Lesser Known Parts of Italy to Discover This Year

Lesser Known Parts of Italy to Discover This Year

Reckon you’ve “done” Italy? We say it’s time to break free from the overcrowded tourist mainstays and turn your attention to these under-appreciated towns, beaches and mountains

nothing wrong with joining the hordes to shuffle past
Michelangelo’s statue of David or pushing past the selfie sticks to
fling a coin into the Trevi Fountain – it’s got to be done and
there’s a reason these spots are so popular. But there’s a
delightful satisfaction that comes from discovering somewhere a
little bit different.

We’ve sought out the kind of rough diamonds that will transport
you back a few decades, to a world without A/C and English menus.
And what you lose in reliability in these places, you make up for
in a sense of adventure and, dare we say it, authenticity. Travel
out of season and make time for secret walled cities, quiet
lagoons, mountain villages and beaches – they’re closer than you



The secret cliff town that should be on every Italian beach
Itinerary, Tropea is perched high above the Tyrrhenian Sea on the
toe of Italy’s boot. Bluer-than-blue waters, white beaches and a
pretty historical centre rival those found in Puglia
or on the
Amalfi Coast
, and at a fraction of the price. While far from
luxurious, the village has bags of old-fashioned-charm. As well as
fresh seafood, Calabria is known for its sun-drenched Mediterranean
vegetables, and for being the only place where the perfumed citrus
fruit bergamot is grown. Tropea has a mythical status in the
region, with the story going that it was founded by Hercules after
he freed Calabria from the giants. Watch the evening sun sink into
the sea beyond Stromboli, or take a boat trip out to the island to
enjoy its unearthly black beaches punctuated by traditional white

Stay: Villa D’Aquino

Alta Badia

The Dolomites

With its cluster of villages and wild countryside perched high
in the Unesco-listed Dolomites, Alta Badia is home to only around
6,000 people, making it one of Italy’s most secluded and least
populated holiday spots. Love Italian wine? From July to September
an open-air festival called Vins Alaleria hosts tastings in meadows
and on dramatic mountainsides at the bottom of the Pisciadú
waterfalls. In Autumn, walking holidays and Michelin-starred-chef
residencies provide the perfect escape; while in winter the region
hosts the ‘Taste for Skiing’ gourmet ski safari, where acclaimed
chefs partner with mountain huts to create a signature slope-side
dish available all season.

Stay: Villa Trieste



Viticulture has ancient origins in this region of northern
Italy, but it’s only in the last few decades that Franciacorta’s
reputation has started to get any serious air time on the world
stage. Thanks to the hard work of independent wineries and the DOCG
certification, Franciacorta’s classically made sparkling wines are
making a name for themselves. The area has a similar terroir to the
French wine regions, which is dotted with medieval castles and
hilltop cities that make ideal stop-off points during wine-tasting
road trips.

Stay: L’Albereta Relais & Chateaux



Home to some of the finest wines, white truffles and culinary
know-how in the world, Piedmont is a wealthy and successful region
with a lifestyle to match. Bra is the global epicentre of the Slow
Food movement, where students spend time learning how to discern
between the various grades of Parmigiano-Reggiano and how to
produce top-notch olive oil. Alba is nearby, with its famed annual
truffle fair and, since Turin hosted the Winter Olympics in 2006,
neighbouring ski villages such as Limone and La Val di Susa have
improved infrastructure, meaning decent
Italian ski holidays
without the international crowds.

Stay: Casa di Langa



Deep in the heel of Italy, the southern extremities of Salento
are remote even by Puglian standards. The dry region is peppered
with small, slow-paced villages and baroque towns such as Nardò,
where wide-open piazzas and storied churches are largely devoid of
visitors. In the rolling countryside surrounding the town, acre
upon acre of olive trees stretch down towards the Ionian Sea. Enjoy
peaceful walks and picnics in the protected pine forest of Porto
Selvaggio, or long lunches of freshly caught fish in rustic local
dining rooms. Don’t miss the inland Grottaglie commune, renowned
for its vineyards and ceramics.

Stay: Further Afield



Tuscany’s little brother and the only landlocked region of Italy
not to border another country, Umbria is less expensive and more
rugged than its sibling, yet arguably just as beautiful. Decamp to
the national park around Lake Trasimeno, or while away lazy days in
characterful castles and farmhouses. The Umbrian capital, Perugia,
is a walled medieval city, not dissimilar to Siena. There’s a
swinging jazz festival here every summer, and a buzzy student vibe
throughout the year. Umbria also happens to be Italy’s largest
producer of truffles, which make their way into many of the
region’s traditional pasta dishes.

Stay: Reschio


Friuli Venezia Giulia

Trieste is the cultural heart of Mitteleuropa, a key
international trade route with close links to Slovenia,
and Austria.
It only became a part of Italy in 1954, and has been strongly
influenced by the Balkans, Venetians, Austrians, Greeks and Jews
throughout its history. Many of the neoclassical buildings date
back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, while the old city is
medieval. The imperial splendour of the port is unexpected for such
a strategically important city: think grand canals, well-structured
waterways and seafront piazzas. Enjoy traditional Italian cuisine
and seafood alongside wiener schnitzel accompanied by paprika

Stay: Savoia Excelsior Palace

Abruzzo National Park


Golden eagles, wolves, otters, chamois and the last 100 Marsican
brown bears in the world have found refuge in this vast national
park in the Apennine mountains. Besides being the oldest national
park in Italy, it also has the greatest diversity of flora and
fauna. The surrounding area is home to 25 remote towns and
villages, including the medieval hilltop town of Casoli, with its
cobblestone streets and ninth-century castle.

Stay: Castello di Semivicoli


Aeolian Islands

A small volcanic island off the coast of Sicily, Lipari has a
lot going for it: think black-sand beaches, ancient fort ruins and
crystal-clear coves to explore by boat. The island has an
impressive archaeological museum, volcanic craters and beautiful
forests beloved by hikers, and plenty of challenging roads leading
to picturesque fishing communities that will keep mountain bikers
happy. Neighbouring island Vulcano makes for an easy day trip, with
the main attractions being its natural mud springs and volcano
walking trail. Despite all this activity, the little island retains
a relatively untouched feel. Stroll around the historic harbour
town, taking in its elegant pastel houses trellised with flowers
and a charming market selling local capers and Malvasia wine.

Stay: La Settima Luna Hotel

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