Italy is an amazing country to visit, but it’s also a vast location. There are 20 different regions of Italy. Each Italian region has its own characteristics that make it unique.
From region to region, there are cultural differences as well as landscape differences, bringing you an authentic variety that makes up the country.
Take a look at this complete guide to better understand the twenty regions and learn more about each one before you start planning your adventure.
20 Regions of Italy
The different Italian regions are much like states in Italy. From place to place, you will be surrounded by Italian people and heritage, but they are not all the same.
Most of the regions are very proud of their heritage, and they all have unique things to offer their guests.
In our guide below, you will find a little bit about each Italian region, listed in order based on population.
Italy, as a whole, houses nearly 60 million people, and over 10 million of them reside in Lombardy, or Lombardia, as it is said in Italian. This is by far the largest region in the country, with almost double the population of any other region of Italy. Lombardy is home to 12 of the largest cities of Italy.
This region runs right against the border of Switzerland and is home to Milan, which is a wealthy location in Northern Italy.
There are both rolling hills for agricultural areas as well as the Italian lake district areas that are surrounded by water, such as Lake Como.
If you want to experience the famous city of Rome, head on over to central Italy and visit Lazio. Coming down from the mountain towns, you find this popular region. It’s packed with history and stunning scenery.
This region in Italy remains one of the centers for political life, and it is Italy’s capital as well.
Magnificent cities and medieval towns like Rome are huge attraction factors. This region is home to the Tyrrhenian Sea as well. Paired with the Vatican, Lazio is a popular choice.
Head down into the Southern region, just before Italy’s boot, and you will find Campania.
This location is home to several popular provinces as well, including these:
- Amalfi Coast
- Ischia and Capri
Ischia and Capri bring you the largest island with beautiful beaches and a lovely coastline to pair with it. They are well known here for their seafood, thanks to that Amalfi Coast destination. Here you can find the best restaurants in Capri.
The Italian riviera is a must-see location of Venice, right in the heart of Veneto. Located on the Northeastern shore of the Italy map, it’s a popular tourist destination.
Many of the famous cities like Venice are iconic cities that bring guests of all kinds to visit.
Veneto has some large cities, but there are also many lovely towns scattered throughout tiny villages that are friendly and full of life. For wine lovers that love a good Prosecco, this might just be the one region calling your name.
Sicily (or Sicilia) is one of the five regions that are autonomous region locations. This beautiful countryside is right at the tip of Italy’s boot, and it has so much to offer. These autonomous regions are for history lovers but have no shortage of wonderful scenery to enjoy.
This is the largest island in the Mediterranean and is home to Unesco world heritage locations. Enjoy the beautiful coastline, stunning beaches, and so much more. Don’t forget to try a delicious pastry while you’re here. Here are some tips for which cities in Sicily to visit.
If you are interested in islands, please check out our article about islands of Italy.
From nature reserves to the mountainous interiors, Emilia-Romagna is a lesser-known location to outsiders. But you will likely recognize their sports car history with factories like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, and others dedicated to this Italian region.
Parma is part of this region and is one of the provinces known for Prosciutto, as well as Parmigiano-Reggiano. With small towns and medieval villages, you really can’t go wrong in this beautiful region.
Here you can learn more about small towns in Italy.
With the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the Alps on the other three sides, this northwest location is a place of beauty. It’s certainly a mountainous region, but many of the provinces in this Northwestern Italy region are built in the valleys of those mountains.
Piedmont is known as Piemonte to the locals. This is a popular holiday destination for things like skiing from rocky cliffs, hiking, and more.
This is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
In Italy, you will hear of this region as Puglia. However, outside of Italy, many know it as Apulia. Both terms apply to this Southern region in Italy. It’s east of that boot, along the Italian coast. The countryside is home to outdoor activities, beautiful towns, and some vineyard landscapes.
Rather than iconic sights, they are known for their majesty here in these beautiful regions. Puglia has been referred to as the Maldives of Italy, which is quite a compliment. Their sandy beaches and clear waters may have something to do with that.
Tuscany, or Toscana, lies in mainland Italy. It’s right below the northern region and is another popular location. Art lovers, food lovers, and more can enjoy everything that Tuscany has to offer. The beautiful cities are all quite unique and set apart in many ways.
Calabria is another Italian region located in the South. They have mountains as well as a stunning coastline that you simply won’t want to miss. In fact, their Capo Vaticano has been listed among the top 100 beautiful beaches to visit in the world.
But there are many more that are just as beautiful. You can enjoy national parks. quaint villages, mountains from the Eastern Alps, and delicious food. This is one of the hotter locations in Italy during the summer, so spring and fall are the best times to visit.
