Introducing 50 incredibly beautiful small towns in Italy

most beautiful towns in italy - positano on the amalfi coast

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Small Italian towns and villages get under your skin. From north to south, bustling market towns and picturesque villages are capable of capturing your heart after just a few hours spent wandering their streets.

Whenever we are asked, where to go in Italy, without hesitation we recommend exploring its beautiful villages and towns.

And it seems we are not alone. People all over the world swoon over gorgeous Italian villages. We asked travel writers and photographers from across the world to choose their favourite small towns to visit in Italy to share with you.

Use the table of contents below to browse your favourite region in Italy or simply scroll on for the ultimate in Italian travel inspiration.

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Tuscany Italy - hills near Lucca

Perhaps you think of the towns in Tuscany when you imagine the Italian countryside. Most people do.

Southern Tuscan towns are perched up on hilltops overlooking green fertile valleys looking out to one another, the sun bouncing off their terracotta roofs. The northern Tuscan hills are home to rambling stone villages that straddle rivers.

One thing is for sure, you could spend a lifetime exploring the beautiful villages in Tuscany, whether it be on a day trip from Florence or a longer stay.


cortona tuscany italy

Suggested by: Chantell from Budget Travel Babes

For sheer beauty, you can’t go past the hilltop town of Cortona in Tuscany, Italy. This fairy-tale destination was the setting and inspiration for world-famous novel, “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Fans of the book and film, can stroll through the winding streets of Cortona and channel Diana Lane.

It’s even possible to visit her house from the movie, “Bramasole”. You don’t need like “Under the Tuscan Sun” to fall in love with Cortona. Every angle of this town is photo-worthy, including the magnificent views over the valley below. For an extra special view, take the pathway up to the Fortress of Girifalco.

The pentagon-shaped fortress has a complex history dating back to the 13th century with many uses including as a prison and strategic observation point during WWII. While staying in Cortona, dining out on Tuscan fare and wine is a must.

Some of the most popular dishes in Tuscany include Ribollita soup and Bistecca all Fiorentina (Florentine-style T-bone steak). For the wine enthusiasts, wine tours are available for vineyards in the valleys below, and in other areas of Tuscany.

WHERE TO STAY: Villa Aurea (Cortona Resort & Spa) – an 18th century villa set in beautiful parklands > click here for availability and prices

San Gimignano

san gimignano tuscany

Suggested by: Dan from Honeymoon Always

From the hilltop city of San Gimignano, the picturesque landscape of rolling hills is breathtaking. I sat there looking for miles hardly believing my eyes.

It’s hard to believe this tiny little town was once a major city in medieval times. We stayed in Fattoria Voltrona, a lovely bed and breakfast on the hillside outside the city center of San Gimignano.

We had a breakfast each morning and one day we enjoyed a horseback ride through the vineyards and olive trees seeing the town in the distance. In the city, the gelato at the award-winning Gelateria Dondoli became a regular and irresistible treat.

We felt transplanted into the past as we wondered the city streets and went window shopping, picking up some truffle salt along the way. At night, dinner never disappointed. We ate at San Martino 26 one evening and ordered the risotto which was full of flavor and a perfect texture. Another night we enjoyed, and recommend trying, the pizza at Il Trovatore.

WHERE TO STAY: Fattoria Voltrona – a friendly agriturismo with 2 swimming pools and an onsite restaurant > click here for availability and prices

Borgo a Mozzano

tuscany village italy - borgo a mozzano

Suggested by: Jackie from Get Lost With Jackie

Borgo a Mozzano is a village in the Lucca province of Tuscany most famously known for its arched bridge, Ponte della Maddalena (Bridge of Mary Magdalene) – which is sometimes referred to as “Ponte del Diavolo” or “Devil’s Bridge”.

The Ponte della Maddalena was once a gateway for those migrating from France on a medieval pilgrimage to Rome. Before taking a stroll across the bridge you can make your own “pilgrimage” and make a stop at La Gioia del Gelato for some of the best gelato in Tuscany!

While the nearby city of Lucca attracts many tourists annually, a local hotel has now put Borgo a Mozzano back on the map.

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Borgo Guisto is a former 17th century Tuscan village that has been transformed into a luxury hotel – merging the charm of Tuscany in the 1600’s with modern amenities and luxuries click here for availability and prices


manciano - best small villages in tuscany

Suggested by: Julia from The Freckled Tourist

If you’re looking for a true Tuscan experience, consider Manciano. It’s a lovely little town in the heart of Tuscany complete with rolling green hills. Here you’ll find beautiful views, delicious food and wine, and unique things to do. The main attraction in Manciano is the Saturnia Thermal Baths. It’s a stunning cascade of turquoise water where you can sit and relax in the natural hot springs.

There are several nice hotels near the baths, but if you want a more homey experience there are plenty of Airbnb’s available in the area. If you’re lucky, your Airbnb will offer horseback riding throughout the Tuscan hills which is an experience not to be missed!

The beauty of this small Italian town is that it’s very slow paced, so you’ll be in for a relaxing and enjoyable trip.Stroll through the cobblestone streets or enjoy a glass of wine on the balcony overlooking the hills. There are plenty of restaurants in town ranging from fine dining to cheap eats, either way you’ll enjoy the best of Italian pizza or pasta. Manciano is sure to be a highlight on your Italian getaway!

WHERE TO STAY: La Pianaccia Country House – a delightful country house hotel, 5 minutes from Manciano center, with lovely grounds and a delicious home-made breakfast > click here for availability and prices


Pienza - best towns in tuscany

Suggested by: Katy from Untold Morsels

Pienza is one of the famous hilltop towns in southern Tuscany. It’s a picture perfect town of cobbled streets and piazzas, an impressive Duomo and several grand palazzos.

The town’s strategic position overlooking the Val D’Orcia also means the views from almost every point along the city walls are spectacular. It’s of those places where the best activity is to wander and soak up the atmosphere.

Shuttered windows look down on colourful flower pots along laneways in scenes that make you swoon. So it’s no surprise that many of them have names inspired by love –  like Via del Bacio (Kiss Street).

Pienza is well known for pecorino cheese and many people go there just to taste and take home the celebrated sheep’s milk variety. If you visit in the fall you can take part in the town’s annual harvest festivals and cheese rolling event in late September.

Make sure to stop by Palazzo Piccolomini.  Once the home of two popes, it is now the place to go for some of the best views in Tuscany.

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Corsignano A gorgeously styled hotel with breathtaking views of the Orcia Valley. It has spacious rooms, a large, plant-filled terrace, with a couple of large hot tubs to tempt you > click here for availability and prices


vinci - best village in tuscany

Suggested by: Lisanne from Chapter Travel

If there’s one place you need to visit in Italy it’s the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci.The name of this town is also Vinci, you could’ve guessed it. Vinci is a town in the province of Florence in the Tuscan region of Italy. When you’re here, you really understand where Leonardo Da Vinci got all his inspiration from.

The landscape of Vinci is full of hills, beautiful olive groves, vineyards and fields of flowers. Vinci is perfect for art and history lovers, as you’ll find interesting museums such as Museo Leonardiano and the da Vinci Museum. But also historical places such as his birth home and Castle of Vinci.

During my visit I stayed in a cute little bed & breakfast all the way on top of a hill. We had the best pasta ever in the little centre of the town. Don’t skip Vinci when you’re in Tuscany, Italy!

WHERE TO STAY: Agriturismo Cantagrillo Set in a stunning and tranquil location, this agriturismo has lovely grounds with a pool to lure you in summer > click here for availability and prices


bolgheri - towns in tuscany italy

Suggested by: Michelle from Intentional Travelers

The small town of Bolgheri brings together the very best of the region – Tuscany’s old world village life, complete with castle; warm climates and views of the Etruscan Coast; and bountiful landscapes, with wineries and olive groves in every direction.

The unique micro-climate of this coastal region in Tuscany has produced award-winning Bordeaux wines. Though Northern Europeans flock here for the summer sun, and bicycle tours cycle through on a regular basis, the area is surprisingly uncrowded.

We recommend renting a guest house along the “Wine and Olive Oil Road,” like Casa Toscana, where you can also learn to cook traditional Italian meals in a local’s home kitchen. Also be sure to try the “Degustazione” and some local wines at Osteria La Magona.

