Are you deciding where to go on holiday and wondering what is Italy famous for? Here, we go through everything that makes you think about Italy as soon as you hear them. Even though very well-known for its traditional foods, what Italy is known for spans all fields of human knowledge, leisure, nature, and art.
Welcome to the enchanting land of Italy, where ancient history intertwines effortlessly with breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture. From the cobblestone streets of Rome to the romantic canals of Venice, Italy has long been a magnet for wanderlust seekers.
This Mediterranean gem, renowned for its gastronomic delights, unrivaled art treasures, and passionate locals, effortlessly captures the hearts of travelers worldwide. Whether you’re exploring the iconic ruins of Pompeii, sipping rich espresso in a charming Tuscan café, or indulging in the sumptuous flavors of authentic pizza and pasta, Italy promises an unforgettable journey filled with timeless beauty, irresistible charm, and a touch of dolce vita.
Let’s delve into what makes Italy truly famous and discover the wonders that await in this captivating destination.
Things Italy is famous for
Many think that pasta is Italy’s national dish. While Italian food widely varies depending on the region and on the town, pasta is certainly one of the things that make Italy known all over the world.
Whether it’s the famous Roman pasta, Bologna’s tortellini, or Sardinia’s culurgiones dumplings, you are going to eat plenty of pasta during your Italy vacation.
Even more than pasta, pizza is not only Italy’s most famous dish, but it’s also the most copied and reproduced in the world. I found a pizza place literally in every country I’ve visited, but the food was quite not the same.
Founded in Naples in the shape we know, today pizza is served and very much present in all Italian regions, in both Neapolitan style and following the different local recipes, such as the oval-shaped Roman pinsa.
Italy is famous also for its delicious gelato, never to be confused with ice cream. Strictly artisan and all-natural, I had some great gelato in Rome and Florence, but you are likely to find great ones also in places like Sicily, Milan, and Bologna.
Make sure you stay clear of bright colors and fluffy mountains, and you are good to go.
One of the things Italy is very well-known for around the world is its wines. From the popular Chianti region in Tuscany to the Sardinian wine tradition to famous names such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Barolo, and Brunello di Montalcino, wines are always something travelers want to try and buy in Italy, whether it’s for themselves or as exclusive souvenirs.
Whether you are having an aperitif, lunch, or dinner, in Italy it’s always a good occasion to pair a glass or a bottle of good red wine or white Prosecco.
The Dolce Vita
This is definitely one of the top reasons people travel to Italy. Enjoying some dolce vita lifestyle has always had its allure.
From an aperitif on one of the gorgeous Italian piazzas to window shopping around the streets of historic city centers, there are countless ways to savor the dolce vita way of living that makes Italy famous and a sought-after travel hub.
An essential component of Italy’s dolce vita is our beloved coffee routine. Whether it’s part of the Italian daily breakfast, a mid-morning break, or the perfect way to round off a hearty meal, Italian espresso is a must.
Paintings, statues, frescoes, fountains, carvings, you name it. Italy is one of the most famous countries in the world when it comes to art.
From the Renaissance churches and buildings of Rome and Florence to the homes of medieval towns scattered around the country, architecture is one of the art and science expressions that make Italy famous and attract so many visitors.
Tourists, researchers, architects, and students have all in common the interest in exploring, studying, or even only photographing the main feats of Italian architecture.
Italy boasts a very long and stormy history that is often a big draw for those who want to visit the country and learn more about the local culture. Obviously, history and society have always been tightly connected
Italian past goes well before and beyond the Roman Empire, even though this covers probably the most important pages of our ancient history. Some of the civilizations before the Romans included the Etruscans and the extremely developed Sardinian Nuragic culture. Among the other ancient communities, there were the Sicani, Ligures, and even the Greek colonies in southern Italy.
Monuments and landmarks
From the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the Vatican Museums to the Colosseum, the Italian man-made landmarks are as visited and important as the natural ones such as the Dolomites, Umbria’s soft rolling hills, and Tuscany’s thermal springs.
Monuments, landmarks, and attractions are a benchmark of all trips to Italy and what attracts millions of visitors every year to the Belpaese.
Starting with 13th- and 14th-century Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca, and Giovanni Boccaccio, carrying on with Niccolò Machiavelli and Torquato Tasso, and the contemporary Giovanni Verga, Alberto Moravia, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Italo Calvino, the main masterpieces of Italian literature have been translated into all languages.
Between poets such as Ugo Foscolo and Giacomo Leopardi and famous novelists such as Nobel Prize winner Grazia Deledda, Italy boasts a huge literary production. Who hasn’t read or seen the movie of Pinocchio? Well, you might not know this, but it’s a work by Italian writer Carlo Collodi!