Sardinia, or Sardegna, is a unique spot. It is one of the five autonomous regions and is really almost like its own region of Italy. It’s separated from the majority of the country and is the second largest island in the Mediterranean, after Sicily.
Don’t be fooled by the island, though. It has a national park, the Adriatic Coast, and the Apennine Mountains. On the island, you might find ruins of impressive castles, among other history still held there. You will also find that much of the island has never been navigated by humans.
Sardinia is also home to one of the clearest beaches in Europe. Here you can find our list of the best beaches in Sardinia.
Liguria sports rocky cliffs and a stately coastline that really attracts people to it. This is a small region in the North with five well-known towns right along the coast. The provinces and the coast make for some picture-perfect moments.
This is another area that is attractive to tourists, and it’s a hotspot for celebrities looking for an Italian escape. Olive oil, garlic, and cheese are important here since Liguria is where pesto was created.
Marche has more than 1 million people, but it’s not a common tourist spot. This northeast or central location has a lot to offer. There are mountains, towns, and stunning coastline too. This area is heavily protected by nature reserves, so imagine the landscape you could see.
The towns, beaches, and mountains make it a great place for hikers, beach lovers, historians, and so much more. It might just be worth avoiding some of the heavy tourism for this experience.
Abruzzo has a nice variety of scenery among the towns here. It’s in the central-eastern parts of Italy, so you get coastline in one part, and far more when you travel inland. This region has 3 different national parks to enjoy.
Of all of Italy’s regions, this is the greenest region of the country.
Whether you want to experience small-town life in Italy or really get in touch with nature and wildlife, Abruzzo is spectacular. The national park life alone has so much to offer its guests.
15. Friuli-Venezia Giulia
As we wind down to some of the smallest regions of Italy, this one is a wonder to behold. It’s another of the five autonomous regions located in the northeast sector of Italy. This is the least touristy location of them all, but it’s no less amazing than other parts of the country.
They have long stretches of sandy beaches, as well as some rocky hiking locations near the mountains. This is also one of the UNESCO world heritage sites of Italy’s regions, designed to protect linguistic minorities and the history of the Roman empire.
16. Trentino-South Tyrol
Trentino-South Tyrol brings us another of the different regions that are autonomous in Italy. It rests along the northern border, right against Austria and Switzerland. The different regions and provinces along this location are ideal for things like skiing.
Here, you will also find Lake Garda. Between Lake Garda and the slopes, it’s a top choice for outdoor lovers that visit Italy.
Umbria is the only landlocked region of all the different regions. It’s a charming and scenic region nearing the south of the country. There are no big towns that everyone comes to, but that doesn’t take away from the beauty and history of this magnificent region.
In fact, Umbria sports the second tallest waterfalls in Europe, and they are stunning. Here, you will find things are laid back and charming.
There are so many beautiful things to take in.
Basilicata has only about 500,000 people in it. It’s a large region, but there are very few towns and a lot of mountainous areas in the region. There is much of this region that is yet to be discovered, which is primarily because it’s hard to get to.
Basilicata houses Matera, which is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites in Italy as of 1993. They’ve grown from slums and caves to vibrant areas with many fascinating things to enjoy.
Molise is another of the very small regions, and it remains pretty new in Italy. This region is split into two provinces that bring you beaches on one side and mountains on the other. The location has rural landscapes to appreciate, as well as the hiking trails and paths used for moving livestock through the years.
This is not your average tourist location, but they do have a lot to offer if they are given a chance. If you enjoy walking and hiking, it’s a great spot. If you want rural views, it’s a winner. And if you want to ski, they have some of that too.
20. Aosta Valley
Last, but most certainly not least, is Aosta Valley. In terms of population, this is the smallest region Italy has to offer. It’s also the fifth autonomous region. It’s right at the tip of Italy in the northern areas, bumping up against Switzerland and France.
Here is where you find the stunning Alps with snow-capped mountains, as well as majestic castles to explore. Tourists come to this location to see the castles, but there are many small towns to adventure through and activities to enjoy too.
Italy Regions Capitals and Population
Understanding the Different Regions of Italy
There are so many wonderful things that these regions throughout Italy have to offer. Many regions even offer the best of multiple different things, such as beaches or mountains. It really is impressive when you think about it.
To round out our guide, take a look at some of these defining factors of the regions.
Autonomous Vs. Ordinary Regions
There are five specific regions that are part of Italy, but were granted autonomy based on the law.
