Italy was the country in Europe that we loved the most out of all of them. Every city we went to and every area we drove through appeared to have come straight out of a postcard. However, there’s one particular thing that we observed. Although the large cities are fantastic, Italy’s little, hidden communities hold true beauty. Authentic Italy can be found there.
So, one would assume that every one of these secret jewels would be simple to locate within this small nation. Yet given that Italy is made up of 20 distinct regions, sometimes you just have to happen upon them. You pause and ponder how on Earth you haven’t learned of these spots before until you do.
Hence, we’ll discuss a list of just what we think are some of Italy’s finest secret cities in this article. We’ve personally visited some, while other places have come highly recommended by locals and other travel writers.
We have no doubt that you’ll discover a few locations in Italy that you simply must include on your next wishlist for this Mediterranean country recognized for its football team, which is consistently among the favorites in major competitions and on betting sites in Italy, as well as for tourism, art cities, distinctive scenery, language, opera, and fashion.
Castelmezzano is a city in the Basilicata region of Southern Italy. It’s beautifully positioned between the Dolomiti Lucane ranges, alongside its twin town of Pietrapertosa. It has a true fairy tale appearance due to the surrounding rocky outcrops and is a must-see location just for the fantastic photography effects.
Since its founding in the sixth century BC, Castelmezzano has been a significant part of local history. Everyone can wonder how a place as lovely as Castelmezzano has managed to maintain its title as one of Italy’s hidden towns for so long. Despite yet, the majority of visitors to the area tend to overlook this hidden gem.
Around Castelmezzano, there are a lot of things to do. The stunning images of the town itself, encircled by those spectacular rocky outcrops, are undoubtedly the major attraction. Stunning churches and other buildings may be found around the town. You may go trekking, climb via ferrata, and sometimes even zip line in the surrounding area.
A little village called Chioggia is situated in the southern region of the Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic coast. It’s frequently referred to as “Little Venice”, and for good cause. Like its more well-known cousin, it boasts the same charming architecture, rivers, and canals that have made Venice a really popular tourist destination. Chioggia, however, fits the description perfectly when it refers to hidden towns in Italy because it absolutely slips tourists’ notice.
A fantastic place to escape the bustle of Venice is Chioggia. It’s a lovely little town to settle oneself in and take day trips up to Venice, which is just 25 kilometers to the south. In the summer, boats frequently travel from Chioggia to Saint Mark’s Square. Hence, Chioggia seems to be the ideal option if you’re seeking a method to see Venice while saving a little money. In Chioggia, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and lodging are much less expensive.
The beach at Sottomarina is the most notable of Chioggia’s many interesting sights. The best beach close to Venice is well-known to exist here. Along this strip, you can find the majority of the nicest lodging, which makes it a fantastic area to escape the summer heat.
The town of Trento is located in the Tyrol Region in northern Italy’s Trentino Province. It actually ranks as the third-largest town in the Alps, nestled at the base of the Dolomites. In terms of tourism, it’s still one of Italy’s most well-kept secrets. Honestly, we don’t think the secret will last very long.
The cozy, rural atmosphere that Trento exudes adds to its appeal. You get the impression of having been there before as you meander through the streets; the local people’s voices, noises, and views. Everything has that sense of familiarity that is typically only experienced while traveling back home. You’ll be given the impression that you’re doing just that in Trento – returning home.
There’s a lot to see and do in and around Trento, so don’t worry if you run out of great piazzas, churches, or gelato flavors to try. Even in another language, Trento is the ideal location to have a conversation with a native. For the simple reason that this town is the friendliest you’d ever visit. And we can assure you that you’ll return.
Why is it twice as fun? Because this hidden treasure in the Northern Italian Dolomites has two names. Its name is Bressanone in Italian. Brixen is the name in German. This is so because a large portion of the populace is German-speaking and has German ancestry. Despite the fact that Bressanone is 45 kilometers from the Austrian border in Italy.
