Last Updated: January 13, 2022

Hidden Gems In Italy: Off The Beaten Path In Italy

We’ve all heard of Rome, Milan, Sicily, the Amalfi Coast, and all the other famous destinations in Italy. And, while it’s true they’re all worth visiting, many other places in Italy are just as stunning, but without the hordes of foreigners.

This guide will tell you all about the most beautiful hidden gems in Italy, from seaside resort towns to historic places that boast ancient ruins and medieval castles.

So, read on to learn more about all the places off the beaten path in Italy that are worth exploring!

Valsugana, Trentino

Valsugana Trentino

Valsugana or Sugana Valley is a stunning valley in northern Italy, just two hours outside Venice. Situated in the foothills of the Italian Alps, the charming valley is becoming increasingly popular for resort tourism.

With glacial lakes, many ski resorts, countless vineyards, and apple orchards, Valsugana is the perfect place to visit for all outdoor lovers. The valley is great for rest and relaxation, thanks to the many spas that are based on the abundant hot springs in the area.

Sugana Valley is surrounded by mountains, which offer ample hiking opportunities. With countless hiking trails, hidden mountain lakes, and excellent ski pistes, it’s safe to assume that this beautiful hidden gem won’t stay hidden for very long.

Tropea, Calabria

Tropea Calabria

Tropea is a small town in the Vibo Valentia province of southern Italy. It was named Italy’s most beautiful village in 2021, and it’s one of the best hidden gems in the country if you’re looking for pristine beaches and a crystal clear Mediterranean sea.

The resort town of Tropea is popular for seaside tourism. It boasts gorgeous sandy beaches with an abundance of high-end resorts to choose from, making it a perfect spot for a relaxing vacation.

Those who are visiting Tropea for prolonged periods can also reap the benefits of its excellent location. It’s very close to Sicily, so you can easily visit Italy’s largest island and some of its more popular attractions.

The beautiful village of Tropea is also pretty close to Stromboli, which is another one of the Italian hidden gems worth checking out. The small volcanic island, boats one of the world’s best black sand beaches, and daytime excursions to the island start at just some 10 Euros!

Acquafredda and Maratea, Basilicata

Maratea Basilicata

Basilicata is a great region to live in in southern Italy that’s best known for its mountains and forests. However, it does stretch all the way to the coast, which is where the two small villages of Acquafredda and Maratea are.

Both are on the southwestern coast, and they’re very close to one another. The two hidden Italian gems are known for beautiful beaches, crystal clear sea, and excellent local food.

The best thing about these two charming villages on the Italian riviera is that they’re seldom crowded with tourists, so they’re perfect places to visit if you’re looking for a more relaxing vacation experience in Italy.

Maratea is a port town, and it’s the bigger of the two places. It’s worth noting that both Acquafredda and Maratea have a train station, so they’re pretty easy to reach even if you don’t have a car while you’re in Italy.

Additionally, keep in mind that there’s really not much else to do in these quaint villages, other than lying on the beach and admiring the views. There are a few bars and restaurants in each place, but if you’re looking for exciting nightlife and sightseeing opportunities, you won’t find them here.

Comacchio and Po Delta, Emilia Romagna

Delta Po

Comacchio is a town in the Emilia-Romagna region, best known for the Po Delta Regional Park. The park is a huge protected area with hundreds of bird species, and it’s definitely one of the best destinations in Italy for birdwatchers.

The vast wetlands are perfect for all bird lovers, while the old town of Comacchio offers the chance to see some historic sights while walking around its quaint streets. This area is also popular for camping, boating, and hiking, plus it’s worth noting that there are quite a few stunning sandy beaches nearby.

Additionally, it’s a great idea to stay in Comacchio even if you want to explore some of the more famous destinations in Italy. This charming town is very close to San Marino, Rimini, Venice, Bologna, Padua, Ravenna, and Ferrara, making it a great base for exploring the more popular cities in Italy without spending too much on accommodation.

Varenna, Lake Como, Lombardia


Varenna is a beautiful village on the eastern shore of Lake Como. It’s just a short drive away from Milan, and a 15-minute ferry ride from Bellagio, so it’s very easy to reach this hidden gem from one of the larger tourist hubs in Italy.