Italy is very famous also for its actors, film directors, and cinema production. I love the realism of big directors such as Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, and Luchino Visconti. Or the oneiric movies of Federico Fellini or the films by important directors such as Bernardo Bertolucci and Michelangelo Antonioni.
Among the most famous actors and actresses, is there anyone who doesn’t know the beautiful Sophia Loren? Italy is also the birthplace of other popular actors such as Alberto Sordi, Vittorio Gassman, Franco Nero, Nino Manfredi, Marcello Mastroianni, Gina Lollobrigida, Isabella Rossellini, and Raoul Bova.
Even though Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli are really among the most famous names of Italian music, they are not the only ones. Among the other Italian singers famous all over the world we can list Mina, Laura Pausini, Elisa, Lucio Battisti, Lucio Dalla, Zucchero Fornaciari, and Domenico Modugno with his extra famous “Volare”.
But Italian music is not limited to a few names. The movie soundtracks of Ennio Morricone have put Italy on the map of world music, and so did the opera plays.
Some of the most famous operas are in fact by Italian musicians and composers such as Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Rigoletto, and Aida by Giuseppe Verdi, Tosca, La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot by Giacomo Puccini, or The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini.
Even those who have never been to Italy know about our love for hand gestures. Whether you want to wave hello or express how much you are enjoying a dish, we got you covered with plenty of body language options.
Along with hand gestures, the Italian language is known as a sweet and poetic idiom that many people love to study, whether they are planning a trip to Italy or just learning a beautiful language with a beautiful sound.
What is Italy famous for if not for fashion? Even though Milan is the undisputed capital of Italian trends, trust me when I say that you are going to find gorgeous clothes, shoes, bags, and jewelry everywhere in Italy, from the big city to the small town.
We have so many types of footwear that when you go shopping it really helps to know the terms of shoe types in Italian.
From north to south, Italy is made attractive also by the quaint atmosphere of its medieval towns. Strolling around cobbled winding alleys surrounded by stone buildings and wrought-iron balconies full of flowers is the idea of Italian holidays for many.
When it comes to natural wonders, what is Italy known for if not for its scenic lakes? From Lago di Garda to Lake Tovel in northern Italy to Lake Bracciano near Rome, Italian lakes offer incredible sceneries, a romantic atmosphere, and always some water sports to engage on.
Some of the most popular destinations in Italy are its wonderful mountain ranges. The most dramatic peaks populate the Alps from Valle d’Aosta through Piedmont and Lombardy, while the gorgeous Dolomites span over the regions of Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
Central Italy, on the other hand, has the beautiful Apennines mountain range while regions like Calabria and Sardinia boast their own spectacular peaks.
Given its slim booth shape, Italy naturally has a long coastline that goes from the most famous beaches on the Adriatic coast such as Rimini and Riccione in the north to the stunning shoreline of the Puglia region, to the coastline lapped by the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Of course, the beaches that make Italy most famous are the pristine sandy stretches of the two islands Sardinia and Sicily.
Italy’s nature doesn’t lack character either, especially when it comes to volcanoes. The two that make Italy famous for spectacular sceneries are the Vesuvio in Naples, famous for having buried, and preserving it, the ancient city of Pompeii, and Mount Etna near Catania in Sicily.
The Italian regions are 20 and each of them boasts its own culture, food, history, and character. Some regions will have more archaeological sites to visit such as Sardinia, and others more modern architecture. Some regions will attract more for their natural landscape, outdoor activities, and ecotourism, and others for their medieval towns.
Depending on the region, the city, and the town, you will find different dishes, different traditions, and different festivals. In Sardinia, for example, each town has even its own traditional costumes.
A sub-category of our regional diversity, local products are one of Italy’s biggest reasons for pride. Fresh fruits, veggies like Sardinian artichokes, cold cuts, different types of cheese, products preserved in oil, cakes, and pastries, each region has its own products and ways to prepare them.
Even though you can find many regional products in shops and delis in bigger cities, everything tastes much better where is made. The regional treats are something that has always made Italy famous and a favorite destination to explore.
There is so much we could say about Rome and why it’s one of the places that make Italy famous around the world. Whichever your passion is, in Rome you can find your perfect holiday.
History buffs will love digging into the Roman Empire relics, art enthusiasts will stare in awe at the myriad of masterpieces in museums as well as outdoors such as palaces, churches, and fountains.
Cinema fans can follow in the footsteps of their favorite actors while kids can become gladiators for a day in the Colosseum.
Together with Rome and Venice, Florence is the other big draw and always packed destination in Italy, one of the Italian cities that more than any other attract visitors from all over the world.
The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is hard to beat when it comes to art galleries and museums.
