There are so many enchanting towns in Italy that you could return many times to the country (or stay for a really long time!) and still not discover all of them.
With rich histories, beautiful churches and monuments, and great food and drink, Italy’s small towns reward the travelers that seek them out.
With the help of colleagues from the travel blogging community, we’ve garnered small town gems from all over Italy for this article.
From beautiful coastal villages to historic hilltop towns and island paradises to riverbank hamlets, we present here the best towns in Italy to put on your itinerary!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Best Towns in Italy
Best Small Towns in Tuscany, Italy
Beautiful Towns in Umbria, Italy
Prettiest Towns in Italy: Campania
Must-Visit Small Towns in Italy: Veneto
Unmissable Towns in Liguria, Italy
Best Small Towns to Visit in Puglia, Italy
Most Beautiful Towns in Sardinia, Italy
Towns to Visit in Basilicata, Italy
Small Towns to Visit in Lombardy, Italy
Most Beautiful Towns in Sicily
Best Small Towns to Visit in Piedmont
Prettiest Small Towns in Friuli Venezia Giulia
Best Towns in Italy
While Italy’s cities are magnificent and worth visiting more than once, we’ve started reserving some time on each trip to explore smaller towns and villages in one, maybe two, regions.
We still have lots more regions to cover, but so far, it’s been deeply enriching to visit the towns of Italy.
No matter what part of Italy you plan to visit, you’ll find quaint and charming small towns to add to your itinerary. Stroll the narrow streets, relax in the main piazza, and linger over a delicious meal: with no long list of sights to cover, you can enjoy the ambience and just soak in the joy of being in Italy.
Here, then, are the most captivating towns in Italy you have to visit!
Best Small Towns in italy: Tuscany
A charming medieval Tuscan hilltop town, Montepulciano makes for a great stop on your Val d’Orcia drive. Its main street, lined with little shops, makes its way uphill from the gate, Porta Al Prato, to Piazza Grande, the main square.
As an ally, and later under the control of Florence, Montepulciano reaped the architectural benefits of the relationship. Many Florentine architects built beautiful palazzos in the town.
The Palazzo Communale and the Palazzo Tarugi are two such palaces that you can still view. The Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral is another important landmark in town.
On the hillside just outside the town, the Madonna di San Biagio Sanctuary makes a stunning photo op. It is about a 20-minute walk to get to the sanctuary. The views of the surrounding countryside from Montepulciano are fabulous.
Montepulciano is known for its Vino Nobile wine, considered one of Italy’s best wines. Also sample the local pici pasta, pecorino cheese, and gelato made with local honey. All delicious!
Montepulciano makes for one of the most fun day trips from Florence you can do.
Volterra is a medieval town, situated high up on a hill. It offers fantastic views of the fields and gently rolling hills of Tuscany. Volterra is close to the small town of San Gimignano and perfect for a combined visit.
The town of Volterra is considered the center of alabaster production. This is very evident, as many of the small shops sell souvenirs made from the local alabaster.
Since the second part of the Twilight saga, Volterra has also become a pilgrimage site for lovers of the film series. The narrow streets with small shops and cafés are particularly beautiful.
Besides having a stroll around the streets of Volterra, be sure to visit the Palazzo dei Priori, the oldest town hall in Tuscany. Other places of note to see are the Teatro Romano and the Duomo di Volterra.
Text by Christina from City Sea Country
Located in the province of Siena, Montalcino is a small hill-top town that looks straight out of a fairytale. It is one of the most picturesque 16th-century villages in Val’d’Orcia, in central Italy.
Like many other Italian medieval towns, Montalcino was once a prosperous city, known for its tanneries and leather goods. It is surrounded by olive orchards and vineyards.
Today Montalcino is world-renowned for the production of Brunello red wine made only using the Sangiovese variety of grapes.
The best times of the year to visit this town is during spring, summer, or fall. Start your day in Montalcino with a visit to the village fortress that has remained intact for centuries and is a venue for concerts and festivals.
In July, the fortress plays host to a Jazz & Wine Festival. The views of the surrounding hills and valley from the top of the fortress are simply spectacular.
Next, see the clock tower and the nearby town main square. Afterward, make time for a stroll through the colorful streets of Montalcino, eat in a local restaurant, and browse through the charming craft stores.
Lastly, head over for wine tasting at a typical Italian wine production facility (there are many in the area) – it is a must-do while you’re in Val’d’Orcia.
Text and photo by Supriya from FunTravelog
Cortona. This lovely little hill-top town is located in south eastern Tuscany and overlooks the Valdichiana (Chiana Valley).
