Italy is a destination people want to visit from all around the world. The entire boot has something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are a foodie, avid hiker, romantic, backpacker, historian, you name it – Italy has it all. We would know – we spent over two incredible months trying to check off everything on our Italy bucket list. From visiting the Colosseum in Rome to leaning against the Tower of Pisa, visiting a Parmigiano Reggiano dairy farm, driving a Ferrari, visiting the Blue Grotto in Capri, and so much more.
Every region is so distinct and different from the next. The north has beautiful lakes, Italian Alps, and the Dolomites, whereas the south has gorgeous cliffside towns facing the ocean and fresh limoncello. Every day there is so much to see and discover. So whether you are visiting Italy for the first or third time, Here is the one and only ultimate Italy bucket list to include in your itinerary!
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Italy Bucket List for Scenic Drives
Drive Along the Amalfi Coast
One of the most scenic drives you will ever come across is along the Amalfi Coast. This drive is not only essential for an Italy bucket list but the entire world. The winding roads along the cliffside with the dramatic ocean in the backdrop will leave you breathless. If there is ever a time to drive a convertible, this would be the moment. Moreover, I recommend taking a tour or hiring a private driver, so you can keep your eyes on the beautiful landscape instead of on the road because it can get a little scary on the narrow, winding roads.
Drive a Ferrari (and model with one too!)
Calling all car lovers with a need for speed – do not miss out on the ultimate experience of driving a Ferrari in Italy! This was the number one item on my Italy bucket list and it did not disappoint. This experience is everything I wished for and more. You can either drive a Ferrari through the winding roads of the Italian countryside or burn rubber on a race track. Either way, you cannot go wrong and this should definitely be included in your itinerary.
Drive a Vespa!
Drive like the locals and rent a Vespa for the day or take a Vespa tour. If you are unfamiliar with driving a scooter or motorcycle, then a Vespa tour is probably the right choice for you. There are plenty of tours around Italy – Florence, the Tuscan countryside, Rome, and more. It really depends on how you want to check off this Italy bucket list item!
Drive Through Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia
Rolling hills, cypress trees, Tuscan villas, rows of vineyards, and winding roads – driving through Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia is hands down one of the best scenic drives in the entire world. So needless to say, it needs to be on everyone’s Italy bucket list. You can enjoy the scenic route and stop at various wineries to enjoy a light lunch with delicious wine.
Italy Bucket List for Foodies
Wine Tasting in Tuscany
Rolling green hills, cypress trees along gravel roads, gorgeous estates, and wonderful wineries – what more can I say? Wine tasting in Tuscany is essential for any Italy bucket list, especially for wine enthusiasts. This region produces some of the best wines in the world. So whether you take a group tour or rent a car and visit on your own, this is an experience you cannot miss.
Take a Cooking Class
Italy has some of the best cuisine in the entire world. From pasta to lasagna, pizza, gelato, tiramisu, and more – my mouth is watering just typing this. With that said, take your Italian cuisine experience to the next level by taking a cooking class. Some of our best memories of Italy were cooking with locals, so this is definitely an experience you must include in your Italy bucket list. Moreover, your friends and family will thank you later when you return home and cook Italian dishes for them.
Go on a Parma Ham Tour
Mmmm parma ham, also known as prosciutto, is a beloved Italian dry-cured ham. Most people are familiar with prosciutto as being thinly sliced and soft. However, when you are in Italy, you will find that true prosciutto is slightly hard, salty, and delicious. Moreover, the best way to learn even more about prosciutto is by touring a parma ham factory in the Emilia-Romagna region. This is an experience that should be on every foodie’s Italy bucket list.
Learn How to Make Parmigiano Reggiano
Parmigiano Reggiano also referred to as Parmesan, is one of the most popular cheeses in the world. Grated over pasta or enjoyed on its own, it is simply delicious and only produced in a small region of Italy. Going to a dairy farm and learning the entire process of producing a Parmigiano Reggiano wheel is one of the best experiences you can enjoy in Italy.
