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Best Italian Landmarks: Why Italy Should Top your Must-Visit List

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Why is Italy the best place to visit?

So, why should Italy top your must-visit list? And why should you think of having a close encounter with the famous Italian landmarks?

You probably have learned many great stories about those landmarks that made Italy the country with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 58 all in all!

Being the birthplace of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, thus making it rich in history and culture, are only some of the reasons Italy is a must-visit country.

Just the name of this country could take you to remember the famous Romeo and Juliet play by William Shakespeare or one of the best movies of all time, The Godfather. Maybe you got attracted to the cobbled streets of the Eternal City or the magical light of the Tuscan countryside that you’ve been fantasizing about after watching the movie Only You, which starred Robert Downey, Jr. and Marisa Tomei.

The reasons why you should make Italy on top of your list could go on and on. And the more you’ll want to be there once you get to read the list of must-visit landmarks in Italy.

A Glimpse of Must-Visit Landmarks in Italy That Should Be On Your  List

1. The Colosseum in Rome

Colosseo Italy
Colosseo Italy – Photo by FeaturedPics from Wikimedia Commons

What is the Colosseum?

The Colosseum in Rome, one of the most famous Italian landmarks, is an amphitheater constructed during the rule of the Flavian emperors of the Roman Empire. That’s why it is also called the Flavian Amphitheatre.

The Structure of the Colosseum

The Colosseum is made of stone, concrete, and tuff in the shape of an ellipse. You would be surprised to find out that it is made of that soft, porous rock formed from volcanic ash or dust called ‘tufa’ in Italian or ‘tuff’ in English.

It stands tall in four stories, measuring 620 by 513 feet ( 189 by 156 meters), and could accommodate more or less than 50,000 people.

Why is the Colosseum famous?

This enormous arena is famous not only for its magnificent makeup but because of the history behind it. The emperors used it to host the renowned gladiator combats Rome was known for.

These things made the Colosseum a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980 and one of the famous Italian landmarks that more or less 7M people visit each year.

When was the Colosseum built?

Between 70 and 72 CE (“Common Era”), during the reign of the Roman Emperor Vespasian, the construction of the Colosseum began and was completed in 80 CE when it was already the reign of Vespasian’s son, Titus.

During 82 CE, the fourth floor was added by the emperor Domitian, the second son of the emperor Vespasian.

It’s a known fact that the construction of this historical landmark is greatly attributed to the enslaved Jews from Judaea after the Romans succeeded in blocking the whole city during the Siege of Jerusalem.

colosseum italy bookonboard guide landamarks
By Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904) – from Robert SullivanFlickr

By Jean-Léon Gérôme – phxart.org under commons.wikimedia.org

Why was the Colosseum built?

The Colosseum was built to strengthen Rome again after the tumultuous year of the four emperors in 69 CE. In Addition, Emperor Vespasian wanted to use the Colosseum for entertainment, hosting gladiator fights, hunting animals, Naumachiae (mock naval battles), or mimic sea battles.

More Interesting Facts About The Colosseum

It took 60,000 Jewish slaves to build the Colosseum within nine years, but those years won’t be enough if it is made today.

Consequently, St. Peter’s Basilica was built from fallen pieces when the earthquake partially destroyed the Colosseum in ancient Rome.

photo https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colosseum,_Rome,_Italy_(Ank_Kumar)_05.jpg

Moreover, famous singers like Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Andrea Bocelli, and Elton John held concerts with the Colosseum in the background, for it’s impossible to have shows inside it.

2. The Roman Forum, Rome

The Roman Forum Italy bookonboard italy landmarks
The Roman Forum Italy – Photo by Roman Wimmers from Unsplash

One of the most famous landmarks in Italy is the impressive Roman Forum. Accordingly, it’s a sprawl of ruins shouting of the great history behind it.

It’s a fact that the Roman Forum is the most important of all forums in ancient Rome. You must know that a Forum in ancient Rome is a multipurpose, open area located at the center of the old city. Also, public buildings and colonnades ( rows of columns supporting a roof) surround it. Hence, the forum served as a public meeting place for religious, political, or social activities.

When was the Roman Forum built?

The Roman Forum was built in the 7th century BCE at a site that used to be a swampy burial ground.

Initially, the forum was built as a marketplace where daily shopping happened. As time passed, it adapted to the needs of the people and was where public affairs were held.

And Historians believed that it was around 500 BC when public events in the Roman Forum started taking place.

More Interesting Facts About The Roman Forum

Tomb of the Great Romulus

The Tomb of the great Romulus is in the Roman Forum. Now, don’t start getting scared thinking that you’ll stumble onto the remains of the great historical figure Romulus once you’re in the Roman Forum. Consequently, people believed that Romulus, who founded Rome (hence the name) and killed his twin brother, Remus, is a myth, legend, and folklore. His grave or the spot where the Senate murdered him has a large black marble called the Lapis Niger.

One Ticket For 3 Famous Landmarks

You get to visit three famous landmarks for one ticket! After visiting the Colosseum, you may use the ticket as admission to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill because they are next to each other.

3. The Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi), Rome

Fontana-di-Trevi-Italy bookonboard italy landamarks
Fontana di Trevi Italy – Photo by Miwok from Wikimedia Commons

What is the Trevi Fountain?

