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What’s not to love about Italy? The food, the wine, the history—it’s no wonder people can’t get enough of la bella Italia.

If you’re looking to experience la dolce vita yourself, one of the best ways to do so is by taking a cruise around Italy. Discover the best that these Italy cruise ports have to offer, like renaissance art and culture in Tuscany, the ruins of a fallen empire in Rome, the natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast, and the rustic charm of the island of Sicily.

To see some of Italy’s most popular ports, cruises along the French Riviera and the Mediterranean visit major cities including Rome, Naples, and Florence. If you prefer exploring lesser-known but equally gorgeous towns, itineraries that sail around Spain and the Italian Riviera will take you to the quiet beach town of Santa Margherita, Italy while our Italy, Croatia, and Montenegro itineraries dock in the multicultural hub of Trieste.

Start planning your Italy vacation now with this guide to the best Italian ports to cruise to.

Rome (Civitavecchia)

Historic Colosseum in Rome

Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Romantic piazzas, historic ruins, world-class museums, and pasta (so much pasta!) await in the Italian capital of Rome. The Rome cruise port is located in Civitavecchia, a port city located on the western coast and only 45 minutes away from the city center.

The possibilities of what to do on a cruise to Rome are endless, but there are some highlights that shouldn’t be missed, especially if it’s your first time in the Eternal City.

While stopped in one of the most famous Italy cruise ports, marvel at the Colosseum, the famous amphitheater where gladiators dueled during the Roman Empire era, and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Continue your history lesson by visiting the burial site of Julius Caesar at the Roman Forum, where many other ancient ruins still stand today, and the Pantheon, the most well-preserved monument of the Roman era.

Head to the Vatican, one of the sites that Italy is famous for, and admire the heavenly frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and see if you can catch a glimpse of the Pope in St. Peter’s Square. Before heading back to your ship, throw a euro into the Trevi Fountain with your right hand over your left shoulder to guarantee you’ll return to Rome in the future.

Read: Explore Rome Off-the-Beaten Path

Cagliari, Sardinia

Colorful buildings across a port in Cagliari Italy cruise port

Cagliari, Italy

As one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, Sardinia has a little bit of everything, including an enviable coastline, multiple historical sites, and seaside mountains with breathtaking vistas.

Once you arrive at the island’s port city of Cagliari, head off to visit Il Castelo, the town’s citadel, or walk around the 13th-century Cathedral of Santa Maria. Get a workout in by hiking up the Sella del Diavolo (a.k.a. the Devil’s Saddle), and enjoy a stunning view of the ocean once you reach the top.

Ride a bike by the water at Poetto Beach, one of the best beaches in Italy with its long stretch of sand, or spend a leisurely day cooling off in the water. If you want to learn more about the Roman era, make sure to tour the ruins of the city of Nora, an impressive archeological site that was buried away for centuries until it was rediscovered in 1952.

Read: Why Visit Sardinia

Catania, Sicily

Beautiful landscape of Catania Italy cruise port with Mount Etna as backdrop

Catania in Sicily, Italy

Less well-known than Sicily’s capital, Palermo, the underrated but just as lovely Catania is a bustling port city full of Baroque buildings, ancient ruins, and views dominated by the striking hills of Mount Etna.

At the Piazza del Duomo, go inside the Cattedrale di Sant’Agata, a beautiful example of the region’s baroque architecture, with a rich variety of colorful frescoes decorating the ceilings and walls inside.

Classical music lovers should head to the Teatro Massimo Bellini, an opulent 19th-century opera house and theater, and try to catch one of the regular opera and symphony concerts on its weekly roster.

Take a day trip to the nearby village of Taormina, one of the best places to visit in Sicily, where you can stroll through the Theatre of Taormina, which dates back to the third century B.C. In Etna, experience a vineyard tour and tasting of Sicily’s best reds and whites.

Florence/Pisa (La Spezia)

Colorful hill city of Cinque Terre

Watch: Discover La Spezia With Celebrity Cruises

La Spezia lies within close proximity to popular Tuscan destinations such as Florence, Pisa, and Cinque Terre. Once you arrive at this Italy cruise port, you’ll be faced with the difficult decision of having to decide where to set off to during your day in Tuscany.

Only 30 minutes away lies Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage site made up of a collection of five seaside fishing villages perched atop dramatic cliffs bordering the Ligurian Sea. Some of the best things to do in Cinque Terre include strolling around the winding roads covered with pastel buildings, sampling the region’s specialty, pesto bruschetta, and taking a dip in the ocean at one of the area’s secluded rocky beaches.