Eat Authentic Neapolitan Pizza in Naples
The best pizza in the world is hands down in Naples, Italy. And who doesn’t love a good slice of pizza? Neapolitan pizza is different than any other style of pizza because the crust is very distinctive – it’s a thin, soft crust that will bubble up and be charred in spots. Moreover, Neapolitan pizza is simple – the original pie only uses raw tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and olive oil. One of the best places to check off eating Neapolitan pizza on your Italy bucket list is L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele.
Devour All the Gelato
Mmmm gelato, a classic cold dessert that cannot be missed during your trip in Italy. Visitors can find their perfect scoop of gelato just about everywhere in Italy. However, don’t just walk into any gelato shop, go to some of the very BEST gelato shops such as Venchi, Emilia Cremeria, La Carraia, Sorbetteria Castiglione, and Come il Latte.
Go Truffle Hunting
Truffles are a true delicacy and one of my favorite ingredients for just about everything which is why I have truffle hunting on my Italy bucket list. The best regions for truffle hunting in Italy are in Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. Truffles are not easy to find, so during your tour, you will be accompanied by a dog to sniff them out. Then you can dig up the truffles like buried treasure. It is quite an amazing experience you cannot miss!
Tour a Balsamic Vinegar Factory in Modena
One of our favorite foodie experiences in Italy was touring an authentic balsamic vinegar factory in Modena. To be a true balsamic vinegar, it must be produced in Modena, which is where you will find tours. There are several factories in Modena that offer daily tours. The tours show guests the production of producing balsamic vinegar and always end with delicious tastings. In our tour, we were able to taste everything – from a 5-year to a 30-year to even a 100-YEAR balsamic vinegar!
Enjoy Limoncello in Amalfi
The Amalfi lemons are truly magical. More specifically, the limoncello! In Amalfi, you can find everything limoncello – limoncello cake, limoncello cream, limoncello gelato, and more! One of our most special days in Italy was spent sitting on the beach along one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world sipping limoncello. You can also take enjoying limoncello one step further by going on a tour to see the Amalfi lemon garden and production.
Eat Pasta Bolognese in Bologna
Of course, no foodie Italy bucket list is complete without enjoying a bowl of pasta with bolognese in Bologna. During our one day in Bologna, we made sure to order the beloved pasta dish and it did not disappoint us. Bolognese is a sauce and also referred to as a bolognese ragu. It can be served with a variety of pasta but traditionally it is served with tagliatelle. It is very easy to find this famous pasta sauce. In fact, there are plenty of restaurants in Bologna with the name bolognese in it.
Have a Romantic Dinner Inside Grotta Palazzese
For the most romantic dinner in all of Italy, look no further than Grotta Palazzese – a hotel and restaurant (book here). This iconic restaurant is known as being one of the most romantic restaurants in the world. The restaurant is absolutely enchanting, set inside a natural cave. Dining here had been on my Italy bucket list for several years and I am grateful to say, we checked it off my list to celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary.
Guests have the opportunity to dine on the terrace along the cliffside to watch the waves crash into rocks or sit in the back of the terrace. In the back of the terrace, guests are seated deep within the cave for a more private dining experience. After first-hand experience, we can say this was the most romantic dinner we have ever had. We were able to watch the waves come underneath the terrace and hit the cave just feet away from us all night long. Of course, the cuisine is also exquisite here.
Italy Bucket List for Outdoor Lovers
Sail on Lake Garda
Italy has some of the most beautiful lakes – one being Lake Garda. Whereas Lake Como is known for George Clooney’s estate, Lake Garda is known for its amazing sailing conditions. Sailing in Lake Garda is special because you feel as if you are in open water yet there are majestic mountains surrounding you. By the time you finish sailing, your nickname will be captain.
Hike Mount Vesuvius
One of the most dramatic and unique landscapes in Italy is Mount Vesuvius known as the natural disaster that destroyed Pompeii in 79 AD. Today, it is still an active volcano and the only mainland one in Europe. Needless to say, it is a sight to see. To enhance your experience of Mount Vesuvius, don’t just see it from afar, hike it! Yes, you can hike to the summit of Mount Vesuvius and look down into the crater – talk about an awesome experience for your Italy bucket list! Moreover, you can also explore the ruins of Pompeii.
Visit the Ruins of Pompeii
In addition to hiking Mount Vesuvius, I also highly recommend including a visit to the ruins of Pompeii on your Italy bucket list. The ruins of Pompeii are known as one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the world. Moreover, you will definitely feel like Indiana Jones exploring this magnificent ancient city. With that said, you can either visit the ruins on your own or book a tour with a professional archaeologist guide.