Cortona is filled with beautiful views, stony side streets and little Italian restaurants. Frances Mayes’s Under the Tuscan Sun is set in Cortona and has made the town rather popular in recent years.
When you get to Cortona, walk around and spend some time people watching at Piazza Della Repubblica. This is the city center of Cortona, so there are tons of people to see and places to sit.
Make sure to grab some gelato and sit on the steps of the Palazzo Comunale, the 13th century town hall and clock tower.
The shopping in Cortona is actually really great. They have everything from wine shops to pottery stores, leather shops and jewelry places, all featuring locally hand-made products.
The best place to check out is a pottery shop called Casantonio: it’s a great place to buy Tuscan pottery.
For lunch, try a meal at Caffe del Teatro. Located in Piazza Signorelli, their dining terrace sits above the street level, giving diners a great view of the piazza.
There are many churches and museums to visit in Cortona. However, the best experience can be found exploring the Santa Margherita Sanctuary. Located at the highest point in the city near the Girifalco Fortress, this amazing church represents the patron saint of the city.
For dinner, try La Logetta. This lovely place has a great terrace which overlooks the Piazza Della Repubblica. You will find truffles in many of the dishes they offer and you really can’t go wrong with any item on their menu.
Text and photo by Sara Moore from WanderMoore
Monteriggioni is a picturesque medieval walled town in Tuscany. It’s a lot less crowded than other Tuscan towns such as San Gimignano, yet extremely well preserved.
If it looks familiar, that’s because the town featured prominently in the Assassin’s Creed video games. Monteriggioni is an important stop on the Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrim’s route that’s now a popular hiking trail.
Originally built by the people of Siena to protect their land, Monteriggioni Castle has fourteen watchtowers. You can walk along the castle walls for a small fee.
In Piazza Roma, the main square, there are many restaurants as well as the Church of Santa Maria Assunta. Kids will enjoy the Museum of Weaponry and Armour, where they can try on the armor.
Souvenir hunters will love the handmade jewelry and shoe boutiques where you can often see the craftspeople at work. There are also several food stores where you can buy local olive oil and wine.
July is a popular time to visit, as the Medieval Festival of Monteriggioni is held then. Visitors can see artisans in period costume, together with duels and musical performances.
Text by Susan from Luxury Columnist
One of the most beautiful towns in Tuscany and in fact the whole of Italy, Pienza holds a dreamy position overlooking the spectacular Val D’Orcia.
Designed as the perfect Renaissance town by Pope Pius II in the 15th century, Pienza lives up to that objective.
Wander up cobbled streets with romantic names like Via del Bacio (Kiss Street) or Via dell’Amore (Love Street) towards the impressive cathedral and pope’s former residence, the Palazzo Piccolomini.
Along the way you can stop at cheese stores full to the brim with rounds of the local pecorino sheep’s milk cheese and browse charming boutiques. In Pienza, the streets are lined with pots of geraniums, and cozy wine bars spill out onto the piazza.
And while it’s nice to linger a while, make sure you head to the town walls, from where you can enjoy views for miles across the iconic Tuscan landscape of rolling hills, vineyards, and cypress trees.
Pienza is around an hour and a half south of Florence by car. It’s often visited as a day trip but you’ll be sure to have a lovely stay at Il Chiostro di Pienza, a 4-star hotel with a charming atmosphere and famous views.
Text and photo by Katy from Untold Travel
I highly recommend checking out Lucca when you are making your trip through Tuscany.
It often gets overlooked for some its bigger cousins like Pisa and Florence, but you can’t miss the Lucca restaurants, amazing views of the nearby Monti Pisani mountain range, and plenty of history and things to do while there.
The main attraction in Lucca is the giant medieval wall that surrounds the old city. You can grab a bicycle for a cheap price and ride along the top of the wall for stunning views of the city and surrounding Tuscan landscape.
After you have worked up an appetite, head to one of the eateries located along the winding streets—there are so many good options!
For a blast from the past, duck into one of the many churches (there are over 100 inside the wall) and you might come across a masterpiece by Botticelli.
After living there six months, I still felt my time there wasn’t enough to fully appreciate the charm that this little city has to offer. Whether you visit for a day or more, it’s worth building in some time out of your itinerary for it!
Text and photo by Alex from Alex on the Map
Best Italian Small Towns in Umbria
Perched on a volcanic tuff high above the surrounding countryside, Orvieto is one of the best small towns in Italy you can visit.
In one day in Orvieto, you can see all the major sights. Of course, Orvieto is so charming that you can certainly spend more time here if you wish!
