Italy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe – if not the world. Being the birthplace of the Roman empire and Renaissance is a good draw for the crowds. The pleasant weather combined with scenic locales makes don’t hurt either. Unfortunately, this means that any place in Italy that you want to visit is likely to be fully covered in tourists. That’s why we advise you to go see one of these 5 less famous, but no less cool spots in Italy.
- Bolzano, Alto Adige
One possible inconvenience when travelling to cities away from the major tourist destinations is the possibility of running into people who don’t speak English. But would expect to find a place in Italy where you can easily converse in Kaiser’s Own German? That’s right, Bozalto in Alto Adige (or in South Tyrol, as any German-speaking resident will tell you) is just that: a bilingual oasis near the Dolomites.
What can you expect to find in this city, which was voted to have the best quality of life in Italy in 2014 and as the best Alpine town in 2004? A majestic blend of Austrian and Italian cultures. Aside from the regular kick-ass architecture of the old town, you’ll be able to visit scenic medieval castles and churches. As for celebrities, a local museum hosts the mummy of Ötzi the Iceman!
- Treviso, Veneto
Everybody wants to go to Venice. Good, let them do that – and pay €43 for two cups of espresso and two bottles of water. And while they’re clogging the canals with their bodies, you will be posting posties in Treviso. It’s near Venice – the train ride is about thirty minutes – and offers many attractions. For one, it’s the area that originally produced Prosecco and one of the towns that can claim to have invented tiramisu.
But if you’re not there to get sloshed on wine and stuffed with cake, you can go appreciate the architectural beauty of the place. The downtown is a walled medieval settlement, with all the cobbled streets, churches, palaces and tiny canals your can handle.
- Bergamo, Lombardy
Milan? Quite OK as a type of pizza, but somewhat crowded as a city. So why not visit the scenic Bergamo, probably the finest hill town in all of Lombardy? It’s a walled city – just like the best of them – and it’s full of charming winding streets that are fun to walk through (and would be nightmare to drive in).
The core of the city is known as Città Alta – “The Upper Town” – and it’s where all the cool stuff is. All the historical buildings are in that hilly area – the flatlands are for the more modern developments. And if you don’t like gawking at UNESCO-approved Venetian defense lines, you can use the city as the base to explore the rest of Lombardy.
- Ascoli Piceno, Marche
Our list is somewhat focused on places that display ancient beauty and Ascoli Piceno is no different in that regard. The place is just lousy with ancient churches, proudly showing examples of baroque, gothic and Romanesque architecture. Tempietto di Sant’Emidio alle Grotte really can’t be beat as a sight.
Tourists are also welcome to gawk at the more secular buildings, too, like the ancient guard barracks of the Palazzo dei Capitani del Popolo. And if you want to see some of that ancient history come alive, a festival held on first Sunday of August (just passed!) sees about 1500 people dressed in Renaissance garb as well as knights competing in tests of skill!
- Matera, Basilicata
Matera is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places on Earth, with a history of habitation stretching all the way back to 10th millennium (not century!) BC. Sassi di Matera is the historical center of the city and it features an amazing collection of caves where people used to live up to 1950s when they were forcefully relocated.
While the Sassi was long considered to be an area of poverty, recent invest and conservation efforts have seen many caves reopened to use. Aside from bars and other trendy places, there are cave churches you can visit, too. Many movies have made use of the amazing architecture of the place, including the recent Wonder Woman flick!