Florence is one of Europe’s best art cities. The crown jewel of the Italian Renaissance, the city boasts over half a dozen famous art museums from the Uffizi Gallery to Pitti Palace. It's also one of the best Italian cities for architecture, with a marble inlaid Duomo that will take your breath away.
Head to the Tuscany region and it's capital for romance, art and shopping.
With an excellent train city, Northern Italy is at your fingertips. Visit Turin, a stately city in Piedmont known for its grand boulevards, magnificent squares and art nouveau cafes. Turn is famous for its Viennese influence, industrious people and elegant atmosphere. This is also the birthplace of Italy's iconic Fiat!
Ah, the Cinque Terre. Located in North Italy's Ligurian Coast, this region is perfect for the traveler who wants to live La Dolce Vita, and soak in sun, great food and beach time.. and not much else.
Five towns spring up on the rocky Meditteranean coast, and the hilly trail which connects them is one of Italy's best hikes. Manarola, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso - which will be your favorite?
Want to know where Italians head on vacation? Look no further than the Italian Lakes.
This picturesque region in Northern Italy has been a holiday destination since Roman times, where the wealthy built magnificent villas right on the serene lakes, at the foot of the majestic Alps. With meticulously planned gardens, incredible views, and opulent resorts, it's the perfect romantic escape.
Isola Bella is my favorite of the trio of islands that make up the Borromean Islands. With a castle like mansion that once entertained the likes of Napoleon and a terraced garden filled with white peacocks, it's an unforgettable day trip from Lake Maggiore.
Bologna is another great foodie town, but also a thriving city in its own right. With a prominent local university, medieval past and great restaurant scene, it's worth stopping through Bologna for a night or two!
Ravenna is one of Italy's best kept secrets. This small town houses Western Europe's best collection of Byzantine mosaics, with seven UNESCO World Heritage Sights and amazingly well preserved monuments.
Have you ever seen two cities built on top of each other? No? Then head to Bergamo! A Medieval city unlike any other, Bergamo has an ancient Upper Town built atop its modern day city. See the fabulous church, walk the ancient walls and try some excellent regional pasta.
Love it or hate it, Venice is one of the most unique cities in the world. Canals criss cross the city while romantic bridges connect separate tiny islands.
Hop in a gondola to be serenaded, explore the Doge's Palace and worship the great Basilica of St. Marc. Venice is a city to be lost in, with twisted streets, small squares and arched bridges... and crowds too!
If there's one place to start your journey to Italy, make it Rome.
The city is rich in history, with monuments like the Colosseum, Pantheon, Forum and Palatine Hill dating back to ancient times. It's the stronghold of Catholicism, where the Vatican holds sway. And of course, there's beautiful art like Michelangelo's Sistene Chapel and Pieta.
The city itself is one of our favorites. Whether you want to make a wish at Trevi Fountain, window shop on Via Veneto or stroll through the Borghese Gardens, you can easily spend a week alone in Rome and leave wanting more.
Visiting Italy – Trip Planning Checklist
There's so much to see and do in Italy that you can visit again and again and still discover new sights. I recommend concentrating on the big 4 cities (Rome, Venice, Milan & Florence) if it's your first time and then coming back to explore either Northern Italy or Southern Italy in more depth.
Go | Flight prices from the US to Italy are highly seasonal. You can set a fare alert here to be notified of discounts. Every fall & winter, I've seen great deals to Milan. One word of caution: avoid Alitalia at all costs!
Getting Around | A convenient way to explore Italy is via high speed train. You can search train schedules and book online here. Buy your tickets in advance to save on fares. Make sure to validate your ticket on the platform!
It also helps to speak a little Italian. Brush up on your Italian language skills with Rosetta Stone. You can take 10% off with promo code CJBT10.
Stay | Book hotels in advance to save, or check here for last minute deals. Many hotels in Italy are older so don't be surprised if even 5 star accommodation feels slightly dated. Opt for a room with a view instead of breakfast, as Italians don't eat breakfast in the same way Americans do and you'll probably be disappointed with their offering.
Alternatively, groups or budget travelers can check out Airbnb.
Protect | Lastly, be sure to visit Italy with travel insurance. Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, your phone gets stolen, or a flight delay leaves you with nothing but the clothes on your back, travel insurance will help when you need it most.