Hidden Gems of Italy

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Many people have been drawn to Italy over the years by its rich legacy of art and architecture. Italy is renowned for its amazing artists, architects, engineers, and innovators who altered the course of history.
Significant remnants of a powerful ancient empire, the Papal monarchy, and Renaissance noble families may be abundant in historical Italian cities like Rome. At the same time, the Middle Ages can be experienced in more intimate settings in historic towns like Florence.
Although it is hard to go around Italy without running across a piece of history, some breathtaking gems are hidden in the Italian landscape's beauty.
Most tourists do not even know of these magnificent cities; hence, there is less traffic. These hidden gems in Italy will give you a fantastic tourist experience in a more personal way.

Best Hidden Gems of Northern Italy

Bergamo, Lombardy

Northeast of Milan, in the Lombardy area, is the Italian city of Bergamo. It is one of the best Northern Italy hidden gems. Its cobblestone streets, Venetian fortifications surrounding it, and funicular access distinguish the city's older upper district, Città Alta. Duomo di Bergamo, the city cathedral, is one magnificent 15th-century art piece in Bergamo whose beauty you must see.
Because of its location in the Italian mountain foothills, the picturesque town and enigmatic city is spread out over multiple levels, making it the ideal weekend getaway location. The gorgeous 11th-century Santa Croce Temple, a former prison turned eatery Il Circolino and the Old Bishop's Palace, Brolletto are a few of the extraordinary places in Bergamo.
Bergamo has its own international airport, which offers flights to the Netherlands, the UK, France, and many other European locations.

Siena, Tuscany

Siena, a city in the Tuscany region of central Italy and a UNESCO-listed historic center, is noted for its ancient brick structures. The Gothic town hall, Palazzo Pubblico, and Torre del Mangia, a thin 14th-century tower with a unique white crown, are located in the fan-shaped central square, Piazza del Campo.
It is primarily renowned for holding the Palio horserace, which occurs twice a year, and numerous works of art from the Middle Ages.
You will enjoy walking through the maze of little lanes during the day to see medieval art and adorable gelaterias. By candlelight, you can locate charming trattorias at night, where you can savor a hearty meal in the shade of opulent Gothic structures.

Modena, Emilia-Romagna

Modena is a hidden gem at the center of Emilia Romagna, south side of the Po Valley, where excellent food, wine, and art showcase the best Italian quality. With its magnificent artifacts that are admired all over the globe and, of course, the enduring mystique of Ferrari, Modena is captivating, especially the Museum of Enzo Ferrari, dedicated to the founder of Ferrari.
The Piazza Grande, Torre Ghirlandina, and Cathedral form an architectural ensemble designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The finest way to tour Modena's historic district is on foot. Once in the city, stroll along the Via Emilia, shop at the famed Albinelli market, and take in the breathtaking views of the Ghirlandina tower.

Arezzo, Tuscany

A city in Italy's eastern Tuscany, Arezzo is another of Italy's best-kept secrets. The hilltop Arezzo Cathedral has painted vaulted ceilings and a Piero Della Francesca Mary Magdalene fresco from the fifteenth century.
Another chapel painted by Piero is located close by at the Basilica of San Francesco. The "Crucifix" that Cimabue painted in the thirteenth century is located in the Basilica di San Domenico. Broad city views may be seen from the magnificent Medicean Fortress.
The entire town, including the Archaeological Museum and the Art Museum, can be explored leisurely in a single day with a few brief side trips to some of the city's many well-known churches, piazzas, cafes, pubs, and restaurants. However, two days would allow you to experience the city like a local.

Burano

In the Venetian Lagoon in northern Italy, close to Torcello at the north end of the lagoon, is the island of Burano. It is frequently cited as one of Italy's most charming cities and one of the most distinctive due to its canals and colorful buildings, which give the island a rainbow of hues.
People claim that fishermen chose to paint the exterior of their residences with a distinctive color so they could return there easily, even in the heaviest fog.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is Burano's most recognizable landmark after the rainbow houses. Additionally, the water bus voyage from Venice is the ideal opportunity to photograph the 53-meter tilted tower.

