I’ve finally put together my Italy travel bucket list with all the main places I’d like to visit in 2020. Read on, you may find some good inspo for your upcoming travels in Italy!

Italy travel bucket list 2020

After a rough start of the year, I’ve finally found the time to sit at my desk and write down all the main places I’d like to explore in Italy during 2020. The destinations on my list for this year are a mixture of culture, adventure, and special events. Of course, these plans are not set in stone and I’m sure there will be many changes along the way, but the point of these wishlists is to lay your dreams all out there, right? Let’s just see how things will turn out this year!

So, here’s my 2020 Italy travel wishlist (in no particular order):

Sardinia

Confession: I’ve never set foot in Sardinia. I know, being Italian, this is pretty unacceptable since Sardinia is one of our top beach destinations. And the funny thing is that my first visit will be right in the middle of the winter season! I’m going there in February to attend the Carnival celebrations of Mamoiada, a small town in the center of Sardinia, where ancient traditions and mysterious masks take central stage during the Carnival season.

Mamuthones and Issohadores at the Carnival of Mamoiada in SardiniaI will take this opportunity to visit also Orgosolo, a hilltop village filled with incredible murals, and Cagliari, the island’s main town.

Val d’Arda

Val d’Arda is a picturesque valley located on the eastern side of Piacenza, in the Emilia Romagna region. It’s crossed by the Arda stream and dotted with old castles and pretty medieval villages, such as Castell’Arquato, Vigoleno, and Gropparello. Some of them even served as locations for the 1980s movie Lady Hawke!

View of verdant hills from the hamlet of Vigoleno near PiacenzaWhile touring the Val d’Arda, I’m planning to visit also Chiaravalle, with its splendid Cistercian Abbey that dates back to the 12th century and used to be a major stop-over for pilgrims traveling to Rome along the Via Francigena.

Parma

I’ve been meaning to return to Parma for so long but never made proper plans. This year, though, Parma is the Italian Capital of Culture, so I don’t have any more excuses to postpone my visit. The slogan chosen to promote its cultural and artistic treasures is “La cultura batte il tempo” (culture beats time), and I can’t wait to see what they’ve organized.

While in town, I would like to visit also the Reggia di Colorno, a palace that is said to resemble the grandeur of Versailles, and test my sense of direction in the Masone Labyrinth, a huge bamboo labyrinth that spreads over 7 hectares!  

Lunigiana

My quest for unexplored Italian gems will hopefully bring me also to Lunigiana, a stretch of land at the border between Liguria and Tuscany that hardly sees any tourists. It’s renowned for its cuisine and the beautiful landscape that offers splendid panoramic views.

The village of Pontremoli in Lunigiana, TuscanyI’m sure this trip will be a great opportunity to explore a more genuine and authentic side of Tuscany. Also, after a failed attempt last year, I hope this will be the chance to visit Eva and Chris of Shabby Sheep Design, who call Lunigiana their home since 2005.

More Tuscany travels

In early spring I’m planning to return to Val d’Elsa to visit the lovely Steph and Roger at Villa San Michele and explore more of this beautiful corner of Tuscany.

Then in June, I will try to attend a match of Calcio Storico Fiorentino (Florentine historical football), a popular ball game that originated in the Renaissance and mixes modern sports like football, rugby, and wrestling (yep, it’s that intense).

A match of Florentine historical football in FlorenceMolise

You see, I have this thing for underestimated destinations and when I went to Molise to explore its undiscovered potential last year, well, apparently I was right. Last week the New York Times praised its glory and I’m really happy to see that the region is finally starting to get the attention it deserves.

This year I will return to Molise to attend a festival called “I Misteri”, one of the region’s most important events, which takes place in Campobasso on the day of the Corpus Domini (this year it will be on June 14th). To put it simply, it’s a spectacular parade that stages the 13 mysteries of the Bible and entails wearing caps with devil’s horns, seeing people floating in the air – surely something I want to see!

The Ionian Coast of Calabria

In the summer I’m planning to get my dose of sea and sun in Calabria. After spending 5 unforgettable days along the Tyrrhenian coast a couple of years ago, now I’d like to explore the Ionian side of the region.

The transparent sea of Calabria, ItalyI’ve been hearing a lot about this unspoiled stretch of coast and I can’t wait to see places like the sugar-white sand beach of Sant’ Andrea Apostolo dello Jonio, the bustling coastal town of Soverato and the ancient hamlets of Stilo and Badolato.

Mount Etna and the Circumetnea train line

I have this urge to return to Sicily at least once a year, the island is in my blood (my father is from there). In 2020 I would like to explore more the area of Mount Etna, which, for those who don’t know, is Europe’s highest active volcano!