This picturesque village is known for lakeshore walkways, beautiful beaches, and mesmerizing botanical gardens. There’s no lack of hotels, restaurants, and bars in Varenna either, making it a great place for a proper vacation at one of the most beautiful Italian lakes.

Varenna is also known for Castello di Vezio, which is a 12th-century castle situated just above this hidden Italian gem. The castle ruins offer stunning panoramic views of the charming village and of Italy’s rolling hills, as well the opportunity to see tombs from the Iron Age and quite a few ancient weapons and armors.

Castelmezzano, Basilicata


Castelmezzano is a small town in the Basilicata region of southern Italy. This tiny village was founded by Greek settlers sometime between the 6th and 5th centuries BC, and there are many medieval ruins throughout the town that testify to that.

The historic town is best known for its terraced houses with tall rocks in the background. It’s a great place to visit if you want to explore a different side of Italy and get to experience some truly stunning views in the meantime.

Out of all the hidden gems in Italy, Castelmezzano might just be the best-hidden one. It remains the perfect example of undiscovered Italy, with its many houses that resemble those of the famous Cinque Terre national park, but with nowhere near as many tourists.

Trento, Trentino

Trento Italy

Trento is a city in the Italian region of Trentino, and it’s the capital of this autonomous province. It has a population of more than 120,000 people, so it’s not really a small city either. If you want to explore one of Italy’s bigger cities, but you still want to avoid the huge tourist crowds of Rome, Milan, and Venice, it’s definitely a great alternative!

The city is popular for its many historical monuments, most of which are famous for gorgeous Renaissance architecture. Buonconsiglio Castle Museum, Cattedrale di San Vigilio, and the Monument of Dante Alighieri are just a few of the best-known landmarks in Trento’s historic town.

Additionally, Trento’s location in Northern Italy makes it a great base for further exploration of the region. It is close to Lake Garda, Venice, Verona, Padua, and Vicenza, but also to quite a few other national parks and hidden gems in Italy. If you don’t want to stay in one place the entire time you’re in Italy, Trento might just be a great base for you!

Locorotondo, Puglia


Locorotondo is a historical old town in Puglia, and one of the most underrated hidden gems in Italy. It gets very few tourists, so it’s the perfect place for visitors who want to see historical landmarks, eat authentic Italian food, and just enjoy the Italian countryside.

The town’s name means “round place” which perfectly describes the circular layout of its old town. It’s one of the most beautiful off-the-beaten-path Italian towns, plus it’s very close to Martina Franca, Fasano, and the eastern Italian coast.

Venture outside Locorotondo if you want to go on wine tasting tours, scenic bike rides, or even quick hiking trips. Also, it’s enough to go just 10-15 minutes outside Locorotondo, to really see and grasp just how spectacular its circular old town looks sitting atop a hill.

Lugana and Manerba del Garda, Lombardy

Manerba del Garda

Lugana and Manerba del Garda are two small towns on the coast of Lake Garda. Both are in the Lombardy region, and either one is a great destination for a relaxing lakeside vacation in Italy.

The surrounding hills are full of exciting hiking trails, wineries, and scenic lookouts that offer mesmerizing lake views. While the rolling hills in the background of these villages call out to all nature lovers, it’s worth noting that there are also plenty of lakeside sightseeing opportunities.

The lovely destination of Lugana is known for Castello di Sirmione, a medieval castle that is surrounded by water. Climb the steep castle steps to enjoy some breathtaking lakeside views, and see why this is one of the most famous destinations in the area around Lake Garda.

Manerba del Garda is the smaller of the two municipalities, but it doesn’t lack anything in scenic views and sightseeing opportunities. It’s home to Rocca di Manerba, which is a hilltop archaeological site that features the ruins of a medieval fortress.

Additionally, there are quite a few lakeside hiking trails here, most of which require you to climb one of Manerba del Garda’s many tall hills. All the hikes are definitely worth the effort though, considering that the views from those hills are simply out of this world.

Mantua, Lombardy


Mantua is a beautiful city in Lombardy that’s easily one of the best hidden gems in the country. The small city is surrounded by three artificial lakes, and it is best known for its many examples of excellent Renaissance architecture.

