Italy is a traveller's paradise, a haven for art, culture and cuisine; with its many facets, it's unsurprising Italy consistently ranks as one of the most popular destinations worldwide, let alone in Europe. Yet, with so many top-notch attractions and broad coverage in travel publications, it can feel a little over-done. If you're looking for a destination off the beaten track, Italy can still be a great choice, providing the advantages of its delightful Mediterranean climate, yet allowing for a sense of adventure. Here are our Top 10 choices for undiscovered Italian locations that should make your travel bucket list.
A word of advice if you do choose to steer clear of the larger sites: English may not be spoken everywhere you go, so be sure to swot up on a handful of phrases, and look into local culture to be sure you know what to expect.
Whilst Venice is a well-known tourist hotspot, its islands remain somewhat overlooked. Cruise out to Torcello by water bus, to discover a sleepy yet charming town, that was once the most populated island in the region. Be sure to check out the ancient churches here, and stroll through the delightful streets.
Travel to the heel of Italy's boot for another example of untouched beauty. Puglia is rustic in atmosphere, with a collection of good beaches to choose from, and incredible, simple cuisine in the local restaurants. For an insight into the region's history, be sure to visit Alberobello, home to the 'trulli' - unique, cone-shaped houses that are centuries old.
3. Civita di Bagnoregio
The home of bruschetta, Civita di Bagnoregio is an almost-deserted village with a resident population of around 10 people - this is the definition of 'under the radar'. Surrounded by mountain views, and accessible only by footbridge, the village is perched on its own peak, and is the perfect escape for really fleeing the crowds. For non-hermits, a day trip should suffice.
A hidden medieval gem of Tuscany, Lucca's city walls date back to the 16th century, yet its innerds reveal an array of Roman architecture. Wander through the cobbled piazzas, or take to the ramparts for a bird's eye view of the ancient sprawl of this beautiful yet overlooked city.
5. Orta San Giulio
The Italian lakes are one of the country's great draws, yet the likes of Garda, Como and Maggiore are often busy thanks to their fame and popularity. Their diminutive sister, Lake Orta, is a tranquil treasure, and its surrounding villages offer a great base to explore the region. Orta San Giulio is one such village; stay here for lakeside views and easy access to Isola San Giulio, a charming island that plays host to an ancient monastery.
Think Pompeii, but with less crowds. Another site that was preserved in the volcanic ash of the very same Vesuvian eruption, Herculaneum is only ten miles away from Pompeii, and the site is as well preserved as its larger sister. Explore away for archaeological wonders without the throng of tourists.
'Unspoilt' is the primary word when describing the island of Marettimo. Floating off the west coast of Sicily, Marettimo's presence is somewhat hush-hush; whilst visitors are welcome, the island's residents are wary of becoming a tourism hotspot. Visit to discover a quiet suntrap, perfect for strolling along the beach and scuba diving in the perfect blue waters off the coast.
Close to better-known Capri, the island of Ischia is one of the handful of volcanic islands in the Campania region, located in the Bay of Naples. Popular with Italian families, Ischia benefits from the same dramatic beauty as Capri, but is less crowded and, accordingly, less expensive. The thermal hot springs are an additional highlight, alongside the stunning beaches and crystalline waters - visit during early summer to avoid the local tourists, who arrive in July and August.
9. Le Langhe
The epicentre of Piedmont's 'slow food' movement, Le Langhe is the perfect place for foodies. Enjoy the stunning sweep of rural Italian scenery, and soak up the wines that make this region famous - barolo, arneis and barbaresco are all grown on Le Langhe's hills. Visit for a serene atmosphere, a real slice of local life, and a smattering of castles to explore when you're not feasting like a true Italian.
Our final destination is another Sicilian spot. Whilst hardly overlooked, as far as Italian cities go, Catania is a relatively quiet option. Check out the UNESCO-listed core for a touch of the historic, and just look to the skyline for views of Mount Etna, looming over the city.