The Most Magnifica Hidden Gems in Italy

There's no place quite like Italy. So when in Rome, why not see what else this dreamscape has to offer?

Italy is a feast for the senses. There’s the art, the history, the architectural splendor, the natural wonder, and of course, the food. Whether you’re mostly sticking to tourist hotspots or wandering off the beaten path every chance you get, you’re bound to stumble upon something special, no matter where you go.

But why wouldn’t you go to some of the most sacred, locally treasured places in all the land during a once-in-a-lifetime trip?

With exploring your surroundings to the fullest in mind, these are some of the most celebrated, but still somewhat off-the-grid destinations in all of Italy.

Sant Agata’di Puglia, Puglia

A shot of a narrow street between the old houses of Sant'Agata di Puglia, Italy

Much of Italy feels like going back in time. Sant’Agata di Puglia is one of those places, and it feels like old Italy in the most picturesque of ways. When you arrive, you’ll likely notice that the pace of daily life feels more local too. And it’s nice to slow down for a minute, especially when you’re world’s away from your normal routine.

Wander to the square and pop in local cafes. The surrounding restaurants of this Southern Italy gem proudly serve traditional Cucina Povera, which translates to “the food of the poor.” But don’t let the name or simple ingredients fool you. It’s the kind of local flavor you’ll never forget.

There’s also a lot of hidden history and breathtaking photo opportunities here as well. So take a countryside stroll or a mountainside drive. While off the beaten path, keep your eyes peeled for the old watermills and underground wine cellars.

Sperlonga, Lazio

Ancient Roman Ruins in Italy, Sperlonga , Grotta di Tiberio.

If you love ancient architecture, you’re probably in love with Italy. And we’re all familiar with its most well-known landmarks. But there’s so much more to this beautiful place than you see in the brochure. Beyond the Coliseum and the leaning tower of Pisa, there are lesser known, but just as stunning places like Sperlonga.

This coastal town is best known as the mid-point between Rome and Naples. The most well-known attraction this hidden gem has to offer is the sea grotto, which dates back to Roman times. In the surrounding area, you’ll find ancient sculptures and artistic sentiments everywhere you turn. And there’s no shortage of classic Italian pizza.

Camogli, Liguria

View of Camogli, is a fishing village and tourist resort located on the west side of the peninsula of Portofino. Italian Riviera

Quaint, yet eye-catching, Camogli was a quiet fishing village for centuries. And while the tides of its economy have continued to turn, it remains just off the grid enough to feel tucked away from the crowds.

Covered in quintessentially colorful houses and brimming with history, it’s become a fast favorite among in-the-know travelers. So come for the low-key vibes, but stay for the world-renowned seafood.

Comacchio, Emilia Romagna

View of Comacchio. Emilia-Romagna. Italy.

Comacchio is not the easiest hidden gem to get to, but that only adds to its enduring appeal. It’s sometimes referred to as “the Little Venice of Emilia Romagna,” and it definitely lives up to the name.

The main area is covered in vibrant colors and canals with gondolas but has little to no tourism most of the time. In other words, it’s an Italian daydream without the usual crowds. And the nature surrounding this little city is just as dreamy.

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Tropea, Calabria

Tropea Calabria Italy

If a glittering ocean view is what you seek, I strongly suggest you find your way to Calabria. It’s just as gorgeous as the other beach towns, but because it’s still somewhat off the beaten path, you’ll get way more bang for your beach-day buck.

When you’re not frolicking in the sand, check out the Santa dell’Islo church. It’s impossible to miss and one of the most magical spots in all of Italy. The 12th-century cathedral sits atop a cliff that overlooks the ocean, and the view of Calabria from the very top will be worth the trip alone.

Castelmezzano, Basilicata

Castelmezzano, Italy. Cityscape aerial image of medieval city of Castelmazzano, Italy during beautiful sunrise.

If you’re going to the Southern Italian region of Basilicata, might I suggest a worthy detour from your primary destination? Most tourists never get to see the charming, mountainous town of Castelmezzano, but only because they don’t know it exists.

Located in the province of Potenza, this town is nestled along the edge of the Pietrapertoa and the Dolomiti Lucane mountain range. Now home to a world-class view for locals, it was once recognized as “the perfect vantage point to repel invaders.”

Mantua, Lombardy

Mantova city cathedral and arches view, European capital of culture and UNESCO world heritage site, Lombardy region of Italy

Mantua, Lombardy is famously home to the largest residential building in all of Europe (after the Vatican, that is.) Beyond the obvious appeal, locals and tourists alike often dub this historical hub a hidden gem full of hidden gems.

But if you’re a lover of art or a history buff, there’s plenty to take in, right out in the open. An Italian island of sorts, it’s surrounded on three sides by stunning and purposeful artificial lakes. They were constructed during the 12th century as a means to keep intruders out.

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Orta San Giulio, Piedmont

Orta lake with San Giulio island seen from the famous and picturesque town of Orta San Giulio, Italy

Like something out of a fairy tale, you’ll discover this candy-colored town jutting out of Lake Orta. Inviting, laid back, and family-friendly, Orta San Giulio allows you to breathe in the abounding Italian gardens, explore local art museums, and hop a boat to the other side of the island for one truly spectacular view.

In this region of Piedmont, you’ll feel transported to an older time in Italy, but with modern amenities offered at reasonable prices. What more could you want in a northern Italy day drip?

Brisighella, Emila Romagna

View of the medieval village of Brisighella during a sunny day

Boasting wonderful restaurants, classic gelato shops, a celebrated art scene, and underground music, Brisighella is an unusually-lively ancient place. But you won’t find too many tourists here. You will, however, find endless sightseeing opportunities, including the excavation site of an old castle in the woods and a gorgeous national park.

Full of tourist-friendly activities and a particularly unique terrain, Brisighella has been called “a route between nature and archaeology.” And it’s a path less traveled worth taking.

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