If you're looking for the best-kept strategies of Italy, then you need arrived at the right place! The charming and magical boot-shaped country reaches the top of virtually every visitor to Europe's bucket list- And with higher reason! In the end, between charming fishing communities, lush swathes of endless vineyards, and picture-perfect medieval cities, there's a plethora of hidden gems and secret spots in Italy which are totally worth exploring.
Every year, countless visitors head to the beautiful Southern European country of Italy to take in the sun's rays and enjoy the wonderful foodie scene this destination has to offer. I’ve personally visited the country on greater than a number of occasions and when there, it’s easy to see why this destination attracts those searching for countless different travel experiences…
As such, for this Italy article, I’ve teamed up with other travel writers from around the globe to showcase Italy’s most breathtaking destinations, along with the very best places to go to!
#1 Discover the secret city of Bergamo
One of the most popular mistakes that first-time people to Northern Italy make is they lose out on the stunning city of Bergamo. Situated just a half-hour train ride away from Milano and with its very own airport terminal, this time-warp of the town is the perfect avoid the hubbub of modern-day life.
Visit now and you’ll soon discover that the city is split over two levels; the Citta Alta and also the Citta Bassa. As the lower town was largely constructed during the 18th-century, that of top of the level is much older, dating completely to medieval times and beyond.
Top highlights of the town include wandering the historic cobbled lanes, dining inside a former prison turned Italian restaurant (yes, really! and it’s called Il Circolino), experiencing and enjoying the best of Renaissance architecture, and more secret spots than you could aspire to discover in a weekend.
Discover my help guide to the best things to do in Bergamo here.
#2 The unknown Italian Riviera capital of scotland- Camogli
The capital of scotland- Camogli might just be the best-kept secret on the Italian Riviera. It's a quieter and unspoiled Italian coastal town, just a half-hour drive away from its glam neighbour, Portofino (or perhaps a short train ride from Genoa).
Thanks to the past like a fishing town, it has tall multi-coloured houses facing the sea which helped the fishermen find their way back home… Or so the storyline goes. Since the town is made into a steep hill, be prepared for stairs and uphill walking!
Although there is no lack of things to do, Camogli is truly a location to unwind and take life in a slower pace. It's the perfect spot to practice your dolce far niente (the skill of not doing anything). Wander the narrow alleys and spot the trompe l'oeil flourishes around the buildings.
Relax on the pebbled beach watching the waves roll in. If you want to get active, you will find boat tours and kayaks for rent along the waterfront. It is also a well known spot for divers who are able to visit the Marine Reserve of Portofino.
When you've upset an appetite, the speciality in Camogli is focaccia. Get the best local version at Revello. It has rich, gooey cheese in between thin sheets of bread. Other local delicacies include sweet pastries with cream and liqueur fillings, pesto and seafood. Plus, there is always lots of Italian wine on hand. A visit to this colourful town will certainly leave you relaxed and happy.
This hidden gem of Italy was submitted by Cindy Baker of Travel Bliss Now. Check her blog to discover more about the best-kept secret on the Italian Riviera.
#3 Ravello, the best-kept key to the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is far from the secret. And when you consider this region is a collection of colourful villages set on the Mediterranean Sea, it's easy to understand why it's so popular. But when you undoubtedly would like to get from the more crowded towns like Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi, consider heading inland just a little towards the cliffside town of Ravello.
With an ethereal medieval vibe, Ravello is undeniably charming. Olive trees hang heavy with fruit and cobblestone paths weave between centuries-old buildings. From Ravello, you will have sweeping views of the sea below. Be sure to check out the town's iconic church that sits around the cliff's edge.
Like many small towns in Italy, you'll find an incredible food and wine scene here. Sample the local flavours and wander through small shops and wine tasting rooms. You'll quickly observe that Ravello lacks the crowds of the popular beach towns, which makes it an enjoyable place and from the beaten tourist track destination to add to your Amalfi Coast trip.
Whether you visit as a day trip from one of the other coastal towns or else you spend a couple of days at a B&B within this charming village, you will have a hard time saying goodbye towards the quiet and captivating capital of scotland- Ravello. Of all of the most breathtaking places to visit in Italy, this close to tops the list.
This treasure across the Amalfi Coastline was submitted by Katie Diederichs from Two Wandering Soles.
#4 Modena, the foodie town of Emilia-Romagna
Situated between Bologna and Parma, Modena is really a charming Italian town in the heart of Emilia Romagna. Despite its relatively small size, Modena certainly packs a lot in. It’s the city of Slow Food meets Fast Cars.
In relation to fast cars, Modena is home to auto giants Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. Modena is also home to Osteria Francescana, formerly the main restaurant on the planet. The Enzo Ferrari museum, which is only a few blocks in the train station, is really a must-stop for any “gearhead.”
For the foodie travellers available, you will find so many good things to consume in Modena. From Prosciutto di Modena to Parmigiana Reggiano to traditional balsamic vinegar, that is all locally produced in Modena. You can even taste some of the best balsamic vinegar for yourself in Modena inside a little shop on Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini.
Otherwise, visit Mercato Albinelli, probably the most beautifully preserved markets for the reason that part of Italy. In terms of dining, of the greatest eateries in Modena is Hosteria Giusti, a little restaurant with simply four tables, occur the rear of a food store. Eating here means you're in the know.
For culture lovers, marvel at the Modena Cathedral or climb the tower to obtain a birds-eye look at the town from above. Modena is easily reached by train, being under an hour from Florence. As such, Modena is a superb hidden gem option to busy and over-touristed Florence.
This top foodie Italian place to visit was submitted by Amber from Food And Drink Destinations. Take a look at her blog for many of the best Modena food recommendations.
#5 The well-kept key to the Stelvio Pass of Northern Italy
In Northern Italy, and more precisely in the South Tirol, you’ll soon find the Stelvio Pass, a stunning road that crosses the Alps and it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Italy. This engineering marvel is one of the highest paved roads in the Alps with an elevation of the staggering 2,757 mt.
The road has no less than 75 hairpin turns, which makes it one of the biggest roads on the planet (actually, the very best, based on Top Gear). Its exhilarating serpentine sections are a daydream for those who love they are driving.
Besides being an enjoyable route to drive, the Pass provides breathtaking views of the mountains and also the Stelvio National park. Truth be told, the very best of all may be the viewpoint in the top of the pass, where one can admire all of the curves from the pass and take fantastic photos.
The road can also be very coveted by the cyclist, there's a Stelvio bike day every year, a contest when cyclists can climb the street. Stelvio is also a famous stage in the Giro of Italy – one of the biggest cycling competitions in the world.
All in all, the Stelvio Pass is one of Europe's most scenic roads, and definitely a place to pass through while visiting Italy. The pass is comparatively close to Milan at 221 km and it is in order to Merano an adorable Alpine town in the south Tirol.
This secret spot of Italy is submitted by Jorge & Cláudia of the website Travel Drafts.