View of the slopes of Mount Etna at the island Sicily, ItalyThere are a couple of options to do that, the most obvious being a guided tour that takes you to the top Mount Etna. I also read about the Circumetnea, a historic train line that has been connecting Catania with the villages around Mount Etna for over 130 years. I’ve seen some pictures and I’m sure this would be a fantastic experience.

Lomellina

Before moving abroad for work, traveling in my own backyard was something that literally horrified me. There, I’ve said it. But now that I’m back, searching for hidden treasures near home has become one of my favorite pasts-times and I can’t believe I’ve ignored little gems like Pavia, Vigevano and Oltrepò Pavese for so long.

Flooded fields for rice cultivation in Lomellina, Italy. Panoramic aerial view. Typical countryside landscape of northern Italy with dirt roads, fields and ancient farms.In 2020 I intend to learn more about Lomellina, the region in the south-western side of Lombardy where I grew up and currently live. It’s an area devoted to agriculture and rice production, rich in history and ancient towns, where it is still possible to admire beautiful medieval castles and abbeys.

Romagna Toscana

I first heard about Romagna Toscana at TTG travel fair in Rimini last year and I’ve been really curious to visit this region ever since. It’s a hilly territory that extends along the border between Emilia Romagna and Tuscany and is said to be a treasure trove of historical attractions, natural beauties, and gastronomic delights.

Romagna Toscana is particularly rich in thermal waters that can be enjoyed in places like Castrocaro Terme and Bagno di Romagna. I’ve also read that this region is home to the smallest volcano in the world,  Mount Busca!

Fenestrelle fortress

This trip was already on my travel wishlist for 2018 and I’m determined to make it happen this year. It’s a huge fortified structure – one of the biggest in Europe – that sits on the crest of a mountain in Piedmont and features a spectacular covered staircase with 4,000 steps. It’s pretty clear why it’s often dubbed the “Great Wall of Italy”, right?

Aerial view of the Fenestrelle fortress in PiedmontThe main reason why I keep postponing the visit is that I don’t feel fit enough for such an adventure – the “Royal Walk” tour is basically 7 hours of trekking up and down the site.

Campania

There are quite a few things that I’d like to see in the sunny region of Campania this year. First of all, I would love to visit the Royal Palace of Caserta and return to Pompeii and Ercolano, because it’s been way too long since my last (and only) visit.

Then I’d like to take a journey through the province of Avellino, which is supposed to be really beautiful under both a naturalistic and historical point of view. Savignano Irpino, for example, is listed among the most beautiful villages of Italy, while the town of Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi is home to the fascinating Abbey of Goleto.

Genoa

What I have in mind for Genoa is not a simple visit to the city center. I want to see also the colorful fishing village of Boccadasse, take a walk along the fabulous sea-front promenade of Nervi and travel on the little Casella Train that rides along a scenic railroad between Genoa and the town of Casella in the Scrivia Valley.

Porta Soprana in Genoa in a beautiful summer day, Liguria, ItalyIt would be great if I could make this all happen on the same dates of the so-called “Rolli Days” when Genoa opens its 42 beautiful Palazzi dei Rolli to the public. These are a group of prestigious palaces from the 16th and 17th centuries that were listed in the citizen registers (called “rolli”) and used to host illustrious guests on a State visit.

Monza

I’ve never really thought of Monza as a destination to explore, besides some visits to the racing track for the F1 rehearsals in my teenage years (I’ve always been a big fan of Michael Schumacher). But Monza has now made it to my travel wishlist mainly for two reasons. First of all, I’ve learned that its Cathedral Museum is home to the “Iron Crown”, forged with one of the nails used for Jesus Crucifixion and used for the coronation of Napoleon and other big names in European monarchy.

And then, did you know that Monza is home to one of Europe’s largest urban parks? Yep, and what’s more, its grandiose Villa Reale has a splendid rose garden that I can’t wait to see in fool bloom next spring.

Turin

The list of things I want to see and do in Turin is growing week after week, I can’t wait to organize my trip there. I’m really looking forward to returning to some classics like the Egyptian Museum, the Mole Antonelliana, and Palazzo Reale. But this time I also want to learn more about iconic local brands, such as the Lavazza Coffee Museum (I’m a sucker for coffee), the Car Museum (Turin has a long tradition in the car manufacturing sector) and Casa Martini. Oh, and if time allows, I wouldn’t mind a quick stop at the Juventus Museum!

I will try to visit also the Reggia di Venaria, a former royal residence of the House of Savoy, and Saint Michael’s Abbey, an ancient religious complex at the top of Mount Pirchiriano, about 40 km from Turin, which inspired Umberto Eco to write “The Name of the Rose”.

