The Best of Italy: Highlights & Hidden Gems

When many people express a desire to take a vacation to Italy, quite often, they want to visit the country’s most famous attractions including the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Rome as well as the canals of Venice. You may or may not have been aware of this fact, but Italy has endless hidden gems in addition to its main highlights.

Aeolian Islands

Lying just northeast of Sicily, these volcanic islands are a popular retreat for Italians as well as an increasing number of tourists who want to see the country’s perhaps less traveled areas. Warm Mediterranean waters and palm tree-lined beaches offer places to unwind and do boating, snorkeling and scuba diving. The largest of the islands – Lipari – has an ancient castle sitting atop a cliff overlooking the sea.


In addition to Roman history, ancient churches and amazing culture, Italy is also renowned for food – lots of it! Bologna is considered to be the food capital of Italy. Everywhere you go in this city, you’ll find street markets where vendors sell a variety of traditional local foods. If that isn’t enough to keep you satisfied, there are numerous restaurants. Here’s another interesting fact about Bologna: it’s the home of the Università di Bologna, the oldest university in Europe.

Cinque Terre

This is in the Liguria region, otherwise referred to as the Italian Riviera. Cinque Terre refers to the five towns built on the tops of cliffs that overlook the Mediterranean Sea. These medieval towns are also quite remote. You can only get here by train and footpath. The houses are linked together by steeply terraced vineyards. This is undoubtedly one of the most unique tourist experiences you will have in Italy.


Puglia is a pure slice of Italiana. Sun-drenched beaches, vineyards and olive groves await you in this piece of heaven on earth. In Puglia, Italian influence takes somewhat of a backseat to Greek and Turkish architecture. When you’ve spent enough time sunbathing or swimming, take a tour of the medieval castles that dot the arid landscape.


Yes, this is that Verona. The town set in William Shakespeare’s iconic love tragedy Romeo and Juliet. When you explore Verona, you will see the exact 14th Century palace where Romeo of the Montagues and Juliet of the Capulets kissed on the balcony. Verona also has a preserved 2,000-year old Roman amphitheater where operatic performances are held throughout the summer.

Marina de Pisciotta, Campania

This is Italian beauty exemplified. Located in the province of Salerno, Marina de Pisciotta has a vibrant beach culture with whitewashed houses located on the hillsides of the town overlooking the turquoise waters. You won’t find as picturesque a town in all of southern Italy – at least one that is not as lightly visited as this one.

Bergamo, Lombardy

While many western tourists prefer to go to Milan, this town set in the foothills of northern Lombardy shouldn’t be overlooked. Bergamo is a walled city with winding streets and ancient buildings. From here, you can explore the mountainous, heavily forested countryside which is also teeming with lakes for fishing, boating, and swimming.

Sovana, Tuscany

Tuscany is one of the most historic regions of Italy. Tuscany played a major role during the medieval period, and this is reflected in the buildings, cathedrals, and castles of Sovana. Surrounding the walled city is a countryside dotted with ancient villages.

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