It’s hard not to fall head over heels in love with beguiling Italy. With its famous landmarks, historic cities, world-famous cuisine and stunning landscapes, this boot-shaped country has so much to offer travelers. The only problem? It can be hard to narrow down the list of must-attractions when planning a vacation to Italy. So to help you customize your vacation itinerary, check out this list, which contains the most beautiful and famous landmark in Italy.
1. Milan Cathedral
Also known as the Duomo di Milano, this grand building is the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world. Only Spain’s Seville Cathedral is larger. The Milan Cathedral is a wondrous white structure that covers an entire block. Its exterior features thousands of spires, and there are more statutes on this gothic and neogothic cathedral than on any other building in the world. Construction on this building first began in 1386, but — probably not surprising given its size — it took approximately five centuries to complete. With five naves, the interior of this cathedral is also very large. If you have time, make sure to venture to the top of the cathedral where you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area.
2. Cathedral of Monreale
Located in Sicily, this attractive building can be found just a few miles from Palermo, the capital city of this island. The Monreale Cathedral, which was once a part of a royal complex, is considered by many to be the finest example of Norman architecture in Sicily. Construction first began on this building in the 12th century and because Sicilian and Byzantine craftsmen worked on the project, you can see influences from both cultures throughout the cathedral. The Monreale Cathedral is most famous for the gorgeous golden mosaics depicting events from the Bible that cover its interior. And if you decide to make the climb to the top of this cathedral, which is located high up on a slope of Monte Caputo, you will be rewarded with beautiful views of Palermo.
3. Ponte Vecchio
The much-photographed Ponte Vecchio, which spans the Arno River, is the oldest bridge in Florence. The bridge as it appears today dates back to 1345, though it is believed that there may have been a structure spanning the river prior to that. The Ponte Vecchio you can see today is a closed medieval stone bridge that is home to numerous goldsmiths and jewelry shops and is bustling with tourists. During World War II, this bridge was the only one spared by the Germans as they retreated. Local legend claims that it was actually Adolf Hitler who ordered that the famous bridge be spared because he was so impressed with it during his visit to Florence in 1939.
4. Mount Etna
Mount Etna, which is located on Sicily’s east coast, is Europe’s largest and most active volcano. Eruptions, in fact, happen quite frequently. In December 2015, for example, Etna let loose a brief but impressive lava fountain that spewed 3,200 feet over the volcano. Surprisingly, you can still visit this active volcano. There is a cable car that will take you partway up Etna, and from there, you can choose to walk up to designated craters. Or you can choose to forego the cable car and just walk all the way up. There are also 4×4 tours available that will take you to explore the volcano and to a cave, where you can check out old lava flows.
5. Trevi Fountain
Even if you didn’t know its name, you are probably familiar with this famous fountain that visitors throw coins in to ensure that they will return to Rome. That fountain is called the Fontana di Trevi or the Trevi Fountain. This stunning beauty is truly a work of art and is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome. The Trevi Fountain consists of a facade and a sea reef created from travertine as well as gorgeous statues carved from Carrara marble. At the fountain’s center is a large statue of Neptune. Below him are two Tritons leading two sea horses, one wild and one tame, which are meant to reflect the two moods of the sea. This stunning fountain has been featured in several movies, including La Dolce Vita and Roman Holiday.
6. Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is, arguably, the most famous of Venice’s many stunning bridges. This beautiful arched stone bridge was built between 1588 and 1591 and spans the Grand Canal. The Rialto Bridge boasts three walkways. The central walkway is wide and lined with shops, while the two others are much narrower and look out over the water. Many visitors flock to this area to take pictures of this beautiful bridge and to also shoot photos of the Grand Canal and the gondolas from the Rialto.
The Colosseum is located in the center of Rome, and it is one of Italy’s most iconic sites. Construction on this impressive building began in 72 AD, and during its heyday, this grand stone amphitheater could seat more than 50,000 spectators and was the site of brutal gladiator battles, chariot races, fights between wild animals as well as humans battling with beasts. The Colosseum was also designed to be watertight so that mock navy battles could be fought in the arena. Although only two-thirds of the original structure remains, it is still a very interesting and impressive place to visit, especially if you have an interest in gladiators.
8. Tower of Pisa
This famous leaning tower can be found in Pisa, a seaside town located in Tuscany. The tower is part of cathedral complex known as Campo dei Miracoli. This world-famous tower, which is more than 180 feet tall, is actually the freestanding bell tower for the cathedral. It began leaning during its construction because the soil underneath it had shifted. For a while, it was feared that the structure was going to collapse, but work was done on it to stabilize it. And in 2010, the building was reopened to visitors after it was deemed strong enough to handle the traffic.