39 Must See Landmarks in Italy
There may be affiliate links in this post. Read my disclosure policy to learn more.
Italy is known for its delicious food, beautiful architecture and rich history.
There are countless famous landmarks to visit when you travel there and we want to help you find the best ones! We’ll show you where they are and why they should be on your list of places to see. Whether it’s the Colosseum or Venice, we have something for everyone!
Famous Landmarks in Rome
The Colosseum is one of the most famous landmarks in Italy.
It was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre and was commissioned by Emperor Vespasian around 70AD, though it was completed by his son Titus in 80AD. It remains today as one of Rome’s most iconic symbols.
The exterior of this incredible amphitheater boasts more than 80 columns with some 40 meter tall statues on top. The inside is just as impressive where you will find an oval arena surrounded by three tiered seating that can hold up to 87,000 spectators at any given time!
This amphitheater has been used throughout history for various different reasons including housing animals during gladiator events or hosting chariot races. Today you can tour the Colosseum, but you will need to get your tickets ahead of time or you will spend your entire day waiting in line.
Book your Tickets ahead of time here.
Pantheon is one of the best known buildings in Rome.
This ancient monument is dedicated to “The One God” and has been standing since 126AD. The original was built by Marcus Agrippa but it burned down about 80 years later. Emperor Hadrian then rebuilt the Pantheon into what you see today, including its remarkable dome that can still be seen high above all other buildings in the city!
The dome has inspired countless other architects through the centuries including Thomas Jefferson who built a similar dome at his home in Monticello, Virginia.
It’s also unique because not only does it have incredible architecture, but due to its shape it actually works as a sundial too! We think this alone makes it worth a visit.
You can’t miss out on an opportunity like that when you’re in Rome so make sure to add this one to your list!
The Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is one of Rome’s most popular landmarks and it was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1656. This huge plaza is actually the largest one in all of Rome and it has plenty of amazing art pieces to admire as well.
There are many fountains in the Piazza but the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is the most famous. The obelisk that rises from the fountain makes it unique among fountains in all of Italy.
The buildings surrounding this area are some of the best examples of baroque architecture, especially since they were built after a fire that destroyed many Roman landmarks during the mid 17th century.
The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps were built in the 1720s and were meant to be a grand stairway that connected Piazza de Spagna with Trinita dei Monti Church.
They were designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis who wanted this place to have plenty of intricate marble designs around its base so visitors could marvel at them as they climbed up or down these stairs.
The Spanish Steps are a great place to eat lunch, people watch, and enjoy the expensive boutiques that surround the area.
St. Peter’s Basilica
Peter’s Basilica has long been considered one of Rome’s most important landmarks because it’s located in Vatican City where the Pope lives.
This massive basilica is known for being one of the biggest churches in all of Catholicism! Its design changes from Renaissance through Baroque since there have been many renovations throughout the years which means it looks very different from what was originally constructed here centuries ago.
It is a place of pilgrimage for many Catholics today, and a place of great beauty for tourists and locals alike.
Located inside the Vatican Museum , this chapel was commissioned by Pope Julius II and his goal was to have some of the best Renaissance artists decorate it with beautiful murals. Construction started in 1508 after architect Giovanni de’ Dolci began creating designs for this place.
Sculptor and painter Michelangelo Buonarroti was hired to decorate the ceiling and he did this by painting nine scenes from the Book of Genesis.
This is one of the most important works of art in the world and well worth a visit if you are in Rome. The Vatican has some other amazing art and you should definitely see as much as you can while you are there.
Ticket lines are very long so buy a ticket before you go to Rome to get in quickly.
St. Peter’s Square was first built as a proper piazza in 1586 and it was redesigned between 1656 and 1667 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini as an open area where pilgrims could gather to see and hear the pope’s blessings.
In addition to its size, visitors will also notice that the Vatican Palace is situated on one end of this plaza while St Peter’s Basilica is located on the other side.
This monumental fountain was designed by Nicola Salvi and completed in 1762 so it’s one of the newest attractions on our list even if it feels like it’s been around for centuries! The shape is meant to resemble an ancient Roman temple, but visitors will get more of a “wow” factor when they see how great this fountain looks at night.
There is a legend that say visitors who toss a coin with their right hand over their left shoulder into this fountain will ensure that they can return to Rome one day.
Must See Landmarks in Florence
The Duomo in Florence
The Duomo is the main religious structure in Florence and it’s famous for being an amazing example of Gothic architecture! The stunning exterior has many ornate details that are well worth seeing, but so is the famous dome which will definitely leave you in awe.
You can climb to the top of the dome with a special entry ticket.
Inside there are numerous tombs dedicated to different Medici family members who were integral to the history of the city. You can also see a baptistry and even climb to the top of the dome for spectacular views over Florence!
The Pitti Palace and Boboli Garden
This palace was built in 1458 to serve as a home for rich Italian families, but it’s also become an art gallery where many different pieces of artwork are on display. It has been visited by famous people such as King Charles VIII, Emperor Napoleon and Queen Elizabeth II over the centuries.
On the grounds of Pitti Palace is the Boboli Garden which has many famous pieces of sculpture. It also affords the visitor a beautiful view of Florence.
