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Italy

A guide to its main attractions
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Selected by piero scaruffi | Back to the travel page | Photos | Email
This page provides a list of the main things to see in Italy. "++" identifies the top attractions.
The list is organized according to the 20 official regions of Italy:
Val D'Aosta | Piemonte | Lombardia | Veneto | Trentino | Friuli | Emilia | Liguria | Toscana
Umbria | Marche | Lazio | Abbruzzo | Basilicata | Puglia | Campania | Calabria | Sardegna | Sicilia
TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi

VAL D'AOSTA

  • + Aosta: Arco di Augusto, S.Orso, Teatro romano, Porta Pretoria
  • Cervinia: Cresta del Furggen
  • + Courmayeur: Aiguille du Midi, Entreves
  • Fenis: castello
  • Gran Paradiso: parco
  • + Verres: castello d' Issogne, castello di Verres

PIEMONTE

  • + Avigliana: S.Antonio di Ranverso, Sacra di S.Michele
  • + Bossea: grotta (Mauro Cerisola writes: "Sono stato alle grotte di Bossea. Posto molto bello, per niente turistico, da raccomandare! E` in una valle pochissimo abitata, verdissima, boschi dappertutto. Vicino all'ingresso della grotta c'e` un albergo, di quelli rustici di montagna, 1 ristorante, 1 bar e una ventina di casette. Poco piu` in la` un vivaio di pesca trote. La grotta ha la particolarita` di essere molto "viva", perche` il torrente sotterraneo scorre dentro ancora adesso, e gli si passa a fianco. Si vedono anche 2 cascate e un laghetto sotterranei. E` stata la prima grotta aperta al pubblico in Italia (circa 105 anni fa), insieme a Postumia, e contiene la terza "sala" d'Italia per dimensioni (la piu` grande e` la Grotta Gigante di Trieste, seguita dall'Abisso Ancona di Frasassi). La visita dura 1 ora e 1/4. Purtroppo e` una grotta fuori dai giri turistici perche` l'unico monumento nei dintorni e` il Santuario di Vicoforte (la piu` grande cupola ellittica del mondo), vicino a Mondovi`. Nel mio giro guidato eravamo circa 15 persone, nel successivo erano in 20. Merita assolutamente una visita."
  • Lago d' Orta: Orta S.Giulio, isola S.Giulio
  • Staffarda: abbazia
  • + Torino/ Turin: Palazzo Madama, Museo Egizio, Balisica Superga, S. Lorenzo, Palazzo Carignano, Juvarra's Palazzo di Stupinigi, Pierluigi Nervi's Palazzo del Lavoro, Chiesa del Santo Volto
  • Trivero: panoramica Zegna
  • + Varallo Sesia: Sacro Monte (1486)
  • + Vercelli: S.Andrea
  • + Vezzolano: abbazia

LIGURIA

  • Bordighera: Lungomare Argentina
  • + Cinqueterre: Riomaggiore
  • + Genova: Cattedrale, Pza S.Matteo, v. Garibaldi, citta' vecchia, Palazzo Doria (+Sarcofago di Endimione)
  • Camogli: borgo medievale
  • Lerici: golfo dei poeti
  • Nervi: passeggiata Garibaldi
  • + Portofino: porticciolo, SanFruttuoso
  • + Portovenere: calata Doria, grotta di Byron
  • San Remo: La Pigna

LOMBARDIA

  • ++Bergamo: +S.Maria Maggiore, Cappella Colleoni, Galleria Accademia Carrara, Pza Vecchia,
  • Brescia: Loggia, Rotonda, Broletto, Tempio Capitolino, Basilica S.Salvatore
  • + Capo di Ponte: parco delle incisioni rupestri
  • + Castiglione Olona: Battistero, Collegiata
  • + Como: Duomo, S.Abbondio, +Broletto (1215, oldest extant town hall), Giuseppe Terragni's Casa del Fascio (1936)
  • ++Lago di Como: Villa Carlotta, Vla Olmo, Mte Bisbino, Vla Arconati, Mte Legnone
  • + Cremona: Pza del Comune, Duomo, Battistero, Torrazzo
  • + Lago di Garda: Gardesana, Gardone, Salo, Desenzano, Garda, Riva, S. Virgilio
  • Lago d'Iseo: Monte Isola
  • Lanzo d'Intelvi: Vedetta della Sighignola
  • + Lodi: Incoronata
  • Lomello: S.Maria Maggiore, Battistero
  • ++Lago Maggiore: Isole Borromee, Stresa, Villa Taranto,
  • ++Mantova/Mantua: Palazzo Ducale (+Mantegna's Camera Picta), Leon Battista Alberti's S.Andrea (1481, facade and nave), Palazzo del Te, Pza delle Erbe, S.Sebastiano
  • ++Milano/Milan: ++Duomo (+Drums on capitelli of pillars), +Bramante's S.Maria delle Grazie (apse from outside), S.Ambrogio (Golden altar, Sarcophagus of Stilicho), CastelloSfrozesco, San Gottardo's bell tower (oldest public clock), Picanoteca Brera, Musei del Castello, S.Lorenzo Maggiore (mosaic in Cappella Aquilino), S.Eustorgio, Ca Granda, La Scala (+interior), San Vincenzo in Prato (833)
  • Monza: Cathedral treasury (+Stilicho diptych, +S.Gregory's diptych)
  • ++Pavia: Certosa (+Amadeo's facade), S.Michele (capitelli of the pillars), S.Pietro Ciel D'oro, Castello/Palazzo dei Visconti (1365)
  • + Sirmione: grotte di Catullo, Rocca scaligera
  • + Vigevano: Bramante's Palazzo Ducale (1494), +Piazza Ducale
  • Grazie di Curtatone: the original street painters ("madonnari") festival
  • Varese: Museo della Collegiata di Castiglione Olona (Masolino's frescoes)

