Bicycle leaning in front of a shop in an Italian village.

Italy’s most beautiful villages: 5 places to discover

5 hidden gems in Italy to spend a dream holiday.

4 min read

Now more than ever, we all miss the way we used to travel. But you don’t need to travel far to enjoy a memorable holiday. Our country boasts stunning attractions, romantic metropolises, and a melting pot of cultures; all of which are often overlooked in favour of travelling abroad. However, if you want to enjoy a truly unique getaway, there are also hundreds of villages with fascinating histories and unrivalled landscapes, all scattered from north to south. To inspire you, we’ve hand-selected 5 unconventional destinations to experience a real Italian summer.

Typical street in the center of an Italian village.

Bienno, Brescia (Lombardy)

This striking medieval village is located in Val Camonica, and is renowned for its local craftsmanship, particularly iron making. This artisan craft is showcased during its Bienno Fair in August, providing an awesome display of the most ancient traditions in town. However, Bienno is also renowned for its art scene; every year, the municipal government offers a music venue (Casa degli Artisti) to all visual artists, musicians and national and international theater groups, allowing the city to transform into a dazzling open-air museum.

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Sepino, Campobasso (Molise)

Quaint Sepino is perched on a wooded hill near the Matese mountain range. The town boasts a very ancient history: the first settlement, little of which remains today, was called Saipins and was founded by the Samnites in the 4th century BC. A lot of its Roman past lives on through the theater, the forum, the basilica, the thermal baths, the walls and the gates are well preserved in the archaeological area. For millennia, the town has been renowned for its low mineral content and thermal waters, with terme Tre Fontane (or Terme di Sepino) being a popular destination for both athletes and non-athletes.

Rocca Imperiale, Cosenza (Calabria)

The village of Rocca Imperiale stretches like a staircase up a hill. On top, you can find the Castello Svevo, a fortress founded by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century, while the nearby Ionian Sea boasts idyllic, award-winning beaches. The typical local product is the precious PGI lemon of Rocca Imperiale, a delicacy that is highly appreciated across all of Italy. Poets from all over the world gather in the village at the end of August each year for the Federiciano, an international poetry festival. The beauty of this town has also attracted the Italian director Pupi Avati, who filmed “Laura's Wedding” (Le Nozze di Laura) here in 2015.

Sambuca di Sicilia, Agrigento (Sicily)

Sambuca has a strong Arab identity and roots. Founded at the foot of Monte Genuardo in the Belice valley around 830, the village was known in ancient times as Zabut. Although little of it remains, it’s still possible to enjoy the view from the ancient Zabut Castle as of today. Part of the castle was used to build the main church (Chiesa Madre or Matrice) in the 15th century; one of the most important monuments of Sambuca. South of the castle, the Arab quarter called setti vaneddi is divided into seven very narrow alleys that today have been transformed into an open-air museum. Near the town, next to the Arancio Lake, you will find the Mazzallakkar Fort, a stronghold built by the Arabs when the town was first founded.

Carloforte, South Sardinia (Sardinia)

Located on the island of San Pietro in the province of Southern Sardinia, Carloforte has Phoenician and Punic roots. The village today is marked strongly by the colonization that took place during the 18th century by families of Ligurian fishermen from Tabarka (Tunisia). The tabarchino dialect, spoken in the area today, is closely related to Ligurian. Local attractions include the Giuseppe Cavallera movie theater, the church of the Madonna dei Novelli Innocenti, and the multimedia museum of the sea.

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