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In the foreground a boat motors past, in the background a historical castle and fortress covers a small, rocky Italian island.

The Italian islands are great holiday destinations for history lovers. Italy is famed for its rich culture and history. In fact, the country is home to the most UNESCO world heritage sites on the globe! The Italian islands have their fair share of historical sites. From history buffs to curious children, there’s something to impress everyone. There is so much it would be hard to explore it all in one trip. Which begs the question, which are the best Italian islands for history? Virtual Wanderlust has done some research! We’ve sifted through archeological sites, historical monuments and more to find the answer. Without further ado, here are our favourite Italian islands for history. 

Table of Contents:

Sicily

Sicily is the largest and one of the most popular Italian islands. Many flock here for its beaches, scenery and cuisine. However, Sicily is also one of the best Italian islands for history. Its beautiful shores are steeped in historic ruins. Fans of ancient history can admire the Greco-Roman Theatre of Taormina, in Taormina. This imposing theatre is quite awe-inspiring. You’ll find it hard to believe that it dates back to the 3rd century BC. 

Another must-see historical site is the city of Syracuse. You could spend a couple of days strolling around this city. People originally settled here around 374 BC. There’s an enormous amphitheatre, baroque architecture and the Ancient Greek fortified centre of Ortygia

If you want even more, the Valley of the Temples is sure to impress. Not only is Sicily one of the best Italian islands for history but it is also easy to reach via direct flights from London

Giglio

Giglio is one of Italy’s more hidden islands. It is heavily forested and great if you are after a quiet retreat. It is also one of the best Italian islands for history buffs.Giglio has been influenced by Etruscan, Roman and Genoese culture. You’ll be spoiled by all the historical sites. 

Spend a day wandering around the mediaeval village of Castello Giglio. Here, you’ll find impressive architecture as well as the fascinating San Pietro Apostolo Church. This 15th century church is home to a remarkable ivory crucifix. Other historical monuments include an Ancient Roman villa built in the 1st-2nd century BC and the Torre del Campese. The Torre, or tower, is one of the only remains after a pirate attack in 1799. 

Alongside history, Giglio is well worth visiting for its beaches and nature hikes. Adventurous travellers might enjoy climbing through luscious greenery to find empty seaside coves. 

Giglio is located just off the coast of Tuscany in the Tyrrhenian Sea. You can reach this amazing Italian island for history via ferry from the small harbour of Porto Santo Stefano. The journey from the mainland takes just over an hour.

The ruins of an historical fortress with the sea visible through an archway.

Sardinia

It is no secret that Sardinia is a fantastic holiday destination. It’s the perfect place for a mix of blissful island life and historical exploration. Sardinia’s crowning glory is arguably the archeological park of Arzachena. This park contains many interesting historical monuments. The Giant’s Graves are one of the most popular sites. They are monumental tombs which date back to the bronze era. These tombs are just one of the many Nuragic sites on Sardinia. 

Alghero is an immaculate mediaeval city found on the northwest coast of Sardinia. Walking along the historic sea walls is a great way to combine breathtaking views with history. 

In Olbia, you can find an archeological museum. Here, visitors can deepen their knowledge of Sardinia’s past. 

The island is blessed with historical sites and a gorgeous coastline. These attributes make Sardinia one of the best Italian islands for history and beaches. 

Ischia

Ischia is one of the best italian islands for history lovers who want to go off the beaten track. Among the top attractions is the Castello Aragonese. Perched on a rocky islet, this mediaeval castle is spectacular to behold. Visitors can reach the castle by a long bridge and explore the interior. The castle hosts changing exhibitions of ancient and contemporary art. 

Elsewhere, history lovers can visit the ancient Cavascura Baths. Visitors here can partake in the Greek and Roman practice of hot spring bathing. Relaxing and educational! 

There are around 75 historical churches to keep you busy on a trip to Ischia. What’s more, the island is also home to two world renowned gardens which are well worth exploring. With so much going on, don’t forget to leave time for enjoying the island’s beaches!

Against a clear blue sky is a historical watchtower with peeling green paint on the mediaeval walls of Syracuse in Sicily, one of the best Italian islands for history.

Capri

Capri is one of the most charming Italian islands in the Bay Of Naples. It is also a fantastic destination for history lovers. Against the backdrop of breathtaking views you’ll find a wealth of historical sites. 

Taking a short hike to Villa Jovis is one wonderful thing to do. The villa dates back to the first century A.D. and it is a terrific example of classical Roman architecture. 

For more history, check out the Certosa di San Giacomo. This gorgeous 14th century charterhouse is lovely to wander around. Visitors here walk in the footsteps of mediaeval Caprese monks. 

If you’re still hungry for historical sites, visit Villa San Michele or Capri’s central museum. Capri definitely deserves its place on our list of best Italian islands for history lovers! 

Travel Inspiration

Hopefully this article has helped you find the perfect Italian holiday destination. The next step is to find your perfect type of accommodation! If these Italian islands for history inspired you, why not check out these great Greek islands for history! For all your virtual holiday needs, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Jay

Jay is the owner of Wine, Travel and Song - a blog to share many eclectic adventures in taste, sight & sound

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