#6 Burano, a colourful Italian treasure close to Venice
Burano is really a small island in the Venice Lagoon, so that as yet is comparatively unsusceptible to the hordes of holidaymakers who descend on Venice on a daily basis. Although this secret destination is less than an hour or so away from Venice itself, not many people to Venice result in the boat visit to the colourful island, which is definitely their loss!
Burano Island is one of the prettiest places you could ever visit. Every house on the island is painted in bright colours; pink, green, blue, yellow, red as well as one house with geometric shapes. Traditionally a fishermen's village, the homes were painted in various colours therefore the fishermen returning from a long voyage could see their houses because they sailed back to port, a welcome sight after days at sea!
Given its rich seafaring heritage, Burano has some delicious seafood restaurants, and it is an ideal spot to try local specialities like risotto de gò, made with goby use the lagoon, or a rich seafood lasagne.
Burano is also renowned for its lace production, and you may go to the museum of lace within the old Town Hall building, so if you feel lucky you may catch a live demonstration from one of the local women who still make the delicate lace patterns by hand.
Visiting Burano is an ideal day trip from Venice, and you'll have a completely different experience to finding yourself in Venice and a much quieter one! I'd recommend going for a vaporetto water bus to Burano so you have time to explore the island, or you might take an organised tour to Burano and can include appointments with other nearby islands Torcello and Murano.
This vibrant Italian destination was submitted by Claire Sturzaker from Tales of the Backpacker. Check out her website for additional understanding of Burano Island.
#7 The Emilia-Romagna town of Ravenna
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination in Italy that will knock your socks off, go to the town of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region. Located in less travelled northeastern Italy, Ravenna is worth the detour if you’re travelling between Venice and Florence.
Ravenna hosts the best mosaics west of Istanbul. From late Western Roman art to Byzantine gems, you’ll find superb displays to admire. And also the town’s history is fascinating as well. With eight monuments around the UNESCO World Heritage site list, there’s a great deal to cover in Ravenna.
But six of the eight monuments come in the town centre, within easy walking distance of 1 another. So even though you have only one day in Ravenna, you may still visit a lot. While every monument out there is certainly worth visiting, the Basilica di San Vitale and also the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia should be towards the top of your list.
Both monuments have austere brick exteriors, but once one enters, you'll be stunned by the beauty of the interiors. In the Basilica di San Vitale, the entire apse is included with mosaics. Here you’ll find Ravenna’s most well-known mosaic scenes: the Emperor Justinian in the court, Empress Theodora together with her ladies-in-waiting, and Christ sitting on blue earth.
The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is small but oh-so-beautiful. It holds the oldest mosaics in Ravenna, from the 5th century AD. The whole ceiling is covered with deep blue mosaics, interspersed with gold stars along with a gold cross in the middle.
Simply breathtaking! As the mosaics are definitely the star attraction, Ravenna is a lovely city, with lots of churches and pretty streets. And the meals are delicious too! Go visit Ravenna…you won't be disappointed!
This submission about the historical and foodie destination of Ravenna comes from Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles. Check her blog here to discover why Ravenna hosts the best mosaics west of Istanbul.
#8 Palermo, the capital town of Sicily
Beautiful, slightly dishevelled, and endlessly interesting: there are many methods to describe Sicily's capital, only one thing is perfect for sure: there are enough of cool things to do in Palermo to captivate any visitor prepared to step off Italy's main tourist trails.
Palermo has played (unwilling) host to many an empire over the centuries, and everybody from the Byzantines to the Arabs towards the Normans has left their mark on the city through food, tradition, and, of course, opulent churches.
While visiting Palermo, be sure to visit the gorgeous Palermo Cathedral, stop by the impressive Massimo Theatre, marvel in the lovely Quattro Canti and Pretoria Fountain, step underground in to the disturbing-yet-fascinating Capuchin Crypt, and tour the Palazzo dei Normanni.
Plus, obviously, no visit to Palermo could be considered complete without meandering through a minumum of one from the city's incredible markets (the Vucciria, Ballaro, and Capo markets all have their individual quirks, but they are lovely), and, perhaps most significantly, devouring several Sicilian cannoli.
While Palermo itself may lack the sparkling beaches that Sicily is known for (even though there are several within easy day-tripping distance; try Mondello or Cefalu), it's absolutely worth adding a few days in Palermo onto any trip to Sicily. You simply might end up falling in love with a new Italian city!
This stunning description of Palmero was submitted by Kate Storm in our Escape Clause. You can study even more about the Sicilian capital in her guide to the best things you can do in Palmero.
#9 Natural Wonder of Carrara in Tuscany
Tuscany is well known for many reasons: Florence, Pisa, architecture, food, wine- But did you know the region was hiding an incredible natural wonder? Indeed, very few people know about the huge marble mountains you can find within the city of Carrara, found in the North East of Tuscany.
Carrara is actually the planet capital of marble, and for good reason. Carrara's marble is locally called “white gold” and has been extracted since Roman times. Later, Michelangelo himself was using this marble to create his sculptures, particularly his David.
Nowadays, the marble is sent all over the world to brighten the best constructions. In 2008, the city got a bit famous because of a 007 film, Quantum of Solace, which some scenes were filmed there.
My trip to Carrara wasn't planned at all: I was on a trip between Pisa and Cinque Terre when some locals told me about the city, and so i booked a tour (you can only visit by having an agency). From Pisa, it took me only 40 minutes by train to reach Carrara. What was my surprise when I saw the massive white mountains overlooking the city!
The 2 hour-tour was awesome. We climbed the lake on the 4WD, that was quite fun due to the bumps. While I usually hate guided tours, I actually loved that one! The guide was really interesting as she was explaining a brief history from the mountains and also the economic and political challenges they are facing now.
We also had the opportunity to enter the within the quarry, which was an incredible experience. As a result, if you are visiting Tuscany, if you're looking for adventure, and when you need to enjoy one of the best secret spots in Italy, I highly recommend likely to Carrara!
This little-known natural wonder of Italy was submitted by Nesrine of kevmrc.com. To find out a lot of. best-kept secrets of the boot-shaped country, read this help guide to Cinque Terre.
#10 Uncover the unique architecture of the Trulli houses of Alberobello
The Trulli houses of Alberobello, located in the southern area of Puglia (Apulia) are among the most captivating items to see on a Southern Italy journey. Without quite certainly one of Italy's best kept-secrets, because of recent tourist popularity; there are many secrets to be uncovered as to the background and meaning behind these houses using their unique conical roofs.
One theory is that the houses were originally built as a means to evade high property tax, because the dry stone wall construction could be easily dismantled should tax inspectors maintain the region. One of the most intriguing aspects relating to the houses would be the various symbols painted on the roofs and spires, each of which have personal family meaning and connect with three categories: Primitive, Christian and Zodiac.
Believed to ward off evil and bad luck, the symbols painted in white ash add to the mystery of the Trulli houses, which go as far back as early as the 14th Century. In modern times, many of the Trulli houses happen to be changed into souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants to attract the region like a tourist attraction.
