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The 5 Best Cities to Visit in Italy According to Locals

Updated September 17, 2023

Italian cities are spectacular. So what are the best cities to visit in Italy? Our locals tell us that it really depends on your travel style. Still, they helped us come up with this list of the 5 best cities to visit in Italy—from the classic streets of beautiful Rome, to the mouthwatering food markets in Bologna. 

For everything from safety tips to restaurant recommendations, work with a local to plan your trip. They'll introduce you to a side of Italy that most tourists miss. Learn more


Rome | Christopher Czermak/Unsplash

Stunning beautiful and proudly historic, it’s impossible to leave Rome off a list of places to visit in Italy

Locals say to definitely see the big sights—attractions like the Coliseum and Trevi fountain are breathtaking and worth battling the crowds. But as you enjoy Rome’s more famous places, benefit from local tips. One of our locals notes that if you buy tickets for the Coliseum and the Roman Forum, you can also access Palentine Hill. 

Part of Rome’s magic is that it’s big and touristy and loud—but also full of classic Italian charm. Get off the beaten path with a few local suggestions. Locals suggest visiting places like Pinsa Romana (for great, cheap pizza!) and the hip neighborhood of Trastevere.

Local Tip:

After a late night, grab some arancini (deep-fried risotto balls) for takeaway. 


Naples | ML5909/Pixabay

Famous for its pizza and its port, locals tell us you’ll find plenty to enjoy in Naples. As the birthplace of pizza, clearly this is a priority—locals tell us that Neopolitan pizza is made with fresh, simple ingredients (tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella) and cooked at high heat in a wood fire oven. (So be sure to eat it fresh!)

As for the city itself, locals rave that Naples is stunning. The beautiful port provides access to islands like Ischia (this will be familiar to fans of My Brilliant Friend) and Mount Vesuvius looms to the southeast. 

You’ll find lots to do in Naples, so get some local adviceOur locals recommend adding a trip to the cobblestone streets of the Santa Lucia District. 

Local Tip:

As a whole, Italy is safe. But pay special attention to your belongings and surroundings in Naples.

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Florence | Keith Zhu/Unsplash

Florence—oh man, Florence. We’re in love with the art and color of this vibrant city, especially the iconic burnt orange Brunelleschi’s Dome of the Florence Cathedral. You can grab excellent city views from the dome—but locals tell us that climbing Giotto’s bell tower will provide an incredible perspective of the cathedral itself. 

Here, art is the name of the game. Locals tell us that well-known spots like the Uffizi Museum, and the Galleria dell’Accademia are must-stops. If you love art and want to veer off the beaten path, then locals suggest visiting the Bardini Museum and Gardens. 

The city may be better known for art than food, but locals tell us you can find some incredible meals here. One of our locals in Italy wrote: 

“If you're in Tuscany then you must eat the most famous dish, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, or Florentine Steak. It’s a large t-bone cut weighing from two to eight pounds, fire-grilled on the outside and pink and bloody on the inside, seasoned with salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon and traditionally cooked over roasted chestnuts for a smoky flavor.”


Milan | dimitrisvetsikas1969/Pixabay

Milan dazzles. This city’s combination of rich history and forward-thinking fashion results in an absolute delight of high-end boutiques, incredible restaurants, and breathtaking architecture. Gutsy, beautiful, and ambitious, Milan is among our favorite places to visit in Italy.

Locals say to definitely check out iconic sites like the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral) and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest shopping mall. 

If you want to get away from the tourist crowds, then locals suggest checking out Milan’s canal district, called Navigli. One of our locals notes that:

“The tiny streets around the Naviglio Pavese and Grande are the centers of nightlife and street markets, with a more bohemian and artistic vibe.” 

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Bologna | Brabusania/Pixabay

More off the beaten path than cities like Venice, Bologna remains one of our top places to visit in Italy. Bologna pulses with enchanting youthful energy—understandably so! It's the oldest university town in Europe. 

Most cities in Italy can claim to love cuisine, but locals tell us that Bologna takes its obsession with food to another level. Unconvinced? Locals note that the city is known as La Dotta—the learned—for its university roots, but also La Grassa—the fat one. 

The city is packed with fantastic markets and restaurants, where you can find delicious Italian classics like tortellini, tagliatelle al ragù, and mortadella. 

You’ll have plenty of choices—so don’t travel blind! Locals tell us that Quadrilatero Bologna, the city’s oldest market, is an excellent place to get a snack.

Local Tip:

If you have room for something sweet, Il Gelatauro has a delicious gelato selection, which shifts with the seasons. 

"How did I ever not travel like this?! Ana’s local insight & planning was a game changer. It’s like having a digital concierge, travel agent, and local fixer all rolled into one!"
Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal
Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal
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