Tourism in Italy

Tourism in Italy is one of the economic sectors of the country. With 94 million tourists per year (2018) according to ENIT, Italy is the fifth most visited country in international tourism arrivals, with 217.7 million foreign visitor nights spent and a total of 432.6 million visitors. According to 2018 estimates by the Bank of Italy, the tourism sector directly generates more than five percent of the national GDP (13 percent when also considering the indirectly generated GDP) and represents over six percent of the employed.[4][5] People mainly visit Italy for its rich culture, cuisine, history, fashion, architecture and art. Winter and summer tourism are present in many locations in the Alps and the Apennines,[6] while seaside tourism is widespread in coastal locations along the Mediterranean Sea.[7] Italy is also the country with the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world (58).[8]

The Colosseum in Rome, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.
The city of Venice, ranked many times as the most beautiful city in the world.[1][2]
Milan Cathedral is a busy tourist spot in Milan. It is the world's 4th biggest cathedral and took over five centuries to complete.[3]

The Roman Empire, Middle Ages, Renaissance and the following centuries of the history of Italy have left many cultural artifacts that attract tourists.[9] In general, the Italian cultural heritage is the largest in the world since it consists of 60 to 75 percent of all the artistic assets that exist on each continent,[10] with over 4,000 museums, 6,000 archaeological sites, 85,000 historic churches and 40,000 historic palaces, all subject to protection by the Italian Ministry of Culture.[11] As of 2018, the Italian places of culture (which include museums, attractions, parks, archives and libraries) amounted to 6,610. Active hotel businesses are 33,000, while non-hotel businesses are 183,000. The tourist flow to coastal resorts is 53 percent; the best equipped cities are Grosseto for farmhouses (217), Vieste for campsites and tourist villages (84) and Cortina d'Ampezzo mountain huts (20). [12][13]


Islands such as Capri became popular in the late 14th century and first decade of the 19th century
The Forum with Vesuvius in the distance. Pompeii is Italy's third and the world's 48th most visited destination, with over 2.5 million tourists a year.
The Amalfi Coast seen from Villa Cimbrone, in Ravello, Campania, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy.


People have visited Italy for centuries, yet the first to visit the peninsula for touristic reasons were aristocrats during the Grand Tour, beginning in the late 17th century, and flourishing in the 18th century.

Rome, as the capital of the powerful and influential Roman Empire, attracted thousands to the city and country from all over the empire, which included most of the Mediterranean, Northern Africa, mainland Great Britain (England) and parts of Western Asia. Traders and merchants came to Italy from several different parts of the world. When the empire fell in 476 AD, Rome was no longer the epicentre of European politics and culture; on the other hand, it was the base of the papacy, which then governed the growing Christian religion, meaning that Rome remained one of Europe's major places of pilgrimage. Pilgrims, for centuries and still today, would come to the city, and that would have been the early equivalent of "tourism" or "religious tourism". The trade empires of Venice, Pisa and Genoa meant that several traders, businessmen and merchants from all over the world would also regularly come to Italy. In the 16th and early 17th century, with the height of the Renaissance, several students came to Italy to study Italian architecture, such as Inigo Jones.

Grand TourEdit

Real "tourism" only affected in Italy in the second half of the 17th century, with the beginning of the Grand Tour. This was a period in which European aristocrats, many of whom were British, visited parts of Europe; Italy, Greece and other Mediterranean places were amongst the most popular. This was in order to study ancient architecture and the local culture.[14] The Grand Tour was in essence triggered by the book Voyage to Italy, by Roman Catholic priest Richard Lassels, and published in 1670.[15][16] Due to the Grand Tour, tourism became even more prevalent - making Italy one of the most desired destinations for millions of people.[17] Once inside what would be modern-day Italy, these tourists would begin by visiting Turin for a short while. On the way there, Milan was also a popular stop, yet a trip to the city was not considered essential, and several passed by, or simply stayed for a short period of time. If a person came via boat, then they would remain a few days in Genoa. Yet, the main destination in Northern Italy was Venice, which was considered a vital stop,[15] as well as cities around it such as Verona, Vicenza and Padua.

As the Tour went on, Tuscan cities were also very important itinerary stops. Florence was a major attraction, and other Tuscan towns, such as Siena, Pisa, Lucca and San Gimignano, were also considered important destinations. The most prominent stop in Central Italy, however, was Rome, a major centre for the arts and culture, as well as an essential city for a Grand Tourist.[15] Later, they would go down to the Bay of Naples,[15] and after their discovery in 1710, Pompeii and Herculaneum were popular too. Sicily was considered a significant part of the trail, and several, such as Goethe, visited the island.

Mass tourismEdit

Throughout the 17th to 18th centuries, the Grand Tour was mainly reserved for academics or the elite. Nevertheless, circa 1840,[15] rail transport was introduced and the Grand Tour started to fall slightly out of vogue; hence, the first form of mass-tourism was introduced. The 1840s saw the period in which the Victorian middle classes toured the country. Several Americans were also able to visit Italy, and many more tourists came to the peninsula. Places such as Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples and Sicily still remained the top attractions.

Like many other Europeans, Italians rely heavily on public transport. Italy is a relatively small country and distances are reduced.[18]

As the century progressed, fewer cultural visits were made, and there was an increase of tourists coming for Italy's nature and weather. The first seaside resorts, such as those in the Ligurian coast, around Venice, coastal Tuscany and Amalfi, became popular. This vogue of summer holidays heightened in the fin-de-siècle epoch, when numerous "Grand Hotels" were built (including places such as Sanremo, Lido di Venezia, Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi). Islands such as Capri, Ischia, Procida and Elba grew in popularity, and the Northern lakes, such as Lake Como, Maggiore and Garda were more frequently visited. Tourism to Italy remained very popular until the late-1920s and early-1930s, when, with the Great Depression and economic crisis, several could no longer afford to visit the country; the increasing political instability meant that fewer tourists came. Only old touristic groups, such as the Scorpioni, remained alive.