WHERE TO STAY: Il Chiassetto Bolgheri A charming guest house in the heart of Bolgheri, on the church square, close to an abundance of fantastic restaurants > click here for availability and prices

Bagno Vignoni

Bagno Vignoni - best villages in tuscany

Suggested by: Shandos from Travelnuity

Bagno Vignoni is located in the beautiful Val d’Orcia region in the south of Tuscany. It would probably be just another pretty village like many others nearby, replete with narrow laneways and crumbling stone buildings, but for the thermal bath located in its main square.

Yes, at the centre of the village, rather than a typical Italian piazza, is instead the “Square of sources”. It’s a rectangular shaped pool, built in the sixteenth-century, to contain the thermal springs that bubble up at the village.

While the central pool is closed to bathing these days, it’s still possible to sample the waters at one of the spa resorts located in the village, also the ideal location for a romantic night or two. And come early evening, pull up a chair at one of the fine cafes and restaurants that surround the square, to enjoy an aperitif or glass of local wine with a magical outlook.

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Osteria Dell’Orcia Set in a converted 16th century post office building (located in the UNESCO-protected Val d’Orcia Nature Reserve) this beautiful hotel has a pool set in tranquil gardens and a renowned à la carte restaurant > click here for availability and prices


Arezzo - most beautiful towns in Tuscany

Suggested by: Kate from Our Escape Clause

Nestled about an hour south of Florence by train sits the adorable Tuscan town of Arezzo. Home to a gorgeous town square, a bell tower that practically begs to be climbed, Roman ruins, jaw-dropping frescoes, and a fort sitting on top of the tallest hill in town that boasts amazing views of the Tuscan countryside surrounding the city, Arezzo makes the perfect weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of Florence.

Be sure to spend plenty of time wandering the streets (gelato in hand, of course), ducking into the small food shops, and exploring the beautiful churches and small museums that dot the town.

During our weekend in Arezzo, we loved people-watching in the square: with constant markets going during the weekend, there was no shortage of interesting scenes to admire and products to browse. Looking for a beautiful Tuscan town that’s a bit less known than Pisa or Siena? Head to Arezzo!

WHERE TO STAY: La Corte Del Re Perfectly located in Arezzo’s Piazza Grande, this historic building even has some of its original Etruscan and Medieval walls. Unique decor in the rooms with exposed brick and beams and divine city views > click here for availability and prices

Italian Lakes

view of lake como italy

Some of the most beautiful towns in Italy are found on the shores of lakes. From the well known Como and Garda to the hidden beauty of Orta and Iseo, there are countless pretty Italian villages to explore.

Orta San Giulio

Orta San Giulio Lago di Orta

Suggested by: Katy from Untold Morsels

My idea of the perfect Italian village is Orta San Giulio. Sitting on the banks of Lake Orta, not far from Milan, this pretty town has an incredible position looking across the lake to Isola San Giulio. The foothills of the Alps are in the background.

Orta San Giulio is a village draped in wisteria and lined with cobbled streets. While away your day sitting at a lakeside cafe, taking in the views. We liked Venus where you can sit with your feet almost in the water. Make sure to try the local dishes – many of them feature truffles from the surrounding hills. If you are game there is a sausage made from donkey meat called tapulon.

Isola San Giulio is a short boat ride away from Piazza Motta in the centre of town. It is home to a Benedictine monastery and ancient basilica. So if you visit, you are supposed to do so in silence. If you want to stay in Orta then book early. Hotels like Hotel San Rocco fill quickly particularly in summer with clients returning year after year. And who could blame them, Orta is one of the most beautiful towns in Italy.

WHERE TO STAY: Agriturismo Il Cucchiaio di Legno is set back on a hillside with great views over Lake Orta. The restaurants tasting menu is incredible and a nice touch with the breakfast is much of the produce such as honey, jam, fruit and eggs are produced on site > click here for availability and prices


sirmione lake garda

Suggested by: Paulina on the road

The area surrounding the beautiful Lake Garda is well known all over the world for its picturesque villages. One of the quaintest is certainly Sirmione, located at the south side of the lake. It’s no surprise that Sirmione is also known as the Pearl of Lake Garda.

I visited during the autumn months and the narrow, cobblestone paved streets of Sirmione were almost empty. I heard that especially during the summer months, the village can be incredibly crowded with bus tour groups. The most striking sight of Sirmione is the fortress which protects the entrance of the village. It’s certainly one of the most popular photo motives in the entire region and its an eye catching witness of the village’s tumultuous past.

Despite its size, Sirmione has a lot to offer: the Grotto di Catullo is one of the largest Roman villas in Northern Italy and the village boasts 2 thermal baths with gorgeous views on the Alps and Lake Garda. When in Sirmione, you shouldn’t miss to try the most typical food of the area: fish from Lake Garda. We had a risotto with smoked sardines and it was delicious.

Sirmione is the perfect village to relax and enjoy the real Dolce Vita, thus make sure to include it in your Northern Italy itinerary.

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Pace in the heart of Sirmione sits right next to Lake Garda, with its own gardens to enjoy, including its own jetty over the lake. The interior of this classic hotel has elegant and cosy decor > click here for availability and prices


best towns in northern italy - Malcesine Lake Garda

Suggested by: Tilly from Travel Junkie Girl

An elegant lakeside resort situated towards the mountainous northern end of Lake Garda, Malcesine boasts a rather special location. Sandwiched between the lake and a steep mountain ridge, there are stunning views to be had in all directions.

Malcesine is a small but perfectly formed town with charming cobbled streets, atmospheric squares and a picturesque harbour lined with quaint cafés which are just perfect for indulging in a spot of coffee, gelato and people watching.

Don’t miss the dramatic battlemented Scaligero Castle which stands guard over the town and as this is best viewed from the water, make sure you hop on a ferry to either Riva or Limone, two of my other favourite Garda resorts. For a luxury stay, choose a hotel on the outskirts of town that is situated well above the lake where there are extensive grounds with panoramic views and infinity pools, like at the Hotel Bellevue San Lorenzo.

You can take a cable car up Monte Baldo for tremendous views of the Alps and lake; then wander along the attractive lakeside promenade to the south of the town, find a hotel terrace like the Hotel Excelsior Bay and sunbathe with a drink and lake view.

WHERE TO STAY: Antica Corte B&B A sixteenth century building in the heart of Malcesine, the interior is full of character including an unusual internal balcony and ancient stone walls > click here for availability and prices


Approaching Varenna Lake Como

Suggested by: Katy from Untold Morsels

Most visitors to Lake Como spend their time glamorous Bellagio, but I prefer tiny Varenna. It’s one of my favourite medieval towns in Italy. Positioned in the middle of the lake, Varenna has colourful buildings, a small stony beach and the most delightful promenade along the lake shore.

Here you can spend days wandering the stony streets in search of boutique finds and the best gelato. The mood is casual and you can pull up a cushion on a stone step and relax with your ice cream. You get to Varenna by train from Milan or take the ferry from Como or Bellagio, passing by Como’s glamorous villas along the way.

If you don’t want to leave this special hideaway – and who could blame you? – Varenna has its own special villa open to visitors. Villa Monastero is famous for its beautiful gardens and impressive views across the lake. Even if you’re not staying at Villa Cipressi, make sure to book a table and sip prosecco on the terrace as the sun sets. Perfection!

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Meridiana A little gem of a hotel right on the lake, just north of Varenna with it’s own little private beach and incredible views > click here for availability and prices

Italian Alps and mountains

italian alps village

Skiing enthusiasts know that Italy has wonderful mountain towns and villages. In the summer you can enjoy alpine outdoor pursuits like hiking to build up an appetite for the hearty cuisine from the north. There are some gorgeous towns to visit in the Italian Alps and Dolomites.


Merano Tyrol Italy - best italian alps towns

Suggested by: Kate from Throne and Vine

Love basking in the sun under rows of palm trees? Long for sweeping mountain views paired with vineyards, orchards and old world charm? Welcome to Merano in South Tyrol, a mountainous jewel in northern Italy. This little-known region epitomizes the breathtaking wonders that occur when Mediterranean and Alpine climates collide.

Merano bathes in 300+ days of sunshine each year. Visiting here puts you in the middle of a lush wonderland ripe with adventure and relaxation. Its plush hills ease into mountainsides giving you countless opportunities to explore blooming orchards, vineyards and gardens beneath castle walls and snow-capped peaks.

The old town of Merano radiates medieval charm and is famous for its boutique shops, fine dining, promenades and thermal springs, which have been celebrated for centuries for their healing properties.

In fact, Merano boasts one of the most renowned spas in Europe —Terme Merano. Their hotel sits in the heart of Merano overlooking the Passer river and surrounding mountains. The history and location of this region gives visitors a unique culinary gift. You can savor authentic Italian and Tyrolean dishes no matter where you wander.

