From the first time I set foot in Italy, I was heading to this small village at the border with Slovenia. I was passionate about their food and their language but didn’t really have an Italy bucket list.
Today 10 years have passed since that day, and I’ve gone back almost every year at least once. I’ve even worked for a huge beer producer from Italy and spent some months in Rome.
Somehow, even though I’ve seen many bigger and smaller towns, experienced so many of the once-in-a-lifetime things, my bucket list is still huge. And I constantly dream of going back.
My list is so big, that at the beginning of this year we were planning to spend at least 6 months around Italy in the second part of 2020. Since life happens and we never knew what will hit us this year, we will have to postpone our grand Italian experience.
That being said, there’s nothing that can stop us from dreaming and planning for our future Italy exploration, no matter how we are planning to go about it: by car, train, or even by motorhome.
In order to make it easier for everyone, I’ve split the items on my bucket list based on the region they are linked to. I’ve also added some useful links to make it easier for you to plan your trip and don’t miss out on anything.
Even though I could speak forever about my love of Italy, let’s dive in!
Read also: 30+ Italian gifts for Italy lovers
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The Huge Italy Bucket List you’ll want to steal!
Start your day with a breakfast with a Colosseum view
Some time ago I saw this video of a mouthwatering breakfast served with a stunning view over the Colosseum. I’ve done my research, and I’ve found the Aroma Restaurant is “guilty” for it.
Start your day with breakfast here and come back for dinner once the night falls.
Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain
You might not be allowed anymore to eat gelato by the fountain, and you cannot remake that scene from La Dolce Vita. However, nobody says you cannot toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain and make a wish.
I always wish to come back to Italy!
See Rome from above
Head over to the Vatican and climb the St Peter’s Dome for a stunning view of Rome from above.
The way to the top in itself it’s an experience, but you will be stunned once to the top.
Take a cooking class
Where else can you learn to cook better than in Rome? With so many options available out there, the only choice to make would be if you want to learn to make pizza or different kinds of pasta dishes with dessert.
Go back in time with a visit to the Fori Imperiali and the Colosseum
With so many ruins at every step of the way in Rome, it is literally impossible to see everything in only a few days. Hey, I’ve spent months there and haven’t seen everything. So cherry-pick these two and you’ll be all set.
See the Vatican – a city within a city
Just come prepared to wait in line, or with a skip-the-line ticket already purchased in advance online here.
The Sistine Chapel is something everyone should see at least once in a lifetime.
Learn to make gelato – the proper way
Eating tons of ice cream is not enough when in Rome. If you have the chance, enroll in a gelato-making class and go back home and impress your family with your skills. Everyone will love you, for sure!
Have a fancy romantic dinner in Trastevere
Narrow cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, great food, and delicious wine. That’s what Trastevere is about.
Check out the best restaurants in Trastevere and book a table. Come with your belly empty and ready to indulge!
The best-kept secret on the Aventine Hill
Once night falls, climb the Aventine Hill, one of the 7 hills of Rome, and head towards the Priory of the Knights of Malta.
Look for the keyhole people are aligning for: you’ll get the perfect vista over the garden, with the Vatican perfectly lightened taking center stage.
Explore Villas in Tivoli
Hadrian’s Villa, the Hundred Fountains at Villa D’Este, Villa Gregoriana – these are all sights worth seeing on a day trip in the outskirts of Rome.
CINQUE TERRE & TUSCANY
Hike the Cinque Terre trail – or at least part of it
If you come to the most colorful villages in Italy prepared to break a sweat, the Cinque Terre won’t disappoint.
There is something for everyone, from the easy trail we did between Vernazza and Corniglia, to the longer ones linking more villages together. Not only the views are stunning, but you will have the chance to walk in nature and take a mouth of fresh air.
Read also: An Easy Cinque Terre day trip
Ride a Vespa through Tuscany’s countryside
Italy stands for Vespa and the most epic road trip you could ever take is through the Tuscan hills. However, there are plenty of other destinations you can explore from the back of a Vespa: from the narrow streets of Florence to the historic sites of Rome, and all the way to the winding roads on the Amalfi Coast.
Climb the Florence Duomo and see the romantic town from above
The most visited city in the world, Florence is by far not the largest town in Italy. However, it is packed with beautiful places worth discovering and the Florence Duomo is top of the list.
Make sure to book a skip-the-line ticket in advance, so that you don’t have to wait in line for hours.
Read also: Plan the perfect Florence day trip with this itinerary
Go for sunset and a bottle of wine at the Piazzale Michelangelo
While in Florence, head to the top of the hill for some breathtaking views. Come prepared with a slice of pizza al taglio and a bottle of great wine from Tuscany.