After a big slump in tourism beginning from approximately 1929 and lasting after World War II, Italy returned to its status as a popular resort, with the Italian economic miracle and raised living standards; films such as La Dolce Vita were successful abroad, and their depiction of the country's perceivedly idyllic life helped raise Italy's international profile. By this point, with higher incomes, Italians could also afford to go on holiday; coastline resorts saw a soar in visitors, especially in Romagna. Many cheap hotels and pensioni (hostels) were built in the 1960s, and with the rise of wealth, by now, even a working-class Italian family could afford a holiday somewhere along the coast. The late-1960s also brought mass-popularity to mountain holidays and skiing; in Piedmont and the Aosta Valley, numerous ski resorts and chalets started being built. The 1970s also brought a wave of foreign tourists to Italy in search of a sentimental trip Villoresi old charm -The Trip to Italy, since Mediterranean destinations saw a rise in global visitors.

Despite this, by the late-1970s and early-1980s, economic crises and political instability meant that there was a significant slump in the Italian tourist industry, as destinations in the Far East or South America rose in popularity.[19] Yet, by the late-1980s and early-1990s, tourism saw a return to popularity, with cities such as Milan becoming more popular destinations. Milan saw a rise in tourists, since it was ripening its position as a worldwide fashion capital.

Land and climateEdit

Italy has a variety of climate systems. The inland northern areas of Italy (for example Turin, Milan, and Bologna) have a relatively cool, mid-latitude version of the Humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), while the coastal areas of Liguria and the peninsula south of Florence generally fit the Mediterranean climate profile (Köppen climate classification Csa).[20]


The table below shows the distribution of national and international visitor nights spent in the 40 most tourist area of Italy in 2017.

Italy overall had 420.63 million visitor nights in 2017, of which 210.66 million were of foreign guests (50.08 percent). With 37.04 million nights spent in hotels, hostels or clinics, the Metropolitan City of Venice has the most visitors.[21]

Italian cities by number of visitorsEdit

Rank Province/Metropolitan City # of nights
in 2017[21]
of whom
foreign visitors[21]
1 Venice 37,042,454 27,477,075   Veneto
2 Bolzano/Bozen 32,400,662 22,125,350   Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol
3 Rome 29,833,225 7,046,098   Lazio
4 Trento 17,776,030 7,412,103   Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol
5 Verona 17,293,792 13,388,082   Veneto
6 Rimini 15,967,490 3,808,354   Emilia-Romagna
7 Milan 15,468,199 9,291,198   Lombardy
8 Florence 14,716,466 10,780,968   Tuscany
9 Naples 13,161,395 7,247,964   Campania
10 Brescia 10,463,688 7,472,887   Lombardy
11 Livorno 8,663,572 3,491,172   Tuscany
12 Sassari 7,492,538 4,162,225   Sardinia
13 Turin 7,046,219 1,842,052   Piedmont
14 Ravenna 6,698,702 1,381,666   Emilia-Romagna
15 Salerno 6,029,649 2,098,781   Campania
16 Savona 5,717,487 1,471,811   Liguria
17 Grosseto 5,714,546 1,601,673   Tuscany
18 Padua 5,479,110 2,426,489   Veneto
19 Udine 5,371,339 3,027,318   Friuli-Venezia Giulia
20 Forlì-Cesena 5,357,398 1,027,558   Emilia-Romagna
21 Lecce 5,048,739 949,521   Apulia
22 Siena 4,928,092 2,880,531   Tuscany
23 Perugia 4,689,356 1,699,019   Umbria
24 Bologna 4,607,456 2,101,001   Emilia-Romagna
25 Foggia 4,503,604 697,073   Apulia
26 Genoa 4,082,817 1,945,743   Liguria
27 Belluno 3,806,806 1,208,331   Veneto
28 Aosta/Aoste 3,599,402 1,434,422   Aosta Valley
29 Lucca 3,546,044 1,696,020   Tuscany
30 Messina 3,493,859 2,153,932   Sicily
31 Teramo 3,419,387 523,718   Abruzzo
32 Pesaro and Urbino 3,295,759 729,067   Marche
33 Cosenza 3,290,418 369,693   Calabria
34 Imperia 3,202,619 1,324,925   Liguria
35 Verbano-Cusio-Ossola 3,095,668 2,443,754   Piedmont
36 Como 3,088,807 2,375,038   Lombardy
37 Pisa 3,032,756 1,632,412   Tuscany
38 Ferrara 3,020,136 1,142,220   Emilia-Romagna
39 Palermo 2,981,947 1,703,615   Sicily
40 Ancona 2,954,206 536,167   Marche
rest of Italy 79,247,316 42,531,760
Total 420,629,155 210,658,786

Italian regions by number of visitorsEdit

Semi-temporary data on tourist presences in 2018

According to regional data, in 2018 tourism presences in Italy amounted to 429 million (212.5 million residents and 216.5 million non-residents).[22]

With 69.23 million nights spent in hotels, hostels or clinics, Veneto has the highest number of visitors and ranks sixth in Europe.[23][24]

# Rank Region # of nights in 2018
1   Veneto 69.229.094
2   Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol 47.618.085
3   Tuscany 41.152.681
4   Emilia-Romagna 40.647.799
5   Lombardy 39.115.354
6   Lazio 36.684.847
7   Campania 21.689.412
8   Apulia 15.197.186
9   Liguria 15.183.243
10   Sicily 15.135.259
11   Piedmont 15.100.768
12   Sardinia 14.940.111
13   Marche 9.656.538
14   Calabria 9.212.630
15   Friuli-Venezia Giulia 9.022.550
16   Abruzzo 6.193.473
17   Umbria 6.081.647
18   Aosta Valley 3.606.308
19   Basilicata 2.603.624
20   Molise 482.051
Total 428.844.937

