The sheer number – there are hundreds – even thousands – of amazing landmarks in Italy is staggering. In our guide to the best Italian landmarks, we’ll show you some of its many World Heritage Sites and lesser-known sites to explore.
Seeking out the most famous landmarks in Italy is a natural first step in discovering the country, and this guide will help you navigate your way. Our virtual tour of Italy’s landmarks veers from two volcanoes to Venice, with wonders from ancient Rome to the Renaissance and Baroque Sicily to the Bay of Naples.
We begin our Italian landmark journey in the north of the country with a small selection of Venice landmarks to whet your appetite, before moving south through the country.
Landmarks in Italy
1. San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
If you stand on the Molo waterfront in Venice, you are literally surrounded by top Venice sights.
The elegant Renaissance-era church of San Giorgio Maggiore seems to float on the shimmering water of the lagoon. Andrea Palladio’s church is perfectly proportioned, and it’s a magnificent sight from wherever you look.
If you’re visiting Venice in winter, try to catch a sunrise behind San Giorgio from the Molo, it’s the best time of year to do so.
2. St Mark’s Basilica Venice
The jaw-dropping Basilica di San Marco is indisputably the finest of all the churches in Venice, Italy and up there with the most beautiful in Europe.
Its façade is adorned with fine mosaics and statues, behind which a cluster of domes and crosses evoke the Near East and exotic wonders beyond. Well, having travelled to most of the ‘beyond’ I can say that St Mark’s is as exotic as anything out there, and it has some of the finest mosaics in Christendom.
The Piazza San Marco is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, and its Campanile is another great Venice landmark.
3. Santa Maria della Salute
Even if you’re restricted to a day trip to Venice, you’ll almost certainly see Santa Maria della Salute.
This Baroque beauty sits in Dorsoduro, near where the Grand Canal passes out into the wide Venetian lagoon. It was built as thanksgiving for the deliverance of the city from the plague in 1631, though it took 50 years to reach completion.
It is one of the great Venice icons, a stunning building visible both from the San Marco waterfront and the Accademia bridge.
4. Rialto Bridge
The Ponte di Rialto is one of the most famous landmarks in Venice and one of the most beautiful bridges in Europe.
It was the first bridge over the Grand Canal Venice, completed in 1571, and shops still operate there as they did when it was completed 450 years ago.
The Rialto is the busiest hub on the Grand Canal, and the Rialto markets and Pescheria (fish markets) are among the best things to see in Venice.
See Also: What Is Italy Famous For?
You can’t miss the Venice lagoon island of Burano as you approach across the water, the wonky belltower of its church pointing a good few degrees out of the vertical towards the Adriatic sky.
You can’t miss the tower when you land either, but by far the best of the things to do in Burano is to walk the streets, canals and alleyways and marvel at the hundreds of vivid shades of colour in which the houses are painted.
This has made it one of the most beautiful villages in Europe, and one of the best places to head to if you’re photographing Venice in detail.
6. Il Santo, Padua
The Basilica of St Anthony of Padua is one of the most impressive sights in Italy.
It’s known locally as ‘Il Santo’ – ‘the Saint’ – as there’s seemingly no need to name him.
Anthony was a follower of St Francis of Assisi, whose own Basilica attracts far more international visitors. Its domes and towers are a little reminiscent of the Istanbul skyline of mosques and minarets, and most of it was built in the 13th and 14th centuries to house the tomb of St Anthony.
Visiting Il Santo is one of the best things to do in Padua, a hugely underrated city less than an hour from Venice.
7. Milan Duomo
Milan Cathedral is unquestionably one of the most famous Italian landmarks, an intricate and exuberant Gothic masterpiece that took 600 years to build.
The classic view of it is across Piazza del Duomo, but for a different angle head up to the roof where you’re very close to the statuary and pinnacles.
Inside is similarly impressive – it’s the fifth largest church in Christendom, and if the lights are turned on you get to appreciate the superb stonework so much more than in the murkily-lit gloom I got the first two times I visited.
8. Mole Antonelliana, Turin
The soaring Mole Antonelliana dominates the Turin skyline, and looks especially magnificent on a clear evening with the snow-capped Alps behind.
It’s an unusual design, a tower, dome and spire all in one, reaching a height of 550 feet (167 metres).
