The big cities in every country will take all the limelight on the tourist map, and the boot-strapped country, Italy, is no different. However, if you look beyond these large and popular cities, there are small towns in Italy by the sea that can easily compete with any destination in the world for their great charm and incredible beauty. We bring you a bunch of the prettiest small towns in Italy that you should look to explore if you ever drop over to this beautiful country anytime in the year.
Best Small Towns in Italy
Volterra is a small town in Tuscany, one of the Italian regions on the tourist map. Located to the southwest of Florence, Volterra is one of the prettiest small towns in Italy that can give you a wonderful feel of the rich Italian cultural heritage. Structures dating back to medieval times, including the iconic ruins of the Palazzo Pretorio and Palazzo dei Priori. Don’t miss the 12th-century Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral. Other popular spots not to be missed are Guarnacci Etruscan Museum and the Medici Fortress hilltop for some fascinating views.
Location- Tuscany region of Italy, Pisa Province
Why Visit – Volterra is a town brimming with history including Cathedrals and the Etruscan Arch. Volterra is one of the key Etruscan cities that you can explore in the local museum. Volterra is also renowned for its alabaster production. The town has a long tradition of alabaster craftsmanship, and you can explore the workshops in full force here. Along with alabaster craftsmanship, Volterra boasts many art galleries where local artists produce unique pieces. Volterra offers a rich local cuisine like the famous pappa al pomodoro. Volterra is a small town allowing you to immerse yourself in the local culture.
Best things to see – Palazzo dei Priori, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, and the Etruscan Arch. Guarnacci Etruscan Museum. Alabaster workshops, Art Galleries and Studios
2. Porto Ercole
Features among the prettiest small towns in Italy. Placed in the popular Tuscany region, the town features beautiful natural vistas where the landscapes are decorated with sailors laying their fishing nets on the harbourside. Unique beauty and plenty of privacy moments are a guarantee due to the unexplored nature of this destination. You could try hiking up to the Torre di Capo d’Uomo for some awesome panoramic views from the top if you got your hiking shoes along.
Location – Tuscany region of Italy, Grosset Province in Southern Tuscany
Why Visit – Surrounded by crystal–clear waters, Porto Ercole is full of coastal landscapes and beaches. A stroll here will definitely lead you to find a lot of panoramic viewpoints. Also known for its water sports and boat excursions, Porto Ercole takes full advantage of its coastal location. The local food here is dominated by fresh seafood and Tuscan cuisine. You can easily find authentic local food at the many waterfront restaurants here. The narrow streets and colorful houses are always welcoming to the tourists. Here, you’ll also find the 16th-century Spanish Fortress taking you through the town’s maritime heritage.
Best things to see – Tyrrhenian Sea, Spanish Fortress, fresh seafood, Outdoor Activities- Boating, Hiking
One of the prettiest small towns in Italy by the sea is placed on the Amalfi Coast – the western Italian coast with easy access from popular cities like Pompeii, Salerno, Capri, and Naples. Positano experiences a mild Mediterranean climate with temperate summer and warm winters, greatly influenced by the neighboring sea. The landscape is decorated with colorful buildings, cliffs, art galleries, vibrant shops on the streets, and delightful eat-outs. It is one of the renowned small towns in Italy for food. Popular activities in the region include snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, and scuba diving.
Location – Amalfi Coast in the Campania region, Salerno Province.
Why Visit – Built on steep hills off of Amalfi Coast, Positano is the perfect starting point to explore the Coastside. Positano has a lot of beaches where you can enjoy the bright blue waters in the sun. Foodies will definitely enjoy the rich Mediterranean cuisine. The local Restaurants here offer fresh seafood and Pasta with a view so scenic, you’ll never forget it. Take a hike along the Amalfi Coast to enjoy the scenery. The laid-back nature of the town is perfect for relaxation and melting your worries away. The markets here are brimming with local craftsmanship and fashionable boutiques with unique handmade items.