VENETO

  • + Cortina: Tofana di Mezzo
  • ++Dolomiti: Grande Strada, Cortina, Marmolada (serrai di Sottoguda), Lavaredo, Lago di Misurina
  • + Maser: Villa Barbaro
  • ++Padova: +S.Antonio (+Donatello's altar), ++Cappella degli Scrovegni, Monumento al Gattamelata, Palazzo della Ragione, Eremitani, S.Giustina
  • + Praglia: abbazia
  • Stra: Villa nazionale
  • + Torcello: +Sta Fosca, Cattedrale
  • + Treviso: Duomo, S.Nicolo (sala capitolina: affreschi di Tomaso del 1350 in cui si vedono clessidra e occhiali)
  • ++Venezia: +++S.Marco, Sansovino's Biblioteca di San Marco in Piazza San Marco, ++Canal Grande, ++Palazzo Ducale, S.Maria GLoriosa, Ca d'Oro, Scuola di SanRocco, Monumento al Colleoni, Libreria Marciana, +Ss Giovanni e Paolo, S.Maria dei Miracoli, Gallerie dell' Accademia +S.Maria della Salute, S.Sebastiano, ++Ponte di Rialto, S. Zaccaria, Palladio's S.Giorgio Maggiore, Palladio's Chiesa del Redentore
  • ++Verona: Arena, S.Zeno Maggiore, Castelvecchio, Arche scaligere, S.Anastasia, Pza delle Erbe, Pza dei Signori, Pzetta delle Arche, S.Fermo
  • ++Vicenza: Basilica, Teatro Olimpico, Palazzo Chiericati, Monte Berico, +Palladio's Villa Capra "La Rotonda" (nearby)

FRIULI

  • + Aquileia: Basilica
  • + Cividale: Duomo, Tempietto, Santa Maria in Valle (+Stucco figures of saints), San Martino (+Altar of King Ratchis with relief of Adoration of the Magi, 737)
  • Passariano: villa Manin
  • + Trieste: S.Giusto, Castello
  • + Udine: Pza della Liberta'

TRENTINO

  • ++AltoAdige: Siusi, Bressanone, Lago di Carezza, Lago di Braies, Passo Sella, Selva ValGardena
  • + Bolzano: Duomo, via dei portici, Gries, Virgolo
  • +Kronplatz/Plan de Corones: Zaha Hadid's Messner Mountain Museum (top of Mount Kronplatz)
  • ++Dolomiti: Madonna di Campiglia, Lago Molveno, Passo di Rolle, S.Martino
  • + Merano: via dei portici, passeggiata Lungo Passirio, S.Virgilio, CastelTirolo, CastelloScena, Marlengo, Lana
  • Mustair: abbazia di S.Giovanni
  • Novacella: abbazia
  • Ponte Arche: Sarca, Gola Scaletta
  • + Trento