Italian sites by number of visitorsEdit

Below is a table with the most visited museums in Italy (data as of 2018)[25]

# Site City Visitors
1 Pantheon Rome 25.505.971
2 Pompeii Pompei 13.019.202
3 Royal Palace of Caserta Caserta 12.376.591
4 Galleria degli Uffizi Florence 11.986.405
5 Villa di Poggio a Caiano Florence 10.186.141
6 St. Mark's Basilica Venice 5.877.142
7 Palace of Venaria Venaria Reale 5.171.956
8 Museo delle culture (MUDEC) Milan 5.083.801
9 Lucca Cathedral Lucca 5.043.621
10 Museo e Tesoro del Duomo di Monza Monza 4.873.795
11 Cattedrale di Santa Maria Pisa 4.848.448
12 Museo di Storia Naturale del Mediterraneo Livorno 3.943.285
13 Museo dell'Opera della Metropolitana di Siena Siena 3.502.875
14 Casa Natale Santa Cabrini Sant'Angelo Lodigiano 3.318.039
15 Anfiteatro Arena Verona 2.117.800
16 Musei Civici di Padova - Arte Moderna e Medievale e Archeologica Padova 2.096.827
17 Parco Archeologico di Naxos Taormina Taormina 2.055.045
18 Miramare Castle Trieste 1.947.898
19 Museo Civico di Palazzo Chiericati Trieste 1.903.410
20 Mambo - Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna Bologna 1.530.454
21 Complesso Monumentale Palazzo Reale e Cappella Palatina Palermo 1.487.849
22 Museo Arcivescovile Ravenna 1.483.762
23 Museo delle Scienze Trento 1.346.765
24 Musei di San Domenico Forlì 1.341.415
25 Museo Civico Castello Ursino Catania 1.281.824
26 Parco Archeologico e Paesaggistico della Valle dei Templi Agrigento 1.114.375
27 Storico Giardino Garzoni e Collodi Butterfly House Pescia 1.011.500
28 Galata Museo del Mare Genoa 1.002.400
29 Galleria Nazionale di Parma Parma 943.437
30 Parco E Museo del Volo - Volandia Somma Lombardo 917.331
31 Museo Ferrari Maranello 895.659
32 Scaligero Castle Sirmione 887.307
33 Area Archeo della Neapolis e Orecchio di Dioniso Syracuse 805.910
34 Statua Colossale di San Carlo Ancona 763.272
35 Musei Civici - Palazzo dei Musei Reggio Emilia 730.970
36 Complesso Monumentale del Castello e Parco di Racconigi Racconigi 705.362
37 Museo Artistico E Storico di Palazzo Borromeo Stresa 647.694
38 Museo di Palazzo Ducale Mantua 646.754
39 Museo della Città Luigi Tonini Rimini 637.482
40 Museo del Tesoro della Basilica Papale di San Francesco Assisi 629.362
41 Parco dei Mostri, Sacro Bosco di Bomarzo Bomarzo 600.684
42 Pinacoteca e Museo Civico di Palazzo Mazzetti Asti 581.550
43 Pozzo di San Patrizio Orvieto 569.990
44 Parco archeologico di Segesta Segesta 554.800
45 Casa Museo Villa Monastero Varenna 540.626
46 Pinacoteca Accademia Carrara Bergamo 527.363
47 Pinacoteca del Seminario Vescovile Rovigo 522.754
48 Villa Carlotta Tremezzina 487.406
49 Rocca demaniale di Gradara Gradara 463.110
50 Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Paestum Paestum 462.789
51 Basilica Patriarcale Aquileia 461.844
52 Gorizia Castle - Museo del Medioevo Goriziano Gorizia 458.634
53 Museo Regionale Villa Romana del Casale di Piazza Armerina Piazza Armerina 403.288
54 Area di Sosta "Plessi" Bressanone 395.431
55 Malaspina Castle Massa 363.197
56 Casa Leopardi Recanati 359.244
57 Fort Bard Bard 354.246
58 Abbazia di Fossanova Priverno 349.989
59 Museo Preistorico della Val Varatella Nino Lamboglia Toirano 321.278
60 Basilica di San Francesco Assisi 321.104
61 Castel del Monte Andria 301.911
62 Abbazia di Montecassino Montecassino 300.323
63 Sacro Monte di Crea Serralunga di Crea 299.814
64 Museo Archeologico Nazionale Reggio Calabria 299.394
65 Galleria d'Arte di Palazzo Bellini Comacchio 271.205
66 Fondazione Museo del Violino Antonio Stradivari Cremona 253.731
67 Museo del Castello. Collezioni Civiche Archeologiche U. Formentini La Spezia 249.791
68 Area Archeologica Su Nuraxi Barumini 246.296
69 Storica Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario Matera 231.694
70 Museo della Rocca Viscontea di Castell'Arquato Castell'Arquato 229.173
71 Museo Civico Summonte 224.543
72 Trullo Sovrano Alberobello 213.091
73 Parco Archeologico di Siponto Manfredonia 212.503
74 Ricetto Candelo - Ecomuseo Della Vitivinicoltura Candelo 211.638
75 Sacrario Militare di Cima Grappa Crespano del Grappa 197.883
76 Museo dell'Intreccio Mediterraneo Castelsardo 186.794
77 Museo Nazionale e Parco Archeologico Archeologico di Egnazia G. Andreassi Fasano 183.189
78 Museo Archeologico Piceno Cupra Marittima 181.398
79 Area Archeologica Tharros Oristano 159.988
80 Museo Abbazia Benedettina di Santa Maria In Silvis Sesto al Reghena 157.673
81 Sforzesco Castle Vigevano 156.724
82 Museo della Vita e delle Tradizioni Popolari Sarde / Museo del Costume Nuoro 156.660
83 Museo delle arti di Catanzaro Catanzaro 150.463
84 Cisterne Romane Fermo 146.913
85 Forte Santa Tecla Sanremo 146.278
86 Area Archeologica del Teatro Romano di Benevento Benevento 137.303
87 Area Archeologica di Nora Pula 129.589
88 Museo Archeologico Nazionale del Melfese Massimo Pallottino Melfi 129.071
89 La Castella Capo Rizzuto 128.175
90 Museo Archeologico Nazionale d'Abruzzo Chieti 123.741
91 Parco Archeologico 'Citta' del Tufo' Sorano 123.408
92 Birthplace of Gabriele D'Annunzio Museum Pescara 120.642
93 Museo della Carta e della Filigrana Fabriano 120.219
94 Museo Provinciale Murattiano Pizzo 118.125
95 Fortezza e Museo delle Armi e Mappe Antiche Civitella del Tronto 106.715
96 Museo Archeologico Nazionale Taranto 89.456
97 Museo Naturalistico Centro Visita Cupone Spezzano della Sila 83.339
98 Area Archeologica di Cava D'Ispica Modica 80.773
99 Museo della Grande Guerra In Marmolada-Onlus Rocca Pietore 74.913
100 Museo Civico Niscemi 73.317
101 Sacro Monte di Varallo Varallo 64.819
102 Frantoi Ipogei di Palazzo Granafei Gallipoli 62.844
103 Museo dei Misteri Campobasso 60.361
104 Castello Piccolomini Celano 50.327
105 Abbazia di Farfa Fara in Sabina 44.753
106 Museo Valtellinese di Storia e Arte Sondrio 33.515
107 Santuario Italico Pietrabbondante 31.790
# Total visitors   Italy 161.015.377

