Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (2023)

First, A Brief History of Sicily

Palermo was founded in the 8th century BC by Phoenician tradesmen around a natural harbor on the northwestern coast of Sicily. The Phoenician name for the city may have been Zîz, but Greeks called it Panormus, meaning all-port, because of its exceptional natural harbor. Palermo remained a Phoenician city until the First Punic War (264-241 BC) when Sicily fell under Roman rule. The Roman period was one of comparative calm, Palermo coming under the provincial administration of Syracuse. When the Roman Empire was split, Sicily and Palermo went under the rule of the Eastern Byzantine Empire.

By 878, all of Sicily, except for a few Byzantine enclaves near Taormina, was controlled by the Saracens. In 905, they captured those too. The Arab rulers moved Sicily’s capital to Palermo, where it has been ever since. Under Muslim dominion, Palermo became an important commercial and cultural center; a flourishing city broadly known in all the Arab world, it is said to have more than 300 mosques. But they were also years of tolerance: Christians and Jews were permitted to follow their credo. In 1060 the Normans launched a crusade against the Muslim emirate of Sicily, taking Palermo on January 10, 1072, and the whole island by 1091. The resulting blend of Norman and Arab culture fostered a unique hybrid style of architecture, as can be seen in the Palatine Chapel, the Church San Giovanni Degli Eremiti (see picture above), and the Zisa. In 1194 Sicily fell under the control of the Holy Roman Empire. Palermo was the preferred city of Emperor Frederick II. After an interval of Angevin rule (1266-1282), Sicily came under the house of Aragon and later, in 1479, the kingdom of Spain.

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (1)

Sicily’s unification (1734) with the Bourbon-ruled kingdom of Naples as the kingdom of the Two Sicilies inflicted a devastating blow on the elite of Palermo, as the city was reduced to just another provincial town, the royal court residing in Naples. Palermo rebelled in 1848 and held out against the Neapolitan crown until May 1849. The Italian Risorgimento and Sicily’s annexation (1860) to the kingdom of Italy gave Palermo a second chance. It was once again the administrative center of Sicily, and there was a specific economic and industrial development. Palermo survived almost the entire fascist period unscathed, but during the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943, it suffered substantial damage. The importance of Palermo got another boost when Sicily became an autonomous region with extensive self-rule (1947). But any improvement was thwarted by the rising power of the Mafia, which still today is a dramatic feature of the city, as well as the whole of Southern Italy.

See also Rome Travel Guide
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Best Archeological Sites Sicily

Siracusa

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (2)Siracusa was founded by the Greeks in 733BC. The rich remains of the Neapolis Archeological Area, established in 1955, illustrate the great economic and cultural importance of the city in the past. The most relevant ruins are the Latomie (stone quarries) with the impressive Ear of Dionysus and the beautiful garden of palm and citrus fruit trees; the Tomb of Archimedes, a famous scientist of antiquity; and the Greek Theater (5th century BC). A visit to the Museo Archeologico Regionale “Paolo Orsi” in Syracuse will assist in fully understanding the past of this fascinating Sicilian city.

  • Highlights: the spectacular Greek Theater is one of the most important ancient theaters in the world. The Istituto Italiano del Dramma Antico performs plays here every other year.
  • Address: Via Rizzo/Via Paradiso, Siracusa
  • Tel.: (0931) 662 06
  • Web site: www.regione.sicilia.it (Italian)

Agrigento

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (3)The Valley of the Temples is one of the best kept archeological sites of antiquity and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is divided into two main areas: 1) the temples, the Garden of Kolymbetra, the Antiquaria, the early Christian Catacombs in the South; 2) the Archeological Museum, the Church of San Nicola, the Rock Sanctuary of Demeter and the Hellenistic Roman quarter in the North. The temples, all built around the 5th century BC (except for the Temple of Heracles, erected in the 6th century BC), are dedicated to Greek divinities: Olympian Zeus, Heracles, Concord, and Hera. All the temples were burnt by the Carthaginians and later restored by the Romans.