TOSCANA

  • ++Arezzo: S.Francesco (+Piero's "Discovery of the True Cross"), Pieve di S.Maria, Pza Grande, Duomo, S.Domenico, S.Maria delle Grazie
  • Calci: Certosa di Pisa
  • + Chiusi: Necropoli etrusca
  • + Cortona: Madonna del Calcinaio
  • Elba: Portoferraio
  • ++Firenze: ++Duomo (++facade, ++Brunelleschi's dome), ++Campanile di Giotto, ++Battistero (++mosaics, +Porta del Paradiso di Ghiberti, 1401), S.Lorenzo (interior of 1419 by Brunelleschi, +Michelangelo's sculptures in the Cappelle Medicee, +Donatello's Descent from the Cross in the Passion pulpit, and +Donatello's Martirio di San Lorenzo and Women at the Tomb in the Resurrection pulpit, Donatello's Assumption of Saint John in the Sagrestia Vecchia, Lippi's Annunciation, Lippi's Annunciation in the Martelli Chapel of the Basilica di San Lorenzo, Michelandelo's Biblioteca Laurenziana and +staircase), Spedale degli Innocenti in Pza Annunziata (1455, +Brunelleschi's colonnaded portico of 1426, +Andrea della Robbia's terracotta reliefs, +Adoration of the Magi by Domenico Ghirlandaio), Orsanmichele (+Altare di Maria, +Quattro Santi Coronati), S.Maria del Carmine (+Masaccio's frescoes in the cappella Brancacci), Brunelleschi's S.Spirito (+interior), ++Ponte Vecchio, ++S.Maria Novella (Masaccio's "Trinita`", +Uccello's "Diluvio" in the Chiostro Verde), +S.Croce (nave of 1295, +Giotto's Bardi and Peruzzi chapels, +Brunelleschi's Cappella dei Pazzi), S.Miniato al Monte, Palazzo Medici (1460), ++Pza della Signoria, +Palazzo Vecchio (1314), Palazzo Pitti (Lippi's "Virgin and Child"), Palazzo Rucellai (Leonbattista Alberti, 1451), Giardino di Boboli, Palazzo Strozzi (1489), Vle dei colli, Palazzo Davanzati (14th c, courtyard), Palazzo Antinori (1466), Palazzo Gondi (1501), +Uffizi, Galleria Pitti, Museo dell' Opera, Museo S.Marco, Museo Nazionale Bargello, Museo Archeologico Note on ice cream: Gelateria de' Neri Via dei Neri 9/10r, close to Palazzo Vecchio; Gelateria La Carraia, Piazza Sauro Nazario, 25/R (second bridge west of Ponte Vecchio); Mordilatte Via dei Servi 10R and Via G. D'Annunzio 105 - near Duomo; Bar Vivoli Via Isole delle Stinche, 7r - near Santa Croce. The absolute best ones are not in the center: Gelateria Badiani, viale dei Mille 20r, and Gelateria de' Medici, via dello Statuto 3/5r.
  • LaVerna: Convento della Verna
  • Livorno: Vle Italia
  • ++Lucca: ++Duomo (+Jacopo's tomb for Ilaria del Carretto), S.Michele in Foro, S.Frediano
  • + Massa Marittima: Duomo
  • + Montalcino: Abbazia di S.Antimo
  • + MonteOliveto: Monastero
  • ++Montepulciano: S.Biagio, Pza Grande
  • + Pienza: Square with Palazzo Piccolomini (1462), Cattedrale (1462) and Palazzo del Comune (1462)
  • ++Pisa: +++Piazza dei Miracoli, ++Duomo (facade, mosaic), ++Torre, +Battistero (+battistero di Pisano, +Ghiberti's Porta del Paradiso), +S.Maria Spina, Camposanto (Trionfo della Morte)
  • + Pistoia: Duomo (+Monumento funebre di Cino da Pistoia with base that shows pupils), Battistero, S.Giovanni Fuorcivitas, S.Andrea, Ospedale del Ceppo (+Giovanni della Robbia's polychrome majolica frieze)
  • +Pitigliano (borgo medievale)
  • + Prato: +Duomo (+Lippi's frescos), Giuliano da Sangallo: S.Maria delle Carceri
  • + S.Galgano: Chiesa
  • ++SanGimignano: +Duomo Collegiata (++frescos), +Palazzo Comunale, Via S.Matteo, S.Agostino, ++Pza Cisterna, ++Torri
  • ++Siena: ++Piazza del Campo, ++Palazzo Pubblico (+frescoes by Lorenzetti, Martini's "Guidoriccio"), +Via di Citta', ++Duomo (++facade with Giovanni Pisano's statues of the saints, ++library, ++pulpit), +Battistero (+Donatello's bronze relief Dance of Salome/ The Feast of Herod, Ghiberti's relief The Imprisonment of St John), S.Domenico, Pinacoteca, Museo dell' Opera (+Duccio's "Maesta`"), +Allegory of Good Government (Sala dei Nove, Palazzo Publico)
  • + Sorano: borgo medievale
  • ++Sovana: villaggio medievale
  • + Volterra: Pza dei Priori, Duomo, Arco etrusco, Balze

    EMILIA
  • + Bologna: +S. Petronio (+Jacopo's cycle in the doorway of 1437), S.Domenico, S.Francesco, Fontana Nettuno, Torri, Pinacoteca
  • + Castellarquato: Pza Matteotti
  • ++Ferrara: Cattedrale, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Palazzo di Schifanoia (with Del Cossa's frescoes), Palazzo di Ludovico, Castello Estense
  • Fidenza: Duomo
  • ++Modena: Duomo (Wiligelmo's "Creation of woman" in the facade, +King Arthur's legend in the northern portale della Pescheria, figures of the months in the same portale), Galleria Estense
  • Nonantola: abbazia
  • ++Parma: Duomo (Antelami's "Deposition from the cross", Correggio's fresco in the dome), +Antelami's Battistero, Camera del Correggio, Galleria Nazionale
  • +Piacenza: Gotico, Duomo, Madonna di Campagna, San Savino (capitelli of the crypt), Palazzo Pubblico (1281),
  • + Pomposa: Abbazia (1063)
  • ++Ravenna: S.Vitale, S.Apollinare in Classe, S.Apollinare Nuovo, Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, Battistero Neoniano, Mausoleo Teodorico, Palazzo dell'Arcivescovo/ Palace of the Exarchs (+trono, VI secolo)
  • + Rimini: +Leonbattista Alberti's Tempio Malatestiano
  • SanMarino: Rocche
  • Torrechiara: castello

MARCHE

  • + Ancona: S.Ciriaco, S.Maria della Piazza
  • + Ascoli: S.Francesco
  • + Fano: Arco di Augusto
  • + Fossombrone: Gola Furlo
  • + Loreto: Santuario della Santa Casa
  • Pesaro: Palazzo Ducale
  • SanLeo: Forte
  • + Urbino: Palazzo Ducale, Galleria nazionale