Trevi Fountain or Fontana di Trevi is the best known of the city’s many fountains because it is considered a late Baroque masterpiece. A Baroque masterpiece is a work produced leaning on to the Western style.

Why is the Fontana di Trevi famous?

The Fontana di Trevi is one of the famous landmarks in Italy because of its scenic wonder. Furthermore. It creates the drama with its grand pageantry of mythological and allegorical figures, rock formations that seem so natural, and the still-flowing water coming out of it.

Where is the Trevi Fountain?

The Fontana di Trevi is within the Quirinale district of Rome. The site used to have a demolished fountain in the 17th century because Nicola Salvi won the design competition for a new fountain in 1732. But It was Pietro da Cortona’s idea to combine the palace front and fountain.

And this fountain took almost 30 years to complete.

Why was the Trevi Fountain built?

The fountain was built to help supply water for Central Rome.  And the primary water system is called the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct, built in 19BC.  Consequently, It provided water used for Roman baths and the fountains of Central Rome.

More Interesting Facts About Fontana di Trevi

Because the fountain is located at the end of the aqueduct and the intersection of three roads, called Tre vie in English “three ways.”

Fontana di Trevi Italy Bookonboard italy landmark guides
Fontana di Trevi Italy – Photo byuser32212 from Pixabay

Take note that according to legend, tossing coins into the Fountain could bring good luck. For example, tossing one coin means you’ll be going back to the Eternal City, which is Rome. Then, tossing two coins means going back and falling in love. And finally, three means you’ll go back, fall in love, and marry.

Coins for a Cause

The coins from the fountain are coins for a cause indeed. For instance, every night, they are collected and given to an Italian charity – Caritas. After the collection, they fund a supermarket program to help the needy by providing “debit cards” to help them get groceries.

Thieves in the Night

The coins from the Fontana di Trevi do not escape being stolen by thieves who come at night. Some thieves were caught, but the most famous was D’Artagnan. In fact, he stole coins from the fountain for 34 years and was only detected in 2002.

Santi Vincenzo E Anastacio o Fontana di Trevi

Santi Vincenzo E Anastacio O Fantana di Trevi is the 17th-century old parish church overlooking the Trevi Fountain.

Travel Trips

You can reach Trevi Fountain by first, catching the metro to Piazza Barberini. Then, head west to Via del Tritone, after which go south to Via Stamperia. Finally, there you’ll see the square where the fountain is.

4. St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome

St. Peter's Basilica Vatican Rome Italy bookonboard italy landmarks to visit
St. Peter’s Basilica Vatican Rome Italy – Photo by Mstyslav Chernov from Wikimedia Commons

St. Peter’s Basilica, Basilica Sancti Petri in Italian, ranks second by the World Atlas as one of the most famous landmarks in Italy and is a sight to behold.

St. Peter's Basilica Vatican Italy bookonboard guide to italy
St. Peter’s Basilica Vatican Italy – Photo by Volker Glätsch from Pixabay

Why is the Basilica Sancti Petri famous?

Certainly, Basilica Sancti Petri is famous because of its dramatic structure. Furthermore, it is designed as a three-aisled Latin cross with a dome at the intersection, directly above the high altar. Consequently, this dome covers the shrine of St. Peter the Apostle. More importantly, this structure, referred to as the church of the Popes, is an important pilgrimage site.

In other words, it is not only one of the famous landmarks in Italy but is also one of the largest churches in the world, built during the Renaissance period.

Piazza San Pietro or St. Peter’s Square

Basilica Sancti Petri is located in St. Peter’s Square, a large plaza in front of the chapel.

During the reign of Pope Alexander VII, he directed Gian Lorenzo Bernini to redesign the Piazza because he wanted it to be able to accommodate more people. Above all, more people could watch the Pope giving his blessing through the chapel’s facade or from the window in the Vatican Palace.

When was the Basilica of St. Peter built?

Pope Nicholas’ reign from 1447 to 1455 prompted him to plan the church’s reconstruction.  Before that, he saw the critical condition of the Old Basilica. For instance, the walls were not correctly positioned anymore, and the frescoes were covered with dust.

Hence, the construction of a new apse begun in 1452, and the continuous building of the different parts of the Basilica went on. Subsequently, this resulted in the Basilica’s reconsecration only in 1626.

St. Peter's Basilica Vatican Italy 2
St. Peter’s Basilica Vatican Italy 2 – Photo by LivioAndronico from Wikimedia Commons

More Interesting Facts

The Old Basilica

The Old Basilica, the one that stood before the New Basilica, was believed to mark where the tomb of St. Peter was situated during the reign of Emperor Constantine. Take note that Constantine is the first Christian emperor in Rome. Hence, the first Basilica was constructed between 319 and 322 AD and completed in 349 AD during his reign.

It used to be the largest church in Christendom until Yamoussoukro Basilica in Cote d’ Ivoire was completed in 1989.

Famous Architects of the Renaissance

No doubt that the grandeur of the church is because of the talents of famous architects of the Renaissance period, namely Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

For more exciting facts worth knowing about Rome, we have the Top 10 Best Things to do in Rome that you may want to check out.

5. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence

Santa Maria del Fiore Florence Italy bookonboard landmarks italian
Santa Maria del Fiore Florence Italy – Image from Yair Haklai from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore or Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore used to be the world’s largest church when it was built in 1296 and was consecrated in 1436.