The autonomous regions of Italy are:
- Aosta Valley
- Friuli-Venezia Giulia
- Trentino-South Tyrol
These regions are not in any one location, such as Southern Italy, but rather spread out throughout the country. They have their own regional government, set aside from the rest of the country. They also are separated in terms of health care, infrastructure, and schooling.
The intention behind these areas was to protect and account for cultural differences throughout them. This also protects the minorities and minority languages in their regions. With these steps, it allows them to better preserve the culture and linguistics of those regions.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
You saw several regions listed as a world heritage sites in our guide. This is a unique listing that isn’t designated to somewhere like a national park but rather a location that is protected for historical and cultural purposes.
Several regions throughout Italy hold this title because they have significant history and culture to protect. These locations also take significant steps to protect that history. It’s fairly common for some of the autonomous regions, but there are also others that fit this category.
In some circumstances, it is just the town that is awarded as a site, but in other areas, the entire region might qualify.
Sandy Beaches or Rolling Hills?
When it comes to landscape, Italy is incredibly unique. In just one of the regions of Italy, you might find mountains, rural areas, and beaches to enjoy. This is fairly uncommon in a lot of areas, so Italy really should be proud.
When it comes to choosing a destination, you should know that you might be able to see it all in one location. Of course, Italy is well-known for its vineyards as well as its cuisine, but its breathtaking sights are absolutely phenomenal too.
It’s a land of history, and no two regions are exactly the same. From Italy’s capital to Lake Como to the Alps, there are so many unique characteristics across the country. Every town has its own culture and something to be proud of for the world to see.
Italy is perhaps one of the most intermixed locations across the globe that brings you the best of beaches, mountains, and everything in between. The stunning landscapes are just one of the many things people admire about Italy. There is so much packed into this space it could take months to really experience it all.
Try planning to take in several different areas and enjoy an extended holiday to take it all in.
Popular Things to Enjoy in the Italian Region
How do you decide what regions to visit in Italy? Well, it just depends. If you’re up for it, you may want to take in several different regions and travel across the country.
If not, it’s best to prioritize the types of things or places you want to experience.
These are some of the top choices. That being said, don’t feel like you have to narrow it down to any of these.
Make the choices that seem the best for you.
- Rome: Rome is full of history and is the capital. You can see the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and the Vatican here.
- Venice: Composed of more waterways than streets, it’s a romantic setting with much to see.
- Amalfi Coast: stunning scenery with plenty of adventure to be found.
- Florence: All about Renaissance style and graceful splendor. Plus, many pieces of Michelangelo’s can be found here.
- Tuscany: A very nice location that is close to Rome, Milan, and Venice. A great way to see many parts of Italy and enjoy elegant wine while you’re here.
- Cinque Terre: popular coastal stop with gorgeous hillside towns, stunning vineyards, and picturesque views.
- Lake Garda & Lake Como: these are both unique but stunning Italian lakes with rich adventures. Lake Como is a Hollywood hotspot, and Lake Garda is scenic and monumental.
There really isn’t a right or wrong way to experience Italy. But it’s still important to note that the regions can be vastly different from the southern to the central to the northern locations. You can visit many or stick to one area. The beauty is astounding no matter what you choose.
While you’re in Italy, be sure to take part in or experience things that the country is known for. For example, they have magnificent vineyards and wine locations. Even if you are not a wine drinker, visiting the vineyards could be an exceptional experience.
Art and history are also important here. They have ancient historical locations, some of which date back to the Bronze Age. The Roman Empire played a huge role in their history, and you can experience some of those sites even outside of Rome.
Much to See in Italy
The regions of Italy span across 20 vast locations. Some are far more populated than others, while some provide quaint and quiet experiences. It’s easy to enjoy the beauty and majesty of any region throughout the country.
Which regions are you adding to your bucket list?
Regions of Italy on Map
How Many Regions are in Italy?
Italy is made up of 20 different regions located across the country.
What are the Autonomous Regions of Italy?
There are five different regional locations that are autonomous. This simply means that they are separated in an effort to maintain linguistic and cultural aspects of those regions. These are: Aosta Valley, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Sardinia, Sicily and Trentino-South Tyrol.
Does Italy Have Beaches?
Yes! They have several coastal and beach locations across the country. Many of the beach areas are utterly stunning.
What is the Most Beautiful Region in Italy?
Beauty is definitely going to be a matter of opinion. However, Tuscany probably falls near the top of the list, as well as locations like Florence. Italy is beautiful throughout the entire country.
Where is the Most Romantic Place to Go in Italy?
There are several romantic locations. Italy is known for romance in many ways. Some of the top choices are Venice, Rome, Florence, and Portofino.