Eat a bistecca all Fiorentina in Florence
So simple and yet so delicious, this is a steak you will want to try in Florence. You’ll find it at any osteria or trattoria in town. The more local and less fancy, the better.
Read also: The best Italy subscription boxes to order at home!
See the 5 colorful villages from the sea by boat
One of the best decisions on our trip to the Cinque Terre was to take the train all the way to La Spezia and hop on a boat along the coast.
Strolling through the streets of these small towns perched on the edge of cliffs overlooking the sea is incredible, but seeing them from the sea is as nice.
No matter if you just go from one village to the other, or see them all, you should not skip this experience.
Go on a wine tour in Val D’Orcia and Chianti
Some of the best wines in the world cannot be left untasted. You can explore the Chianti Hills on a Vespa, stay at an old traditional winery, or even go on a hot air balloon above the Tuscany hills.
Spend a day at the Saturnia hot springs
Ever since I’ve seen this place I said I want to get there someday! Shoot from above, the Saturnia waterfall looks like a place out of this world.
On top of that, you can book a room at a stunning hotel built on the thermal springs dating from 3000 years ago. Pamper yourself with some cosmetic treatments, a day at the SPA, or swimming through the thermal water pool.
Taste a real Genovese focaccia on a day trip to Genoa
There’s nothing that can top fresh focaccia with rosemary and salt. OK, maybe focaccia with freshly made pesto Genovese, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
My mouth literally waters at the thought of all these amazing delicacies tried on a day spent in Genoa, but also in the Cinque Terre or in the small village of Finalborgo. Liguria knows a lot when it comes to food!
Eat a basilic and lemon gelato in Portovenere
I know that might not sound appealing, but trust me it is amazing! Refreshing and beautifully flavored.
After trying some of the best fresh pasta with pesto, we were lured by this small shop with basil and lemon ice cream in Porto Venere. Even though this village is not officially part of the Cinque Terre, I would include it on every visit in the region.
Particularly for this gelato!
Go on a gondola ride
Needless to say, that’s something to try at least once in a lifetime. Even though this is on the more expensive side of the budget, it is something worth splurging on, no matter if you only have one day in Venice or are here for longer.
You can always book a trip ahead of time, and share the boat, in order to diminish the cost.
Take a picture at Libreria Aqua’alta
One of the most Instagrammable spots in Venice, which is already a picturesque town to start with.
Check it out here and make your way to this corner of a fairytale.
Read also: How many days in Venice?
See one of the most colorful towns in the world: Burano
A scenic boat rides away from the most romantic town in the world sits one of the most colorful towns out there.
Go on a day trip to Little Venice – Comacchio
You can easily do this as a trip from Venice or a day trip from Bologna.
This is truly a hidden gem, located close to the Po Delta, from where you can take boat trips along the marsh.
Visit Venice for the Carnival
If you choose to do that, please don’t head there for your first trip to the city on the canals.
My first encounter was like this and I couldn’t enjoy it to the fullest, because all the streets were so crowded I couldn’t really see anything. I went back at least 2 times and fell in love with it.
However, make sure to go for the Carnival on your second encounter with Venice. It is an experience worth having, but it is not the true face of the town.
Read also: The perfect 10 days in Italy itinerary
See the boats at Lago di Braies and take an Instagram perfect picture
This lake is stunningly beautiful and the reason why many flocks in crowds here. However, don’t go too early in the morning because they’ve restricted access to the boats and you must pay a fee to take a ride.
Explore the area on an 8-day trip around the Dolomites that will take you not only to this famous spot but also to the next one on the list, and many others in between.
Go on the walk around the famous Tre Cime di Lavaredo
The mountains in the Dolomites offer some of the most unbelievable sights, especially for nature lovers.
A day spent hiking in these areas must be on anyone’s Italy bucket list.
Stay at one of the most stunning hotels in Italy
There are so many mind-blowing hotels in the Tyrol area that you will find it hard to choose only one. They all have great facilities, stunning views, spectacular infinity pools, and much more.
Read also: The perfect one week in Northern Italy itinerary
Visit the Italian Lake District
Perfectly located in the Italian Alps, sprinkled with charming small islands and many historic villas, a trip to the area is a must.
Spend more than just one day in the area and see Lake Maggiore with its perfect views over the Alps, and small islands sprinkled with imposing historic villas. See Isola Bella, go on a sunset cruise, or discover all the Borromean Islands on a private cruise – the options are limitless in this corner of paradise.
