Among the reasons why Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world is a massive presence of historical sites in excellent condition, where artistic and archaeological treasures have been found that are now on display in museums around the world. Let’s find out what are some of the monuments in Italy that are worth visiting, even outside of the most famous cities like Rome, Florence and Venice.
If you’re a lover of architectural history, you’re sure to find places to add to your list of landmarks in Italy to visit here.
INCREDIBLE MONUMENTS IN ITALY TO ADD TO YOUR BUCKET LIST
Piazza del Campo, Siena
Piazza del Campo is the center of attention in Siena, Tuscany, and also one of the most recognized piazzas in Italy with its unique shell shape. It has been important throughout the history of Siena since the middle ages when the Palio horse races started to take place. The Palio de Siena still happens every 2nd of July and 16th of August at Piazza del Campo and attracts people from all over the country. The race is the pride of the city and every person born in Siena finds true pride in the event.
Piazza del Campo is the one place every tourist visits, no matter if they only see Siena in one day. The square is surrounded by bars and restaurants which are always jam-packed with people enjoying the view. Others sit down to people watch in the square itself. The best thing to do is to climb up to the Torre del Mangia for stunning views of the square from above. The tower is connected with the Palazzo Pubblico and Civic Museum, and you can get joint tickets to all of them. Another point of interest is the Fonte Gaia, which is on the other side of the square with beautiful statues and wolves sprouting water. They represent the she-wolf that is famous for raising the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. Piazza del Campo is in the historic center of Siena so you have to walk to get there.
By Linn of Brainy Backpackers
Royal Palace, Turin
The Royal Palace of Turin is a hidden gem in Northern Italy. While most travelers flock to famous cities as Milan, Florence, and Rome, Turin is still unknown and holds a lot of history. Turin was the first capital of united Italy and its Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale di Torino) is the best example of this royal past. The Savoy dynasty built the palace in the 16th century; among its rooms and sections are the Royal Armory (one of the most significant collections of weapons of war in the world displayed in beautiful rooms and halls) and the Chapel of the Holy Shroud. The Savoy family owned the palace for over 200 years; after WWII, it became a museum.
Turin’s Royal Palace is part of 22 palaces and residences that are UNESCO Heritage sites, all located in the Piedmont region. To visit it is easy, as the palace is located right in the heart of the city. You can visit the whole complex, from the palace rooms to the museum, library and the Royal Amory. The palace is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, from 8:30 am to 7 pm. The palace garden stays open until late so that you can wrap up your visit with a stroll through the green.
The Royal Palace of Turin entrance costs 15 Euros, and if you want, you can add to your visit an audio guide or book a guided tour. If you plan to visit other Savoy palaces and residences in the region, it is worth buying the Piedmont Royal Card.
By Natalie from The Best of Turin
Bridge of Tiberius, Rimini
The Bridge of Tiberius in Rimini is a testimony of the technical skills of the Romans and the longevity of their work. Contrary to the name, its first stone was laid down during the reign of Caesar Augustus, in 14 AD. The building ended only seven years later. But the king had already changed, Rimini was under the rule of Tiberius, hence the name. Due to the new structure, Rimini became the starting point of Via Emilia and an important town in the road network of the Roman Empire.
More than 2000 years later the old bridge with five Doric arches is still the symbol of the city. It survived earthquakes and wars, appeared on the coat of arms and public seals during medieval times, and attracted numerous painters fascinated by its appearance.
Despite its age, the bridge is still in use today for pedestrians and vehicles alike. Any visitor that wants to see both the center of the city and the picturesque district of San Giuliano will cross it. For the best view over the bridge on the Marecchia river, one should head to the new square on the water that overlooks the reservoir. Of course, the view and the photos are free.
