Italy is beautiful! It is not possible to deny this. But it is crowded, at least the most popular cities like Venice, Florence and Rome.
For years, the gondolas, canals, historical sites, marvellous architecture, the leaning tower of Pisa, etc. of Italy have attracted millions of tourists to the country. However, the crowd that you find in most of these popular places can hamper your experience. While you should definitely visit these Italian cities, you do not have to stick to them for your entire vacation. On the other hand, Italy offers some rare gems that are fairly unknown. Not only are they gorgeous but also offer you the chance to enjoy the beauty and culture of Italy without running into huge number of tourists all the time.
Campo Imperatore, Abruzzo
With the moniker Little Tibet, Campo Imperatore is a mountain grassland that changes its colours every season. While the summer season brings out the yellows and browns, the spring shows different hues of green. Visit in autumn and the place becomes bleak gray. But it is in winter that it becomes breathtaking. Completely covered with snow, the Campo Imperatore in Abruzzo becomes a ski resort frequented by skiing enthusiasts.
Cascate delle Marmore, Umbria
Cascate delle Marmore or Marmore Waterfalls is nothing less than splendid. Situated between a thick forest and lush grasslands, this 165 meters waterfall is unique as you get to see River Velino plunging into River Nera. The best part is that it a manmade waterfall created by ancient Romans. Apart from being mesmerized by the waterfalls, you can also indulge in water sports like river rafting, caving, trekking, canyoning, climbing, etc. here.
Verona needs no introduction to lovers of Shakespeare’s plays. This is the place where the bard’s romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, was set. Here, you can actually visit the 14th century palace with a tiny balcony that was the meeting point for the lovers. While the palace is definitely the highlight of the visit, it is not the only thing to see in Verona. Rather, the city is known for its regional wine, churches, art, bridges and much more. Visit during the summer months to enjoy the opera festival held at the 2000 year old Roman amphitheatre.
Bolzano, Alto Adige
Located near the Dolomite Mountains, Bolzano borders Austria and Switzerland. Surrounded by gorgeous mountains, the place is an epitome of natural beauty. The charming city also has gorgeous castles and monuments that would make sightseeing bliss. It is also a great place to enjoy trekking, mountain biking, hiking and such other nature excursions. Culturally, Bolzano has quaint little towns where Italians, Germans and Ladins live together peacefully.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Alberobello in Puglia is home to white buildings with cone-shaped roofs. The rows of 1500 beehive-shaped houses are a sight to see and truly the major attraction of this place. While the village has a maze of narrow streets and pretty piazzas, you must definitely visit the belvedere which gives you the most gorgeous views of the city. Although you can visit this place throughout the year, it is best to avoid between the months of May and October as it can get really crowded with tourists.
Bologna is the city where the first university was established in Europe, in the 11th century. Apart from picturesque natural landscapes, the land is also popular for its art and culture. However, one of the major reasons that people visit Bologna is for its food. The streets of the city dish out the most delicious Italian cuisine. Some of the dishes that you have to try here include fresh egg pasta, lasagne, tortellini, different kinds of meats and mortadella.
Located in the Apennine Mountains, Castelluccio is a place with just 150 inhabitants. While large number of tourists is the last thing you would find here, what you would actually find here is a fascinating hamlet with gorgeous views. Surrounded by mountains, Castelluccio is a large plateau where you would see colourful blooms ranging from violets and red poppies to narcissuses and oxalis. The little town is known as a haven for outdoor adventurists as you can indulge in mountain biking, paragliding, horseback riding, archery, hiking and such other activities here.
Grotte di Castellana, Puglia
Nature is an accomplished architect and Puglia’s Grotte di Castellana is the best example for this. Originated some 90 million years ago, this is an enchanting cave system that you would rarely find anywhere else in the world. Complete with stalagmites, stalactites, precious crystals and hangings, the tour of the cave would definitely leave you mesmerized. Some of the habitats include Civetta, Cupola, Madonnina, Altare, Monumenti, etc. The most popular and must visit caves amongst them are the Grave and the Grotta Bianca or the White Cave.
If you want to enjoy the beauty and charm of Venice without the tourists that overcrowd the city, you must skip Venice and instead visit Treviso, a city in Veneto. Complete with cobblestone streets, medieval churches, old canals and red-brick palaces, Treviso is a great place to visit to enjoy an authentic Italian experience. Another highlight of the place is that it is origin place for Prosecco wine, Radicchio and the world-famous Italian dessert, Tiramisu.
The capital city of Umbria, Perugia is complete with mountains, historical monuments, arched stairways, piazzas, enormous mansions and cobbled alleys. While the place is steeped in beauty and history, it is also a university-city and thus home to many youngsters. The place is known for its nightlife, jazz music and of course food. Perugia is also famous for its chocolate and has some of the best chocolate producers in the world. So, if you are a chocolate lover, your visit to Perugia would comprise pure indulgence!
With so many hidden gems, the best places to see in Italy are not just the popular ones. So, if you want to have a peaceful and quiet holiday, these unknown places would give you a taste of Italy without the crowd. If you need to pamper yourself during the holiday, you must visit one of the Italian massage centres that are not only popular for their relaxing massages but also for their unique ambience and services.