10 Incredible Hidden Gems in the Italian Countryside
There is no shortage of famous sights to see in Italy, but there’s also plenty of hidden gems that you didn’t know about. Check out this list of incredible off the beaten path places to visit in the Italian countryside.
If you’re planning a vacation to Italy, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. There’s so much to see, do, and eat. Where do you even begin?
If crowds and tourist traps aren’t your scenes, you might want to consider going off the beaten path. Here’s your guide of 10 incredible hidden gems of the Italian countryside.
Explore the Italian Countryside
Everyone goes to the same tourist destinations when they go to Italy. When really you get the best travel experience when you venture to where the locals go. Afterall, they know the best spots, they do live there after all.
Here’s a rundown of some of the best-hidden gems in the Italian countrysides where you might not even find another tourist in sight. Some of these spots are so far out there, you may not even see a car for miles.
If you feel like you need a guide to explore these small cities look into Italian vacation specialists like Finelli & Shaw. They can help you plan and guide you on your own custom Italian vacation.
1. Marina di Pisciotta, Campania
This unheralded spot in the Province of Salerno comes highly recommended by Lee Marshall, author of Telegraph’s Travel Guide to Rome, Florence, Tuscany, and Sicily. He calls Marina di Pisciotta, Campania a small Italian coastal town Italy’s “secret seaside.” The town sits on a hill and is sandwiched between pastel houses, alleyways, chapels, and piazzas.
Business is slow here outside the beach months of July and August, making this the perfect destination to get lost and unwind. The town is surrounded by fisherman’s cottages, modest hotels, and seaside restaurants. If you’re craving fresh fish, look no further then here.
Fishing is one of the main trades here, known for their anchovy fishing, which they immediately preserved between layers of salt in terracotta jars. If you’re a fish foodie, you’re going to love how they serve fresh fish served any way you like it, for every course with the exception of dessert.
2. Bergamo, Lombardy
When you think of Lombardy, you probably think of the fashion capital of Italy, Milan. You’re missing the real star of Lombardy, Bergamo, a small romantic city with cobblestone streets that lead to old palaces.
Get lost in its architecture like the Duomo di Bergamo, the city cathedral, or the grand Cappella Colleoni, a chapel with 18th-century frescoes by Tiepolo. But not all of this town in ancient.
There’s actually two Bergamos, the modern “lower city” and the older “upper town.”
Walk down it’s winding streets and grab some gelato as you explore the countryside and Italian lakes. Bergamo is one of the most compelling of Italy’s mid-side towns, making it a perfect escape for a low key spring break.
3. Montefalco, Umbria
Located in the central part of the Italian province of Perugia, perched above the floodplain of the Clitunno river. Here you can take in the city’s vast culture as you check out the Renaissance’s fresco cycle and other historical works in their San Francesco museum.
Recently named Italy’s Best “New” Wine Region by Conde Nast Traveler. This area remains significantly less touristed because Umbrian wines only have just started becoming popular for mainstream wine consumer.
This sleepy hill town is known for its breathtaking views and delicious rare red wine called “Sagrantino.” This local wine’s grape isn’t new at all. It actually dates back to 1549 when monks used it for a sacramental wine, but it disappeared in the 1960s, and then started coming back by only a few winemakers in the late 1970s.
Sagrantino is a bold, earthy dry wine that’s perfect to pair with sharp, strong cheeses like Pecorino, black truffle, and meat-based dishes, which you can all taste in this small town. Or check out Bevagna next door, that has a stunning main square surrounded by two Romanesque churches.
4. Gabicce Mare, Le Marche
Gabicce Mare, Le Marche is considered to be one of the most picturesque seaside resorts on the Adriatic Coast. You can find it north of Le Marche as it sits on the border of Emilia Romagna, in the province of Pesaro and Urbino.
This beachside town is a very local place and known as a summer playground for Italian families. Here you’ll find yourself surrounded by colorful umbrellas, flat white sand, and high rise hotels.
This former fisherman’s place is now a hidden summer hot spot since it has several picturesque beaches. Its multiple beaches mean there’s an area for everyone, there are spots perfect for children, or private bathing sites or even areas for beach sports.