UMBRIA

  • ++Assisi: S.Francesco, S.Chiara, S.Maria degli Angeli, S.Damiano
  • Ferentillo: Abbazia di S.Pietro in Valle
  • Foligno: Abbazia di Sassovivo
  • ++Gubbio: Palazzo dei Consoli, Palazzo Ducale
  • Narni: Duomo
  • ++Orvieto: +Duomo (+"Visitation" on the facade, Giovanni Pisano's "Resurrection of the Dead" on the facade), Palazzo del Popolo, Pozzo di S.Patrizio
  • ++Perugia: Palazzo dei Priori, Fontana Maggiore, Collegio del Cambio, S.Bernardino, Via delle Volte, S.Pietro
  • Spello: S.Maria Maggiore
  • ++Spoleto: S.Pietro, S.Salvatore, Ponte delle Torri, Duomo
  • + Marmore: Cascata
  • + Todi: Pza del Popolo, Bramante's +St Maria della Consolazione (1508)

LAZIO

  • + Alatri: Acropoli
  • Albano: Cisternone, Tomba Orazi Curiazi
  • ++Anagni: Cattedrale
  • + Bagnoregio: Civita
  • Lago di Bolsena
  • + Bomarzo: Parco dei mostri
  • Lago di Bracciano
  • + Caprarola: Palazzo Farnese
  • ++Casamari: Abbazia
  • Cassino: abbazia di Montecassino
  • ++Cerveteri
  • +Civita: Citta' che Muore
  • Civita Castellana: Falerii Novi, Aquarossa
  • Ferentino: Acropoli
  • +Fossanova: abbazia
  • Frascati: Villa Aldobrandini
  • + Gaeta: Campanile, Grotta del Turco
  • + Ninfa: Borgo medievale
  • ++Norchia: Necropoli rupestre
  • ++Ostia: Scavi, Museo Archeologico
  • + Palestrina: Tempio di Fortuna Primigenia
  • +++Roma: ++Pantheon, ++Colosseo, +Basilica di Massenzio, +Arco di Costantino, ++Foro romano, +Colonna Traiana, +Colonna di Marco Aurelio, ++Palatino, ++Terme di Caracalla, +Ara Pacis, +Teatro di Marcello, +Appia Antica, ++Catacombe S.Callisto, +S.Sabina, +S.Paolo fuori le Mura, Tor Pignattara (Mauseoleo di Elena, via Casilina 602), S.Costanza (+Byzantine vault mosaic and apse mosaic of 326), Sta Prudenziana (+Byzantine apse mosaic of 389), Saints Cosmas and Damian (+apse mosaics of 530), Sta Prassede (San Zeno chapel's mosaic of 824) S.Maria Aracoeli, Castel S. Angelo, +S.Clemente (apse mosaic of 1200, Masolino's Crucifixion), S.Maria Cosmedin (7th c wall paintings), S.Maria in Trastevere, +Tempietto S.Pietro in Montorio, Bramante's Palazzo Caprini, Borromini's San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (1676), Palazzo Venezia, +Pza Campidoglio, Vignola's +Chiesa del Gesu (Wall painting of Martirio del 1622), Pza Navona (Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi), S.Maria sopra Minerva, +Pza S.Pietro, ++S.Pietro (++Bernini's Baldacchino, ++Michelangelo's Dome and Pieta, +Maderna's Facade), ++Stanze di Raffaello, S. Carlino alle Quattro Fontane (Borromini's dome and facade), Borromini's S. Ivo della Sapienza, ++Cappella Sistina, Palazzo Barberini, S. Maria del Popolo, Porta Pia, Palazzo Barberini (Pietro da Cortona's ceiling fresco in the Gran Salone), Palazzo della Cancelleria, Palazzo Farnese (Carracci's frescoes of the ceiling), S.Ignazio (+baroque ceiling), S. Agostino, Farnese, S.Agnese (7th c mosaic of the apse), S.Maria degli Angeli, S.Pietro in Vincoli (Michelangelo's Moses, 7th c mosaic of S. Sebastian), +S.Maria Maggiore (mosaic of Lot and Abraham, the daughter of the pharaoh, the adoration of the Magi), +S.Giovanni in Laterano (+Baptistery of 5th century, esp mosaic in the apse of the Oratory of S Venanzio), S.Lorenzo fuori le Mura (6th c mosaic of the triumphal arch), Santa Maria della Vittoria (Bernini's Cappela Cornaro), Trinita' dei Monti, Vittoriano, Fontana di Trevi, Villa Borghese, Villa Giulia, Tempio di Vesta, ++Musei Vaticani (Antichita` Romane, +Lacoon, +Marte di Todi, +++Cappella Sistina), Pomodoro's "Sfera dentro Sfera" in the Vatican's Cortile della Pigna, +Galleria Borghese, Galleria d' Arte Moderna, +Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo della Civilta` Italiana at EUR, Zaha Hadid's Maxxi museum
  • ++ Sermoneta: borgo medievale
  • Sora: Cascate del Liri, Isola del Liri, Campoli Appennino, Arpino
  • Sperlonga: grotta di Tiberio
  • +Subiaco: Monastero di S.Benedetto, Monastero di S.Scolastica
  • +Tarquinia: Palazzo Vitelleschi, + Necropoli etrusca (Monterozzi necropolis, 150 painted tombs, +Tomb of the Bulls), Museo
  • Terracina: Tempio di Giove Anxur
  • +Tivoli: +Villa Adriana, Villa d' Este, Villa Gregoriana
  • +Tuscania: S.Pietro
  • Vetralla: Norchia
  • +Viterbo: Palazzo Papale, Quartiere medievale, Fontana Grande, Santuario S.Maria della Quercia, Ferento
  • + Vulci: Necropoli, Tomba Francois
  • Bagnaia: Villa Lante

