The 9 Best Places To Visit in Italy

Italy is a country you just can’t stop yourself from visiting over and over. Here are some of the best places to visit in Italy:

Monti Sibillini

Monti Sibillini was one of the highlights of my trip to Umbria. It is the only national park in Umbria and is shrouded not only in unique beauty but myths and legends. The legends of the fortune teller Sibilla date back further than the middle ages and are still told today. I consider this one of the best places to visit in Italy.

I had the unique experience of exploring this exciting region of Italy on the back of a donkey named Nina. She really did make the tour so much more enjoyable. She had such a confident demeanor and even enjoyed every opportunity to be photographed. The tour was organized by the excellent La Mulattiera.

 

monti sibillini me on the back of a donkey
Traveling in style with Nina in Monti Sibillini National Park.

Know Before You Go Donkey Riding in Monti Sibillini National Park:

  • Book in advance
  • Bring a hat and gloves, it can be windy
  • Trips range from a couple of hours to multi-day expeditions
  • Donkey riding is family-friendly and children as young as six can do it (sometimes younger, but check with Roberto before you go)
  • Piano Grande Plateau is located just 40km from Norcia 
  • Donkey riding is surprisingly comfortable – although you will be sore for about 5 minutes upon dismounting
  • It’s more difficult than it looks to take photos from the back of a donkey!
  • You can stay at the Agri-Hotel Ristorante Hermitage in Norcia or the Relais & Chateaux Palazzo Seneca.
  • Enjoy historical tours or hiking tours of your choice.

The Cascada della Marmore (Marmore Falls)

Marmore’s Falls (or Cascata dell Marmore) is the world’s tallest man-made waterfall at an incredible 165m! There are 3 sections of the waterfall, the highest being the top one. Making Marmore’s Fall even more incredible is that it was constructed during Roman times and dates back to 271 BC!  Guess building the Rome Coliseum for the gladiators weren’t the only things keeping the Romans busy! Maromore falls definitely deserves to be on a list of best places to visit in Italy.

Marmore's Fall
Marmore’s Fall When Its Turned Off

For the last 20 years, Marmore’s Falls has been used to generate electricity for the Umbria region and so miraculously the falls turn on and off – off when the water from the canals above the falls is being diverted to the hydroelectric power plant and only on at certain times of the day. 

Our group missed the on waterfall by 20 minutes, not able to pull ourselves away from our amazing lunch at Hotel Cursula where we dined on Umbrian dishes made with local ingredients like truffles and surprisingly, saffron. Besides being on my list of best places to visit in Italy, it is also some of the best food I have ever had.

Know Before You Go To Marmore Falls

  • The most important thing is to check the schedule to see when the falls will be turned on.  
  • You can check the schedule at Marmore’s Falls official site.
  • There are 5 different routes visitors can choose, each providing a different vantage point of the falls. 
  • All 5 routes combined take  ~ 2hours.  
  • Best Time to Go to Marmore’s Falls according to our guide:  June, July and Sept.  Avoid August, especially Aug 16th which is a holiday in Italy meaning large crowds.
  • There are over 300 caves at Marmore’s Falls.  Caving tours can be arranged.
  • An adult ticket to Marmore’s Falls costs 8.  Tours can also be arranged in a variety of languages for an extra cost.
  • Marmore’s Falls is located ~ 7.7km from the medieval town of Terni
  • Located ~77km of Marmore’s Fall is Monti Sibillini National Park.
  • Stay in Terni at the Residence Bizzoni. 
  • Take a special tour through the towns of Cascia and Norcia and make a stop at the Marmore Falls on the way.

Perugia Umbria

City wall in Perugia, Umbria, Italy

Although Perugia is considered the cultural and artistic capital of Italy, it is often overlooked by tourists. It is located almost halfway between Florence and Rome, just over 2 hours each way by train. Perugia is easily reached by train. If you’re renting a car you’re in luck as the region rivals Tuscany in beauty. Perugia is one of the best places to visit in Italy.

Here you will find the old town wall and architecture that hints at the city’s old age of 310 or 309 B.C. It is also a university town so most of the foreigners that you encounter are naturally students. But that adds to the town’s charm.

You’ll be excited to know those amazing Baci kisses are made in Perugia. There is even a Chocolate School  (site is only in Italian)! Real chocoholics know the best time to come to Perugia is in October for the Eurochocolate Festival which is held annually.  

