Not only can Italy offer fantastic food, endlessly quaffable wines and some of the most fascinating historical sites in Europe, it is also home to a massively varied array of natural scenery. Whether it’s mountains, rolling hills or sandy beaches that you love, there’ll be a region to suit your tastes.
Whilst Rome, Florence and Venice have long topped the list for visitor numbers, there are plenty of other beautiful towns and cities to visit that will give you a fantastic insight into the real Italy. The great thing about these lesser-known places is that they aren’t as busy, they’re more affordable, and they’re perfect for practising your Italian.
Here’s a selection of some locations that tend to be missed off the international tourist trail.
1. Island of Elba
Located off the coast of Tuscany, 20 km from the coastal town of Piombino, Elba is the third largest island in Italy after Sicily and Sardinia. The island is probably most famous for being the place to which Napoleon was first exiled, albeit for a mere 300 days. There are certainly worse places to be exiled, though… the island boasts some stunning beaches, clear blue waters, and endless options for outdoor pursuits like mountain trekking and kayaking.
Orvieto is a medieval town in the region of Umbria that enjoys one of the most dramatic settings of any in Italy. It perches high on a cliff in the middle of stunning Umbrian landscape, and shows off its magnificent gothic cathedral for miles around. Other features of note are the labyrinth of caves and tunnels that lie beneath the town’s cobbled streets, the Etruscan ruins that sit within the city, and the remnants of a wall that enclosed Orvieto more than 2000 years ago.
A small, coastal town in the region of Calabria., Tropea is one of Italy’s real hidden gems. It has always been popular amongst Italian tourists, but remains relatively unknown internationally. It is home to some of the nicest beaches in Italy and is surrounded by shimmering blue waters that you simply wont be able to resist.
Viareggio is the southernmost Italian Riviera-style resort on Italy’s Mediterranean coast, and as such boasts the usual plethora of entertainment venues and eateries – in particular, seafood restaurants. It’s the largest beach town in Tuscany, but for a beach resort has the rare characteristic of being very rich in art, culture and history too. It’s also known for hosting one of Italy’s best carnevale. This really is a town with something for everyone.
Despite being the capital of Sardinia, Cagliari still appears to be somewhat overlooked by foreign tourists. The city has an interesting history and there are certainly sites to see, but a lot of Calgliari’s charm lies in its pace of life, its laid back atmosphere and its (largely seafood inspired) cuisine. It is also home to some of the most breathtaking beaches and waters outside of the Caribbean…