ABBRUZZI

  • + Albe: S.Pietro, Alba Fucens
  • ++L'Aquila: S.Bernardino, S.Maria di Collemaggio, Fontana 99 cannelle
  • + Celano: CAstello Piccolomini, Gole di Celano
  • Pescasseroli: Parco degli Abruzzi
  • Sulmona: Annunziata
  • + Torre de' Passeri: S.Clemente a Casauria
  • + Torralba: nuraghe S.Antine
  • + Abbasanta

CAMPANIA

  • + Amalfi: Duomo
  • Baia: Parco archeologico
  • + Benevento: Arco di Traiano
  • + Capri: Scavi, Certosa, Faraglioni, Grotta azzurra
  • + Capua: S.Angelo in Formis
  • + Caserta: Palazzo Reale, Parco
  • + Casertavecchia: borgo medievale, Cattedrale
  • Castrovillari: S,Maria della Consolazione
  • Cava de Tirreni: Abbazia della Trinita'
  • + Costa amalfitana: Maiori, Positano, Sorrento
  • + Cuma: Cumae
  • ++Ercolano: Scavi
  • ++Ischia: giro dell' Isola
  • + Marina di Ascea
  • Montevergine: Santuario
  • ++Napoli: Maschio Angioino, S.Chiara, S.Lorenzo Maggiore, Certosa S.Martino, Duomo, Floridiana, +Museo Capodimonte (+Simone Martini's "St Louis Altar", Masolino's Pala Colonna), Museo Nazionale, Spaccanapoli, V.Petrarca, V. di Posillipo, Eremo dei Camaldoli, Vele di Scampia (1962)
  • Padula: Certosa S.Lorenzo
  • ++Paestum: Paestum, Museo
  • Pertosa: grotta
  • ++Pompei: Scavi (+Apodyterium paintings, +Casa dei Vettii paintings)
  • + Pozzuoli: Tempio di Serapide, Anfiteatro, Solfatara, Lago Averno
  • + Ravello: Villa Rufolo, Villa Cimbrone
  • Salerno: Duomo
  • ++Santa Maria CapuaVetere: Anfiteatro, Mitreo
  • Sessa Aurunca: Ponte degli Aurunci, Duomo
  • + Vesuvio: Cratere
Notes for Pompei:
Getting to Pompei: Circumvesuviana from Napoli stazione Garibaldi.
There are two entrances to the "Scavi" (ruins).
Ingresso Porta Marina:
Circumvesuviana Napoli-Sorrento (fermata Pompei Villa dei Misteri)
Ingresso Piazza Anfiteatro:
Circumvesuviana Napoli-Poggiomarino (fermata Pompei Santuario).
(You can also take the regular train to Salerno and get off at Pompei main station, which is in Piazza Anfiteatro.
Modern Pompei (Hotels/restaurants)
If you exit the Scavi/Ruins from the exit Piazza Anfiteatro, you find yourself in downtown Pompei
Must see in Pompei:
Buildings
* Forum and especially Basilica
* Two theaters (big and small, both masterpieces)
* The amphitheater (the oldest surviving)
* Terme stabiane (public baths)
By far the main attractions are the houses:
* Vettii +++
* Faun
* Menandro
* Loreius Tiburtinus
* Villa dei Misteri +++ (just outside the Scavi)
* Casa della Caccia Antina
* Casa di Venere nella Conchiglia
* Casa della Fontana Grande
Paintings:
Wall painting in the house of the Vettii (this is one of the world's masterpieces)
Wall painting from "The House of Venus on the Shell"
Wall painting in the Casa della Caccia Antica
Wall paintings in the Villa dei Misteri (the main fresco that runs around all the walls depicts a Dionysian mystery cult)
BOSCOREALE
Getting there:
Circumvesuviana Napoli-Poggiomarino (fermata Boscotrecase) and then take a bus to Villa Regina or walk
Wall paintings of House of Publius Fannius Synisto Note the details.
ERCOLANO
Notable paintings in Ercolano:
Fresco of the Rite of Isis
Wall paitings in the Samnite House

CALABRIA

  • Reggio Calabria: lungomare
  • Rossano: S.Marco
  • Sibari: Scavi
  • Sila: Lago Arvo
  • Stilo: Cattolica (Byzantine, 11th c)

PUGLIA

  • + Alberobello: Trulli
  • Altamura: Cattedrale
  • + Bari: Cattedrale, S.Nicola
  • + Barletta: S.Sepolcro, Duomo
  • + Bitonto: Cattedrale
  • Brindisi: Colonne romane, S.Maria del Casale
  • Canosa: Cattedrale
  • ++ Castel Del Monte: Castello
  • + Castellana: grotte
  • Cisternino: borgo antico
  • Fasano: Egnazia
  • Gargano: Monte
  • + Lecce: S.Croce, Pza s.Oronzo
  • Leuca: SantaMaria di Leuca
  • Locorotondo: Trulli
  • Lucera: Duomo, Castello
  • + Manfredonia: S.Maria di Siponto
  • MartinaFranca: borgo barocco
  • + Monte S.Angelo: Santuario di S.Michele, Tomba di Rotari
  • Ostuni: borgo medievale
  • Otranto: Cattedrale
  • Peschici: villaggio
  • Ruvo: Cattedrale (leone del portale)
  • + SanCesarea: grotta Zinzulusa
  • + Taranto: Duomo
  • ++ Trani: Cattedrale
  • Tremiti: S.Nicola, S.Domino
  • + Troia: Cattedrale
  • Vieste: vecchio borgo

