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12 Secret Towns in Italy You Need to Visit Before They're Overrun by Tourists

View over Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy
View over Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy | © Peter Adams Photography Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
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, Puglia

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.

Alberobello, a small town in the Apulia region of the Iria valley. © Silvio Sicignano / Alamy Stock Photo

Bergamo, Lombardy

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.

Medieval upper town of Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy © Olena Buyskykh / Alamy Stock Photo

Treviso, Veneto

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.

Beautiful clear waters of a river in Treviso, Veneto, Italy © Peter Jeffreys / Alamy Stock Photo

Bologna, Emilia-Romagna

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.

Downtown Bologna. Emilia-Romagna, Italy. © Giorgio Morara / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Bolzano province, Italy. © Moreno Geremetta / Alamy Stock Photo

Verona, Veneto

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.

Juliet's balcony, Verona, Veneto, Italy © Kim Petersen / Alamy Stock Photo

Castelluccio, Umbria

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.

Castelluccio di Norcia © Marco Saracco / Alamy Stock Photo

Cefalù, Sicily

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.

Two dinghy boats in the emerald green water of the small port at the city beach in the old town of Cefalu near Palermo in Sicily, Italy. © iPics Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Sperlonga, Lazio

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.

Summer view in Sperlonga, Latina Province, Lazio, central Italy. © Stefano Valeri / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Piazza del Popolo, Ascoli Piceno © Christine Webb / Alamy Stock Photo

Tropea, Calabria

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.

Via Pietro Vianeo, narrow street in historic center of Tropea, Calabria, Italy © Witold Skrypczak / Alamy Stock Photo

Monteriggioni, Tuscany

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.

Little chapel in monteriggioni, tuscany, italy © Bernd Göttlicher / Alamy Stock Photo