Italy is an incredible country that more than deserves its status as one of the best holiday destinations in the world. Beautiful beaches and countryside, an abundance of historical and cultural attractions and fantastic restaurants serving up wonderful Italian cuisine are all part of this country’s everlasting appeal.
Many people when visiting Italy will stick to the main cities of Rome, Milan and Venice, but if you do venture out of the cities, your efforts will be rewarded with stunning towns and villages. If you are fortunate to have a car in Italy, then so frequently will you stumble upon beautiful places we are certain that you will be able to compile your own list similar to this! However, if you are looking for some inspiration, take a look at some of our favourite picks below.
San Gimignano, deep in Tuscany’s wine country, 27km northwest of Siena is one of the most visited of the small towns and villages in Italy. The walled hill town really is quite something and as you approach it you will see it’s fifteen medieval towers adorning the skyline. Once in the town, gorgeous narrow streets open up in to quaint squares perfect for grabbing a coffee in the sunshine.
It only takes twenty minutes to walk from one side of the town to the other but that doesn’t mean that it is not worth more of your time. If you can fit in an overnight stay in San Gimignano you will be spoilt by the views of the fantastic sunsets over the farmland as well as being able to enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere that the place has without the hoards of day-trippers that descend on the town during high season (Easter to October).
Portofino is one of Italy’s most exclusive resorts in the most incredibly idyllic setting. A romantic castle and church sit elegantly at the top of the village and pink and yellow houses hug the small harbour down by the sea. Slightly out of the town, the surrounding Parco Naturale Regionale di Portofino offers some great walking opportunities amongst the pine trees and olive groves. It is no wonder that it was a destination that has inspired many writers over the years.
The town is more upmarket than some of it’s more rustic neighbours and it’s beautiful streets are lined with designer shops and incredible restaurants with terraces with unbeatable views. However, despite it’s glamour, Portofino still holds on to it’s original fishing village charm.
Sassi di Matera
Sassi di Matera’s beauty is vastly different to Portofino and San Gimignano’s and it’s appeal is somewhat haunting. The ancient town and World Heritage Site is located in the remote Basilicata region in the south of Italy and is a truly unique place which could almost be mistaken for a giant nativity scene.Famed for it’s Sassi houses, stone houses carved out of the caves and cliffs in the landscape the mythical and biblical appearance of the town has led it to be the backdrop for several Hollywood movies.
Plenty of time should be devoted to aimlessly wandering around the town’s cobbled streets and taking in the incredible Sassi. Whilst many are crumbling and somewhat haunting, others have been transformed in to fantastic homes, restaurants and hotels. The new town which is right at the cliff top has elegant churches and a beautiful pedestrianized Piazza, Vittorio Veneto.