BASILICATA

  • CastelLagopesole: Castello
  • Matera: Passeggiata dei sassi
  • Craco: +Villaggio medievale
  • + Metoponto: Tavole Palatine
  • Monte Vulture
  • Venosa: Abbazia della Trinita'

SARDEGNA

  • + Aggius: Valle della Luna
  • + Alghero: Grotta di Nettuno, Capo Caccia, Cala d' Inferno
  • + Arzachena: Tomba dei giganti
  • + Barumini: Su Nuraxi
  • Cagliari: Cattedrale
  • + Castelsardo: Roccia dell' Elefante
  • Costa Smeralda: Golfo degli Aranci, della Marinella
  • Pula: Nora
  • + Oristano: Tharros
  • + Porto Torres: Monte d' Accoddi
  • Sassari: Ss Trinita' di Saccargia
  • Sedini: domus de janas
  • + Tavolara

SICILIA

  • ++Agrigento: Valle dei Templi, Concordia, Giunone, Museo Archeologico
  • + Catania: Castello Ursino, Duomo, Via Etnea
  • + Cava d'Ispica
  • ++Cefalu: +Cattedrale (1131)
  • + Egadi: Favignana, Levanzo, Marettimo
  • Enna: Castello
  • + Erice: Vle Cappuccini, Vle Pinete
  • + Etna: Vulcano
  • + Gela: Fortificazioni
  • ++Lipari: Lipari, Stromboli
  • Marsala: Insula romana
  • + Messina: Duomo
  • ++Monreale: Cattedrale (sculpture of Maria al sepolcro in the cloister)
  • + Noto: Villa romana
  • + Palazzolo Acreide: Santoni, necropoli di Pantalica, teatro greco
  • ++Palermo: +Martorana (12th c mosaics), San Cataldo (12th c), Cattedrale, S.Giovanni Eremiti, Museo archeologico, S.Domenico, S.Lorenzo, La Ziza, Cappella Palatina del Palazzo Reale (+nave mosaics of 1160, +apse mosaics), Benedetta's futuristic murals at the Palazzo delle Poste
  • + Piazza Armerina: Scavi
  • ++Segesta: Tempio, Teatro
  • ++Selinunte: Scavi
  • ++Siracusa: Duomo, Teatro greco, Latomia del Paradiso, Castello Eurialo, Palazzo Bellomo, Parco archeologico, Museo archeologico
  • + Solunto: Scavi
  • + Taormina: Teatro greco
  • + Tindari: Teatro greco, Basilica
  • Ustica: island

MALTA

  • Valletta: Grand Masters Palace open daily from 9.00 to 17.00; St John's Co-Cathedral; Fort St Elmo; Auberges of the Knights; National Museum of Archaeology Monday to Sunday: 9.00-19.00; St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral; Carmelite Church (1573); Our Lady of Victory Church (1566); St Paul's Shipwreck Church; etc.
  • Hagar Qim and Mnjdra temples
  • Gozo: +Ggantija Neolithic temple complex
  • Gozo: Azure Window in Dwejra

Calendar of main events

  • Carnival: Parade, Viareggio (near Pisa)
  • Carnival: Orange battle, Ivrea (near Torino)
  • Carnival: Gondola parade, Venezia
  • Easter Day: Papal blessing "Urbi et Orbi" in St Peter Sq, Roma
  • May: Maggio Musicale, classical musical festival, Firenze
  • May (second sunday): Sagra del Pesce, Camogli
  • June-July: Music and Theatre Festival, Spoleto
  • June-September (alternate years): Biennale art exhibition, Venezia
  • July-August: Opera Festival, Verona
  • August-September Film Festival, Venezia
  • August 16: Palio delle Contrade, Siena
  • September (first sunday): Regatta (parade of gondolas), Venezia
  • September 19: Miracle of San Gennaro (liquefaction of blood), Napoli
  • December: Market of nativities, Spaccanapoli, Napoli
  • Christmas Day: Papal blessing "Urbi et Orbi" in St Peter Sq, Roma

    Bike rides

  • Lombardia: Bellagio to Madonna di Ghisallo
  • Veneto: Bormio to Stelvio

    Italian Artists

    Firenze:
  • arch: Arnolfo di Cambio (12xx-1302)
  • Giotto (1266-1337)
  • Giovanni Cimabue (12xx-13xx)
  • arch: Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446)
  • sclp: Donatello (1386-1466)
  • Fra Angelico (1387-1455)
  • Paolo Uccello (1397-1475)
  • Masaccio (1401-1428)
  • arch: Leon Battista Alberti (104-1472)
  • Filippo Lippi (1406-1469)
  • Sandro Botticelli (1444-1510)
  • Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494)
  • Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)
  • Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)

    Venezia:

  • Domenico Veneziano (1400-1461)
  • Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516)
  • Padova: Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506)
  • Vittore Carpaccio (1460-1526)
  • Tiziano Vecellio (1477-1576)
  • Giorgione (1478-1510)
  • arch: Andrea Palladio (1508-1580)
  • Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-1594)
  • Paolo Veronese (1528-1588)
  • Giovanni Tiepolo (1696-1770)
  • Canaletto (1720-1780)