Built by Alessandro Antonelli, it was originally conceived as a synagogue, only for costs to spiral as Antonelli modified plans to build higher and higher. The Jewish community eventually withdrew from the project, and it became the Museum of the Risorgimento in 1908. It now houses the excellent Museo Nazionale del Cinema.
9. Ravenna Churches and Mosaics
After the fall of Rome, the Adriatic coastal city of Ravenna was the most powerful city on the Italian peninsula.
It was the main western outpost of the Byzantine Empire, and this relatively short period of power left an incredible legacy. Five churches and chapels within the city, and one just outside at Classe (pictured), house a staggering collection of 5th and 6th century mosaics, among the finest surviving early Christian art. They are among the outstanding monuments of Italy, and Ravenna is one of several fairly easy day trips from Bologna.
10. Cinque Terre
The five Ligurian coastal villages of the Cinque Terre are among the most famous landmarks of Italy.
Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia, anarola and Monterosso al Mare are built into the cliffs and steep coastline, making it one of the most dramatic and beautiful landscapes in Europe. Paths, boats and trains connect the villages, and tr, if you can to spend at least a couple of days there – a Cinque Terre day trip just doesn’t do it justice.
11. Neptune Fountain Bologna
The Fontana di Nettuno is one of the most famous monuments in Italy, dominating Piazza Nettuno and the adjacent Piazza Maggiore, the historical heart of Bologna.
One of the best things to do in Bologna is to sit at one of the cafes in the arcades around the square watching the flow of people passing by. The bronze statue of Neptune by Giambologna has become the symbol of the city, and one of the most famous statues in Italy.
12. Florence Duomo
The cathedral of Florence sits serene above the Florence skyline, exactly as it has done for around 600 years.
The exterior is a stunning work of marble, the massive dome by Brunelleschi covered in distinctive terracotta tiles, and the campanile (belltower) by early Renaissance master Giotto da Bondone offers an unforgettable view over the great Duomo and surrounding city. If you’re planning on photographing Florence, you’ll be spending plenty of time here. Rightly one of the most famous landmarks in Europe.
13. Siena Duomo
Siena Cathedral is one of the most famous Italian buildings, a statement of magnificence in black and white marble that still makes me think of an Everton mint.
It sits on the highest point in the city, above streets of medieval houses, and from whatever vantage point you find – including the Torre del Mangia (see below) – it’s an awesome sight. It’s also rather marvellous inside too. The area around Siena is one of the best places to stay in Tuscany, a great base for exploring the Tuscan hilltowns and countryside.
14. Siena Piazza del Campo
The Piazza del Campo is the main square of Siena, a shell-shaped space that’s one of the great squares of Europe.
It’s mainly surrounded by austere red-brick mansions all facing down towards the Palazzo Pubblico, whose tower, the soaring Torre del Mangia, dominates the Siena skyline along with the Duomo. The Palazzo Pubblico is decorated with some extraordinary frescoes by the Sienese painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti, and it also houses the Museo Civico. The best view of the Piazza is from the ‘Panorama’ that is part of the unfinished cathedral, which can be accessed via the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
15. Leaning Tower of Pisa
Perhaps the most famous landmark of Italy of them all, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has long been shorthand for tourist cliché.
See Tower. Obligatory photo with you pretending to hold it up. Eat very bad overpriced pizza. Leave. It deserves so much more than that, it’s a Romanesque architectural masterpiece, part of an amazing ensemble with the Duomo and Baptistery. Forget everything you’ve ever heard and take a fresh look at one of the best European landmarks of all, ideally in the low season when you can the crowds have gone.
16. St Peter’s Basilica Rome
Although it’s located in the Vatican City, St Peter’s Basilica is one of the most famous landmarks in Italy, and indeed Europe.
It’s the largest church in the world, built on what was believed to be the site of the burial of St Peter the Apostle. This is now below the high altar and ornate baldacchino, or canopy, by Bernini. The Basilica is one of the high points of Renaissance architecture, and one of the principal pilgrimage destinations in the world.
17. Colosseum Rome
Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum is one of the most recognizable landmarks Italy has, its rows of arches a memorable calling card indeed.
It’s also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, after the Imperial dynasty (which included Vespasian and Titus) during whose reign it was built. Completed around 80 AD, it housed up to 80,000 spectators, and it’s located next to another of the most famous places in Rome, the Roman Forum.
18. Trevi Fountain Rome
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous landmarks in Rome and one of the most recognized fountains anywhere in the world.
