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

Beyond the go-to Rome, Florence and Venice, Italy boasts plenty of gorgeous cities and towns for you to explore
Beyond the go-to Rome, Florence and Venice, Italy boasts plenty of gorgeous cities and towns for you to explore | © Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Francesca Masotti
18 October 2021
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Florence, Rome, Venice. Beautiful cities to be sure, not to mention some of the planet’s most visited travel destinations. Yet this popularity means that for many, Italy’s premier hotspots are too expensive and overcrowded to warrant a visit. If you want to enjoy a true taste of Italy without the tourists, read our list of secret Italian towns you need to visit – before they’re overrun by tourists.

Alberobello, Puglia

Architectural Landmark
View of Trulli houses in Alberobello, Italy
© Svitlana Belinska / Alamy Stock Photo

Alberobello is a lovely town near Bari. It is home to the Trulli – cone-shaped white buildings that look like houses straight out of a fairytale. The village is a labyrinth of narrow streets and charming piazzas, while 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 – and you can visit with Culture Trip as part of our exclusive 10-day Southern Italy adventure, led by our Local Insider.

Bergamo, Lombardy

Architectural Landmark
High angle view of the churches and main buildings of Bergamo Alta, historic district of Bergamo, Italy - 09/05/2019
© bigniv72 / Alamy Stock Photo

Forget Milan – the real star of Lombardy is Bergamo, a town often ignored by travellers 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 for you to explore.

Treviso, Veneto

Architectural Landmark
Picturesque canal in Treviso, Veneto, Italy. Italian cityscape
© Roman Sigaev / Alamy Stock Photo

Treviso is like a small Venice with fewer 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, Emilia-Romagna

Architectural Landmark
Bologna emilia romagna italy city europe street
© Francesco Maltinti / Alamy Stock Photo

Bologna is one of the coolest towns in Italy. It is mostly frequented by students – Bologna is home to the oldest university in Europe º 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

Architectural Landmark
Bolzano, Italy. Piazza Walther. Walther Square.
© Fabio Pili / Alamy Stock Photo

This bilingual town in Alto Adige, or South Tyrol, is a nice surprise. Bolzano – known as Bozen to the German-speaking population – sits near the Dolomite Mountains and is surrounded by medieval castles and vineyards.

Verona, Veneto

Architectural Landmark
Verona at sunrise, Europe, Italy, Veneto, Verona
© STEFANO SPRINGHETTI / Alamy Stock Photo

Verona is known as 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’s nothing better than visiting the 14th-century palace with the famous balcony. If you have extra time, don’t miss the marvellous Roman amphitheatre – which in summer, hosts regular opera performances.

Castelluccio, Umbria

Architectural Landmark
Castelluccio di Norcia (Umbria)
© Marco Saracco / Alamy Stock Photo

Castelluccio is the highest village in the Apennine Mountains at 1,452m (4,764ft) above sea level. It’s a charming hamlet with lovely squares that offer spectacular views over the mountains and 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.

Cefalù, Sicily

Architectural Landmark
Aerial view of the city and red rooftops of Cefalu, Sicily, Italy, Europe
© incamerastock / Alamy Stock Photo
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 lovely promenade – set just in front of the sea.

Sperlonga, Lazio

Natural Feature
Sperlonga, little harbour and Torre Truglia, Lazio, Italy. Image shot 07/2014. Exact date unknown.
© Mauro Toccaceli / Alamy Stock Photo
Tired of the crowds in Rome? Well, forget the capital and head to Sperlonga, one of the prettiest seaside villages in the country. Spend some time admiring old palaces, the archaeological museum, gardens redolent with flowers and, of course, the pristine beaches.

Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche

Architectural Landmark
Piazza del Popolo, Ascoli Piceno district, Marches, Italy
© mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Le Marche – just east of Umbria – is one of the most underrated Italian regions. Home to spectacular landscapes, pretty hamlets and turquoise waters, Ascoli Piceno is one of the most important towns of the region and sits close to the spectacular Monti Sibillini National Park.

Tropea, Calabria

Architectural Landmark
Church Santa Maria dell Isola on Isola Bella, Tropea, Calabria, Italy
© Ivan Vdovin / Alamy Stock Photo

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 charming old town full of picturesque buildings and excellent restaurants that are also surrounded by sandy beaches.

Monteriggioni, Tuscany

Architectural Landmark
The medieval walls of Monteriggioni, Tuscany, Italy.
© agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo

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 – as if time has never moved on.

Gethin Morgan contributed additional reporting to this article.

These recommendations were updated on October 18, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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