The Uffizi Gallery
This gallery was started in 1560 by Cosimo I de’ Medici who wanted to create the best art gallery in all of Europe. Many different artists have their artwork displayed here ever since, though visitors will find that Botticelli has a lot of paintings on display.
One of the most famous statues in the world, David is located outside the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. This sculpture was designed by artist Michelangelo and finished in 1504, but it wasn’t placed outside until 1873 after moving around several different locations to get the best lighting. To this day, people are still amazed by how lifelike David looks even though he’s carved from marble.
Located in Florence, this bridge was built in 1345 and it has been standing ever since. Before that, there were other bridges that stood here before the construction of the Ponte Vecchio began, but this is considered to be one of the most beautiful landmarks in all of Italy because of its unique design.
Must See Landmarks in Venice
Located in Venice, this historic bridge has been standing for centuries (it was started in the 15th century and finished in 1591) and it is one of the most famous canal side crossings since it connects two very different parts of this city.
It is packed at most times of year, but if you can get to the railing you will be rewarded with an amazing view.
The Doges Palace
The Doge’s Palace is an amazing medieval building that has been home to the doges of Venice (the rulers of the city) for many centuries. It’s also one of the best examples in all of Italy for Gothic architecture with its pointed arches and elegant tracery windows!
The Palace was originally started back in 814 but construction continued for over 500 years until the late 15th century when it was finally complete. Today, The Doge’s Palace houses a number of museums that all feature artifacts from Venetian history and culture.
St. Marks Catheral in Venice
The St. Mark’s Basilica is an iconic sight in Venice because it’s one of the largest, oldest churches in all of Italy! It has a majestic exterior that fits perfectly with the Gothic architecture you’ll see around Venice.
The Basilica also contains a lot of religious relics related to St. Mark himself, who was one of the 12 apostles and also the author for the second book of the New Testament!
The Basilica is definitely worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Venice.
Best Landmarks to see in Milan
One of the most important cathedrals in all of Italy, the Duomo di Milano is also considered to be one of the biggest and best examples of Gothic architecture. It was started way back in 1387 and took over six centuries to complete! This huge structure is located in the center of Milan so it’s easy to visit once you’re in the area.
The Duomo di Milano has inspired many artists since its construction began and one of them was Leonardo da Vinci who actually designed a wooden model for this place that was meant to be erected here long before his death in 1519.
Not only is the interior beautiful and light filled but you can walk up to the rooftop and get a panoramic view of Milan..
Galleria Vitorio Emmanuelle
This stunning “shopping mall” was built by the king of Naples in 1887 and is quite possibly one of the most unique shopping centers you will ever visit!
The Galleria is an elegant, royal-looking arcade that has all the top luxury brands and couture stores under one glass domed roof. This famous Milan landmark also houses bars, cafes or restaurants to match its grandeur as well!
Best Landmarks in the rest of Italy
Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on mainland Europe.
It’s part of a larger volcanic region that includes six other volcanoes along with Naples which used to be located inside of its crater! Mount Vesuvius is the most famous of all these mountains because it buried Pompeii and Herculaneum under ash back in 79AD, though both towns are now excavated and make for amazing day trips if you ever visit the area.
Mount Vesuvius is still active today meaning there is a very real risk for future eruptions and destruction like we saw back in ancient times. However, all visitors to the area are required to sign a waiver before visitation which means that the Italian government is dedicated to keeping people safe.
If you find yourself in Naples or nearby then definitely take a day trip to Mount Vesuvius and see the beautiful scenery as well as capture stunning photos of an active volcano!
The Blue Grotto
Blue Grotto is an incredible sea cave in the Italian island of Capri.
The Blue Grotto is underwater cave that’s illuminated by an otherworldly blue light! This natural phenomenon shines through the water while above it there are stalactites and formations on the roof of the cave.
You can take a boat tour to the mouth of the Blue Grotto from Marina Grande.
The most intense blue is found between noon and 2 pm.
Juliet’s Balcony in Verona
This is where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was inspired. The balcony has an amazing view of the city for all visitors to enjoy!
The view of the balcony in the courtyard is free, but to go and stand on the balcony you will have to pay for the tour.
There are a number of fun Romeo and Juliet things to see throughout Verona.
The Ultimate Guide to NYC for first timers
The Duomo of Siena is one of the best examples of architecture that you’ll find in all of Europe.
Siena Cathedral was built between 1215 and 1263 and features a Gothic style look with a marble facade similar to most churches or cathedrals from this time period. The most notable feature about this building is the striped marble in white and green. The colors of the marble are repeated on the interior.
As beautiful as the Siena Duomo is on the outside, its is more spectacular on the inside. Beautiful mosaics and sculptures are found throughout the cathedral.
Cinque Terre is the name of five picturesque fishing towns that offer excellent beaches all year round thanks to their ability to remain relatively warm despite having relatively cold currents nearby! The blue waters surrounding these towns are just one part of what makes them so special since there are also several hiking trails you can take advantage of when you visit.
