Italy boasts some of the most fascinating landscapes in the world on its Tyrrhenian and Adriatic coasts, on its islands, alpine mountains, valleys and hills, where there are also quality wines, cheeses, hams and other delicacies.
These places are surrounded by towns and cities with an artistic and historical heritage of immense value. Let’s get to know the best natural attractions in Italy.
1. Cinque Terre, Liguria
It is a beautiful piece of coastline of the Ligurian Riviera made up of 5 towns (Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Riomaggiore and Manarola) in the northern sector of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The most beautiful town is Vernazza with its temples such as the churches of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia, San Pedro Apóstol and San Francisco, and the Doria Castle, a medieval fortress perched on a rocky ridge.
Monterosso al Mare is the largest of the 5 villages with 1400 inhabitants. It is distinguished by its Genoese Gothic temple with a serpentine façade dedicated to San Giovanni Battista and by an imposing statue of Neptune facing the sea.
Corniglia is mentioned by Boccaccio in the Decameron; and its church of San Pedro is the headquarters of the Cinque Terre Organ Festival.
For its part, Riomaggiore is the easternmost town. It is more focused on the land than the sea. Its main dishes are salty rice and country soup, made with potatoes and aromatic wild herbs.
In Manarola, the largest nativity scene in the world is set up at Christmas.
2. La Maddalena Archipelago, Sardinia
It is a group of more than 60 islands and islets in the Tyrrhenian Sea, northeast of Sardinia. Its most important islands are La Maddalena and Caprera (the only ones inhabited), Santo Stefano, Santa María, Budelli, Razzoli, Spargi, Roma, Cardellino and Cala Lunga. In Caprera he passed away and there is the tomb of the leader of the Italian Risorgimento, Giuseppe Garibaldi.
The archipelago has a coastline of 180 km with beaches of crystal clear emerald waters and other places of spectacular beauty.
The insular system is part of the La Maddalena Archipelago National Park, a protected area decreed in 1996 of more than 20,000 hectares, of which 75% is maritime area.
Garibaldi owned half of Caprera. The Garibaldino Compendium is a museum that includes the most important places linked to the life of the leader.
The island of La Maddalena has a scenic path to admire the natural spaces. On the island of San Stefano there is a NATO naval base.
3. Scala dei Turchi, Sicily
One of the most interesting natural attractions in Italy is the Staircase of the Turks, a beautiful white cliff that rises above the Tyrrhenian Sea.
It is located off the coast of Realmonte in the province of Agrigento on the southern coast of the island and is named after the Saracen pirates who invaded Sicily from Muslim lands.
The beautiful stepped limestone wall dazzles in the sunlight and its natural terraces have been sculpted over millennia by waves and salty winds. Turkish and Arabian pirates ascended the rock face to pillage and devastate nearby towns, such as Realmonte.
La Scala dei Turchi has become a tourist attraction due to the uniqueness of the cliff with peculiar shapes and the spectacular landscapes that are visible from the summit, which range from the coast of Agrigento to Cape Rosselló.
Its popularity has also grown due to the novels by the Sicilian writer and filmmaker, Andrea Camilleri and his fictional character, Commissioner Salvo Montalbano, which mention this and other natural spaces on the island.
4. Langhe, Piedmont
Piedmontese mountainous area famous in Italy for its wines (Barolo, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto d’Alba, Barbaresco), cheeses and truffles. Its rolling hills are covered in vineyards and pretty medieval villages with boutique hotels.
Langhe is located in the province of Cuneo, east of the Tanaro River, whose wine-growing landscape was declared a World Heritage Site in 2014.
There is the exquisite white truffle from Alba, considered by gourmets as one of the highest peaks of culinary art, with prices of up to 6 thousand euros per kilo.
Its main city is Alba, which presents the White Truffle Festival in October, which has been attended by personalities such as Alfred Hitchcock, the Egyptian King Faruq I, Joe DiMaggio, Alain Delon and Gérard Depardieu.
Alba also holds a music festival in the summer and a flower festival at the end of May. Pasta with truffles is one of the icons of Albo cuisine.