Hike the Beautiful Dolomites
Calling all outdoor and hiking enthusiasts – you MUST add hiking the Dolomites to your Italy bucket list. The Dolomites are one of Italy’s most treasured natural landscapes. From beautiful little villages to magnificent mountain ranges and scenic lakes – there are so many spots you cannot miss in the Dolomites.
Ski Powder Snow in the Italian Alps
Calling all ski enthusiasts, skiing in the Italian Alps is a dream with over 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) of slopes! The scenery is breathtaking, the resorts are amazing, the powder snow is as soft as a pillow, and it is a lot cheaper than skiing in France and Switzerland. A few of the best areas to ski in the Italian Alps for your Italy bucket list is Val Gardena, Val D’Aosta, and Monterosa.
Go Down the Epic Slide into the Mediterranean Sea
If you find yourself in Sicily, you must stay at the Citta del Mare Resort known for its famous slide into the Mediterranean Sea. Guests of the resort can enjoy the slide all day, every day. The epic slide is not just one long slide that shoots you into the sea, but a series of four small slides with pools in between. So this fun adventure is perfect for all ages to enjoy!
Swim at the Best Beaches in Sicily
Sicily is known for many things – one is their beautiful beaches. As the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has some of the best beaches in the world. Each beach is unique whether it is surrounded by a coastal town, hidden in a cove or along rocky cliffs. It is the water that remains the same – crystal clear water in shades of the prettiest blue you have ever seen. A few of the best beaches in Sicily you must include in your Italy bucket list include La Scala Dei Turchi, Isola Bella, Capo Bianco, Calamosche Beach, Cala Rossa, and Spiaggia Bianca.
Take a Dip in Tuscany’s Hot Springs
There is nothing more relaxing than rejuvenating your body in natural thermal pools, which is why taking a dip in Tuscany’s hot springs should be on your Italy bucket list. The most popular hot springs in Tuscany is located in a town called Saturnia. The natural thermal pools stay at a constant temperature of around 99°F and contain mineral water with sulfur and thermal plankton. The hot springs consist of several little areas to sit and relax with water cascading from a nearby spring.
Walk Along the World’s Longest Suspension Bridges
Enjoy one of the world’s most spectacular and thrilling adventures by crossing over a suspension bridge 544 meters (1,784 feet) long! Ponte Tibetano Hanging Bridge is located on the border of Italy and France in a small town west of Turin. The suspension bridges are deep within Gorge of San Gervasio. So if you can conquer the fear of the bridge, the scenery surrounding you is breathtaking.
Classic Italy Bucket List
Ride a Gondola in Venice
Of course, no Italy bucket list is complete without a romantic gondola ride in Venice. Yes, it might be considered very touristy but it is also undeniably romantic, especially in the evening. The calmness of the water through the historic city and the sound of your guide singing will be an experience you will remember forever. So when you are in Venice for 3 days, make sure you enjoy Italy’s iconic gondola experience.
Make a Wish at the Trevi Fountain
An Italy bucket list is not complete without including a visit to the Trevi Fountain in Rome and throwing a coin over your shoulder to make a wish. The magical legend says if you throw a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder into the Trevi Fountain, you will return to Rome. When you throw two coins, you will find new romance, and three coins will lead to marriage! Needless to say, visiting the Trevi Fountain is one of the most romantic things for couples to do in Rome.
Feel Like a Gladiator at the Colosseum
One of the most common and popular Italy bucket list items is visiting the magnificent Colosseum. There is a reason the Colosseum is one of the Seven Wonders of the World – this amphitheater leaves you breathless. Guests can experience the Colosseum in several different ways but one thing is important, book your tickets in advance! During our 2 days in Rome, we saw people waiting for several hours just to buy tickets at the door and then had to wait in line again to enter the Colosseum.
A typical tour will take you to the 3rd, 4th and 5th tiers of the Colosseum. You can also upgrade your experience by purchasing tours to walk on the gladiator level or even go underground the Colosseum.