Italy Landmarks: The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the famous landmarks in Italy, always flocked by tourists.
Santa Maria del Fiore Florence Italy – Image from Sailko from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

More importantly, It can accommodate 30,000 people and symbolizes Florence’s political and economic dominance.

Also known as the Duomo of Florence Cathedral is famous for its beauty with stained glass windows; a marble facade of green, red, and white; a collection of paintings and statues made by the legends of the Renaissance. And finally, its world-famous dome.

Since 1439, the Cathedral has been the seat of the Florence Council. Consequently, it is where Girolamo Savonarola preached. He is the religious reformer and instigator of the Bonfire of the Vanities.

More Interesting Facts About the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Pazzi Conspiracy

The Cathedral had witnessed a murder in 1478 when Giuliano di Piero de Medici, co-ruler of Florence, was stabbed and killed. And this violence was known as the Pazzi Conspiracy. Indeed, it was a conspiracy when his rivals, archbishop of Pisa Pope Sixtus IV, and other conspirators planned his death.

Lorenzo the Magnificent, his brother and co-ruler, was also stabbed but escaped and later caused the archbishop’s hanging.

The Final Moves

The final moves that completed the building of the Cathedral came from the sculptor and architect Filippo Brunelleschi. With his innovations, the Cathedral was completed in 1436.

6. The Pantheon, Rome

The Pantheon is a circular concrete building with faced brick and a massive domed ceiling. It has a gabled roof with a triangular pediment supported by a porch of Corinthian columns. There are big bronze double doors below the porch that is 24 feet high.

Pantheon Italy bookonboard guide italian landmarks
Pantheon Italy – photo by djedj from Pixabay

Why is the Pantheon famous?

Firstly, the Pantheon is a famous Italian landmark for being one of the most well-preserved monuments of ancient Rome.

Secondly, It is a temple to all gods as the Greek word Pantheon means “honor all Gods.”

And finally, the Pantheon is open for free tours every week except when there is mass and national holidays.

7. The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy bookonboard things to do
Photo by Pedro Mora from Pixabay

photo by Heidi Kaden on Unsplash

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the bell tower of the Cathedral Complex that’s leaning. The construction of this tower began in 1173.

This 55- meter tower was falling at a rate of one to two millimeters per year for 800 years. Thus, causing the tower to lean.

But there’s so much to it than meets the eye. It is located in Tuscany, west of central Italy. Specifically, it is on the grounds of the cathedral complex of Tuscany known as Campo del Miracoli or Piazza Dei Miracoli, the “Square of Miracles.”

Why was the Leaning Tower of Pisa built?

The tower was built as the third and final structure of the cathedral complex for the Catholic church of the city of Pisa. The main reason is for it to be the bell tower of the cathedral complex.

Indeed, when it’s about famous landmarks in Italy, you won’t miss this famous tower. In fact, it is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world as it literally looks as its name implies – Leaning.

That’s why most historians believe that it is both beautiful and tragic because of its fascinating history.

Why is the Leaning Tower of Pisa leaning?

Since the very beginning of the construction of the tower, so many factors that could cause the tilt already existed. Obviously, if recognized earlier, the main factor would not have resulted in the tower becoming one of the most famous landmarks in Italy.

The tower engineers lacked the wisdom to understand the soil type and its effects on a structure with a height of 55 meters. It is acceptable that engineers and architects in 1173 lacked the idea of the type of soil’s effects on structures such as a tower. This mistake would be unacceptable today.

Simply put, the tower is built on an uneven type of soil that some parts are more challenging than the others.  This wrong soil type for a tower causes the structure’s instability. Anyway, the incompetency of the builders of the tower brought it to fame.

Is the Leaning Tower of Pisa going to fall?

After numerous attempts to stabilize the tower, the government of Pisa found hope. Putting more soil underneath the foundations decreased the leaning by 17 inches (44 cm) to 13.5 feet (4.1 meters). Subsequently, the engineers completed stuffing the tower base in 2001, and visitors were allowed as the government reopened it to the public.

In May 2008, a total improvement of 19 inches (48 cm) in the tower’s tilting was recorded. Engineers are expecting the tower to be stable for the next 200 years.

It’s pretty impressive that from 1173 to 2001, the government exerted efforts to build and stabilize the Leaning Tower of Pisa. That’s 829 years!

Galileo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa

There’s a story that Galileo tested his theory that objects fall in the same acceleration. He did this by dropping two spheres of the same mass from the tower. Consequently, the two spheres reached the ground at the same time even though they had different weights. Because of this, he disproved the Theory of Gravity by Aristotle, which states that objects fall at speed proportional to their mass.

Travel Tips

To get to where the tower is, first you can take a train in Florence to reach the city of Pisa. You’ll find that it’s less crowded in the morning, so it’s the best time to visit.

Then when you’re there, you can just watch the building from the outside free of charge and enjoy photoshoots. But if you’d like to go inside and take the 251 steps to the top of the tower, just pay the entrance fee.  Then you’ll be 50 m above the ground and have a good bird’s eye view.  Finally, from up the tower, you could enjoy the spectacular views the city could offer.