Toward the north of Bolzano, in a luscious green valley, sits this amazing tiny hamlet. It has served as a rest area for travelers traveling back and forth across the Dolomites from Italy toward its neighbors to the north for hundreds of years. Today, Bressanone is a destination that tourists actively seek out and visit for protracted lengths of time.
A short distance from the city of Verona, Sirmione is situated in Northern Italy’s Brescia Province. That is, therefore, not actually a secret. It’s an enormously underrated village, nevertheless, which is why it made this list of hidden Italian towns. Although it could get packed with local tourists during the summer, it’s still very much off the international traveler’s radar. For the time being…
In essence, Sirmione is a vacation destination that’s peacefully tucked away on the beaches of Lake Garda. It’s surrounded by stunning blue waters, has some excellent Roman ruins, and a traditional castle. The town’s placement on a narrow sliver of land that protrudes extremely far into the lake itself, however, is its most notable characteristic. This is shown in almost every postcard, image, and picture of Sirmione, and for good cause. It’s just beautiful.
Matera, which is in the Basilicata Region in Southern Italy, is a secret gem that won’t be for much longer. It has only remained a mystery for so long because of how many other, more well-known southern cities and regions are nearby. The most recent James Bond film, which was out in late 2021, has helped Matera get more attention from visitors to the area. So our advice is to move forward and visit Matera before the throng shows up.
The fascinating history of Matera is what makes it so special. The third-longest continuously inhabited city worldwide is Matera. People have lived in this amazing location for nearly 9,000 years, yet a large portion of that time was spent in extremely miserable circumstances. The majority of the people lived inside the network of caves that make up the majority of the town until the 1950s. They lived in hovels, plagued by rampant malaria, and in abject poverty even though there were homes that had been constructed above them. The residents were ordered by law to leave their underground homes and move into the homes above.
The city has completely changed since then. The caves are still there, but they are now highly coveted boutique hotels. The city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and was named the top cultural city in Europe in 2019. Quite a difference from just 70 years ago, isn’t it?
Some of the cities that people pass by or drive through without paying any attention to is Bergamo. It’s still largely obscure despite having hundreds of thousands of tourists pass through the nearby airport each year. This is so because the majority of those tourists make stops in more well-known locations like Milan and Lake Como. But, they are overlooking a vibrant and stunning city that passes by with no second glance, which is truly unfortunate. For this reason, Bergamo is the North’s best-kept secret. It merely conceals itself from view.
The top and lower halves of Bergamo are separated from one another. The majority of the best tourist attractions are found in the upper section or old town. Ride the funicular ascending to the upper levels and enjoy the day exploring the cobblestoned streets, stopping at charming boutiques, and trying local cheese and chocolate. Spend some time as well admiring the magnificent, venerable walls that once surrounded the city. Although it’s a lengthy 6-kilometer round, it is the ideal way to see the city from above.
Another little town on the Venetian Lagoon is Burano. Yet, this one is somewhat nearer to Venice. It’s renowned for the gorgeous colors of its homes, luring visitors from Venice and throughout Italy to snap pictures and marvel at the various color schemes. Those who saw similar characteristics in Indonesia, where multicolored villages are very common might learn the reason for feeling so attracted to Burano.
It’s no longer a secret that this modest fishing village attracts a lot of tourists from nearby Venice, which is just 40 minutes away. But for many, this remains a well-kept secret, therefore, it makes sense to include it in our list of hidden cities in Italy. And we just have to talk about it since we adore it so much.
But why do towns like Burano paint their dwellings in such a wide variety of hues? We’re aware that in a few areas we’ve visited, it was purely for tourism. With Burano, though, it appears that’s not the case. According to one school of thinking, it made it simpler for the fishermen to locate their own homes when they came home. Some claim that it serves only to distinguish one house from another. In any case, it has made the area a highly well-liked tourist destination.
Monte Lussari, a breathtaking village, is among those locations with a genuine “wow” impact. The settlement is found in Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, directly at Mount Lussari’s peak. It also has the unusual distinction of sharing three borders with three countries: Slovenia, Austria, and Italy.