Any exploration of Orvieto has to begin with the Duomo di Orvieto, a magnificent cathedral with a gleaming ornate facade and a beautifully frescoed interior. The frescoes in the San Brizio Chapel will leave you awe-struck.
Climb to the viewing gallery at the top of the Torre del Moro for panoramas over the countryside and the rooftops of Orvieto. The Fortezza Albornoz, near the funicular drop-off, also offers superb panoramas of the countryside.
The Pozzo di San Patrizzio is another must-visit spot in Orvieto. You can walk down to the bottom of the well, much like the mules of old that used to fetch water for the town.
The underground Orvieto tour is another exciting thing to do in the town, to see the remnants of the Etruscan civilization that once flourished here.
And finally, make sure you allocate some time to just wander the pretty streets and soak in the charm of Orvieto. If you are looking for souvenirs, Orvieto is famous for its ceramics.
You can reach Orvieto by train from Rome or from Florence. Orvieto is one of the most popular day trips from Rome: by train, it takes just about one hour. Of course, you can also drive to Orvieto.
From the train station, take the funicular to the town at the top.
Visit Orvieto from spring until fall for good weather. You will find lower crowds in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.
Assisi is a stunning village in the Umbrian region of Italy. The town is famous for being the home of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis is the patron saint of animals, and was born around 1181.
The main attraction is the Basilica di San Francesco in honor of Francis of Assisi. The Basilica is located at one end of the village, with beautiful views of the valley below. Inside are some of the best of Giotto’s frescoes.
Another ancient attraction is the Rocco Maggiore that sits above the village. This ancient castle dates back to at least 1157, which means it was there when Francis was born.
The castle offers excellent views of the town, and you can also walk through the castle walls like a knight.
This small village has many other cathedrals and churches to explore other than the Basilica. Many of them center around the life of Saint Francis. This is part of the St. Francis Way that starts in either Rome or Florence and ends in Assisi.
Assisi can be reached by train from Rome and Florence. There is also a public parking lot right outside the main gate if you want to drive to Assisi.
Text and photo by Tiffany from A Girl and Her Passport
Best Small Towns in Campania, Italy
Positano is very much like a scene from a romantic Italian novel. It is an incredible cliffside village located in an enclave in the hills, and trickles all the way down to the Amalfi coast.
It’s hard to believe that this now glamorous international destination was just a quaint little fishing village as little as 50 years ago!
Positano is a wonderful location for those seeking rest and relaxation. Sit and relax at a local café, laze around on beaches like Spiaggia Grande, admire the breathtaking views of the colorful homes sitting on the hillside, or browse through the many trendy boutiques.
Visitors can leave their map at the hotel and wander around the little alleyways and staircases without fear of getting lost: all staircases lead to the beach!
As would be expected of such an infamous place, it can get a little crowded in the height of summer. Consider visiting in the spring or fall, when the temperature is still relatively mild yet without all the crowds on the beaches!
Text by Sarah from Dukes Avenue
The luxe town of Capri is one of Italy’s most beautiful destinations. But its reputation as a high-end playground belies the fact that it’s also one of the country’s most charming small towns.
Located off the southern coastline overlooking the Sorrentine peninsula, Capri is only accessible by boat, with ferries arriving from Naples, Sorrento, or the Amalfi Coast several times a day.
Most tourists come just for the day, though it’s worth so much more. There are enough activities and things to do in Capri for an incredible Italian vacation.
Grab a morning cappuccino and pastry in Piazza Umberto, also known as La Piazzetta. Then stroll the luxury shops along the charming narrow streets. The more adventurous should get out on or in the water.
Depending on the time of year, a boat trip around the island to see the famous grottoes or swimming in the sea is an unforgettable experience.
Day hikes on the island are also fun: to Villa Jovis, the ruins of Italy’s Emperor Tiberius’ summer villa, or any number of trails leading to breathtaking views around every turn.
At night, dine at Ristorante Michel’angelo or Buca di Bacco for the freshest catch of the day, hand made pasta, or seasonal produce. From the water or the maze of cobblestone alleyways, there’s no doubt Capri is one of Italy’s most charming small towns.
Text by Lori from Travlinmad
One Perfect Day in Capri
Vietri sul Mare
Vietri sul Mare is one of 13 picturesque villages distributed along the stretch of sea known as the Amalfi coast. Cliffs overlooking the sea, and villages perched along the slopes, are the common elements of this landscape.
Vietri sul Mare is the first, or last, village along the coast and is an excellent base for exploring the surroundings, especially if you don’t want to spend too much.
In perhaps the best known, Positano, for example, in high season you shouldn’t be surprised If the official parking lots will ask you for €80 a day to park your car.