8. Piazza del Campo, Siena

The center of the city of Siena is Piazza del Campo, which is a large, shell-shaped square where civic gatherings happen.

Tourists would flock to Siena to view the Corsa del Palio (“Course of the Banner”), the semi-annual festival of medieval origin that certain cities in Italy conduct. This festival features bareback horse races amid colorful festivities, and tourists refer to it as Palio of Siena.

9. Cinque Terre, Genoa

Cinque Terre Italy bookonboard
Photo by user32212 from Pixabay

The magnificent Cinque Terre in English means “Five Lands,” and it is on the east coast of Liguria, which is an hour from Genoa. Five small seaside villages comprise this beautiful tourist destination namely, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso.

Cinque Terre, Genoa Venice Italy bookonboard
Cinque Terre, Genoa Venice Italy – Photo by David Mark from Pixabay

The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are part of the Cinque Terre National Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Cinque Terre, Genoa Venice Italy – Photo by Samir Belhamra from Pexels

Seven Reasons why Cinque Terre is a Traveler’s Favorite

We shall focus on seven main reasons why it is a traveler’s favorite.

Indeed, besides having colorful houses at the side of a cliff, gorgeous trails great for hiking, accessible transport services, and the beautiful Ligurian Sea, there are more reasons to love this great tourist destination.

1.  Breathtaking twilight

Twilights are beautiful, but the more breathtaking a twilight is when you’re viewing it on the high cliffs in Corniglia over the Ligurian sea.

2.  The five villages are adjacent to each other

The five villages, with colorful houses, are adjacent to each other. So, it’s like getting five at the price of one. The blue path connects all towns, so you can easily visit them. You better have the time.

3. It’s like a rainbow land

Looking at Cinque Terre, you’ll see a rainbow land with the blue waters of the Ligurian Sea, and the contrasting hues of the surrounding mountains, and the colorful houses. They all give this place that distinct beauty and drama.

Seafood in Cinque Terre, Genoa Venice Italy bookonboard
Photo by Malidate Van from Pexels

4. You’ll eat well even in a foreign land.

You’ll feel like eating all the time, even if the food may be foreign to you.  When visiting a new place, some people would have difficulty eating food from that place, but not in these “Five Lands. “They have delicious food! And if you love seafood, you’ll definitely love this place.

5.  Take your dream hike

Take your dream to hike in one of these significant Italian Landmarks, where there are dozens of famous trails. One of them is Sentieo Azzurro, or the Blue Path, which links all five towns.

Cinque Terre, Genoa Venice Italy 3 bookonboard
Cinque Terre, Genoa Venice Italy – Photo from Piqsels

6.  Experience a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Sometimes just hearing about a UNESCO World Heritage Site excites us. And what more if we are to experience it and more of them in one country? Indeed, to experience one of the most famous Italy landmarks, as beautiful as its history, will surely be most unforgettable.

7.  The people are friendly

Italians are one of the friendliest people on the earth. Above all, you’ll surely feel the atmosphere of hospitality as you explore the villages.  Moreover, the close connections each villager has may have contributed to this.  Finally, it’s something that you won’t feel when visiting other landmarks in Italy.

10. Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral), Milan

Milan Cathedral Italy bookonboard guide to italy
Photo by Kevin Poh from Flickr

photo by Jackie Jabson on Pexels

Milan is famous for its Gothic architecture design. And Gothic architecture is usually characterized by these elements: pointed arches, flying buttresses, ornate decoration, ribbed vaults, and large stained windows.

The Duomo di Milano or Milan Cathedral embodies a history of faith and art, traversing over six centuries. It is one of the largest Catholic cathedrals in the world.

Why was the Duomo Di Milano (Milan Cathedral) built?

Milan Cathedral Italy bookonboard
Milan Cathedral Italy – Photo by Julie Aagaard from Pexels

Duomo di Milano was built to accentuate Milan and to celebrate the expansion of the Visconti territory.

The reign of Gian Galeazzo Visconti as the first Duke of Milan coincided with the construction of the Milan Cathedral in 1386.

In fact, it was built in the area once occupied by the churches of Sta. Tecla and Sta. Maria Maggiore.

What is the Milan Cathedral architecture?

The Interior

Gothic Architecture was made famous by the Milan Cathedral. The Gothic facade was completed under Napoleon I. The lateral aspects, two crosses on top, and the apse are the parts that are emphasized on it.

Duomo de Milano Italy bookonboard landmarks
Duomo de Milano Italy – Photo by Dids from Pexels

Also, the apse has three huge Gothic windows made from finely carved marbles. Furthermore, you will find that all sides of the structure have a casing made of pink-colored Italian marble.

You won’t fail to notice the three arches, capitals, and flowers at the lower part of the apse. They also appear on the buttresses and above them, running along the row of gigantic statues.

These statues are covered by water gutters above them and enhance the lacelike ornamental crest.

The exterior

Milan Cathedral’s magnificent architecture is evident even by looking at these statues enhancing this ornamental crest.

When you’re outside the Cathedral, you’ll be awed by several turrets, pinnacles, and more than 3,000 statues. In Addition, 52 pillars are 80 feet (24 meters) tall each and more than 10 feet (3 meters) in diameter. Unlike the interior’s capitals, these pillars have a crown of statues within their corners instead.