Move forward to Lake Como and stroll through the fairytale Belaggio, but give Varenna a chance as well.
And while you’re in the area, don’t forget about fancy Lugano.
Climb the Milan Cathedral
Don’t come to Italy’s fashion capital without climbing the rooftop of Milan’s Cathedral and enjoying the stunning view from above.
Go shopping in Milan
Apart from being a great photo spot in Milan, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the perfect place to go shopping for Italian fashion.
Take a picture with the leaning tower of Pisa
In the past months, I’ve seen so many jokes about this, people wandering how is the Pisa tower still standing without all the tourists holding it. As much as a cliche this might be, it sure is an item on any Italy bucket list.
Make your way to the Lake Sorapis in the Dolomites
Located in the Province of Belluno, in between mountain peaks, stands this hidden gem. Lake Sorapis is a glacial lake perched at 1900 m above sea level.
Needless to say, you will need to work out a bit in order to get to this place, however, that’s the fun of it. And it might mean there won’t be so many people around.
Discover Italy’s food capital: Bologna
Bologna and its surrounding area in Emilia Romagna is the home of so many Italian delicacies that you will find it hard to decide what to try first. Just don’t leave without participating in a cooking class in Bologna, or going on a food tasting tour.
Visit a country in a day: San Marino
The Republic of San Marino is one of the smallest countries in the world, that is actually totally independent from Italy. Another interesting fact worth knowing is that San Marino is one of only 3 other countries surrounded completely by another county (Italy in this case).
It has only 16 square kilometers, and even though it is not part of the European Union it uses the euro currency.
Go skiing in Cortina d’Ampezzo
One of the most popular ski resorts in Italy, Cortina d’Ampezzo is as beautiful as other parts of Austria, or even Switzerland.
If you are into exploring mountains during winter and are looking for stunning places, make sure to check out this recommended Snowshoeing in the Dolomites tour.
Don’t miss Val di Funes
If this place is not paradise then I don’t know where else is. I could easily allow myself to get lost in this mountain area for days and weeks.
The Dolomites are for the sure top of my bucket list!
Check out this great offer for a 2-week itinerary through the Dolomites, ticking off Val di Funes as well.
Have fun at Gardaland
While I’m not a fan of amusement parks, I know many people would travel long distances for that. And I know it as fact because that’s what my colleagues did while we were in Rome.
That’s why a fun amusement park should be on the list. Check out their official site for more information.
Attend a concert at the Arena of Verona
Some years ago I tried to book tickets for Adele’s concert at the Arena of Verona – they were sold out in minutes. I’ve also wanted to see Jovanotti performing here.
Since I still haven’t made it, and I’ve always wanted to, here it is.
Learn to make a Spritz Aperol
Even though this is such a popular drink all over the world, I must admit I absolutely detest it.
However, if you are a fan, then you’ll want to attend a guided spritz walk-in Padova and not only learn how to do it, but also get to taste many types along with local food.
Drive a Formula 1 simulator
For sports cars passionate, this is a perfect way to spend a day in Northern Italy. See the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, and test the simulator. More about the experience here.
Relax on the beach in Rimini
Or just stroll the city center and take some beautiful pictures of the old bridge dating 2000 years back.
Feel like a princess at the Castello di Miramare
Located just outside of Trieste, this is another hidden gem. You won’t find the crowds you normally get at castles in Italy. Miramare Castle is set on the edge of the sea and sits in the middle of a lovely garden, and was my favorite getaway while I studied in Trieste.
Sip Tuscan wine in the famous Piazza del Campo in Siena
Siena epitomizes Tuscany, with its warm ochre tones beckoning you through the cobbled medieval streets towards the jewel in Siena’s crown, the famous Piazza del Campo.
It’s an extraordinary sight as you enter from Via di Citta and see the enormity and beauty of the square, home to the famous (yet totally crazy) Palio di Siena horse race held here twice a year since the 17th century.
Lined with fine buildings, don’t miss the tiny Fonte Gaia on the northern edge of the piazza, whose water is still supplied by a 500-year-old viaduct.
Bursting with gorgeous Gothic architecture, Renaissance palazzo, and churches full of stunning art, it’s easy to lose yourself for a day in Siena’s intimate alleys and squares as you admire building after building in this city full of historic architecture.
Stop for lunch at one of the many busy restaurants lining the streets around the main square and sample delicious Ribollita, a traditional Tuscan soup made with vegetables and bread, with a delicious wine from the vineyards of Montalcino or Montepulciano to the south.
Siena is most definitely a destination you should visit as you campervan around Italy.