By Raluca of Travel With Aspin
Bastione San Remy, Cagliari
The Pantheon, among the most popular monuments in Italy
Along with the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon is one of the most incredible monuments in Rome. Foreigners usually don’t know that this is the historical site of choice for the contemporary Romans, that come here again and again. First of all, this is one of the wonderful places that you can visit for free in Rome. Also, you don’t need to stand in endless lines to visit it, since it has fewer visitors than other sites in Rome. But the real reason why this historic landmark of Italy is so loved is its incredible architectural structure.
This Roman-era building has been renovated several times. The appearance we see today can be attributed to the time of Emperor Hadrian, in about 100 AD. The name and the circular structure of the main room with niches for large statues on the walls indicate that in Roman times this was a temple dedicated to all the gods, or “pan theon”. In the 7th century AD, the Pantheon started being used as a Christian church, with the name “Santa Maria ad Martyres”.
The most remarkable part of the pantheon is the dome, one of the largest in the world, the second largest in Italy after that of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, which was erected more than a thousand years later. The dome covers the most internal part of the building, with a circular plan. At the apex, there is a round opening called oculus, which is the only point from which sunlight enters. The dome was built with concrete pours mixed with other materials, gradually lighter from the base to the top, a work of high architectural engineering. One must enter inside the temple and look up to understand the hypnotic effect that the majestic dome has on the viewer.
Pompeii is one of the best preserved Roman cities because of one of the most horrific natural disasters the world has ever seen. In the middle of the night on Oct 24th 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius had a massive volcanic eruption that buried the city alive with extremely hot ash. Every living thing was immediately covered and killed on the spot. Everything else was buried in place for centuries thereafter.
Fast forward to today, you can take a “day tour of Pompeii” with a guide or by yourself. It’s an extremely popular destination for locals, schools and tourists so you should time your visit strategically and get there on a weekday early morning. Once a month the entrance is free but that also draws more schools and local crowds.
One can take an audio guide or just walk about without a guide. However, to really understand the fascinating Roman lifestyle, commerce, politics, and history, it’s best to go with a knowledgeable guide. Another advantage of a guide is that they can navigate the crowd, show the most important stories, and customize the experience for you.
By Jyoti of Story at Every Corner
Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna
The Basilica di San Vitale in Ravenna is one of eight famous monuments in the city that together form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ravenna mosaics are considered the best in the world after those from Istanbul.
Built all the way back in the 6th century, the Basilica di San Vitale is one of the best remaining examples of early Christian architecture and art. The dome of the church has Baroque frescoes that were done in the 18th century, but it is the stunning mosaics in the church that warrant the most admiration.
The Hellenistic-Roman mosaics feature beautiful design and rich colors, with plants, birds, flowers, and geometric motifs. The central mosaic features Jesus, seated on a globe, while panels on either side have Justinian, the Byzantine Emperor, with his courtiers, and Theodora, the Empress, with her ladies-in-waiting.
The scale and colors of the mosaics will leave you awe-struck, so be sure to include this church in your itinerary for Emilia-Romagna. Opposite the church is the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, another of Ravenna’s stunning mosaic sites.
You can travel to Ravenna by train from major cities in Italy. It is not too far from Bologna, the major city in Emilia-Romagna.
There is a combined ticket for all the Ravenna mosaic sites, 10,50 Euros at the time of writing.
By Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles
Necropolis of Cerveteri, lesser know historical landmark in central Italy
When one thinks of Italy’s historical legacy, all too often the Romans and their deeds come to mind. How many of those traveling in Italy for the first time know that before the Romans, and contemporaneous with the Romans’ conquest of Rome, there were other highly developed civilizations?
The Etruscan people inhabited central Italy from the coasts of the Tyrrhenian Sea to northern Lazio, Tuscany and Umbria up to the Emilia Romagna region.
The most important archaeological evidence of the Etruscan civilization is the Necropolis of Cerveteri, situated 46 kilometers far from the center of Rome, where the Etruscan city of Caere once flourished.
