Ciao, Bella! Ever wanted to travel to Italy but not sure what to do there? Below is a carefully curated list of the 20 Best Things to do in Italy to make your Mediterranean getaway one you will never forget. Enjoy!
With its breathtaking architecture, delicious food, rich history, and bottomless wine, Italy is the perfect destination to escape reality and discover luxury. Italy is one of the most traveled countries in Europe, and with a good reason. You will discover something extraordinary around every cobblestone and beautifully constructed corner. Whether you’re a history buff, art-lover, adrenaline junkie, or foodie, we have compiled the Top 20 Things to do in Italy that will be sure to satisfy your guilty pleasure. All you’ll have to worry about is what flavor gelato to indulge in while strolling around the streets on your Italy vacation.
If you’re looking for one of our personalized experiences to venture off the beaten path and discover the hidden gems get in touch with us!
Top 20 Things to do in Italy
Eat pizza in its homeland
If you think you’ve tasted pizza in its true form, think again. You’ve sampled everything from deep dish to extra cheese to thin crust. But, have you ever grabbed a slice from the town pizza was born? A trip to Italy would not be complete without a visit to Naples to try authentic pizza in all its cheesy, gooey, saucy glory. You can’t go wrong with most pizza shops in Naples. However, if you want the true carb-lover-experience, we recommend trying out the famous Antico Pizzeria Port’Alba, Pizzeria di Matteo, and Pizzeria Sorbillo. Each restaurant is a popular tourist spot and justifiedly so. There’s something special about eating something so close to home in the place where it was created. You may leave Italy with a lot of things, but you surely won’t leave hungry.
Cooking classes in Bologna
If you’re anything like us, you’ve mastered the art of making take-out look like a home-cooked meal. Put the menus away and channel your inner chef by taking a cooking class on your trip to Italy. It’s easier than it sounds. Cooking classes will give you the kind of genuine cultural insight you crave, while also brushing up on your cooking skills (or maybe giving you new take-out ideas). At the Culinary Institute of Bologna, you’ll learn how to cook like a local and roll out pasta by hand. Don’t be nervous, the more mistakes you make, the more you get to eat them. There’s nothing more satisfying than indulging in a home cooked meal made with your own two hands. Well, actually there is – learning to cook it in Italy.
Ski the Dolomites
If you’re an adrenaline junkie craving a little adventure, what better way to raise your heart rate than to ski down Europe’s highest mountain range? Some of the most famous snow-covered slopes and ski resorts are found in the Dolomites, where 12 major ski areas cover 1,200 kilometers of trails. If you’re a beginner or just haven’t hit the slopes for a while, you can take a class to brush up on your skills before diving back in. Take in the spectacular scenery and even go night skiing if you can’t bear to rip yourself away from the slopes. For the most part, snow is almost certain from November to April, so if you’re traveling between those times don’t forget to gear up. Because what better way to spend an Italian vacation than in the snow, right?
Spiaggia Rosa (Pink Beach)
White, sandy beaches on your mind? How about a pink, coral beach? I know, it sounds a bit unbelievable, but Spiaggia Rosa is actually one of the few beaches in the world to have pink sand. The color of the sand comes from a combination of crushed coral, crystals, fossils, and dead marine creatures, which fuse together to create a rosy blush tint. Don’t let the dead creature part ruin the ambiance. Lucky for you, this unique and breathtaking spot is located on the Italian Mediterranean, making it a go-to stop on your Italy vacation. Although this isn’t a lounge in the sand type of beach, it will be sure to make the perfect photo op with its crystal clear waters and distinctive scenery. After all, how many people do you know can say they felt pink sand between their toes?
Enroll in Gladiator School
Do like the Romans do and get yourself enrolled in Gladiator School. If you have to drag your kids to another tourist sight against their will, it’s time to check out gladiator school. They teach visitors about the ancient Roman fighters by educating them about the history and then demonstrating how the gladiators battled back in 264 BC. The best part is, you’ll get to show off the skills you learned in a real arena with your very own weaponry. Don’t worry mom, it’s kid-friendly and accessible for anyone above the age of six. Discover the secrets of Imperial Rome and bring out your kids’ inner gladiator, or yours!
Marvel at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
What better way to get the creative juices flowing than to visit the famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It’s no surprise that the Uffizi Gallery is on just about every art lovers must-do list when traveling to Italy. Overdose on Renaissance art and marvel at the outstanding collection of ancient sculptures and paintings from the 14th century. As if that wasn’t enough of a reason to check it out, the Gallery also consists of an invaluable collection of ancient statues and Roman copies of lost Greek sculptures. If this museum is at the top of your bucket list, be sure to reserve tickets months in advance as only small groups of visitors can enter at a time in order to preserve the magnificent works. You’ll leave the gorgeous museum feeling inspired and ready to give Michelangelo a run for his money.