5. Portovenere, Liguria
The five Cinque Terre coastal villages, north of Portovenere, Liguria, are better known but have been recently overrun. The quieter Portovenere, Liguria, has no railroad access making a perfectly calm, peaceful and serene escape.
This small sleepy town nestled on the Ligurian coast of northwestern Italy is known for Porto Venere Regional Natural Park. This stunning park is a protected place with trails and diving sites. The park is part of Palmaria Island, that has beaches and caves.
Here you’ll also the Gothic-style Church of St. Peter, and nearby is the Castello Doria, a clifftop fortress with views of the Gulf of Poets.
6. Treviso, Veneto
Treviso is like a small Venice, without the tourists and crowds. In other words, it’s heavenly. This town’s historic center has medieval churches, cobblestone streets, red-brick palaces and tiny canals that connect buildings, gardens, and piazzas.
And next door is Verona, Veneto, one of the most romantic towns in Italy. Because, well yes, it’s that Verona of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Theater lovers will want to visit the 14th century with the famous balcony or admire the marvelous Roman amphitheater, where in the summer you can enjoy an opera performance.
7. Tropea, Calabria
Calabria is a hidden gem in the South of Italy located right on the toe of the boot that is Italy. You must visit Calabria at least once in your lifetime before everyone else catches on.
Just last year the New York Times ranked Calabria 37 in the 52 Places to Go in 2017. The article said that some of the best meals of spicy dishes and lighter fare in Italy come from Calabria. This place is known for its food and wine made from local grapes you can enjoy at renowned restaurants like Ristorante Dattilo, Ristorante Ruris in Isola Capo Rizzuto and Antonio Abbruzzino in Catanzaro.
Tropea is a nice old town in Calabria, dotted with picturesque buildings, welcoming and delicious restaurants and sandy beaches.
8. Lake Iseo, Lombardy
Lake Iseo is one of the lesser knowns of the Italian Lakes, but it’s popular with hikers and is actually home to Europe’s largest lake island, Monte Isola. While Lake Iseo is smaller than the famous summer home of George Clooney, Lake Como, Iseo is quieter and more charming and the gem of northern Italy.
The lake is only three kilometers in length and there’s only 2,000 residents in the surrounding area and no cars, which makes this area incredibly calm and peaceful. Here you can walk along the cobbled waterside, and admire the white and blue paper flowers residents string on paths and tie on doorways.
9. Porto Selvaggio, Puglia
Porto Selvaggio, located in southern Puglia, is a mecca of ancient and cultural traditions, without being a tourist attraction. In some areas, they still speak Griko, a Greek dialect, since before this area was colonized by ancient Greece, Romans were still living in huts.
This area’s flat inland is covered by ancient olives, and a few miles west you’ll find a quaint marketplace that has been a protected area since 1980. Nearby there’s also Alberobello, Puglia, where you’ll find cone-shaped white buildings that look fresh out of a fairy tale. In the village, you’ll find a labyrinth of narrow streets and picturesque piazzas.
10. Sulmona & Monti della Laga, Abruzzo
This region almost feels like it has been waiting to be discovered. Here you’ll find peaks, parks, and areas of the wilderness where bear and wolves still roam. The old world town of Sulmona is reminiscent of the fifties, surrounded by mountains and the main square that comes to life on market days.
Many of the mountains in Abruzzo are unvisited, like Monti della Laga’s remote beautiful peaks on the border of Umbria that are unknown even to most Italians. You really can’t get more off the beaten path than here.
Book Your Trip Today
Now that you know the hidden gems of the Italian countryside, book your trip today. Explore some of these most beautiful places in Italy. Small picturesque countrysides of quiet beaches, small towns, and even wine country.
Learn the true meaning of vacation, when you can actually relax on your trip and not feel crowded by other people trying to do the same thing. Make sure you book these trips sooner rather than later, these spots won’t stay a secret forever, and are already gaining some traction.
You really get to learn about a city or country when you explore it like a local. For more travel tips and advice that will make you feel like a local anywhere you travel, be sure to check out our blog.