From La Spezia, you can also take a popular day excursion that visits both Pisa and Lucca. Stop at the Field of Miracles and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and enjoy guided walks through Lucca’s duomo and many piazzas.

Read: Stunning Seaside Villages to Visit

Florence/Pisa (Livorno)

City view of Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

After docking in Livorno, another popular Tuscan cruise port, most travelers head straight to Florence. As the birthplace of the Renaissance movement, the city has a wealth of art, culture, and history to soak in.

Inside the Accademia Gallery, marvel at the beauty of Michelangelo’s Statue of David and explore masterpieces by Botticelli, Caravaggio, and Da Vinci hanging inside the Uffizi Gallery.

Admire the green and white marble façade of the Duomo, or climb up to the top of its brick cupola, which can be spotted from all over the city. Cross the famous Ponte Vecchio and pose for a photo with the Arno River in the background before stopping at Santa Croce Square for a gelato treat or afternoon macchiato.

Visit the Gucci and Ferragamo museums for an inside look at two global fashion powerhouses. Finish off your day with a meal that should include an order of Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a traditional Tuscan dish you won’t want to miss trying.

Naples / Capri

Medieval castle Castel Nuovo in Naples, Italy

Castel Nuovo in Naples, Italy cruise port

In Italy’s third-largest city and one of the most popular port cities in Europe, start off your day with a visit to the must-see Castel Nuovo, a 13th-century palace that was once the home of the king of Naples. Then stop by the Museo Archeologico Nazionale and view its stunning collection of Egyptian and Greco-Roman artifacts.

Enjoy a stroll around Piazza del Plebiscito, the largest square in Naples, and hunt down a perfect slice of Neapolitan pizza for lunch.

If you’re looking to go a little farther, take a scenic boat trip from Naples Bay to Capri, a glitzy island less than an hour away, where you can enjoy world-class shopping, rocky beaches, and gorgeous scenery; or drive to nearby Pompeii and explore the ruins of the Roman civilization that was frozen in time after it was buried under ash and pumice when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D.

Read: Best Beaches in Naples, Italy


Coast of Portofino including lighthouse

Portofino, Italy

The half-moon-shaped village of Portofino is the definition of picturesque. With pastel architecture, colorful flowers, azure water, and charming shops and cafes lining the harbor, Portofino makes it hard not to fall in love with it at first sight.

Spend the day swimming in one of the best beaches in Portofino, and enjoy a leisurely walk around the town’s downtown piazzetta, where you can sip on a Bellini or grab a refreshing sorbetto (sorbet). For some unforgettable views of the coast, take a short hike up to the Portofino Lighthouse, or stop by the Castello Brown, a 16th-century castle perched atop a hill.

If you’re a certified diver, you won’t want to miss heading underwater in nearby San Fruttuoso, where a large statue of Jesus Christ awaits 55 feet below the surface.

Santa Margherita

Small colorful port of Santa Margherita

Santa Margherita, Italy

Experience the definition of la dolce vita when you arrive in the small port of Santa Margherita. Located in the middle of the Italian Riviera, this seaside town is all about leisurely coastal pleasures, such as strolling along the cafes and shops that line the harbor, enjoying a swim in the cool waters of the Golfo di Tigullio, and sampling fresh seafood and wine in a seaside restaurant.

See more of the Italian Riviera on a shore excursion that’ll take you around the three pearls of the Paradise Coast: the tranquil Santa Margherita, charming Rapallo, and the ritzier Portofino.

Read: Classic Cities and Towns in the Italian Riviera

Messina, Sicily

Messina Cathedral with clocktower

Messina Cathedral in Sicily, Italy

As the third-largest city in Sicily, Messina provides an excellent introduction to the culture and history of the Italian island. There’s plenty to visit if you want to spend your time in port seeing Messina’s iconic landmarks, including the Fountain of Orion, the Torre Faro, and the Cathedral of Messina, which also has the world’s largest astronomical clock.

If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to try an authentic Sicilian cannoli at a local pasticcerie, and don’t forget to order the frutta martorana, a miniature Sicilian dessert made out of marzipan shaped into tiny fruits and vegetables. You can also take a short car drive to the nearby medieval village of Taormina, where you can hop aboard a boat and take a dip at the small island of Isola Bella.

Palermo, Sicily

Beautiful landscape of Palermo, Sicily

Palermo in Sicily, Italy

Recently declared “The Capital of Culture in Italy,” the Sicilian city of Palermo offers a wealth of sightseeing, art, and culinary delights. Long craved by conquerors for its strategic location, Palermo’s diverse history has traces of Roman, Byzantine, Arab, and Norman civilizations in its architecture, dialects, and food.

