While Italy is always in the traveler’s mind when planning a holiday, there are certain places in this beautiful Southern Europe country that don’t get the same amount of attention. Cities like Rome, Venice, and Florence are renowned as cultural destinations with fascinating histories, but there is much more to Italy than the big cities.
Travelling off the beaten path is always a journey in and of itself, but here I’ll cover six beautiful, unique havens that will make for a trip you’ll remember forever.
After the soaring popularity of Under the Tuscan Sun, tourists flocked to the province of Tuscany in droves. If you’re looking to find a little serenity away from the crowds, Maremma makes for the perfect spot. It is an untouched land of sheer beauty; its mix of mountains, vast planes and sea shores make it not only a great destination to visit, but a place to really explore and sink your teeth into.
Parco Nazionale della Maremma is a huge natural reserve where people often birdwatch, and the land is covered with lavender, wheat, fruits and vegetables. Take the road to Castiglione della Pescaia, a beach town, where you can see how people live in this region and gaze upon the beautiful sunflower fields.
A UNESCO Heritage site, Alberobello is a magical hill-town built entirely of trulli, unusual white houses typical of the Valle d’Itria area in Puglia. These small, thick-walled shacks with cone-shaped roofs are said to have appeared when Italians created a tax on roofs. Resourceful Italians came up with the trulli, which had a removable roof, so as to evade taxes.
Staying in a trulli hotel is a unique experience and could be just what you need for your unique experience. This is a great option for a couple on a romantic trip, the sunset will be the perfect backdrop to any activity in Alberobello.
3. Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre, or “Five Lands” is a series of small Italian fishing villages built into a rugged, remote stretch of coastal hillside. These villages were cut off from the world for many years, but despite having only close contact with each other, each village has it’s own distinct flavor, from the artist’s colony of Riomaggiore to the sandy beaches of Monterosso al Mare. But what really makes these towns so enchanting is the breathtaking view of the Mediterranean that each of them provide.
You’d think, then, that they would be overrun by tourists. However, the natural setting of these villages has worked to keep them fairly cut-off. The only way to get here is by train, and then on foot (Sentiero Azzurro, The Light Blue Trail), which makes this experience even more unique! If you love hiking and the outdoors, this is definitely a must-see for you.
4. Lake Maggiore
The south side of the Alps where Lake Maggiore is set offers one of the greatest views in all of Italy. Looking over the three Borromean Islands of Bella, Madre and dei Pescatori floating on the blue waters of lake Maggiore is a stunning experience in itself. A trip here can be an atypical adventure, with dining on the water, photography in the botanical garden and lodging on the shore, in a beautiful Italian style hotel.
This beach province located in the south of Italy is a unique landscape of rocky mountains, peaceful shores and olive tree plantations. With its residents moving north, Calabria remains one of Italy’s poorest regions. Still, its beauty shines brighter than anything, with bergamot fields, lemon groves and amazing national parks making it a dramatic destination for a wedding or a honeymoon vacation. This is where you’ll come face to face to the quiet, simple Italian living, while enjoying a tourist-free escape.
For the city-dweller at heart, Turin is a delight. A major city in northern Italy, but definitely not a tourist destination like Rome, Turin has the Alps at its side and the river Po flowing through its streets. The vibrant aperitivo scene so common in Italy is strong in Turin, while the cafe culture is elegant and refreshing. Via Roma, with its colonnaded galleries, Basilica of Superga, church of San Lorenzo, with its impressive baroque dome, all of these make Turin an atypical, but beautiful and rewarding destination which could be the setting for your vacation.
About the Guest Blogger
Uma Campbell is a freelance writer from Southern California. She currently writes for Polished Diamonds. While she specialises in design, she loves traveling and writing about her experiences and the unique travel destinations she finds.