Arrivals by countryEdit

Most visitors arriving in Italy in 2018 were citizens of the following countries:[26]

Rank Country Number
1   Germany 12,184,502
2   United States 5,656,740
3   France 4,737,464
4   United Kingdom 3,781,882
5   China 3,200,847
6    Switzerland 2,925,321
7   Austria 2,612,706
8   Netherlands 2,197,870
9   Spain 2,175,267
10   Russia 1,616,902
11   Poland 1,472,832
12   Belgium 1,270,802
13   Australia 1,050,585
14   Japan 1,026,369
15   Brazil 1,025,070
16   South Korea 996,346
17   Canada 886,053
18   Czech Republic 839,207
19   Sweden 739,976
20   Argentina 708,987
21   Denmark 663,581
22   Israel 605,076
23   Hungary 565,206
24   India 555,223
25   Ireland 434,888
26   Turkey 402,569
27   Norway 398,908
28   Portugal 375,391
29   Mexico 358,626
30   Greece 341,716
Total international visitors 63,195,203
Total visitors 128,100,932

Nights spent by countryEdit

Rank Country Number
1   Germany 58,645,390
2   United States 14,546,868
3   France 14,197,976
4   United Kingdom 14,043,501
5   Netherlands 11,037,222
6    Switzerland 10,679,102
7   Austria 9,519,898
8   Poland 5,743,920
9   Spain 5,684,438
10   Russia 5,382,255
11   China 5,287,714
12   Belgium 4,912,441
13   Czech Republic 3,903,499
14   Denmark 3,296,288
15   Australia 2,795,291
16   Sweden 2,566,196
17   Brazil 2,546,197
18   Romania 2,510,265
19   Canada 2,398,572
20   Japan 2,238,222
21   Hungary 2,028,427
22   Ireland 1,734,636
23   Norway 1,285,585
24   Greece 852,765
Other extra-european countries 16.625.327
Other european countries 12.048.551
Total international nights spent 216.510.546
Total nights spent 428.844.937

Factors of tourist interestEdit

There are many factors that drive tourism interest to Italy.[27]

Artistic-cultural tourismEdit

Italy has a vast and important historical-architectural heritage,[28] both in terms of the quantity of artefacts, as well as in terms of conservation, and in terms of intrinsic artistic-cultural value. For example, Italy boasts the largest number of sites indicated in the UNESCO World Heritage List.[29]

In general, the Italian cultural heritage is the largest in the world since it consists of 60% to 75% of all the artistic assets that exist on each continent,[10] with over 4,000 museums, 6,000 archaeological sites, 85,000 historic churches and 40,000 historic palaces, all subject to protection by the Italian Ministry of Culture.[11] In 2013, the value of the artistic and cultural heritage alone was estimated at 5.4% of Italian GDP, approximately 75.5 billion, capable of employing approximately 1.4 million workers.[30]

According to the Eurostat report of 2019, Italian tourism is first in Europe in terms of the number of jobs generated (4.2 million) and third for the average visitor expenditure and the share of revenues of the national sector compared to the European total (€48 billion, 12% of the total).[31][32]

Seaside and lake tourismEdit

Sea in Otranto, Apulia

The coastal development of the Italian peninsula extends along at least 8,000 km of shoreline, considering the numerous islands. Beaches and cliffs are dotted with various accommodation facilities, such as bathing establishments, hotels and restaurants, resorts, night and day gathering centers, parks, piers and marinas, as well as numerous historic and artistic centers, which combine interest in the bathing activities to those for leisure, nature and art. There are numerous famous coastal stretches.[33]

Lake tourism has been able to establish due to the sounding board created by some celebrities of the international jet set, well known by the general public.[34] The purchase of a holiday residence along Lake Como by actor George Clooney was very publicized in 2001, as well as the marriage of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in 2006 in the Castello Orsini-Odescalchi, along Lake Bracciano.

