10 Unusual Destinations in Italy

Italy is one of the most beautiful and historical nations in all of Europe. It should come then as no surprise that millions of tourists flock to the country each year for vacation. If you want to visit the country known for delicious cuisine, incredible architecture and magnificent culture, then venture off the beaten track and embrace some lesser known destinations too.

While cities like Rome or Pisa are certainly incredible, you can actually find more tourists there than locals during some parts of the year. Plan a travel itinerary that includes one or more of these top ten unusual destinations in Italy.

1. Riomaggiore

Visitors to Italy who want to relax on the beach usually head for the crowded and touristy Amalfi Coast. To enjoy something more authentic and far less crowded, head to the village of Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre instead. You’ll find a sixth century stone castle, a boating village, places to swim and dive among caves and seaside cliffs and a local population welcoming to those who want to learn more about the language and culture. Accommodations are limited to small inns and guesthouses.

Riomaggiore, Liguria, Italy
A view of the town of Riomaggiore, built into the cliffs. Photo licensed under the Creative Commons, created by Lee Coursey

2. Porto Ercole

The region of Tuscany is full of small villages and quaint accommodations. Visit the small town of Porto Ercole and tour the incredible Aldobrandesca fortress built in the middle Ages as well as the older pieces of architecture and ruins around the town. Dine on delicious Tuscan cuisine and stay with a local family for a more authentic and traditional holiday in Italy.

Porto Ercole, Tuscany, Italy
Photo of Porto Ercole, Tuscany, Italy by Mac9

3. Eremo delle Carceri

The city of Assisi is well known for its religious history but is often quite crowded during the summer months. Instead of staying in town, head to the hermitage of Eremo delle Carceri. This is where St. Francis of Assisi would go to pray, just miles from the town. Today it is a complex where monks reside and visitors are welcome to stay overnight for a small fee.

Eremo delle Carceri, Assisi, Italy
Photo of Eremo delle Carceri, Assisi, Italy by Gunnar Bach Pedersen

4. Val Chisone

This small valley village is the perfect place to stay when you want to explore the Italian Alps. Whether you plan to ski in the winter or hike in the summer, pass through Val Chisone or make it your home base. Rent a local apartment for privacy or consider one of the sprawling Alpine villas in Italy for a true luxury holiday.

Val Chisone, Italy
Photo licensed under the Creative Commons, created by Iron Bishop

5. Apricena

This town is located in the so-called heel of Italy, or the Apulia District. The area is well known for growing olives, grapes, and buffalo mozzarella, making it the ideal destination for a food enthusiast. The restaurants and wineries are surprisingly affordable for the country and accommodations are comfortable and welcoming.

6. Madonie

Those interested in outdoor recreation in Italy should head straight to the Madonie National Park. Madonie is located in the interior of Sicily. Although many of the island’s cities are bustling, the park is pristine and quiet. Try hiking, camping, cycling or just relax in one of a handful of bed and breakfasts in and around the beautiful park.

Madonie, Sicily, Italy
Photo of Madonie, Sicily, Italy by Carlo Columba

7. Ogliastra

This part of the island of Sardinia is believed to be the least developed coastline in all of Italy. Visitors will find nearly deserted beaches, the ancient village of Tiscali built right into the mountain and the oldest living olive trees in all of Europe. Accommodations are limited to local inns, but don’t be surprised if a local family invites you into their home and feeds you local specialties like Bottarega and Culurgionis pasta or even asks you to spend the night.

Cala Goloritzè, Sardegna
Photo licensed under the Creative Commons, created by Karri

8. Lake Iseo

The Italian Lake District is a popular tourism destination in Northern Italy. Most visitors head to Lake Como or Lake Garda, but Lake Iseo is equally beautiful and far less busy. Enjoy water sports, walks around the lake or some of the incredible regional cuisine on offer, including plenty of freshly caught fish. Hotels in the Lake District of Italy are abundant and vary greatly in price.

Isola di Loreto
Isola di Loreto in the middle of Lake Iseo. Photo licensed under the Creative Commons, created by Schieber

9. Matera

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an unusual destination thanks to the underground rock settlements which are now developed into underground churches, cafes and even hotels. Book a room in one of the cave dwellings for an Italian holiday you will absolutely never forget.

Matera, Italy
Photo of Matera, Italy by Idéfix

10. Lido

This little known destination is the perfect alternative to the crowds and overwhelming touristic atmosphere of Venice. Most residents actually take boats each day into Venice to work, so you will still get the waterfront feel and the charming environment. Enjoy Italian beaches and affordable hotels just minutes from the big city of Venice.

Lido di Venezia, Italy
Photo of Lido di Venezia, Italy by admin

Each of these ten spectacular destinations in Italy offers something truly unique to visitors. Whether you want to try water skiing on Lake Iseo, dine on authentic Tuscan cuisine in a traditional village restaurant or stay overnight in an ancient underground cave, these destinations will be perfect for some truly unusual holidays.

You can find some villas to rent in Italy e.g. here: http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/Italy/r39.htm

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  • Miruna

    Wow, so many beautiful places I’ve never knew in Italy! Great post! I’ve only seen Lake Iseo and it was an amazing experience. I would always be happy to come back.

    • admin

      I would also add Palermo as the unusual place in Italy. All the tourists head to Rome, Florence, Naples, Venice and so on, but they are skipping one of the most unusual cities not only in Italy, but also in the whole Europe. Once one gets to Palermo, he/she will understand why it is so different 🙂

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