5. Amalfi Coast, Campania
The Amalfi coastline, on the Gulf of Salerno in the Italian Campania, is one of Italy’s main attractions for its beaches and landscapes, as well as for its towns and villages that emerge from the slopes offering views of the Tyrrhenian coast.
It was part of the Amalfi Republic, one of the city-states of the Italian peninsula during the Middle Ages.
Its fame as a tourist destination is ancient. Boccaccio mentions it in the Decameron and in Ravello, a beautiful coastal town, the composer, Richard Wagner, was inspired to create the scenery for Parsifal.
The Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen, wrote Amalfi, A Doll’s House, his masterpiece.
The main coastal city is Amalfi, designated a World Heritage Site. Its most famous monument is the cathedral or duomo, consecrated to Saint Andrew.
Saint Francis of Assisi visited the temple in 1218 to honor the relics of the apostle, which were there by then.
Other attractions in Amalfi are the Diocesan Museum, next to the Basilica of the Crucifix; the Torre dello Ziro and the fountains of Sant’Andrea and Cap ‘e Ciuccio.
6. Blue Grotto, Campania
Capri is a complete feast for the senses and the Blue Grotto, on the northwestern coast of the island, is one of its mythical landscapes.
It was a favorite spa of Roman emperors and rediscovered for tourism in 1826 by the German poet and painter, August Kopisch.
It has an opening partially submerged in the sea, through which the sun’s rays filter, giving the water a beautiful electric blue hue.
When the tide goes out, a space about a meter high opens up and small boats can enter.
Emperor Tiberius practically turned the grotto into an appendage of his Caprese villa.
In 1963 some statues of Poseidon and other marine deities were found that were supposed to adorn the grotto, pieces exhibited in the Casa Rosa de Anacapri Museum.
The grotto fell into disrepair after the decline of the empire and began to be known as a “cursed cave” due to the supposed evil spirits that inhabited it.
Kopisch and other painter and writer friends explored it in 1826 and named it Azzurra (Blue).
7. Lake Como, Lombardy
It is an inverted Y-shaped glacial lake in Lombardy, northern Italy. It is the deepest body of fresh water (416 meters) and with the longest coastline in the country, ranking 3rd in surface area and contained volume.
It is usually in the first places in the selections of the most beautiful lakes in the world, due to its natural and urban environment.
Lake Como was a destination for royalty, aristocracy and wealthy people during the Roman Empire. It is currently a refuge for celebrities and millionaires who built wonderful villas.
The romantic novelist, Alessandro Manzoni, contributed to the fame of the lake with his novel, The Boyfriends, and the boat (batel) in which the protagonist, Lucia Mondella, escaped, is a symbol of the place.
At the intersection of the three lines that form the Y of the lake is the beautiful city of Bellagio.
On April 27, 1945, Benito Mussolini was captured in the riverside town of Dongo. The fascist leader and his mistress, Claretta Petacci, were savagely executed the next day in the nearby town of Giulino.
8. Rocca Calascio, Abruzzo
Medieval fortress perched on a rocky ridge near the Abruzzo town of Calascio, 160 km northeast of Rome. It was built during the 10th century and withstood a strong earthquake in 1703. Its winter image, in the middle of the snowy landscape at 1,460 meters above sea level, is impressive.
Rocca Calascio is one of the highest castles in Italy. Near the fortress there is a medieval village that is one of the ancient symbols of Abruzzo, which was connected to the castle by a wooden drawbridge where there is now a ramp.
Due to the success of the novel, The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco and the subsequent film, the castle gained popularity as a tourist destination. From the place there are splendid views of the landscape, including the Gran Sasso, Velino-Sirente, Maiella, Monti Marsicani and the Tirino Valley.
9. Saturnia Baths, Tuscany
Italy was blessed with spectacular landscapes made up of snow-capped mountains, beaches, islands, valleys and lakes. Also with several hot springs and the Termas de Saturnia, one of the most beautiful and healthy natural attractions in Italy. The Etruscans and Romans believed that they were formed by lightning from Saturn.
They are located in the Tuscan municipality of Manciano, less than 3 km southeast of the town of Saturnia and 2.5 hours by car from the city of Florence. They are also called the waterfalls of the mill (cascate del mulino). They are waters rich in sulfides and other minerals that are good for the body.