Whilst these changes may detract in certain respects in the authenticity of the original Trulli houses, the region has become a UNESCO World Heritage site to protect and preserve the Trulli houses of Alberobello. These pretty Trulli houses are often compared to hobbit-houses and are best observed later within the day as the sunsets to really capture a magical photo for the Italy trip.
This unique Italian architecture submission was submitted by Jasmine from the Lifetime of a Social Butterfly. For any better understanding of the Trulli Houses, take a look at her Puglia guide.
#11 Salina, the Secret Sicilian Island
One from the seven islands that comprise the Aeolian archipelago, Salina is located off the western coast of northern Sicily. Like its sisters, Salina was formed by millennia of volcanic activity. In contrast to other islands within the arc, including popular Lipari, Stromboli and Panarea, Salina is relatively lesser-known among tourists.
The local feel and unmatchable food scenes make it a great place to base your remain in the Aeolian Islands. The dual peaks of two massive volcanic cones define Salina's landscape and have endowed the area with mineral-rich soil. Wild fennel, fig trees and caper bushes grow by the bucket load.
Santa Marina, the main port in which the hydrofoils dock, has all the hallmarks of a classic Sicilian town. Charming streets are lined with apartments, seafood trattorias, aperitif bars and gift boutiques selling ceramics, linen clothing and artisanal foods.
Further afield, the quaint villages of Malfa and Leni feel sheltered from tourism. Here, you are able to scout out hidden black sand beaches, cool off inside gorgeous churches with hand-pressed flooring, and walk on trails cut through olive groves to achieve lookout points. The best spot on the area is Pollara – a little white village seated at the bottom of an extinct volcano.
This post was submitted by Emily from Wander-Lush. Check her blog post about the Aeolian Archipelago for additional of Italy’s best-kept secrets.
#12 The wine towns of Montalcino & Montepulciano
If you are a wine lover without a doubt you've heard these names: Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano are among Italy's best. But whatever you decide and well not know is that they're actually named following the little towns in where they're produced.
In the southeastern part of Tuscany, in the Val d'Orcia, between rolling hills dotted by cypresses and filled with vines, within the surface of a hill dominating the region you will see these hidden treasures from the distance: two gorgeous medieval towns, both worth visiting.
They are just 37 km from one another, so that you can base yourself in one and explore another like a excursion. In Montalcino, you'll find an enoteca -a wine bar/shop – within an old fortress. Stroll around it before you go in. They've an extensive selection of wine plus they offer tastings of the greatest of the region, therefore it is easier to pose for photos before venturing in.
As for the rest of the town, just get lost in the small narrow cobblestone streets. Even though the name is popular, the city isn't. Here you'll hear little English and you'll be given the best of Italian hospitality.
In Montepulciano, you will get plenty of bars and restaurants offering pairings of wine and food. The town is even less known than Montalcino, so prices are cheaper. If you feel like splurging with an Italian feast, this is the perfect place. As in most towns in the united states, make sure you don't skip the primary piazza and also the Duomo, and finished the trip inside a viewpoint that will let you see far into the stunning Orcia valley.
This from the beaten path location in Italy was submitted by Coni from Experiencing the Globe.
#13 The historic village of Canale di Tenno
If you’re going for a road trip through northern Italy, then you cannot miss just a little hidden gem called Canale di Tenno. Located only 12 km (about 7.5 miles) in the northern coast of Lake Garda, this tiny medieval village that goes back to the 13th century is undeniably charming.
From stone houses to flower-adorned old windows to narrow cobbled alleys, strolling around this village seems like stepping back in its history and absorbing the real essence of history. The village was partially abandoned after World War I but was rediscovered following The second world war.
The Italian painter Giacomo Vittone fell deeply in love with Canale di Tenno and was motivated to include the quaint Italian settlement in some of his works. Visit today and you can explore a museum and art centre focused on Vittone. Canale di Tenno also still maintains its original structure and today it's the place to find about 50 inhabitants.
If you’re visiting in summer, you may be able to attend the neighborhood festival “Rustico Medioevo”. The wedding is devoted to the medieval ages and includes performances, concerts, traditional food, and a lot more. Not too far from Canale di Tenno, you’ll also discover the small yet stunning Lake Tenno. If you value serene natural landscapes, this turquoise lake is the best spot to start you’re morning…
This Italian secret spot was submitted by Or Amir from My Path in the World. For more Italian insights, check out her guide to going for a road trip through Northern Italy.
#14 Sant’Erasmo, the key island alongside Venice!
The ferry from Venice takes just 40 minutes, but visiting Sant’Erasmo – the small island next to Venice – transports you to definitely another place and time, when it was the agricultural supplier towards the ruling Doge of Venice. Also known as the Garden of the Doge, the word refers back to the abundance of produce, wine, prosecco, honey, and other foods produced on Santerasmo for hundreds of years.
Today, a trip to this relatively unknown island is a slow travel experience where travellers can taste wine and prosecco at Venice's only winery, and visit local producers of honey and violet artichokes. Renting a bike is a great way to begin to see the island by yourself, or you can hire a local guide to take you around.
At the end of the day, stop in local hotel Il Lato Azzurro for a taste of local foods and a glass of prosecco before catching the next ferry back to the town. If you're looking for a totally unique side to Venice or to take a slow travel Venice food tour tasting local specialities, the area of Sant’Erasmo is one of our favourite great finds in Italy!
This little-known Italian destination was submitted by Lori of Travlinmad. Find out more about this secret spot in her Venice food tour guide.
#15 Grotta della Poesia in Roca, Puglia
Grotta della Poesia is really a natural swimming hole in the Puglia region of Italy. Located near the little coastal town of Roca, it is a popular spot using the locals who flock within the evenings using their friends and family. But it's still somewhat undiscovered by people to the location, who tend to congregate further north around the Adriatic coast.
Separated in the sea by a rocky divide, this is an ideal spot to swim when the sea is not as agreeable. But, if you are daring, you can also swim to the coast with an underground sea cave. The cave earned its memorable name, which means the Cave of Poetry in English, via a rather lovely tale.
Rumour has it this would be a princess's favoured swimming spot, and poets came here to try and woo her using their talents. Nowadays, you will find people all avenues of life experiencing the scenery, sunbathing on the unforgiving rocks, diving into the cave, and exploring the nearby ruins of Roca Vecchia.
Arrive early to enjoy the dramatic setting prior to the crowds arrive, but be prepared to stay all day long! Named among the ten most beautiful natural pools in the world, it certainly lives as much as its reputation, and you’ll have a problem pulling yourself away…
This secret gem of Puglia was submitted by Nadine Maffre of Le Long Weekend. Check here to read her guide to this magical swimming hotel within the Puglia region of Italy.
#16 Courmayeur, an offbeat destination within the Aosta Valley
Courmayeur is nestled within the Alps, in Italy’s smallest region, the Aosta Valley, right on the border with France. It’s often overlooked for that hotter and more glamorous areas further south, but, for me, it’s truly an underrated area.