  • Highlights: the majestic Temple of Concord is one of the best-preserved and finest Doric temples in the world.
  • Address: Passeggiata Archeologica, Agrigento
  • Tel.: (0922) 49 72 26
  • Web site: www.regione.sicilia.it (Italian)

Selinunte (Trapani)

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (4)

Located on the southwest coast of Sicily in the province of Trapani, Selinunte was founded by the Greeks in the 7th century BC. Its name comes from the word selinon, which means wild fennel, a widely common plant throughout the area. Selinunte flourished for two centuries under Greek domination. Although Agrigento counts better preserved Greek temples, Selinunte boasts more temples, all identified by a letter. The setting over the Mediterranean Sea gives to the archeological ruins a unique display for a suggestive and breathtaking experience.

  • Highlights: Temple G (530BC) is the largest of the trio (F, E, G) and Temple C is the most discernible of five (A, B, C, D, and O). Some of the metopes (stone-carved panels) of Temple E are on display at the Museo Archeologico Regionale “Antonino Salinas” in Palermo.
  • Address: Zona Archeologica, Selinunte (Trapani)
  • Web site: www.regione.sicilia.it (Italian)
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Segesta (Trapani)

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (5)

Segesta was founded by the indigenous tribe of the Elymians. This archeological site, with its Doric temple (430/420BC) and an amphitheater, is one of the best-preserved to be found anywhere. The temple is located on the top of a slope in pristine countryside, away from virtually any modern construction. The amphitheater stands on the slopes of Monte Barbaro. A convenient shuttle service takes tourists to and from the amphitheater.

  • Highlights: Temple of Segesta and amphitheater.
  • Address: Zona Archeologica, Segesta (Trapani)
  • Web site: www.regione.sicilia.it (Italian)

Taormina (Messina)

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (6)

Taormina is Sicily’s most renowned resort. Located in the province of Messina, it hosts a magnificent amphitheater with a breathtaking view of Mount Etna in the background. The theater, built by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC and remodeled by the Romans, is still used today and hosts the famous Taormina Film Festival. A much smaller Roman theater, the Odeon, is to be found near the Church of Santa Caterina.

  • Highlights: the Greek-Roman amphitheater.
  • Address: Via Teatro Greco, Taormina (Messina)
  • Web site: www.regione.sicilia.it (Italian)

Villa Romana Del Casale (Enna)

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (7)

This luxury villa was built at the end of the 3rd century AD. Its floor is almost entirely covered with beautiful and detailed mosaics with scenes of everyday life and divinities. It is the richest and largest collection of late Roman mosaics in the world. The Villa Romana del Casale is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The villa burnt and was covered by a flood around 1161. It was discovered in the 18th century.

  • Highlights: the frigidarium (the cold bathroom); the Hall of the Female Gymnasts in Bikinis; corridor with hunting scenes; the Myth of Airon.
  • Address: Piazza Armerina (Enna)
    Località Casale
  • Tel.: (0935) 568 00 36
  • Fax: (0935) 68 71 83
  • Web site: www.villaromanadelcasale.it

Morgantina, Aidone (Enna)

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (8)

Morgantina was founded by King Morges in the 12th century BC. Six centuries later, the Greeks colonized the city that was destroyed by the Romans during the Punic Wars in 211 BC. Morgantina was rebuilt by the Romans and became a prosperous city, but was abandoned around 30 BC for uncertain reasons.

(Video) Syracuse or Siracusa in Sicily. Port Guide and into Ortygia.

  • Highlights: the Amphitheater (3rd Century BC); ruins of a temple dedicated to Demeter and Kore.
  • Address: Aidone (Enna)
  • Web site: www.regione.sicilia.it (Italian)

Motya (Trapini)

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (9)

Motya, founded by the Carthaginians in the 8th century BC, is situated in the small island of Mozia south of Trapani and north from the coast of Marsala. Dionysus the Elder, tyrant of Syracuse, sacked the town in 398 BC.

