3 Best Kept Secrets in Italy – Off the Beaten Path Travel
Italy is home to some of Europe’s most treasured landmarks, beaches, and sought-after tourist destinations. Whether you’ve visited or not, it’s easy to imagine what Italy might look like based on the beautiful pictures you’ve seen. Romantic gondola rides, pastel-colored homes lining the coastline, and ancient ruins sprinkling historic cities most likely come to mind. What these postcard-perfect pictures don’t show are the masses of crowds surrounding each of the areas. With some of the more popular sites seeing over two million tourists per year, it’s tough to immerse yourself and fully enjoy such a busy experience. While many of the major tourist sites are beautiful and worth seeing, there are plenty of off the beaten path places to visit that are equally enticing. If you’re looking for a true taste of Italy without the crowds, check out these 3 best-kept secrets in Italy.
Bassano del Grappa
Located just one hour north of Venice, Bassano del Grappa is situated at the foothills of the Venetian Prealps on the River Brenta. This medieval city sits on the water but is widely unknown to tourists. With the mountains as a backdrop and cobblestones lining the streets, Bassano del Grappa is definitely a very scenic place to visit.
There is very little traffic in Bassano del Grappa, as only residents are permitted to drive. Known for ceramic making and Grappa, the famous Italian brandy, Bassano is the perfect spot for a relaxing getaway. Be sure to look out the Ponte Vecchio, the wooden bridge that was originally built in 1569 offering excellent views. Libreria Palazzo Roberti – the large bookshop built in an 18th-century palace is a must-see attraction. The 12th century Castello degli Ezzelini is also worth a visit while you’re in town.
Situated in the Gulf of Poets, Portovenere is historically popular for attracting famous writers and poets over the years, is known as a beautiful place to find inspiration. Similar to Cinque Terre, the vibrant houses along the Italian Riviera combined with charming cobblestoned streets make Portovenere an excellent place to visit. There is no railroad access to this small fishing village, the result is much less traffic.
For unparalleled views of the ocean and the city, visit Chiesa di San Pietro (Church of Saint Peter). Also, explore the Doria Castle in Portovenere. Originally built between the 12th and 16th century, this fortress served as a way to protect the village from invaders. For small shops, local goods, and quaint restaurants, head to Via Capellini, the main street in the city.
Lucca, one of Tuscany’s best-kept secrets provides a truly authentic experience. The medieval city is surrounded by a wall built in the 16th and 17th century and is very well preserved. The charming homes with terracotta rooftops, horse-drawn carriages wandering about the streets, and the tree-lined paths are just a few of the reasons why Lucca is a city not to be missed.
For panoramic views of the city, climb the Torre del Guinigi and the Torre delle Ore. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is an oval-shaped piazza in the heart of the city, great for grabbing a bite to eat and savoring a glass of wine.
Lucca is also the hometown of the famous Italian opera composer, Giacomo Puccini. Daily concerts are held at the church he attended and there is also a museum dedicated to his work and contributions to traditional opera.
Be sure to recommend some more non-touristy places to see in Italy in the comments below.
This post has been written by Hannah. Hannah is a freelance writer and blogger at AllTheRooms who has a deep passion for travel, mindful living and people. Originally from Upstate New York, she’s had the opportunity to live in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia and most currently, Maryland. She recently crossed country number 16 off her bucket list and is always devising a plan to fulfill her perpetual wanderlust. When she’s not busy writing or traveling, you can find her enjoying the great outdoors with her husband and puppy, exploring her local community or honing in on her photography skills.
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