Travel Guide & Luxury Stays in 5 Top Italian cities!

By Barbara L. Nelson – Content Writer

Italy is second only to France as the most visited country in the world. Its rich culture, history and art, world-class cuisine and architecture, passionate people, trend-setting fashion and design, and picturesque villages have more than 65 million tourists drawn to its shores and inland wonders each year. 

And you’re in luck. September is one of the best times to visit Italy as it is outside the peak tourist months of July and August. So, why not treat yourself to a luxury holiday in one or more of these five cities? Bidroom offers several 4- and 5-star luxury stay options in nearly every country around the globe.

In this blog, you will find helpful links to all the top attractions, luxury stays and top restaurant listings in each of these five amazing cities. You may also jump to your city of choice by clicking the city in the table of contents below.

Table of Contents

Milan, the city of fashion and design

Essentials of Milan

Luxury stays in Milan

Dining in Milan

Venice, the city of love

Essentials of Venice

Luxury stays in Venice

Dining in Venice

Florence, the city of dreams

Essentials of Florence

Luxury stays in Florence

Dining in Florence

Rome, the eternal city

Essentials of Rome

Luxury stays in Rome

Dining in Rome

Naples, the birthplace of pizza

Essentials of Naples

Luxury stays in Naples

Dining in Naples

Milan, the city of fashion and design

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Milan is a city infused with fashion and design. Although it may lack the ancient historical attractions of other Italian cities, it holds its own with art collections old and new and boasts a vibrant music scene.

Essentials of Milan:

If it’s your first visit to the capital city, you will most definitely want to see the top must-see essentials:

  • Take a tour of the Duomo, a Gothic cathedral that is one of the most beautiful examples of Renaissance architecture in Europe.
  • Explore the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the oldest shopping centre in the world that houses luxurious boutiques, celebrity chef eateries, and many unique shops and cafes.
  • Enjoy some theatre at the Teatro alla Scala, the opera house and museum designed by neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini.
  • See Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper housed at the Basilica de Santa Maria Delle Grazie
  • Visit the Navigli district, a lively neighbourhood where there are a lot of restaurants, cafes, galleries, and shops to enjoy or to take a stroll along the canals.
  • Stop at the world-famous Pinacoteca di brera, one of the world’s greatest art collections are housed in the Accademia di Belle Arti.

However, if you’re an experienced traveller, then you’ll want to get off the beaten tourist path and explore more of the hidden gems of Milan like the Bosco Verticale, a prototype residential building of new architecture in biodiversity designed by architect Stefano Boeri located in the Porta Nuova district; or Leonardo da Vinci’s vineyard opposite the church that houses The Last Supper and where you’ll find a beautiful garden palazzo gifted to the artist by the Sforza family as part payment towards his masterpiece.

Or perhaps you’ll want to take a stroll by the Villa Invernizzi. This privately owned Art Nouveau building overlooks Corso Venezia with one of the most fascinating gardens in the city, with pink flamingos, peacocks and ducks imported from Chile and Africa. For lovers of opera and western classical music, a must-visit is one of the largest conservatories in the world and Italy’s largest music school, the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory of Music.

Luxury stays in Milan:

Galleria Vik Milano is located in the historic centre of Milan and features 89 uniquely designed rooms and suites showcasing remarkable art and décor. The rooms are adorned with many site-specific installations by Uruguayan, Italian and international artists. The hotel is located within the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the most emblematic places in Italy, just a few steps from the main attractions of Milan, such as the Cathedral and the Duomo Square, La Scala Theatre and Square and the fashion district. Galleria Vik Milano guests enjoy fresh, healthy and delicious seasonal food and beverages at Vikissimo, the inspiring art gallery restaurant overlooking Galleria’s famous bull. A perfect meeting space to meet, work, eat, relax and play.

Hotel Dei Cavalieri, a 4-star Hotel located in the city centre. A few steps from the Duomo Cathedral and the Alla Scala Theater, you can easily reach the fashionable shopping district and the city’s most important museums and exhibitions.

The Square Milano Duomo, a historic building, is a 5-minute walk from Milan Cathedral, Scala Opera House and the Vittorio Emanuele shopping area. It offers a restaurant, a bar and free Wi-Fi throughout the property. Milan City Centre is a great choice for travellers interested in food, restaurants and luxury brand shopping.

Dining in Milan:

Venice, the city of love

Grande Canal – Venice, Italy

From the canals meandering throughout the city’s centre while gondoliers serenade travellers to the Renaissance-inspired architecture and the public squares adjoined by cobbled stoned thoroughfares, Venice has inspired lovers of culture, art and architecture for centuries. The infamous lover Casanova was also born here.