  • Highlights: the Cappiddazzu Sanctuary (7th BC); the old city walls.
  • Address: Motya, Trapani
  • Tel.: (0923) 71 25 98
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Giardini-Naxos (Messina)

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (10)

The town of Naxos was founded in 734 BC. Destroyed by Dionysus in 403 BC, it lost its importance and turned into a small village. Nowadays, visitors can still see some of the ruins of the Apollo Archegetes temple and the city walls. A nearby museum holds artifacts of the classic age.

  • Highlights: ruins of the classic age in the Archeological Park.
  • Address: Giardini Naxos (Messina), Via Lungomare Schisò
  • Tel. & Fax: (0942) 510 01
  • Web site: www.regione.sicilia.it

Tyndaris (Messina)

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (11)

Tyndaris, founded by Dyonisus in 396 BC, was one of the last Greek colonies in Sicily. It was invaded by the Carthaginians led by Hannibal in 264 BC and rebuilt by the Romans ten years later. The beauty of Tyndaris is still present in its ruins. The Greek-Roman theater with its spectacular setting over the Tyrrhenian Sea is used for shows and plays in the summertime.

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  • Highlights: Greek-Roman Theater (5th century BC) and Agorà (1st century BC) .
  • Address: Zona Archeologica, Tindari (Messina)
  • Tel.: (0921) 42 15 47
  • Web site: www.regione.sicilia.it (Italian)

Lipari (Messina)

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (12)

Lipari is the largest island of the Aeolian Islands, off of the northeast coast of Sicily in the Messina province. It boasts an Archeological Museum with a castle and an archeological park in the back. The oldest part of the castle was built by the Greeks.

  • Highlights: classic archeological section of the museum; submarine archeology.
  • Address: Via del Castello, Lipari (Messina)
  • Tel.: (090) 988 01 74/988 05 94
  • Fax: (090) 98 80 17
  • Web site: www.regione.sicilia.it (Italian)

Pantalica (Siracusa)

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (13)

The Necropolis of Pantalica contains over 5,000 tombs carved into the rocks near open stone quarries, most of them dating from the 13th to 7th century BC. Pantalica was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

  • Highlights: the Necropolis.
  • Address: Zona Archeologica, Pantalica (Siracusa)

Solunto, Bagheria (Palermo)

Top Archaeological Sites in Sicily ❤️ Free Fun Guides (14)

Located east of Palermo, Solunto was founded in the 7th century BC and expanded by the Greeks in 396BC. Conquered by the Romans, the town was abandoned for unknown reasons in the 3rd century AD.

  • Highlights: Roman ruins overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Address: Solunto, Bagheria (Palermo)

Page Contents

  • First, A Brief History of Sicily
  • Best Archeological Sites Sicily
    • Siracusa
    • Agrigento
    • Selinunte (Trapani)
    • Segesta (Trapani)
    • Taormina (Messina)
    • Villa Romana Del Casale (Enna)
    • Morgantina, Aidone (Enna)
    • Motya (Trapini)
    • Giardini-Naxos (Messina)
    • Tyndaris (Messina)
    • Lipari (Messina)
    • Pantalica (Siracusa)
    • Solunto, Bagheria (Palermo)
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FAQs

What is the most visited archaeological site in Italy? ›

Pompeii. Pompeii a journey back in time The rediscovered ancient city. A unique heritage of history and culture anywhere in the world. Forming a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with Herculaneum and Oplontis, Pompeii is one the most visited museum sites in Italy and attracts huge numbers of tourists every year.

What is the oldest building in Sicily? ›

The building is the oldest royal residence in Europe; and was the private residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Sicily and the imperial seat of Frederick II and Conrad IV.
...
Palazzo dei Normanni.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
CriteriaCultural: (ii), (iv)
Reference1487-001
Inscription2015 (39th Session)
Coordinates38°06′39″N 13°21′11″E
5 more rows

What is the safest place in Sicily? ›

Ragusa is one of the safest places to stay in Sicily, with very low rates of all types of crime. Obviously, as always, common sense must be used, but in general the streets are safe to walk and there is even little of the opportunistic theft that plagues other parts of Italy, and even more crowded areas in Sicily.