Among Merano’s arcade of shops, you’ll find one of our favorites, Laubenkeller, serving delightful local cuisine in a quaint setting. Did we mention wine yet? The Alpine wines of the area offer a heavenly way to unwind. Do your wanderlust heart a favor and make a trip to this hidden gem perched in the Italian Alps!

WHERE TO STAY: Maison Valentina A charming guesthouse right in the heart (& pedestrianised part) of the town close to lots of fabulous bars and restaurants. Newly renovated and full of lovely design touches > click here for availability and prices


ortisei- pretty mountain villages in italy

Suggested by: Clemens from Travellers Archive

Ortisei is a small town of only 5,000 inhabitants that lies in the region of South Tyrol. It occupies the Val Gardena within the Dolomites, which is a mountain chain that is part of the Alps and is said to be the true heart of it – at least by locals.

It a great place for everyone who wants to take a break from big city life, go on day hikes, long walks and enjoy the beautiful setting. Worth a visit is the Museum Gherdëina, the local heritage museum that shows the culture of Gröden, as this area is also called.

Also, one can go fashion shopping in the cute pedestrian zone or spend a day in the SPA of the best hotel there is: Hotel ADLER Dolomiti Spa & Sport Resort. End the day with a glass of Italian red wine or the popular Forst beer on the terrace while you watch the alpenglow end the day.

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel La Cort With facilities like a hot tub, sauna, Turkish bath and heated floors, this stylish hotel set in beautiful countryside, is the perfect place to get cosy in the wintertime. Equally in summertime it is the perfect place to relax and take in the panoramic valley views from the veranda. Their restaurant serves exceptional local and Italian dishes > click here for availability and prices

READ: Our full guide to Where to stay in the Dolomites.

Passo Tonale

passo tonale italian mountain village

Suggested by: Nell from The Pigeon Pair and Me

Passo Tonale is one of those Italian towns that oozes family friendliness. It’s a purpose-built ski resort, part of the Pontedilegno-Tonale ski resort, on the border of Trentino and Lombardy.

Purpose-built here does not mean lacking in character, though. Although the town’s just one drag of hotels and restaurants, there are plenty of options for hearty, authentic food, from the homely Alpi pizzeria, to cosy café-bar La Botte, whose onion soup was the tastiest I’ve ever had.

And a stroll along Passo Tonale’s high street will take you past the town’s war memorial, where bones of Italian soldiers were interred after WWI. Passo Tonale marks the site of fierce territorial conflict between the Italians and Austrians. It was under Austrian rule until 1918, and visitors can go inside a tunnel dug by Italians during this time of conflict.

The town’s highlight is the Presena Glacier, which towers above at 3,000m. Visitors can ski on the glacier into late spring, on black, red or blue runs. Even if you don’t ski, a new gondola will take you up to a mountain hut at the summit, to enjoy the views with a glass of local bollicene (sparkling wine). It’s a treat at any time of year, but in the snowy months, you feel as though you’re at the top of a winter wonderland.

WHERE TO STAY: Il Faita An unbeatable location on the ski slopes of Passo del Tonale, with incredible mountain views from the terrace. With beautifully designed and cosy interiors, everything you need on site with their atmospheric restaurant-bar serving mouth-watering dishes, you may never want to leave! > click here for availability and prices

Ponte di Legno

ponte di legno - italian mountain villages

Suggested by: Isabella from Boundless Roads

I used to go to Ponte di Legno every possible week-end, when I became addicted to snowboarding.It was my winter happy place as riding those white slopes from 9 to 5 was my so longed for week end job. When the snow season ended I would forget about Ponte di Legno until the next winter. Summer was not for the mountains, I thought, so boring.

Fast forward 15 years I regret not having enjoyed the beautiful summers there. The white slopes turn into green carpets, home of marmots, boquetins and deers and many other funny guys. The number of hiking trails is uncountable and very well traced for all fitness levels; cabins to stay for the night and share your stories with other hikers in the light of millions stars.

The landscape scenery is just like a fairy tale, especially in autumn, with its thousands shades of greens and browns, contrasting the blue sky and the white peaks of Presena glacier, a playground for photographers.

The town of Ponte di Legno is one of a kind. The cute tiny houses made of wood and stones, typical of the mountain architecture, all of them with flowery decorations perfectly placed on their balconies. The center of the city is very elegant as well and offers a great shopping experience, but most of all an exceptional culinary one.

The entire region is quite famous for its special dishes, very rich in flavor … and calories. But who cares about the calories, as you would burn it off the following day during your hike or rides. I cannot suggest any special restaurant because anywhere you go you are sure to find real genuine local food, which will never leave you disappointed.

Also the accommodation offer presents a variety of options from the cheap “Pensione” to the top luxury hotel or residences. For a treat you should go to the Tana dell’orso, quite popular also for its restaurant and most of all their hot tube in the open air surrounded by pines and white mountaintops.

There are much more activities that you can do in the summer though, such as mountain bike with my friend Matteo from Ponte de Legno Trails, an expert biker and mountain lover, who will take you on fun rides all around the valley, and much much more.

WHERE TO STAY: Residence Hotel Raggio Di Luce This delightful alpine hotel, in a picturesque setting, has a tranquil vibe. Pluses include underfloor heating, an adorable children’s playroom and a wellness area/spa with aromatherapy, musictherapy and chromotherapy > click here for availability and prices

Nova Levante

dolomites italy towns - nova levante

Suggested by: 197 Travel Stamps

When we think about Italy, we all think about pizza, pasta, a good glass of wine, the relaxed Italian way of living and maybe a little chaos.

But Italy is so diverse that these stereotype may not be suitable for all regions in Italy. In fact, there is one region that is completely different from the rest of Italy: South Tyrol in the mountainous north of the country. A mostly self-governing autonomous region close to the Austrian border with the majority of the population speaking German as their first language.

Here, nestled between the impressive Dolomites, lies the small town of Nova Levante or Welschnofen (in German). A cable car starting right in the center of the town leads up to an elevation of 2,300 m. During the summer months, the area offers some prime hiking routes through this UNESCO protected mountain paradise.

In winter, you can put on your skies and race down the pristine slopes while enjoying the panoramic views over the Italian Dolomites. Just a few minutes from the town center lies Lake Carezza, an emerald green mountain lake in which the surrounding mountains Catinaccio and Latemar are beautifully reflecting.

The mix of Italian and Austrian culture also favors some unique culinary combinations that you should not miss out on. Traditional Italian dishes like Polenta are often served with Austrian dishes like game goulash.

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Rosengarten Cozy, relaxed retreat hotel with pool, spa and sauna. Offering allergy-free accommodation, an à-la-carte restaurant and bus links to ski resorts and nearby towns are added bonuses > click here for availability and prices


borno - italy mountain towns

Suggested by: Natalie from Love and Road

Borno is perfect for travelers who want to enjoy nature and the real Italian lifestyle. Hidden among the mountains of Val Camonica, this charming town has history, beautiful nature, traditional food and gelato to die for.

The best part is that Borno is not a touristic town. In fact, it’s very rare to find international travelers there and most of the visitors come from neighboring towns or regions. The mountains around Borno are the main attraction, during summer and spring it’s a paradise for hiking, trekking and mountain biking, from beginners to advanced level.

During winter the town becomes a snowy wonderland, with slopes for snowboard, ski and cross-country ski. Monte Altissimo, the ski area is only a few kilometers away from the old town, making easy to get around by car, by bike or even by foot. After a long day exploring mountains, lakes, and slopes you can recharge your batteries with delicious food served in family-style restaurants or try gourmet recipes at the awarded Osteria Al Cantini

Take time to visit all the gelato shops in town and enjoy the traditional Italian aperitivo served from midday to 7 pm. These are just some of the top things to do in Borno, so make sure you stay at least 3 or 4 days there, so you can visit the town and the surrounding areas.

WHERE TO STAY: Agriturismo Serec With an excellent locally-sourced restaurant, tranquil location and views to die for, this cosy Agriturismo also offers a hot tub and a children’s playground in it’s grounds > click here for availability and prices

Northern Italy

Brescia Italy - things to do in Brescia

When you think of Northern Italy, its impressive cities spring to mind. Travel outside of Milan and Venice however and you discover many special spots for an ideal getaway.


brisighella - little towns in italy

Suggested by: Kerri from Beer and Croissants

Brisighella, a small medieval town in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, has earned the title of “one of the prettiest villages in Italy”. The main place of interest is the 14th century La Rocca that sits on one of the three hills behind the town. Learn about the history of Brisighella and take in the unimpeded views over the valley below.

