Rome, Florence, Milan. Italy is beautiful no matter where you go, but with media highlighting only the mega cities, it is easy to forget about the smaller, less known destinations. To give you some renewed travel inspiration, and major wanderlust, we have compiled a list of 10 must-see spots along the Italian coast filled with history, art, culture, and amazing food.
This quiet and mysterious town was given it's name by the Greeks, and it's a place of refuge and religious inspiration. The distinct personality of Cefalu makes it a perfect destination for an Italian holiday with its sandy beaches, beautiful sunsets, the glorious Normal Cathedral, and historic harbor views. Stay in a cozy B&B, take a morning swim in the clear waters, take advantage of the famous Sicilian culinary scene, and enjoy this coastal town like a local.
White houses, balconies filled with flowers, narrow streets, and medieval architecture adorn this quiet fishing village off the Amalfi coast. Its many churches and rich culture act as a reminder of when the city acted as home for many Roman patricians, and the town continues to be a a popular site for archeological findings. Though it is the smallest colony in Italy with only .12 km2 of surface and a population of roughly 912, the Mediterranean climate and historical value continue to draw in visitors.
This small village was made famous for its fjord created by a narrow gorge, as well as of the most photographed and scenic arch bridges on the coast. The town used to be a hidden settlement no one knew about until local authorities ordered the houses to be painted bright colors so tourists wouldn't miss it on their drive down the state road. The tactic worked, and the Fiordo, as locals call it, is now the main attraction, including a bar, gift shop and museum, and is also where the National Diving Championship is held each summer.
Off the coast of Naples, this island is known for its rugged landscape, upscale shopping and luxury hotels. Capri is a destination for both Italians and foreigners, and many make it a point to wear the pants named after the city. There is no car transporation, and access is only via boat or ferry. Main attractions are the many museums, churches and monuments, and of course the Blue Grotto, a sea cave that glistens in dark blue due to the light and reflection of the ocean shining through the cavity.
San Giminiano (Tuscany)
Encircled by three walls, this medieval city is known as the Town of Fine Towers. With eight entrances into the city dating back to the 12th and 13th century, San Giminiano has a rich history behind its Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Plagued by family and religious rivalries, towers continued to be built in increasing heights, reaching 72 total and standing as high as 230 feet. Currently the town is recognized for its artistic and touristic value, as well as for its locally grown saffron and white wine varietals.
Situated on the cape that splits Lake Como in two, Bellagio is one of the most romantic destinations in Europe. Luxury hotels, great food and many outdoor activities, it makes for the perfect honeymoon or getaway. Take in the view of the lake from your balcony enjoying an authentic cappuccino, or head out for an afternoon of kayaking, sightseeing, take a cooking class or go for a motorcycle tour.
Tuscan hills, olive groves and vineyards surround Vinci, Leonardo Da Vinci's birthplace. Some of the main attractions are, of course, Casa Natale di Leonardo, the farmhouse where Leonardo was born, and the Museo Leonardiano which holds many reproductions of his drawings and inventions. The city is alive with green and agriculture, and only a short drive from Florence, making for the perfect day trip.
We all know Verona as the backdrop for Shakespeare's tragic love story Romeo And Juliet. But aside from that, there is much to see and experience: Spend a day visiting the bridges, piazzas, eating the traditional food, or attending an opera show at the Arena. Other popular destinations include the Duomo, Verona's main cathedral, the Porta Borsari, the ancient Roman gate, and Castelvecchio, the city's most imposing building. Don't miss the short drive to Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona, pictured here.
Limone Sul Garda (Lombardy)
On the western side of lake Garda, this small town of less than one thousand inhabitants is made up of pure Italian charm. Renowned for growing lemons, the area is now a popular destination for tourists, so beware of lines and crowds in the warmer months. Olives groves and farm tours are a popular attraction, as well as the small private beaches and many cafes. Interestingly, natives of this area display a "longevity protein" in their blood which turns out to remove fat from the arteries quickly, protecting them from arteriosclerosis and heart attack.
Cinque Terre (Liguria)
Composed of five villages, Cinque Terre is part of a National Park and one of the most unique havens in Europe. Carefully built terraces and homes on the steep cliffs overlooking the sea are part of what gives this area its special appeal. Something out of a painting, this is home to brightly colored buildings and the bluest ocean waters, and a protected atmosphere from mainstream tourism, since it is not easily accessible by car. The villages live off vineyards, olive cultivation, and fishing. On your visit you will enjoy Mediterranean seafood, wine, and the local specialty, anchovies.
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