Archaeologists have unearthed about 20,000 burials, a real city of the dead with different types of tombs: mound tombs or tombs dug into the walls of tufa rock, which is rich in this area.
Part of the necropolis can be visited with a ticket of €8. Continuing on the road where there is the gate with the fee, you discover a fascinating area with a free entry called “Necropolis of the Pond”, consisting of a cliff of tufa rock full of excavated tomb chambers, while on the other side, across a canyon, you can see the rocky plateau where instead stood the acropolis.
Further on, the so-called “Via degli Inferi”, a road dug into the rock, with tombs on different levels in the walls to the right and left, is the beginning of one of the most fascinating hikes near Rome, which leads from the necropolis of Cerveteri to the village of Castel Giuliano.
Le Vie Cave, Tuscany
The Etruscan working of tufa rock did not produce exclusively burial places. In the south of Tuscany, kilometers and kilometers of open-air paths dug in the rock connect the villages of Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano, which are immersed in the Parco Archeologico Città del Tufo. The reason why the ancient inhabitants of Italy decided to dig these cyclopean paths in the rock (the walls sometimes exceed 20 meters in height) is still unknown. The paths are winding, near them were found tombs, such as the Tomb of Ildebranda and the Tomb of the Siren, medieval hermitages, engravings and niches that exhibited votive statues called scacciadiavoli, meaning “dispel devils”.
To visit these mysterious paths, all you need to do is equip yourself with hiking gear, a hat, water and snacks, and choose where to start.
The vie cave can be reached from Sorano, Sovano and Pitigliano, which have picturesque medieval town centers that are worth exploring.
The most convenient way to discover this hidden monuments of Italy is to take a road trip through southern Tuscany, through historical sites, hot springs, and the excellent cuisine of agriturismo like Aia del Tufo.
A popular day trip from the nearby city of Naples, Herculaneum is one of the most impressive and valuable historical landmarks in Italy.
Herculaneum was an ancient seaside town that was completely destroyed by the same fateful volcanic eruption that devastated Pompeii in 79 AD. Buried for centuries under a blanket of volcanic ash and pumice, Herculaneum was perfectly preserved – in fact, because of the different volcanic material that fell on this city, it’s in even better nick than Pompeii.
Much of the site has been excavated and today visitors can explore the streets of Herculaneum much as they were in Roman times. Opulent villas with glass mosaics, public canteens and shops and a range of artefacts (including some very quirky sculptures) can be seen. The eeriest part of the complex are the boathouses, a row of small chambers that once fronted directly onto the sea. Herculaneum’s residents sought refuge here from the eruption and the remains of at least 300 people have been uncovered.
Herculaneum can be reached by train from Naples in under an hour. Simply take the Circumvesuviana line to Ercolano Scavi station and continue on foot from there. If visiting in summer, plan to arrive early to avoid the heat of the day, and make sure you bring lots of drinking water with you. Entrance costs €11 for adults.
By Emily of Wanderlush
Valley of the Temples
The Valley of the Temples is an awe-inspiring archaeological site located on Italy’s largest island Sicily. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the most popular attractions on the island.
The Valley contains the remains of seven temples and covers the area where the ancient Greek town Akragas used to lie. It is considered one of the most outstanding examples of Greek architecture and once you’ve been there you’ll understand why – it’s like taking a journey back in time!
The most impressive structure in the Valley is the Temple of Concordia which was constructed in 440 BC and boasts an exceptionally intact facade decorated with tall columns. Other must-sees in the park are the Temple of Juno, Temple of Heracles and the statue of fallen Icarus. Besides temples and sculptures, the park also contains an ancient garden where the citizens of Akragas cultivated fruit and vegetables. Full of aromatic citrus trees, almond trees and cacti, the garden offers a beautiful shaded spot to relax after exploring the temples.
For adults, the entrance fee to the Valley of the Temples is around 10 euros whereas people younger than 18 get in for free. On the first Sunday of the month, there is free entrance for everyone.
