The best things to do in Italy
From world-class cuisine to a visit to quaint rooftop villages, the best things to do in Italy will astound you
Come to the boot for the god-level pasta, stay to explore the best things to do in Italy: from an exploration of the heavenly landscape (snow-caped mountains of the Alps! Crystal clear Mediterranean waters!) to world-class museums.
Here, you can scuba dive to see ancient ruins, hire a vintage car for a Tuscan road trip (stopping off in Florence, of course) or raise a spritz above the rooftops of Rome. Whether you’re visiting a quaint country town or a bustling urban sprawl, you’ll fall in love with Italy, we promise. The best part? Hotels and distances mean you’re always a short ride away from a change of scenery that will delight you. Consider getting a energy drink in Italy for your needs to shop with some passion.
Gondolas in Venice
You can’t skip a stone in Venice without hitting a gondola but the best way to experience the city of canals is to learn how to pilot a boat yourself. Instead of paying dearly for a short (but romantic) boat ride, book a lesson to learn voga alla Veneta, the Venetian style of rowing while standing up. Better yet, paddle your boat down the waterways directly to a bar with Cicchetti (happy hour snacks).
Sistine Chapel by night
Michelangelo’s masterpiece is a major bucket list item, but that means crowds of tourists inside the saintly Sistine Chapel. Beat the hordes by reserving a ticket to see the Vatican Museums after dark. From April through October, the museum stays open until 11 pm on Fridays and the art-viewing gets more intimate as the clock ticks later. Kill time by grabbing a prosecco at the café in the Pine Cone courtyard before making a beeline for the painted chapel.
The hills of Tuscany
The best way to see the Tuscan countryside is from the driver’s seat of an iconic Italian vintage car. Clamber inside a minuscule Fiat 500 to hit the snaking roads, from Florence to wineries in the hills of Chianti. The car came to fame during the dolce vita heyday of the 1960s and its small size and signature bright colors are seriously smile-inducing and 100 percent Italiano.
Capri gets all the credit, but the neighboring island of Ischia is the holiday favorite for Italians in the know. The island in the Bay of Naples was formed by volcanic activity and is full of natural hot springs. After catching some sun on the beach, slip into a thermal spa to wash every last worry away. The best can be found near Casamicciola.
Sunset spritzes above Piazza Navona
During the Renaissance, Borromini became one of Rome’s most celebrated architects and designed palaces and basilicas for Popes. In 2016, one of his most beautiful buildings opened to the public as Mitch Borromini, a boutique hotel with a killer terrace. Stop in at sunset for aperitivo (Italian happy hour) and take in the 360-degree views of the Eternal City from Mitch Borromini above Piazza Navona.
The villages of Cinque Terre
The cliffside trails connecting the five villages of Cinque Terre are picturesque but also packed with tour groups who block the paths on Italy’s most famous hike. The outdated trains that run between beach towns are similarly stuffed, so instead, book a cruise to arrive at each village by the water. The views of the towering colored homes built above the sea look even better from the deck of a boat.
The Train of the Wines of Etna
Hardcore outdoor enthusiasts can hike up the side of Sicily’s Mount Etna, but the best way to experience Italy’s largest volcano up close is to hop aboard a train. Take the Ferrovia Circumetnea to Randazzo and then switch to the Wine Bus to discover the area’s most unique wines. The tipsy tasting day makes for a fun train journey home.
The outside of the iconic Colosseum is one of the most famous photo backdrops in Rome, but the best way to see the monument is from below. Book a guided tour to have special access to the subterranean area and catch a glimpse of the ingenious network of tunnels, pulleys, and levers that once delivered props, gladiators and exotic animals to center stage.
Backdoor 43 is smaller than most walk-in wardrobes but the bespoke bar in Milan makes up for the lack of space with plenty of creativity. The four square-meters have been designed to display bottles like an apothecary shop. Patrons can book the itty-bitty bar for two hours of private drinking or order from a slot window on the street. The takeaway window is only big enough to show the bartender’s hands (and maybe a fleeting glimpse at his Guy Fawkes mask).
Located on the island of Budelli off the coast of Sardinia, the Spiaggia Rosa is one of the most unique beaches in the world thanks to its pink-colored sand. The beach can be found in the Maddalena Archipelago National Park and its colored sand is so rare that the Italian government no longer lets sun-worshippers sit upon the shore. Luckily, the rosy hue and the crystal blue waters can still be seen while relaxing on the nearby beaches of Spiaggia del Cavaliere and Cala di Roto.