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Best Places to Visit in Italy

Best Places to Visit in Italy: Top Hidden Gems for Travel Enthusiasts

Italy is home to some of the greatest artworks, historical monuments, and the most incredible food on the planet. But while its famous cities and tourist spots draw large crowds, Italy also boasts hidden gems that offer unique experiences, from historical sites to breathtaking views and authentic culture.

This guide will take you off the beaten path to reveal the best places to visit in Italy that deserve a spot on your travel bucket list. Whether you’re seeking the best places to go in Italy for couples, families, or even on your own, our list of hidden gems will make your journey unforgettable. 

Unveiling Italy’s Hidden Gems 

Everyone knows about Italy’s famous sights like Lake Como, the ancient Roman ruins in Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Amalfi Coast. But Italy also has many hidden gems that are worth exploring. Luckily, with cheap international flights available, these hidden gems are more accessible than ever before. Let’s take a look at some of these lesser-known treasures that offer unique experiences.

1. Matera, Basilicata 

Photo by Luca Micheli on Unsplash

Matera, one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited towns, has been lived in for about 12,000 years. Located in the Basilicata region in southern Italy, Matera is known for its sassi, or cave dwellings, which were occupied until the 1950s. 

While exploring, check out the belvederes for breathtaking cliffside views. Visit Sasso Caveoso for the Casa Grotta, a cave house lived in until 1957, and the Matera Cathedral, known for its stunning Romanesque-Apulian architecture. 

In Sasso Barisano, the oldest part of the city, you’ll find modern comforts like hotels, superb restaurants, and shops. Don’t miss Casa Novecento, where you can immerse yourself in the history of the Sassi dwellings through exhibitions.

2. Cinque Terre, Liguria 

Photo by Mike L on Unsplash

Liguria’s remote Cinque Terre area showcases coastal Italy at its most spectacular. Five seaside villages are nestled between cliffs, surrounded by a national park, and connected by clifftop footpaths. Located on the coastline of northern Italy, the area is special enough to be called a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national park.

This is a place where people have lived in harmony with nature for thousands of years. Since Roman times, they have carved terraces into the steep cliffs to grow wine. Until the 20th century, locals traveled by sea or footpath.

The villages themselves are beautiful, but make sure to hike along the Sentiero Azzurro, the most popular path connecting the five picturesque villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. Relax on pebble beaches and enjoy the stunning Mediterranean views. Then, take a boat trip to explore the coastline from a different perspective.

For the best places to visit in Italy for the first time, consider adding highlights like Portofino, Portovenere, and Santa Margherita Ligure to your itinerary. 

3. Alberobello, Puglia 

Photo by Julius Yls on Unsplash

If you’re seeking authentic places to visit in Italy, Puglia should be on your list. It boasts incredibly beautiful areas with far fewer tourists compared to neighboring regions. A visit here is a sensory experience with vibrant colors, smells, and flavors that seem more intense than anywhere else. Puglia is often called the ‘Florence of the South’ due to its beautiful baroque architecture and Roman ruins. The region is also known for its millenary olive groves.

One of its most famous features internationally is the trulli houses with their cone-shaped roofs. These are dry stone huts with cone-shaped roofs, unique to this part of Italy and mainly found in Alberobello town. Typically painted white with grey roofs, they add to the fairytale charm of the region. For a deeper dive into the region’s culture, consider visiting the Museo del Territorio in Alberobello.

4. Orvieto, Umbria 

Best Places to Visit in Italy

Photo by T S on Unsplash

Orvieto sits atop a large slate of volcanic rock in Umbria, offering stunning views of the lush Umbrian countryside. The town has two main areas: the historic hilltop town and a newer town below.

Must-see attractions include the Orvieto Cathedral, Museo Claudio Faina, the ruins of an Etruscan necropolis, and St. Patrick’s Well. Don’t miss the chance to tour the ancient caves that are part of the Orvieto Underground City. For an optional experience, enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards from the town’s ramparts, and be sure to taste Piccione, a local delicacy made from pigeons.

5. Tropea, Calabria 

Photo by Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash

Known as the Pearl of Calabria, Tropea is known for its colorful houses clinging to the cliffs. But beyond its picturesque charm, Tropea boasts some of the finest beaches in Calabria, making it one of the best places to go in Italy for couples and families alike. 

Perched on the Coast of the Gods, a stunning 55 km stretch of coastline along the Tyrrhenian Sea, Tropea offers a magnificent white sand beach and crystal clear turquoise waters. 

When taking a break from the beach, consider exploring the historic center of Tropea with its narrow streets and charming piazzas. Make sure to visit the Capo Vaticano Nature Reserve, where you can hike stunning trails and discover hidden coves.

Hidden Gems Beyond the Mainland

Go off the beaten path and explore the charming hidden treasures spread across the Italian islands.

Sardinia: Explore Sardinia’s coastal beauty, from the Golfo di Orosei to Santa Teresa di Gallura. Spend time inland as well to see some of the finest prehistoric remains on the continent, including the megalithic buildings called nuraghi and the massive burial sites known as “giants’ tombs.” Visit also the mountain villages of Barbagia, where local people still practice centuries-old traditions.

Mount Etna, Sicily. The Ancient Greeks called it the “column that holds up the sky,” but we know Mount Etna is the largest volcano on the European continent, as well as one of the most active ones in the world. You can climb it on foot, get a guided 4WD tour, or stay on its lower slopes, where you’ll find some of Italy’s most exciting wines being grown in the super fertile volcanic soil. 

Sicily is one of the nicest places in Italy, if not the entire Mediterranean to visit, thanks to its extraordinary wealth of history and architecture, its beautiful coastline, and, of course, the ever-welcoming Sicilians.

Conclusion – The Best Places to Visit in Italy

We hope these ideas help you plan your dream trip to Italy! No matter where you go or how long you stay, one thing’s for sure – you’ll want to come back!
Italy has so much to offer, from the stunning coast of Cinque Terre to the unique cave dwellings of Matera. Check out Matt’s Flights for more detailed guides, practical tips on visiting these hidden gems, and information on the cheapest European countries to fly to.

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