By Marjut of The Smooth Escape
Ponte Vecchio, Florence
If you’re looking for impressive historical landmarks in Italy, you need to head to Florence. The entire city is full of historic places and beautiful architecture, as well as culture, renaissance art, monuments and museums. Parts of the city are protected by UNESCO World Heritage- and that includes one of the most famous bridges in the world- the Ponte Vecchio.
The Ponte Vecchio (which literally means ‘old bridge’) was first built in Roman times, although floods have destroyed several versions since. It was the only bridge in Florence not destroyed by the German army in WW2. The best thing about visiting the bridge, apart from its age, is wandering through the unique collection of shops which lines each side. These include butcher, jewellers, artisans and traditional souvenir shops. The bridge used to be famous for ‘love locks’- padlocks couples put on with their initials, but those have now been banned.
You’ll find the bridge easily enough once you’re in the old town of Florence- just head for the river and you can’t miss it.
If you are visiting Florence while motorhoming in Italy, don’t try and drive across – it’s pedestrian-only. It’s possible to walk across the bridge anytime day or night, but the shops are only open during trading hours.
By Kat of Wandering Bird
Porticoes of Bologna
Bologna Italy may be known as one of Italy’s best foodie cities, but it’s the well-preserved medieval architecture in the historic city center that will take your breath away at first glance. Almost 40km (25 miles) of covered porticoes line the sidewalks and they are one of the most significant of Bologna’s must-see attractions.
Originally built starting in the 13th century to accommodate the growth of the University of Bologna and the ever-growing population, the porticos became necessary when landlords expanded their building’s upper stories to avoid paying additional taxes. Most of these enlarged overhanging upper floors were supported by wooden beams and a few can still be seen on Via Marsala.
Some of the most interesting porticoes from both the Middle Ages are in the Piazza de San Stefano.
For a truly unique experience, walk to the famous sanctuary overlooking the city. Starting at Porta Saragozza, the Portico di San Luca connects the city to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca at the top of the Colle della Guardia hill, an uninterrupted 3.8 km portico walk that makes the perfect way to see the entire city in one walk.
Bologna’s porticoes have been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and would make an excellent addition to the list.
By Lory from Travlinmad
Greek Theater in Taormina, Sicily
The ancient Greek Theater in Taormina Sicily is a magnificent amphitheater built into the side of a hill right off the town’s Old Town. Since Taormina is located on the coast, you get the most magnificent views from there. But not just of the deep blue seashore – also of the majestic Mount Etna, which is literally just a (lava) stone’s throw away.
The Greeks built the theater in the 3rd century BC. With the Roman Empire taking over, the Romans modified the structure, added a few pillars and apart from theatre and musical performances, they also hosted the infamous gladiator battles there.
A large part of the theatre is uniquely preserved. You can admire the structures, see the excavation sites and learn all about its history. If you get lucky, you might be able to attend a concert, which is held at this amazing venue a few times per year. E.g. Sting performed in the Greek Theater of Taormina (in 2018).
The entrance fee is €10 for adults. You can find the theater at the Vía del Teatro Greco, just turn left after the gate called Porta Messina.
The ancient Greek Theater belongs to the best-preserved amphitheaters in Sicily and Italy. In fact, it’s the second largest one of Sicily after Syracusa’s theater.
By Veronika of Travel Geekery
Duomo di Siena
The stunning 14th-century cathedral of Duomo de Siena is dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady. It was built at a time when Siena was wealthy and the plan was to build it larger and more beautiful than St Peter’s in Rome. The exterior is magnificent and inside and out, the columns are in striped white and black marble- the colors of Siena. The cathedral is filled with Gothic works by Pisano, Donatello, and Michelangelo. As well as admiring the ceiling, look down on the floor, where there are 56 beautiful etched and inlaid marble panels depicting historical and biblical scenes – the work of 40 artists. Some of the panels are so precious that they are often covered to protect them.
