Sharing travel exploits with the folks back home has been a large part of the pleasure of travel since the first voyagers sketched far-flung lands and peoples in ink on parchment. The tradition has evolved through slideshows and Kodachrome to Facebook albums and Instagram reels but the pride of capturing a great shot hasn’t faded.
We know that breathtaking views are a large part of the draw in Italy, along with its spectacular cultural treasures, unbeatable cuisine, and relaxed “la dolce vita” vibe. And though we would probably hesitate to create an entire trip itinerary based on photo ops, we do know that taking a few minutes to document your time in a specific place for friends and family (or just yourself) is an important element to any memorable trip.
If you want to take advantage of your time in Italy to take a snapshot for the ages against a fabulous Italian backdrop, here are a few of the best photo and Instagram locations in Italy (some famous, some less so) for unforgettable selfies, romantic couple portraits, or mementos of a landmark family trip.
Milan is not one of Italy’s most picturesque cities, with its skyline that is a mix of historic palazzi and 20th-century skyscrapers and bustling, businesslike vibe. That said, the city is thick in art and architecture (remember that this is the home of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper”) plus great shopping and a buzzy dining and imbibing scene.
If you are visiting Italy’s fashion and commerce capital, one of the best spots to snap a photo is atop its dramatic gothic Duomo. Not only does it feature bird’s-eye views over the city, but the terrace lets you get right up close to its fabulously intricate spires, gargoyles, and other sculpted stone decorations–all of which make for an ideal frame for a landscape shop or portrait.
You need to purchase a ticket to access the terrace (tickets are combined with entrance to the cathedral, so be sure to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees); we suggest booking in advance during the busy summer season. The best time to visit is last afternoon when the sunset turns the spires golden.
There are a number of scenic overlooks on Capri that offer gorgeous views of the Faraglioni (the Gardens of Augustus, Tragara Belvedere, and Bay of Marina Piccola are among the best), but for a truly stunning shot of these towering sea stacks that sit off the island’s coastline and are the symbol of Capri, by far the best vantage point is from the water.
Almost all group and private boat tours and mini cruises around Capri pass beneath the Faraglioni; most pass through the natural archway at the base of the middle stack with the recommendation that you share a kiss with your sweetheart as you pass through for good luck. If you have booked a private boat, you can have them pause at the perfect distance to capture the Faraglioni rising directly from the cobalt waves or, better yet, you and your loved ones posed on the deck with the rock formations behind you.
The Faraglioni are off the southern coast of Capri and get sun all day long, so any time of day is ideal for capturing them. Sunset, however, is when you might get the best light for portraits.
As the sun starts to lower over Florence, visitors and locals flock to Piazzale Michelangelo in the hills above Oltrarno, by far one of the best photo and Instagram locations in Italy to watch the sunset. Though this is a gorgeous spot, it can also be so overrun at dusk that it’s difficult to snap a photo (or even enjoy nature’s show). Continue walking about five minutes more uphill, however, and you’ll reach San Miniato al Monte.
This elegant Romanesque church is part of a larger abbey complex set on the highest point overlooking the city…just high enough that it sees only a fraction of the tourists that crowd Piazzale Michelangelo each evening but offers the same–if not better–views. Snap Brunelleschi’s dome as it is bathed in the orange tones of the sunset and watch the placid waters of the Arno River glow as they reflect the skies.
As long as you are headed there to catch the sunset, pop into the church itself in the late afternoon (usually 5:30, 6:00, and 6:30) to listen to the Gregorian chants; entrance is free but be sure to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.
The most colorful island in the Venetian lagoon, Burano has recently become an Instagram superstar due to its technicolor fishermen’s houses painted bright pastels lining the streets and canals. Its recent rise to fame means that there are more crowds there now than a few years ago (though nothing in comparison to the throngs in St. Mark’s Square), but if you time your visit right, you can still experience a bit of the sleepy atmosphere that once characterized this outlying island.
It’s hard to snap a bad photo on Burano, as the combination of colorful houses and boats reflected on the waters of the canal makes it one of the best photo and Instagram locations in Italy. This cheerful backdrop is ideal for portraits of children and families, but also for lighthearted selfies and couple shots. Try to visit on a sunny day when the colors are at their most vivid and contrast with the bright blue sky.
You can reach Burano with a vaporetto water bus (line 12; about 40 minutes from central Venice) or with a water taxi.
There are endless photo opportunities in Rome, from the top of St. Peter’s Dome to the Instagram-famous Knight of Malta keyhole. Any of those are great choices, of course, but we suggest exploring Rome during its most atmospheric and romantic time of day: after sunset.
Most of Rome’s top sights are lit up at night and make for beautiful subjects or backdrops in photos, but the Colosseum is perhaps the most dramatic. Not only is it particularly striking at night but it’s also largely devoid of tourists, so you can get your shot without dodging bus tours and school groups.
There are a limited number of after-hours tours that offer access to the ancient amphitheater by night, but you don’t need to go inside to capture the Colosseum at its most theatrical. Simply stroll around its perimeter, stopping to snap photos where the angle is best.
Alongside the towers of San Gimignano and the winding, cypress-lined road of La Foce, this lone chapel set on a hill overlooking the rolling hills of the Val d’Orcia is perhaps one of the most iconic spots in the Tuscan countryside and one of the best photo and Instagram locations in Italy. It takes a set of wheels and a good map (or data plan for Google Maps) to find, but its pretty setting and endless views are worth the trouble.
Marking the spot where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a local shepherdess, this chapel was redesigned in the 19th century and its Renaissance painting by Andrea della Robbia moved to the Church of Madonna di Vitaleta in San Quirico. But no matter, no one visits this church for its interiors. It’s the purely Tuscan vibe of the setting that draws photographers and Instagrammers from across the globe.
There is little shade here during the day and the sun can be harsh for photography, so visit instead in the morning or late afternoon for cooler temps and better light.
No list of Instagrammable spots would be complete without at least one mention of the Amalfi Coast. To be honest, it’s hard to single out a specific location here as virtually every twisting staircase and hairpin curve offers up a new and dazzling view of the coastline and sea.
Positano is generally considered the most photogenic of the coastal villages, however, so we’ll start here. Arguably the best place to photograph Positano is from the sea, so if you are taking a boat tour or minicruise along the coastline, be sure to have your camera and/or phone handy. If you’re staying on land, however, one of the best views of Positano is from the scenic overlook along Via Cristoforo Colombo above town. This spot is located just west of the intersection between Via Cristoforo Colombo and the Amalfi Drive (ss 163), opposite the Profumi di Positano shop.
Like the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre is an incredibly postcard-perfect stretch of Italian coastline with dramatic cliffs rising directly from the sea and tiny, colorful fishing villages scattered like confetti along the water’s edge. And, like the Amalfi Coast, some of the best views of the area are from the sea.
If you want to capture the charm of the Cinque Terre from land, head to Manarola and stroll along the pedestrian path that leads to the harbor (it’s paved and lined by a handrail, so easy to spot). This will lead you just far enough from the village’s clutch of colorful fishermen’s homes to capture them in a single frame or use them as a backdrop for your portrait.
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