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GPS: My Fifteen Favorite Cities in Italy

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Scranton chapter.

Caio! As we near the end of the semester, I wanted to write about some of my favorite places that I have visited here in Italy! If you are planning on taking a trip, I would suggest any of these cities, which are all worth visiting for various reasons, particularly if you are in the Milan area! I won’t list Milan, but know that it is an incredibly vibrant city worth visiting! If you want to learn more, check out my last article about my favorite things to do in Milan! Aside from cities in the south, such as Rome or Capri, many of these cities can be done as day trips from Milan or Florence, as they are only a few hours away by train. So, if you’re in Italy, here are the top fifteen cities I would recommend visiting!

15. Monza

While you won’t find the place on any major map or guide, Monza is a charming small town forty minutes from Milan. It not only features a neoclassical palace built by the Habsburgs as a private residence during the Austrian domination of Italy but more importantly one of my favorite churches, the Monza Cathedral, which is covered in bright frescoes everywhere you look.

14. Lake Garda

Located in northern Italy, Lake Garda is known for its blue water, and scenic sights. Instead of being one town, Lake Garda refers to the lake and the towns which surround it. I recommend visiting the town of Sirmione, located at the southern tip of the lake, which is actually in Switzerland. It has a famous castle, the Scaliger Castle, which is at the heart of the town, and thermal baths!

13. Bergamo

Built by the Venetians, Bergamo is a magnificent town split into two parts: the upper town and the lower town. The lower town near the train station has a charming piazza. Here, you can sit on a park bench and watch the historic carousel, street performers, tour the Teatro Donizetti or check out the cool architecture. The “citta alta” section of Bergamo on the other hand is home to the Civic Tower which provides a spectacular 360-degree view of the city, a tower to view the top of the town and three incredible duomos: Duomo di Bergamo, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Cappella Colleoni. Most importantly, you can marvel at the city walls and gates—solid stone surrounding all of Citta Alta that were built in the 16th century and are now considered a UNESCO world heritage site.

12. Verona

Known for being the home of Romeo and Juliet, Verona is where you can see the famous Casa Juliet and visit the Capulet’s tomb, but there are plenty of other things that make this city worth a visit! It is home to an area, which is like a mini-colosseum, the Piazza dei Signori’s Renaissance architecture, and Castelvecchio, a medieval castle, built in the 14th century. Be sure to also check out Ponte Scaligero’s Scaliger Bridge, which offers picturesque views of Verona and the surrounding countryside.

11. Lake Como

Lake Como is a stunning and large lake located an hour outside of Milan surrounded by dozens of beautiful towns! I would suggest it as more of a spring destination because it is more of a trip to eat lunch, admire the colorful buildings and the blue water and maybe find a beach for swimming. However, there are several cool places to visit particularly Villa del Balbianello, a mansion near the city of Lenno. It is famous for its terraced gardens and panoramic views of the lake. It has been featured in several films including “Casino Royale.” My favorite city on the lake is the “Pearl of Lake Como,” Bellagio which also has many incredible villas!

10. Parma

While mostly known for Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese), and indeed I did have one of the best meals of my trip in Parma, it is a cute town that offers many sites! When I visited I toured the historic Teatro Regio di Parma, which was built in 1829. Aside from (as you may have guessed) some stunning churches, it is home to the incredible Palazzo della Pilotta. Built in the 16th century by Duke Ottavio Farnese, the palace is home to the Palazzo Ducale, the Teatro Farnese and the Biblioteca Palatina. If you like the arts, this is certainly the place to visit! Not only does the place feature art and artifacts, but there is an hour-long gallery walk where you can view many great works of art like Da Vinci’s “La Scapigliata,” but is also home to a giant historic theater. It is filled with paintings and detail and I literally stood marveling for almost an hour. The museum has projectors set up, allowing for the theater to literally come alive every half hour with a complex show that brings the theater back to life when it was first built and shows what it originally looked like! Finally, the Biblioteca Palatina has rows and rows of books you can view and walk through to your heart’s content (and as an English major I was really happy)!

