza Grande- Church seen at sunset / Alamy Stock Photo

Shaped like a star, Palmanova is noted for being the best example of a Renaissance ideal city due to the town being constructed in line with utopian theory – the concentric circles that make up the city represent perfection, as well serve for defense. You will find this town in the southeast Friuli-Giulia, between Udine and Trieste; it will pique the interest of those who are fascinated by unique architecture.

Riomaggiore

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre National Park, Liguria, Italy, UNESCO
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre National Park, Liguria, Italy, UNESCO | © Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy Stock Photo

One for those who don’t mind hiking their way to a beautiful view, Riomaggiore never fails to impress with its brightly painted buildings on the cliffs overlooking the Gulf of Genoa. As the first of five villages that make up the Cinque Terre – a stunning section of the Italian Riviera coastline, which features on our 10-day small-group Northern Italy trip – Riomaggiore is the point of departure for those following the trail up and down the La Spezia hills, starting with the famous Via dell’Amore – the path that leads to Manarola.

Civita di Bagnoregio

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
Aerial view of Civita di Bagnoregio
Aerial view of Civita di Bagnoregio | © Andrea Rescigno / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’re looking to get out of the Eternal City, just 75mi (120km) north of Rome you will find Civita di Bagnoregio. Located on the top of a volcanic tuff overlooking the Tiber river valley, the city’s buildings are constantly at risk of crumbling due to the slow erosion of their underlying support, so much so that plans have been formed to insert steel rods into the cliff, preventing further damage to the structures. Due to its location and erosion of the earth, Civita has become known as the “town that is dying”.

Sabbioneta

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Italy, Lombardy, town of Sabbioneta, Chiesa dell'Assunta
Italy, Lombardy, town of Sabbioneta, Chiesa dell'Assunta | © White Fox / AGF Srl / Alamy Stock Photo

Another site on the World Heritage List, Sabbonieta is found in Lombardy, about 19mi (30km) from Parma. The city is considered another brilliant example of Renaissance urban planning theories. Sabbonieta also has a historic Jewish ghetto where tourists go to see a centuries old Hebrew printing press.

Bologna

Architectural Landmark
Map View
View from Piazza del Nettuno down Via Rizzoli towards the Due Torri, Bologna
View from Piazza del Nettuno down Via Rizzoli towards the Due Torri, Bologna | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo

Jutting into the skyline, the Asinelli and Garisenda stand tall at the heart of Bologna. Famous for being the home of the first university in Europe, Bologna also offers beautiful sights due to its well preserved historical center and porticoes that serve as roofs for the sidewalks. The Bolognese culture also distinguishes this town from others in Italy; for example, in 2006, Unesco selected Bologna as a “city of music”.

Positano

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Positano, Amalfi coast, Campania, Italy
Positano, Amalfi coast, Campania, Italy | © Stefano Politi Markovina / Alamy Stock Photo

Located in the Salerno province, Positano is a village situated on the Amalfi Coast, with crystal blue waters and cliffs that drop into the sea. Though the town lost some of its liveliness due to emigration, tourists began to discover the beauty of this colourful cliff-top town and revitalized its atmosphere. You can catch a glimpse of Positano in films such as Under the Tuscan Sun.

Lecce

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Roman amphitheatre (Anfiteatro romano di Lecce) and Sedile Palace (Palazzo de Seggio) in Piazza Sant'Oronzo in Lecce
Roman amphitheatre (Anfiteatro romano di Lecce) and Sedile Palace (Palazzo de Seggio) in Piazza Sant'Oronzo in Lecce | © Angus McComiskey / Alamy Stock Photo

If you want to see baroque architecture but cannot face the crowds in Florence, then the Pugliese city of Lecce just may be what you are looking for. Known for its sculptures and ceramic production, Lecce is a city whose buildings recount its past, especially its connection with Greek culture, it’s said that the Cretans founded the city.

Agrigento

Architectural Landmark
Map View
The Temple of Juno in the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento - Sicily, Italy.
The Temple of Juno in the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento - Sicily, Italy. | © Marius Dobilas / Alamy Stock Photo

Formerly known as the ancient Greek city of Akragas, Agrigento is a Sicilian city where you can still see the ruins from the golden age of Ancient Greece. Due to its archaeological legacy, Agrigento has become a popular site for tourists. In particular, there are particularly well preserved temples believed to be attributed to goddesses, Juno Lacinia and Concordia.

These recommendations were updated on September 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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