Underwater tourism, both of a naturalistic type and linked to underwater archaeology, is also present.[35] For the naturalistic underwater type, noteworthy locations include the Portofino Marine Protected Area (located between the municipalities of Camogli, Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure), the island of Giglio, the island of Capraia, and the Maddalena archipelago.[35] For the underwater archeology type, noteworthy locations include Taormina, Capo Passero, Ustica, Noto, Marettimo, Marzamemi, Santa Maria di Castellabate, Gaiola, Ischia, Campi Flegrei, Pantelleria, Syracuse, Gnatia, Isole Tremiti, Manduria and Isola di Capo Rizzuto.[35][36]

Winter tourismEdit

Despite a not particularly harsh climate compared to other countries located at more northern latitudes, Italy manages to attract tourists who practice in winter sports due to the presence of numerous mountain ranges (the percentage of mountainous territory is around 35%).[37] Among these are the Alps, the highest mountain range in Europe, and the Apennines, equipped with numerous sports and accommodation facilities. In the north the most famous ski resorts are in the Dolomites and Cortina d'Ampezzo, as well as in the Valle d'Aosta, while in the center-south Abruzzo is the mountainous region with major ski resorts in Roccaraso, Ovindoli, Pescasseroli and Campo Felice.[38]

Spa tourismEdit

Italy has one of the largest number of spas in the world,[39] and are appreciated internationally for the quality and effectiveness of the services and treatments offered.[40] This is also due to secondary volcanic phenomena that give rise to the emission of water, vapors and mud enriched by substances present in the Italian subsoil.[41]

Its origins are very remote, it is known that the ancient Greeks had already discovered its healing properties,[42] but the greatest admirers of antiquity were undoubtedly the ancient Romans who made it an aspect of their social life.[43]

The most renowned Italian spas are located in the localities of Abano Terme, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Bibione, Chianciano Terme, Montepulciano, Saturnia, Montecatini Terme, Contursi Terme, Castellammare di Stabia, Bagni San Filippo, Sirmione, Bormio, Viterbo, Pantelleria, Vulcano, Montegrotto Terme, Pescantina, Salsomaggiore Terme and Ischia.[44][45]

Religious tourismEdit

There are numerous pilgrimage destinations in Italy, first of all Rome, the residence of the Pope (who is its bishop) and the seat of the Catholic Church. The city is a pilgrimage destination especially during the main events of Catholic religious life, especially during the Jubilees. Although his figure is not officially recognized by the faithful of other Christian denominations, the presence of the Pope in Rome also attracts others, and is an important figure within the Christian creed.[46] In addition to the Holy See, there are numerous pilgrimage sites given by the presence of relics and remains of important figures linked to Christianity, rather than by the memory of events that have occurred that the faithful consider miraculous.[47]

Naturalistic tourismEdit

Flamingos in the delta of the Po river

In Italy there are several protected areas of various types: natural, mountain or marine parks, regional or local parks, natural, wildlife or zoological reserves. In addition to this there are numerous natural sites not necessarily protected by a park.

The parks of Italy include areas of land, sea, rivers and their banks, lakes and their environs which have environmental or naturalistic importance and are often valued for their landscape features and for representing particular local traditions. National parks cover about 5% of the country,[48] while the total area protected by national parks, regional parks and nature reserves covers about 10.5% of the Italian territory.[49]

Italy has the highest level of faunal biodiversity in Europe, with over 57,000 species recorded, representing more than a third of all European fauna.[50] Italy's varied geological structure contributes to its high climate and habitat diversity. The flora of Italy was traditionally estimated to comprise about 5,500 vascular plant species.[51] However, as of 2005, 6,759 species are recorded in the Data bank of Italian vascular flora.[52]

Business tourismEdit

Business tourism enlivens entrances to the country and constitutes a fundamental part of the sector. This type includes those who use the accommodation facilities for business trips or to participate in events related to the production or marketing of various goods developed within the most disparate economic sectors. By way of example, the following are reported:

Food and wine tourismEdit

The traditional recipe for spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce

Italian cuisine is one of the best known and most appreciated gastronomies worldwide.[64] Italian cuisine includes deeply rooted traditions common to the whole country, as well as all the regional gastronomies, different from each other, especially between the north and the south of Italy, which are in continuous exchange.[65][66][67] Many dishes that were once regional have proliferated with variations throughout the country.[68][69] Italian cuisine offers an abundance of taste, and is one of the most popular and copied around the world.[70] Italy is the world's largest producer of wine, as well as a country with the widest variety of indigenous grapevine varieties in the world.[71][72]

Italy has a large number of traditional specialities protected under EU law.[73] From the 1950s onwards, a great variety of typical products of Italian cuisine have been recognized as PDO, PGI, TSG and GI by the Council of the European Union, to which they are added to the Indicazione geografica tipica (IGT), the regional Prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale (PAT) and the municipal Denominazione comunale d'origine (De.C.O.).[74][75] In the oenological field, there are specific legal protections: the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) and the Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita (DOCG).[76] Protected designation of origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) have also been established in olive growing.[77]

The cuisine is therefore often a reason for tourism in the peninsula, perhaps combined with one or more reasons previously described.[78] There are countless food festivals and fairs spread throughout the area, from small agricultural centers to large metropolises.[79] The hospitality sector is slowly updating by including cultural food and wine elements in its offer to tourists, both in traditional hotels and in specially created structures such as agritourisms.[80] In 2018 the food and wine expenditure by foreign tourists amounted to 9.23 billion euros, with an average expenditure of 117 euros each.[81]

Sports tourismEdit

Opening ceremony of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics

Tourism linked to sporting events is capable of attracting fans of various disciplines who, in several cases, then decide to stay to visit the country.[82] In addition to events of a global nature, capable of attracting a large number of visitors for a longer period of time (for example the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics or the 1990 FIFA World Cup), minor events also contribute to the development of this factor of tourism, such as individual international matches of various sports (for example the home matches of Italy during the Six Nations Championship or the matches of clubs of various sports involved in continental competitions) or tournaments of more local importance.[83]

