BEST OF ITALY
Duomos: No matter the city, every duomo cathedral is an architectural marvel. The highlight might be the one in Bologna, whose sides were never finished and covered up in a charmingly obvious manner.
Florence: Just generally one of the most spectacular cities in the world. A highlight is the Palazzo Vecchio with its iconic statue of Perseus with the head of Medusa and a gallery of 16th-century world maps.
Lipari: The most accessible of the Aeolian islands, it hosts a Gilmore Girls-y small-town atmosphere where bus drivers stop in the middle of the road to chat with familiar passersby.
Odeon Cinehall: One of the innumerable aspects of what makes Florence so great, this 94-year old cinema with its own dome in the auditorium deserves its own spot. It was also where I realized that theatrical films in Italy tend to be given random intermissions.
Palermo: This bustling city's position in Northwest Sicily has resulted in a lovely amalgam of Norman-Arab-Byzantine architecture and North African-inspired street markets.
Pinocchio Park: Collodi pays homage to its hometown author Carlo Collodi with this lo-fi theme park. Reminiscent of the documentary Osadne, where a town pulls together a delightfully bizarre attraction to bring in tourism.
Sant'Erasmo: A curious agricultural island just north of Venice with a very Hayao Miyazaki vibe. Locals drive around the scarcely-populated area in little three-wheeled trucks, one of the three restaurants on the island lies dark, abandoned, and completely open to visitors, and airbnb cabins leave out a VCD of Tarzan and the Lost City for guests.
Solfatara: A volcanic crater and the notorious entrance to Roman hell. Sulfur steam continuously rises from the earth, giving it a wholly otherworldly feel.
Valley of the Mills: Sunken forest-covered ruins are always awesome, but this one lies directly in the center of the city of Sorrento.
Yang Yongliang: This Chinese artist currently has his work showcased as part of Venice's Biennale, presented by the Shanghai Himalayas Museum, and it's some of the most stunning work I've ever seen.
BEST FOOD OF ITALY
Panzerotti: Savory fried donut thing filled with meat, tomatoes, and/or mozzarella
Pasta alla Norma: Sicilian dish with eggplant, ricotta, tomatoes, and basil
Steak w/ Balsamic Creme: Best steak I've ever had
Salami: Just fantastic in general (same thing goes for their tomatoes)
Sicilian Cannoli: I don't know what they do to it to make it so delicious here, but it is
WORST OF ITALY
Closing Times: closing stores/restaurants between 3 and 7:30 is miserable to deal with
Drinking Water: Not thirst-quenching in the slightest
Getting a Waiter's Attention: Ignoring you is an artform here
Naples: A total dump of a city with the worst traffic I've ever encountered
Pompeii: Unmemorable, save for its depressingly large stray dog population
Public Transportation: Unnamed stops, lots of no-shows, and unreliable destination times
Rome Airport: Hell on earth
Venice Tourism: Those people are the worst