Despite being touristic, Vietri sul Mare has remained much more authentic.
It is famous for its ceramic work, and while wandering through the streets of the village, you will encounter countless shops with workshops attached, each with its own particular way of working with ceramic, and soon you will see that ceramics are part of the local tradition and culture.
In fact, it will be impossible not to see ceramic elements set along the town or covering the walls of the houses.
Spring and fall are the ideal times to explore Vietri sul Mare. During the summer, you will want to spend more time on the large sandy beach to find refreshment from the heat and the large number of tourists.
Text by Clotilde from A Princess Travelling with Twins
Sant’Angelo is a small village on the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples.
Set at the bottom of a steep hill in the south of the island, Sant’Angelo is an impossibly charming series of whitewashed village houses looking out to a long causeway with beaches either side, ending in a dramatic rocky islet.
Taking a trip to Sant’Angelo is one of the most popular things to do in Ischia. No cars are allowed in Sant’Angelo’s narrow streets so visitors must walk down into the village from the car park and bus stop. Once in the village, you’ll find plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops.
If you visit Sant’Angelo, don’t miss taking a taxi boat to one of the beaches nearby. Maronti Beach is one of Ischia’s largest and most beautiful beaches.
Sorgeto Beach is much smaller but has an unusual attraction: volcanic waters bubble to the surface just offshore so you can combine a trip to the beach with a free thermal bath!
Text and photo by Helen from Helen on her Holidays
Small Towns to Visit in Italy: Veneto
Burano is a beautiful island village in the north of the Venetian lagoon, a half-hour boat ride from the floating city. It’s one of the easiest and most popular day trips from Venice, and well worth a visit at any time of year.
Most things to do in Burano revolve around its brightly painted colorful fishermen’s cottages. For centuries Burano relied on fishing for its income, and the wives pitched in later making intricate Burano lace.
The majority of people who come to Burano do so to photograph its beautiful facades. It is a photographer’s paradise, as it’s one of the most colorful places on the planet.
The houses and streets have a preservation order on them, and if a house owner wants to paint his or her home a different color, they have to get special permission to do so.
Burano is also the stopping-off point for Torcello, a small island just across the water. It’s a totally different experience to Burano, a haven of tranquillity with a single canal, a few guesthouses, a restaurant and Venice’s magnificent original cathedral.
Text by David from Delve into Europe
One of the islands in the Venetian lagoon, Murano is a must-visit if you want to shop for the famous Murano glass, but there are other fun things to do in Murano as well.
With Burano and Torcello, Murano is one of the most popular day tours from Venice. None of the islands is large, so strolling them is doable even if you visit for a few hours.
On Murano, stop by a glass-blowing shop to witness a demonstration. Many smaller producers will ;et you walk in and watch as they craft exquisite items in jewel colors. You can also tour a larger factory.
There are numerous showrooms, and you can shop for large pricey items that you can have shipped home. There are also lots of small shops if you want to pick up less expensive souvenirs.
Wander the pretty streets: Murano has its own Grand Canal! You must definitely admire the striking blue Comet Glass Star sculpture in Camp San Stefano.
Step inside the Duomo di Murano, where you will find Byzantine mosaics on the floor and in the dome. The Chiesa di San Pietro Martire is also worth a stop.
You can visit Murano independently by taking a vaporetto from Venice, or you can join a guided tour.
Visit in the spring or the fall for good weather and lower crowds.
Best Small Towns in Liguria, Italy
Nestled in the heart of the colorful Cinque Terre is the pristine town of Vernazza, a picture-perfect, pastel-hued town that looks as though it has jumped out of a postcard!
Many claim that Vernazza is the most beautiful of the five towns in the region (and I’d be hard pushed to complain about that statement!) thanks to the historic fortifications, the traffic-free streets, and lush surrounding landscapes that lead to vineyards, olive groves, and walking trails.
The town centers around the main piazza, with cafes and restaurants offering al fresco drinks and dining and the eight-sided bell tower of the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia standing off to one side.
This is a great place to begin exploring Vernazza, before meandering through the snaking streets to discover colorful houses, quaint hotels, and sections of old city walls.
When you’re done discovering the town you can head on down to one of the two beaches in Vernazza where you can swim and sunbathe to your heart’s content.
The best times to visit Vernazza are during late spring and early summer (before the main crowds arrive) or in early autumn when sea temperatures are warm and the summer flurry begins to die down.
These seasons have the best weather for combining sightseeing with walking and beach relaxation for the perfect trip to the Cinque Terre.