It’s a grand 17th century Baroque fountain which backs onto the walls of a palazzo. It’s located in a fairly small square, so it’s one of the most crowded places in Rome – which is saying something! Nonetheless it’s a must see in Rome, and especially beautiful at night.
19.Victor Emmanuel II Monument, Rome
The Vittoriano is one of the largest and most prominent Rome landmarks, conceived in the 19th century as a memorial to King Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy, who did much to bring about Italian Unification.
It’s also something of a national monument, with one part of it, the Altar of the Fatherland, Altare della Patria, includes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s quite a pompous, bombastic building, variously called ‘The Wedding Cake’ and (my favourite) ‘The Typewriter. It looks out over busy Piazza Venezia, and from the rooftop terrace you get a bird’s eye view of the Capitoline Hill and Roman Forum.
20. Palazzo della Civilta del Lavoro, EUR, Rome
This is undoubtedly the most notorious Italy landmark in this article.
This palace, in a spacious area of office buildings on the outskirts of Rome, was commissioned by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, and was meant to host part of the 1942 World Fair, which was later cancelled. It’s commonly known as the Square Colosseum, and was partly a tribute to this more famous Rome landmark. It is at first sight an impressive building, like a few other examples of fascist architecture such as the Olympiastadion in Berlin, but for me this is overshadowed by distaste at many of the dictator’s policies. Still, it’s a part of Italian history that should be solemnly remembered.
21. Palazzo Ducale Urbino
Urbino is a splendid walled city in Le Marche, a much-overlooked region of eastern central Italy.
The city flourished during the Renaissance era under its Duke, Federico da Montefeltro, who ruled between 1444 and 1482. The whole city is one of the loveliest historical places in Italy, but the striking Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace). Look out for the tiny, absolutely exquisite studiolo, a tiny room with incredible wood carvings where §Federico used to retreat for some quality ‘me time’.
22. Vesuvius and Naples
The twin peaks of Mount Vesuvius loom ominously close to the edge of the suburban sprawl of Napoli, Naples, a vast crazy metropolis for which I have enormous affection.
Neapolitans are always very wary of their near neighbour, not least at the Festa di San Gennaro, Naples three times a year. The dried blood of the local patron saint, Januarius, miraculously liquefies on these days – and if doesn’t, it’s believed to be a bad omen. When it failed to liquefy in 1944, Vesuvio blew its top soon afterwards.
Naples, together with Vesuvius, makes for one of the most recognizable and beautiful cityscapes in Europe. The best place to see it is from the suburb of Mergellina, where a funicular whisks you up the hill for unforgettable views.
The ancient Roman city of Pompeii was entombed in volcanic ash and debris in AD 79, remaining hidden from the world until its chance discovery in 1748.
Most of the population was incinerated alive by scorching pyroclastic flow from the erupting Vesuvius, and casts were later made of many poor souls contorted in their death throes. Pompeii is now one of the most famous Italian landmarks, a provincial town where everyday Roman life was frozen for all time. It can be reached on the Circumvesuviana line between Naples and Sorrento, and a Rome to Pompeii day trip is also easily done.
The landscape of the Cilento region to the south of the city of Salerno is dotted with farms selling mozzarella di bufala, the road eventually reaching the coastal town of Paestum.
This was part of Magna Graecia, the Greek colonies in what are now southern Italy and Sicily. In Greek times the site was known as Poseidonia, and three of its ancient temples – dating from 550-450 BC – remain. They are extraordinary, among the best-preserved Greek temples to be found anywhere in the ancient world, and worth the trip from Naples, Rome or the Amalfi Coast to see them.
25. I Faraglioni, Capri
Capri, in the Bay of Naples, is one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean, and its trio of sea stacks, the Faraglioni, are its best-known landmark.
Some Capri boat trips take you through a natural archway in the central stack. The outer stack is the sole habitat of a remarkable blue lizard. You can see the Faraglioni from many Capri vantage points – the Belvedere di Tragara is the closest, and you can also clearly see them from high up on Monte Solaro, the highest point on the island.
26. Castello Aragonese, Ischia
The island of Ischia is one of the easiest day trips from Naples, and one of the main things to see in Ischia is the commanding Castello Aragonese.
It’s one of the most beautiful castles in Europe, resplendent atop a rocky islet just off Ischia proper. The majority of what you see today dates from the 13th to 15th centuries when it was in Angevin then Aragonese hands. It’s part fortificatrion, part village, with some beautiful churches and chapels and awe-inspiring views over the Gulf of Naples.