Built over 2,000 years ago at the edge of the Adriatic Sea, Venice is comprised of 118 islands, 400 bridges, and 150 canals. However, with the majority of this beautiful city being car-free, you are just a short stroll or gondola ride away from everything Venetian. 

Essentials of Venice:

A must-see and one of the most iconic squares in Europe is St. Mark’s Square, also called Piazza San Marco, a large impressive square flanked on all four sides by ornate buildings, archways, and porticos that host cafes and high-end shops. It is the home to several famous landmarks, such as Campanile (bell tower) on one side and the Torre dell Orologio (building of the clock) on the other, along with St. Mark’s Basilica and Doges Palace.

Located on the Grand Canal in the main part of Venice, Doges Palace, also called the Palazzo Ducale, Built in the 14th and 15th centuries is an important building in Venetian history. The Doge was the head of state and religion in Venice for centuries. He was much like Venice’s Pope, Regent, President or Prime Minister.

We recommend taking a private gondola tour where the gondolier glides you down secluded canals and gives commentary on Venice attractions along the way, such as Desdemona’s House and Mozart’s House, the La Fenice Theatre, before reaching the Grand Canal.

You may also want to wander into San Polo, Venice’s smallest district and one of its oldest neighbourhoods. Located in the city centre, this area is well known for its vibrant nightlife. And during the day, don’t miss the Mercato di Rialto located close to the famous Rialto Bridge (the oldest bridge in Venice) on the other side of Piazza San Marco. This colourful fresh food market started in the eleventh century as the principal food market of Venice and is still in operation today.

Luxury stays in Venice:

Located near the Grand Canal in Venice’s tranquil Cannaregio district, Maison Venezia | UNA Esperienze, this 4-star hotel is a 10-minute walk from the Rialto Bridge and 15 minutes from St. Mark’s Square. Staff can arrange theatre and museum tickets, as well as airport transfers. The water bus stop with links to Murano, Burano and Torcello is just a 5-minute walk away.

The Baglioni Hotel Luna is ideal for an intense experience of Venice with its historical and artistic sights: it is in the heart of the old republic with views of the island of San Giorgio and the San Marco basin. A stone’s throw from St. Mark’s Square is the oldest hotel in Venice. Onsite Canova Restaurant serves excellent Italian cuisine in an intimate setting. Enjoy breakfast among the 18th-century frescoes of the Marco Polo Ballroom.

The Hotel Al Ponte Antico in Venice is a small 4-star residence facing the Grand Canal, with a splendid view of the Rialto Bridge. We are sure that the exceptional location of this palace, its structure and decoration, its rooms and equipment will satisfy all your expectations.

Dining in Venice:

Florence, the city of dreams

Florence at sunrise. View of Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Italy

Located in the Tuscany region of Italy, Florence is considered the “cradle of the Renaissance” as it is the world capital of art and architecture. It was dubbed the city of dreams by American writer Mark Twain when he visited there and fell in love with the magic and colour of the city.

Florence is known for its rustic Tuscan cuisine, incredible boutique shopping, and mesmerising views at every turn, and embodies the spirit of Italy’s past while still operating as a thriving city.  

Essentials of Florence:

With over 70 museums to explore and so much to do in Florence, one does not know where to start. However, two of the must-sees attractions for any visit to Florence are the Uffizi Galleries for works by Botticelli, Giotto and da Vinci and the Accademia for the David by Michelangelo. 

One of the best ways to experience Florence is by walking the streets and experiencing the vibrancy and life of the city first-hand. Florence is a city that is to be drunk in like a fine wine through its architecture, its landscape views, and sheer artistic essence that infiltrates the daily lives of Florentines and permeates throughout the city. Strolling in one of Florence’s piazzas is the perfect way to soak in the city.

“To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of colour that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature, and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy,” wrote Twain in the Autobiography of Mark Twain.

Piazza del Duomo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the centre of Florence and is bustling with tourists appreciating the many monuments, museums, shops, and buildings of cultural relevance. Overlooking the square you’ll find the Santa Maria del Fiore, the third largest church in the world (after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London) It was the largest church in Europe when it was completed in the 15th century. (photo above)

You’ll definitely want to take a trek over the Ponte Vecchio, the river Arno’s oldest bridge. You may also want to enjoy a gelato or visit the Boboli Gardens, shop for leather in one of the markets or dive into a traditional Tuscan meal at one of the city’s great trattorias.

Luxury stays in Florence:

The Hotel Lungarno’s living room is suspended over the Arno River and provides space for private gatherings, and is just steps from the 1-Michelin-star Borgo San Jacopo restaurant, where you can experience a world-class gastronomy masterclass in the heart of Florence. The hotel’s recently enhanced art collection includes more than 450 works, offered in a variety of themed itineraries for our guests, with many pieces accompanying our guests to their rooms, many of which are themed and dedicated to the work of a single artist, such as the Venna or Francesconi suite. With 65 luxury rooms and suites, many with beautiful terraces overlooking Renaissance masterpieces, the hotel is within walking distance of the city’s most famous boutiques, allowing you to breathe in the magic of Florence.