Other treasures to admire include the bronze statue of St. John the Baptist by Donatello, the rose window by Duccio di Buoninsegna, the marble pulpit by Pisano, and the Piccolomini Library with its beautiful frescoes.
Duomo di Siena is open Monday – Saturday 10.00-17.00 and Sunday 13.30- 17.00. Tickets from €7.20 To get there, take the train from Florence to Siena station- 1.5km from the cathedral. Rapide SITA buses Florence- Siena, the journey time is 50 minutes.
By Chrysoula of Travel Passionate
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence
Florence’s Duomo (the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore) dominates the city. Built in 1296, the outside is covered in geometric, marble patterns typical of the Renaissance. The streets around the Duomo are busy, but visiting the cathedral is a highlight of any visit to Rome.
While wandering through the inside (or attending a mass there) is an enchanting experience, the real wonder of the Duomo is the dome. It was designed by Brunelleschi in an attempt to rival the huge domes in Rome. The tools and techniques to build something of that magnitude had been lost during the dark ages, and no one knew how to build a dome so heavy. Brunelleschi visited Rome to study the domes there and he eventually managed to build something similar in Florence – and it’s still the largest brickwork dome in the world today.
No matter where you stay in Florence, as soon as you walk down the road, you’ll see the Duomo rising over the city. Visit in the early morning to avoid the crowds. Entry into the Duomo is free, however, to see the more of the church, you need to buy a ticket. The ticket costs 18 euro and covers the Dome, Bell Tower, Crypt, Baptistery and Museum.
By Roxanne of Faraway Worlds
The Trulli in Alberobello
The Trulli in Alberobello are some of the most interesting historical sites in Italy. These limestone beehive shaped dwellings are so distinctive and as you travel through Puglia you will find them dotted across the countryside. The best place to see them is in Alberobello where there is a whole town of beautiful, quirky little houses – over 1500 of them in total. Some of these were built by farmers to use as a shelter and others were built by the itinerant work force who could quickly build them as temporary homes. Today, in Alberobello, you can wander through cobbled streets lined with these whitewash buildings. Look up at the tiled rooftops which have different symbols designed to bring good luck or ward off evil. There is no entrance fee and many have become restaurants or shops. You can even stay in Trulli for a great family holiday in Italy. It’s worth bearing in mind that this is a very popular site and coach loads of people can arrive to see these unique dwellings which can make the small town feel very crowded. If you can visit out of season, particularly in spring or autumn you can wander through in a much more authentic feeling way.
By Nichola of Globalmouse Travels
One of the most beautiful historical landmarks to visit in Italy is certainly San Gimignano. This enchanting place is located in the hilly Tuscany area and is for many a must see on any roundtrip. San Gimignano is often called the Medieval Manhattan: And really, the historical old town with the many high medieval towers making an imposing scenery. Some of these towers are up to 50 meters high and 14 of the former 72 are still well preserved until today. Nowhere in Italy can you still find a higher density of these medieval towers. Due to its good preservation, the entire city center of San Gimignano has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Really romantic is a walk through the old stone alleys of the historic old town. You’ll discover something beautiful at almost every corner and you’ll also find countless opportunities for taking lovely photos. Also culinary you will get your money’s worth during your vacation because there are plenty of good restaurants to visit. For dessert you should definitely try the ice cream of Gelateria Dondoli on the main square Piazza della Cisterna. This has already been crowned 2 times as ice cream world champion.
The area around San Gimignano is also wonderfully romantic, with its hilly vineyards and ideal for walks in the countryside. Here you can also find amazing accommodation, the so-called agritourism accommodations. Recommended is the Castello di Fulignano – a beautiful castle with apartments, huge pool and a wonderful panoramic view over the hills of Tuscany.