Witness this melting pot of culture in action with a visit to the city’s cathedral, which melds Muslim and Christian history, the grounds and gardens of the ninth-century Norman palace, and the baroque Quattro Canti (four corners) of the Piazza Vigliena.

If you’d rather skip the tourist lines and enjoy a relaxed day in the sun instead, head to nearby Mondello, a scenic seaside resort, and lounge under a beach umbrella or swim in the Adriatic Sea.


View of grand canal with buildings in Trieste, Italy

Grand Canal in Trieste, Italy

Bordering Slovenia and Croatia, the unique town of Trieste has a rich history including Roman, Austrian, and German empires and occupations. This melange of cultures is seen everywhere around the northern city, from its architecture to its food.

During your time in port, go up the Faro della Vittoria, one of the tallest lighthouses in the world, for a soaring 360-degree view of the Gulf of Trieste. If you prefer to see the sights up close, one of the best things to do in Trieste is to take a walking tour around the city. Stop at the Greek Orthodox Church of San Nicolo, the sea-facing Piazza Unita d’Italia, and the Teatro Verdi.

Sign up for a cooking class and learn how to prepare a local Friulian-style meal that includes handmade pasta, tiramisu, and a vegetable soufflé—all while sampling the local wine, of course. Cap off your day with an afternoon espresso or macchiato at Caffe Tommaseo, the oldest cafe in the city, which has been open since 1830.

Read: Underrated Cities in Europe


Ravenna, one of the best Italy cruise ports


Historic Ravenna lies in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna on the country’s Adriatic coast, east of Bologna and south of Venice. Both cities are an easy day trip away; Bologna for its legendary food and grand Piazza Maggiore, and Venice for its dreamy canals and magnificent palaces.

Ravenna itself merits exploration, with no less than eight UNESCO World Heritage monuments. Some 1,500 years ago, the city was the capital of the Western Roman Empire during an age of spectacular creativity and artistry.

Churches and baptistries all over the city display dazzlingly beautiful mosaics dating back to this time, astonishingly intricate and brilliant in color.

Exterior of the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

Gaze in wonder at the mosaics of 900 sparkling stars on the ceiling of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Another venue on your tour should be the unassuming Basilica of San Vitale, its interior brilliant with biblical scenes in incandescent blues, greens, and golds.

Ravenna has an impressive culinary scene, too. Handmade pasta with meaty sauces, rustic grilled meats, sardines and mackerel, and spaghetti with fresh clams are all local specialties. Wash these down with the fizzy Lambrusco reds that originate from this region, or a delicate Sangiovese Superiore.


Brindisi, one of the best Italy cruise ports


The ancient port city of Brindisi lies in the “heel” of Italy, in the Puglia region, known for its olive oil production. The city blends exquisite churches and grand squares with Roman antiquities, palm-lined promenades, and a long waterfront.

Brindisi has played an important role in Italy’s history, partly because of its strategic location on the Adriatic coast; it’s from here that pilgrims would set out by sea for the Holy Land.

The city is also the end point of the Via Appia, the 2,000-year-old road from Rome, marked by a marble column. You can learn more about the region’s history in the Archaeological Museum on Piazza Duomo.

Exterior of Tempio di San Giovanni al Sepolcro, Brindisi

Tempio di San Giovanni al Sepolcro, Brindisi

There’s plenty to see in Brindisi, including the 11th-century Tempio di San Giovanni al Sepolcro, a circular Romanesque cathedral with intricate stonework and frescoes, built by the Knights Templar.

Brindisi also has some fine sandy beaches nearby, including Torre Guaceto, a nature reserve, and the more organized Lido Azzurro, where you can rent a sun umbrella and beach chair.

Some of the finest attractions in Southern Italy are within easy reach of the city. The magnificent Baroque town of Lecce, built by the Spanish in the 17th century, is packed with exquisite buildings reminiscent of Florence.

Street view of Alberobello


Alberobello, meanwhile, is an enchanting spot famed for its trulli houses; conical, whitewashed dry stone structures with cone-shaped roofs, some dating back to the 14th century.

View of Venice from the water

Watch: Discover Italy With Celebrity Cruises

Still can’t decide which of these Italian ports you’d like to visit on your next vacation? Start planning your Italy cruise with Celebrity Cruises. Browse itineraries and get ready to set sail on one of our award-winning cruise ships for an unforgettable journey.

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