By far the best part about Perugia, besides the chocolate of course but we’ll get to that, is the labyrinth of streets beneath the town. The Rocca Paolina was once part of a 16th-century fortress built by Pope Paul III. The fortress was later destroyed and the remains have been sucked up into modern-day Perugia. Now the underground streets are lined with shops, museums, and exhibits and you can access them through escalators.

perugia umbria town
View of Perugia

Know Before You Go to Perugia, Umbria

Activo Park Umbria

Given my adventurous spirit, I thought a day at Activo Park in Valnerina, Umbria would be a child’s play. Luckily I was wrong.

Activo Park is an outdoor nature park that offers something for people of all ages. It’s popular with families, but our group was all adults and we had a blast.

Acrobatic Park tested all of our limits. It consists of a square of different ropes, each with their own challenges. Once you’ve done the first round, you climb higher to the second round and then to the very high third round. Each obstacle tests strength, balance, fear of heights and sheer will – sometimes all simultaneously! Let me tell you there are some real doozies.

activo park acrobatic park
One of the easier parts of the Acrobatic Park at Activo Park. Photo taken by Alfonso Tortora.

When I completed the Acrobatic course, I was exhilarated! I felt alive and a sense of accomplishment! If I could complete the Acrobatic course, what else could I achieve in my life, by staying focused, taking small steps to reach another goal? The contemplation would have to wait until later – it was time for the canopy tour, also known as a zip line. Exhilaration trumps contemplation!

Know Before You Go To Activo Park

  • Avoid the crowds, by visiting Activo Park at lunch, or later in the day, or best of all in the evening
  • To get the most out of your visit to Activo Park, Marco recommends doing the activities in this order: 1) Spider-man (an intricate series of ropes resembling a spider web, found just inside the park entrance), 2) Acrobatic Park (see photos and description above), 3) Tubing (there is a small slide), 4) Lunch, and finally 5) Canopy Tour (zip lining)
  • Activo Park is open every day from June -August, the rest of the year it’s only open on weekends
  • It is also open during the week for groups of 10+, but you must reserve in advance
  • An adult ticket costs a reasonable 25 Euros and includes all the activities listed above

Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm in German) 

Needless to say, the scenery is SPECTACULAR!  If that wasn’t enough, Alpe di Siusi is also home to Europe’s largest alpine meadow.  AND there’s still more! Sitting at approximately 1850m, it is also the training ground for many Olympic athletes from around the world.

I ran into the women’s Norwegian cross-country ski team.  My dreams of being BFFs with an Olympic athlete were quickly dashed though – they were in the middle of a training run and flew past us.  alpe di siusi seiser alm1

 

Alpe di Siusi offers a variety of activities ranging from hiking, running, biking, climbing and even paragliding. There’s even a race held every year where you can race alongside (OK behind) Kenyan Olympians!  You might want to start off with a cup of coffee first from Valentin Hofer, Italy’s first coffee sommelier.  This really is one of the best places to visit in Italy.

Know Before You Go to Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm):

  • German and Italian are widely spoken in Alpe di Siusi.  Despite being in Italy, German is many resident’s native languages in this region.
  • Alpe di Siusi is at a high elevation (approximately 1850m) so give yourself time to acclimatize and don’t plan anything too ambitious activity-wise until you have done so.
  • Bolzano is the largest city in the area with lots of train/bus connections.
  • Alpe di Siusi is ~120km south of Innsbruck and ~300km north of Venice.
  • Be sure to check out Spikes in the Dolomites, a gorgeous photo from Simon at Wild About Travel for another perspective of  Alpe di Siusi.  And also Touring the Dolomites in Northern Italy from Jeff at EuroTravelogue.

Molise 

Valleys and mountains seen from the village of Pescocostanzo

Molise is a quiet and untouched region in Italy that offers you solitude. Whether your soul searching or just need peace away from the craziness that is our everyday lives, Molise offers all of this. 

With one of the lowest population densities in all of Italy, solitude, wilderness, and heck even brown bears await you! Don’t worry…they’re friendly….and only found in selected areas…or so I hear!

I traveled around Molise by train.  Not just any train mind you, but a private train organized through Molise Discovery Leisure Train Tour (now called Kolidur Travel Club).  SNAP! 

OK I kid, it’s actually very affordable with a  50 – 70km train ride costing €45 adult. You will be serenaded by costumed folk singers and served local home-made delicacies and espresso in the tiny doll-size cups that Italians love so much!

