Featuring a breathtaking countryside and beaming coast to coast with culture, cuisine and Chianti, Italy has plenty for any traveler to experience. The country’s charm can be seen everywhere, from its iconic architecture and storied cobblestone streets of Vatican City to the quaint fishing villages of Cinque Terre and the famed pizzerias of Naples.
How can you uncover so much in one vacation? Whether you’ve retraced the steps of the ancient Romans before or you’re planning your first trip, exploring Italy on a cruise is an adventure like no other. Take your pick from Royal Caribbean ships like Odyssey and Symphony of the Seas, and you and your family can dive into experiences in multiple destinations—Naples, Florence and Rome, to name a few—as well as on board. For inspiration, you can look to this guide to cruising in Italy.
Here is a taste of the landmarks, ancient ruins and hotspots that make Italy one of the most popular destinations in the world:
Florence and Pisa, Italy, are both home to history and architectural marvels. From the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the Duomo of Florence, there are more than 800 years of stories to hear and sights to behold.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, a 12th-century bell tower, is instantly recognizable. You can climb the 300 spiraling stairs for unbeatable views of the city below, including the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) and the Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta (also known as the Siena Cathedral). And be sure to also visit the University of Pisa—one of Europe’s oldest institutions of higher education.
Among the most beloved sights in Florence is its duomo. Formally known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo of Florence is an Italian Gothic structure and a symbol of the city. In fact, it is said to have sparked the Renaissance movement in the 14th century. You can dive into the Italian Renaissance at places like the Uffizi, a gallery known as the world’s finest collection of Italian Renaissance art—including The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli—and the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, the largest collection of Michelangelo’s sculptures in the world—where you can see the famous David, among others.
From the Colosseum, the ancient world’s largest amphitheater—which was the top stage for Roman gladiators—to The Forum, which was the heart of daily life during the Roman Empire, history in Rome spans three millennia. Today, the Eternal City also has much to offer beyond its past. From end to end, you’ll find mouthwatering trattorias in neighborhoods like Testaccio as well as a deep love for music and dancing in the Ostiense area.
Just 15 minutes from the heart of Rome is Vatican City, the independent city-state that’s home to the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Within the world’s smallest sovereign state are artistic and architectural marvels like St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world and the burial place of many popes; and the Vatican Museums, home of the Sistine Chapel, where mural paintings by Michelangelo—like The Creation of Adam—adorn the walls and ceilings.
Another favorite destination is Naples, one of the oldest cities in all of Europe, established more than 4,000 years ago. This city offers world-famous Neapolitan pizza and views of Mt. Vesuvius beyond the bay, visible from Lungomare, a nearly 2-mile seafront promenade that provides access to beaches and fishing ports. Get a glimpse of the ancient world through renowned collections like the works at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina (Donnaregina Contemporary Art Museum aka the Madre museum), where many exhibits illustrate the links between the city’s past and present.
Neapolitan pizza is all the rage for a reason. It’s made with sun-ripened tomatoes grown in volcanic soil, basil and fresh mozzarella from the surrounding region, and cooked at a high heat for just about 90 seconds. Fun fact: A local trattoria, Pizzeria Brandi, claims credit for inventing the classic Neapolitan pizza Margherita in 1889.
Looking to experience an active adventure? Hike the likes of Mt. Vesuvius, the famous volcanic rim that overlooks the city, and Naples’ series of ancient pedestrian paths that total to more than 400 steps and lead to the historical center of the city and panoramic views. Plus, there are the ruins of Pompeii to explore—the remnants of the ancient city buried by that very volcano.
That’s only the beginning. You can chart your course for the Mediterranean on a cruise to and from Italy, and also visit other wow-worthy destinations like Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Santorini, Greece; and Provence, France.
Begin planning your Royal Caribbean getaway to Italy and the greater Mediterranean here.