Best things to see – Spiaggia Grande, Path of the Gods (Sentiero degli Dei), Church of Santa Maria
Valdobbiadene is one of the best small towns in Italy for food. This region is very popular for its wine production, especially prosecco. Taking a road trip to the neighboring Canegliano is called the Prosecco Road due to the numerous vineyards and their wine-tasting rooms. All these vineyards are family-run businesses and run on a small scale only. The most recommended ones are Ruggieri, Gregoletto, and Osteria Senz’Oste. The town is also nestled and decorated among a lush green mountainous terrain that gives you unparallel views to die for.
Location – The Veneto region of northern Italy, it is located in the Treviso Province.
Why Visit – Wine lovers cannot miss this quaint little town. Lush with vine-covered hills, the beautiful landscapes are bound to take your breath away. Italy’s Prosecco Superiore is rich in history. The local food here pairs well with the authentic Prosecco Wines. The warm and hospitable Valdobbiadene will certainly be a spot you’ll want to come back to. The Guided tours through the Prosecco Roads will definitely fascinate you about the art of winemaking and make your next drink that much more memorable.
Best things to see – Strada del Prosecco, Prosecco Vineyards, Vineyard Hills
A small Italian town placed in the southern region of Puglia is popular for its white-tapped and cone-shaped structures that decorate the cityscape that led to it being named in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. If you want to add something to your souvenir collection, Alberobello Market is the perfect destination to capture some amazing souvenirs of the Italian culture. Rione Monti Quarter is one of the region’s frequently visited spots, with Chiesa di Sant’ Antonio Trullo church being the most popular on the itinerary list.
Location – Apulia (Puglia) region of southern Italy in the Bari Province
Why Visit – Alberobello- a town still brimming with history is surely something you’ll not want to miss. Walking through the narrow streets and 14th Century Architecture famous for its trulli, traditional Apulian dry stone huts with conical roofs will definitely be a surreal experience you’ll never forget. The UNESCO World Heritage Site offers you a plethora of architecture that reminds you of its exceptional cultural significance. The calm streets and the fairytale-like atmosphere is perfect for strolls. The local food is some of the best you will ever try.
Best things to see – Apulian dry stone huts, Local Markets, Whitewashed Trulli
The locals fondly know this small town on the Tyrrhenian sea coast as the Coasta Degli Dei, the Coast of Gods. Several resorts decorate the sprawling coast giving you instant natural vistas. Don’t miss out on visiting the Santa Maria dell’ Isola monastery nestled atop the rocky cliffs for some fascinating top views. Marvelous cliffside shops and traditional aristocratic palaces from the 17th & 18th centuries decorate the landscape of this small Italian town.
Location- Calabria region of southern Italy, in the Vibo Valentia Province
Why Visit – Tropea is known for its picturesque beaches and pristine waters. The famous Tropea beach is known for its white sand and mesmerizing cliffs. Water Activities such as Cliff Diving are very popular here. Tropea is filled with medieval buildings always reminding visitors of the Olden Times. The Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary is a marvel in its own right. The beautiful sunsets over the beach is always a serene experience worth seeking. Tropea also hosts delicious Calabrian food with items like nduja (spicy spreadable sausage), red onions (Tropea onions), and fresh seafood. The authenticity of the town will leave you craving for more.
Best things to see – Capo Vaticano, Calabrian Dishes, Tropea Beach, Tropea Cathedral
A small town in Italy by the sea, Corricella would have never featured in any itinerary. Situated on the Procida coastline, most of the Corricella is unexplored and waiting to be discovered by the tourist population. Enjoy fisherman plying their trade and the colorful, vibrant houses that will take back in time. The Santa Maria Delle Grazie church in Corricella was built in the 16th century; if you want some unparallel views of the incredible landscape, head atop Terra Murata.