It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, and funnily enough, one of the least visited cities in the country. In addition to spectacular lakeside views, Mantua is known for its excellent museums, beautiful Renaissance churches, and sprawling parks.

The Ducale Palace is the most famous attraction in this charming city. It’s a huge Renaissance fortress, which used to be the residence of the Gongaza family. The palace museum is open to the public, and most people visit to see the spectacular frescoes by Pisanello and Mantegna.

Mantegna’s House is another popular attraction here – it used to be the residence of the artists, and it was actually designed by Mantegna himself. Today it’s an art gallery where you can admire some of his best works, and a must for all art lovers who find their way to Mantua.

This beautiful city is full of other famous attractions, including Palazzo Te, House of Giulio Romano, Torre del Salaro, Palazzo del Masso, Pizza Virgiliana, and many others. If you want the experience of exploring a gorgeous Italian city but without the massive crowds of Rome and Milan, definitely consider traveling to this lakeside paradise.

Sant Agata’di Puglia

Sant Agata’di Puglia is a very small hilltop village in southern Italy. It is dominated by the imposing Romanesque castle, which promises some of the most stunning views you can experience in all of Italy.

The town streets are cobbled, walled, narrow, and winding, leading up to the fascinating castle. From the top of the hill, you can enjoy panoramic views of Italy’s rolling hills and their many windmills, and you’ll also get a good look at Saint Agata’di Puglia’s stunning architecture.

There are so many hidden gems in Italy, but Sant Agata’di Puglia is just the most special of them all. The medieval town is absolutely beautiful, and it’s fascinating just how well-preserved its buildings are.

Additionally, the beautiful village is located in south-central Italy, so it’s the perfect base for visitors who want to go on many day trips. Bari, Naples, Foggia, and Salerno are all pretty close, so it’s very easy to travel to other Italian towns from this picturesque village.

Camogli, Liguria


Camogli is a small seaside town in northwestern Italy, about half an hour south of Genoa. It is part of the Portofino Marine Protected Area, which is just one of the many things that make it one of the best Italy hidden gems.

Additionally, Camogli is a very short drive away from Cinque Terre National Park – a not-so-hidden gem in Italy that’s definitely worth seeing but tends to be overly crowded.

You can visit this popular tourist trap on a day trip from the fishing village – walk around its cobblestone streets, take lots of photos of the colorful houses, and admire the stunning coastline before making your way to the much quieter town of Camogli.

Matera, Basilicata (and Massafra, Puglia)


Matera and Massafra are two charming medieval towns in two different Italian regions. They’re only an hour away from one another, and they’re both known for medieval architecture, rocky hills in the background, and proximity to excellent regional parks.

Either of these two picturesque towns is a great option if you want to spend some time relaxing in the Italian countryside. Admire the scenic views, visit the national parks, travel to a coastal town to spend a day or two on the beach, and just enjoy your time in Italy.

Walk around the towns’ historic centers, see the historical monuments, and all the other interesting sights in the area. When you’ve thoroughly explored one of the charming villages, just move on to the next.

Also, the southern location of both Matera and Massafra is great for further exploration of the region. Both villages are very close to Bari, Potenza, Foggia, Altamura, and Taranto, which are some of the bigger and more popular tourist destinations in the region.

Orta San Giulio, Piedmont

Orta San Giulio

Orta San Giulio is a commune in the Novara province of northern Italy. The small town lies on the eastern shore of Lake Orta, very close to Isola San Giulio – a small island that’s also part of this municipality.

The tiny island is one of the perfect Italian destinations for all visitors who would rather explore the places that are off the beaten path. With narrow streets, spectacular views, and quite a few interesting things to see, this charming island is perfect for visitors who want to explore a side of Italy that hasn’t been ruined by mass tourism.

The small town of Orta San Giulio even boasts a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sacro Monte di Orta. It’s a pilgrimage place that can only be accessed by hiking routes and is known for stunning frescoes in chapels and churches that are dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi.