UNESCO World Heritage Sites tourismEdit

Italy is the country with the highest concentration in the world of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[84][85] As of 2021, Italy has a total of 58 inscribed sites, making it the country with the most World Heritage Sites just above China (56).[86][85] Out of Italy's 58 heritage sites, 53 are cultural and 5 are natural.[85] 50% of the tourists who visit the UNESCO heritage sites in Italy are foreigners, and of these, 75% are in Italy for a cultural holiday.[87]

Historic villages tourismEdit

The historic Italian villages are attracting an increasing number of tourists.[88] These villages are part of I Borghi più belli d'Italia, an association that organizes initiatives within the villages, such as festivals, exhibitions, fetes, conferences and concerts that highlight the cultural, historical, gastronomic and linguistic heritage, involving residents, schools, and local artists.[89] The club promotes numerous initiatives on the international market.[90][91][92][93][94][95] In 2016, the association signed a global agreement with ENIT,[96] to promote tourism in the most beautiful villages in the world.[97] In 2017, the club signed an agreement with Costa Cruises[98] for the enhancement of some villages, which are offered to cruise passengers arriving in Italian ports aboard the operator's ships.[99]

The Bandiera arancione is a tourist-environmental quality recognition conferred by the Touring Club Italiano (TCI) to small towns in the Italian hinterland (maximum 15,000 inhabitants) which stand out for their quality hospitality.[100] The idea was born in 1998 in Sassello (in Liguria), from the need of the regional body to promote and enhance the hinterland.[101] The TCI therefore developed an analysis model (called territorial analysis model or MAT) to identify the first deserving localities.[102] Subsequently, the recognition was promoted on a national scale, identifying small places of excellence in each region.[102] The group, as of June 2021, includes 252 villages.[103] The project is the only Italian one included by the World Tourism Organization among the programs successfully implemented for the sustainable development of tourism worldwide.[104]

Nightlife tourismEdit

The nightlife in Italy is attractive to both tourists and locals. Italy is known to have some of the best nightlife in the world.[105] The best known Italian destinations for nightlife are:[105][106]


Northwest ItalyEdit

The Fénis Castle, 13th century (Aosta Valley)
Regions: Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy and Aosta Valley

Home of the Italian Riviera, including Portofino, Sanremo, and of Cinque Terre. There are many historic cities in this part of Italy: Turin, the manufacturing capital of Italy, Milan, the business and fashion capital of the country and the important port of Genoa are the most popular tourist destinations of the area.

Other cities like Aosta, Bergamo, Brescia, Como and Mantua have a rich cultural heritage, which share the region's visitors with beautiful landscapes such as the lakes Garda (with Grottoes of Catullus and Gardone Riviera), Como (with Bellagio and Varenna) and Maggiore (with Borromean Islands and Angera). There are also important ski resorts like Sestriere, Courmayeur, Breuil-Cervinia, Livigno and Bormio.

Northeast ItalyEdit

Regions: Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Veneto

This part of Italy also boasts several important tourist attractions, such as the canal-filled city of Venice, the cities of Verona, Vicenza, Padua, Trento, Bolzano, Cremona, Bologna, Ferrara, Parma, Ravenna, Cesena, Rimini and Trieste.

There are also several mountain ranges such as the Dolomites, the Carnic and Julian Alps and first-class ski resorts like Cortina d'Ampezzo and Madonna di Campiglio. These four regions offer much to see and do. The area has a unique cuisine, including wines and dishes such as Prosecco and Tiramisu in Veneto and Cotechino, Ragu and Parma ham in Emilia Romagna, San Daniele ham and D.O.C. wines in Valpolicella, Lake Garda, Valdobbiadene, Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Central ItalyEdit

View of Lucca, Tuscany, from the Torre Guinigi
Regions: Lazio, Marche, Tuscany and Umbria

This area is possibly the most visited in Italy and contains many popular attractions as well as sought-after landscapes. Rome boasts the remaining wonders of the Roman Empire and some of the world's best known landmarks such as the Colosseum.

Florence, regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, is Tuscany's most visited city, whereas nearby cities like Siena, Pisa, Arezzo and Lucca also have rich cultural heritages. Umbria's population is small but it has many important cities such as Perugia and Assisi. For similar reasons, Lazio and Tuscany are some of Italy's most visited regions and the main targets for Ecotourism.

This area is known for its picturesque landscapes and attracts tourists from all over the world, including Italy itself. Pristine landscapes serve as one of the primary motivators for tourists to visit central Italy, although there are others, such as a rich history of art.

Southern ItalyEdit

Regions: Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Abruzzo, and Molise

Southern Italy (also called Mezzogiorno) is well known for the cuisine, that offers a wide choice of food at lower prices. It is also known for the pairing of Mediterranean clime with the beautiful beaches of each region, an important element for local tourism. Naples is the most visited city in the area, and the ruins of Pompeii are the most visited sights.

Other important tourist destinations include the Amalfi Coast, Ravello, Benevento, Caserta, Salerno and Pozzuoli. The natural parks of Abruzzo, the greenest region in Europe,[107] include the Abruzzo National Park, the National Park of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga the Maiella National Park and Sirente-Velino Regional Park which attract thousands of visitors due to more than 30 protected Nature Reserves and the presence of 75% of all Europe's living species.[108]

Apulia, which includes the historical cities of Lecce and Bari and villages composed of trulli; like Calabria it is famous for its coasts. Basilicata is very famous for so-called Sassi di Matera. The main city of Molise are Campobasso and Isernia, the most important sight is the Basilica of Castelpetroso. Calabria coasts are very appreciated by tourists; the capital city is Catanzaro but its most populated city is Reggio Calabria.