For starters, you're surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery anywhere you look. Courmayeur is right at the foot from the Mont Blanc Massif range. If you love hiking, you're spoilt for choice with all the wonderful trails leading directly from the city.
It is appropriate around the Tour Du Mont Blanc route, a 170km long famous trekking route that spans Italy, France and Switzerland. The best hike likes Val Veny (as pictured), in which the views will take your breath away and you may hike up to a glacial lake.
If you’re not really a big hiking fan, you could always take a trip in the rotating Skyway Monte Bianco Cable Car, to understand the improved views without the exertion. The region is known for its winter skiing and also the town also has a great selection of restaurants, off and on the slopes.
For an area of relaxing following a long day skiing or hiking, you can go to the thermal spa within the nearby village of Pre Saint Didier. Soaking parts of your muscles within their giant outdoor Jacuzzi while taking in the surrounding mountainous views is a real treat.
There are numerous great day trips from the town too. Should you hire a car you are within driving distance of the wonderful towns of Chamonix and Annecy in France, Geneva in Switzerland, and it is only two and a half hours drive to beautiful Lake Como and Milan.
This gem from the Aosta Valley was submitted by Gemma of A Girl And Her Dog around the Road. For all those wanting to find out more about this beautiful region of Italy, be sure to check out her post on the best Courmayeur Day Hikes.
#17 Marvel in the ancient site of Ostia Antica
If you're headed to Rome, be sure to have a day to visit Ostia Antica. It is simple to visit the port town of the italian capital as a day trip from Rome, or you can choose to spend a day out in the region striking in the local beach as well.
Ostia Antica, like Pompeii, is an ancient city that has been discovered by archaeologists and excavated. You are able to wander through the site, seeing what life was like in Ancient Rome. Here you'll find shops, roads, as well as public toilets. Have you ever wanted to walk-through a Roman city but you don't have time for you to allow it to be south to Pompeii, make sure not to skip Ostia!
Important events in Roman history have unfolded here. Many of the Roman emperors were involved in the port’s construction over the years, and the city being attacked by Marius during the civil war between Marius and Sulla.
While here, you may also find out about the Cult of Mithras. You’ll find statues onsite and related artefacts in the museum. Should you choose emerge, make sure to bring sunscreen, because there isn’t much shade! You’ll should also have some water handy to stay hydrated as you explore the city.
This historic site was submitted by Stephanie Craig of History Fangirl. Search for a full guide here on how to visit Ostia Antica.
#18 The area of Asinara
Asinara is among the most incredible places to visit in Sardinia. This island located off the north coast of Sardinia was declared a National Park in 2002, after having been a prison colony for more than 120 years.
As nobody lived on the area apart from prisoners and prison guards, wildlife on the island thrived and nature was somehow protected – the area is pristine. Nobody lives there, apart from the rangers and also the personnel working on the only real hostel and on the two restaurants.
Asinara is the perfect spot for nature lovers, who will find a great selection of hiking trails offering breathtaking views – the best one is that towards the lighthouse; beaches most abundant in pristine waters; and who are able to enjoy spotting the white donkeys and other animals that populate the island.
Other places to go to in Asinara include the prisons – there are 10 scattered around. The main one in Fornelli was a maximum-security prison; whereas in Cala d’Oliva, in which the only village used to be located, there is a Diramazione Centrale (the prison headquarters) and also the bunker prison where mafia bosses for example Toto Riina were kept.
Asinara can be reached from Stintino or Porto Torres on the short ferry ride. Then, you are able to explore it on a tour on either jeep or train on wheels; you are able to bike around (though keep in mind the island is extremely hilly so biking is not the easiest thing to do); or perhaps rent an electric car. Many people visit on the excursion, but Asinara deserves at least Three days to be fully enjoyed.
This hidden gem was submitted by Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across the World. You can discover much more about Sardinia in her own help guide to the island of Asinara.
#19 Le Case Romane del Celio, the best-kept secret of Rome
Beneath the Basilica of Saints John and Paul on the Celio hill in Rome lies one of the city's most amazing hidden gems, Le Case Romane del Celio. Twenty underground rooms with decorations spanning in the second towards the fourth centuries unfold in a labyrinth of history.
Initially a residence for wealthy Romans, the dwelling was changed into a shopping complex and then right into a luxury home to have an upper-class Roman family. Late within the fourth century, the near future Saints John and Paul were martyred on the site. Thanks to the many historical layers, the decorated walls depict both Roman and Christian images.
The structure was discovered in 1887 by an adventurous brother who had been searching for the tombs of Saints John and Paul. The area underwent excavations right after his discovery. After exploring the rooms, you can go to the little museum containing artifacts collected during the excavations.
Despite the truth that it's a short walk in the Colosseum, you'll feel as if you're the only person visiting Le Case Romane del Celio, and also you perfectly may be alone during your visit! If you love Roman history, this can be a must-see in your tour of Rome. You can visit this historical treasure Sunday, Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday between 10 am and 6pm, as well as on Tuesday and Wednesday between 10 am and 2pm.
This treasure of Rome was submitted by Molly of bags and Life. Uncover more of her secret Rome suggestions here.
#20 The key island of Ortigia, Siracusa, Sicily
Ortigia is really a tiny island, barely 1 km long and 500 metres wide. It's the ancient core of Syracuse (Siracusa in Italian), a little city on the south-east coast of Sicily. Its history goes back over 2,Five centuries, if this was the strongest city in the ancient world.
Ortigia is one of the most magical cityscapes in Italy, and its island setting is partly important unique. You can walk all around the lungomare, or coast road, or get completely lost within the labyrinth of alleyways and side streets of the 'interior' of Ortigia.
Much of the items at this point you see dates in the early 1700s, when a lot of the town was rebuilt in Baroque style following the devastating 1693 earthquake. Many of the townhouses are slowly decaying, but still retain that air of Italian grace and elegance.
The best thing to do in Ortigia would be to spend an evening on the gorgeous Piazza del Duomo. It's one of the most beautiful squares in Italy, using the Baroque cathedral front somewhere and grand palazzi along the other. We spent the majority of our evenings here, sitting at an outdoor café opposite the Duomo, gorging on gelato for a quarter of what it might cost on Piazza San Marco or Piazza Navona. Whisper it, however the climate's warmer in Ortigia too.
This secret island was submitted by David Angel of Delve into Europe.
#21 Ventotene, a little-known island in the Tyrrhenian Sea
Ventotene is the smallest inhabited island from the Pontine Islands within the Tyrrhenian Sea and not much known by foreign tourists. The island is frequented by Italians, especially locals from Rome have a tendency to spend their summer holiday on Ventotene.
For this reason, you will get a true feel of Italian island life whenever you visit this small charming place with pastel-coloured houses. There's one beach worth visiting where they rent out sunbeds and parasols. Otherwise, you can chill on the cliffs overlooking Santo Stefano island, which was once a famous prison island.