Hospitality is an art, and Portrait Firenze has made it a masterpiece. In a new concept in bespoke hotels, Portrait has taken uniform luxury and turned it into spontaneous personalisation. Portrait is not a luxury hotel in Florence; it is an incredibly unique place, an all-suite property, where discerning travellers find the exclusivity they enjoy.

A vibrant and dynamic yet romantic design and luxury 4-star hotel in Florence beautifully evolved in the energy of the 50s. The Hotel Continentale is the place to see and be seen, a catwalk of fashion and desire in the heart of Florence. The elegant and welcoming white colours chosen by the Florentine architect Michele Bönan evoke harmony, simplicity and fantasy. Discover refined design and attention to detail at this 4-star design hotel in Florence near the Arno, from handcrafted leather chests used as desks to clever clocks used as side tables.

Dining in Florence:

Rome, the eternal city

Scenic view of Roman Forum at sunrise, Rome, Italy

Rome, dubbed the Eternal City by the Romans, played an important role in ancient culture as it was the capital city of the Roman Empire and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of Western civilisation.

Rome’s grand monuments, its hundreds of ornate churches, and spectacular fountains make a visit to the city unforgettable. Rome also has the highest percentage of the world’s architectural, archaeological, and historical heritage, with the 70% of the Italian ones and over 16% of the world’s cultural heritage, and why most tourists and students start their travels abroad in Rome. (As an art history student, it was indeed my first trip abroad, and I was awestruck by the art and architecture of this magnificent city.)

Essentials of Rome:

During your first visit to the Eternal City, you won’t want to miss The Colosseum, The Pantheon, The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, The Trevi Fountain, and Navona Square. And of course, you’ll also want to tour Vatican City or The Holy See, the Vatican Museums where you will find The Sistine Chapel

The Spanish Steps is also a popular tourist attraction and shopping area with all the luxury brands having storefronts. Many upscale hotels are also located in this area. Built in the 17th century, the steps lead from the Piazza di Spagna to the church that sits atop them, Trinità dei Monti.

However, if you want to venture from the more popular tourist attractions, you could opt for some of these attractions in Rome:

  • St. John in the Lateran, the oldest basilica in Rome located in the Esquilino neighbourhood, where you can also see the Lateran Obelisk, the largest Egyptian obelisk in the world.
  • The Appian Way was built in 312 BC, the oldest surviving roads in the world. Along the Appian way, you will find the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, the burial ground of 16 popes, and St. Sebastian.
  • Teatro Marcello was a theatre that, in 12 BC, could seat 20,000 people. Today atop the theatre is a luxury apartment building.
  • If you are into literature, near the Spanish Steps is the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, a small museum dedicated to the English Romantic poets. Find among its beautiful rooms a collection of treasures and artefacts from the lives and works of the poets as well as over 8,000 books thought to be the finest library of Romantic literature in the world.
  • Art connoisseurs will appreciate the Palazzo Barberini, which houses the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica with collections of Caravaggio, Raphael and Bernini.

Luxury stays in Rome:

Located in the heart of Rome is the JK Place Roma. With the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon, each a 10-minute walk away, you’ll be close to everything Roma! Included in your stay is a la carte breakfast. All rooms have air conditioning, a free minibar, a flat-screen satellite TV and a Bose SoundLink Mini system. Slippers, bathrobes and free toiletries are provided in each private bathroom. Interiors are designed by Michele Bonan and feature rosewood canopies and handmade fabric beds. Marble bathrooms are complete with a large glass shower and bidet. The hotel’s restaurant offers Italian and international cuisine daily with fresh products. Piazza del Popolo is a 10-minute walk from the property, while Termini Train Station is 2.5 km away.

Hospitality is an art, and Portrait Roma has made it a masterpiece. A new concept of tailor-made tourism has transformed uniform luxury into spontaneous personalisation. Live in a private mansion with the services of a 5-star hotel built around Rome, a suite tailored for you and experiences designed for your lifestyle. Portrait Roma, together with Portrait Firenze, is one of the hotels awarded the prestigious 5-star Forbes for the fourth consecutive year.

Palazzo Dama is located 200 meters from Piazza del Popolo and a 10-minute walk from the Spanish Steps, offering a free outdoor pool and a garden with lemon trees. The hotel has a lounge bar, a restaurant and spacious rooms with free Sky channels and parquet floors. WiFi is free throughout. A continental-style sweet and savoury buffet breakfast is served daily. The Flaminio Metro is 500 meters from the property, while Villa Borghese Park is a 5-minute walk away.