Exterior long distant view of san michele sacra abbey located at top of pichiriano mountain in piamonte district, ItalyThe Centovalli train line

Centovalli is a train route that connects Domodossola, the capital of the Ossola valley in Piedmont, to the Swiss town of Locarno. It doesn’t sound that exciting, right? Well, in reality, this is usually listed as one of the most scenic train routes in Italy, because it passes through the marvelous landscape of the Vigezzo Valley.

Ferrovia-VigezzinaThis one was already on my wishlist back in 2018 and hopefully I’ll be able to take a trip there in October to admire the spectacle of the autumn colors.

And now it’s your turn, what’s on your travel wishlist for 2020? Let me know in the comments below!

A super hug from Italy,

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18 Comments

Linda (LD Holland) 20 January 2020 at 16:32

Always great to see what is on the travel plans for others. Sardinia continues to be on our travel wish list too. And a return to Italy – just not sure where. It has been far too long since our last visit. Your post certainly has some great options for new things and places we have not yet seen. We start a cruise in Rome in October and plan to come in early. So we will see what gets on the plan.

    Val 20 January 2020 at 18:09

    Thank you Linda!

Mara 20 January 2020 at 18:03

I have been to Italy, but clearly not by your post! Haha! I really liked my time in Turin, though it was short, but some of the other places you mention, I am not familiar with their names….I would love to live there for a bit so I can travel more in-depthly into the countryside.

    Val 20 January 2020 at 18:08

    Hello Mara! Well, don’t worry, I’m Italian and my country is a constant surprise and discovery for me 🙂

Daniel Raymond Bates 20 January 2020 at 21:58

Like you, I have a passion for Italy and can’t wait to get back this year when I drive from London to Ancona for family vacation and a few stops on the way (this year I am hoping to stop off at Lago di Como as I never done that lake before). There are quite a few places on this list I never heard of before and the one what interests me as I am into history and old buildings/structures is the Fenestrelle fortress. I am driving near this place this summer so I am going to make every effort of doing it. It does look fantastic.

    Val 21 January 2020 at 08:15

    I love road trips and this one sounds amazing Daniel!
    That Fenestrelle fortress is really high on my list, I’m super curious to visit it! Let me know if you make it there 🙂

Lisa 21 January 2020 at 19:20

Ooh, you’ve listed some places I’ve still yet to see myself! Even though we live half the year in the north, I’ve still not made it to Genoa. I also really want to visit and see Molise now! Great bucket list for 2020!

    Val 23 January 2020 at 09:03

    Thank you Lisa! Go to Molise, it’s beautiful!!

sherianne 22 January 2020 at 13:26

I hadn’t heard of Val d’Arda, it looks gorgeous and I love exploring castles. Reggia di Colorno in Parma also grabbed my attention, it must be incredible if its designed to resemble Versailles. I also hadn’t heard about Fenestrelle fortress. I’m shocked this isn’t a more popular destination and it just made my bucketlist!

    Val 23 January 2020 at 09:02

    It’s hardly ever mentioned, right? I can’t wait to see it myself! 😀

Hailey 22 January 2020 at 20:17

Ok I want to see every single one of these places too haha! I have actually never been to Italy and when I do get there, I have no idea how to decide where to go! Maybe I will just need to stay for a few months. 🙂

    Val 23 January 2020 at 09:01

    I understand Hailey, there are so many things to see here that sometimes even I find it difficult to choose where to go ahah

Manjulika Pramod 23 January 2020 at 17:18

I so loved the idea of making a bucket list for 2020. You have also introduced Italy in a different and compelling way. I would love to see Val d’Arda, Monza, Turin and the Fenestrelle fortress. Lunigiana is so picturesque and the slogan of Parma is beautiful (culture beats time.)

    Val 24 January 2020 at 15:13

    Thank you Manjulika, I hope you’ll be able to visit all these beautiful places soon 😀

Yukti Agrawal 24 January 2020 at 14:43

I have been to Italy for 7 days only and had seen only northern part. But would love to see other beautiful parts of Italy, specially the coastal regions. I would love to visit Genoa as it looks very colorful and quirky. The fishing village of Boccadasse, and taking a walk along the fabulous sea-front promenade of Nervi is really scenic. Thanks for sharing all these unique places in Italy.

    Val 24 January 2020 at 15:15

    Hey Yukti, you have to come back soon and explore our coastal gems – pure beauty!

Agnes 1 February 2020 at 18:18

Beautiful photos! Every time I think I’ve done Italy justice, I see another post like this and realize that nope, I need to get back there. Well, here we go! ☺️

    Val 3 February 2020 at 08:11

    Thank you Agnes! Italy is truly a never-ending discovery 😀

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Ciao! I’m Val

Ciao! I’m Val

Ciao! I'm Valentina, an Italian blogger with a huge passion for my country, its culture and traditions. My Italian Diaries is the online space where I share my expert knowledge of itineraries, activities and off-the-beaten path places to help you experience the best of Italy like a local.

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