Italy… The one country you can be sure of being on almost everyone’s bucket list. The dolce vita takes on a whole new dimension in this country; from delicious neapolitan pizza, gelato of your dreams or elegant red wine to artistic masterpieces, beautiful music, thousands of years worth of culture and the azure sea with some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, Italy checks all the boxes of a perfect holiday. Of course, the problem is that you are not in the only person that realises this and especially in summer, Italy is flooded with tourists. Naturally, you should not miss places like Rome, Florence, Naples or Venice, but we have put together a guide for you to see the less known beauties of Italy and experience the country as it is, without crowds of tourists all around. So if you want to know what the top places to visit in Italy are, then grab a cappuccino and enjoy the read!
Located in the region of Tuscany, Lucca is surprisingly unknown, though many Italians will tell you it is the most beautiful town in the country and one of the most breathtaking Italy destinations. Known for its Renaissance-era city walls, stepping into the city is like stepping into fairytale. Big enough to keep you occupied and in awe, but small enough to walk around in, exploring Lucca will be a treat. Stop for an espresso and watch life go by on one of the quaint piazzas and get a panino with parma ham, truffles and rucola to fill up on energy. When the sun starts to set, take a 20 minute train to the seaside and drink a spritz while watching the sunset, maybe stay overnight and go for a morning dip before returning to the beautiful Lucca for a lunch of locally produced veggies, cheeses and some delicious pasta.
Portofino is a little fishing village closeby to Genova. Many people will probably know of Cinque Terre, the five seaside villages located on the same coast. Though those are absolutely beautiful, they have really been taken over by tourists in the last few years, which keeps you from experiencing the calm atmosphere of these towns. Don’t worry though - there are other places to see in Italy that are similar to them, and Portofino is exactly one of those. Many say it is even more breathtaking! Enjoy a swim in the sea, a stroll around the beautiful town centre and some fresh fish for dinner.
#3 LAGO DI BRACCIANO AREA
If you’re visiting Rome, you should definitely keep a few days free, not only to visit the seaside, the closest of which is about half an hour away by train, but also to visit the area of the Bracciano Lake. Situated around the lake, are a few little villages, such as Anguillara or Trevignano, with the town of Bracciano standing tall above the lake. Perfect for delicious food, beautiful strolls through the towns and nature, but also situated very close both to the seaside and to Rome, the Bracciano lake area is definitely one of the best holiday destinations in Italy and is perfect for a motorhome holiday.
#4 ALBEROBELLO, LECCE (APULIA REGION)
The Apulia region (Puglia in Italian) is widely known for its delicious wine and crystal clear sea. However, since it is situated in the south of the country, not as many tourists make it all the way there, which gives you the perfect opportunity to see these two top places to visit in Italy in all their glory. Alberobello might at first look like a fairytale town; all white with signature pointy roofs, its buildings are called the trulli and have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for over twenty years. If you are looking to visit a truly mesmerising and unique place, look no further; this is one of the most stunning places to see in Italy.
Similarly, Lecce is one of the Apulian wonders. It might remind you a bit of Lucca or Bologna, however where tones or dark oranges, reds and browns are dominant in the Tuscan cities, Lecce boasts with buildings in different tones of white and cream, which pose a beautiful contrast to the azure sea that surrounds its coast. What to do in Lecce? Take strolls through the streets, drink some red wine from the vineyards around and try the locally grown olives or mushroom dishes - just enjoy the beauty with all your senses.
#5 AMALFI: FURORE, SORRENTO
The Amalfi coast is another Italian classic; you may have heard of Positano, the hillside town with a beachfront, that has been the backdrop to many films and series; so much so that, unfortunately, visiting it in Summer is just as crowded as the centre of Rome or Florence. Worry not - the Amalfi coast hides many gems. One of these is Furore; the Fiordo di Furore is small, hidden bay amongst tall trees and rocks that should definitely be on your list of places to see in Italy. If there is paradise on Earth, then Furore is it.
Sorrento is an alternative to Positano; as beautiful, a village built on the side of a hill surrounded by the sea, you can take long walks alongside the harbour or try to climb all the way to the top. Either way, you will not be disappointed.
#6 THE LAKES: LAGO DI GARDA, LAGO DI BRAIES, LAGO DI COMO
Something not so known about Italy, is how many beautiful lakes there are. Though when you think of Italy, you might imagine beaches, grand cities and the sea, the lakes make up a big part of the wonders of the country and are some of the best holiday destinations in Italy. Lake Garda is probably the most known, as it is the largest lake in Italy. It is situated in the northern part of Italy and is a popular holiday destination for Italians. Lake Como is a little more ‘high-class’; it used to be a beloved holiday spot of Italian aristocracy and boasts with absolutely breathtaking villas all around, whereas Lake Braies is located in South Tylor in the dolomites and is a little more undiscovered; whichever you choose to visit, it will definitely be one of the Italy destinations you will not soon forget.
If you’re in northern Italy already, you might be tempted to visit Milan; though all cities have their charm, if you are pressed for time we would advise you to skip Milan and rather visit the nearby Turin. Turin was built by the House of Savoy to show that they were wealthy and powerful enough to build a city that could compete with the likes of Paris. And they did. Turin is absolutely wonderful, with mountains all around and a royal air to it. Make some time to visit the numerous museums and markets happening all around the city.
Palermo is the capital of Sicily and boasts with opulent buildings, amazing cuisine and beautiful weather. Visit the cathedral, the Palatine chapel with its stunning mosaics, take a stroll around the centre and if you’re feeling up for it, climb the Monte Pellegrino next to Palermo, that stands tall over the sea for some breathtaking views. Definitely keep some time for one of the many food markets, you won’t regret it!
Did you know that the oldest university in the world is located in Bologna? Not only will you see countless beautiful university buildings, but taking a walk in the area around Piazza Maggiore or grab a delicious lunch in the Quadrilatero market. Bologna is a student city, incredibly vibrant with many little hidden bars all set against the backdrop of grand Italian architecture. Enjoy the trip!
The Dolomites are a mountain range in the northeastern part of Italy. Perfect for summer hikes or winter skiing holidays, they are sure not to be missed. Close to many of the beautiful lakes mentioned in this article, the Dolomites are a wonder of nature!
We hope you enjoyed this list of the best holiday destinations in Italy and will consider visiting some of these hidden gems after seeing the wonders of the likes of Rome or Florence. Book a campervan at Goboony and set off for the most scenic, beautiful road trip through Italy; start in the Dolomites and drive through Tuscany and Apulia all the way down to Sicily! Buon Viaggio!
Written by Andrea Veselá