    Roma:

  • arch: Bramante (1444-1514)
  • Raffaello (1483-1520)
  • Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680)
  • Francesco Borromini (1599-1667)
  • Annibale Carracci (1560-1609)
  • Caravaggio (1573-1610)

    Others:

  • Piero della Francesca (1420-1492)

    20th Century:

  • Giorgio De Chirico (1880-1978)
  • sclp: Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
  • arch: Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-1979)
  • sclp: Giacomo Manzu (1908-19##)
    Warnings

    Things that annoyed me in Italy (2005):

  • (2017) WiFi is still a rarity. The sign "Free WiFi" is everywhere (sometimes even in the streets) but WiFi rarely works. Airports, train stations, restaurants and hotels advertise "Free WiFi" but it almost never works or it is very slow or it works so slowly to be useless.
  • (2017) Traveling in Italy is still a frustrating experience, even if today trains don't run hours late (only a few minutes). For example, we tried to purchase a train ticket at the machine. The price was 49 euros but the machine did not accept my credit card. I went to the ticket window and the price for the exact same ticket was 37 euros and my credit card worked just fine. Of course, i didn't complain, but that's a typical oddity of the Italian system. In theory a SIM card can be refilled quickly online but in practice the Vodafone website only accepted Paypal payment: all my credit cards were rejected. In other words, you never know what is going to work and what is not going to work.
  • Tickets
    Italy has a way of complicating the simplest things. Bus tickets: you don't buy them on buses, you buy them at places that are totally unrelated to buses (such as "Tabaccaio" or "Edicola", that sell respectively cigarettes and newspapers). Train tickets: you do buy them at train stations but you must "validate" them at a special red machine which is hidden somewhere in the train station (failure to do so may result in a steep fine).
  • Phones
    So many Italians have cellular phones: bad omen. To use a pay-phone you must have a phone card, which you buy, as usual, at the Tabaccaio. If you need to make just one quick call, you still need a phone card, which is not cheap.
    Italy has a rather complicated system for dialing the city code: a cellular phone does not require the zero, but a regular land line requires the zero (ditto if you are calling from abroad). So Torino is 011 but a cell phone could be just 348. You have to dial the area code even if you are in that area code.
  • Thieves
    Pickpockets are ubiquitous. Thieves are particularly active on city buses.
  • Museums
    You will see very few museums while in Italy, even if Italy has thousands of them and they are now open till late. Reason: only Bill Gates can afford it. Very few museums have discounts for students and even fewer offer combined tickets with other museums. Remember that most museums are closed on mondays.
  • Churches
    Many churches are closed during lunch break (which can be three hours long) and evenings.
  • Credit Cards
    Credit cards are spreading (i am writing this in 2008), but assume they will be accepted only at major hotels, fancy restaurants and a few stores downtown. Even most train stations don't take them. (Get used to the store owner telling you that your credit card "does not work", meaning that his machine for credit cards does not work). That is one reason why thieves thrive in Italy: they know that you must carry lots of cash on you all the time.
  • Hotels
    Hotels have the bad habit of holding your passport for the night (yes, even if you pay upfront). That means that eventually you will forget your passport at a hotel, and will have to travel all the way back to retrieve it. Make photocopies: some hotels are willing to hold the photocopy, not the original.
  • Restaurants
    The bill of a restaurant always includes a charge for "coperto" (which is meant to cover the cost of the bread, and it is often 10 times the cost of buying that bread at a bakery) and the tip, often called "servizio" (which is usually between 12% and 15%). Needless to say, this is bad news: waiters have no motivation whatsoever to provide good service, since you are going to pay their tip anyway, whether you like it or not.
    The menu is organized around the standard Italian meal: antipasto (appetizer), primo (pasta or soup), secondo (the main meal, mainly meat or fish), contorno (side dish), dolce (dessert). Most Italians will order at least primo, secondo and contorno. If you skip one of these, don't be surprised that the waiter asks you "and that's all?" as if you forgot something.
    Water is not free in Italian restaurants.
    While it is difficult to have a bad-tasting meal in Italy, it is very easy to pay a lot of money for an average-tasting meal.
  • Driving
    If you decide to travel by car, keep in mind that highway tolls are expensive (border tunnels are even more expensive) and that gasoline is one of the most expensive in the world.
    Speed limits are the funniest in the world. I saw a speed limit of 30 km/h on a freeway (yes, 30). Of course, everybody was driving at least 100 km/h. If you drive at the speed limit, you are likely to upset the drivers behind you. But the fines for speeding are very steep and police do occasionally check. Good news is that police usually forgive foreigners.
  • Appearance
    Probably the most disappointing aspect of Italy is that... it is not as beautiful as they describe it at all.
    The first impression when you cross the border and enter Italy overland is of a "run-down" country: the landscape is not well-tended and often ruined by horrible buildings, roofs and facades are decaying, signs are fading, the infrastructure is aging. You have to reach the historical downtown areas to see the Italy of the postcards.
    Towns are usually very ugly masses of houses of different styles, with a manic preference for huge, tall, shapeless buildings. Whatever beauty was in those towns, it has been destroyed by the excesses of modern construction.
