Italy is the perfect place to be swept away by sultry scenery, beautiful people and fascinating historical attractions. For many of us though, the regular tourist trail is just a bit too crowded. It’s not very easy to relax with hundreds of people around you taking photos and queuing up for everything. Take a step off the beaten track at one of these handpicked Italian destinations, and find true peace and tranquillity on your next adventure:
Just a stone’s throw away from the great Italian lakes, escape from the world in Bergamo. Close to Milan but much less frequented, this pretty little hilltop town is a charming collection of winding streets and appealing piazzas. Piazza Vecchia is thought to be one of the finest squares in Italy. Take a day trip around the beautiful Romanesque buildings here, including the Church of San Tome with its fading frescoes, shadowy cloisters and robust columns. Bergamo was the home of the composer Donizetti, and each winter opera season comes to town with many performances of the maestro’s music. You can also visit his birthplace at the Donizetti Museum in Via Arena.
Located in the Calabrian region of Vibo Valentia, Tropea is seaside resort with impressive scenery. The town’s historic center is perched on a clifftop, offering dramatic views over the beach and sea. The town has a sleepy southern Italian vibe and a timeless aesthetic – look out for the stunning Norman cathedral. There is also a small museum by the cathedral, the Museo Diocesano which houses pretty religious art. The town is on a beautiful railway line which branches of the main Naples line, alternatively you can reach it by flying into Lamezia Terme and catching a bus or taxi.
Many of you will know the Cinque Terre, the string of picturesque seaside villages on Italy’s rugged Riviera. Every summer, these colorful destinations are filled with tourists looking for a slice of authentic Italian culture. For a more peaceful option, without the tourists, head for the town of Portovenere. With architecture dating back 1000 years and lovely coastal scenery such as Arpaia Cave, you won’t be disappointed.
Nestled just inside the Slovenian border, the Italian port of Trieste is perennially passed over for trips to Venice. This is a real shame, as this is an elegant city full of literary cafes, bustling beer halls and stylish places to stay. Cafe San Marco was a great favourite of James Joyce when he lived here in the early twentieth century. Trieste’s position on the far east of the country has meant that it has seen many occupiers down the centuries – this has given rise to a magnificent mix of culture, architecture and people in one relatively small place. The mosaic-filled Trieste Cathedral, Miramare Castle and the Synagogue of Trieste are three great examples of the city’s eclectic style. Trieste has many music festivals throughout the summertime for jazz, rock and opera aficionados.
The Amalfi Coast is dotted with hidden gems, but the jewel in the crown must be Ravello. This alluring town sits on a clifftop high above the sea, resplendent with romantic gardens, elegant squares and traditional houses. It’s no wonder that the town has attracted writers, musicians and artists down the years. Once upon a time it was a popular stop on the famous Grand Tour – Wagner was inspired by the views to complete his opera Parsifal. Let the scent of lemon trees and the textures of old stone transport you to another time.
In north-eastern Italy on the border with Austria is a fantastic ski-resort that you have probably never heard of: Kronplatz. This picture-perfect ski sanctuary has everything that you could want from a ski holiday – scenic slopes for various levels of experience, an efficient lift system and lots of places to stay. The resort has 116km of pistes, with terrain suited to intermediates and beginners. Experts will enjoy the Erta run, located in the Piz de Plaies section of the mountain which boasts a downward slope of up to 61%. You can find more information in this handy guide.
Do you like the sound of these unusual destinations? Do you have any suggestions?