The Roman patricians and potentates turned them into a place to vacation and, like the baths of Rome, they were places where politics and pleasure were mixed.
At the foot of the spa is the Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort, an elegant 5-star hotel built with traventine marble and equipped with luxurious rooms.
10. Venetian Lagoon, Veneto
The lagoon and the more than 100 islands where the great Venetian city is located is a closed space next to the Adriatic Sea.
Venetians and tourists move in the two main means of transport in the archipelago: vaporettos and gondolas.
Over the infinity of canals there are more than 400 bridges, some iconic such as the Rialto, the Barefoot, the Sighs, the Academy, the Constitution, the Needles and the Straw.
The square and basilica of San Marco, the Campanile and the Ducal Palace, lead the number of monuments that make Venice one of the main architectural and historical jewels of humanity.
The local gastronomy has symbolic dishes such as Venetian-style veal liver, fried sardines, salted cod mousse, battered seafood, fried tender crabs, rice with fried bacon and tiramisu.
The Venice Carnival is world famous for its showiness, especially for its masks and costumes.
11. Aeolian Islands, Sicily
According to Roman mythology, in this Sicilian archipelago, Aeolus gave a wineskin full of favorable winds to Odysseus and the god of fire, Vulcan, had the forge and the forge in which he made Jupiter’s thunderbolts.
It is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, northeast of Sicily and made up of 7 islands: Lípari, Vulcano, Stromboli, Salina, Alicudi, Filicudi and Panarea.
The archipelago began to recover its population from the 1970s due to tourist activity, after a depopulation caused by phylloxera (vine plague). Now it is a destination for lovers of the sea and mythology declared a World Heritage Site in 2000.
The largest island is Lipari, which is why the whole is also called the Lipari Islands. Stromboli is known for its active volcano that rises 924 meters above the sea and 2000 meters from the ocean floor.
The local gastronomy revolves around the products caught and harvested on the islands, especially seafood, olives, capers, grapes, figs and almonds.
12. Val d’Orcia, Tuscany
The Tuscan Valley of Orcia is a landscape of gentle and idyllic hills nestled in the province of Siena, 57 km southeast of the city where the famous palio runs.
The space is crossed by the Orcia River and is covered with vineyards, rustic farms and dreamlike villages and small towns such as Pienza, Radicofani and Montalcino.
Val d’Orcia was declared a World Heritage Site in 2004 for its natural, artistic and cultural wealth, particularly gastronomy.
Pienza has an immense architectural heritage and is the capital of the famous Tuscan pecorino cheese, a delicacy made with milk from sheep raised exclusively on local pastures, which was already extolled by Pliny the Elder almost 2000 years ago.
Montalcino is located to the west of Pienza, at the end of the valley and its fortification is from the 13th century. The Riuniti Museum, an enclosure of civil and religious art, stands out for its works from the Sienese school.
Along with Chianti and Carmignano, Brunello di Montalcino is one of the great Tuscan wines.
13. Zingaro Reserve, Sicily
This reserve on the northwestern coast of Sicily became in 1981 the first protected area on the island. It is 126 km west of Palermo with an area of 1,650 hectares of land and sea, with beautiful landscapes of coves with blue waters, steep cliffs, white stone beaches and mountains that are home to a wide diversity of species.
The main access is via the highway from Castelmare del Golfo, taking the detour to the coastal town of Scopello. People who come from San Vito lo Capo do the opposite way to Torre dell’Impiso. In Scopello there is a parking lot at the entrance and a picnic area already inside the reserve.
One of the most frequented coves is Punta Capreria. The quietest are Berretta, Calla della Disa, Torre dell’Uzzo and Marinella.
There are several hiking trails between the coast and the mountains with beautiful views and the possibility of observing the fauna of the reserve, especially birds such as the maned shearwater, Cory’s shearwater, storm petrel, peregrine falcon, griffon vulture and Bonelli’s eagle.
14 Castellucio di Norcia, Umbria
Castellucio di Norcia, a small town nestled in the Apennine mountains, is another of Italy’s natural attractions in the Umbria region, with its flowery fields of poppies, daisies, clover and daffodils, in spring and summer. It is in recovery after the destructive earthquakes of 2016 and 2017. The lentils produced in the village are famous in Italy for their taste.