Val di Non, Trentino

Val di Non is another spectacular valley in Trentino. This Italian hidden gem is known for stunning lakes, beautiful villages, castle ruins, and exciting hiking trails. The valley is quite popular for resort tourism, thanks to its excellent location in the foothills of the Italian Alps.

The villages in Val di Non are also close to quite a few interesting hiking trails in the Alps and the Dolomites, so they’re the perfect spot for all nature lovers who want to explore Italy off the beaten path and admire some breathtaking scenery.

The Non-Valley also boasts quite a few historical landmarks, including castles, museums, and medieval ruins. If you’re looking to explore secret spots in Italy that offer both historical and natural attractions, Val di Non is an excellent destination in northern Italy.

Brisighella, Emila Romagna


Brisighella is one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. Situated at the foot of the Apennine Mountains in the Emilia-Romagna region, this charming town is one of the best hidden gems in Italy for visitors who are looking for some peace and quiet.

Unlike the bigger and bigger cities of Italy, Brisighella is never overly crowded. But that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in tourist attractions – the beautiful village is popular for countless vineyards, gorgeous nature, an imposing fortress from the 14th century, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Monticino, and quite a few other things.

There’s no lack of fun things to do in Brisighella, whether you’re looking to admire the ancient architecture or explore the hiking trails in the surrounding hills.

Lampedusa, Pelagie Islands


Lampedusa is the largest of the Pelagie Islands, and it’s easily one of the best hidden gems in Italy. This island group is quite far away from mainland Italy, and Lampedusa is actually closer to Tunisia than Italy.

Nonetheless, the island is so incredibly beautiful that it’s definitely a hidden gem worth visiting. It’s known for mesmerizing sandy beaches, azure sea, and some of the best diving and snorkeling in the Mediterranean Sea.

This charming little island boasts (too) many hidden coves that can only be accessed by hiking trails. If you would like to explore some Italian gems off the beaten path, Lampedusa will certainly not disappoint.

It’s impossible to select just one cove or bay worth visiting because each one appears more beautiful than the next. Also, it’s worth noting that although some of the coves are only accessible by short treks, others are fully equipped with loungers and restaurants, so there’s something for everyone no matter what kind of vacation you’re into.

Alberobello, Puglia

Alberobello Trulli

Alberobello is a small town in southeastern Italy best known for its many trulli buildings. These are traditional Apulian huts made from dry stone, and they’re characterized by conical roofs. This construction style is specific to the Itria Valley in the Puglia region, and there are countless trulli around the valley.

The trullo houses of Alberobello are so special and iconic that they’ve been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. What’s even more exciting is that it is possible to spend a night in these stone buildings. A lot of the trulli in this hidden gem of a town are being rented out to visitors who wish to spend (at least) one night in an authentic trullo house.

In addition to fascinating architectural gems, the charming town of Alberobello also boasts interesting museums, fascinating monuments, and historic landmarks. It’s also just a 20-minute drive away from Martina Franca, which is another one of the fascinating hidden gems in Italy!

Martina Franca, Puglia

Martina Franca

Martina Franca is a small town in the Taranto Province. It’s actually the second most populated town in the province, right after Taranto. It’s best known for the Festival della Valle d’Itria, which is an opera festival that’s held every summer in this quaint little town.

Additionally, Martina Franca has produced quite a few famous Italians, most notably composers, painters, and writers. The most famous person in recent history to call this place their hometown is Antonio Giovinazzi, a Formula 1 driver who is sort of a hero in this small town.

Apart from being the home of quite a few famous Italians, this charming town is known for a few other things as well. Its historic center is absolutely breathtaking, featuring cobbled streets, four city gates, and quite a few impressive churches.

Piazza XX Settembre is the most prominent city square that can be accessed through the different city gates, and the most prominent building here is Palazzo Ducale. The grand building used to be the Caracciolo family’s palace, but today it is home to Martina Franca’s town hall, tourist information office, and public library.

This charming town is also home to quite a few spectacular churches, the most notable of which is Basilica di San Martino. It’s the principal church of Martina Franca, and it’s located in the heart of the town’s historic center. With a heavily ornate exterior and equally beautiful interior, it’s definitely one of the top attractions to visit in this Italian hidden gem.

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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