What is the most beautiful beach in Sicily? ›

Spiaggia dei Conigli, Lampedusa

It's been called the world's most beautiful beach, with its fine white sands and iridescent waters that shimmer through every shade of blue. The long beach faces the Isola dei Conigli, a short swim away through shallow water - or a walk across the sand when the water is low.

Are there any Roman ruins in Sicily? ›

Agrigento's Valle dei Templi

The archaeological site is enormous, and includes not only Greek remains, but a large section of the Roman quarter (built from the 4th century B.C. to the 5th century A.D.).

Which is nicer Sardinia or Sicily? ›

Summary of Sardinia vs Sicily

Both islands are exceptional and unique! It just really depends on what you're looking for – if it's great beaches, then head to North Sardinia. If you're looking for sightseeing, nature, food and a bit of swimming as well – then Sicily would be a better option!

What is the best month to visit Sicily? ›

March through June and October are ideal, with few crowds, lots of festivals, and mild weather. The days leading up to Easter are full of celebrations, and worth planning around. July and August are hot and can be crowded — especially at beaches and resorts. September is the busiest (and most expensive) month.

What is Sicily known for to buy? ›

Ceramics is one of the products that Sicily is known for. These products – usually hand-made and painted – are expensive and heavy, but beautiful and perfect as a gift. You can already buy small items such as wine stoppers, cups, and small dishes. The imagination of the producers of Sicilian ceramics knows no bounds.

Why are there so many abandoned houses in Sicily? ›

Apparently, due to large waves of immigration to the New World over hundred years ago followed by natural disasters, crumbling economies and a demographic problem, there are thousands of abandoned houses and even whole deserted villages and towns all over Italy.

Was Sicily Roman or Greek? ›

Sicilia (/sɪˈsɪliə/; Classical Latin: [sɪˈkɪ. li. a], Ancient Greek: Σικελία) was the first province acquired by the Roman Republic, encompassing the island of Sicily. The western part of the island was brought under Roman control in 241 BC at the conclusion of the First Punic War with Carthage.

What is the oldest city in Sicily? ›

Messina, Italy (Tie)

Later renamed Messina, it remains the oldest continuously inhabited city on Sicily and is one of its largest ports.

What is the strangest archaeological object ever found? ›

These 25 archaeological discoveries have left people in awe — and left scientists scratching their heads — year after year.
  • Stone spheres in Costa Rica. ...
  • Antikythera mechanism. ...
  • Cleopatra's tomb. ...
  • Qin Shi Huang's tomb. ...
  • Atlantis. ...
  • Stonehenge. ...
  • Ancient animal traps. ...
  • Nazca lines.
8 Dec 2021

What is the oldest archaeological site ever found? ›

Lomekwi 3 is the name of an archaeological site in Kenya where ancient stone tools have been discovered dating to 3.3 million years ago, which make them the oldest ever found.

What should you not do in an archaeological site? ›

Graffiti (drawing, painting, scratching and carving) is destructive and can destroy rock art, as well as deface wood and stone buildings. Graffiti destroys rock art and architecture. Pets can damage sites by digging, or depositing their waste in them. Please do not bring pets into archaeological sites.

What is the most recent archaeological discovery 2022? ›

2 – Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of a 1.5-million-year-old complete hominin vertebra.

What is the oldest archaeological site in Europe? ›

The caves of the Sierra de Atapuerca contain a rich fossil record of the earliest human beings in Europe, from nearly one million years ago and extending up to the Common Era.

Where do most expats live in Sicily? ›

Trapani. The towns and villages of Trapani are popular locations for expats buying property in Sicily. Trapani sits on the far west of Sicily. The city itself is a beautiful, ancient town, full of grand old buildings in the local honey-coloured stone.

Can you drink tap water in Sicily? ›

Generally speaking, Sicilian tap water is potable, although it may carry a metallic taste if it comes from Etna. The strange taste can also be found around a volcanoes, Taormina or Catania. Public places and fountains generally have signs, informing the bypassers if the water is potable or not.