Much like the other towns in this area, Monterosso (the largest of the 5) is a vibrant tourist destination that offers visitors a wide variety of ancient churches and vineyards to explore throughout the year! There are also some amazing seafood restaurants here too so be sure to try out some of the local dishes during your visit!
This UNESCO World Heritage Site has become one of Italy’s most visited landmarks with each town offering something different! For example, Riomaggiore has an old castle which you can climb up for views over town while Manarola boasts beautiful beaches along with its impressive church.
If you want to go off exploring on your own then definitely read our post about visiting Cinque Terre before you go.
Located in Bologna, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world’s oldest universities and it has been operating for over 10 centuries! It was established in 1088 making it the oldest University in the Western World.
The oldest campus Archiginnasio has an outstanding library that is worth visiting! There are some beautiful college buildings here too like Palazzo Poggi which was constructed between 1561 and 1563.
Pompeii is home to an archaeological site that was completely destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD which means modern visitors can get a peek at the buildings and structures that have been preserved beneath tons of Pyroclastic Flows!
It’s one of Italy’s biggest tourist attractions since there are many ancient homes, temples and other structures that were uncovered when this place was first excavated.
Pompeii requires a lot of walking and the ground is very uneven, so be warned before you go.
You will want to buy tickets ahead of time to keep from waiting hours.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
This is one of the best known landmarks in Italy as it has fascinated people for centuries.
This cathedral might be a Roman Catholic house of worship, but it has a decidedly different architectural style from Gothic cathedrals since its current design comes from a more ornate period of architecture called the Renaissance.
The Leaning Tower sits nearby this cathedral since there are actually two of them that were both constructed in different centuries.
You can climb up the leaning tower but you need to book ahead of time.
The Trulli of Alberobello
These ancient dwellings can be found in the Italian region of Puglia and they were built back when this area was still under Greek rule.
The very first trulli were built sometime during the 16th century and they earned their UNESCO World Heritage site status back in 1996. These small homes make use of dry stone walls in a unique way and they have a conical roof made out of limestone slabs or even dry grass.
They are so charming to visit and walk through.
Built in the 12th century, these towers were located on top of each gateway leading into Bologna as fortification for the city. Most have been torn down or fell into disrepair. But the twin towers in the center of town remain as a wonderful place to visit.
Walled City of Lucca
Created to protect the city of Lucca, this walled area was built in 1626 and it has been standing ever since. The best way to get around this part of the city is by walking along its streets or looking at some of the beautiful artwork on display here.
You can ride tandem bikes around the top of the wall allowing you to see Tuscany in a new way.
Located on the island of Sicily, this volcano is one of the most active in the world, but it’s also considered to be an extinct volcano even though there are some earthquakes that still shake up this area.
Mount Etna is more than 3,329 meters tall and it can be found near Aci Castello where you will find a great way to see this attraction.
Located in Tuscany, you can find this historic hill town that has about 11 different towers to look at. These towers were built between the 12th and 14th centuries by rich families who wanted to protect themselves from possible invaders on their land.
Out of these medieval buildings, only seven are left today which is why it’s so important that visitors don’t walk on the walls that surround this area.
Plus San Gimignano is home to the “best gelato in Italy” according to recent contests.
This coastal village is known for its beautiful views and luxurious hotels. Positano can be found on the Amalfi coast and most people try to visit it when the weather is sunny with a warm sea breeze blowing through this area.
It’s also a great place to go shopping since you’ll find many luxury boutiques here. Positano is one of the truly beautiful places in Italy.
Located in Tuscany, Siena was first settled back in pre-historic times which means that it has been standing since before Roman rule began. This historic town is also home to some very impressive architecture that still stands today, including one of Tuscany’s most iconic landmarks: Il Campo (a large public square).
Located in north-central Italy, the largest lake here has been around for more than 5 million years.
Home to resorts like Riva del Garda and Limone sul Garda which means that you can spend a relaxing vacation on its shores or go shopping at one of their many upscale boutiques.
These mountains form a natural border between northern Italy and eastern Europe. The Dolomites were originally formed through the process of mountain building(millions of years ago) but eventually became part of the Alps as well as the Apennine Mountains.
They have been around for almost 250 million years so you know that they are going to be here for a long time to come since this is one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges.
The Dolomites are very popular with climbers and backpackers.
These mosaics are considered to be one of the finest examples in all of Europe and they were made during the 5th century when Italy was ruled by both the Byzantines and Ostrogoths.
If you want to see some amazing art, then this is one place that you need to visit because it has over two million tiny pieces of glass and marble that were used to make incredible artwork.
Located in Lombardy, Lake Como is a popular tourist destination that attracts thousands of visitors every year. You can find villas and resorts here as well as shops that have been selling luxury goods since the 1800s.
There’s also a scenic ferry ride that lets you see a different view of this lake from water level which affords you beautiful views of the town.
I hope you enjoyed 39 Must See Landmarks in Italy, and that it helped you determine where you want to visit on your next trip.
For more information on the what, where, when and how of visiting Italy please check out one of my other posts.
Movies to see in Italy before you go
37 Things to do before you go to Italy
Like this post? Pin it for Later!
I endorse products I’ve personally used or come highly recommended by my trusted peers. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Leave a Reply