Montepulciano, Tuscany

Italian Tuscany is home to the medieval hilltop village of Montepulciano. It is renowned for its vino noble red wine and is surrounded by vineyards. The Pulcinella, a figure from commedia dell'arte, stands atop the Torre di Pulcinella, a clock tower.
The 14th-century Palazzo Comunale, which has a tower with views of the surrounding countryside, is located on the Piazza Grande. There is also the Duomo, which has a massive triptych over its altar.
Montepulciano is worth visiting for its other attractions, such as medieval architecture, history, breathtaking views, mouthwatering food, and gorgeous observation terraces overlooking the surrounding Italian countryside, in contrast to other wine towns in Italy that only emphasize wine.

Montalcino, Tuscany

In the Tuscany region of Italy, the hill town of Montalcino is located on the west side of Pienza, near the Crete Senesi in the Val d'Orcia. Siena is just 26 miles away, Florence is 68 miles, and Pi is 93 miles.
Montalcino is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany and a great spot to visit when on vacation in Italy. It is a beautiful wonderland of stunning medieval city walls and world-famous wines.
Rosso di Montalcino (Montalcino red) and Brunello di Montalcino, both produced in the region, are two of the most well-known wines produced in Montalcino, a tiny village on the hilltop. Ensure to include wine-tasting tours in your itinerary while visiting.

Best Hidden Gems of Southern Italy

Matera, Basilicata

The Sassi are believed to be among the earliest human settlements in what is now Italy. In the 1950s, Matera, a troglodyte city in Basilicata, was known as "the shame of Italy" due to the terrible poverty and pervasive sickness in its historic Sassi neighborhoods. The dilapidated town, believed to be the third-oldest in the world after Aleppo and Jericho, sat abandoned for the first time in 10,000 years after the occupants were forcibly relocated in 1952.
However, today it is crowded with vacationers eager to visit one of the two European Cultural Capitals of 2019. It is now home to museums such as the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, which features antique furniture and handicraft supplies.

Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche

Ascoli, a medieval town in central Italy, is another hidden gem in Italy. It housed the 13th-century Palazzo dei Capitani del Popolo, a palace constructed over Roman remains in the magnificent Renaissance Piazza del Popolo, including travertine paving.
One unique thing about Ascoli is that it seemed to be glowing. The structures and pavement stones reflect the light in the daylight. At night, the city center appears to be a mirage as it gleams in the moonlight, with the towers, city walls, entrances, and lamps perfectly reflecting in the ground.
That's all because travertine, a beautiful stone that resembles marble and shines white in the midday sun, blushes pink with the setting sun, and glows under the streetlights in the evening, is the local rock from which Ascoli's entire historic center was built.

Castel Gandolfo, Lazio

Castel Gandolfo is 15 miles southeast of Rome and is known simply as Castello in Castelli Romani dialects. Numerous residences were built in the region starting in 510 BC, notably the spectacular Villa di Domiziano, occupied from 81 to 96.
Pope Clemens VIII took possession of Castel Gandolfo and Rocca Priora in July 1596 after seizing them from the Savelli family, which had refused to pay their debts.
Castel Gandolfo's town, "the Pope's City," is charming, with beautiful views of Lake Albano. The most stunning site in the area is, without a doubt, the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo, better known as the Papal Palace or the Pope's Summer Residence.

Ravello, Amalfi Coast

Ravello is indeed a rare hidden Italian gem. The stunning Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium, the Villa Cimbrone, the Villa Rufolo, the Ravello Festival, and the Ravello Concert Society are all located in Ravello, which has been dubbed the "City of Music."
Thousands of years of history, a magical mountainside location on Italy's most stunning coastline, and views that have enthralled countless souls have sparked the creativity of artists. They stoked hearts' passions, but that is only the beginning of what you may discover in this small Amalfi Coast community.
There are still tales to be discovered along its medieval streets, garden cottages, and ancient stone walks. Its mansions and panoramas have mesmerized visitors for generations. Famous performers, writers, composers, and artists have sought solace and inspiration here.