There are boat trips around Ventotene that include guided tours on Santo Stefano prison and snorkelling within the crystal-clear water. There are also a couple of dive centres around the island for certified divers.
The surrounding waters hide an interesting underwater scene with caves, volcanic rocks and a sunken ship with Roman amphorae scattered around in the perfect state. In September every year, the Santa Candida heat balloon festival happens in Ventotene.
For this reason, you will notice a lot of the souvenirs in love with the area have hot air balloon prints, paintings, and shapes. The easiest way to get at Ventotene is to buy a ferry from Formia. The slow ferry takes 2 hours, as the speed boat only takes an hour or so.
This less-frequented Italian destination was submitted by Linn of Brainy Backpackers. Find out more about Ventotene on her blog.
#22 Lago di Carezza, the jaw-dropping lake from the Dolomites
Lago di Carezza, also known as Karersee in German is one of the most breathtaking lakes in Italy and also the Dolomites region. What makes this lake so special along with its emerald green color of the water, is the fact that it’s easily accessible by car however it remains a concealed gem.
Most tourists will go to the more famous Lago di Braies that is another stunning lake in the Dolomites. Lago di Carezza is situated about 35 minutes by car from Bolzano, which makes it a great stop on the way. Whether you just come here to enjoy the views, or go for the circle loop around the lake, you won’t be disappointed.
While Italy is full of beautiful places, few great finds can compare to the natural beauty of Lago di Carezza. Since there aren’t as numerous visitors here, the climate will also be calmer and quieter.
Most from the visitors here are either hiking enthusiasts or individuals who really adore to spend time outdoors. The best way to arrive here is by car, however, you may also have a bus which stops at the lake.
If you come by car, there's paid automobile parking space available on the other side from the lake. There's also a restaurant near the parking where you can buy some food and drinks, in addition to using the public restroom.
This secret lake within the Dolomites was submitted by Alex from The Swedish Nomad. Check his guide to the Lago di Carezza to learn more about this stunning spot!
#23 The breathtaking town of Siena
Sienna is one of the most beautiful cities in the Tuscan countryside. Definitely, certainly one of Italy's hidden gems. The historic center of Siena is overwhelmingly Medieval and surprisingly well preserved. You will find the striking Gothic architecture, tiny cobblestone streets & traditional terracotta roofs.
Compared to busier more touristy Italian cities, Sienna is remarkably clean. The tiny intersecting alleyways are lined with luxury shops & restaurants in which you will most certainly need a reservation.
Piazza del Campo is the heart of Sienna. You can climb the Tower of Mangia for incredible panoramic views from the city. Other important attractions include the Siena Duomo and also the Sienna Cathedral -which is known for having probably the most impressive facades in Italy.
There will also be great museums in Sienna having a wealth of important art. Check out the Civic Museum of Sienna to see among the world's most well-known allegories.
Sienna is the kind of place where you can tour vineyards and visit castles. The countryside surrounding Sienna is noteworthy for producing Chianti and Brunello wines. Tuscan cooking also sets itself apart by focusing on fresh ingredients combined in simple ways. Have a cooking class in Sienna for those who have time! It's an unforgettable experience.
This secret city was submitted by Valentina Djordjevic from Valentina’s Destinations.
#24 The Roman ruins of Herculaneum, near to Pompeii
Pompeii, the ancient Roman city destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD, is a well-liked day trip for people to Naples, Sorrento and also the Amalfi coast. It is a fascinating site, nevertheless its fame means you will be sharing your visit with thousands of other sightseers.
But what if I had been to tell you that's another town which was destroyed in the same eruption, it's better still preserved than Pompeii, which gets only a tenth of the visits that Pompeii does? Herculaneum is only a few miles from Pompeii, and like Pompeii, it was destroyed when Vesuvius exploded.
Herculaneum’s position around the opposite side of the volcano to Pompeii meant that instead of being buried under tonnes of rocks along with other volcanic debris as Pompeii was, Herculaneum was hit by a 100mph, 250°C pyroclastic rush of hot gas and ash.
The gas and ash only agreed to be as lethal as the rocks, but considerably gentler to the buildings. While houses, temples and other buildings in Pompeii were almost entirely destroyed above their ground floors, many buildings in Herculaneum have their upper floors and even the odd roof intact.
Interior decoration is much better preserved in Herculaneum too, and you can stroll with the site scarcely believing that it was last inhabited 2000 years back. The best part of visiting Herculaneum is when quiet it is when compared with Pompeii.
When I visited there were fewer than 20 other people in the ruins. A fascinating place, full of atmosphere, or being able to have it almost to yourself? Definitely a hidden gem in Italy.
This less-visited Roman ruin was submitted by Helen of Helen on her behalf holidays. Take a look at her website to learn more about visiting Herculaneum.
#25 The picturesque town of Desenzano del Garda
We picked Desenzano del Garda as our base whenever we visited Lake Garda. Lake Garda compared to its neighbour, Lake Como, isn't a popular Italian destination, and as such is one of the best-kept secrets and hidden gems in Italy. The city is to be found in Northern Italy, somewhere between Venice and Milan.
Desenzano is very picturesque and it is the perfect stop for several days if you are visiting Northern Italy. There are many campsites round the shores of the lake and lots of amusement parks for families to enjoy. Arrange for a minimum of 3 to 4 days (or even more) to discover all the nice towns round the lake and maybe even plan a visit to the Dolomites!
When visiting Lake Garda, you can visit the numerous wineries in the region, find out about olive oil production and even search for some truffles. If you’re visiting during November or December, you may be also treated with a of the greatest Christmas markets that the region has to offer.
Though there are many small towns you can go to round the lake, among the best of these may be the town of Saló. It's among the longest promenades on Lake Garda, and maybe even a long in Italy. Lined with lots of restaurants and cafes, Salo also holds an industry that's held on Saturday mornings that is well-liked by locals and visitors alike.
This Italian suggestion for places to stay in Lake Garda was submitted by Priya Vin of outdoor Suburbia. Take a look at her website to discover the best things you can do in Lake Garda.
#26 Salerno, an underrated Italian city on the Amalfi Coast
Located in the middle of the Amalfi coast, Salerno is often disregarded for its more famous neighbouring cities. However, the town is really a refreshing contrast to those tourist destinations which is worth visiting. Having a huge waterfront, open-air cafes, landmarks, good food plus some of the best gelato, there is plenty to help keep you busy in order to simply slow down and enjoy the local life.
Worth a trip may be the Old Town full of alleys and passageways to explore. The 11th-century giant cathedral of Salerno housing art treasures, a distinctive bell tower, and a ceiling covered in frescos is the main church of the town and really should be in your list too.
The Villa Communale is a green space in the middle of the city with huge plants, fountains, and statues scattered throughout. Wandering for this park after lunch is essential. During the night, a stroll across the Lungomare, a boulevard with palms and awesome views from the ocean and surrounding mountains may be beneficial.