Nearby, on the other two hills sits an impressive 18th century church and a 19th century clock tower. Another fascinating place to visit is Donkey’s Alley, an elevated, covered road with elaborate timber structures and archways, once used by donkeys to transport chalk from the hills.

Each year locals and visitors alike flock to the city to enjoy dinner by candlelight on the cobblestone streets as part of  “Brisighella Romantica”. The Emilia Romagna region is brimming with agriturismos that celebrates all that is great about Italian food, wine and tradition.

My recommendation would be to visit the Donna Livia agriturismo.  Go early to take a tour of their farm and olive oil production facility and even do an olive oil tasting. Stay for lunch, where you will eat fresh farm produce and drink wine from their family vineyards.   When the day is over, retire to their medieval tower now converted into a luxury apartment.

WHERE TO STAY: Azienda Agricola Baccagnano This beautiful and characterful converted church dates back to the 13th century and is set in stunning grounds including their own vineyard > click here for availability and prices

Venaria Reale

northern italy towns - venaria reale

Suggested by: Binny from A Speck in Time

Venaria Reale is a small town about eight kilometers from Turin. It was our first stop in Italy and this town charmed us with its brick-paved streets, smiling people, laid-up attitude, delicious pizzas, gelatos, and coffee. We stayed here for two days, absorbing Italian life around us and getting into the rhythm.

The first day was dedicated to the Royal Palace of Venaria. This UNESCO Heritage site is one of the largest royal residences in the world. The Duke of Savoy, Carlo Emanuele built this palace complex to serve as a hunting lodge in 1675.  I recommend spending whole day here to enjoy it fully. You may enjoy it by an organized tour or audio tour or on your own. 

You take Venaria Express shuttle, one of the tourist office’s summer sightseeing buses or bus 11 or 72 from Porta Nuova station. While at the palace, you must go to Cafe Degli Argenti for its coffee, delicious panini, and cakes.

If you have one more day to spend here, head towards La Mandria Regional Park in the morning. It is a big park with forest and lakes, which used to be a hunting reserve for the king.  You may explore it – hiking, biking or by train. We spent the morning hours biking in the park, which kids loved immensely.

Walking down the Via Andrea Mensa was a joyous experience for us – we strolled down to Piazza Vittorio Veneto listening to the locals laughing and talking, stopping for lunch, gelato, and finally for the dinner.

Torrefazione Caffè Sabaudo turned us into loyal customers by their lovely coffee and delicious cakes. Ristorante Pizzeria Quadrovale and Pizzeria Gabry’S were superhit restaurants for our kids. Both the places are causal with mouth-watering pizzas. There are many choices to stay at Venaria Reale for every budget. We stayed at La Terrazza su Venaria Reale which offers excellent views of the town.

WHERE TO STAY: La Finestra Sulla Reggia Overlooking the Royal Palace of Venaria, the hotel has spacious rooms and a fantastic restaurant serving traditional Italian and regional cuisine > click here for availability and prices


Burano - towns near venice italy
Suggested by: Lauren from
Venice is a common bucket list addition for obvious reasons. Most visit to get lost in the labyrinth of narrow streets and canals whilst being surrounded by the fairy-tale architecture. Burano however is the vibrant jewel in the Venetian crown as it offered a bucket list worthy experience we cannot recommend enough.
A 40 minute vaporetto ride from Venice, the island is instantly recognisable by the pastel coloured houses, so adorable and picturesque they almost don’t look real. Traditionally, fishermen of the island painted their home a unique colour in order to identify it when returning in fog resulting in such a vibrant village.

As if the bold buildings weren’t enough to take your breath away, the numerous canal-side bars will. All equally quaint and offering the Italian favourite of Prosecco with Aperol, making Burano an Italian village that should be added to all bucket lists. 

WHERE TO STAY: Antica Dogana Set on the lagoon of Venice, the views from this converted palace are unbeatable. Many cross the lagoon just to visit their prestigious restaurant! > click here for availability and prices


grado - northern italy coastal towns
Suggested by: Nienke from The Travel Tester

With an island facing its full length to the Adriatic Sea, going to the beach is probably the first activity you want to do when in Grado. The aristocracy has been bathing here since the 19th century because of apparent health benefits of the air and water, so you can’t really go wrong there!

For more action, why not hire a bicycle or have a go at beach volley, windsurfing, sailing, water-skiing or canoeing? If you’re more a cultural traveller, get lost in the narrow winding alleyways of the small Old Town and see some of the historic churches and Roman mosaics scattered around.

According to the locals, there are only good restaurants in Grado, so when it comes to dining, it seems you can’t really go wrong. My favourites included ‘Zero Miglia’, a 0 KM seafood restaurant, and ‘Tavernetta All’Androna’, an outstanding kitchen with a sunny terrace hidden behind Grado’s Basilica.

Don’t forget to top it all off with a gelato from ‘Gelateria Artigianale Elena’! In the surrounding area, you can travel back to Roman times in UNESCO World Heritage Location Aquileia, or enjoy nature at the National Park ‘Riserva Naturale di Vale Cavanata’, a birdwatcher’s paradise.

WHERE TO STAY: Laura e Christian This family run hotel is close to the beach and has a lovely terrace for their guests to enjoy. There are free bikes to use for exploring the charming neighbourhood and beaches > click here for availability and prices


Montichiari Castello Bonoris

Suggested by: Katy from Untold Morsels

Montichiari is the kind of place you wonder why no one knows about it. This friendly town in Lombardy’s Brescia province, not far from Lake Garda, holds many treasures. There’s a medieval style castle built for a king, a beautiful theatre and wonderfully curated art gallery. The Lechi Museum has a fascinating collection of portraits of ordinary Italian people from the 18th century by Giacomo Ceruti – known as Pitocchetto.

Of course the main piazza is home to an impressive domed church and not far from there is Saint Pancrace Abbey – one of the best preserved Romanesque Abbeys in Northern Italy. But I recommend you go to Montichiari for the hospitality. At Palazzo Novello you are welcomed like an old friend. This beautifully restored palazzo is now a delightful boutique hotel.

The owners are more than happy to share with you their passion for their region and its food heritage. Make sure to ask them where to find the best casoncelli – a local pasta stuffed with meat and breadcrumbs. It’s delicious.

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Palazzo Novello Set in beautiful gardens, this 18th-century restored castello has elegant interiors, with bright and airy rooms > click here for availability and prices

The Riviera

portofino italian riviera

Italy’s Ligurian coast has countless towns and villages to explore. From the rustic beauty of the villages of the Cinque Terre to the luxurious glamour of Portofino, there is a Riviera town for everyone.


portofino view italian riviera

Suggested by: Katy from Untold Morsels

If you want to experience the glamorous Riviera life then you must visit Portofino. Once a humble fishing village, this haven of luxury villas, and designer boutiques and galleries has been welcoming the world’s rich and famous for decades. And it’s not hard to see why they love the pretty Italian seaside town.

Portofino’s secluded harbour is the perfect place to moor a super yacht before heading to one of the restaurant terraces for the best spaghetti vongole you will ever eat. Don’t worry about being thirsty either. Prosecco and champagne practically flow out of the taps here I’m told.

Wander past the pastel hued buildings up the hill to Castello Brown. Here you can check out the museum and take in the magnificent views of the Ligurian coastline.

WHERE TO STAY: Hintown Stylish Seaview Apartment Sitting by the water’s edge, this quirky self-catering accommodation offers marine themed decor and unrivalled access to one of the world’s most renowned and picturesque villages. Location! Location! Location! > click here for availability and prices


vernazza cinque terre

Suggested by: Richa from My Ticklefeet

Vernazza lies in the center of five coastal villages of Italy, Cinque Terre. The location makes it a perfect fit for making it your base. And I must add it is one of the most picturesque villages of the five in a close contest with Manarola and Riomaggiore.

There are several unique vantage points from where you get postcard views of this village. One of them is on the hiking trail (Blue trail) coming from Corniglia to Vernazza and the other is on the trail going towards Monterosso.

Another splendid view of the village is from its marina which is also the only port of Cinque Terre. The main square by the marina offers not only great views but a bunch of bars and restaurants to relax and enjoy. Vernazza was destroyed badly in the flooding of 2011 but thanks to all the restoration efforts by locals and the government, it is back in action.

