ITALY, December 2, 2017 — Many destinations offer countless unknown charming spots, but no country in the world does it better than Italy. Savvy travelers know that Italy is filled with places waiting for discovery.
In a recent edition of the online version of “Conde Nast Traveler” the popular magazine listed the Italy’s ten best kept small town secrets. Today we offer our own thoughts on five destinations, with the other five to follow soon.
Five Hidden-Gem Destinations in Italy
Atrani, Italy: Every place on the Amalfi Coast is “just around the corner” which means that Atrani, the second smallest town in Italy, is often overlooked by travelers en route to the larger, better known towns of Amalfi, Positano and Sorrento.
Actually, Atrani can be viewed from the heights of Ravello along with two of its sister villages, Maori and Minori.
Nestled between two cliffs overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, Atrani offers top quality ceramics, splendid churches, lively piazzas and an abundance of family-operated trattorias.
And, like we said, it’s just around the bend from Amalfi.
Saluzzo, Italy: Though it may sound like a family name from “The Godfather”, the quiet medieval village of Saluzzo is just an hour south of Turin by car.
Tiny as it may be, Saluzzo is the setting in at least two major literary works; Boccaccio used it in the final story of the “Decameron” and it was also the site of the “Clerk’s Tale” in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.”
Famous for it red-tile roofs, bell towers with ancient spires and the snowy Cottian Alps, the city of Saluzzo overlooks a huge, well-cultivated plain that is chock full of natural resources.’
Collodi, Italy: All you need to know about Collodi is that it is famous for being the home of Pinocchio’s creator Carlo Collodi. The castle at Collodi is a defensive castle dating to the 12th century. From the castle, the town of Collodi cascades down the hillside like a stream of stone.
This lovely medieval town which is situated in Tuscany between Florence and Pisa, is noted for its homage to the little wooden boy with their tallest Pinocchio statue in the world.
The Garzoni Gardens with its Renaissance statues and stunning fountains are close by in the event that mechanical wooden puppets and talking crickets have no appeal.
Castelluccio, Italy: At 5,000 feet above sea level, Castelluccio is the highest community in the Apennines. Though relatively unknown to everyday tourists, skiers and trekkers are familiar with the village during the appropriate seasons.
The town dates from the 13th century but the Romans settled there much earlier. Two major seismic events in Central Italy in 2016 and earlier this year, destroyed more than 50% of the settlement but it has recovered nicely and is once again a thriving agricultural destination.
Castelluccio is famous for its lentils and fields which create a kaleidoscope of colors during the spring/summer “flowering season.” Arguably the most beautiful village in the Apennine Mountain Range, Castelluccio also features numerous picturesque piazzas that compliment its beautiful church.
Monte Isola, Italy: Sometimes the best discoveries are those that take a little effort to reach. Part of the reason, of course, is their inaccessibility, and Monte Isola fits the bill. Not only is Monte Isola the largest lake island in Italy, it is also the biggest in South and Central Europe.
To get there requires an hour and a half drive from Milan. From Milan a 20-minute ferry ride across lake Iseo to the town of Iseo. There is also regular ferry service to the main ports of Carzano and Peschieria.
Filled with quaint lakeside cafes and trattorias as well as delightfully comfortable B&Bs, Monte Isola is one of those places that immediately captures your heart.
Madonna della Ceriola
Visiting the beautiful chapel shrine of Madonna della Ceriola, is also a bit of a challenge. At just under 2,000 feet, on the highest point on the island, walking from the tiny village of Cure is the only way to reach Madonna della Ceriola.
If this quintet of charming little-known destinations whets your appetite for the magic of Italy, take a deep breath and wait one more week to learn about the next five on the list.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up