We have already introduced the Milan Cathedral in our Top 10 Things to do in Italy, but here are more facts that will make your curiosity spark.

Five Interesting Facts about Duomo di Milano

  • It is the fifth-largest Christian church in the world. The entire Cathedral covers 109, 641 square feet – an entire city block! One of the world’s finest indeed!
  • 3,400 Statues, 135 gargoyles, and 700 figures embellish the Milan Duomo. You’ll truly appreciate this display of magnificent art on the rooftop, the most famous silhouette in the city!
Milan Cathedral Italy bookonboard italy milan rome landmarks
Milan Cathedral Italy – Photo by Maria Orlova from Pexels
  • The Terrazas is breathtaking! From there, you’ll be mesmerized by Milan on any given day, viewing the snow-capped peaks of the Alps. And the famous Madonnina, the gold-colored statue of Mary on the Cathedral’s highest pinnacle, will be in full view.
  • Sync your watch by its sundial. On the floor near the main entrance is a sundial. Through a hole on the opposite wall, a ray of sunlight illuminates and strikes the clock, and the bronze tongue shines on June 21, which is the summer solstice, and the meridian on December 21, the winter solstice. It’s so accurate that it’s used to sync all the clocks in the city.
  • The little red bulb above the arched part over the altar marks the spot where supposedly placed one of the nails of Jesus’ crucifixion. It’s best to visit on the Saturday closest to September 14 when the Archbishop of Milan goes up the apex in a wooden basket adorned with angels to recover the nail. The nail is then exhibited at the altar until the Monday after Vespers before it’s restored to its spot up the apse again.

10. Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence

The Museo del Opera del Duomo (Museum of the Works of the Cathedral) in Florence, Italy, also known as the “OPA,” is a museum that houses many of the original works of art created for the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, the duomo (Cathedral) of Florence.

The Museum is located east of the Cathedral near its apse. It opened in 1891 for public visits and caught the world’s attention for it houses the world’s most important collections of sculpture.

It was built by the government of Florence in the 13th century to manage the construction of the new Cathedral and its bell tower.

The Structure

The whole structure is 6,000 square meters divided into 28 rooms on three floors. Consequently, these partitions made the unique masterpieces housed in it present themselves in a manner that will make the viewers appreciate them more.

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo Florence Italy
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo Florence Italy – Photo by George M. Groutas from Wikimedia Commons under License CC BY 2.0

The presentation is comparable to a shelf that has been categorized so that the audience will find pleasure after pleasure in the Museum within a museum.

Some Collections

  • Lorenzo Ghiberti’s doors for the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral called the Gates of Paradise
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo Florence Italy bookonboard italy things to do landmarks
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo Florence Italy – Photo by Yair Haklai from Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0
  • The Cantoria or singing galleries designed for the Cathedral by Donatello and Luca Della Robbia
  • Donatello’s Penitent Magdalene
  • The Deposition, a pieta that Michelangelo sculpted and made for his own tomb

11. Basilica di San Francesco, Ravenna

In 450, the bishop of Ravenna, Neo, built the Basilica di San Francesco to dedicate to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. This dedication made it famous as the Church of the Apostles.

The old church was demolished between the 9th and 10th centuries to build a bigger one and a tall bell tower that remains up to this day.

The new church was dedicated to Saint Peter and was named San Pietro Maggiore, handed over to the Franciscans in 1261 and rededicated to Saint Francis of Assisi.

Where Dante finished his Divine Comedy

In this beautiful city of Ravenna, Dante Alighieri finished his La Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy) because, according to him, Ravenna is a paradise.

Dante died in 1321, and his funeral was held in the Basilica di San Francesco, where his remains still rest in the “Tomb of Dante,” which is right next to the church.

Flooded crypt of the basilica

Cripta della Basilica di San Francesco Italy bookonboard
Cripta della Basilica di San Francesco Italy – Photo by Greymouser from Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

The most striking feature is the flooded basement crypt. Being a marshland has been a constant problem of the city of Ravenna. The crypt is now a shallow, underground goldfish pond.

This basement is said to hold the remains of Bishop Neo, the one who conceived the Basilica in the 5th century. The beautiful basement crypt has a religious burial design. The ceilings are sloping into rows of stone columns, and the floor tile has intricate mosaic patterns.

12. St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice

St. Marks Basilica Venice Italy
St. Marks Basilica Venice Italy – Photo by Matthias Kabel from Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

Basilica di San Marco or St. Mark’s Basilica is a church located in the major seaport city of Venice. However, this catholic church is more famous as Chiesa d’Oro (Church of gold).

It was built in 829 and consecrated in 832 as a church to be the home of the remains of St. Mark, who replaced St. Theodore as the patron saint of Venice. St. Mark’s symbol of a winged lion became the official symbol of the government of Venice later on.

This church is located beside the Palazzo Ducale or Doge’s Palace and serves as the palace’s chapel. Although it only became the Cathedral of Venice in 1807.

The Structure

As its famous name, the Church of Gold has a structure that dates back to the 11th century and looks radiant gold. It is said that the Hagia is the influence behind its design. Significant work was made to embellish the structure, with the main facade having an ornamented roofline that’s principally Gothic.

It took centuries to complete the gold ground mosaics that covered almost all the top sections of the inside of the Basilica.