By Martina and Jürgen of Places of Juma
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most famous historical landmarks in Italy. When you arrive in Pisa, you need to head to Piazza dei Miracoli, where you’ll find the Leaning Tower. However, it is just one of the many historic structures on the grounds. Translating to the Field of Miracles, Piazza dei Miracoli is an open, lush green space that features the Leaning Tower, as well as the historic Cathedral, the Baptistry, and the Cemetary.
The Leaning Tower is a stand-alone bell tower to the adjacent Cathedral. With the addition of the second floor in 1178, the structure began to tip thanks to an unbalanced foundation. By 1990, the structure maintained an upright tilt of 5.50 degrees; however, after work was done in 2001 to reinforce its foundation, the Tower currently sits safely at a tilt of 3.97 degrees.
You can purchase tickets to the top of the Tower in advance for about $43 or take a guided tour of the entire Piazza dei Miracoli that includes entry. Taking a day trip to Pisa to see the complex from major Tuscany cities like Florence is very easy to do since the Pisa Centrale station is well-connected to the country’s train lines.
By Lyndsay of The Purposely Lost
The Sassi, Matera
Not many people visit Matera, a truly unique town in Southern Italy, not far from Puglia – which is weird, considering it’s probably one of the most beautiful places in the whole country!
Matera is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world. Ever since the Paleolithic, people started calling its calcareous caves home – these dwellings were primitive for a long time, and even after the Second World War people lived in these cave homes, known as Sassi, without water or sanitation. Throughout the course of the 20th century, the Sassi of Matera have been renovated and turned into modern homes, hotels, restaurants and B&B. Exploring the Sassi is the main thing to do in Matera – there are two main Sassi districts, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso, making up most of Matera’s historic centre. It’s the perfect place to wander around aimlessly, between narrow streets, quaint courtyards, and scenic viewpoints (‘belvedere’ in Italian).
To learn more about the Sassi and its history, you could visit Casa Noha, a Sassi cave home with an exhibition about Matera and how it changed throughout the centuries, up to the present day. Entrance is only €6.
By Margherita of The Crowded Planet
Arena di Verona
The most impressive historical landmark in Verona is the Arena. It is one of the best-preserved Roman Amphitheaters in Italy. It stands in the ample Piazza Bra, a 2000 years old structure dominating the square, outside the old Roman Walls of ancient Verona.
In its heyday, Verona Arena could accommodate more than 30000 spectators. People came from Verona as well as the surrounding areas to see the games. You could see dancing or music performances, circus acts, and the Roman favorites: gladiator fights or hunting wild animals.
The façade of the Arena was built from local white and pink stone, but the outer ring was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1117. The “wing” is all that remains of this part of the Arena.
The Arena has an elliptical shape that creates perfect acoustics everywhere inside the amphitheater. That’s why Verona Arena still hosts events today. Every summer, the Amphitheater becomes the stage for a very important Opera Festival, where you can see four different productions.
Verona isn’t a very large city, and you will easily find the Arena walking, just outside the old town walls. You can visit the Arena every day, and an adult ticket costs 10€.
By Anda from Travel for a While
Duomo di Milano
Duomo di Milano is by far the most impressive attraction in Milan. Located in the heart of Piazza del Duomo, this historic landmark has survived over 600 years of Italian history.
As the second-largest cathedral in the world, the Duomo di Milano was founded in 1386 by Lord of Milan Gian Galeazzo Visconti and Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo. The construction of the massive church occurred over five centuries. Today, this gothic-style landmark holds more statues than any other building in the world.
Check out the sundial on the floor near the main entrance. Here you will find a ray of sun peeking through a hole on the opposite wall striking the Duomo’s clock. On June 21st (the summer solstice), the sunray strikes the bronze tongue. The sunray later hits the meridian on December 21st (the winter solstice). Make sure to book a tour including the roof of the Duomo to admire the structure and plaza up close and personal.