Take a Gondola ride. Or don’t?
Ah, romance is in the air. And so is the status of your bank account. Yes, gondola rides are undeniably romantic but they’re also a pretty penny to put it nicely. If you’ve always wanted to learn what the hype was about and you have it in the budget, go for it! Gondola rides are truly personal and offer a stunning view of the city. However, if you’re on a tight budget like the rest of us, take a ride on the Vaporetto instead. The Vaporetto is Venice’s waterbus system and has quickly become the city’s major form of public transportation. They take visitors along the main canal, to the islands and even around the lagoon. Wait until the sun sets, grab some wine and your travel buddy, and you won’t even know the difference!
Cruise along the Amalfi Coast
Are craving a romantic, thrilling, or scenic experience? What if I told you that you could wrap all three emotions into one, inexplicable sensation? A drive along the Amalfi Coast will leave you feeling daring, free, exhilarated, and even maybe a little scared. The road along the Amalfi Coast is famous for its sharp bends, narrowness, breathtaking views, oh, and steep drop to the ocean. This experience definitely isn’t for the faint-hearted. With steep mountains on one side and a drop to the Mediterranean on the other, you’re going to want to take it slow. Once you get past the uneasiness, you will appreciate the stunning panoramic views of the rugged cliffs against the sparkling sea. Although you won’t witness this beauty anywhere else in the world, if you’re afraid of heights you might want to sit this one out.
Gelato for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Haven’t you always wanted an excuse to eat ice cream for every meal? Well, now you can live your childhood dreams and indulge in gelato at every corner. You won’t even have to think about the calories since Italian gelato is made with milk rather than cream, which means it’s a lot less fattening. Not to mention you’ve earned it from all the walking you’re doing, right? With a new flavor and shop on every street, you’ll need to make a gelato stop multiple times a day to taste as many as possible on your trip. Although every gelato shop will be sure to exceed expectations, you can’t go home without a trip to “La Romana.” This hand-made gelato will leave you craving more in your sleep. After all, diets don’t count on vacation, everyone knows that!
Did you say it? If you’re a cheese lover, this will be sure to keep the smile on your face. For foodies around the world, the third weekend in September is a national holiday because the biannual Slow Food Cheese Festival will be up and running in Bra. Yes, I said cheese festival! Now this isn’t your typical food festival. This event is designed to bring together producers and eaters alike to attend workshops, dinners, and tastings, all for a good cause. The overall aim is to promote regional producers and local products to support local businesses and traditions. The event attracts around 150,000 people and sells over 1200 kg of mozzarella cheese over the course of one weekend. After all, it’s for a good cause, right?
Live like a local
What better way to venture off the beaten path than to live like a local and rent your very own apartment or villa? If you really want the full Italy experience, check out of your tourist oriented hotel and get your own place in the heart of the city. Rent a car, shop at local markets, cook in an authentic Italian kitchen, and settle down into the Italian lifestyle. Not only will you save money, but you’ll get to experience Italy in a way that only true natives understand. Who knows? Maybe you’ll fall in love with the lifestyle and find yourself looking for your future Italy home.
Venture through the Vatican Museum
Looking up and seeing the Sistine Chapel right above your nose is every history buff’s dream. It’s no wonder why the Vatican Museum is one of the most popular attractions in all of Italy. The museum consists of masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and other incredible works of art collected by popes throughout the years. With so much to see, it’s not hard to become fixated on one stunning display. Fort this reason, tours are offered to hit every art piece, such as the Sistine Chapel, the Niccoline Chapel, and the Borgia Apartment. Even if you’ve never picked up a paintbrush, like some of us, you’ll leave the museum appreciating art in a new-found way.
Did you say Gucci Museum?
We couldn’t talk about Italy without mentioning the iconic fashion destination of Florence. Florence is the ultimate fashion hub, with everything from designer labels to vintage shops, and yes, the Gucci Museum. The museum provides a look into the history of the Gucci brand. It also contains a permanent exhibition of its most iconic pieces such as bags, clothes and accessories. As if that isn’t enough of a reason to book your flight now, Florence is also known as a vintage-lovers’ paradise. The town is full of secondhand vintage shops, offering unique pieces from iconic designers such as Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Cavalli, and of course, Gucci. Feel free to take the phrase shop-till-you-drop literally in Florence. With a new designer label around every corner, you’re going to need to take a couple trips.
