Historic city squares, old towns and villages in Italy

Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco, in English as St Mark's Square, is the principal public square of Venice and central point of interest for visitors. The Square is dominated at its eastern end by the great Basilica of St. Mark. To the left is the long arcade along the north side of the Piazza, the buildings on this side are known as the Procuratie Vecchie, the old procuracies, formerly the homes and offices of the Procurators of St. M ...
Founded: 9th century | Location: Venice, Italy

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona was built on the site of the 1th-century Stadium of Domitian and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. Defined as a public space in the last years of 15th century, when the city market was transferred there from the Campidoglio, Piazza Navona was transformed into a highly significant example of Baroque Roman architecture and art during the pontificate of Pope Innocent X. He reigned from 1644 ...
Founded: 1644-1655 | Location: Rome, Italy

Vernazza

Vernazza is one of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre region. Vernazza is the fourth town heading north, has no car traffic, and remains one of the truest 'fishing villages' on the Italian Riviera. It is the only natural port of Cinque Terre and is famous for its elegant houses. The first records recognizing Vernazza as a fortified town date to 1080. Referred to as an active maritime base of the Ober ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Vernazza, Italy

Portofino Village

Portofino is an Italian fishing village and holiday resort famous for its picturesque harbour and historical association with celebrity and artistic visitors. Pliny the Elder (AD 23 – AD 79) referred to Portus Delphini (Port of the Dolphin) as on the Ligurian coast between Genoa and the Gulf of Tigullio. The village is mentioned in a diploma from 986 by Adelaide of Italy, which assigned it to the nearby Abbey of ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Portofino, Italy

Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso al Mare is one of the five villages in Cinque Terre (meaning 'Five Lands'), a coastal area within Liguria. The coastline, the villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cinque Terre is mentioned in documents dating to the 11th century. Monterosso and Vernazza were settled first and the other villages grew later, whilst within t ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Monterosso al Mare, Italy

Villa Rufolo

The Villa Rufolo, which overlooks the Piazza Vescovado, is the historical and cultural center of Ravello. Built by a wealthy merchant family in the 13th century, the Villa Rufolo has a rich and storied past. Boccaccio, one of the earliest authors of the Italian renaissance, wrote a story about the villa and its owner in his Decameron, which was published in 1353. In its prime, it was one of the largest and most expensiv ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ravello, Italy

Piazza della Loggia

Piazza della Loggia is fine example of Renaissance piazza. The construction of eponymous Palazzo della Loggia (current Town Hall) began in 1492 under the direction of Filippo de" Grassi and completed only in the 16th century by Sansovino and Palladio. Vanvitelli designed the upper room of the palace (1769). On the south side of the square are two 15th–16th century Monti di Pietà (Christian lending h ...
Founded: 1492 | Location: Brescia, Italy

Historic Centre of Mantua

Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy. Mantua"s historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic, cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole. Mantua is noted for its significant role in the history of opera and the city is known for its several architectural treasures and artifacts, elegant palaces or palazzi, and its medieval and Renaiss ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Mantua, Italy

Sabbioneta

Sabbioneta is a town and comune in the province of Mantua. Sabbioneta was founded by Vespasiano I Gonzaga in the late 16th century along the ancient Roman Via Vitelliana, on a sandy bank of the Po; he was its first duke, using it as a personal fortress and residence. In 2008, Sabbioneta was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as a recognition of its perfect example of practical application of Renaissance  ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Sabbioneta, Italy

Triora Village

Triora is a picturesque village in a lovely setting of wooded valleys well into the Ligurian hills of north-west Italy. Triora is officially classified among the most beautiful villages in Italy. The centuries-old village of Triora is at the foot of the Trono Mountain, overlooking the Argentina valley, where it preserves almost intact its medieval appearance. In the heart of the village you will enjoy exploring the ancie ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Triora, Italy

Apricale Village & Castle

Apricale is a picturesque small village to the north-east of Dolceacqua in western Liguria and surrounded by forested hills, included on the list of the most beautiful villages in Italy. The Lucertola Castle next to the square towards the top of the village dates from the 12th century and you can still see two towers and parts of the walls. The two churches also both contain interesting historical artefacts such as a med ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Apricale, Italy

Cittadella

Cittadella is a medieval walled city founded in the 13th century as a military outpost of Padua. The surrounding wall has been restored and is 1,461 metres in circumference with a diameter of around 450 metres. There are four gates which roughly correspond the points of the compass. The town was founded in 1220 by the Paduans to counterbalance the fortification of Castelfranco. It was built in successive stages in a poly ...
Founded: 1220 | Location: Cittadella, Italy

Palmanova

Palmanova is a town in northeastern Italy and an excellent example of star fort of the Late Renaissance, built up by the Venetians in 1593. Palmanova was built following the ideals of a utopia. It is a concentric city with the form of a star, with three nine-sided ring roads intersecting in the main military radiating streets. It was built at the end of the 16th century by the Venetian Republic which was, at the time, a ...
Founded: 1593 | Location: Palmanova, Italy

Craco

Craco is a ghost town in the region of Basilicata, precisely in Matera province, Italy. Located about 25 miles inland from the Gulf of Taranto, It lays atop a cliff upon the Cavone River valley. The landscape is characterized by 'calanchi', a semidesertic hill extensively eroded which appear barren in summer and grassy in springtime. Tombs have been found dating from the 8th century b.c. suggesting the original settlemen ...
Founded: Before 8th century BC | Location: Craco, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Ängsö Castle

Ängsö Castle was first named as "Engsev" in a royal charter by king Canute I of Sweden (r. 1167-1196), in which he stated that he had inherited the property after his father Eric IX of Sweden. Until 1272, it was owned by the Riseberga Abbey, and then taken over by Gregers Birgersson.

From 1475 until 1710, it was owned by the Sparre family. The current castle was built as a fortress by riksråd Bengt Fadersson Sparre in the 1480s. In 1522, Ängsö Castle was taken after a siege by king Gustav Vasa, since its owner, Fadersson's son Knut Bengtsson, sided with Christian II of Denmark. However, in 1538 it was given by the king to Bengtsson's daughter Hillevi Knutsdotter, who was married to Arvid Trolle.

In 1710, the castle was taken over by Carl Piper and Christina Piper. Ängsö Castle was owned by the Piper family from 1710 until 1971, and is now owned by the Westmanna foundation. The castle building itself was made into a museum in 1959 and was made a listed building in 1965. It is currently opened to visitors during the summers.

The castle is a cubical building in four stores made by stone and bricks. The lower parts is preserved from the middle ages. It was redecorated and expanded in the 1630s. The 4th storey as well as the roof is from the expansion of Carl Hårleman from 1740-41. It gained its current appearance in the 1740s.