9. Brescia

Bresica is home to not one, but two UNESCO heritage sites. The first is the Brixia Archeological Park, which contains the remains of an ancient Roman temple, forum and theater. Steps away is the second, the museum of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia. This museum complex is massive, and showcases the history and art of Brescia and the surrounding region. It features more archaeological remains, artifacts, and artworks spanning from prehistoric times to the Renaissance. You can view the Churches of San Salvatore, Santa Julia and a small chapel with stunning art called The Nun’s Choir. The city is also home to two Cathedrals and a castle that provides a stunning view of the city below, the green hills, and mountains in the distance.

8. Turin

Turin is home to several particularly famous churches, particularly the Duomo which has the Shroud of Turin. However, its true sites are the Roman Quarter, which has Roman ruins and the Place of Turin, which is a stunning palace built by the Savoy rulers. It is also home to gardens and a whole wing of art! Leaving the place and visiting the Basilica of Superga provides a spectacular view of the snow-capped Alps in the distance! Check out the park at the Po riverbank to see a recreated Medieval village and the Castello del Valentino, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site!

7. Rome

Home to The Colosseum, Vatican City and the Trevy Fountain, Rome is the most iconic city in Italy, however, it is not my favorite. If you are a first-time visitor it is a must, but to be honest I don’t feel compelled to go back unless I were to see the Sistine Chapel again. While many of my friends and certainly almost everyone I have met here in Italy would disagree, this is not at the top of my list.


While most known for Spaghetti Bolognese, its university and famed miles of porticoes, Bologna is also filled with stunning churches such as the Basilica di San Petronio, which is one of the largest churches in the world. Piazza Maggiore, the main square of Bologna is home to the Palazzo d’Accursio and the Fountain of Neptune. Venturing up a large hill, you can see the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, a stunning red-ish church set against the green timing hills outside the city. You can hike 3.5 km to visit the church, or take the city bus (I recommend the latter). While a little difficult to reach, this church will elevate your entire trip to Bologna and should not be missed!

5. The Dolomites

I have been lucky to spend a significant amount of time in The Dolomites, which are home to magnificent mountains perfect for skiing in winter and hiking in the summer. The Dolomites are full of charming towns with stereotypical German architecture and friendly people. Certainly an escape from the busy city life; I recommend hiking the many trails filled with waterfalls of azure blue water, and pine trees.

4. Lago Maggiore

Home to three islands: Isola Madre, Isola Pesci and Isola Bella, Lago Maggiore is a stunning lake backed by stunning mountains. Isola Madre features a place owned by the Borromeo family and gardens, while Isola Pesci is a smaller island where you should get a bite to eat! Isola Bella, however, is named aptly. Home to a sprawling palace and gardens with white peacocks, it is a must-visit. To reach the islands, take the train to Stresa from which you can view all the islands

as well as check out the Grand Hotel des Iles Borromées hotel where Hemingway and Charles Dickinson stayed!

3. Capri/ The Amalfi Coast

I suggest visiting the blue waters of Capri for its beaches and blue lagoon caves where you can see water so blue it practically glows. Perfect for beach lovers, Capri and the whole of the Amlfi coast are home to some of the most beautiful towns with white builds, golden sand and blue water!

2. Florence

Florence is home to its stunning Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, topped by its iconic red terracotta roof. However the city is also home to several famous palaces, and most importantly art, as the Uffizi Gallery and Medici Gallery are home to some of the most famous pieces of Italian art: the “Venus de’ Medici” and “The David.”

1. Venice

While Venice is a city that needs little introduction, it is more than gondolas. Venice is home to many islands: Lido where you can go to the beach, Burano which features colorful houses and Murano where you can see the collegial glass being blown. Be sure to visit the Rialto Bridge, Dodge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Square when you visit! I think Venice has something for everyone and as I love the water, it is made all the more special by its canals!

Please note there are so many other cities worth visiting that I haven’t been to yet, including Cinque Terre, Pompei, Naples or Sicily. Most importantly, before you visit do research to figure out what cities might suit your individual taste to visit. However, Italy is a diverse country home to mountains, cities, beaches, art, fashion and most importantly good food! You can’t go wrong with any city you choose because I promise you will be able to find something for you to visit and enjoy! Happy traveling!

Gabriella Palmer is an English and Theater major with a minor in Philosophy and a Legal Studies Concentration at the University of Scranton. In her free time, you will likely find Gabriella discussing obscure history, mock trial, or the latest show opening on Broadway. She is an avid traveler, and her favorite activities include acting, singing, and of course, writing.