15 Oct From North to South, 5 hidden gems in Italy
Oh sure, Italy has its iconic must-see cities like Venice and Rome, and huge regions perfect for an Italy road trip. The iconic landscape in Tuscany begs for a good road trip and there’s the Amalfi Coast that everyone wants to visit but few want to drive. And you should see them, at least once.
But there’s another way to experience Italy — bring out the inner pioneer in yourself and make your way from the northern to southern regions of Italy, stopping along the way in some hidden gems off the beaten path but not to be missed
- Mantua, Lombardy
Home to the largest residential building in Europe after the Vatican.
The city is surrounded by three artificial lakes, and one coated in lilypads, but the real magic is hidden behind closed doors in the numerous grand rooms.
The Gonzaga rulers created most of the grand architecture in Mantua, where the Ducal Palace includes some 600 odd rooms. While only some are open to the public, they are an architectural feast with grand frescos and beautiful art.
2. A road trip to Lomellina –
Lomellina is a magical stretch of countryside, located in southwestern Lombardy, just about one hour’s drive from Milan. Here, rice paddies and old farmhouses share space with fascinating historical and artistic attractions; the abundance of castles earned it the nickname of “Lombardy’s Little Loire”.
Lomellina is also a great destination for foodies, offering a variety of dishes that make extensive use of locally grown ingredients, from Borlotti beans and white asparagus to rice, saffron, and Breme’s sweet red-skinned onion. This type of onion is so special that its seeds are conserved in the Global Seed Vault on the Svalbard islands.
3. Theatre of Silence (Teatro del Silenzio)
Among the gently rolling hills of Tuscany, you’ll find Teatro del Silenzio. This is a striking open-air amphitheater funded by Andrea Bocelli.
The amphitheater uses the natural slope of the hill and is little more than a central sculpture with a marble block backdrop 364 days a year. The scenery plays the leading role, most of the time.
But come July and the hills of Lajatico awaken with the sound of music, as Andrea Bocelli and friends put together one of the most exclusive events.
Buti is a small Tuscan village with a tumultuous medieval past.
For centuries, this village was plagued by wars between several Tuscan families hungry for power. Many castles were built here, but most of them got destroyed.
Castel Tonini is the exception and you can find it a stone’s throw away from the main square — Buti’s laidback gathering place. Right next to it, Villa Medicea features landscaped gardens and beautifully preserved frescoes dating back to the 17th century.
More than anything, Buti stands out due to the palio it organizes every January. While not as famous as the one in Siena, it is one of the oldest in Italy and a great reason to visit Tuscany if you like horse races and good food.
5. CASTELMEZZANO AND PIETRAPERTOSA, BASILICATA
In the Southern Italian region of Basilicata lie two absolute hidden gems in Italy, steeply hillside towns perched against the backdrop of Dolomiti Lucane Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa.
There are around a thousand inhabitants in these towns, which makes it alluring. Especially if you are looking for hidden treasures of Italy with fewer or no tourists.
Being surrounded by mountains, Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa are splendid for nature lovers as there are plenty of hikes that you can plan in the forests and national parks around. Hike to the top of the ruins of Castello Saraceno, a medieval castle, which is also an excellent spot for some beautiful views of the Dolomite valleys.
If you are looking to experience beautiful fishing villages, unspoilt coastal lines, secluded towns and villages atop rocky hills around mountains, stunning lakes and unique settlements in history – These are just some of the must see hidden places in Italy that will keep you coming back and make you fall in love with Italy time and time again.