Text by Chrysoula from Travel Passionate
The Italian Riviera surely is one of the most famous areas of Italy, where tourists flock every year to enjoy the many beauties of its landscape, dive into its deep blue sea and savor the local cuisine.
Among the many towns of the area, Camogli is often considered as the locals’ favorite. Albeit less renowned than the trendy Portofino or the worldwide famous Cinque Terre, Camogli never disappoints, thanks to its colorful houses, an extensive beach – a real rarity in the area! – and its authentic fishermen village feeling.
In Camogli, you can eat gelato or focaccia while walking on the harbor behind the distinctive yellow church and find the fishermen’s nets drying under the sun while their boats swing slowly on the water.
Come on the second Sunday of May every year for the Sagra del Pesce (fish fair), where locally caught fish is fried in an enormous pan on the waterfront and distributed to visitors.
Text and photo by Giulia from Giulia Cimarosti
Best Small Towns in Puglia, Italy
It’s safe to say that you’ve never seen anything like the town of Alberobello in Puglia.
Looking down on the Rione Monti district from above, you might think you’ve just stumbled upon the Smurf village. All of the houses are small, round buildings made of stone, topped with a conical roof.
These unique houses are called “trulli” and are found only in Alberobello and the surrounding countryside. Many of the trulli in the Rione Monti neighborhood have been converted into souvenir shops, restaurants and guesthouses.
While this does make it feel a bit touristy, it also means that you have the opportunity to dine and even sleep inside one of these unique constructions.
When eating in trulli restaurants, be sure to taste some of the local Puglian dishes, such as orecchiette alle cime di rapa. The regional cuisine here is very different from what you’ll find elsewhere in Italy, and it includes many vegetarian and vegan dishes.
For a more authentic trulli experience, also take a stroll through the Aia Piccola neighborhood. This part of town is not really on the tourist trail, and most of the trulli here are still inhabited by locals.
Thanks to its mild climate, Alberobello can be enjoyed at any time of year, although its popularity among Italians means it does get crowded during Italian school holidays.
Text and photo by Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan
Could you ever imagine that a place that combines the charms of a whitewashed Greek Island with the irresistible vibes of a quaint Italian town actually exists? Well, it does.
Ostuni, Italy’s gorgeous White City, is not only worth a trip in its own right but it’s also one of the best places to base yourselves if you want to explore Puglia, the stunning region in Italy’s Deep South.
Built atop a hill overlooking the breathtakingly beautiful Apulian countryside, all-white Ostuni is a dreamy destination. The best time to visit Ostuni is spring, when days are long, the weather is mild, and summer crowds haven’t yet arrived.
The optimal way to take in Ostuni’s unique beauty is to walk around its picturesque Old Town with its narrow alleys, romantic archways and, of course, the magnificent Cathedral.
Moreover, a stroll along Ostuni’s old defensive walls is not to be missed, especially at sunset.
Last but not least, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a drink or two at one of the quaint bars that are scattered around Ostuni’s jaw-dropping historical center.
Text and photo by Maria & Katerina from It’s All Trip To Me
Situated tantalizingly close to the seaside, and boasting some of the best beaches in Puglia, Nardò is somewhat of a hidden gem in Italy’s heel.
A historical town, it’s jam-packed full of interesting sights and attractions. But it isn’t as well known as nearby Lecce (the Salento region’s capital), so you’ll never find it overcrowded.
Pop in for an afternoon stroll and you’ll feel like you’ve found the true essence of Southern Italy, complete with iconic 3-wheeled apes parked in the streets, and trolley-toting nonnas.
Join the locals in the central piazza, where cafe terraces spill out towards the 18th-century column in the center.
Afterwards, take a stroll around the town, admiring the baroque architecture and colorful façades. The Nardò cathedral is worth popping your head into for the medieval frescoes, and the town’s public gardens ‘Villa Comunale’ are a lovely place to escape the heat in summer.
Visit Nardò in spring or fall, when the atmosphere is spirited but not stifling.
Text and photo by Nadine from Le Long Weekend
Best Small Towns in Italy: Sardinia
Bosa is often mentioned as one of the prettiest villages in Italy, and if you visit you will quickly realize it well deserves this reputation.
Located on the northwestern coast of Sardinia on the banks of the Temo River, Bosa was founded during Phoenician times and prospered at the time of the Roman Empire, but fell into the hands of the Arabs during the Middle Ages.
In the 12th century, to protect the town from further invasion, the Malaspina family (which governed the city back then) ordered the construction of a castle on top of the Serravalle hill. To date, the castle remains one of the most impressive sights in Bosa.