The outside height of the domes was increased by raising hollow drums on a wooden framework and covering them with metal during the 13th century.

The Design

Its decadent design, gold mosaic-laden grounds, and Venetian power and wealth symbol gave it Chiesa d’Oro (Church of gold).

Inside the Basilica, you’ll find that throughout, it’s ornated with mosaics and gold and with different types of marble, including the floor embellished with marble and glass. All these parts glow in the restricted light.

The overall structure has that oriental feeling of exoticism. Also, because of all the elements of the art and culture of Venice, which is most of the Renaissance period, St. Mark’s Basilica will always be unique and a reflection of the culture of Italy.

Horses of Saint Mark-Lysippos

Horses of Saint Mark-Lysippos Italy
Horses of Saint Mark-Lysippos Italy – Photo by Evelyn McKelvie from Pixabay

On the balcony above the portal of the Basilica is a statue called the Horses of St. Mark by the Greek sculptor Lysippos. This statue has been part of so much history as it was forcibly taken to Paris by Napoleon in 1797 but returned by Captain Dumaresq in 1815.

Before the horses got to St. Mark’s Basilica, they were displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople for a long time. In 1204, Doge Enrico Dandolo sent the horses back to Venice as Italy’s Fourth Crusade against Constantinople.

A Long restoration effort had been dedicated to St. Mark’s horses since the 1970s. The original horses that are gilded with copper and mercury are just kept inside St. Mark’s Museum. This Museum inside the Basilica now displays the actual horses. At the same time, the bronze replicas are the ones that are on the facade of the Cathedral.

The Tetrarchs

In 293 CE Emperor Diocletian established the Tetrarchy. The Tetrarchy consisted of four rulers composed of two head emperors and two junior emperors. The head emperors must be a Diocletian and Maximian, while the junior emperors must be Constantius and Galerius. These four emperors divided the empire into four districts where each could rule individually.

The goal of this new system, of dividing an empire into subsections, was to help make governing easier and efficient. At first, this sectioning allowed the empire to be more self-sufficient but was stopped when wars started among the tetrarchs, which ended with Constantine as the only ruler.

Travel Tips

To get to St. Mark’s Basilica, where the Piazza San Marco and Doge’s Palace are also located, you can take the Vaporetto, which is affordable through the Venetian canals. Then, you could walk to the Basilica, quite a long walk for it’s at the southern end of Venice but possible. Then you will find the bridge nearest to it, which is the Ponte dell’ Accademia.

13. Doge’s Palace, Venice

Doge's Palace Museum venice italy bookonboard venice italy guide landmarks
Palazzo Ducale Innen Sala del Maggior Consiglio Venice Italy – Photo by Zairon from Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

Palazzo Ducale or Doge’s Palace is the official residence of the doges in Venice. In the former government of Venice, the elected leaders were called Doges (Italian) or Dukes (English).

This palace was the meeting place of the councils and ministries leading the government. The palace structure is impressive, mainly because it was built around a courtyard with rich ornaments.

As years passed and it underwent renovations, the palace structure included varied architecture like Gothic, Moorish, and Renaissance.

The Design

The Doge’s Palace is a big, colored pink building topped with a line of white pinnacles. And, the palace overlooks the waterfront from the Piazzetta San Marco.

When was Doge’s Palace built?

The original Doge’s Palace was built in 814, but the masses burned it down in 976. It was renovated because a second fire destroyed it once more.

The present structure was built in the early 14th century, and the new structure in Venetian Gothic- style was completed in 1424. These undertakings included expanding the two identical facades facing a broad stone quay called Molo and the Piazzetta San Marco.

In 1438, the main gateway, or the Porta Della Carta, was designed by Bartolomeo Bon and Giovanni. Great fires took place after this event that it needed extensive renovations.

Some Most Famous Doges

The doges that really became famous because of their leadership skills and significant political influence were Enrico Dandolo, who promoted the Fourth Crusade, and Franceso Foscari, who triumphed in conquests on the Italian Mainland.

14. Piazza San Marco, Venice

Piazza San Marco Venice Italy
Piazza San Marco Venice Italy – Photo by Jocelyn Erskine-Kellie from Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0

For your information, the Piazza San Marco referred to here is in Venice and the one with the Doge’s Palace and Saint Mark’s Basilica. The other Piazza San Marco is the one in Florence.

St. Mark’s Square is the central public square of Venice, Italy, where it’s known as la Piazza or “the square.” The Piazzetta (little square) is an extension near the southeast corner of the Piazza approaching the San Marco Basin.

Piazza San Marco Venice Italy bookonboard italy venice milan
Piazza San Marco Venice Italy – photo by Halbag from Flickr under CC BY 2.0

These two spaces, the Piazza and Piazzetta of Venice, make Venice’s social, political, and religious center.

Why did Napoleon refer to St. Mark’s Square as the “drawing room of Europe.”

A drawing room is what we call a living room these days, and it’s where we entertain visitors. That’s probably why Napoleon referred to St. Mark’s Square that way, as you’ll be delighted staying there, surrounded by significant structures like the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Cathedral. That being said, Napoleon definitely enjoyed the scenery.