Palermo

The second-largest historical center in Europe is located in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, known as the city that has been conquered the most in history. Palermo is one of the cities with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are picturesque towns in the province known as the most beautiful in the nation in and around Palermo.
While the enormous neoclassical Teatro Massimo is well-known for opera performances, the Palermo Cathedral, a beautiful church built in the 12th century, is home to royal tombs, the Cappella Palatina, which has Byzantine mosaics, and the Palazzo dei Normanni. This royal palace dates to the ninth century.
The entrance to many of the city's attractions, including cathedrals and monuments, is free. Additionally, Palermo is a walkable city, so you may save money on transportation.

Castelmezzano, Potenza

In the Basilicata district of southern Italy, in the province of Potenza, is the town and comune of Castelmezzano. It belongs to the group ‘Italy's most beautiful villages.’ It is one of the two stations where the renowned Flight of the Angel takes off.
The Lucanian Dolomites, which serve as its backdrop, provide a fascinating sight in Castelmezzano. Over time, the rain and wind carved shapes into this sandstone rock, to which popular tradition has given distinct names. In truth, under specific lighting and shadow conditions, they resemble an owl's beak, a snapdragon, an anvil, and a golden eagle.
After going through an impressive gorge, you access the small town through a tunnel cut into the rock. Castelmezzano resembles a tiny nest perched and shielded by the Lucanian Dolomites when you emerge.

The Island of Procida

Procida is one of the Flegrean Islands, located off the southern Italian city of Naples. The island is situated halfway between Cape Miseno and Ischia. With its little satellite island of Vivara, it is the charming village of the Metropolitan City of Naples, which is located in the province of Campania. It is regarded as Italy's most vibrant island.
The Bay of Naples islands and the Amalfi Coast's surrounding seas are justly renowned for their crystal-clear turquoise color. Procida is no different; crystal-clear, shallow waters surround its broad sandy beaches. Chiaiolella is well-known for its spectacular rock formations and dark volcanic sand.
This island is one of the most excellent locations in southern Italy for a tranquil and loving day at sea.

Taormina

With its unobstructed views of Mount Etna and the Ionian coast, Taormina is one of the most picturesque communities in the entire world. On Sicily's east coast is the hilltop town of Taormina, close to Mount Etna, an active volcano with trails to its top.
Ensure to visit the historic Greco-Roman theatre in the town, called the Teatro Antico di Taormina. Cliffs descending toward the water near the theatre create coves with sandy beaches. The little island and environmental reserve Isola Bella is reached via a short section of sand.
It is also well-known for its numerous well-preserved medieval ruins and pervasive cosmopolitan influence. The views of Mount Etna and the seaside are breathtaking.

Visa & Entry Requirements for Italy

If you've decided to visit your favorite Italian hidden gems to experience its unique culture, famed local specialties, and rich history, you need to obtain a visa. You must apply for a tourist visa (a short-term visa), which is valid for 90 days if you are traveling as a tourist. Short-term and long-term visas are the two categories of visas.
A Schengen visa can be obtained through the Italian embassy or your country's consulate. You can submit your application through a third-party representative like Visa Facilitation Services Global if these are not available in your home country. If these aren't available in your native country, you can apply in any other Schengen nation and then travel to Italy when you get there.
There are currently 26 nations whose residents will be exempt from visa requirements and need an ETIAS to travel to the Schengen Area. This type of travel authorization can be obtained online, quickly, and hassle-free. It is available for short-term visits for tourism and business, and it allows its holders a maximum of 90 days at once.
Written by: Fikayomi Abisola
Abisola is an ETIAS Travel and Immigration writer with several years of writing experience in the industry. Abisola has a unique enthusiasm for travels, tours, and tourism and loves to educate travellers about the criteria involved in international travelling.

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