27. Villa Rufolo, Ravello
The Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe, an impossibly picturesque area with imposing mountains plunging vast heights into the gorgeous azure asea.
There’s nowhere better to see it than the Villa Rufolo in Ravello, a village with a grandstand view of the coast around the city of Amalfi. The Gardens are one of a select must see places in Italy, with one of the most familiar views in Italy to savour. A lone umbrella pine reaches high beyond the horizon to the blue sky, while below the two cupolas of the chapel look out over the unforgettable scene.
Positano village is at the other, west end of the Amalfi Coast, a short bus ride over the neck of the peninsula from nearby Sorrento.
It’s rather reminiscent of the Cinque Terre, with rows of houses seemingly stacked on top of each other, though it’s always been a bit more chi-chi. The village is an amazing sight, the beach is pleasant, and it’s the starting point for Amalfi Coast boat trips and the Sentiero dei Dei, the Footpath of the Gods through the vertiginous mountains behind the village.
29. Mount Etna
Etna is by far the highest volcano in Italy and continental Europe, and it’s very much active too.
It’s 3326 metres high, and can be seen from the Italian mainland and across much of eastern and southern Sicily. The most famous vantage point is the ancient Greek Theatre in Taormina. The landscape surrounding Etna is constantly changing, and one way to explore it is on the narrow-gauge Circumetnea railway, which runs from Catania Borgo to Riposto, taking a minimum of three hours to travel the 110 km route one way.
30. Piazza del Duomo, Ortigia, Siracusa
Ortigia Sicily is one of the most captivating places in Italy.
It’s the ancient island core of Siracusa (also known as Syracuse), a Greek colony that became the most powerful city in the Mediterranean. Ortigia is a warren of narrow streets lined with lovely old 18th century townhouses, with the Tyrrhenian Sea lapping either side. The highlight is the stunning Piazza del Duomo , a spacious square centred around the gorgeous Baroque façade of the cathedral. It’s the most beautiful square in Italy that we’ve visited, an absolute must see in Sicily.
31. Noto Sicily
Like much of south-eastern Sicily, the town of Noto was levelled by the devastating earthquake of 1693.
The town was rebuilt from scratch nearby in the local golden stone, all in magnificent Baroque style. It’s a harmonious whole without ever feeling uniform in any way. The result is an amazing collection of churches, palaces and townhouses, some of which are adorned with some seriously lavish sculpture. The whole town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with seven other rebuilt towns, including nearby Modica, Ragusa, Scicli and Catania.
The Puglian town of Alberobello is one of the most famous places in Italy because of its trulli, distinctive whitewashed houses, typically with conical or domed roofs.
They were also built without mortar as a tax dodge by the local feudal lords, the Acquaviva family, to avoid paying out revenue to the king. There are over 1,000 trulli in Alberobello, whjch have mainly been converted into artisan shops, cafes and restaurants. The town is best seen after the tour groups depart in the late afternoon, and it’s also possible to stay in a trullo, with several trullo hotels, guesthouses around B&Bs around the town.
33. Baroque Lecce
Lecce is located in the Salento, the so-called ‘heel’ of boot-shaped Italy. It’s best known for its stunning array of Baroque churches and palaces, which make the centre one of the most beautiful historical sites in Italy. It has often been called ‘the Florence of the south’ but it has more in common with Noto in Sicily (see above) or Salamanca in Spain, the latter because its locally sourced stone is also ideal for intricate carving. Don’t miss the Basilica di Santa Croce, Lecce Cathedral and San Niccolo & Cataldo Church.
34. Grand Canal Venice
This long, snaking thoroughfare through the heart of Venice is possibly the most beautiful street in the world. The Grand Canal takes you past hundreds of majestic palaces, lined with boats and their distinctive wooden moorings.
The best way to enjoy the Grand Canal is by taking the number 1, the slowest of the vaporetti – Venice’s waterbuses – along its length. It’s like being in a movie you’ve seen before as you recognize each scene unfold, from the first peek of the arcades of the Rialto to glimpsing the domes of Santa Maria della Salute. The grand finale is the first sight of the campanile of San Marco and the Doge’s Palace as the Canal opens out into the lagoon.
35. Doge’s Palace, Venice
Also known as
the Palazzo Ducale, the Doge’s Palace was the seat of the Doge, the elected leader of the Venetian Republic. It’s an absolute must-see in Venice, and is part of the main concentration of Venice sights around St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco).
