6 Hidden Gems in Italy
Italy is a popular tourist destination for good reason – with its iconic cuisine, rich history, beautiful art and architecture, and stunning landscapes, Italy really has something for everyone.
If you want to visit Italy for a truly authentic experience and avoid the tourist traps, below are some of Italy’s hidden gems.
Bergamo is a hilltop city in the alpine Lombardy region in Northern Italy. It’s often overlooked for the more popular Milan, which is 25 miles away, but it’s rich in Medieval history and architectural landmarks. Visitors can enjoy the incredible Bascilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, a 12th-century church with magnificent frescoes, tapestries, and other spectacular art pieces.
The Campanone bell tower offers panoramic views of the city as well as the nearby Alps, but you’ll also find no shortage of beauty just walking the cobbled streets themselves. Many restaurants throughout the city provide delicious Italian cuisine, specialising in winter warmers like risotto and casoncelli, which is a dish of pasta stuffed with pork and beef and sweetened with raisins or amaretti biscuits.
Locorotondo in Puglia is situated in a stretch of green countryside in southern Italy. Its name means “round place”, due to the circular footprint of the town. Locorotondo is often overlooked for nearby Alberobello, which has the famous cone-roofed trulli houses, but Locorotondo has much to offer its visitors.
It’s famous for its white-washed buildings which are often decorated with colourful flowers, making every street a delight to venture down. Whilst there aren’t many standout tourist spots, its best to enjoy the town as a whole. It’s easy to navigate on foot so you can really take in all the wonderful architecture and the general ambiance. Of course, the town also offers authentic Italian food and drink in its many restaurants, cafes, and wine bars.
Everyone knows that Venice is a beautiful Italian city, but it can take the limelight from the other islands in the area that have just as much to offer. Burano is one such island, home to brightly coloured houses and famous for manufacturing lace. In the town squares you can purchase embroidered lace expertly made by the locals and there’s even a lace museum for visitors.
With such an abundance of fresh seafood caught in traditional fishing boats, Burano restaurants are renowned for their delicious fish dishes, including a fish risotto made from goby fish from the Venice lagoon. There’s also plenty of ice cream bars and pizzerias across the island to enjoy.
Trento in northern Italy is the capital city of the Trentino region. It has both Italian Renaissance and Roman influences in its architecture and offers a multitude of interesting monuments and historical landmarks. Castello del Buonconsiglio is the biggest castle in the region, built in the 13th century next to the medieval city walls. There’s also the Cathedral of Saint Vigilius, a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral built in the twelfth-thirteenth century on top of a Roman basilica, which can be seen in the underground crypt.
The Piazza Duomo has many stunning frescoed Renaissance buildings, as well as a Late Baroque Fountain of Neptune built in the late 18th century, making it the perfect place to stop at a café for some Italian coffee and gelato.
Camogli on the west side of the Portofino peninsula in northern Italy is a traditional fishing town with many beautiful colourful houses. The town has centuries of fishing traditions, with statues and various nautical themed art and architecture. On the second weekend in May Camogli holds their annual fish fry, using a 4-metre-wide pan to fry fish donated by the fish cooperative.
The harbour and seafront feature many cafes and shops and make for the perfect spot to just sit back and enjoy the views. The Castello della Dragonara is a cliff-top castle dating back to the 13th century. Once a defence fort for the area, it’s now favoured by visitors as a place to watch the sunset.
Civita di Bagnoregio, Lazio
Civita di Bagnoregio has just 12 permanent residents – rising to 100 in the summer months – due to its unsound foundations atop a plateau of volcanic rock. It’s a medieval town about 70 miles from Rome and is sometimes known as “the castle in the sky”. The architecture of the town spans hundreds of years, with some parts being relatively untouched thanks to the town’s isolation.
There are several medieval buildings housing tourist attractions in the town, like Alemanni Palace which is home to the Geological and Landslides Museum, and Bishop’s Palace, a 16th-century mill. Every year in June and September, the main square holds a traditional donkey race, which has become a popular event with both locals and tourists.
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