Want to visit Italy in the US? No. I’m not messing with you! There are actual cities and towns in North America that look an awful lot like Italy — one of the most romantic and picturesque countries on the whole planet. So, if you’re too strapped for cash to make it to the real Italy or travel restrictions are making it impossible to visit right now, then check these Italian-like locales right here on our home soil.
1. INSTEAD OF VENICE ITALY, TAKE A TRIP TO VENICE, CALIFORNIA
The Venice Canal district is full of Italian style pedestrian bridges that seem to hover over a series of canals. And it’s no coincidence that this place will have you feeling like you’re in the OG Venice. The canals’ design was inspired by Venice’s canals in an attempt to bring in more tourists to the area. Needless to say, it worked like a charm. Don’t pass up the chance to stroll through the walkways with your family while embracing the bohemian décor, million-dollar houses, and checking out the local street performers and artists. You can rent a bike if you’re in the area and make your way around by yourself, or you can book a beach walking tour on Airbnb to wander around with a local expert.
2. YOU CAN ALSO EXPERIENCE VENICE ITALY IN CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA
We all know that waterways and canals are synonymous with Italy, and that’s exactly what Cape Coral has to offer. Facing the Gulf of Mexico, the Caloosahatchee River, and San Carlos Bay, is the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village, which offers activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing to tourists.
But if you really want some fun in the sun, then take the whole family to the Sun Splash Family Waterpark and check out the various aquatic attractions and thrilling slides this theme park has to offer.
3. YOU CAN VISIT SOME ITALIAN CASTLES IN CALIFORNIA OR RHODE ISLAND
The Castello di Amorosa in Napa Valley, California, will have you pinching yourself over and over again because you’ll swear you’re in a fairytale book. And who could blame you?
Standing in front of a structure that looks identical to its 13th–century counterpart in Tuscany, Italy, is truly surreal. But in reality, the castle isn’t centuries old. In fact, it was opened to the public in 2007, but it has that old world/Grimm’s Fairy Tale vibe.
This breathtaking structure is surrounded by a vineyard, and most of the castle’s 107 rooms are used to store thousands of bottles of wine. Of course, no castle experience would be complete without a drawbridge or a dungeon, which this Castello di Amorosa has.
But if you’re on the east coast, you don’t need to drive to California for a little taste of Italy. Just visit The Breakers, a 19th century Italian Renaissance Palace located in Newport’s coastal town in Rhode Island. The Breakers’ 70-room design is based on the 16th-century Italian Renaissance-style palazzo and comes with a grand dining room, lavish chandeliers, and impressive archways that will make you feel like a king or queen.
4. CRAVING THE MARVELOUS SIGHTS OF CINQUE TERRE, ITALY? THEN VISIT BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA
Big Sur, California is a tourist favorite thanks to its spectacular coastal views and cliffs that are so similar to those in Cinque Terre that you’ll swear you’re in Italy.
The only thing you won’t find in Big Sur is Cinque Terre’s five Old World towns. But that’s okay because Big Sur offers incredible sights at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, where you’ll find tons of hiking trails that are challenging and scenic and a few beaches. If you’re looking to submerge deeper into nature, stop by McWay Falls, an 80-foot high waterfall on the California coastline.
5. CAN’T VISIT TUSCANY, ITALY? THEN HEAD TO NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
Vineyards and wine tasting rooms are just some of what awaits you at Napa Valley, which has done a superb job at capturing the charm of Tuscany’s provincial vibe.
The best part is, there’s no need to travel to Italy to see these wondrous sights because Napa has plenty of radiant vistas to enjoy. Plus, Napa Valley is known for its more than 400 wineries. Among them is the Andretti Winery, which truly embodies everything that you’ve come to love about Tuscany.
Not only will you be able to drink like you’re in Italy when you visit this region, but you’ll be able to eat like you’re there, as well. There are many restaurants that offer all kinds of traditional rustic Italian cuisine, such as Farmstead in St. Helena and The Depot Hotel Restaurant Sonoma. And if you want to make breakfast time just as special, stop by the Bouchon Bakery, which has one of a kind artisanal French bread.
Make sure to book a sightseeing tour on a gondola with a group of up to 6 people. It’s the best way to explore the beautiful sights. Not only will you get a gondolier, but you also listen to music and drink wine just like if you were in Italy.
6. HEALDSBURG, CALIFORNIA IS REALLY SIMILAR TO TUSCANY, ITALY, TOO
Healdsburg is pretty much the spitting image of Tuscany because of its wineries, grape vineyards, and quaint atmosphere. The city is also known for making some world-class wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. Healdsburg also offers a ton of Italian restaurants with Tuscan-inspired dishes like ribollita soup, wood-burning pizza oven, seasonal meats, and Panzanella salad.
Of course, the view alone will have you feeling like you’re in Tuscany’s open country, sampling the amazing farm-to-table cooking and rustic wine pairings.
Make the best of your trip by starting your day off with a flavorful Sonoma Wine Country breakfast at the Costeaux French Bakery, which serves artisan bistro food such as French toast, croissants, omelets, artisanal sourdough breads, and world-renown cakes.