10 Beautiful & Colourful Places in Italy

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Italians certainly have a knack for creating beautiful and colourful architecture that sits in harmony with its surroundings.

Give your camera a workout with these 10 impossibly photogenic colourful towns and villages in Italy.

Camogli

Boat in Camogli harbour.

Really any town or village along the Italian Riviera could be on this list. The area is known for its tall buildings painted in the colours of summer sorbet accented by dark green shuttered windows and woodwork, and it has long been a fixture on many a tourists’ list.

Camogli is one of the larger villages on the coast, with vertiginous buildings rising straight up out of its shingle beach. It isn’t over-touristed and still has a large fishing fleet – you’ll find some of the best food in Liguria here.

Castelsardo

The picturesque Castelsardo is located on Sardinia’s northern shore, a short drive from Alghero. It has a Genoese heritage which might explain those colours.

It’s a popular daytrip for visitors staying in the wider area. As well as charming streets, it’s has unique religious and cultural traditions and is home to many handicraft shops as well as the Museum of the Crossroads of the Mediterranean.

The medieval citadel is quite a sight when illuminated at night.

Burano

Burano canal.

The Venetian island of Burano is an Instagrammer’s favourite thanks to its rainbow-coloured buildings.

Burano is an old fishing harbour and legend has it that the fisherman painted their houses in bright colours to help them spot their homes in the city’s legendary fog.

Whatever the reason, it’s still a perfect place for a seafood lunch.

Portofino

Portofino villas.

Portofino is one of the most beautiful – and famous – villages on the Italian Riviera.

Its colourful curved harbour is one of the most iconic sights of the coast, and there are countless candy-coloured villas tucked away in the hills.

Portofino an upmarket destination with a very exclusive clientele, who drop by on their megayachts to enjoy the sumptuous views and high-end dining.

Bosa

Bosa facades.

Bosa is a historic town on Sardinia’s west coast which is becoming increasingly well known for the bright houses of its Sa Costa quarter.

The town was once the seat of Sardinia’s leather tanning industry which brought it wealth and influence..

Bosa is situated on the banks of the River Temo, not far from the river mouth. It’s possible to walk along the river to the port and beaches at Bosa Marina.

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore.

The five villages that make up the Cinque Terre are among the most visited places in Northern Italy (and certainly its most beautiful coastal villages).

Riomaggiore  is one of the most recognisable thanks to its steep buildings surrounding a tiny harbour. 

It is the easternmost village and the main entrance point to the UNESCO-listed Cinque Terre National Park.  The park’s most popular trail – the Sentiero dell’Amore – starts here and continues along to Manarola.

Varenna

Another cluster of striking coloured towns and villages is found in the Italian Lakes – Italy’s inland resort region near Milan.

Varenna is on the eastern shore of Lake Como, opposite glamorous Bellagio, and it has a traditional fishing village feel with a pretty harbourfront.

Buildings are painted deep shades of yellow, red, and orange. Balconies overflow with flowers, and the multi-coloured effect is enhanced by the lush green mountains surrounding the village.

Procida

Procida waterfront.

Once a little-visited fisherman’s backwater in the Phlegraean Island group (never heard of it? Capri and Ischia are neighbours), Procida has been making waves lately thanks to its photogenic jumble of pastel-coloured houses and low-key vibe.

You might recognise it from starring turns in Il Postino and The Talented Mr Ripley, and it has been named a European Capital for Culture 2022.

Sorrento

Cheerful Sorrento is one of Italy’s most recognisable coastal resorts. Most of this town is at clifftop level with many graceful villas hotels making the most of its commanding views over the Bay of Naples.

It’s not technically part of the Amalfi Coast, although it does sit on the same peninsula and is a common starting point for trips around the coast.

Ponza

Ponza harbour.

Ponza is a small island in Lazio’s Pontine Archipelago. You might not have heard of it but weekenders from Rome and Naples certainly have.

Less manicured than many of the destinations on this list, the main port is the heart of the island and a relaxed summer hangout with berry coloured buildings.

Honourable mentions:

  • Castelletto sul Garda, Italian Lakes
  • Caorle, Veneto
  • Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano, Tuscany
  • Portoferraio and Porto Azurro, Elba
  • Portovenere, Italian Riviera
  • Porto Giglio, Giglio island 
  • Lipari, Aeolian islands
  • Santa Margherita Ligure, Liguria
  • Sestri Levante, Liguria
  • Vernazza, Italian Riviera

Read more:

A Definitive Guide to Coastal Italy

10 Most Beautiful Italian Islands

10 Most Beautiful Coastlines in Italy

10 Best Coastal Cities in Italy

10 Best Sandy Beaches in Italy

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Image credits:

Camogli: © aceshot1 / Shutterstock

Castelsardo: © Levranii/ Shutterstock

Burano: © fokke baarssen/ Shutterstock

Portofino: © Dan Breckwoldt/ Shutterstock

Bosa: © pixelshop/ Shutterstock

Riomaggiore: © Andrew Mayovskyy/ Shutterstock

Bellagio: © Michal Ludwiczak / Adobe Stock

Procida: © ronnybas/ Adobe Stock

Sorrento: © Nicola Pulham/ Shutterstock

Ponza: © claudiozacc/ Adobe Stock