Insular ItalyEdit

Regions: Sardinia and Sicily

Sicily, the largest island in the country, is a diverse and popular tourist island, famous for its archaeology, seascape and unique Sicilian cuisine. There are many important cities such as Palermo, Messina, Catania. An important sight is Val di Noto that offers a lot of Late Baroque cities built after the catastrophic earthquake of 1693.

Sardinia is a large island some 250 kilometers west of the Italian coastline. It includes several popular tourist attractions and has several beaches and archaeological ruins. It is also known for its beaches, that are among the most beautiful in the world, and include the famous pink beaches in the archipelago of La Maddalena.

The most popular cities in Sardinia are: Cagliari, Sassari, Alghero, Olbia and Porto Cervo. Porto Cervo, located in Costa Smeralda, is a popular summer destination famous for its beaches and clubs among high-income earners.

Ancient resortsEdit

Italy has some of the world's most ancient tourist resorts, dating back to the time of the Roman Republic, when destinations such as Pompeii, Naples, Ischia, Capri and especially Baiae were popular with the rich of Roman society. Pompeii is currently Italy's third the world's 48th most visited tourist destination, with over 2.5 million tourists a year[109]



Rome is the capital city of Italy. It is also the capital of the Lazio region, the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, and a special comune named Comune di Roma Capitale. Rome is the country's most populated comune and the third most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. Vatican City (the smallest country in the world)[110] is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city; for this reason, Rome has sometimes been described as the capital of two states.[111][112]

Rome is often referred to as the City of Seven Hills due to its geographic location, and also as the "Eternal City".[113] Rome is generally considered to be the "cradle of Western Christian culture and civilization", and the center of the Catholic Church.[114][115][116] Rome's history spans 28 centuries. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it a major human settlement for almost three millennia and one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe.[117] The city's early population originated from a mix of Latins, Etruscans, and Sabines. Eventually, the city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded by many as the first-ever Imperial city and metropolis.[118] It was first called The Eternal City (Latin: Urbs Aeterna; Italian: La Città Eterna) by the Roman poet Tibullus in the 1st century BC, and the expression was also taken up by Ovid, Virgil, and Livy.[119][120] Rome is also called "Caput Mundi" (Capital of the World).

Rome has become increasingly popular as a tourist destination globally. 45.6% from 2006 (6.03 million), Rome hosted 8.78 million international tourists in 2014, placing itself as the 14th most visited city in the world.[121] Popular tourists attractions in the city include the Colosseum, St Peter's Basilica, the Pantheon and so on, all of which are part of the World Heritage property.[122] Other main sights in the city include, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Roman Forum,[123] Castel Sant'Angelo, the Basilica of St. John Lateran,[124] the Spanish Steps, Villa Borghese park, Piazza del Popolo, the Trastevere and the Janiculum.[125]


Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city proper in Italy after Rome. Milan is considered a leading alpha global city,[126] with strengths in the fields of art, commerce, design, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, services, research and tourism. Its business district hosts Italy's stock exchange (Italian: Borsa Italiana), and the headquarters of national and international banks and companies. In terms of GDP, Milan is the wealthiest city in Italy, it has the third-largest economy among EU cities after Paris and Madrid, and is the wealthiest among EU non-capital cities.[127][128][129] Milan is viewed along with Turin as the southernmost part of the Blue Banana urban development corridor (also known as the "European Megalopolis"), and one of the Four Motors for Europe.

Milan is one of Europe's most important tourist destinations, and Italy's second; with 6.05 million international arrivals as measured in 2014, it placed itself as the 24th most visited city in the world.[121] According to a particular source, 56% of international visitors to Milan are from Europe, whilst 44% of the city's tourists are Italian, and 56% are from abroad.[130] The most important European Union markets are the United Kingdom (16%), Germany (9%) and France (6%).[130] According to the same study, most of the visitors who come from the USA to the city go on business matters, whilst Chinese and Japanese tourists mainly take up the leisure segment.[131]

The city boasts several popular tourist attractions, such as the city's Duomo and Piazza, the Teatro alla Scala, the San Siro Stadium, the Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery, the Sforza Castle, the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Via Monte Napoleone. Most tourists visit sights such as Milan Cathedral, the Sforza Castle and the Teatro alla Scala, however, other main sights such as the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, the Navigli and the Brera district are less visited and prove to be less popular.[131]

The city also has numerous hotels, including the ultra-luxurious Town House Galleria, which is the world's first seven-star hotel, ranked officially by the Société Générale de Surveillance, and one of The Leading Hotels of the World.[132] The average stay for a tourist in the city is of 3.43 nights, whilst foreigners stay for longer periods of time, 77% of which stay for a 2-5 night average.[131] Of the 75% of visitors which stay in hotels, 4-star ones are the most popular (47%), whilst 5-stars, or less than 3-stars represent 11% and 15% of the charts respectively.


Naples is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest city of Italy, after Rome and Milan. Founded by Greeks in the first millennium BC, Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited urban areas in the world.[133] In the ninth century BC, a colony known as Parthenope (Ancient Greek: Παρθενόπη) was established on the Island of Megaride.[134] In the 6th century BC, it was refounded as Neápolis.[135] The city was an important part of Magna Graecia, played a major role in the merging of Greek and Roman society, and was a significant cultural centre under the Romans.[136]

Its historic city centre is the largest in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[137] Naples is also near the famous volcano Vesuvius and the ruins of the ancient Roman towns of Pompeii and Ercolano. Before italian unification it was the capital of Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the most important and populated city of Italy. Naples is well known for cuisine, especially for pizza. In the city there are many tourist attractions, such as the Royal Palace, the basilica of Santa Chiara, the Gesù Nuovo (New Jesus) church, Castel dell'Ovo, the Castel Nuovo, the Castel Sant'Elmo, the city's Duomo, the Real Teatro di San Carlo (the oldest continuously active opera house in the world), the Palace of Capodimonte, the Naples underground geothermal tunnels, the Via Tribunali, Spaccanapoli street, the Veiled Christ (one of the world's most remarkable sculptures), the various catacombs around the city (for example the Catacombs of San Gennaro, or the Fontanelle cemetery, or the Catacombs of Saint Gaudiosus), the Umberto I Gallery and the Via Toledo with its metro considered one of the most beautiful of Europe.[138][139]