Who doesn’t know Venice? The lagoon city is a quintessential destination that catapults Italy’s fame to unparalleled heights. With its unique charm and captivating allure, Venice stands out as a gem in the Italian crown. Renowned for its intricate network of canals and bridges, the gondolas gliding through the waterways contribute to transporting visitors into a romantic fairy tale.
From the iconic St. Mark’s Square to the spellbinding Grand Canal and majestic Doge’s Palace, Venice oozes romance, history, and art at every corner. Showcasing Italy’s rich cultural heritage, Venice is an indisputable ambassador of Italian fame.
Pompeii, the ancient Roman city frozen in time, is an important testament to Italy’s historical significance. This is one of the archaeological sites that make Italy most famous and well-known among world travelers. Stepping into the cobbled streets of Pompeii is like entering a time capsule, where the ancient Roman world springs back to life.
The remarkably preserved ruins, including the intricate frescoes and haunting plaster casts of victims, transport visitors to the fateful day when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Pompeii’s extraordinary excavation showcases Italy’s rich heritage, offering a glimpse into the daily life, art, and architecture of the Roman Empire.
What is Italy known for if not for being home to the capital of Christendom? Whether you are a religious or a cultural traveler, the Vatican is a huge attraction that makes Italy at the center of the world’s tourist spots.
Sights such as St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican Museums displaying masterpieces like the Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s Rooms are all must-sees.
The breathtaking Amalfi Coast is an Italian gem that has captured the hearts and imaginations of travelers worldwide, solidifying Italy’s fame as a top destination. Stretching along the rugged coastline of southern Italy, this picturesque region is a symphony of natural beauty and captivating charm.
With its dramatic cliffs, pastel-colored villages, and azure waters, the Amalfi Coast is a visual feast that leaves visitors in awe. Whether you’re sipping on a limoncello, exploring the enchanting town of Positano, or cruising along the coast, every moment here feels like a dream. The Amalfi Coast encapsulates the essence of Italy’s beauty, effortlessly showcasing its coastal beauty and timeless allure.
Located on the Ligurian coastline, the five towns of Cinque Terre are part of the famous Italian Riviera. Quaint towns, azure sea, and rugged coast are the ingredients for one of the places that put Italy on the map of the world’s top destinations.
You can enjoy this typical Italian shore stretch by hiking along one of the scenic paths, strolling around the towns, and taking a boat tour around the bays.
Beauty all around
In Afghanistan, Italy is called “the bride of the world” because of its famed beauty. From scenic and diverse landscapes to quaint towns to majestic architecture, Italy is famous for its beauty around every corner.
Leonardo Da Vinci
Even though not displayed in an Italian museum, Mona Lisa is the masterpiece of Italian painter and all-around genius Leonardo Da Vinci. And it’s one of the world’s most famous and well-known paintings.
Of course, if you are not visiting the Louvre, the Paris museum home to the Mona Lisa painting, but are planning a trip to Italy instead, you can always book a visit to see the Last Supper, also by Leonardo Da Vinci, one of Milan’s top attractions.
A special mention in the list of what makes Italy famous has to be given to Marco Polo. A trader, adventurer, and traveler of the Silk Road, he is one of the Italian personalities most well-known all over the world, especially in China and Asia where he mainly focused his travels on.
In Asian countries, in fact, it’s not unusual to find his name in street names, tour agencies, and even a beautiful type of goat from Afghanistan!
The explorer officially known for discovering the Americas, Cristoforo Colombo couldn’t absolutely miss the list of things that make Italy famous. Even though funded by the Spanish royals, Colombo was from Genoa.
Italians are easy to get along with, they will always enjoy a chat and an aperitif, and they will be happy to help you with what you need during your travels.
Let’s face it, one of the things Italy is most famous for is Ferrari. And Lamborghini. And Maserati. Italian sports and luxury cars are popular all over the world, especially in rich countries. In fact, you are going to see them all over the place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi!
Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, anyone? They traveled through Rome on top of the iconic Vespa scooter, possibly one of the most famous movie images of the city and Italy.
Having won the world championship four times, Italy is well-known for its national soccer team. Second only to Brazil and with the same victories as Germany, Italy has one of the teams that won more soccer world cup championships.
Like it or not, Benito Mussolini has been the Italian Prime Minister for 20 years, he was in charge during WWII, when he made unfortunate alliances. This being said, despite his bad reputation, he’s a well-known figure in Italy’s recent past.
Recently dead at the age of 86, many thought Silvio Berlusconi was immortal. Like it or not, due to the gossip the media enjoyed publishing about him and the empire he built, Berlusconi was a billionaire tycoon and a media mogul who in some way always managed to be talked about.
Sadly, the Mafia is also something Italy is known for. And even more sadly, most people know the Mafia mainly for the Godfather movies than for what the organized crime actually did in Italy.