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May 17th, 2022

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One of the things I love about Italy is how incredibly diverse it is. It can be tempting to see Rome or the Amalfi Coast and think that the whole country is the same, but the north and south of Italy are wildly different, with countless hidden gems to discover. So if you’re thinking about taking a trip to Italy that’s off the beaten path, let’s take a look at the Italian road less traveled in more detail. That’s why I’ve selected the 10 best off the beaten path experiences, so when you’re ready to start planning your dream trip, you can do so confidently!

1. Explore the Charming Varenna, at Lake Como

Lake Comois an iconic location in Lombardia and cannot really be described as a hidden gem, unless you go to Varenna that is. This beautiful quaint town has a wonderful charm that’s unparalleled amongst many of the surrounding villages. Varenna encompasses an authenticity that most other travelers rarely find.

Don't miss Don't  the opportunity to explore the gardens of the two principal villas that rest on the lakeside, Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi. I recommend staying in a Lake Como villa that allows you to easily visit the town of Bellagio, too!

2. Discover Venice’s Little Sister, Trieste

If you’re looking  to escape the saturated tourist traps of the summer without compromising rich culture and a metropolitan feel, then look no further than the wonderful city of Trieste.

Often called  “Venice’s little sister” due to the sparkling canals that adorn the city, Trieste is a port city on the Slovenian border, with a uniquely romantic Viennese vibe due to being part of the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian empire until 1954. Did you also know the great Irish literary James Joyce wrote Dubliners, and Portrait of the Artist here?

If you  love nothing more than that hot Americano on a sunny morning, Trieste is also known as the uncrowned capital for Italian coffee. So, get ready to take up a seat and delve into a book at one of the many Viennese-style coffee houses. 

3. Hike in Valsugana

If you’re If craving the adventure of a hike, then one place you can’t miss for spectacular, undiscovered views is Valsugana in Trentino. While Lake Garda might be the most famous lake around here, those in Valsugana, such as Lake Levico, will take your breath away. I recommend trekking the Cima Vezzena, aka Pizzo Di Levico for the best valley views.

If that isn’t enough to tempt you, Valsugana also recently won the European Blue Flag award thanks to the quality of its water. Alongside hiking, you can also enjoy a range of activities such as canoeing, sailing and windsurfing. Need more sporting inspiration? You’ll find it here.

4. Indulge in the Chocolate of Perugia

A city  of charm and chocolate. Perugia is a haven for culinary delights, this beautiful city is famous for truffles, prosciutto, pasta, olive oil, sheep milk cheeses — and of course the Perugina chocolate factory "Augusta Perusia" chocolaterie and pastry shop where you can taste local creations!

Explore the  medieval streets of the Old Town and take a picture at Piazza IV Novembre in front of Fontana Maggiore - this square is more than 2,500 years old! Take a stroll on Corso Vanucci - the main pedestrian tourist route of the town. The National Gallery of Umbria is also located here, filled with incredible Renaissance paintings for you to gaze upon.

What's great about Perugia, and the region of Umbria, is that it has much of the same charms as Tuscany but is much less visited.

5. Hike the Dolomites

NorthernItaly beckons with its alpine splendor and cascading valleys, both you’ll find when you begin your hiking journey through the Dolomites. A perfect compromise between high altitude hiking and regular climbing, the Dolomites can be traced back to World War I when the armies dominated the mountains.

Whilst many  venture into the Dolomites in all seasons, whether it be for skiing or hiking. Not many travelers will know these 3 hidden routes, which are; Spiz de Soforcela – Val di Fassa, Punta Vallaccia – Val di Fassa, and Rifugio Puez – Val Gardena, a great route to avoid the August crowds.

I personally  feel the highlight of a hike here is the passage under the water blade of the Fanes stream.

6. Revel in Italy’s Breadbasket, Bologna

Home of the  original Bolegnese and known as Italy’s breadbasket, Bologna cradles the heart of an incredible food culture. You’ll be left spoiled for choice at the selection of cured meats, exquisite cheeses, tender pastas, and divine pastries. And then there’s Modena balsamic vinegar and sparkling Lambrusco; so many wonderful things for you to sample!

That's before That's I even get into the medieval architecture and iconic porticoes, the majestic Piazza Maggiore, and the Basilica of San Petronio. It’s a truly beautiful city with a very friendly atmosphere, and warm welcoming residents.

7. Embark Upon the Barolo Wine Trail in Le Langhe

There is  nothing more dreamy than indulging in a wine tour in Italy. And, the Barolo wine trail in Le Langhe hits the spot if you’re looking for opulent off-the-beaten path sips of red under the sun. Experience this UNESCO heritage region from a new perspective from the back of a Vespa scooter to tap into that old Hollywood slice of Dolce Vita.

FromBassa From Langa with hills and vineyards, to Alta Langa with valleys and hilltop towns, it's a perfect location for tasting local delicacies and flavors. There are a number of trails, but my favorite is to enjoy a tasting at a 14th-century castle followed by a lunch of pasta with salsa di nocciole, made from the hazelnuts the region is famous for.

8. Taste Limoncello Like No Other in Sorrento

Seeking the true essence of Sorrento? There are hundreds of excellent reasons to visit the Amalfi Coast, but the amazing limoncello must be near the top. Everything's better with a sip of this lovely yellow liqueur. Start your day with a fascinating tour of the enchanting lemon groves, where you’ll learn about “Sfusato amalfitano” - the famous ingredient that makes limoncello so special and unique.

Alongside this  unique tasting experience, don’t forget to explore the myriad of narrow passageways of Amalfi to discover the heavenly Paradise Cloisters, and in Ravello enjoy absolutely stunning views of the Amalfi Coast from the Terrace of Infinity.

9. Wander the Streets of Siracusa, Sicily

A hidden  jewel on the East coast of Sicily is the charming city of Siracusa. This beautiful gem is well known for its remarkable historical heritage and its charming old town: Ortigia Island.

Discover its  abundance of medieval buildings, Greek streets and Baroque churches, and admire the Neapolis Archeological Park – featuring one of the most important Greek and Roman monuments of the city. If you’re a coffee lover, then I recommend visiting Caffe Letterario Siracusa, a reputable Italian café located right behind the Temple of Apollo.

To make this experience even more special, why not rent out a boat? It’s the perfect place to spend a few days!

10. Escape the Crowds of Cinque Terre in Winter

Known for  its exotic scenery, of course Cinque Terre is no hidden gem. However, if you visit during the winter period, you’ll find quite a different experience than the bustling summer season of tourists. On a crisp November day, with blue skies and beautiful waters you can find a much quieter Cinque Terre, with just a few tourists to share the experience with.

While the water will be too cold to swim, there’s plenty to still do in this beautiful city. Why not indulge in a hike, and snap the best vantage points? Or take a traditional pesto cooking class?

Ready to go?

There's just  so much to see, do, taste and experience in Italy from North to South. Will it be chocolate tasting in Perugia, or discovering the exquisite Barolo wine trail in Le Langhe? I hope these top 10 off the beaten path destinations have inspired you to start dreaming of your next trip!

Readyto start planning now? Get in touch now if you’re ready to get the ball rolling on your Italian vacation. We’re right here to help work out all of the finer details.

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