Italian cities have always been a favorite destination for jet-setters thanks to their rich and unique cultures. But unbeknownst to many, the country also has an interesting selection of villages and towns that are worth visiting if you’re not a fan of the hustle and bustle of the metro.
With their endless charms free from large crowds of tourists, the following are some of Italy’s most beautiful villages that are worth visiting at least once in your life:
Would you believe that the medieval hillside village of Castelmezzano in Basilicata only has a meager population of 790? Now, we’re talking about peace and serenity, right? Established on a vantage point to act as a fortress against attacks, Castelmezzano is much quieter and more peaceful these days. It adorns the countryside of Italy and deserves the rightful title of being one of Italy’s prettiest villages.
Castelmezzano inhabits one of the Valley of Basento’s somewhat remote locations, right under the stark gray peaks of the Dolomiti Lucane Mountains. Bari is the closest city to the village, at 150 kilometers to the east. This is the best place to visit if you are a hiker who loves to sightsee at the same time.
Manarola, Cinque Terre
Manarola is the second-tiniest village in the group of villages that make up Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although it lacks in terms of population at only 350 and its overall size, its appeal is far from lacking.
Constructed on a cliffside with a small bay as its backdrop, coastal trails connect Manarola to Corniglia and Riomaggiore. It would be almost impossible to visit the village without hiking both. Take some rest in between hikes to go for an invigorating swim or dive in the bay, or grab some fresh fish for lunch in the piazza.
Portofino, Italian Riviera
The fishing village of Portofino on the Italian Riviera looks like it came straight out of a postcard. This is a place you shouldn’t miss visiting, especially if you happen to be in Genoa, which is just a stone’s throw away. A small bay is hugged by the village, and a sandy beach is right on the front, with the Ligurian Sea’s gentle waves lapping at it.
Despite being a fishing village with a population of 425, you don’t only get to see the moored white and blue fishing boats here. Portofino also attracts the affluent and is a famous anchoring point for people who love riding their superyachts to sail the waters of the Mediterranean.
Positano, Amalfi Coast
The coastal village of Positano is located approximately 60 miles south of Naples, nestled in a sheltered bay with rolling mountains in the background. Pastel-colored houses in tiers envelop the steep hillsides of the village, which combines human touch with nature’s hand.
This Amalfi Coast village and its winding streets are best explored and discovered on foot, but make sure that your calf muscles are ready for it. After climbing the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, where you can get in a glimpse of Salerno Gulf, you can go for a walk along the shingle beach and taste some seafood dishes in one of the waterfront restaurants.
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre
The village of Riomaggiore is located on the northwest coast of the country, midway between the cities of Pisa and Genoa. It belongs to the cluster of five medieval villages in Italy that make up Cinque Terre.
The Riomaggiore houses are constructed on the cliff sides that overlook a small bay where the boats of local fishermen are anchored. It is a scenic setting that has existed as far back as the 13th century.
If you’re not up for a hike on Via dell’Amore, the coastal trail connecting Riomaggiore to neighboring Manarola, you can just head down to the main street, look for a sidewalk terrace, and take a sip of the locally produced wine.
Santa Maddalena, Dolomites
The far-flung mountain village of St. Magdalena is perched at an altitude of more than 1,300 meters in the South Tyrol, in the country’s northern region. Notably closer to the border of Austria than it is to Venice, this village is located in the Val di Funes, surrounded by some of Italy’s most dramatic views.
The Dolomite Mountains and their rocky peaks, as well as a Gothic cathedral’s spires, serve as the backdrop of the village. This would have been the best natural inspiration for Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Nothing beats the experience of hiking in its non-polluted free air during the spring and summer seasons and for winter cross-country skiing.
The medieval village of Tropea is located almost on the very edge of the boot-shaped southwest coast of Italy. This Italian village sets itself apart from the rest because everything from the cliffs to the beaches, the sea, and even the houses are white.
Tropea’s historic center sits atop a craggy limestone hill dotted with caves, overlooking the Gulf of Saint Euphemia’s crystal-clear waters. It‘s one part of the country that reasonably became known across the world as the Coast of the Gods. It was also recently named the most beautiful village in Italy, making it a must-visit if you are in the area.
Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Vernazza is undoubtedly the most excellent out of the five villages making up Cirque Terre. The colorful houses in the village are stacked tightly against the cliffs surrounding the secluded bay at the base, with the somewhat dismal ruins of Doria Castle’s tower overlooking it.
One form or another of Vernazza village has been in existence since the latter part of the 11th century. Unfortunately, this long existence has often been unstable. Back in the day, pirates raided the village, and today, landslides have caused extensive damage.
The good news is that it remains strong to this day. Don’t miss the chance to visit the village while you still can, because there’s no way to tell if there are looming catastrophes that might lead to its demise.
The next time you visit Italy, be sure to add these beautiful villages to your itinerary.
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