Become a vintner for the day
Have you ever dreamed of owning a vineyard but realized it’s a bit out of your price range? Go a step beyond wine tasting and spend the day making your own wine. After all, you’re in Italy, right? Work with expert winemakers and learn about native grape varieties to create your one-of-a-kind blend. The best part is, after your wine is bottled and you’re experiencing post-vacation depression, the bottle will be delivered right to your door. Perfect timing! With a mosaic of territories to explore, Italy is the perfect destination to discover the wine maker in you. Because at the end of the day, all wines should be tasted, some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle. Is this anyone else’s life motto or is it just me?
Relax in a geothermal spa
We’ve all heard of the famous Blue Lagoon Spa in Iceland, but a comparable geothermal pool actually lies right in Tuscany! The Cascate del Mulino are the most famous natural springs in Tuscany and are designed for those seeking a taste of the indulgent. The waterfalls are made of several luxurious natural pools of warm thermal water, heated through the Earth’s crust. Legend has it, the mineral rich water actually helps heal certain skin diseases. Perhaps the best part about the springs is that they’re open to the public year-round and completely free! I don’t know about you, but a free spa day just moved to the top of my itinerary.
Dance the night away at Carprino Folk Festival
If Coachella is a staple date on your calendar, get ready to do music festivals the Italian way. Every year in August, the town of Carpino transforms into an open-air theater and thousands of music lovers gather to celebrate Italian folk music. The line-up doesn’t only offer music, but also theater, dance performances, workshops, seminars and book presentations. The festival lasts for several days and transforms the town of 5000 into the music hub of Italy. The Carpino Folk Festival has become the Coachella of Europe. It has featured the greatest traditional musicians and Italian artists in the country. As if the music wasn’t enough to entice you, the endless food stands of Puglia’s traditional cuisine might just do the trick.
Climb a Volcano in Sicily
What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done? If climbing an active volcano isn’t on the list, a walking tour of Sicily and the Aeolian islands is just what you need. Don’t worry, you won’t be dodging lava. However, you can climb the stunning Aeolian Archipelago whose active volcanic cone dominates the horizon. You’ll also have the opportunity to climb to the top of Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, and take in the magnificent scenery and essence of sulfur. With the multitude of active volcanoes, vast black beaches, and luxurious thermal springs, you’ll be doing a lot more than just climbing. After all, what better way to earn bragging rights than to say you played with fire in Italy?
BYOB. Bring your own bread?
Bring your own bread? Yup, you heard right. If you’re anything like us, the bread and olive oil in restaurants somehow manages to become your meal every time you attempt to eat out. Sounds about accurate, right? If you want to experience the real deal, then buy some good bread and head over to Campo de’ Fiori in the morning. Sample the olive oils and balsamic vinegars made daily at the market. Campo de’ Fiori is one of the hidden gems of Rome, rich in history and locally grown food. It is one of the last authentic markets in Rome. Vendors sell everything from fresh vegetables, to oven baked goods, to locally crafted goods. This market offers a delectable olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette tasting. Therefore, the market not only educates you about the different oils used, but also fills your belly with robust flavors and lots of breads. The Campo de’ Fiori uses between twenty-five and thirty liters of extra virgin olive oil a day, but don’t wait too long as it goes faster than you think.
Where’s Waldo? I mean David?
I’ve never been much of a scavenger hunt enthusiast myself. That is until I found myself playing “Where’s Waldo?” searching for the statues of David in Florence. Don’t be a naïve tourist and mistake the “David” in the Piazza Signoria is the real one. Thought there was only one statue of David? Rookie mistake apparently. The Galleria dell’Accademia hosts the real statue but you will find two others scattered throughout Florence. Trying to hunt them all down makes for a fun, art-themed game you can play while you wander the city.
Embark on the ultimate Italy food tour in Rome
Of course, we had to save the best for last. You’ve been dieting for months and it’s finally time to treat yourself. What better way to satisfy your inner foodie than to go on an Italy food tour in the heart of the country? Each of Italy’s regions specialize in their own unique cuisine, and on this tour you’ll get to indulge in all of Rome’s delicacies. You’ll taste local specialties like Cacio e Pepe and Buccatini all’Amatriciana, and not to mention, all the decadent cheeses, farm cured meats, and authentic pizzas you can eat. I’m getting hungry just talking about it! Oh, and you’ll be doing this all with one hand. Of course, the other will be supporting a hefty glass of wine the whole time. Just don’t drink too much wine, you’re going to want to remember this experience.