This underrated Italian city was submitted by Rai from Rai of Light. For additional Italy inspiration, check out his blog to discovering the very best gelato in Rome.
#27 Pienza, a historic Tuscan town worth visiting!
Pienza is really a medieval town in Tuscany that is somewhat of a concealed gem, although it continues to have its great amount of tourism during the summertime. Pienza is situated about One hour by car from Siena, and it’s well known for its charming alleys with restaurants and artisan shops.
From Pienza, you will also get striking views within the Tuscan landscape and it’s true bliss to walk for this little town and inhale the medieval atmosphere. The Cathedral and the Piccolomini Palace are the most well-known buildings in Pienza, dating back to the 15th century.
This is a superb alternative if you want to visit some lesser-known towns in Tuscany that are still simple to get to. From here, it’s very simple to explore Val d’Orcia, that are renowned for its rolling hills and delightful scenery.
The easiest way to get to Pienza is as simple as renting a car, but if you’re located in Siena, you could also go by local bus even though it would include a change and take about One hour and 40 minutes. The direction to Pienza is good and visitors are generally light. Parking can be obtained although not in the main centre since it’s a protected area due to its historic nature.
This Tuscan town contribution was submitted by Christine from Christine Abroad.
#28 San Gimignano, a walled city in Tuscany
Our family loved our afternoon trip to San Gimignano. This beautiful walled city is situated in Tuscany. Towers are still a prominent area of the skyline of San Gimignano, and the city once had 72. The towers were used either as fortifications or empty shells constructed to boost the egos of their owners who either couldn't afford a protective tower or did not feel one was necessary.
We arrived by car and parked outside the city walls. The city centre is really a limited traffic zone and very pedestrian-friendly. There are many things you can do in San Gimignano with kids. We visited Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Della Cisterna and thoroughly enjoyed a rest for gelato and wine. But, the highlight of our visit was definitely the 260-degree view in the Rocca.
Because there isn't a central train station in San Gimignano, it's kind of of a hidden gem in Italy. It's such a well-preserved Medieval city that people really felt as though i was stepping back in time. We are so glad we stopped between Pisa and Florence. Although we had just a few hours, San Gimignano will be a lovely place to spend a night and take in Tuscan life.
This stunning and secret well-preserved walled town was recommended by Catherine D’Cruz from We Opt for Kids. For more Italian inspiration, check out her help guide to things you can do in San Gimignano with kids.
#29 The gorgeous village of Greve within the wine region of Chianti
Greve in Chianti is renowned for stunning vistas, excellent wine, fresh local food, and tranquility. This small town is extremely accessible from Florence, making it perfect for an excursion or weekend getaway. Being only a half-hour from Florence, Greve in Chianti is the perfect hidden gem to escape to from this busier tourist town.
If spending a whole weekend, unwind by staying in an agriturismo, such as Castello Vicchiomaggio. Perched up on a hill, the property has incredible views within the rolling green terrain dotted with little houses. An attractive afternoon might be spent admiring the scenery in the property's infinity pool with a bottle of rosé.
Greve is situated in the Chianti Classico wine region, which produces its namesake red wine. You can easily find out the bottles, as the labels are proudly marked having a black rooster. In Greve, the two major wineries to go to are competing Castello Vicchiomaggio and Castello di Verrazzano. Both have an abundant history dating back centuries and provide tastings and tours on their own gorgeous properties.
It would be remiss not to visit Greve's cute little downtown for various shops and restaurants to check out. Make dinner reservations to La Cantina for delicious pizzas or Enoteca Fuori Piazza for any classy and atmospheric meal on their own terrace.
This Italian treasure was submitted by Theresa of Fueled by Wanderlust. Check her blog to explore Greve.
#30 The walled town of Cittadella between Vicenza and Venice
Cittadella is really a small medieval walled town located between Vicenza and Venice. The main attraction is the 14-meter high wall that surrounds the whole town plus a small museum documenting the history and restoration.
It is a unique place to visit because most towns surrounded by walls were square/rectangular and Cittadella is encompassed by an almost circular wall with multiple gates and drawbridges. Purchase your ticket in the North tower and slowly go round the walls admiring the views from the surrounding countryside along with the 12th-century town that resides within.
If you happen to go to after September, you are able to pair your visit with the town medieval reenactment with displays of archery, musicians, a market, falcon shows along with a torchlight procession at sunset.
Other notable sights include the Cittadella’s 16th-century cathedral, Italian shoe shops, ice cream shops, and Italian eateries. If you are travelling with children, be sure to visit the playground and park at the southern edge of town, just outside the walls. You won’t be able to see the park until you exit outside the walls, but it is essential for children.
This pretty location was submitted by Chelsea from Pack More Into Life.
#31 The breathtaking area surrounding Lake Bracciano
No matter how well natural and historical treasures of the Lake Bracciano region hide from the travellers' radar, they still have the ability to reach the wealthy ears of other categories of enthusiastic visitors.
This is the area dominated by the romantic outline of the Bracciano Castle, where popular couples like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes celebrated their marriage ceremony. I've heard that this is also a favourite retirement place to go for North Europeans and North Americans.
The three main towns facing the river Bracciano, namely Anguillara Sabazia, Trevignano Romano and Bracciano, still preserve the small, Medieval historical centres with cobbled alleys that hide intimate taverns and sentimental glimpses from the lake.
The whole area belongs to a natural reserve and returns a smile on the faces of the distressed Roman citizens for fun on saturday when they come here for a swim, a hike, or perhaps a dinner underneath the late summer sunsets.
Speaking of the lake's water, just a few Italians remember that this crystal-clear basin feeds drinkable tap water towards the houses of 1 / 2 of the families in Rome and to 40 nearby towns. In olden days, the lake was part of a volcanic area going from Latium to Tuscany. Nowadays, it is a perfect spot for swimming, kayaking, wind-surfing, fishing, relaxing, and becoming away from the city.
If you are planning a visit here, reserve an hour or two for exploring the amazing Bracciano Castle, try the neighborhood speciality “homemade pasta with the lake's fish”, and don't forget to bring your swimsuit. For further assistance with the attractions from the area, read about Lake Bracciano.
This Italian travel destination was submitted by Annalisa from Travel Connect Experience. For further assistance with the attractions from the area, on Lake Bracciano here.
#32 Valle dei Laghi, a natural gem of Northern Italy
Valle dei Laghi is a beautiful area in the North of Italy, in Trentino, stretching between your North of Lake Garda to Mount Bondone. The name of the valley originates from the various lakes that you could find in the area. Valle dei Laghi is the perfect spot to go if you are searching to have an from the beaten path relaxing holiday in Italy.
There are plenty of things to do in Valle dei Laghi, from trekking along vineyards to drinking the local wines. Valle dei Laghi is the only place where Nosiola grapes grow, a range used to make DOC wines for example Muller-Thurgau or Pinot Grigio.