Can I retire in Sicily? ›

You can retire in Sicily or anywhere else in the country if you will be issued with the Italian Elective Residency Visa. Please mind that you do not have to be only a senior to apply for this immigration document – it can also be obtained by young persons who simply want to live here.

How many days in Sicily is enough? ›

Sicily can be experienced in as little as 3 to 5 days if you are short on time and interested in a quick coastal retreat. However, it's much better to spend at least a week discovering this Mediterranean paradise. If you have 7 days you can explore a meaningful section of the island.

Is Sicily better than Amalfi? ›

The variety of restaurants and eateries in Sicily is much greater than the Amalfi Coast, including options more suitable for those travelling on a budget, and the island's size means that there are also a lot more local ingredients to sample during your trip.

Where is the pink beach in Sicily? ›

We start with the pink beach in Marsala, Sicily. The area is very popular with Sicilians and non-Sicilians alike, especially those who love trekking.

Did the Vikings ever go to Sicily? ›

In 860, according to an account by the Norman monk Dudo of Saint-Quentin, a Viking fleet, probably under Björn Ironside and Hastein, landed in Sicily, conquering it.

Are there ancient ruins in Sicily? ›

On the southwest coast of Sicily, not far from Mazara del Vallo, lies the largest archaeological site in Europe. On a par with pretty much anything found in Greece itself, Selinunte has lain abandoned for nearly 2,500 years, its numerous temples, its acropolis and its agora in dignified ruins.

Which civilization left ruins in Sicily? ›

The Greek civilization in Sicily dates as far back as 8 centuries before Christ, and its decline in the final few centuries BC coincided with the rise of Roman power.

What is cheaper Sardinia or Sicily? ›

If you want a wider variety of budget-friendly things to do and places to stay, Sicily has the better choice out of the two islands. But neither is an exceptionally expensive destination, despite Sarfina's reputation as a holiday spot for the rich and famous.

Should I visit East or West Sicily? ›

Western Sicily has the best beaches. Eastern Sicily has the prettier towns (particularly in the south east corners, such as Noto). The Valley of the Temples is best visited on a western Sicily itinerary, but can be visited on a two-week eastern Sicily itinerary.

What is warmer Sicily or Sardinia? ›

Since Sicily is farther south in the Mediterranean, it's generally much hotter than Sardinia. So if you choose to go to Sicily vs Sardinia, I'd recommend going sometime between October and April to avoid the intense heat and crowds of the summer.

What is the rainiest month in Sicily? ›

The month with the most rain in Sicily is December, with an average rainfall of 2.8 inches. The rainless period of the year lasts for 2.5 months, from June 6 to August 20. The month with the least rain in Sicily is July, with an average rainfall of 0.1 inches.

Do you get mosquitos in Sicily? ›

Are there lots of mosquitoes? A. There are no more mosquitoes in Sicily than any other Mediterranean island and some areas and or hotels are sprayed in the summer months to alleviate any problem.

Is Sicily friendly to tourists? ›

Sicilians are very welcoming with tourists, count on them for anything you need! Sicily hasn't been spoiled by mass tourism yet, which means that Sicilians are still pretty innocent regarding cheating with tourists.

What is Sicilian food known for? ›

Sicily is home to world-famous foods like the cannoli, artichokes, and all things citrus. There are many lesser-known but equally taste-tantalizing delicacies such as the world-famous and largely sought after Gambero red prawns, and the chocolate made in the town of Modica.

Can I take rocks from Sicily? ›

Authorities in Sicily have started slamming tourists with a €500 fine if they try to steal rocks from the island's famous Stair of the Turks.

Why are Italian houses yellow? ›

The answer is pretty simple – mineral oxides and plant pigments.

Where do most Sicilians live? ›

Sicilians or the Sicilian people are a Romance speaking people who are indigenous to the island of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the largest and most populous of the autonomous regions of Italy.
...
MtDna and Y DNA studies.
Frequencies (in %) of haplogroups.
1% Q6,7% Other
11 more rows

Can foreigners buy land in Sicily? ›

There are no restrictions for foreigners who want to buy properties in Italy.

