18 Underrated Towns In Italy You Have To See
Italy is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, with many famous cities, such as Rome, Venice and Florence. However, these places can get quite expensive and crowded, so to escape the hordes, why to check out one of the many underrated towns in Italy.
Despite the undeniably amazing historical landmarks in the popular cities, these offbeat towns in Italy also pack quite a punch. So, try to visit as many of these underrated destinations as you can to experience some spectacular rewards.
1. Bergamo, Lombardy
Often ignored in favour of nearby Milan, Bergamo is one of the finest towns in the region of Lombardy. This hidden gem is a charming walled city full of winding cobblestone streets and old palaces. It also features Renaissance and Baroque architecture and ancient sites. The city is also the perfect base to explore the surrounding countryside, such as Lake Garda or the town of Mantua.
Also Read: 11 Of The Most Amazing Things To Do In Milan
2. Genoa, Liguria
The undeniably spectacular Cinque Terre all but dominates the Liguria region. However, Genoa, the capital of the region, is just as amazing. Less touristic and more authentic, it has always been a major trading centre and was also the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. The town has many fascinating galleries such as the Palazzo Rosso and the Raccolte Frugone, as well as the largest aquarium in Italy, Acquario di Genoa. It also has some delicious food and is known for its pesto and focaccia bread.
The region known as Emilia-Romagna is one of the most overlooked in Italy. It is filled with lovely small towns that you can explore on foot as well as some truly excellent food. Bologna is often called the Italian food capital and is known for its lasagne and tortellini, while Parma is famous for its cured ham (Prosciutto di Parma) and its cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano). You can also visit Ravenna, which has amazing UNESCO-listed Byzantine mosaics.
4. Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Campania
Most visitors to the Amalfi Coast go directly to the popular seaside towns of Amalfi, Capri, and Positano, overlooking Ravello. Set on a hilltop above the dizzying landscape of the coast, it features some of the best views in the region. Largely traffic-free, this peaceful town is full of amazing gardens and terraces.
5. Verona, Veneto
Verona is one of the underrated towns in Italy. This historic destination is famous for being the setting for Shakespeare’s tragic love story Romeo and Juliet. It has beautiful architecture (including the famous Juliet balcony) and a marvellous Roman amphitheatre. You can also visit the nearby Treviso, and its historic walled centre, which is basically like a smaller Venice, minus all the tourists and the frills, or the lovely town of Vicenza.
Located on the Adriatic coast, the Puglia region is full of ancient sites and charming destinations. Often referred to as the “heel of Italy’s boot” its beautiful towns each have something to offer, such as the cone-shaped trulli of Alberobello, long sandy beaches of Gargano, unique and insular Griko culture of Salento, and the Norman fortress of Bari.
7. Herculaneum, Campania
The Ancient Roman city of Pompeii attracts thousands of visitors each year. Perfectly preserved in volcanic ash when the nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD, it offers a unique glimpse into the past. However, just 10 miles to the north is the less well-known town of Herculaneum, which offers the same amazingly preserved sites. Another lesser-known gem is the villa of Oplontis, just outside Pompeii.
8. Turin, Piedmont
One of the largest industrial cities in Italy, Turin is nonetheless often overlooked. With a rich culture and history, it has tons of fascinating sites and attractions, including several churches, castles, art galleries, museums, theatres. Don’t miss the famous Turin Shroud at the Egyptian Museum. Turin was once the first capital of unified Italy and is home to the royal house of Savoy.
Located between the Italian peninsula and the North African coastline, the island of Sardinia is a Mediterranean idyll. It has been home to many civilizations over the years, which have all left their mark, from prehistoric stone structures and Roman ruins to medieval castles. Sardinia also has some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy, as well as excellent seafood.
10. Trieste, Friuli Venezia Giulia
The port city of Trieste was once a cultural hub, though it is now overshadowed by larger cities. Located on the border with Slovenia and near Croatia, it has a fascinating cosmopolitan atmosphere. Be sure to visit the old town, Città Vecchia, with its winding cobblestone streets and medieval homes, the Austrian Quarter, and the 2,000-year-old Roman Theater.
11. Pisciotta, Campania
The tiny coastal town of Pisciotta is set in the Cilento National Park. The area is covered with olive groves that stretch out to the sea. Pisciotta has preserved medieval urban plan, complete with ancient stepped alleyways leading to hidden chapels, small piazzas, hilltop castle and small houses built one on top of the other. According to legend, it was founded by Trojan survivors of the fall of Troy.
The charming region of Umbria is quintessentially Italian. Located between Rome and Florence, it is filled with quiet towns and delicious regional cuisine. You can visit the birthplace of San Francesco d’Assisi, the sleepy hill-town of Montefalco, which is known for its red wine, or Castelluccio, the highest village in the Apennine Mountains.
13. Matera, Basilicata
Once one of the poorest towns in Italy, Matera has transformed into a gorgeous destination. Built into a steep-sided canyon, it is known for is ancient honeycomb network of cave dwellings (or “sassi”), that have been inhabited for over 12,000 years. Though they were evacuated due to overcrowding in the 1960s, the caves now have cafés, galleries, restaurants and hotels. Matera was also where Mel Gibson’s 2004 The Passion of the Christ was filmed. Matera is set to become the European Capital of Culture in 2019.
14. Ragusa and Cefalù, Sicily
Sicily is one of the most spectacular regions of Italy and is quite popular with tourists. However, even in this region, there are lots of overlooked and underrated towns you have to visit. Don’t miss the historical town of Ragusa in the Hyblaean Mountains, with its many stunning baroque buildings. Also visit Cefalù, one the prettiest islands in the region. This wonderful medieval town is known for its Norman cathedral and picturesque piazzas.
The southernmost region on Italy’s mainland, Calabria is one of the least visited places in the country, especially by foreign travellers. Sometimes referred to as “the toe of the boot that is Italy,” it is quite popular with Italians on holiday. Its 800 kilometres of coastline feature tons of glorious beaches. The city of Tropea is truly a hidden gem, filled with picturesque buildings and excellent restaurants.
16. Bolzano, Alto Adige
Located in the South Tyrol province of north Italy (also known as Alto Adige) is the bilingual town of Bolzano. Considered the gateway to the Dolomites mountain range in the Italian Alps, this city is known for its hilly vineyards and its medi