Some must see historic spots here are the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia, Doria Castle, and Belforte Tower. For food with a splendid view head to Belforte restaurant, after sightseeing in that area this will be a great break. Make reservations ahead of time in peak season. We had the best gelato at Gelateria Vernazza which is on the main street as you walk down from the train station to the square.

WHERE TO STAY: Cade Ventu With spectacular views of the sea and the mountains at every turn, this cosy and welcoming guest-house also offer fantastic home-cooked food > click here for availability and prices


riomaggiore - five towns italy

Suggested by: Stephanie from The World As I See It

Riomaggiore is my favorite Italian village. Set on the breathtaking Liguria coastline, Riomaggiore is the last of Cinque Terre’s five villages. Even though it’s the second largest of the villages it is still full of small town charm.

Home to a picturesque marina, hilltop views, stunning sunsets, and when the bulk of the tourists leave in the late afternoon a quiet descends. The marina offers a great place to swim, and there are a variety of things to see and do as well as places to eat and shop.

Top sights in Riomaggiore include the candle-lit Church of San Giovanni Battista, the Montenero Sanctuary that will take you an hour to hike to but rewards you with a stunning view, and the 13th century Castle, now in ruins but near a winding path that offers one of the best panoramic views in the village. And of course, one of the main attractions of the Cinque Terre region is the hiking trails that link the villages.

Like many of Cinque Terre’s small villages, Riomaggiore has only a select fare of places to stay. One great option is La Scogliera, a vacation apartment with a balcony offering sea views. Or try an Airbnb, like The First, a luxury suite.

As for food options, there are quite a few. Try Fuori Rotta Wine Bar for drinks, appertivos, dinner, and views of the town. Or Dau Cila for dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, as well as a by-the-water view. And don’t forget to grab possibly Italy’s best gelato from Gelateria Centrale Di Germani E Giaccio.

WHERE TO STAY: Scorci Di Mare Set in a 14th-century building perched above the harbour has spectacular sea views from the terrace – where you can enjoy watching the waves crashing on the rocks below. Right in the heart of town for access to restaurants and shops. Don’t forget to catch the breath-taking sunsets! > click here for availability and prices


Manarola Cinque Terre - italian coastal villages

Suggested by: Nicci from Trip Chiefs

If you only have time to visit one village along Italy’s famous Cinque Terre, then the picture perfect village of Manarola is an absolute must see. Wander along the sea cliffs and take in some of the most stunning coastal scenery on earth. You’ll find a multitude of tourists lined up along the first part of the walking track but if you keep going that little bit further, you’ll find it to be much quieter and more enjoyable.

If you’re lucky the walking tracks will be open the whole way between the different villages, so you can get the full experience of this magical place. Not far along the walking track you’ll find a set of stairs leading to a beautiful little playground with a brilliant view. Up here you’ll also discover an incredible place for a picnic with tables and chairs or if you’d rather someone else did the cooking, then you’ve got to try Nessun Dorma.

The view is incredible and the food, while simple, is delicious and uses the best and freshest ingredients. I could have sat there all afternoon eating and drinking Prosecco! While you’re there, make time to walk back into the village centre and headed up the steep hill to check out the village church, hillside gardens and beautiful views over the village.

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Marina Piccola A stone’s throw from the rocky beach and in the centre of town, the hotel’s rustic stone walls juxtapose the contemporary decor, creating fantastically stylish accommodation > click here for availability and prices

Porto Venere

Portovenere - best seaside towns in italy
© Jurga @FullSuitcase

Suggested by: Jurga from Full Suitcase

Portovenere is an old fishermen’s village often overlooked by international tourists visiting the famous Cinque Terre villages nearby. However, this picturesque little town has so much more to offer than it looks at first sight, so don’t miss this hidden gem of Liguria region. It’s one of our favourite little towns in Italy!

The main highlights include – amongst others – a little harbour surrounded by a wall of colourful buildings, the medieval Doria Castle with the most spectacular views over the Gulf of The Poets, beautifully located St. Peter’s church, and the stunning cliffs along the coastline.

Explore the labyrinth of narrow streets, go shopping at one of the tiny stores selling local specialties and souvenirs, or sip a cocktail watching the boats at one of the many cafes by the harbour. No matter your interests or travel style, it’s easy to fall with this picturesque town with its spectacular setting and laid-back atmosphere.

WHERE TO STAY: Torre Porto Venere Housed in a 16th-century tower and located on the picturesque town square, this hotel has bags of character and is decorated with great taste. Breakfast is served on the rooftop communal deck overlooking the water > click here for availability and prices

Central Italy

orvieto - towns outside of rome

Central Italy is home to some of Italy’s most historic and beautiful villages. The small towns near Rome are great for a day trip but as is often the case, it is well worth staying a few days to explore.


Assisi - best towns near Rome

Suggested by: Ashley from My Wanderlusty Life

The Umbrian town of Assisi, Italy is most famous for being the birthplace of St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan Religious Order in the year 1208. To this day, Assisi remains one of Catholicism’s most important pilgrimage sites.

Assisi’s main attraction is the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi—modest on the outside but flooded with vibrant color on the inside and containing the tomb of St. Francis himself. Another popular stop is the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, containing within itself the tiny chapel that St. Francis restored with his own hands.

Besides religious pilgrimage, Assisi is popular for being a visually stunning and extremely well-preserved medieval town, in a region of Italy revered for its gastronomic offerings—primarily black truffles and Umbrian wine. Trattoria Degli Umbri de Brufani Andrea is a great place for a relaxed lunch where you can try all of the region’s specialties in an idyllic setting.

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Il Palazzo Set right in the Old Town of Assisi, this beautifully designed hotel has many original features from it’s 16th-Century origins, including beautiful stone vaulted ceiling and walls with dazzling views > click here for availability and prices


Orvieto - towns to visit near Rome

Suggested by: Andrew from Dish Our Town 

My favorite Italian Restaurant in New York City serves a wonderful crisp white wine which they simply refer to as an Orvieto. In my imagination, I would transport myself to Orvieto through sipping. The more I sipped, the more elaborate my imagination.

During one of our recent travels, my imagination was manifested. I, along with my family, finally made it to Orvieto, and I hadn’t even had one sip. It was even more beautiful than I ever imagined in my mind. There we were in a beautiful hilltop town, with the most ornate and beautiful cathedral in the region of Umbria crowning the center.

Toward the edges, one can go to an overlook and appreciate the most verdant countryside filled with vineyards below. Orvieto is filled with wonderful little cafes and specialty food boutiques, but it was the gelateria toward the back of the cathedral that tempted us on a hot day.

If there is one must-see site, other than the cathedral, it would be the underground city. This labyrinth of caves provides a true understanding of how a civilization that existed thousands of years ago lived their daily lives. Part of Italy’s DNA brings many of its visitors back in history, and this goes even further back than I had imagined. Oh, and guess what? They drank a lot of wine in those days as well.

WHERE TO STAY: Altarocca Wine Resort in the hills overlooking Orvieto, this stylish hotel has exceptional countryside views and spacious rooms. The property also has a fantastic restaurant where you can enjoy wine from their own vineyard and a spa with sauna, steam bath and an indoor pool with hot tub > click here for availability and prices

San Leo

San Leo - central Italian towns

Suggested by: Evelina from Little Big Traveler

Named as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy, San Leo strikes with rural Italian charm and rich history. Even Dante Alighieri himself fell in love with the picturesque town and eternalize it in his masterpiece Divine Comedy.

One of the must-see attractions of San Leo is the magnificent castle overlooking the town. The impregnable fortress, landed on the top of a steep rock, offers some awe-inspiring views of the whole province of Rimini. Absolutely, worth the efforts to get up there. Following the steep curvy street downhill, you’ll find yourself on Piazza Dante Alighieri, facing numerous historical buildings.

One of the highlights of San Leo is the Parish Church – the oldest church in the town, dated back to the 7th century. On the very same square is located the beautiful Romanesque Cathedral and the medieval watchtower (Torre Civica).

If you are interested in art, you should definitely visit the Medici Palace (Palazzo Medici) just on the main square. It used to be a residence of the powerful Medici family but nowadays it houses the Museum of Sacred Art.

San Leo is a perfect day trip from Rimini and even from Bologna. However, if you want to stay in the town there are some excellent hotels and B&Bs. Once you visit San Leo you’ll immediately fall into its traditional atmosphere and it will easily become one of your favorite towns in Italy.