It’s a formidable sight, one of the greatest Gothic buildings in medieval Europe with its stunning Venetian Gothic arcades running along both facades. The interiors are sumptuous, with paintings by all the Venetian masters, including Tintoretto, Titian and Veronese.
Venice’s gaol – I Prigioni – is part of the site, the dark, dank cells (accessed via the Bridge of Sighs) accommodating those who disobeyed the laws of the Republic or fell foul of its rulers.
36. Ponte Vecchio, Florence
The present Ponte Vecchio – Old Bridge – is one of the best-known Florence landmarks, spanning the river Arno at its narrowest points in the city.
It’s one of the most recognizable bridges in Europe, with rows of shops either side. The original butchers and tanneries have long since been replaced by jewellers and artisan shops selling craft souvenirs for tourists.
When the Nazis retreated from Florence in 1944, they blew up all the bridges in Florence except the Ponte Vecchio – supposedly on the orders of Hitler.
37. Uffizi Gallery, Florence
The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is one of the greatest art museums in the world. Occupying what was initially conceived as a large complex of government offices (Uffizi) built by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century, they now house the vast collection of the Medici dynasty that ruled Florence for much of the Middle Ages.
The Uffizi’s collection is so vast that some of it has had to be shared with other Florence art museums as they don’t have the space to exhibit everything. Their astounding collection includes Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi and Michelangelo’s The Holy Family.
38. View From Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence
The whole of Florence is the landmark here, viewed from a wide hilltop square above Renaissance city. Whereas the city’s manifold artistic treasures are housed in and around the city centre, your visit to Florence isn’t complete until you get the full panoramic effect of the city – quite a work of art itself – from the Piazzale Michelangelo.
One of two replicas of Michelangelo’s David overlooks the square, which is busy through the day with buses and coaches. Below you, the landmarks of Florence are laid out before you – the river Arno, the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio and Ponte Vecchio. An essential stop if you’re planning on photographing Florence. While you’re there, take she short uphill walk to San Miniato al Monte, one of the most beautiful churches in Florence.
39. San Gimignano
San Gimignano, situated between Florence and Siena, is one of the best-known Tuscany landmarks, and one of the most popular Tuscan hilltowns. It’s renowned for its skyline of medieval towers and its wealth of medieval architecture, preserved in many buildings around the town.
It’s well worth a day trip from either Siena or Florence. Head for the two main squares, Piazza della Cisterna and Piazza del Duomo, the latter with the fine Collegiate Church. For the best views of San Gimignano, either climb up to the Parco della Rocca, or take a walk in the surrounding vineyards and countryside.
40. Juliet’s Balcony, Verona
Not so much a landmark of Italy, more of a tourist trap, this balcony is reputed to be that from which Shakespeare’s Juliet would look and call out for her beloved Romeo.
The classic tale of thwarted love was set in the city, and based on two wealthy families, the Capulets and Montagus. The balcony has become one of the most popular Instagram spots in Italy, the photo there as much of a tradition as ‘holding up’ the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
41. Roman Forum, Rome
Between the Colosseum and the Capitoline Hill, the Foro Romano is one of the most famous landmarks in Italy. Around 800 metres long, it comprises some of the most famous monuments in Rome, including several temples, two of the finest triumphal arches in Rome and many smaller ruined buildings. It’s the most evocative of ancient Roman sites, the heart of the ancient city and, indeed, Empire that covered much of Europe.
The most impressive things to see in the Roman Forum include the magnificent Temple of Saturn, with a whole row of intact columns, and the nearby Arch of Septimius Severus, at the Capitoline end. Also head for the awesome Arch of Titus, towards the Colosseum end, dating from the 1st century AD.,
42. Pantheon, Rome
One of the finest historical landmarks in Italy, the Pantheon was built as a temple to the Roman gods, and has also been in use as a church (St Mary and the Martyrs) since the 7th century.
Its continuous use – around 1, 900 years – has kept it in a state of remarkable preservation, and both its concrete dome (43 metres high) and Classical portico façade have had enormous influence on architecture over the following millennia. One of the greatest landmarks in Rome.
43. Spanish Steps, Rome
The Spanish Steps – also known as the Scalinata di Trinita dei Monti – are a grandiose 135-step staircase linking the Piazza di Spagna with the Trinita dei Monti church.