Location – Procida Island in the Bay of Naples
Why Visit – The tiny little town has retained its old-time fishing charm. Corricella is still known for its fishing harbors. Small boats are dotted all along the harbour where you can see local fishermen at work. The scene only adds to the small-town charm. The bright-colored houses in the backdrop make this spot picture-perfect. The view is made more enjoyable by the local cafes serving you traditional seafood in an almost farm-to-table style. The Rustic Destination is hidden away from the hustle and bustle, ideal for relaxation.
Best things to see – boat tours, Fishing Harbours
8. Santa Maddalena
This small town is placed at the foot of the Odle Mountain Group of the popular Dolomites. Due to its mountainous terrain, the mountain tower gives you unforgettable views of the entire town. The population is less than 400 takes you away from the busy city life. The Santa Maddalena Church interiors and exteriors are perfect for all photographers. Hiking is a popular activity in the summers, and skiing is equally popular.
Location- Val di Funes (Villnöß Valley) Dolomites,in northern Italy
Why Visit – Hidden away in Val di Funes, this town is known for the breathtaking views of the mighty Dolomites. The village is surrounded by majestic peaks, lush green meadows, charming alpine scenery in the summers, and pristine white mountains in the winter months of January and February. The Winter season is also a celebration of activities like skiing and snowshoeing. Hiking and Trekking through the village will surely give you a view you’ve never seen before. The rich architecture of the town only adds to the cultural legacy. The laid-back atmosphere with friendly locals makes it a top choice for a getaway all year round.
Best things to see- Dolomites, traditional Alpine architecture, Santa Maddalena Church
Sitting on the Lake Como eastern coast, this small town will easily feature as the best small town to live in Italy due to its easy access to major cities like Milan and being placed on the Swizz border. The Schengen visa will also give you access to travel to the Swiz regions. Lake Como, Villa Monastero, Castello di Vezio, and the city center form the core visiting blocks in Varenna. Other spots to explore are Villa Monastero, Riva Grande, Casa Museo museum, and Piazza San Giorgio.
Location – eastern shore of Lake Como in the Province of Lecco, Lombardy region in North Italy
Why Visit – Varenna offers stunning views of Lake Como. Surrounded by mountains, the lush greenery will never leave you. The Lakeside stroll is a popular activity here, giving you the perfect opportunity to absorb the beauty all around you. Varenna is rich in history with churches dating all the way to the 14th Century. The Villa Monastero is a sight to behold. Beautiful gardens filled with different types of plants and sculptures make it uniquely perfect. The Castle is a royal experience with views of the beautiful lake. The Cafe culture is vibrant with the perfect view.
Best things to see – Church of San Giorgio, Villa Monastero, Castello di Vezio, Ferry Rides
A small beautiful Italian town is popular for its Balsamic vinegar. The northern Italian food culture is one of the most celebrated activities. Being the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari and Tortellini has been its previous claims to fame. The Ferrari Museum is a popular spot to explore more about cars. Vinegar sampling is a popular activity here. Try some unique testing vinegar flavors aged between 10-25 years.
Location – Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. It is situated in the Po Valley
Why Visit – Popular as the birthplace of the Ferrari Cars, the museum here is a tribute to its founder, Enzo Ferrari. But, Modena is so much more. For Foodies, the markets here are filled with a variety of artisan meats, cheeses, Balsamic Vinegars, and Parmesan. Modena is just as rich in history too, The UNESCO World Heritage Site is rightly home to some of the most impressive Romanesque Architecture. Central Square almost overwhelms you with various historical sites mixed with vibrant markets and cafes. The locals are warm and friendly and always make you feel welcome.
Best things to see – Modena Cathedral, Enzo Ferrari Museum, Piazza Grande, Military Academy Albinelli Market
The incredible beauty of the small towns in Italy by the sea can be overwhelming at times. A wonderful way to move away from the bustle and hustle of the larger Italian cities. Create your path and recharge and rejuvenate your batteries.