WHERE TO STAY: B&B Palazzo Mattei In nearby Novafeltria, this grand, atmospheric building is elegantly decorated, with high ceiling, bags of space, lovely views and pretty gardens. The perfect place to stay for the white truffle festival of Sant’Agata Feltria in October > click here for availability and prices

San Gemini

san gemini - best towns in umbria

Suggested by: Julianna from The Discoveries Of

San Gemini is my favourite town in Italy – set in the heart of Umbria, this gorgeous medieval hamlet has all of the charms of some of the country’s more popular tourist hotspots, but without the crowds.

The Piazza San Francesco sits at the heart of the town – a large open square, one corner dotted with tables from the cafe-come-bar that’s tucked away on the sides. Away from this, there’s a Duomo and the Palazzo Vecchio to explore.

Rather than a list of sights to see, much of the town’s attraction is found by just wandering around the old, cobbled streets and narrow walkways, stopping off for a coffee or two and rounding it off with dinner in the fabulous Taverna del Torchio. We like to bed down in Albergo Duomo, a cute boutique hotel in the centre.

WHERE TO STAY: Tenuta Marchesi Fezia A rustic style hotel in the Umbrian countryside. The large swimming pool and sun-terrace is surrounded by beautiful planting and their own vineyard and olive groves and the property overlooks a glorious valley > click here for availability and prices

Amalfi Coast

amalfi - best beach towns in italy

The Amalfi coast towns and villages are bucket list destinations for good reason. Have you ever met a person who has not fallen head over heels with the dramatic beauty of Positano or Capri? And there are many other towns to discover on this stretch of the Italian coastline.


Positano - Amalfi Coast Italy
Suggested by: Natasha from The World Pursuit

Positano is one of the most iconic towns in Italy and well worthy of a stop on any Italian Itinerary. Situated in Southern Italy along the Amalfi Coast, Positano is that “picture perfect” Italian beachside town.

Positano comes right out the cliffs and has pebble beachfront and steep, narrow streets filled with cafes, boutique shops, and plenty of Italian charm. Everything about Positano is special. I’ve never seen anywhere like in my life and is truly unique. Just walking around and soaking in the ambiance is all you need to do here to have a fantastic stay.

However, I would highly recommend visiting in the summer and enjoying the warm Mediterranean waters and basking in the Italian sun. The village is small meaning there aren’t tons of accommodation on offer. If you are traveling in the high season and want a picturesque view from your hotel room you will need to book in advance.Make sure to eat at Da Costantino, which offers incredible food with amazing views over the town and sea.

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Villa Gabrisa Set on the hillside over the coast, this hotel has panoramic sea views. Experience award winning food at the restaurant whilst overlooking the sea and enjoy aperitifs at the wine bar > click here for availability and prices


Amalfi - best italian seaside towns<

Suggested by: Lori from Travlinmad

The namesake town of one of Italy’s most iconic stretches of coastline, Amalfi is just down the coast from it’s glitzier neighbor Positano, and is a popular day trip from there with visitors arriving by busloads throughout the day. But it’s worth a night or two to enjoy the town when the crowds leave. The first place to visit in town is the Byzantine cathedral or Duomo, the resting place of St. Andrew, and it stands prominently over the town’s main Piazza.

The white-washed alleyways are perfect for strolling and exploring the hidden squares and storefronts along the way. At one time Amalfi was the capital of the Maritime Republic in Italy, and the fascinating history is on display at the Arsenal of the Maritime Republic. Adventure travelers will love the amazing views from hiking The Path of the Gods, an amazing day hike with a gradual ascent over the coast.

For dinner, De Gemma is the perfect choice, a cozy spot tucked away in a quiet neighborhood. You can just feel (and taste) the authenticity when you step through the door. Stay a night or two at the Hotel Luna Convento, a former convent that’s been lovingly restored and sits perched on a bluff overlooking the town. There’s no better view of one of Italy’s most endearing small towns.

WHERE TO STAY: Residenza Luce In the historic Piazza del Duomo, walking distance of the beaches, this stylish and welcoming hotel has spacious rooms, great views and a calm ambience > click here for availability and prices


capri beautiful towns in italy

Suggested by: Kate from KO Travellers

If Italians are escaping to this island for a summer holiday then Capri must be an Italian island town worth talking about. Set off the Amalfi Coast is Capri, a small and idyllic island full of culture and history. Set out by exploring the streets of La Camerelle where designer stores from Gucci to Louis Vuitton are found. Enjoy the romantic walk along Via Tragara before reaching the stunning cliff face overlooking La Fontelina.

Take a dip in the water at La Fontelina Beach Club while spending the afternoon lazing on the rocks and enjoying some fresh seafood. At night the piazzette comes alive. Relax with a spritz and some olives before a beautiful dinner at Da Paolino which is set amongst Lemon Trees.

If you want to stay within walking distance of the action try Grand Hotel Quisisana or Capri Tiberio Palace Hotel. Most importantly, before departing the beautiful island, be sure to hire a boat to explore the dramatic coast line and grottos (hint: make sure you jump into the water in one of the grottos).

WHERE TO STAY: Affittacamere Capri Dolce Vita is situated on Capri’s main square, Piazzetta. Amazing decor, equally incredible views which alongside the location, makes this a true gem on this gem of an island > click here for availability and prices


Minori - towns on the amalfi coast

Suggested by: Lizzie from Lizzie’s Restless Feet

Nestled in-between the larger towns of Maiori and Amalfi, Minori is truly a jewel in Italy’s crown. Being much smaller than its neighbours, it has the double benefits of not being as busy with tourists in the summer, and being more affordable than most of the Amalfi Coast (although with every bit as much charm and character!).

Stroll along the beach and gaze out at the azure waters of the Mediterranean, or take in the emerald hills surrounding the town’s colourful pastel buildings – every direction you turn is a feast for the eyes! Meanwhile, the small square in front of the beach provides the ideal place to catch some shade, have a bite to eat, or drink copious amounts of sangria.

For the most mouth-watering desserts and gelato, head to Pasticceria Sal De Riso, and for some incredibly fresh fish dishes (if you’re sick of pizza!), try La Locanda del Pescatore. If you are looking for something a little off the beaten track, Minori is sure not to disappoint!

WHERE TO STAY: Casa Amorino offers quirky and charming accommodation close to both the town and beach. Their lemon orchard gardens add to the tranquil and relaxing setting and serene ambience > click here for availability and prices


ravello - best towns on the amalfi coast

This iconic view of the Amalfi Coast was taken from the town of Ravello. Settled since the 5th century, Ravello provided a perfect vantage point for observing the coastline and was an important town for the Amalfi Republic. Most visitors to the Amalfi Coast want to stay right on the water but consider the views if you made your base Ravello.

It’s no wonder that the nobility of the area chose to build their palaces here. These days they are open for you to explore. At Villa Rufolo you can walk around the stunning Italian gardens and climb the medieval tower for paranomic views of the area. Close by Villa Cimbrone is the place to stroll along the famous Terrazzo dell’lnfinito (Terrace of Infinity).

Ravello is a place that has inspired poets and authors for generations. I can’t imagine a more romantic place to stay than Villa Cimbrone but if you are just visiting for the day, book a table for lunch and enjoy the view.

To get to Ravello, hire a private car transfer or take the local bus from Amalfi. The ride around the winding roads is one of the most exhilarating in the world (some say scary), but it’s worth it.

WHERE TO STAY: Maera B&B Ravello With a fantastic location, just a few feet from the main square, this family run hotel has exquisitely designed contemporary interiors and their next-door restaurant offers a selection of mouth-watering dishes > click here for availability and prices


taormina - most beautiful town in sicily

A trip to Sicily must include exploring its towns and villages. From the coast to the base of Mount Etna, each have their own unique character, culture and charm.


Cefalu - small towns in sicily

Suggested by: Erin from Down Bubble 

Cefalu is an idyllic and historic beach town on Sicily’s northern coast about 1.5 hour’s drive from the Palermo airport. If you like historic sightseeing you will enjoy the many churches to be found in Cefalu’s old town including the main cathedral (Cathedral of Cefalu) which originally dates to the 1100s Norman occupation although was heavily updated in the 16th century.

The town centre is still mainly original medieval with narrow cobblestoned streets across which the 4-5 storey high apartments above nearly touch. Towards the beach you can find the Lavatoio – a 16th century laundry-system carved into the rock where a spring under the town feeds out to the sea near to the Porta Marina (the only original city gate still standing).