Dining in Rome:

Naples, the birthplace of pizza

Picturesque fishermen village and port on Procida island in Mediterranean sea, Naples, Italy

Naples, the third largest Italian city and one of the largest economies in Italy, bursts with colourful alleyways, streetscapes, and delicious food around every corner. It is also the gateway city to the famous Amalfi Coast, the islands Capri and Ischia, Pompeii and the infamous Mt. Vesuvius.

Pizza is one of its main claims to fame, and with so many pizzerias in this city vying for your attention, it will be hard to choose just one, but make sure to try true Neapolitan pizza or “pizza vera Napoletana.” And make sure to walk along Spaccanapoli, the main street that divides Naples, where you’ll find unique shops, pizzerias, and pasticcerias.

Naples is full of historical buildings, museums, squares and churches that mark its historical beginnings in the ancient world and throughout history. It also boasts all the modern amenities as well as fantastic nightlife.

Essentials of Naples:

Capodimonte royal palace and museum – Located in the historic centre (UNESCO World Heritage Site) of Naples, the Royal Palace of Capodimonte is a grand palazzo built by the Bourbons as a hunting lodge and summer residence. In the mid-19th century, the palace was turned into an art gallery. It opened as a national museum in 1950, housing a large collection of Neapolitan paintings and sculptures. The museum contains masterpieces of several important artists, including Botticelli, Rafaello, Andy Warhol, and Caravaggio’s extraordinary Flagellation of Christ.

Veiled Christ at Cappella Sansevero – The Sansevero Chapel Museum is located in the historic heart of Naples and houses many masterpieces, such as the famous Veiled Christ, carved in 1753 by Giuseppe Sanmartino. It is world renowned for the remarkable tissue-like quality of the marble.

Naples Cathedral – The Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary and Naples’ main church, is also called the Duomo, and home to important artistic, cultural and historical heritage. Built between 1299 and 1314, on its main altar is a silver bust containing a saint’s skull who was martyred in 305, in the time of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

Naples National Archaeological Museum – One of the most visited museums in Italy, it houses an impressive collection of the world’s antiquities and plays a key role in the cultural life of Naples. The architecturally remarkable building was built in 1750 originally as a military and cavalry barracks and was later turned into an ancient history and archaeology museum. You’ll find selective works from both Pompeii and Herculaneum destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius and an expansive array of Roman and Greek artefacts.

Galleria Umberto I – A beautiful representation of 19th-century architecture, is a shopping mall in the city’s historic centre. The Galleria was named for Umberto I, King of Italy at the time of construction. The San Carlo opera house is located across the street from the mall. It is the oldest continuously active opera house in the world and opened in 1737.

San Gennaro Catacombs – This is where you will find a impressive network of tunnels and passageways lined with ancient graves and crypts with the original nucleus of the Catacombs of San Gennaro dating back to the 2nd century AD.

Piazza del Plebiscito – A massive public square in the centre of Naples, is home to many of the city’s most emblematic buildings. The majestic San Francesco di Paola Basilica stands at one end, an imposing Neoclassical structure. Across the square is the Royal Palace of Naples.

Two ancient castles – Castel Nuovo, originally built between 1279 and 1282, is an imposing Medieval fortress located next to the port of Naples. And Castel dell’Ovo, situated on the Gulf of Naples and built by the Normans in the 12th century, served to defend the city as a royal residence and prison.

Luxury stays in Naples:

UNAHOTELS Napoli dates back to the late 1800s and is located in Naples city centre. It has a restaurant, a bar and a terrace on the top floor. Spacious and elegant, the hotel rooms have a contemporary design. They also have a minibar and a pillow menu. Wi-Fi access is available throughout the hotel. Breakfast is continental. Gluten-free options are available upon request. The restaurant serves Neapolitan and Mediterranean specialities, which can be enjoyed on the terrace in good weather. The hotel is just across the Circumvesuviana line for trains that go down the coast to Pompeii and Sorrento.

The Royal Continental is located right on the Naples waterfront and offers a stunning seasonal rooftop pool with panoramic views of the Bay of Naples and Castel dell’Ovo. Some rooms offer a balcony with views of the Mediterranean Sea. Free Wi-Fi is available. A sweet Italian breakfast is served each morning. At the rooftop restaurant Ten, you can enjoy Neapolitan dishes and international cuisine for dinner. The Hotel Royal Continental also includes a gym, a 530-seat auditorium and numerous conference and meeting rooms. The hotel is 500 meters from the famous shopping district of Naples and the main cultural area of ​​the city. The ferry port to Capri and Ischia is just a 15-minute walk away.

Dining in Naples: