When you hear the words “Italian city”, you will most likely think of Rome, Venice, Milan or Florence. But there are many more places in Italy which, while not as popular, will certainly impress visitors with their extraordinary authenticity.
If you would like to experience real Italy in a more unconventional way, get some inspiration from us for your itinerary of a journey to the land of delicious pasta, outstanding coffee and passionate people.
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Possibly the most beautiful medieval city in Italy, built around three hills, about 70 km south of Florence. Legend tells us that Siena was founded by Senius, the son of Remus, one of the twin brothers that founded the city of Rome. You will therefore see the images of the Roman she-wolf almost everywhere you look. The heart of the city is the central square, Piazza del Campo, famous around the world for its horse race, Palio di Siena. The square and the horse race even featured in the Bond film “The Quantum of Solace”.
The small town of Todi is part of the Perugia province in central Italy. It is perched on two tall hills, overlooking the banks of the river Tiber. Thanks to the beautiful panorama, Todi captivates tourists long before they arrive at its gates. The cascade of picturesque stone houses on the hills look like they have come right out of a fairy tale. This charming town is an ideal place particularly for couples. The grand palaces, a medieval square with many delightful cafes and the narrow streets create the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway. And if you are a history buff, don’t miss the Museo Pinacoteca di Todi, a museum where you will be able to learn about the town’s history dating back to the Etruscan era.
This small town, located close to the border with Slovenia, has been built in the shape of a nine-pointed star. While the very origins of Palmanova can be traced back thousands of years, the modern city was built by the Venetians in the 16th and 17th centuries as a fortress to prevent attacks from the Turks. Palmanova was built as a utopian ideal of a self-sufficient town able to completely sustain its inhabitants. The geometrical harmony was meant to reinforce the idealistic dream of its founders, though perhaps not surprisingly, the dream stayed just that – a dream.
One of five villages of the Cinque Terre National Park. The villages are famous for their brightly coloured houses, built on terraced rocky hills sloping down to the coast. Building in such terrain must have taken months of hard work and a good deal of patience. The unique beauty of the Cinque Terre helped the area become a national park and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Riomaggiore is the largest and best-preserved of the Cinque Terre villages, you can therefore see it on almost every postcard.
5. Civita di Bagnoregio
Only about 120 km north of Rome lies an absolute gem of a town – Civita di Bagnoregio. In this small town, sitting atop a volcanic hill, time has stood still. You enter through a historic gate carved in the rocks by the Etruscans about 2 500 years ago. There might not be many tourist attractions here, but stand anywhere you like and you will feel the pulse of its long history under your feet. However, Civita di Bagnoregio is also known as the “Dying City”, because it is slowly collapsing due to erosion. So, if your heart is set on visiting this magnificent piece of history, do not put it off for much longer.
The dream city of Vespasiano I Gonzaga was founded by him in the 16th century according to the Renaissance principles of the “ideal city” and he became, and still is, its patron. The historic buildings constructed in the style of antique monuments were meant to make the visitors feel as if they were admiring small Athens. The best place to experience this is undoubtedly the small but striking theatre, Teatro Olimpico.
The historic city of Lecce is located right in the heel of the proverbial boot of the Italian Peninsula and is considered the masterpiece of south Italian baroque architecture. However, the abundance of ornate cherubs in the most important city of the Apulia region is not the only attraction bringing tourists to its gates. It is also the authentic Italian coffee, seafood pasta and the spectacular Roman amphitheatre. In short, Lecce is a proud reminder of the times when the Roman Empire ruled the world.
Agrigento is a city in western Sicily, famous for its ancient temples, as impressive and significant as the ones found in present day Greece. The entire complex, known as the Valley of the Temples, has captivated the hearts of visitors from all over the world. The seven well-preserved monumental temples date back to the 5th and 6th centuries BC.
Bologna is also known as “the red one”. But make no mistake, the red has nothing to do with the popular Bolognese sauce. The name refers to the red bricks that most of Bologna’s historic buildings are made from. A home to the oldest university in Europe (1088) and a centre of exquisite cuisine, Bologna also boasts another rarity – a network of arcades over 35 km long. The porticos provide a welcome shelter which means you can enjoy a walk through the city whatever the weather.
The most picturesque and possibly the most photogenic town of Campania charms its visitors especially with the colourful houses built on the rugged sloping coast. The narrow streets are a riot of colour, mixing the pink, orange, yellow or terracotta of family houses with bursts of colour from vibrant blossoms, homely restaurants and fashion boutiques. Why boutiques you think? This little town and fashion are inextricably linked, as Positano was the first Italian town to brave the new wave of fashion of the 1960s, bringing the bikini from France to Italy.Photo source: Shutterstock, Dreamstime, Unsplash.com