Is Sicilian older than Italian? ›

Sicilian (u sicilianu) is neither a dialect nor an accent. It is a not a variant of Italian, a local version of Italian, and it's not even derived from what became Italian. In fact, in truth, Sicilian preceded Italian as we know it.

Who were the native Sicilians? ›

There were three indigenous groups on ancient Sicily: the Elymi in the western part of the island, the Sicani in the centre, and the Sicels in the east - the latter being the root of the island's name.

Are Sicilians descended from Greeks? ›

The genetic contribution of Greek chromosomes to the Sicilian gene pool is estimated to be about 37% whereas the contribution of North African populations is estimated to be around 6%.

Who were the first people to live in Sicily? ›

Around 2,000 BC there were three primary groups of Indo-Europeans settled in Sicily: the Elimi in the Northwest, the Sicani in the central mountains and the Siculi in the east.

Is Sicily Greek or Italian? ›

Sicily (Italian: Sicilia [siˈtʃiːlja]; Sicilian: Sicilia [sɪˈʃiːlja]) is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. The Strait of Messina divides it from the region of Calabria in Southern Italy.

What is the most visited place in Italy? ›

1. Rome. With 25 million of foreign visitors a year, Rome is in the lead in the charts of the most loved Italian cities by the tourists that come from all the world. Among Colosseum, St Peter's Basilica and Trevi Fountain, the Italian capital remains the Eternal City for excellence.

What is the most historical place in Italy? ›

Top 10 historical sites in Italy
  • Colosseum, Rome.
  • Valley of the Temples, Sicily.
  • Duomo, Milan.
  • Duomo, Florence.
  • Sassi of Matera.
  • St Mark's Basilica, Venice.
  • Basilica of St Francis, Assisi.
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa.
30 Jan 2022

What is the most visited building in Italy? ›

Colosseum, Rome

The Colosseum is regarded as a main symbol of the city and is one of the most-visited and famous historical landmarks in Italy. Emperor Vespasian commissioned the Colosseum in 72 AD; however, his son Titus completed it in 80 AD.

What should you not miss when visiting Italy? ›

Let's dive in!
  • Ponte Vecchio in Florence. The Ponte Vecchio is one of Florence's most famous romantic destinations and is not to be missed when visiting the city. ...
  • The Colosseum. ...
  • The Canals of Venice. ...
  • Ragusa. ...
  • Lake Garda. ...
  • Cinque Terre. ...
  • Pompeii. ...
  • Tuscany.
2 Sept 2022

What should you not forget to go to Italy? ›

Here are ten things you shouldn't forget to pack for your trip to Italy, no matter the season or the destination.
  • Clothes that mix, match & layer well. ...
  • Shoes made for walking. ...
  • A good looking, comfortable day pack. ...
  • A scarf or lightweight cover-up. ...
  • Your finest clothes. ...
  • Your proper camera. ...
  • Adaptors, chargers & a portable charger.
3 Oct 2019

What is the nicest town in Italy? ›

The Most Beautiful Towns in Italy
  • Siena. Architectural Landmark. View. ...
  • Todi. Architectural Landmark. View. ...
  • Palmanova. Building. View. ...
  • Riomaggiore. Architectural Landmark. ...
  • Civita di Bagnoregio. Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark. ...
  • Sabbioneta. Architectural Landmark. ...
  • Bologna. Architectural Landmark. ...
  • Positano. Architectural Landmark.
2 Sept 2021

What is the most crowded city in Italy? ›

Rome is most populous cities of Italy. With 2.8 million inhabitants, the capital of the country put ahead Milan and Naples.

What is the most popular food in Italy? ›

1. Pizza. Though a slab of flat bread served with oil and spices was around long before the unification Italy, there's perhaps no dish that is as common or as representative of the country as the humble pizza.

What is considered the most beautiful building ever built? ›

St. Paul's Cathedral

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