15. Mount Vesuvius

Pompeii Italy bookonboard italy guide europe
Photo by Michael Swanson from Pixabay

Photo:Bill Chizek, www.billchizekphotography.com

Mount Vesuvius or Italian Vesuvio is an active volcano located in Southern Italy above the Bay of Naples on the plain of Campania (a mountainous region, Southern part of Italy).

Cone’s Size and Height

In 2013, the height of the cone of this active volcano was 4,203 feet or 1281 meters. This changes incredibly with each significant eruption.

There is a high semicircular ridge called Mount Somma, surrounding the cone at about 1,968 feet or 600 meters and rising to 3,714 feet or 1132 meters.

The Valle del Gigante is the Giant’s Valley, between Mount Somma and the cone.

At the peak of the cone is a large crater, 1,000 feet or 305 meters deep and 2,000 feet or 610 meters in diameter, which was formed in the 1944 eruption.

Mount Vesuvius Trail Italy bookonboard things to do
Photo by Justin Ennis from flickr

Photo by Sally Smith on Flickr

Are there people living in Mount Vesuvius?

More than two million people are residing in the proximity of Vesuvius and on its lower hills.

In Addition, there are industrial towns by the coast of the Bay of Naples and small rural centers on the northern part of the volcano.

Why is Mount Vesuvius so famous?

Mt. Vesuvius Pompeii Garden of the Fugitives Italy
Mt. Vesuvius Pompeii Garden of the Fugitives Italy – Photo by Lancevortex from Wikimedia Commons under 16. Pompeii, Pompeii

Pompei (in Italian) or Pompeii (in English) is a preserved ancient Roman City in Campania, Italy, about 14 miles or 23 km southern part of Naples and the southeastern base of Mount Vesuvius.

Why is Pompeii famous?

Photo by Dmitry K on Flickr

The ancient city of Pompeii, Italy, is famous because it was destroyed during the great eruption. The ashes from the volcanic eruption covered everything in at least 19 feet (6 meters) of ash and other debris. Consequently, this became a quick burial ground for the community. Moreover, it was only in the 16th century that the preserved inhabitants of the ancient city were discovered.

17. Rialto Bridge, Venice

Rialto Bridge Venice Italy bookonboard trip to venice italy
Rialto Bridge Venice Italy – Photo by blaze_rob from Pixabay

Photo by Damiano Baschiera on Unsplash

One of the really famous Italy landmarks is the Rialto Bridge or in Italian is Ponte di Rialto. This is a stone arch bridge in Venice, crossing over the narrowest point of the Grand Canal.

When was the Rialto Bridge built?

The Rialto Bridge was constructed in 1181 for the sole purpose of going to the Rialto Market, which is in the eastern part of the country.

Why is the Rialto Bridge famous?

It is said to be an architectural and engineering masterpiece of the Renaissance. After a bridge design competition, it was designed and built by Antonio da Ponte and his nephew. And it is the oldest among the four bridges along the Grand Canal since 1181.

photo by Oliver Sasse on Flickr

How did Rialto Bridge Get its Name?

It used to be called Ponte Della Moneta (Bridge of the Coin) when it was just a floating bridge for people have to pay to pass through it. Then, when the wooden bridge was changed, and many people were using the bridge already, and with the connection to the Rialto Market, it became Rialto Bridge.

Structure

The Rialto Bridge consists of a single stone-arch span and an expansive rectangular deck that bears two arcades of shops facing three roadways. In fact, the lower chord of the bridge is only 25 meters or 83 feet long and 20 meters or 66 feet wide. In Addition, 6,000 timber piles were driven under each abutment, and the bed joints of the stones were placed perpendicular to the thrust of the arch to support the wide stone arch in the soft alluvial soil.

Romantic Gondola Ride

Venice Grand Canal Italy
Venice Grand Canal Italy – Photo from Piqsels

Most of the available tour packages bring you a ride around Venice using a gondola instead of on foot. This is a great experience though you will miss the beauty and the crowd at the bridge. So, find a way to enjoy both the gondola and the bridge.

Merchant of Venice and Rialto Bridge

In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, he referred to the Rialto Bridge as, “where people meet to catch up on the latest news”.

18. Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

Piazza Maggiore Bologna Italy
Piazza Maggiore Bologna Italy – Photo by Vanni Lazzari from Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

image:https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Piazza_Maggiore_-_Bologna.jpg

Bologna’s political and social life focused on Piazza Maggiore since the 13th century when the Piazza (square) and its buildings were constructed.

It is one of the famous tourist attractions, and it is also one of Italy’s most significant and oldest squares.

The Piazza became the location where citizens gathered to listen to new laws and watch capital executions.

Surrounded by Historical Landmarks

These major administrative and religious buildings in the history of Bologna surround the Piazza:

  • West- Palazzo d’Accursio – former city hall, now a museum
  • Southwest – Palazzo Dei Notai – a former society of the notaries
  • Southeast – Basilica of San Petronio- Duomo ofBologna
  • East – Palazzo del Banchi – former banking center
  • North – Palazzo del Podesta, Bologna-former police offices

19. Verona Arena, Verona

Verona Arena Italy bookonboard
Verona Arena Italy – Photo by Gabriele Ravanetti from Flickr under CC BY 2.0

The Romans built another amphitheater in Italy during the first century, located in Piazza Bra in Verona, Italy. Verona, a place that Shakespeare made famous in his play “Romeo and Juliet.”

