Florence, Rome and Venice are all obvious travel destinations. They’re beautiful, sure, but they’re also expensive and crowded. If you want to enjoy la dolce vita without tourists, read our list of 12 secret Italian towns worth a look.
Alberobello is a lovely town near Bari. It is home to the trulli, cone-shaped white buildings that look like houses straight out of fairy tales. The village is a labyrinth of narrow streets and nice piazzas, and it also has a beautiful belvedere that offers fabulous views of the town. Thanks to its beauty, Alberobello has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Forget Milan—the real star of Lombardy is Bergamo, a town often ignored by travelers attracted by the fame of the region’s capital city. This romantic walled city is one of the most beautiful in Italy and is filled with cobblestone streets and old palaces.
Treviso is like a small Venice with less tourists and crowds. Its historical walled centre is dotted with medieval churches, cobblestone streets, red-brick palaces and tiny old canals that connect buildings, gardens and piazzas.
Bologna is one of the coolest towns in Italy. It is mostly frequented by students (Bologna is home to the oldest university in Europe) and gastronomy fans, as it is known to be the Italian food capital. Once you arrive, don’t forget to taste the delicacies of the area, such as lasagne and tortellini.
Bolzano, Alto Adige
This bilingual town in Alto Adige, or South Tyrol, as the German-speaking population says, is a nice surprise. Bolzano is near the Dolomite Mountains and is surrounded by medieval castles and vineyards.
Verona is the most romantic town in Italy. Why? It’s where Shakespeare’s tragic love story Romeo and Juliet takes place. For those who are fans, there is nothing better than visiting the 14th-century palace with the famous balcony. If you have extra time, don’t miss the marvelous Roman amphitheatre, where in summer months they have opera performances.
Castelluccio is the highest village in the Appennine Mountains at 5,000 feet above sea level. It is a charming hamlet with lovely squares that offer spectacular views over the mountains and colored fields that blossom with violets and red poppies. The best time of the year to visit Castelluccio is in spring, from late May to early June.
Sicily is one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean, and Cefalù is perhaps the prettiest town of them all. This medieval city is a true jewel with picturesque piazzas, lovely churches and a nice promenade just in front of the sea.
Tired of the crowds in Rome? Well, forget the capital and head to Sperlonga, one of the nicest villages in the country. Spend some time admiring old palaces, the archaeological museum, gardens with plenty of flowers and the pristine beaches.
Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche
Le Marche, east of Umbria, is one of the most underrated Italian regions, and it’s hard to say why. Home to spectacular landscapes, nice hamlets and turquoise waters, Ascoli Piceno is one of the most important towns of the region and is near the spectacular Monti Sibillini National Park.
Often avoided by tourists, Calabria is a hidden gem in the South of Italy that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. The city of Tropea is a nice old town full of picturesque buildings and excellent restaurants. It is also surrounded by sandy beaches.
Monteriggioni is one of the loveliest walled hamlets of Italy, located in Tuscany in the province of Siena. It is an elegant village surrounded by a stunning landscape, and it’s perfect for a romantic weekend. Monteriggioni is incredibly well preserved. It’s as if time had never moved on.