The view from the bottom is one of the most famous in Rome, and it’s one of the most popular places in the city to hang out. It’s often crowded in the daytime, when it’s a sun trap, and in the evening.
The Spanish Steps are at their most beautiful in late April and early May when they are decorated with azaleas. Tip: if you can rouse yourself at 5 am at this time of year, you’ll see the bedecked Steps in all their splendour, without another soul in sight.
44. Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Rome
Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel are among the greatest works of art on the planet, an immense undertaking that took him over years. The Chapel ceiling, commissioned by Pope Julius II, has had enormous influence on subsequent art, in particular the depiction of figures.
It took Michelangelo four years – from 1508 to 1512 – to paint the ceiling. Remarkably, at the time he was primarily known as a sculptor rather than a painter, and it is believed he suggested his contemporary Raphael for the work instead.
However, his frescoes – mostly depicting scenes from the Book of Genesis and other parts of the Old Testament – had a profound impact, with many regarding him as the greatest artist of the age as a result.
45. Monte Cassino Monastery
Monte Cassino Monastery is one of the best-known landmarks in Italy to followers of religious and Second World War history. The monastery was the first foundation of St Benedict, and the first in the prominent Benedictine Order, dating from 529 AD. It has been rebuilt several times since then, reaching the zenith of its influence in the 12th century.
It occupies a strategically important site, overlooking the X river valley and route north to Rome. It was the scene of a series of four protracted battles in 1944 as the Allies struggled to capture the near-impregnable monastery. Nazi German forces were eventually forced out after holding out for several months.
The entire site was rebuilt after World War II, and it also houses several war cemeteries, including the vast Polish cemetery, where over 20,000 soldiers were laid to rest.
46. Solfatara Caldera, Pozzuoli
This most unusual of Naples landmarks is located in the nearby town of Pozzuoli, in the heart of the Campi Flegrei (‘Phlegraean Fields’), an area of high volcanic activity just along the coast from the metropolis of the Mezzogiorno.
Solfatara is an open caldera, partly surrounded by low cliffs, and it’s a fascinating place to see a day in the life of a volcano. At the time of writing you can only view it from a short distance away. Grey volcanic mud pops, oozes and bubbles away, while sulphuric smoke is belched out from fumaroles. The smell will probably linger in your memory as much as the sight of the place, but it’s well worth a half day trip from Naples, combined with the nearby Roman amphitheatre in Pozzuoli.
47. Lama Monachile Beach, Polignano A Mare
One of the most famous natural landmarks in Italy, this stunning narrow beach opens out to sea caves and crystal-clear water. Either side, houses crowd along the top of the dramatic white cliffs, which are sometimes the venue for cliff diving competitions.
This gorgeous seaside town is one of the best places to visit in Puglia, and one of the most beautiful places along the coast of the region – the ‘heel’ of the ‘boot’ of the map of Italy – along with Vieste and the Gargano Penionsula.
48. Sassi, Matera
For much of the 20th century, the sassi – caves – of the southern city of Matera were one of the most infamous landmarks in Italy. Hundreds of caves dug into the calcarenitic rock have been used as homes for thousands of years, but by the 20th century the people there were living in shocking, abject poverty, a stain on the reputation of the Italian nation.
People lived in the Matera sassi as long ago as 7000 BC, and in recent years they have become known as a tourist destination, and one of the most famous places in Italy. Now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they have brought some prosperity to Matera and the surrounding Basilicata region. Some of them are now open as shops, restaurants, even hotels.
49. Ancient Greek Theatre, Taormina, Sicily
The best place to view Mount Etna is from the ancient Greek Theatre in Taormina, in the north-east of the island of Sicily.
It’s an astounding sight, the remains of a 2,500 year old ancient theatre framing the smoking eminence of the most active volcano in Europe.
Try to get there at opening time – 0930 – to enjoy the best view, when the sunlight is coming from the right direction. One of the top things to see in Italy.
50. Scala Dei Turchi, Sicily
These dazzling white cliffs are one of the most famous Sicily landmarks, and are well-known to devotees of the Inspector Montalbano TV series.
They are located on the south coast of Sicily, near the small town of Porto Empedocle. The cliffs are composed of marl and limestone, and get their name as they were a regular stop-off point for Saracen and Turkish pirates and smugglers in the Middle Ages and later.
The Scala dei Turchi were vandalized in January 2022, two men pouring red dye onto the white rocks, but fortunately the damage seems to have been averted.