Indeed it is one of the world’s famous Italy landmarks for the grand-scale opera performances being held there. Also, it is one of the most preserved historical landmarks and ancient structures of its kind.

In ancient times, the arena’s capacity was almost 30,000 people. Then, it decreased to a maximum of 15,000 due to the stage and opera performances.

In fact, it’s set to host the closing ceremony for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

20. The Sistine Chapel, Rome

The Sistine Chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, where the Pope officially resides. Thus, making it one of the most famous Italy landmarks.

They were initially known as the Capella Magna, which means Great Chapel. Accordingly, Its name is taken from Pope Sixtus IV, who commissioned the architect Giovanni dei Dolci to build the chapel between 1473 and 1481. And since then, it has served as a place of both religious and official papal activity, such as the election of a new pope when there is a vacancy.

Why is the Sistine Chapel Famous?

Besides being located in the official residence of the Pope, it’s famous for its Renaissance frescoes created by the great Michelangelo.

The Structure

The chapel is made of brick; the building is rectangular with six arched windows on the two main walls on each side and a ceiling with a barrelled vault.

The chapel’s exterior is simple and unembellished, but inside, the walls and ceiling are adorned with frescoes made by many Florentine masters of the Renaissance.

You will find on the North wall six frescoes portraying the life of Christ. On the south wall are six frescoes showing the life of Moses. Then, when you look up above these masterpieces, you’ll find more miniature frescoes between the windows that depict different popes.

Sistine Chapel Rome Italy
Sistine Chapel Rome Italy – Photo by Antoinetav from Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

Masterpieces by Raphael

During more special events, the lowest parts of the side walls were covered with a series of tapestries showing events from the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. These masterpieces were by Raphael and were woven from 1515 to 1519 in Brussels.

Travel Tips

You must have a ticket for the Vatican Museums to visit the chapel, then visiting the Sistine Chapel is free.

21. Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast Italy
Amalfi Coast Italy – Photo by Anemone123 from Pixabay

Amalfi is a town and an archiepiscopal (relating to an archbishop) region located south of Italy. It’s southeast of Naples, lying in the ravine of the Mulini Valley by the Gulf of Salerno.

The place became famous in the middle of the 6th century under the Byzantines. Because it became one of the first Italian maritime republics in the 9th century, with Pisa, Genoa, Venice, and Gaeta as rivals of naval power in trade.

Why is the Amalfi Coast famous?

The Amalfi Coast has been drawing people from all over the world as one of the most famous Italian landmarks for its pleasant weather, charming streets, and beautiful sceneries.

You will find the mountains on the coast picturesque, with the vacation homes, hotels, and restaurants looking like magical figures from afar, so colorful and inviting.

FREQUENTLY – ASKED QUESTIONS

1. What is the incidence of crime in Italy?

According to Global Finance in its article “The Most Peaceful Countries in the World 2021” and the Global Peace Index Report 2021, Italy ranks 32. It is a relatively peaceful country. Medium-rated crimes have been recorded, and there is no history of racial discrimination. The usual crimes are petty theft such as pickpocketing, thefts from parked vehicles, and bag snatching.

2. What is Italy commonly known for?

We have already cited the places in Italy that made the country more famous. However, Italy is also most commonly known for its food. Tell me how delicious their pasta is and the pizza that other countries mimic. They also have the Vespas or what they call sexy scooters, their cars, hand gestures, football, gelato, art, and of course, fashion.

3. How is the economy of Italy?

Italy’s economy developed fast from being the weakest in Europe after World War II to one of the strongest to this day.

Italy’s strengths are in its metallurgical and engineering industries. On the other hand, its weakness is in its lack of raw materials and energy sources because more than four-fifths of its energy requirements are imported. However, its chemical sector thrives, and Italy’s largest industries are textiles.

Italy is also the world leader in olive oil production and a significant exporter of wine, rice, and tomatoes.

4. What is the climate like in Italy?

The geographical location of Italy, in south-central Europe, is a peninsula that extends deep into the Mediterranean Sea. This contributes to the temperate climate, which varies within the country’s different regions and makes it home to some of the most varied and scenic landscapes on Earth. Looking at the map, you would notice that the country is shaped like a boot.

The climate in the northern part of Italy, attached to the European continent, varies from that of the south, surrounded by the Mediterranean.

The Alps are partial barriers against westerly and northerly winds. On the other hand, the Apennines and the great plain of northern Italy have extraordinary climatic shifts. Sicily is prone to African winds while Sardinia to Atlantic winds.

This means that those close to higher areas like the Alps and Apennines have freezing conditions. There is rainfall during the autumn and winter seasons, and the country’s north becomes the wettest part. The hottest month is July, and the coldest is January. With temperatures ranging from 11 to 30 degrees both in celsius.

To Sum It Up

These 21 Must-Visit places are just some of the famous Italian landmarks that you could explore when you’re in Italy. They don’t even equal half of the 58 World Heritage Sites Italy has. Indeed, we don’t have all the time in just an article to explore all of them.

Take note that there are health protocols to be observed when traveling to Italy these days and travel restrictions, but they do accept tourist visits.

Bookonboard will be happy to assist you on these matters. So you can have the best-ever, long-awaited vacation and have the grandest experience with the magnificent Italian landmarks on your list!

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