Although little remains of the castle other than the defensive walls and a few towers, and a beautifully decorated chapel, the views of the village, the river flowing through it, and the coast are impressive.
Scattered around Bosa you will also find some beautiful churches. Along the Temo there are the former tanneries, which now host various exhibits. Not far from Bosa, the beach of Cumpultitu is a real gem, as is Cane Malu, a fantastic natural pool.
Bosa is easily reached by car or bus from Alghero, which is connected to the rest of Italy and Europe via regular and budget flights.
Text and photo by Claudia from Strictly Sardinia
If you want to enjoy the Costa Smeralda, but on a more affordable budget, the island of La Maddalena is the perfect option. La Maddalena is only a short 20-minute ferry ride from Palau on the mainland!
Even though its proximity to the mainland is a plus, there’s a lot to enjoy on the island and surrounding smaller islands in the Maddalena archipelago without needing to go to the main island of Sardinia.
When you visit La Maddalena Archipelago, an absolute must is to book a boat excursion to visit the stunning beaches and enjoy the clear blue waters of the smaller islands.
Tours include the unique and certainly Instagrammable Spiaggia Rosa, the pink beach. If you prefer to go at your own pace, there are motorized dinghies or small boats with a skipper for rent.
For a more historic option, you can tour the Garibaldi Museum, featuring the home of General Garibaldi. And of course, it’s Italy, so there are many amazing options for incredible fresh seafood located in the main town square.
The best time to visit is during the summer, when you’ll be able to enjoy all the wonderful outside activities this lesser known island has to offer!
Text and photo by Danielle from DanniB in Dubai
Best small towns in Italy: Basilicata
In the arch of Italy’s foot and a little over 40 miles from Bari, Matera is a must -visit for anyone touring Apulia, Calabria or Basilicata. It is not only one of the oldest cities in the world but the most spectacular example of cave settlement in Europe.
The Italian word for stone is sasso, from which the two historical parts of Matera take their names. The older and more cave-like is the Sasso Caveoso and the newer is Sasso Barisano.
These Sassi began as neolithic caves, and were later faced with house fronts. The result is a fabulous panorama of picturesque buildings nestling higgledy-piggledy along the winding stone streets as they weave their way about the face of the gorge.
Fast forward thousands of years, by the mid-twentieth century, with no sanitation or modern services, the sassi were now slums and their residents impoverished.
In 1950, the population was moved into modern flats and the Sassi were abandoned. It was not until about 1980 that their beauty was recognized and renovation began.
Now you can stay in one of the cave hotels, visit churches carved from the living rock and walk the streets that have featured in movies including The Passion of Christ starring Mel Gibson.
In Matera you can feel the magic of an unimaginable number of ancients that have trodden these stones before you.
Text and photo by Ania from The Travelling Twins
Best small towns in Lombardy, Italy
Sirmione, located in Northern Italy, is a fantastic opportunity to experience an exceptional combination of castles/buildings and Italian lakes/beach.
Visit the small historical, picturesque Italian town to encounter the most special pearl of the islands and peninsulas.
You can choose from the many things to do in Sirmione, including exploring Rocca Scaligera, one of Italy’s best-preserved castles. Tour the Roman Villa (aka Grotte Di Catullo), Ca Dei Frati Vineyard, San Salvatore Monastery, and the San Pietro Church.
As well, spend some time walking around the boulevards of the historical center and Parco Maria Callas or enjoying water sports like windsurfing/surfing, and kayaking at Jamaica Beach.
Set aside some time for paddling plus boat trips across the majestic Lake Garda. You can also go hiking in Sirmione, so don’t forget to pack your vegan hiking boots for your adventures!
Visit Sirmione in the off-season as the beach is crowded during the summertime. Don’t forget to taste the delicious Italian seafood on offer in area restaurants.
Text by Paulina from Paulina on the Road
Ponte di Legno
Ponte di Legno is a tiny cute mountain town on the Italian Alps in Brescia province.
Here you can find the typical mountain-style architecture that you would find anywhere in the Italian alps, stone and wooden houses, narrow cobblestone roads, flowery balconies in the summer, mountains all around, green slopes in summer and snow-white in the winter.
Two streams becoming one right in the heart of town makes it picture worthy and creates a magical atmosphere, especially at Christmas.
Ponte di Legno is also a great place for winter and summer holidays. In fact, it’s a favorite destination for many Italians and other Europeans in every season.
Winter is for the snow lovers, with 42 slopes among Ponte di Legno, Tonale, Presena, and Temu, all connected, and for all levels. Ski schools are available for all ages and skills. You will also find bars, restaurants, beautiful hotels, and entertainment.