Stay in a trullo in Alberobello
And wake up early in the morning to catch the streets without people around. This place is pure magic. And while you’re there, do a local wine tasting, buy some souvenirs, and eat some taralli.
Read next: 4 – days in Puglia perfect itinerary
Have dinner in a grotto restaurant
On the edge of the sea, sits this famous restaurant carved inside a water cave. Grotta Palazzese has a timeless charm and is a must if you find yourself in Polignano a Mare.
Just book a table ahead of time and make sure to check the menu before going, not to be set back by the prices.
Get lost on the white streets of Ostuni
On the top of a hill in Puglia, you’ll find this labyrinth of white buildings. The walls of the buildings are perfectly complemented by colorful doors, beautiful plants, and lazy cats.
Climb the streets of Matera
A magical town built in stone, the European Culture capital of 2019, the heart of Basilicata should not be skipped.
Don’t want to drive around Southern Italy? No worries! Here are 2 great options for a one week in Puglia and Basilicata:
Go on a sunset cruise along the Amalfi Coast
I know, this is such a cliche, but come on – the Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and a sunset cruise makes it even better.
Grab a bottle of wine and your cruise ticket and get ready to enjoy an unforgettable experience.
Read also: The perfect Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary
Take a day trip to Capri Island or colorful Procida
Ok, you might not want to do both in one day, but these 2 islands should be on anyone’s list of the things to do while in the Amalfi Coast area.
Check out an option for a day trip to Capri here!
Spend a night in Ischia
That’s what I’ve been wanting to do ever since I’ve seen the HBO series of “My Brilliant Friend”. The views from Ischia island are stunning. And this is not as popular as her sister Capri.
Visit the Blue Grotto
Spend half-day enchanted by the colors the sea has in this natural wonder of the Amalfi Coast.
Buy some stunning porcelain in Amalfi
This makes for the perfect souvenir and you can choose to have it shipped wherever in the world you want.
Visit Pompeii and Herculaneum
Explore the archeological streets of Pompeii and learn about the people that lived here when the volcano erupted so many years ago.
See the well-preserved town that was buried under the ashes and waits for us to discover it on a day trip from Naples.
Taste a real pizza in Naples
The home of pizza, Naples is a place where you want to come for the real margarita. Check out this list for the top 10 best pizzerias in town you’ll want to try.
See the sunset from Franco’s Bar in Positano
Positano is stunning from every angle! However, having drinks at Franco’s Bar for sunset is an absolute must.
Le Sirenuse is one of the best hotels in Positano and a place I would love to spend a night at someday in the future.
Hike the Path of God on the Amalfi Coast
Maybe the best hike in the world, you’ll escape the crowded streets and beaches of Amalfi and find yourself immersed in nature.
The hike starts from Agerola or Praiano, ane ends in Nocelle, taking around 3 hours to complete.
Learn to make limoncello
Great options for tours in Southern Italy:
- A 7 -day adventure sailing along the Amalfi Coast – from Ischia and Procida to Pompeii, Capri, and Sorrento. You won’t skip anything on this trip. Check it out!
- Sorrento. Fun, Sea and Food – 4 days packed with amazing views and food. Check it out!
- Pair up Puglia with the Neapolitan Riviera – 9 days across Southern Italy. Check it out!
Sail around Sardinia – the European Caribbean
Understandably one of the most popular summer destinations for Italians, Sardinia is the go-to place no matter the time of the year. The crystal clear waters here can compete with the Caribbean any day.
Spend a day at the beach in Cefalu’
Even though I’ve only been to Cefalu’ for a few hours on a day trip from Palermo, I dream about going back and spending much more time exploring the area. Or simply relaxing at the beach.
See the sunset at Scala dei Turchi and explore the Valley of Temples
The perfect combination: turquoise waters, pink sky, and the blinding white marl cliff plunging into the sea. Come here for sunset for the perfect nature show.
Have an ice cream and baba’ in Taormina
For me, the streets of Taormina were as charming as Venice or any other romantic city in Italy. I’ve even seen a carnival day here while enjoying an ice cream at a local gelateria and pasticceria.
Don’t leave without trying more of the local Sicilian cuisine that won’t disappoint!
Climb Mount Etna
The highest volcano in Europe, and the most active in the world, Etna is not only beautiful to look at but a great hike on a sunny day.
Here are 2 great tours you might want to consider when you have around one week to spend on the Italian island:
- Sicilian Secrets – start from Catania and explore the whole island and all its highlights
- Sicily & Aeolian Islands – 9 days from Palermo to Taormina and the Aeolian Islands
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