They will also be utilized in making Vino Santo, a number of sweet wine for which the grapes are picked in late October and pressed only within the week before Easter. There are lots of small vineyards in Valle dei Laghi where you can go and enjoy a glass of refreshing Nosiola wine or delight yourself with Vino Santo, whilst experiencing the beautiful views.
Valle dei Laghi is ideal to become explored by foot, through easy hikes in one village to another. The paths usually go through vineyards and offer spectacular views over the valley, its lakes and castles.
One thing that you can do in Valle dei Laghi that is probably quite unique is visiting an active hydroelectric power plant, located deep inside a mountain. It's fascinating to look at the turbines work and see the way the water originates from the mountain into them and then is transformed into electricity.
This hidden Italian gem was submitted by Joanna in the World in My Pocket. Check out her help guide to visiting Valle dei Laghi for additional insider travel tips!
#33 Palau, Sardinia
Palau, on the island of Sardinia, is one of the best-kept secrets in Italy. Northern Sardinia is famous for the VIP hotspot of Porto Cervo, the crystal clear water from the Archipelago of Maddalena, or even the windy beaches of Porto Pollo if you’re a water sports lover.
However, the little capital of scotland- Palau, closely located to any or all these famous attractions, is usually overlooked. Palau has only about 4,000 inhabitants and only one main street where all the shops, bars and restaurants can be found.
From the town centre, it is simple to walk to four different beaches and countless small bays, where you can swim in the sea, tan around the beach, and also at a number of them even go windsurfing, sailing or fully stand up paddling.
Palau is also the simplest harbour by which to visit the Archipelago of Maddalena and the pristine beaches the hawaiian islands. However, a lot of people visit on excursions from Porto Cervo, Olbia or even Corsica! As the ultimate destination is the same, if you trigger from Palau you will have a much shorter cruising time, meaning additional time in the beaches!
Palau can also be slightly less expensive than many of the surrounding towns, so if you’re looking to save a little bit of money on your trip, it’s smart to find accommodation in Palau and employ it like a base to explore the north of Sardinia. If you’re looking for great finds in Italy, Palau needs to feature in your list!
This Italian stunning offbeat destination was submitted by Greta of Gretas Travels. Discover more Italian destinations on her behalf blog, such as the Archipelago of Maddalena.
#34 Cala Coticcio, a hidden treasure in Sardinia
Cala Coticcio in Sardinia continues to be one of my favourite beaches in the world. Important unique may be the hike to get to it, and that it is situated on the small island near Sardinia. Even the hue of the water is unbelievable, I'd really never seen water so blue and clear before.
To get to this beach, firstly you have to take a ferry from Palau in mainland Sardinia to Maddalena Island. Already, you will notice just how incredible water is here. From Maddalena Island port, you drive over a small bridge to Caprera Island and after A few minutes you park up by a small forest.
There didn't appear to be any official parking here. Additionally, it asserted you were not allowed to walk here without a guide, but there was no one around anyway! Be cautious when you are driving though, as there are a lot of wild goats jumping out into the road.
It really is a very off the beaten track place, and in March we had it all to ourselves. After a 30-minute walk-through rocks, goats as well as down some steps, you arrive at the beach. You will find small coloured sticks to guide the best way to the beach, so look out for these, however the path is very clear anyway. When you arrive, the clear blue sea is just perfection.
The sand is neat and almost white. It is also a seaside that is shaded in the wind so even just in March we were able to sit and sunbathe. Although I wouldn't recommend taking a swim in March! There are two small beach areas here, and also to arrive at the next beach you have to climb within the rocks that separate the two sandy beaches.
This beautiful spot to visit in Italy was submitted by Hanna Thomas from Solar Powered Blonde. You can discover more wonderful European content in this help guide to the very best of Roussillon, Provence.
#35 The hidden cove of San Fruttuoso along the Italian Riviera
San Fruttuoso is really a cove hidden within the hills from the Italian Riviera. There are only two methods for getting there – by boat or on foot. The small bay is stuffed with a seaside backed with a tenth-century Benedictine Abbey, complete with tower and arches, or even a few restaurants.
Behind the abbey is a steep cliff, creating a forested wall. The setting is certainly not lacking stunning. An enjoyable excursion begins with taking a boat from Rapallo or Santa Margherita Ligure to Portofino and getting off the boat there.
Spend some time going through the tiny capital of scotland- Portofino, playground from the rich and famous, then head up a staircase close to the boat dock past farms, olive orchards and wildflowers and along a path that follows the coastline far below to some series of switchbacks right down to San Fruttuoso Bay.
There are some seafood restaurants along with a pebbly beach lined with deck chairs and umbrellas you can rent. Water is bright green, and also the perfect method to cool-down following the hike. To avoid having to hike back to Portofino, you can easily take a boat back to your starting place later in the afternoon. Read by pointing out Portofino to San Fruttuoso hike here.
If you’re a diver, there's also a sunken 2.5-meter-high statue of Jesus (Christ from the Abyss) at approximately 15 meters underneath the top of the water, not far off in the beach. Dive boats operate from nearby Santa Margherita de Ligure.
This unusual cove of the Italian Riviera was submitted by James Ian from Travel Collecting. Check here to explore how to hike from Portofino to San Fruttuoso.
#36 The underrated town of Trento, Northern Italy
When people consider must-see Italian cities, it's always the big-hitters: Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan. But nobody ever talks about Trento. Actually, I'd never even heard of the area before I went there, and only went because the event I had been likely to happened to be held there. But when I got there I couldn't believe more and more people don't talk about it!
Trento may be the capital of Trentino region, in the north of Italy. Nestled up from the Austrian border, around the fringe of an italian man , Alps, Trentino is really a fabulous mix of Italian and Alpine scenery and culture, and the town of Trento is its beating heart.
An astonishingly pretty city, it straddles the forest Adige, and is jam-packed with quirky colourful streets, cute houses painted with frescoes and adorned with wooden shutters and balconies, and sunlit squares offering cute cafes and gelateria.
It might possibly not have the big-hitting attractions like Rome or Venice, there is however still lots to complete for a few days, with the picturesque medieval city centre, the impressive Cathedral, the Castello del Buonconsiglio, a wonderful 13th century castle having a huge art collection and fragrant gardens filled with lavender and roses, and also the new MART Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in nearby Rovereto.
One of Italy's most prosperous cities, Trento ranks highly for quality lifestyle, and you can really sense that while you walk around: it's neat and well-maintained and also the people are friendly. And finest of all, since hardly anyone goes there, it's not mentally crammed with tourists like other Italian cities!
This Italian secret was submitted by Bella from Passport & Pixels
#37 The hilltop capital of scotland- Taormina in Sicily
Taormina is the idyllic Sicilian location. Sitting on along side it of Mount Tauro, the picturesque town has expansive views of the ocean below and epic panoramic scenes of green hills above and Mount Etna in the distance. The quaint pedestrian streets along with the adorable cafes give it a romantic vibe.