Summer offers so many hiking trails that you could walk for weeks. All trails are mapped and well-marked and free bunking cabins are available for hikers and bikers to camp and mingle after a full day exercising.
Text and photo by Isabella from Boundless Roads
The longest town that stretches up the coast of Lake Como, Lezzeno is located just slightly south of Bellagio, one of the most popular and most vibrant towns on the lake. Lezzeno boasts not only amazing views but an incredible array of places to stay on the lake.
Made up of a number of villages spread along the water and going up into the hills, Lezzeno has a small town feel. Visitors can take a number of boats across Lake Como and to numerous other small towns.
Admire the Sassi Grosgalli, steep cliffs that overhang the lake. Do a boat tour to the Grotta dei Bulberi, also known as the Blue Grotto, where you can observe the fascinating play of light on the water. You can also do a number of hikes around the town.
While Lezzeno may be crowded in high season, it’s best to visit in the summer as the town reverts back to its year-round residents after the summer, making it slightly less accessible in terms of stays and activities.
Text and photo by Diana from Travels in Poland
Arona is the first town you get to if you travel from Milan to Lake Maggiore and you immediately have everything you would hope for from a lakeside town: beautiful squares, amazing restaurants and gelato on every corner.
Arona is well connected, with a train and bus station and regular ferries across the lake to other, equally charming towns.
The walk through the town along the lake is dotted with bars and has benches to sit and admire the beauty of the lake. The main street, dotted with unique little shops, is charming.
A must-do in Arona is going out in the early evening for aperitifs. The bars and cafes all provide a little plate of nibbles and being Italian food, every mouthful is divine.
Visit Arona in the summer. Although it is high season, summer is when the town is most lively with activity. Shoulder months are nice times to visit as well.
Text by Nancy from Around the World at the Weekend
Riva del Garda
Riva del Garda, located on the northern tip of Lake Garda, about 84 miles east of Milan, is undoubtedly one of the most scenic villages in Italy.
Standing on the deep blue waters of the lake, overlooked by the Dolomites to the north and verdant hillsides on either side, Riva del Garda boasts a stunning year-round landscape.
Riva del Garda is a haven for outdoor sport enthusiasts. Visitors flock to enjoy the surrounding region, resplendent with hiking trails and mountain bike routes. The lake shore roads are also perfect for road cyclists seeking an incredible natural environment.
For less active visitors, Riva del Garda offers a charming village center and lakeside restaurants ideal for a relaxing afternoon sampling the region’s many wonderful dishes.
With numerous ferries, Riva is also a fabulous base from which to explore surrounding lake towns such as Limone and Malcesine.
Riva is a town blessed with incredible natural riches, and a visit to the town should be on everyone’s bucket list. The fresh blossoms of spring, bright primary colors of summer, and bronze foliage of fall are all great times of year to explore this stunning area.
Text and photo by Paul from The Two That Do
Deep in the heart of Como (yes, Lake Como) lies a small town in the hills of Bellagio named Barni. If you blink, you may miss it, but it offers an attraction that should actually be inspirational to towns and municipalities globally.
This very small town has a photo exhibit (black and white) of the locals, young and old.
Curated by lifelong resident, Giulia Caminada, the exhibit gives you a sense of what life in a small town would feel like, with the lines on the faces of locals as a map, imparting the wisdom and character of this lovely place.
The views are breathtaking and exactly what you dream of when traveling to the region. The food is specific to the region (try the speck) and beautifully presented.
Barni is a wonderful place to be based if you have a car rental and want to explore all of the small villages in the lake region. AirBnBs are plentiful, gorgeous (think Swiss chalet, in looks) and more importantly, affordable.
Text and photo by Kat from The Traveling Greek
Best Small Towns in Sicily
Ragusa, a beautiful hilltop town located in southeastern Sicily, is one of the prettiest places to visit in Italy. It is one of the Late Baroque Towns of Val di Noto, a UNESCO world heritage ensemble.
Needless to say, Ragusa is home to some of the most amazing Sicilian Baroque buildings on the island. Duomo di San Giorgio and Palazzo Bertini are the most iconic.
Walking through the baroque streets of Ragusa is probably one of the best things to do in Sicily.
If you meander down the town’s narrow alleyways, you will be enchanted by Ragusa’s medieval doors and wrought-iron balconies all made pretty with baroque embellishments such as grotesque masks, winged putti, and richly-sculpted surfaces.
Another unmissable thing to do in Ragusa is to catch a glimpse of Ragusa Ibla (the older town) from Ragusa Superiore (the newer town).
