Few parts of the world can claim so rich a store of art, architecture, music, and food–or so intense a range of natural beauty, from craggy mountains to verdant hills to coasts of shattering beauty. No list of “bests” or “tops” from among the thousands of possibilities could be definitive. So consider this a list rather than the list. These are top 10 most beautiful places in Italy to visit.
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1. Positano, Campania
Thanks to its famous Le Sirenuse hotel and a prime location on the Amalfi Coast, Positano is easily one of Italy‘s most lust-worthy coastal towns.
2. Chianti Country
Yes, it’s home to some of Italy‘s most famous reds, but it’s also one of the best spots in the country for an afternoon drive: along winding, cyprus-lined roads, past rolling green hills and golden fields dotted with sunflowers. It’s the side of Tuscany we love most.
3.Villa Rufolo, Ravello
Sublime views of the Amalfi Coast, a garden that is forever in bloom, and a musical legacy (Wagner’s time here in the 1800s has inspired an outdoor concert series that takes place every summer) makes this 13th-century villa in Ravello, Italy a can’t-miss.
4. St. Peter’s Basilica at night, Rome
Skip the daytime crowds at the Vatican and wait until after hours to take in this feat of Renaissance architecture–when it’s all lit up, it truly looks heaven sent.
5. Fonte Gaia, Siena
This impressive fountain is one of the Tuscan town’s best, and easiest to spot–it’s in the center of Piazza del Campo, the main square and home to Siena’s famous horse race, il Palio. Siena itself is filled with architecture-as-art–earning it a UNESCO designation as the “embodiment of a medieval city.”
6. Manarola, Cinque Terre
These five seaside towns–the UNESCO World Heritage “Cinque Terre”–took a beating during the 2011 mudslides. But the Italian spirit is alive and well along this charming 10-mile stretch of coastline–the villages have rebounded, the walking path connecting them has been restored, and the hunt for the best spaghetti alle vongole enjoyed al fresco is back on.
7. Venice at dusk
Early evening is our favorite time to marvel at this architectural wonder–the sun reflecting off the water casts a glow that, coupled with the echo of the constantly lapping waves, Venice becomes something magical.
8. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan
Great fashion, great architecture, great food, and some of the very best people-watching on the planet–it’s all but to impossible to argue with the all-around beauty of Milan. Even its shopping malls, like Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (pictured), are elegant.
By reputation, Capri is Italy’s most glamorous island–it’s more dramatic than drop-dead gorgeous, like a Fellini actress who ages gracefully. From the the iconic Faraglioni rocks settled in the azure Mediterranean to the scent of the island’s many flowers, it’s almost sensory overload.
10. Burano Island, Venice
A stroll through the cobblestoned streets of this diminutive island off of Venice–known for making some of the loveliest lace in the world–is like stepping into a candy-colored fairy tale (with really great espresso).