Five Alternatives to Your Favourite Italian Destinations

Five Alternatives to Your Favourite Italian Destinations

temperatures, beautiful architecture and rolling
countryside coupled with arguably unbeatable food and wine arguably
makes Italy the ideal holiday destination – and doesn’t everyone
know it. Many believe there’s not an untouched corner of the “bel
paese” (beautiful country) left, but venture just beyond the
saturated holiday hotspots and you’ll unearth an array of medieval
towns, forgotten fishing villages and crumbling, artist havens.

If you love: Amalfi Coast

Try: Salerno

Although the Amalfi coast is one of Italy’s most enviable
escapes, come high season the narrow streets feel stuffy and
claustrophobic – anyone who’s tried to drive a car along the coast
road in August will know what we’re talking about. Personifying la
dolce vita, Piano di Sorrento boasts all of
‘s charm without the eye-watering price tag. Littered
with orange and the lemon groves, the intoxicating aroma wafts
easily between the local markets and hidden crevices selling
pretty, handmade crafts. Carrying a noble reputation, Pontone is
primed and preened for avid ramblers that have already conquered
Amalfi. Once the getaway for Italian notability, the lush green
mountains of the Valle delle Ferriere nature reserve reveal hike
trials dotted with gushing waterfalls and abandoned mills. Bypass
Sorrento and head to neighbouring Massa Lubrese
– its close proximity to Capri makes its an ideal launch point for leisurely
water excursions.

If you love: Rome

Try: Lazio

Joining the hoards of holidaymakers loitering at the edges of
the Trevi Fountain or queuing outside the Colosseum in high summer
is a surefire way to put everyone in a bad mood, immediately.
Instead, venture out into the volcanic outskirts of Rome.
Just an hour from the capital, Calcata was once a burgeoning,
bohemian haven that was declared “unsafe to inhabit”‘ in the 1930s,
meaning the medieval town has been impeccably preserved. Brimming
with independent art galleries and homespun cafés, the once titled
“oddest town in Italy” is an eccentric alternative to the
commercial coffee chains of the capital. Ostracising itself from
the rest of Italy and accessible only by pedestrian footbridge, the
fragile beauty of Civita di Bagnoreigo has a rich history to
support it. Founded by the Etruscans over two and a half thousand
years ago, pass by the crumbling homes that perch vicariously on
the volcanic ravine before heading Il Pozzo dei Desideri for a
plate of creamy, truffle ravioli.

If you love: Milan

Try: Lombardy

The Italian fashion capital has no trouble drawing in the
crowds, but for a culture-heavy, tourist-light alternative to the
Duomo Cathedral take the two-hour drive to the 2016 Capital of
Culture, Mantua. The jewel in Mantua’s crown is undoubtedly the
decadent Teatro Bibiena, where four stories of ornate balconies
overlook an elaborate stage – book tickets for an evening opera
when emotive performances really bring the venue to life. Travel
west to Pavia, the intellectual hub of the region, where a visit to
the University of Pavia is a must; the swirling Anatomical Theatre
is a temple of science displaying beautiful frescoes and a history
teetering between art and science. Seek out Pozzo for a mandatory Aperol aperitivo. History lovers
should visit to the National Park of Rock Engravings which houses
the world’s largest collection of prehistoric petroglyphs alongside
Capo di Ponte’s glaciers.

If you love: Florance

Try: Manciano, Pitigliano, Val d’Orcia

Renowned for rolling hills, gastronomic delights and renaissance
art, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a higher regarded Italian city
break than
. Bid goodbye to the selfie-stick wielding tourists at
the Ponte Vecchio and embrace slower-paced village life in
Manciano. Believed to have magical healing powers, submerge
yourself in the thermal hot springs of Cascate del Mulino before
heading to the hills of Val d’Orcia. Spend an afternoon idly
wandering through olive groves before a lengthy dinner of
slow-cooked boar stew at Trattoria Osenna, taken sat on the terrace
under a canopy of hanging wisteria. Just south of Val d’Orcia, the
golden town of Pitigliano stands atop fierce gorges, seemingly hewn
from tufa cliffs. With strong ties to its ancient Jewish community,
snack on sfratto di Pitiglian (a crunchy biscuit filled with figs
and spiced nuts) as you peruse artisan stores and check out the
Palazzo Orsini museum.

If you love: Cinque Terre

Try: La Spezia

Of course the big three are well trodden, but two of the tiny,
pastel-coloured fishing villages that make up captivating
Cinque Terre
are still relatively absent of snap-happy
travellers. Flying the culinary flag for the region is Tellaro,
where the small maze of streets harbour restaurants serving some
most authentic Italian cuisine around. Paying homage to their
humble fishing heritage, the morning catch at Locanda Miranda is expertly prepared and
fall-off-the-fork-fresh. Further along the coastline, Portovenere
is a far more attractive option than overcrowded Vernazza. Explore
the rainbow houses clinging to the coastline and pay a visit to
Grotta Byron, where Lord Byron once swam on a visit to fellow poet
Shelley. Sestri Levante’s biggest lure is the blonde sands of Baia
del Silenzio – translated to mean “Bay of Silence”, unlike
tourist-laden Cornigilia there’s little chance of having to fight
over striped umbrellas here.

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