Receive a Blessing from the Pope at the Vatican
One of the most rewarding experiences in life is receiving a blessing from the Pope at the Vatican. To receive your blessing you must attend a Papal Audience which is held every Wednesday at 9:30 am, but arrive early around 7:30 am to get good seats. The Papal Audience consists of small teachings and readings followed by the Our Father prayer in Latin and ending with the Pope imparting his Apostolic Blessing upon the audience. To receive more information on obtaining free tickets to the Papal audience, please click here.
Gaze Upon the Glorious Sistine Chapel
Though you have to walk through the entire Vatican Museum, there is no piece of art more glorious than the Sistine Chapel. As soon as you get a glimpse of the Sistine Chapel, your jaw will drop. Michelangelo’s greatest work brings the entire chapel to life with color and passion. So make sure you leave room for a full day at Vatican City during your time in Rome.
Keep the Leaning Tower of Pisa from Falling
Did you even go to Italy if you did not take the iconic photo of holding the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Even if you fail at taking the photo like us, I don’t think so. To be fully transparent, there is not a lot to see and do in Pisa besides seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Yet, I am still glad we went because it is such a beautiful landmark and an easy day trip from Florence.
See the Statue of David in Florence
Did you know there are three Statue of David’s in Florence? The most famous and Italy bucket list-worthy to see is Michelangelo’s original piece located inside the Galleria dell’Accademia (closed on Mondays). It is a true sight to see and the massive statue will certainly make your jaw drop. The other two Statue of David’s are located at the Piazza Della Signoria and on top of Piazzale Michelangelo.
Get Mesmerized by the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
In my personal opinion, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the most beautiful cathedral in Italy. I will never forget the moment I turned the corner and laid eyes on the cathedral. I was completely mesmerized by its pure beauty. One of the best ways to see and experience the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is by purchasing a Skip-the-Line and Duomo climb ticket.
Walk on the Milan Duomo Rooftop
One of the most iconic things to do in Milan is walking on the Milan Duomo rooftop. Guests who explore the Milan Duomo rooftop can have close encounters with spires, statues, carvings, and gargoyles. Moreover, you also get magnificent views of the entire city.
Visit Cinque Terre, the Most Colorful Coastal Town
Cinque Terre quickly became a classic Italy bucket list item for travelers to visit thanks to Instagram. The famous coastal town became instantly famous because of its colorful houses along the Italian Riviera coastline. Who can blame us all for wanting to visit? It is absolutely gorgeous! As the name translates, Cinque Terre consists of 5 towns, with steep terraces filled with colorful houses, harbors filled with fishing boats, delicious seafood trattorias, and fantastic hiking and cliff jumping. What is not to love?
Take Instagram-Worthy Photos at the Colorful Island of Burano
One of the most Instagram-worthy destinations in Italy is located on Burano, an island near Venice. Burano is known for its delicate lace made by locals on the island but became more famous for its colorful houses all lined parallel to the canals. It is truly one of the most picturesque places in the entire world.
Call Out to Romeo on Juliet’s Balcony
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Ahh yes, one of the most iconic lines of all time. And guess what? You can literally call out to your Romeo on Juliet’s famous balcony in Verona. During our one day in Verona, we visited Juliet’s Courtyard where there is a statue of Juliet, her balcony, and a wall full of love notes. Guests can enjoy the courtyard for free or purchase tickets to enter the house to stand on the famous balcony.
Visit the Blue Grotto in Capri
Visiting the Blue Grotto is one of the best things to do in Capri and MUST be included in your Italy bucket list. To this day it is one of our most memorable experiences in Italy and the water it truly BLUE! With that said, it is not always easy to enter the Blue Grotto. If the tide is too high, or bad weather, your tour to visit the Blue Grotto can get canceled (ours almost did). It also might take a lot of time to visit, but I promise the wait is worth it! When you enter the Blue Grotto from a small boat, you enter one of the most beautiful places in the world. Top it with a guide serenading you with Italian songs, and you have yourself the perfect Italian experience.
Italy Bucket List for Festivals and Events
Grab a Mask and Attend the Carnival of Venice
The Carnival of Venice is one of the most popular festivals in the world. For two weeks, locals and visitors dress up in elegant costumes with delicate Venetian masks. The festival takes place every year before Lent. To celebrate, you can attend opulent masquerade balls, view the candle-lit parade of boats, go to concerts, and watch street performances.
