By Dom Nozzi
March 19, 2019
This is my list of important Italian cities I have visited and now recommend that others visit, ranked by how enjoyable and attractive I found them to be. The list is roughly ranked from most to least attractive, but even the cities near the bottom of the list are worth your time! You cannot go wrong wherever you go in Italy…
Matera (good base city – you MUST stay at the BnB we stayed at here!)
Bologna (December is best, as it is very festive and fun during the holidays)
Siena (good base city — don’t miss their market at the main piazza!)
Florence (good base city)
Lecce (good base city)
Ostuni (good base city – you MUST stay at the BnB we stayed at here!)
Sicily [Palermo, Catania (good base city), Ragusa Ibla, Siracusa, Taormina]
Polignano a Mare
Amalfi Coast (Pompeii in particular, but Sorrento and Salerno are pleasant coastal towns probably worth your time)
Bari (good base city)
Orvieto (good base city)
Montepulciano and Montalcino and Cortona (each of these three are good day trips from Siena)
Perugia (good base city)
Bormio (for skiing the Italian Alps)
A few Pro Tips:
- Travel in the shoulder season: April/May and Sept/Oct. Easier and cheaper lodging and tourist lines/crowds are much smaller. Some tours not available, however, except during peak season.
- Pros and cons to making lodging reservations in advance: Pros are that you have less worry, you know a lot more about what you are getting, you don’t waste time looking for lodging while there. Cons: less real-time travel flexibility (you may decide after you get there that you want to spend more or less time somewhere or want to check out a city you did not plan for, but your advance lodging reservation does not allow that.)
- Travel: Rome is a very common gateway for flying to Italy. Renting and riding bikes is a great way to see more, have more fun, and expend less energy. E-bikes make it even easier. A Twizy is a great way to have fun when traveling further distances. Trains serve almost all cities and are very civilized. Eating on the train is always allowed and drinking wine is often allowed. Slower trains are very affordable. Nearly all trains have a train car set up to carry bikes for free.
- When you go to a city, besides renting a bike, I recommend checking out the open-air market found in the city (very fun and a way to sample a lot of things), and only spending time in the Old Towne. Newer parts of Italian cities are very much like Anywhere USA places.
- Try to find out where the daily/nightly “passeggiata” is held (the community walk) and then join it. Highly enjoyable.
- If you are interested in day tours of places such as wineries or olive oil making or cheese-making – self-guided or guided – you may want to see if you can arrange such tours in advance of your trip. I was surprised on our trip by how many tours were not available off-season. You may be able to check on the status of tours before your trip starts.