The sea itself is the real jewel here, an excellent sand beach meets warm Mediterranean waters with major waves kept out by a picturesque sea wall, on which wedding parties are often held! Note for your sightseeing and eating plans that this sleepy, and traditionally intra-Italy tourist destination, observes the siesta closure practice with most businesses, restaurants and sights closing between 1pm-4pm.

For dinner, there are some excellent restaurants overhanging the sea’s edge within the old town for pizza, pasta alla Norma, and seafood. For lunch try a bakery for a real arancini: the size of your fist, perfectly golden fried breadcrumbs surround cheesy risotto with a little ball of yesterday’s Bolognese and peas in the very centre. Breakfast should simply be an espresso, alfresco with ocean views, which will allow you to treat yourself to an impossibly good gelato mid-morning 😉

WHERE TO STAY: Lirma B&B A stones throw from both the beach and the historic center, this charming accommodation matches the town’s charm, with arty and rustic decor and a lush garden courtyard > click here for availability and prices


Mount Etna from the Taormina amphitheatre

Suggested by: Katy from Untold Morsels

Taormina is one of the most popular towns to visit in Sicily. Boasting incredible views of Mount Etna in the distance and a wonderfully preserved ancient Greek theatre, you would be hard pressed to find more spectacular scenes anywhere in the world.

Get up early and explore the ruins before the heat of the day and then go for lunch at one of the many excellent local restaurants. Make sure to choose one with a view so you can gaze at the volcano smouldering in the distance.

In the afternoon, it is time to explore some more. You could spend time browsing the boutiques crammed full of local pottery and crafts. Or deciding which of the delicious Sicilian sweets to try. But I suggest going for a swim. Take the funicular from the town to Isola Bella, one of the prettiest swimming spots in Italy before returning for an aperitif at sunset on the terrace at Le Quattro Fontane in Piazza Duomo.

Watching the sun set with Mount Etna in the background is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Sicily.

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Villa Belvedere Set in an elegant villa, surrounded by beautifully planted gardens, this impeccably designed hotel has breath-taking views of Naxos Bay, with Mount Etna in the distance. The pool and proximity to fantastic restaurants are the icing on the cake > click here for availability and prices


ortigia - beautiful towns in sicily

Suggested by: Faye from Delve into Europe

The island of Ortigia – the original core of the city of Siracusa, better known as Syracuse – is one of my favourite places in Italy, indeed Europe. It’s only across a short bridge from modern Syracuse and its ancient Greek ruins, a reminder of a time when this provincial Sicilian city was the most powerful in the ancient world. But once you’re over that bridge, you’re stepping back to another era.

Ortigia is only around a mile long and you can walk the lungomare road around it in a leisurely hour or two. The labyrinth of streets in the middle of the island are a joy to explore, mainly lined with slightly crumbling romantic 18th century houses.

For us, the highlight of Ortigia was our nightly caffe and gelato in the gorgeous Piazza del Duomo, right opposite the stunning Baroque façade of the cathedral. I think this is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy, and the balmy spring evenings were the perfect time to experience it.

We stayed in an apartment built in the early 1700s for around €100 a night, and there are also some great hotels, including the Grand Hotel Ortigia on one side of the island and Hotel Gutkowski on the other.

The food in Ortigia was also outstanding. The produce we bought in the market was some of the best I’ve ever cooked with and eaten, but it was also wonderful to spend a few evenings dining al fresco at some of the trattoria hidden down the back lanes of this remarkable place.

WHERE TO STAY: La Maison Close to Syracuse Cathedral, this exquisitely restored building with elegant and sumptuous interiors comes with a sunny terrace and stands out for their attention to detail > click here for availability and prices


marzamemi - pretty fishing village in italy sicily

Suggested by: Katy from Untold Morsels

If you are looking for the perfect Italian fishing village, head to Sicily’s south east coast and visit Marzamemi. Not far from Siracusa, this pretty little village is the perfect hidden Sicilian spot for a long afternoon lunch by the sea.

Colourful boats bob in the sea and cats gaze longingly at fish darting through the clear harbour waters. Couples stroll along the shorefront hand in hand and the local kids enjoy delicious granite (Sicilian gelato) from the vendors at the harbour.

There are many seafront restaurants but if you stroll into Piazza Regina Margherita you will find the colourful chairs and tables at La Cialoma. The service is a little slow but the fresh seafood dishes are straight off the boat incredible – try the shrimp. After lunch you can browse the town’s little boutiques that stock locally made craft and clothing as well as gourmet delicacies.

Then it’s time to dangle your feet in the sea, granite in hand. The gelsi (mulberry) flavour is the best.

WHERE TO STAY: MaNanna B&B This bright and airy accommodation in a quaint terrace house, has balconied, spacious and comfortable rooms. Situated in an enchanting area right by the beach with lots of great local restaurants and bars > click here for availability and prices


cathedral monreale sicily

Suggested by: Talek from Travels with Talek

On Sicily’s northern coast, about eight kilometers southwest of Palermo, the island’s capital, there is a can’t-miss gem quietly existing under the radar, Monreale.

You could either visit Monreale on your way to or from Palermo or stay in Palermo and visit Monreale as a day trip offered by various tours. The main attraction of the town is the show-stopping cathedral and its cloisters, which date back to the 12th century and are steeped in history.

Monreale’s cathedral is an unusual and spectacular combination of Norman, Arab and Byzantine architecture. The cloister is unique with a traditional gothic layout but with Arab decorations. Several members of the nobility are buried in the cathedral surrounded by intricately carved marble monuments inlaid with precious stones.

The cathedral at Monreale is one of the most fascinating religious buildings in Italy. It is not to be missed on a Sicily road trip. There are also a handful of restaurants and bars to enjoy before or after visiting the cathedral.

WHERE TO STAY: B&B Al Giardino As the name suggests, this rustic property has a delightful Mediterranean garden with a lovely pool and terracing. There are lots of areas in their grounds to relax in and fantastic views to boot > click here for availability and prices


bosa - towns in sardinia

When you think of Sardinia, you think of the sea. But take some time to explore the island’s towns and villages and you wont be disappointed.


serdiana sardinia

Suggested by Claudia from My Adventures Across The World

Serdiana, located in a region known as Parteolla, is at about 20 minutes drive from Sardinia’s capital, Cagliari, and its makes for an easy, yet very interesting trip out of the city. No more than 2700 people live in Serdinia, but the village is actually packed with history and culture.

Located in the heart of Serdiana there’s the main church, San Salvatore. Outside the village, completely immersed in the gorgeous countryside, is the tiny Romanic church of Santa Maria di Sibiola, built in the 11th century.

Celebrations for Santa Maria di Sibiola are held every 8 of September, and consist in a parade with beautiful traditional costumes, adorned traditional carriages, and traditional dances. Another place of interest in the territory of Serdiana is a lagoon, known locally as Su Stani Saliu, where various species of birds live.

It is also interesting to note that in such a small village there’s a whopping 4 wine cellars, some of them producing internationally acclaimed wines which are celebrated each year during a festival known as Calici Sotto Le Stelle.

WHERE TO STAY: Su Leunaxiu A great farm stay, surrounded by countryside, offering the best of Sardinian cuisine and large olive tree-filled grounds and gardens, including a children’s playground > click here for availability and prices


fordongianus sardinia towns to visit

Suggested by: Angela from Chasing the Unexpected

Fordongianus, in central Sardinia, is slightly hidden from the main road, but if you happen to take that diversion in the SS 131 highway, you are in for a treat. Created by the Romans with the name of Forum Traiani, Fordongianus was born as a military settlement that later became a residential town.

The Romans were well-known for their knack for spa and wellness centers, and this is probably why they settled in this area, as there is a natural hot spring of therapeutic sulfurous water. Surrounded by a green countryside and archaeological remains, today Fordongianus is famous for the ancient Roman thermal baths and the modern spa built in connection with the natural hot springs.

Its Sardegna Grand Hotel Terme is a favorite in this small hamlet thanks to its spa center, thermal pools, and delicious restaurant. While the hot springs are the town’s undisputed claim to fame, visitors can’t miss the great Aragonese House (Casa Aragonese), a well-preserved symbol of Sardinia’s Spanish period.

WHERE TO STAY: B&B Is Janas E5391 Close to the Roman baths and the centre, with lovely views over this ancient town from the terrace. Free rental bikes available to explore the ruin-scattered countryside > click here for availability and prices

Southern Italy

most beautiful towns in southern italy

The least visited part of Italy, the most southern regions may have the most interesting towns and villages in the country. From the trulli town in Puglia to spectacular fishing villages in Calabria, we predict this region will win your heart.