Grab a bus or taxi into the Piazzo del Duomo to explore the Duomo di Milano while in Italy. A single ticket into the Duomo costs €5, while a rooftop tour is €14. Book ahead to reserve your spot on unique visits like the “Last Supper” guided tour.
By Ellie from Ellie’s Travel Tips
Su Nuraxi Barumini, Sardinia
Nuraghe are ancient megalithic constructions only found in Sardinia, most of them dating back to a period between 1900 and 730 BC, and whose functions are still uncertain. Some researchers seem to believe they were used as homes; whereas others argue they had defensive purposes.
There are more than 7000 nuraghe in Sardinia, an island that holds some of the most mysterious monuments in Italy, traceable to the Mediterranean megalithic architectural tradition. Of these, the most famous one is Su Nuraxi of Barumini, a small town at about 45 minutes drive from Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital, and at the moment the only UNESCO World Heritage site on the island (though there is a push to have the entire Nuragic landscape recognized and protected).
Su Nuraxi used to be inhabited between 1600 BC and the 3rd century AD. Its main characteristic is the presence of four towers, connected by a wall in basalt stone (a volcanic stone which testifies of Sardinia’s volcanic past), and surrounded by a village.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Su Nuraxi is located just outside Barumini, and can be easily visited on day trips from Cagliari which also goes to the lovely Giara plateau, where you can spot Sardinia’s unique wildlife. The site is open daily from 9:00 am to either 5:00 or 8.00 pm depending on the season. Admission is €14 and includes a guided tour in your language of choice. Visits last between 1.5 and 2 hours.
By Claudia of Strictly Sardinia
Basilica di San Marco, Venice
As you stroll across Piazza San Marco, it’s impossible not to stare at the stunning St. Mark’s Basilica that dominates one side of the square: not only is the basilica incredibly beautiful, it’s also unique!
Built in an Italo-Byzantine style that nods to Venice’s influences from further east, the domes, mosaics, and beautiful details of St. Mark’s Basilica are a must-see while visiting Venice.
The current building dates to 1071, though it is not the first church on the site.
Step inside, and the glittering mosaics are almost overwhelming in their beauty.
During your visit, be sure to climb the steps to the second floor to enjoy views of Piazza San Marco from the rooftop, as well as to get a chance to see the original bronze horses of St. Mark, which are located inside to protect them from the elements (replicas still stand proudly on the roof).
One of the interesting facts about Venice is that many of its treasures, including the horses, were acquired during the crusades–for the horses in particular, they were taken from Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204.
In another section of the basilica, you can see the relics of St. Mark the Evangelist. Unlike some major churches in Italy, St. Mark’s Basilica is free to visit, and you’ll instead pay small fees for extra privileges, like visiting the roof or seeing the relics. It’s worth taking the time to do so!
By Kate from Our Escape Clause
Grand Canal, Venice
The Grand Canal is the major water-traffic corridor of Venice, Italy. The canal not only connects some of Venice’s top tourist attractions but is one of the top attractions itself, acting as the main street of Venice. Always busy, the waterway is popular for water taxis, a gondola ride in Venice, or barges carrying produce to the market.
The Grand Canal curves in a reverse S shape, dividing the city into two parts. The best way to explore the canal is from the water, to get a good viewing of the famous palaces the stand on both sides. Centuries old, dating from the 13th to 18th century, anyone who wanted to be someone had to have a palace that faced the Grand Canal. The palaces are a great indication of the wealth surrounding the times of the Venetian Republic. Seeing the palaces lit up at night is also a popular attraction.
The Grand Canal has bridges at four points, the most famous being Rialto bridge. This bridge is located in the heart of the original city of Venice, since it connects the San Marco and San Polo areas. Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge and is renowned as an architectural and engineering achievement of the Renaissance.
The Grand Canal is around 3 km long, between 100 and 225 feet wide, with an average depth of 17 feet.
By Debbie of WorldAdventurists
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