We get it: Rome is one of the best cities in the world. While there is no argument there, there are thousands of other cities in Italy that also deserve to be experienced. If you’re planning a trip to Italy and you’re looking for the top travel sites that aren’t the Colosseum or Vatican City, start your research right here with these 8 must-see places in Italy, according to the locals.
Tourists from all over the globe flock to Italy to see some of the best ancient ruins of all the European countries. But Italy has much more to its history than its ancient past. The medieval era, for example, can still be seen and felt in places such as San Gimignano in Tuscany. According to The Local Italy, San Gimignano boasts 14 medieval towers. Thousands of Italians still live in this beautiful city stuck in time.
Unbelievably, the stunning beaches of Budelli Island were left alone for years until one man decided to leave the modern world behind for good. His name is Mauro Morandi, and the older gentleman only recently opened up his slice of paradise to the public. What makes Budelli Island so striking is the pink hue of the sands of La Spiaggia Rosa. While people seeking summer fun are allowed to visit, the island remains in a state of natural wonder.
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In northern Italy, not far from the Swiss border, there are several towns that line the edges of the majestic Lake Como. Pick any one of them and you are sure to enjoy a blissful getaway. Lake Como is a little bit of a contradiction, as it is both a star-studded location (it has been the set of a myriad of Hollywood films, including Star Wars: Episode II and Casino Royale, as well as the home of George Clooney) and a remote paradise. Even if you’re not famous or incredibly wealthy, every Italian would still recommend paying the rare beauty of Lake Como a visit at least once in your lifetime.
Everyone in the world knows that out of all the cities in Italy, Pompeii is one of the most fascinating. Having been directly in the line of fire (literally) of a terrible Mount Vesuvius eruption in the year 79 CE, the city of Pompeii was quickly turned to destruction and ash, leaving many bodies forever stuck in time, preserved by the volcanic debris. What most people don’t know is that Herculaneum, one of the other towns that fell victim to Mount Vesuvius, is an even better preserved historical and archaeological site.
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The Abruzzo region of Italy, located in the geographical heart of the country, also has a special place in the hearts of Italian locals. It is the untamed Italian experience for which every traveler yearns. Marked by its sublime mountainous landscape, national parks, historical sites, and a very distinctive take on Italian cuisine, Abruzzo is an ideal off-the-beaten-path travel destination.
Looking to visit Italy’s Amalfi Coast? It is one of the most sought-after destinations on the entire map of Italy, but that also means it typically gets packed with tourists, especially in the summertime. If you’re looking for more cultural and charming travel sites, take a peak at Salerno. Technically, the town of Salerno is located right about where the Amalfi Coast ends. However, it still has the same heavenly beaches and ocean views. For more beach recommendations, take a look at these 12 Best Beaches in Italy.
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Found in one of the most southern regions of Italy, Tropea in Calabria is the pride of the locals. According to The Local Italy, Tropea is one of the more obscure places on the map of Italy and most tourists still don’t know about it. The reason it is so loved by the Italians who live there is the stark contrast between the towering (and somewhat intimidating) cliffs and the calm beaches below.
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The city of Matera is one of the cities in Italy where one can still see people living in ancient dwellings. Matera is essentially a living fossil built from a network of intricate caves carved into the side of a canyon. The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with settlements dating back to Palaeolithic times (a.k.a. the era when humans first began using tools). There is no place in Italy like this seriously off-the-beaten-path city.
Photo Credit: Luca Aless