  • Prices in Italy can be mindboggling. I left two pieces of luggage at the cloak room in Verona (a small town in the northeast) and paid 12 euros (almost $20). Storing the same luggage in Vienna (Austria) cost me 2 euros. Verona was actually cheap compared with Florence: 12 euros each piece of luggage for 12 hours. Walking up to the tower of Trani (not exactly the most important cathedral in the world) costs 5 euros. To visit Castel del Monte in Puglia you have to pay 5 euros for parking and then 10 euros each for the entrance ticket (in 2014). What do you get for these prices? In the main train station of Florence there is no tourist information, no waiting room for the passengers and no power outlets for your electronics (and don't sit on the floor because birds love to shit inside the station).
  • Scam alert: Castel del Monte: people who might or might not be authorized to do so direct tourists to two private parking lots, each charging 5 euros, from which a "free" shuttle takes you to the castle. It is actually a relatively short walk from the last legal parking area to the castle. (2014)
  • Italy's old trains are rapidly being replacd (2014) by "fast" trains. These trains are often more expensive than flights, so check flights before you buy a train ticket. The other disadvantage of "fast" trains is that you need to book the seat. Stations and websites won't sell you a ticket if seats are sold out.
  • Traveling in Italy is a lose-lose proposition. If you take public transportation, it is expensive, slow, inefficient, unreliable and the opposite of comfortable (and beware of pickpockets)(and, sooner or later, you will forget to "validate" your train or bus ticket, a heinous crime for which the maximum fine is 200 euros). If you drive a car, 1. Don't forget to factor in the price of gasoline and highway tolls into your budget; 2. Parking signs are almost impossible to understand; 3. Speed limits are ridiculously low and speed checking machines are ubiquitous (and speeding tickets very expensive); 4. Virtually nobody speaks English outside the center of big cities so don't count on people giving you directions (if desperate, head for the train station of a major city, that usually are operated by human beings and they do speak a bit of English). Most tourists in Italy only visit the center of big cities.
  • It is a particularly bad idea to travel on weekends and assorted holidays: trains are overcrowded, delays are colossal, buses rarely run, some roads are congested, etc.
  • Traveling to San Gimignano (one of Europe's prettiest villages) is telling (2014). The train station is called Poggibonsi. There is no information booth and no ticket booth (just a bookseller who does not speak any second language). In fact, usually (and certainly on sunday afternoons and various holidays), there is absolutely no human being around to ask a questions. The automatic ticket machine does not take international credit cards (as of 2014) and in any case only sells tickets for the train. To get to San Gimignano you need to buy a bus ticket (a very expensive 2.50 euros for a 15 minute bus ride) that you cannot buy on the bus itself (that would be too easy). If (as usual) the bookseller is not working, there is no way to buy a bus ticket at the station. As i mentioned, there is also no way to buy a train ticket unless you have cash. There is no luggage deposit so you need to take all your suitcases with you to San Gimignano (where, you guesses right, there is no luggage deposit either). Once in San Gimignano, you realize that there is no bus to get back to Poggibonsi for your connection to Florence. The local people are very kind, but the information they provide, based on wishful thinking, is invariably wrong. Hence you may end up paying for an outrageously expensive taxi to get back to Poggibonsi where your little stone-age wildly overpriced train to Firenze or Siena will almost certainly be late anyway. We ended up buying train and bus tickets for just about every destination because we were afraid of having to deal with unmanned ticket booths all the way to Florence and beyond. We were also terrified that, sooner or later, we would forget to "validate" a ticket (buying the ticket in Italy is not enough, you also have to validate it), so we validated all of them right away. If you forget to validate your ticket for any train or bus ride, the fine can be as high as 200 euros. Luckily, a couple of British tourists offered us a car ride to Florence so we didn't use any of those tickets. This is all very picturesque, but, needless to say, infuriates scores of tourists every day. Oh i almost forgot: we didn't manage to see San Gimigrano, nor Siera, nor Florence. We simply spent one day and a half trying to travel to any of these places. This was in 2014 when every Italian was complaining that fewer and fewer tourists were coming to Italy. No, really?
  • Malta (2011). No visa required for USA and European passports. Bus from airport to Valletta E0.50. Bus from airport to temples: E0.50, 20 minutes. Bus from temples to Valletta: E1.20, 40 minutes. Entrance to temples (Hagar Qim and neighbor): E9. Entrance to Ggantija E5. Archeological Museum in Valletta E5. There is a ticket for all sites but it's E30. A sightseeing bus can be used to tour the island (hop on hop off in several places). Granny's Inn in Sliema E18. Comfort Inn in Sliema E28 with bath. Difficult to find accommodation in Valletta. Sliema is better for restaurants anyway. It's a ten-minute ferry ride from Valletta.. Dinner prices are similar to Italy's (expensive). Internet E1.50 per hour. Unfriendly and/or incompetent tourist office. Bus 452 to Gozo ferry E1.20 (1h). Ferry E5. Bus 25 to Victoria E0.50. Xargha is 2kms from the roundabout at the entrance of Victoria. The bike shop is at the terminus in Victoria. Waiting for buses in Gozo is a massive waste of time. Biking from Victoria to Azure Windows is 20 minutes and en route one can also visit the Ta Pinu sanctuary. Guesthouses seem to be a lot cheaper in Gozo than in Malta proper.