The early 14th century saw the first construction of Monte Lussari. According to legend, this is where the Virgin Mary’s image was seen, and as a result, a church was built here as a sanctuary for visitors to the revered location. The village expanded from there as more structures were built to house those who made the trek.
Ski enthusiasts frequent Monte Lussari in the winter; the 32 km-long ski run descent. There’s cable car transport for people who want to visit outside of the ski season. The far-off village of Tarvisio is reached by a 15-minute trek that offers breathtaking vistas. Enjoy the village’s high mountain ambiance (1,789m) and delicious cuisine, which includes specialties from each of the nearby nations. If you plan to bring a picnic, go for the trail that leads behind the church because it leads to the genuine peak and is among the nicest picnic areas in all of Italy.
Among one of Italy’s most well-known coastlines is a small treasure called Camogli. Although nominally a part of Genoa, the majority of tourists are usually drawn to the nearby vacation town of Portofino. Yet, Camogli is still a part of the Italian Riviera and has a lot of natural splendor and attractions of its own.
In Camogli, the old town, which is close to the water, is where you should go to unwind. See the residents go about their daily lives as you wander all along the beach and past the vibrant buildings. Have a seat in a coffeehouse and observe the activity around you. If Camogli is known for anything, it’s that it moves much more slowly and leisurely than the remainder of the Riviera.
If you want to cut costs, Camogli is a terrific spot to call home. It’s also great if you want to get away from the busy tourist hordes in the area’s other, more well-known cities. With convenient public transportation, it’s still possible to travel to those towns for a day excursion. If you want, you may even hike from Camogli to Portofino. In Camogli, hiking is actually a highly popular pastime. Magnificent panoramas of the town, Genoa, and the Portofino Peninsula may be seen on hikes that last anything from 30 minutes to 4 hours.
A little island called Procida is located not far from Naples. We can hear you wondering how is possible that an Italian island could potentially be included in a list of Italy’s hidden towns. The answer is actually rather straightforward.
Procida has “suffered” in the shade of larger and more well-known locales, just like numerous places on this list. The majority of international tourism goes to nearby islands like Capri because they are far more well-known than the others. Yet, once the truth is out, Procida will undoubtedly receive its fair share as well. Given that Procida Island was recently named Italy’s 2022 Capital of Culture, that time may be drawing near.
Why is Procida so alluring? Primarily because it doesn’t attract the same number of tourists as the adjacent islands. It’s still genuine, peaceful, and endearing. The residents work hard to keep it a secret. But watch out when pictures of those cute, brightly colored fishing villages start to appear on Instagram and travelers learn that Naples is just a short ferry journey away.
One glance at the magnificent town of Pienza and its views of the Tuscan countryside will instantly bring to mind the Gladiator film. This represented the ideal of Italy to me. Roads into tiny villages are lined with tall Cyprus trees. Wheat fields were swaying in the gentle air that extended into the distance. You have strong cause to think the same things we do if you do. In fact, Pienza was chosen as the backdrop for those scenes in the film.
Pienza is located in the Province of Siena on top of a tiny hill. Despite being the image of the perfect town, it wasn’t always that way. It was merely another village until the late 1400s, much like every other community in the area. But when the eventual Pope Pius II was born there, the village’s fortunes began to shift. He made the decision to make his community the “ideal” town in order to respect it. Together with the Municipal Palace, Piazza, and Papal House, a cathedral was also constructed.
The “new” town’s construction took three years to complete, but the result was a stunning work of architecture that has endured the test of time. After the Pope himself, the town was rebranded Pienza and elevated to the status of a must-see for tourists traveling through the area. Amazingly, despite its prominence, the town never expanded significantly; it currently has just 2,000 residents. This was due to a number of factors, along with the death of the Pope, therefore, no new buildings were built. The difficulty of being so far from commerce centers and a number of jobs during the ensuing years also had a role.
We sincerely hope you’ve discovered some of the hidden towns of Italy on our list if you were seeking them. Keep a watch out for other lists to come as there’s no way any list of hidden treasures in this magnificent nation could ever be complete! We’re already planning our next trip and identifying new jewels to look for.
Maybe we’ll run into you there!