In summer, Taormina is bustling with tourists and also the beaches are pristine. The weather can also be wonderful all year round due to the protection from the slopes, making a visit in winter quite pleasant.
Due to the beauty, Taormina has been inspiring artists since Goethe arrived in 1787, accompanied by Otto Gelena's watercolours, DH Lawrence, Truman Capote and Film Festival royalty like Katherine hepburn, Cary Grant, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. The Godfather famous towns of Savoca and Forza d'Agro are also very close by.
There are spectacular historical places like the Ancient greek language Theatre of Taormina or even the Roman Odeon. There are also gorgeous churches like St. Pancras Church, the Duomo (Cathedral of San Niccolo), the Church of San Giuseppe, the Church of San'Agostino not to mention the hilltop Chiesa Madonna della Roca.
And then, as everyone ought to do in Sicily, you can eat for your heart's content. From marzipan at Pasticceria Minotauro to Michelin star restaurant the Ashbee Hotel, from intimate dining at the spectacular Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo to any or all types of granita made fresh at Bam Bar. All in all, Taormina has something for everyone and it is a true Italian gem to understand more about.
This beautiful Italian destination is submitted by Mar Pages from Once in a Lifetime Journey. Check for a guide to the very best of Taormina.
#38 The secret side of Lake Como
If you are looking for hidden gems in Italy, you most likely wouldn't think to consider Lake Como. Celebrity mansions, colourful lakeside villas and amazing water views would usually spring to mind for this destination. You'd probably also feel of crowds during the summertime. So where can you go to see the best Lake Como provides?
If you're after an alternative to Bellagio that has more of a relaxed atmosphere, stunning Varenna might be for you personally! Often overlooked towards its popular sibling, Varenna has much to provide and it is a perfect excursion from Milan or destination to stay the night time.
Located on the eastern shores of Lake Como, Varenna is really a somewhat hidden gem where you can enjoy strolling around the medieval town centre against a backdrop of vibrant red and yellow buildings. While mostly concentrated within the old town centre, these colourful buildings are also dotted in the hillsides, making for amazing photos. I believed I was living in some type of Italian dream!
Despite the dreary weather during my winter visit, the city still managed to allow its rich heritage to stand out in the landmarks, cobbled staircases and delightful natural scenery. The relaxing lakeside walk around La Passeggiata degli Innamorati would be a lovely way to savour almost getting the entire town to myself!
My favourite things to do in Varenna were visiting Villa Montesiro and also the boutique art galleries. I was able to get a few locally made prints to consider home as souvenirs to remind me from the carefree lakeside feeling I experienced during my visit. For those who have a sweet tooth, be sure you visit Café Varenna Bistrot for their delicious hot cocoa. It literally IS hot melted chocolate inside a cup, served with whipped cream!
This hidden gem of Lake Como was submitted by Alyse from the Invisible Tourist.
#39 The Sardinia town of Mamoiada
A hidden gem in Sardinia's Barbagia region, Nuoro province, the little town of Mamoiada welcomes its visitors with great food, age-long traditions and important archaeological sites. In February, in Carnival time, they hold a 2000-year-old festival that can make the town a really an amazing stay in your Sardinia holiday.
Not far from the town of Orgosolo, noted for its history of outlaws and the colourful street art that fills the walls of the whole city centre, Mamoiada is one of the top places to visit in Sardinia if you wish to explore and delve deep into local traditions.
All round the town is the countryside dotted with ancient stone sites such as the ancient funerary monuments known as giants' tombs (tombe dei giganti) and fairies' houses (domus de janas) dating back to some 4/5000 years BC. Within the same countryside are also some menhirs, tall phallic-shaped stones that most likely marked a sacred area.
If you happen in Sardinia either on January 17th in the occasion of Saint Anthony festival or the Carnival in February, you can witness the propitiatory ritual they've been doing for many 2000 years to welcome the harvest season. While in January the masks perform the ritual by dancing around bonfires scattered round the town, during Carnival they parade in the primary streets all afternoon.
This hidden gem of Sardinia was submitted by Angela from Chasing the Unexpected. For additional Italy wanderlust inspiration, check out this guide to the most amazing places to go to in Sardinia.
#40 The stunning Malatestiana Library of Cesena
It is here now in the bustling capital of scotland- Malatestiana in Northern Italy where the Malatestiana Library is situated. It's recognized throughout the world because the only conventional humanist library that has been perfectly preserved inside a building.
The Malatestiana Library buildings, furnishings, and book collections are fully and perfectly preserved since its inception! Exactly what does “conventional humanist library” mean? Basically, it is the only library in the world that blends humanistic principles with architecture being an independent or public library (as opposed to a religious library).
This library has preserved your building because it was with 58 rows of reading desks and ‘coat of arm’ chairs with 348 centuries-old books chained towards the desks for more than 550 years! Remember manuscript-styled books were very costly back then!
This library has been preserved in humidity levels which have been consistent the whole time. It even takes two secrets of open the door to this library/study room built with plenty of rays of sunshine through its windows! A rose window lights the corridor in the middle of the area. The Malatestiana Library has been recognized by UNESCO for this huge accomplishment.
This Italian secret was submitted by Dr Cacinda Maloney from Points and Travel. You can discover more Italy-focused content in her own guide to the strategies of Rome.
#41 The secret town of Viterbo
Not many people outside of Italy know of the information on Viterbo and have no clue where it even is! This lovely medium-size city is all about 100 km far from Rome, yet as you visit you might as well think you are well on another planet, because it is incredibly different both in relation to sights and atmosphere.
Close enough to the Italian capital to become visited on a excursion, in fact, Viterbo and it is surroundings deserve a minimum of Three or four days to become fully appreciated. The main tourist attraction in Viterbo is the gorgeously kept medieval city centre, which is almost entirely surrounded by protective city walls.
One of the very most interesting places to go to is the Papal Palace: for about 24 years within the 13th century, Viterbo was the seat from the Pope. Other areas to include in your itinerary ought to be the Duomo of San Lorenzo and the Church of Santa Maria Nuova.
If you have a thing for cobbled alleys and tiny squares be sure to explore San Pellegrino, the oldest quarter within the city. Be sure to visit Terme dei Papi, beautiful historic thermal baths, and also to explore the city surroundings such as Villa Lante in Bagnaia, and also the villages of Tuscia.
If you will be travelling to Lazio at the beginning of September, don’t miss Viterbo’s Santa Rosa celebrations around the night of 3 September. It’s so unique that in 2020 it had been inscribed among UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
The celebration consists in carrying an enormous papier-mache statue of Santa Rosa, protector from the city, over the narrow alleys from the centre. The statue is beautifully illuminated and because the public lightening is switched off it is extremely a show. Viterbo can be reached from Rome by train from Roma Aurelia station. It takes less around two hours to get there. If you are planning look around the surroundings, it’s probably better if you are renting a car.
This hidden gem was submitted by Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across the World. You can discover more wonderful Italy content in her post about the best day trips from Rome.