Historic Ragusa Ibla is located on the top of a hill separated from Superiore by a deep ravine and the views from the new town are gorgeous. You can get some amazing pictures both during day and night.
Text and photo by Soumya from Stories by Soumya
Taormina is a small resort town perched on a hilltop in the eastern part of Sicily. It is one of the best places from which to explore Sicily.
Taormina is known for its Roman Theatre, beautiful beaches, and laid back feeling. The Teatro Antico di Taormina is the second largest Greek theatre in Sicily, after the one in Syracuse.
The view from the theatre overlooking the coastline with Mt. Etna in the background is absolutely beautiful.
Stroll the Corso Umberto, the main street, visit the St. Nicolas Cathedral, enjoy the green gardens in the Villa Communale, and visit Isola Bella, the small island at the bottom.
Sicily is definitely a summer destination but visiting in the shoulder season, when there aren’t as many tourists, is just as good. One of the reasons to visit in summer though is all of the beautiful beaches.
Isola Bella is a small pebble beach that has a thin sandbar that connects the island of Isola Bella to the mainland. You can walk to the island on the sand bar during low tide.
Text and photo by Nicola from Nicola LaBarge Travel Blog
Lipari has all the charms of a small Italian town set against the backdrop of a stunning volcanic island.
Part of the Aeolian Archipelago off the coast of northwestern Sicily, Lipari is the largest of seven islands and home to just over 12,000 people. The main center of Lipari town, the island’s main settlement, faces onto Porto di Lipari.
Winding cobbled streets lined with trattorias, cannoli shops, and ceramic studios lead visitors up the hill to the elevated part of town, where the ruins of the 18th century Lipari Castle stand.
Inside, Lipari’s world-class Archaeological Museum traces the town and island’s history back to the Neolithic period, when Lipari was a popular trading port for obsidian.
The nearby Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew, Lipari’s main Catholic church, is also a must-visit.
Spectacular views of the harbor and pastel-colored facades that line the main square can be seen from the back of the castle, while a panorama of the walled citadel can be found when driving into Lipari from Pianoconte in the island’s green interior.
Lipari is a popular summer destination and gets very busy during the warmer months (June through August). Spring is an ideal time to visit, as the weather is pleasant and the crowds are more dispersed.
Lipari can be reached by hydrofoil from either Milazzo or Messino on the Sicilian mainland.
Text and photo by Emily from Wander-Lush
Best Small Towns in Piedmont, Italy
If you ever find yourself in the Piedmont region, make sure you leave some time to explore the most picturesque little town in off the beaten path Italy, La Morra. Surrounded by wine country, this 12th century top-of-a-hill village is a real life postcard.
It’s a great destination all year around, with the best time to visit being during harvest season if you’re interested in wine.
Regardless of when you visit, don’t miss a viewpoint called Belvedere di La Morra that gives you a great panorama of the vines around you, and the Alps in the distance.
The main sights are San Sebastian church, Tore Campanaria di La Morra, and, just outside the town, at the foot of the hill, Cappella delle Brunate (also known as Cappella del Barolo), a unique colorful little chapel.
If you’re interested in wine you should also visit the Cantina Comunale di La Morra for tastings, and the Museum/Cantina Renato Ratti, a winery and a tribute to the wine-making process, all in one.
Text and photo by Coni from Experiencing the Globe
Best Small Towns in Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy
In the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy, about a 90-minute drive from Venice, is the town of Gorizia, a small, laid-back town with influences from Italy, Austria, and neighboring Slovenia.
Above Gorizia sits the 11th Century Gorizia Castle. The castle is now home to the Museum of the Middle Ages of Gorizia and the rooms are decorated with furniture and furnishings from the Middle Ages.
On the road up to the Castle are two important museums. The Museum of the Great War of Gorizia, featuring uniforms, artifacts, weapons and a reconstruction experience of a trench is in the lower rooms.
The Museum of Fashion and Applied Arts, which follows the history of fashion from the 1700s to the 1900s, is in the upper rooms.
In the town, you can visit the St. Ignatius’ Church, which overlooks Piazza della Vittoria and contains beautiful marble Baroque altars.
A short walk from the town center is the 16th Century Palazzo di Coronini Cronberg and Park. The rooms are beautifully appointed with furniture, art works, and typical dress of the time.
For the best weather and daytime temperatures, visit in the spring and fall. You can still be sitting outside with your Aperol spritz in October.
Text and photo by Larch from The Silver Nomad
So there you have it: the most beautiful small towns in Italy. Which ones will you visit on your next trip to Italy?
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