Want to avoid the hustle and bustle of tourists in Rome, Milan, Venice, and Florence? Or maybe you’ve already seen those cities, and are looking for something new? Well here are some of my favorite small towns for you to live out your Italian dream.
If you’re looking for a dreamy getaway, check out Bergamo! Bergamo is located north-east of Milan, in the Lombardy region. This quaint city offers the most serene views and has very few tourists. The citta alta (upper city) consists of cobblestone streets and cute little shops and restaurants. Not to mention, Bergamo is the birthplace of stracciatella gelato, and you can even try it at the original shop it was created in! The upper city is lined with the ancient city walls and is full of history; it is even a Unesco World Heritage Site! If you’re looking for a cozy, mountain escape this is your kind of place. I recommend visiting the arboretum, trying stracciatella, eating at one of the outdoor restaurants overlooking the lush greenery, and shopping at the outdoor markets.
Cefalù , a small town in Sicily, is the perfect beach escape. It’s only a 50 minute train ride from the city of Palermo. Rent an umbrella and chair and sit front row on the beach or opt for the public beach just 50 yards away. You’ll be surrounded with crystal clear water. If you walk just further up the coast, you’ll find the most blue water and a local swim/tanning spot located on the rocks right next to the ocean. If you wander more into the town, you’ll see beautiful residential streets that will eventually lead you to a magnificent church. Also if you get the chance, grab a cannoli, they were invented in Sicily!
Anacapri sits at the very top of the island of Capri off the Amalfi Coast. Rent a boat or take the ferry to Capri and head to the top. There you’ll find a chairlift to take you to the very top of the mountain in only 15 minutes. If you’re looking for a dream-like escape, this is the place. Anacapri has 360º panoramic views! At the top you’ll find views you’ll never forget and even a little restaurant!
Siena, located in the Tuscany region, is only a short train ride from Florence. Siena is characterized by beautiful, medieval brick buildings that are built around a central racetrack. Twice a year this town hosts horse races where the town’s neighborhoods are divided into teams that their families pass down from generation to generation. I’ve truly never experienced more town spirit! Siena is definitely a must, if not for the historic traditions, then for the beautiful architecture and churches!
5. San Gimignano
San Gimignano is my last must-see small town. San Gimignano is a quiet, countryside town. If you’re looking for that classic Tuscan countryside environment, this could be your place. You’ll see small shops, cafes, and bistros lining the streets, and when you look out from the city walls you’ll see rolling hills of green, vineyards, and Tuscan villas. This town offers beauty and tranquility. Make sure to grab some saffron gelato, do some wine tastings, visit the museums and churches, and check out the torture museum before you leave!