Attend Palio di Siena
One of the most exciting events to attend in Italy is the Palio di Siena. The event takes place twice a year on July 2nd and August 16th. Locals and visitors gather around at the Piazza del Campo to watch a horse race. The horse race consists of each Sienese “contrade” (divided areas in the city) to race for first place (pride).
GOOAAALLL!!! Go to a Soccer Game!
Whether you love the sport or not, going to a soccer game (futbol) in Italy should be included in your Italy bucket list. Words cannot express how much fun we had during the Juventus game. The atmosphere is unlike any sporting event we have ever experienced. The fans are loud, crazy, and passionate. There is no theatrics, just the game and the sound of cheering fans. By the end of the game, you will be linking arms with locals screaming ole ole ole ole ole!
Sarnico Busker Festival at Lake Iseo
One of the more lesser-known festivals to visitors but popular for Italians is the Sarnico Busker Festival at Lake Iseo. We attended this fun festival with our local hosts and had a great time! The Sarnico Busker Festival showcases local and worldwide street artists performing their acts in small areas throughout the town. The shows include everything from aerobics and acrobatics to urban theater, juggling, contemporary dance, street music and more.
Unique Italy Bucket List Ideas
Reenact Star Wars at Lake Como Villa del Balbianello
Calling all Star Wars fans, this is an Italy bucket list item you cannot miss! Lake Como is one of the most beautiful and romantic lakes in the world, which is why Lucas Film chose it to be Naboo. More specifically, you can visit and reenact Anakin and Padme’s wedding at the Villa del Balbianello. After you say your vows, take your time enjoying the gorgeous views and exploring the villa grounds.
Watch a Glass Blowing Demo in Murano
During your time in Venice, do not miss the incredible opportunity to visit the nearby island, Murano. Murano is known for its intricate and world-class beautiful glass blowing art. When you visit the island, you can watch the artists at work during a glass blowing demo. It is truly incredible watching the artist’s work – turning sand into a magnificent piece of glass art. This is why I insist you include watching a glass blowing demo in Murano in your Italy bucket list.
Explore the “Sinking” Castle on Lake Garda
One of the most unique Italy bucket list items is visiting the famous “sinking” castle on Lake Garda. The “sinking” castle, also referred to as Scaliger Castle is located in Sirmione, a small town on Lake Garda’s peninsula. Visitors can explore the fortified castle’s grounds on their own. From climbing the castle’s towers to walking across bridges, and enjoying the incredible views of the city and Lake Garda – this is a castle experience you do not want to miss.
See Beautiful Mosaics at Ravenna
Ravenna is a beautiful destination in Italy that should not be missed because of its wonderful mosaics throughout the city. One of the best ways to see the mosaics in Ravenna is by taking a self-guided walking tour of Opera di Religione della Diocesi di Ravenna. This tour allows visitors to discover the five UNESCO World Heritage Sites that represent some of the city’s best mosaic artwork.
Stay with the Locals
Visiting Italy is one thing but to stay with the locals is a completely different experience entirely. For us, it was not just a unique Italy bucket list item but more of a once in a lifetime experience. You get to see and experience Italy from a locals perspective. For us, it completely changed our way of thinking and changed our lifestyle for the better. One of the best ways to stay with locals is through programs such as Workaway.
Explore Lesser-Known Italian Cities
Everyone wants to visit the most popular cities in Italy such as Venice, Rome, Florence, and Milan – but it is the lesser-known cities where you truly find the magic of Italy. During our two months traveling throughout Italy, we were able to visit some incredible cities that we had never heard of before. Though we have some great memories in popular cities, our fondest memories are in Brescia, Gatteo a Mare, Castiligion Fiorentino, Agropoli, Modena, and Verona.
Your Own Italy Bucket List Checklist!
Before you go, do not forget to print our your very own Italy bucket list checklist!
I hope you enjoyed my ultimate Italy bucket list. I can say with personal experience, Italy is filled with so many wonderful adventures. So you will have a great excuse as to why you need to revisit once or twice to check off every item off the list. Even we haven’t completed this list, but we cannot wait to keep revisiting Italy to see and experience it all!
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