The Archaeological Museum of Naples is the most important in the world regarding Roman history, also include Egyptian and Greek finds. It is the home of the Federico II, the oldest public and secular university in the world, and of the L'Orientale, the oldest school of Sinology and Oriental Studies in Europe. Naples also boasts one of the most picturesque waterfront promenades, and charming locations at Gaiola Island and Marechiaro. Close to Naples there are a myriad of world-renowned tourist attractions such as the Amalfi Coast, Capri island, Ischia island, Procida island, the picturesque city of Sorrento, and the city of Salerno.


Florence is a city in Central-Northern Italy and the capital city of the Tuscany region. It is the most populated city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.[140]

Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era.[141] It is considered by many academics[142] to have been the birthplace of the Renaissance, becoming a major artistic, cultural, commercial, political, economic and financial center.[143] During this time, Florence rose to a position of enormous influence in Italy, Europe, and beyond.[144] Its turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family and numerous religious and republican revolutions.[145] From 1865 to 1871 the city served as the capital of the Kingdom of Italy (established in 1861). The Florentine dialect forms the base of Standard Italian and it became the language of culture throughout Italy[146] due to the prestige of the masterpieces by Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini.

The city attracts millions of tourists each year, and UNESCO declared the Historic Centre of Florence a World Heritage Site in 1982. The city is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments.[147] The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, and still exerts an influence in the fields of art, culture and politics.[148] Due to Florence's artistic and architectural heritage, Forbes has ranked it as the most beautiful city in the world.[149]

Florence plays an important role in Italian fashion,[148] and is ranked in the top 15 fashion capitals of the world by Global Language Monitor;[150] furthermore, it is a major national economic centre,[148] as well as a tourist and industrial hub. It is the 4th richest Italian city.[151]


Venice, with the Rialto Bridge in the background.

Venice is a city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region. It is built on a group of 118 small islands[152] that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges.[152][153] The islands are in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay lying between the mouths of the Po and the Piave rivers (more exactly between the Brenta and the Sile). In 2020, 258,685 people resided in the Comune di Venezia, of whom around 55,000 live in the historical city of Venice (centro storico). Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), which is considered a statistical metropolitan area, with a total population of 2.6 million.[154]

The name is derived from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region by the 10th century BC.[155][156] The city was historically the capital of the Republic of Venice for over a millennium, from 697 to 1797. It was a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as an important center of commerce—especially silk, grain, and spice, and of art from the 13th century to the end of the 17th. The city-state of Venice is considered to have been the first real international financial center, emerging in the 9th century and reaching its greatest prominence in the 14th century.[157] This made Venice a wealthy city throughout most of its history.[158] After the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna, the Republic was annexed by the Austrian Empire, until it became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866, following a referendum held as a result of the Third Italian War of Independence.

Venice has been known as "La Dominante", "La Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals". The lagoon and a part of the city are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Parts of Venice are renowned for the beauty of their settings, their architecture, and artwork.[152] Venice is known for several important artistic movements—especially during the Renaissance period—and has played an important role in the history of instrumental and operatic music, and is the birthplace of Baroque composers Tomaso Albinoni and Antonio Vivaldi.[159]

Although the city is facing some challenges (including an excessive number of tourists and problems caused by pollution, tide peaks and cruise ships sailing too close to buildings),[160][161][162] Venice remains a very popular tourist destination, a major cultural centre, and has been ranked many times the most beautiful city in the world.[163][164] It has been described by the Times Online as one of Europe's most romantic cities[165] and by The New York Times as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man".[166]

Other citiesEdit

The Mirror Gallery of the Royal Palace of Genoa.

Other popular destinationsEdit

Apart from Rome, Milan, Naples, Venice, and Florence are the top destinations for tourism in Italy. Other major tourist locations include Turin, Verona, Bari, Padua, Bologna, Mantua, Messina, Perugia, Palermo, Genoa, Sicily, Sardinia, and Salento.

Two factors in each of these locations are history and geography. The Roman Empire, Middle Ages, Renaissance and the following centuries of the history of Italy have left many cultural artifacts that attract tourists.[9] Winter and summer tourism are present in many locations in the Alps and the Apennines,[6] while seaside tourism is widespread in coastal locations along the Mediterranean Sea.[7]

Italy is home to fiftyeight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other country, including many entire cities such as Verona, Siena, Vicenza, Ferrara, San Gimignano, Urbino, Matera, Pompei, Noto and Siracusa. Ravenna hosts an unprecedented eight different internationally recognized sites.

Hotel categories in ItalyEdit

The Tremezzo Grand Hotel on Lake Como.

In Italy there is a broad variety of hotels, going from 1-5 stars. In 2005, there were 33,557 hotels with 1,020,000 rooms and 2,028,000 beds.[167] The number of hotels, according to their rating, in 2005, went like this:

7-star hotels: 1 with 25 rooms (the Town House Galleria located in Milan).

5-star hotels: 232 with 20,686 rooms and 43,150 beds.

4-star hotels: nearly 3,700 with 247,000 rooms and 502,000 beds.

3-star hotels: 14,500 with 483,000 rooms and 940,000 beds.

2-star hotels: 5,000 with 116,000 beds.

1-star hotels: 2,000 with 157,000 beds.

See alsoEdit


This article includes text copied from, an article from Wikivoyage whose text is published under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 licence.


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