It is located next to the Monti Sibillini National Park, a protected area of 69,722 hectares with ecotourism entertainment such as hiking, horse riding, nature observation and, in winter, snow sports. Spa tourism and its hot spring resorts are also available in the park.
Castellucio is located at 1452 meters above sea level, being one of the highest communities in the Apennines.
Some nearby places of interest are Lake Pilate, the Sibyl cave and the Redeemer peak, the highest elevation in Umbria at 2448 meters above sea level According to legend, in this cavern at 2150 meters above sea level lives a magician who predicts the future.
15. Dolomites, Trentino-Alto Adige
The Dolomites are a mountain range in the Southern Alps in northern Italy, formed mainly by deposits of dolomite, a mineral that gives it its name.
A sector of the mountain penetrates into Austria, where it is called the Lienz Dolomites. They are also called “pale mountains” and are a popular destination for skiing, hiking, mountaineering and other sports.
Dolomiti Superski is the main place in Italy for skiing with an area of 3,000 km 2 and nearly 1,200 km of slopes, passing through the provinces of Trento, Bolzano and Belluno.
There are a dozen ski areas that ensure the practice of the sport between December and April. In the complex there are popular ski tours such as Sellaronda and the Tour of the Great War, which goes through the main places in The Dolomites linked to the First World War.
The highest peak is Marmolada, called the “Queen of the Dolomites”, with 3343 meters above sea level. It was ascended for the first time in 1864 by the Austrian, Paul Grohmann, and is a popular destination for mountaineering. In summer the favorite sports are hiking and climbing.
16. Giardini di Ninfa, Lazio
The Garden of Ninfa is a natural monument in the municipality of Cisterna di Latina, in the Lazio region, 79 km southeast of Rome, also known as the “most beautiful garden in the world”.
It is an English garden built in 1921 on the site of the ancient medieval city of Ninfa, with hundreds of native and exotic plant species, a crystal-clear river that forms small waterfalls, irrigation streams and picturesque bridges.
Ninfa became during its heyday a wealthy town with more than 150 houses with attics, barns, churches, a castle, bridges, 2 hospitals and other buildings.
The ruins of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, the main temple of the town, and those of some houses, were harmoniously incorporated into the garden.
Among the plants that adorn the garden are walnut, apple, Japanese maple, rose, jasmine, cypress, plane, acacia, hanging cherry and hazel.
The town hall building, which in 1765 had been converted into a barn, was restored.
17. Costa degli Dei, Calabria
The Coast of the Gods, on the Calabrian coast in southern Italy, is a space of virgin landscapes and protected coves with crystal clear waters and a dazzling turquoise blue. It stretches from Pizzo Calabro to Nicotera facing the Tyrrhenian Sea, with Tropea, on top of a hill, its most important town.
Tropea is called the “Pearl of the Tyrrhenian”, a small city of just over 6 thousand inhabitants belonging to the province of Vibo Valentia.
According to mythology, it was founded by Hercules when the mighty hero stopped to rest after completing his Tenth Labor, which consisted of opening the Strait of Gibraltar.
The historic center of Tropea is of high cultural value with several palaces built by the nobility between the 18th and 19th centuries.
These villas are perched on the cliffs with beautiful views of the Tyrrhenian. On a rock is the sanctuary of Santa María, a religious symbol of the city built in the 11th century.
Natural attractions of Italy: Mount Vesuvius
The active volcano that dominates the city of Naples is one of the main natural symbols of Italy. It is listed as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because it caused catastrophes and especially because the population in its surroundings has grown significantly.
Its most famous eruption occurred in the year 79, almost 2000 years ago, when it buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, a city considered by the Romans to be the temple of Hercules.
In 1944 it woke up again partially destroying the town of San Sebastiano.
This sleeping giant is part of a national park. It can be traveled by there is a road that ascends a good part of the mountain. The last section to the crater, about 200 meters, must be done on foot.
Access costs 6 euros and there are guides who guide visitors. Other nearby attractions are the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
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