Ischia - beautiful towns near naples italy

Suggested by: Jessie from Jessie on a Journey

While many tourists choose to go to the island of Capri, I chose to get a bit more off the beaten path and visit the neighboring Ischia instead. The volcanic island is just a 90-minute ferry ride from Naples, and offers numerous opportunities for hiking, beach days, dining and beautiful views.

Don’t miss a visit to Aragonese Castle, dating back to 474 BC and connected to the mainland by a causeway. Along with featuring a museum with 24 points of interest — including a torture room — you can’t beat the Gulf of Naples views.

For a trek, hike up Mount Epomeo, Ischia’s highest point at 2,589 feet. You’ll walk about 60 minutes uphill through vineyards and wild growing fruit until you reach the top, where a restaurant serving refreshing Aperol Spritz cocktails greets you.

And for those wanting to soak up the sun, Ischia features a number of lovely beaches. Try Cava Grado for a secluded beach, Chiaia di Rose Beach for something lively and Le Fumarole Beach to see streams of watering shoot out of sand so hot you can cook on it.

All these beaches are near the Sant’Angelo Fishing Village where you can shop for local goodies. I loved the free samples of limoncello and amarancio at NaturIschia.

WHERE TO STAY: Relais Bijoux Ischia Come for the stunning views, contemporary beach-chic decor and beautiful grounds and swimming pool. Stay for the relaxed ambience and fabulous food. 10-minute drive from Ischia’s sandy beach and a great base for hikers, free port pick up and local bus access means it’s accessible for both drivers and pedestrians. They even have their own tuk-tuk! > click here for availability and prices


Tropea - towns in calabria italy

Suggested by: Cathy from

Tropea became one of my favourite cities in Italy after travelling there in September 2017. It is located on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the Province of Vibo Valentia in Calabria.

There are beautiful sunsets, a Church on an island and cobblestone streets. The streets are decorated with colourful lights creating a feel of happiness at night. I enjoyed the loveliest morning walks taking spectacular photos that contrast views from day to night.

Tropea is famous for onions, pizza and Tartufi (ice-cream) and its beaches.  We had pizza, great seafood, lovely white wine and three delicious Tartufi (in two days). We stayed at Hotel Villa Vittoria with modern rooms, complimentary Prosecco and olives on arrival, where they gave us tips on where to eat and what to see.

During our two night stay we experienced Lirico Opera with music by Mozart and Rossini and the Festival of Madonna Romania with special church services, a band playing throughout the village and an extra special breakfast at Hotel Villa Vittoria.

WHERE TO STAY: S’O Smart B&B Tropea in a historical building close to Tropea Cathedral, this hotel is styled beautifully and cleanly, offering light, bright and spacious accommodation with city and marina views. They offer rooms in their B&B or in apartments in a nearby building with equal style and quality > click here for availability and prices


Alberobello - Trulli town in puglia southern italy

Suggested by: Stuart from Go Eat Do

Alberobello is 55 kilometres south-east of the Bari and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The small town is renowned for its concentration of trulli: whitewashed, stone-built houses. With their conical roofs of stacked stones, trulli are simple yet ingenious.

Look carefully and you’ll see how the guttering of the traditional houses is designed to harvest rainwater. Step inside a trullo and you may be surprised at the coolness of the interiors, even on the warmest of summer days. It’s possible to spend a night in a trullo. The houses are more spacious than you might imagine from outside. Visit the Parrocchia Sant’Antonio di Padova to see a rare example of church built in the style of a trullo.

You can purchase regional olive oil and wine, including bottles of Puglia’s understated Primitivo, from stores that open onto Alberobello’s narrow lanes. Thanks to the hearty regional hospitality you can take your pick from the town’s restaurants. L’Aratro, located in a trullo, is a good choice. It serves regional favourites, including freshly baked focaccia and orecchiette pasta, and offers an opportunity to spend time in one of the town’s traditional buildings.

WHERE TO STAY: Trulli Antì Charme & Relax What better to stay in, in Puglia, than one of the famous UNESCO World Heritage Trulli dwellings?
Close to Trullo Church of St. Anthony this unique and beautifully decorated Trullo also offers free bikes, room service and a spacious patio terrace to relax in. An experience like no other! > click here for availability and prices

Margherita di Savoia

margherita di savoia - salt flats town in puglia

Suggested by: Danielle from While I’m Young

Margherita di Savoia is a sleepy but picturesque town in Italy’s Puglia region and is relatively off the beaten path – meaning it’s one of the best places to experience authentic local life in Italy. The quaint town is home to Europe’s largest salt flats, and their natural pink hue makes them a sight to behold.

Margherita di Savoia produces 5-6 million cubic metres of salt per year and the town itself was actually built because of the land’s natural richness. Aside from the salt flats and pink flamingos that live on them, it’s a wonderfully laid-back town to wander around, with colourful buildings and whimsical alleyways where old Italian nonnas lean over balconies and keep watch over the town.

The beach offers lots of water sports and there’s a thermal spa for rejuvenation. Be sure to try the local Salento wine and eat plenty of locally-grown onions – they put them in everything there.

WHERE TO STAY: Grand Hotel Terme The perfect hotel for a spa experience. With an array of pools to choose from, the hotel also has its own private beach, a children’s club and a restaurant with panoramic sea views > click here for availability and prices

Vico Equense

Vico Equense

Suggested by: Lauren from Wanderlust Movement

Vico Equense is a small town on the Bay of Naples. It’s close to popular holiday destinations Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast and has been charming visitors since the first century BC.

Visit the Church of Annunciation. Built in the 14th century, it overlooks the sea from a sheer clifftop and is the only Gothic style church in the area. It’s also the final resting place of the famous Neapolitan economist Gaetano Filangieri.

Go to the top of Monte Faito. It’s the highest peak in the area and is the best spot to get beautiful panoramic views of the city. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can climb the mountain or simply take the rail to the top.

La Gavitella Blue Bay is one of the most scenic restaurants in Vico Equense. It overlooks the sea and guests can enjoy authentic Mandolin music while sampling the delicious Mediterranean cuisine. L’Università Della Pizza da Gigino is famous for selling pizza by the meter. It’s a popular spot for locals and travellers, and the restaurant has been running since the 1930s.

Where to Stay:

Hotel Capo La Gala: The hotel is a top choice for travellers who want to be right by the sea. It’s rooms overlook the Bay of Naples, and the nautical theme runs throughout the hotel.

Corte Degli Ulivi: Bali isn’t the only place you can rent beautiful villas without breaking the bank. Corte Degli Ulivi is within walking distance of the beach and is decked out with all the modern conveniences you could need.


agerola - best towns in southern italy

Suggested by: Aditi from Travelogue Connect

We visited Agerola in June 2017. It is a small picturesque village 35 km from Naples. It is also known as mini Switzerland due to the scenic landscapes, fresh air, clean roads and astounding views of the Mediterranean sea. Agerola was our base for 2 days when we visited Amalfi Coast. 

A trip to Agerola ensures you a relaxing and calm holiday with your loved ones. Agerola is situated on a hilltop with crystal clear coastline on one side and towering cliffs on the other. Vibrant colorful flowers give you company everywhere. It felt like heaven where the sky meets the sea!

This quiet village boasts of some of the best restaurants in Italy! Believe you me, we had our best dinners in Agerola. Ristorante Leonardo’s and Ristorante Pizzeria Da Gigino are 2 such restaurants which are not to be missed at any cost!

We have some really nice memories from our trip to Agerola, like walking hand in hand late night after dinner, star gazing, sitting in silence staring at the deep blue sea, staying with our hospitable hosts in Holidays Costanza, having delicious meals at family-run restaurants, waking up to mouth-watering chocolate croissants for breakfast!

The main attraction in Agerola for adventure junkies is hiking up the “Path of the Gods” which offers stunning mountain views and spectacular scenery en route. It is a must for anyone who loves outdoor activities.

WHERE TO STAY: Costa Blu is a newly built, well-designed hotel, full of modern-Mediteranian design touches, right in Bomerano centre, with great local shops and restaurants, as well as bus routes to explore the coast. Comfort and friendliness are key traits here! > click here for availability and prices

Which Italian towns are your favorite?

I don’t know about you but I now have a serious case of wanderlust. I have already packed my bags (in my mind) to go and discover these beautiful towns in Italy. But it’s too hard to decide among hilltop towns or coastal villages.

Can you help me out? Which picturesque Italian village would you like to discover?

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