It’s unlike any train ride I’ve ever been on. But without a doubt, the best part is what’s outside the train. It’s not simply enough to just look at it though, you’ll want to experience it either by hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding.

Stay in any of the small towns in the region including Campobasso at the Hotel San Giorgio. Or enjoy the coastal town of Termoli and stay at Dependance Ludovica.

You will also find a great selection of Airbnb’s in the region. Use this link to book your stay or experience and get €25 off your home booking and €9 off an experience.

Turin

Turin is part of the Piedmonte region. The city is located on the western bank of the Po River and at the foot of the Susa Valley. Turin is surrounded by mountains and there are several national parks in the region, which is perfect if you are looking for things to do outdoors in Turin.

It is a foodies dream, an adventurers haven and the perfect place to stroll around and enjoy Italian culture, coffee, and chocolate. So put on your best walking shoes and let me take you through the best things to do in Turin. I got to check out some of the best things to do in Turin such as Stupinigi hunting residence and even went gelato tasting at one of Turin’s famous gelaterias. 

Know Before You Go To Turin

  • Turin is ~1 hour from Milan and there are trains and buses available.
  • Accommodation is great in Turin, you can stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Turin Lingotto which is a unique experience.
  • There are plenty of tours available such as the weird and wonderful underground tour or night tour. If you want to see all the major attractions on a budget then try the Torina/Piemonte pass.
  • Turin is a great vacation idea in winter and summer and there is plenty to do indoors and outdoors.

Lecco, On The Shores Of Lake Como

It will appeal to everyone from mountain lovers, water sports enthusiasts and those who consider gelato tasting to be a serious sport! It’s a 50-minute drive from Como, or a 40-minute drive from Viale Campoè, where you can do a very cool zip line! Lecco is one of the best places to visit in Italy.

Lecco dates back to the 12th century. It grew to become one of the most important industrial centers in Italy during the Industrial Revolution. Today, the affluent city is home to ~48,000 people. As you leisurely stroll through the town you will find yourself looking at some of the most breathtaking views of the lake and the mountains meeting the lake.

Lecco and Mount San Martino as seen from Lake Como.
Lecco and Mount San Martino as seen from Lake Como.

At its deepest point, it’s 410 meters deep, one of the deepest lakes in all of Europe! I would love to come back to dive in Lake Como! Back in Lecco, it’s easy to explore the historic city center on foot. The bell tower, the Campanile di San Nicolo is a popular attraction. You can climb to the top of the 98-meter bell tower for a small donation.

You can choose to explore the gorgeous historic city, or perhaps the mountains in the backdrop are calling your name! Besides hiking to San Martino (pictured behind the bell tower), or taking cable care, there are an incredible 10 via ferratas in the area. The not so far away from the Dolomites also offers via ferratas and incredible multi-day hikes.

Know Before You Go To Lecco 

  • Accommodation is easy to find whether you’re looking for an apartment such as Le Casette Di Osvaldo or a great hotel like NH Lecco Pontevecchio
  • Lecco is ~1 hour from Milan and is easily reached by train, bus, and car.
  • Don’t miss out on a boat tour to explore Lake Como and the other picturesque towns around it.

Cinque Terre

There are so many reasons why Cinque Terre is one of the best places to visit in Italy. In fact, one of my favorite things to do in Cinque Terre is hiking. 

With its medieval fishing villages, stunning far-reaching views of the Italian Riviera, the opportunity to refuel with delicious just-caught fish and a glass of local wine from the vineyards you’ve just hiked past.
hiking cinque terre

However, there are a lot of things to figure out before you hike the Cinque Terre. Perhaps one of the most important things is that you shouldn’t just limit yourself to Cinque Terre. You’ll find incredible hiking trails all along the Italian Riviera. On our self-guided hiking tour Hiking the Italian Riviera: Cinque Terre and Beyond we give you the best of both worlds.

You’ll hike in the world-famous (and often crowded) Cinque Terre and also explore a bit further along the coast. You’ll avoid the crowds and see stunning parts of the Italian Riviera that many travelers miss out on. We provide a detailed itinerary with step-by-step instructions for each hike, but you’re free to choose which one you do on which day and whether to choose the easier or more difficult option – when available. It’s your vacation. You choose what works for you.

Whether you choose to do our self-guided hikes or go it alone, here’s what you need to know before you hike Cinque Terre.

Make sure to check out Travel Deals for the best flights, accommodation, and travel insurance for your trip to Italy. 

Have you visited any of these places in Italy? If you haven’t you should put these on your list of must-sees.

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